Review: Lazer Team

Lazer Team has taken theaters and the internet by storm over the past two weeks. Funded in part through a record-breaking $2.4 million indiegogo campaign in July 2014. This is the first feature film from Austin-based Rooster Teeth Productions (RT), best known for its long-running webseries, Red Vs. Blue. As a big fan of anything RT, I knew I had to see this film opening weekend, and managed to find it at AMC Empire 25 in midtown Manhattan.

How does RT’s first movie fare? It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

The story of Lazer Team is fairly simple as well as cliché. The government has been training a champion to defend earth in an upcoming battle with a hostile alien force. Four idiots, played by Burnie Burns (Church in RvB), Gavin Free (The Slow Mo Guys), Michael “Rage Quit” Jones and Colton Dunn of Key & Peele and Superstore fame, stumble upon the delivery of a power suit meant for the champion of earth, hilarity and hi-jinks ensue. It’s a very run of the mill story filled with predictable beats and moments that we’ve seen before. The opening moments of the movie are a low point due to a few cringe worthy lines and not helped by stiff acting, Luckily, both the writing and the acting got better as the film went on.  I’m guessing this is due to Burnie, Michael and Gavin becoming more comfortable with traditional acting. The writing really shines when our four main heroes are interacting each other rather than with anyone else. The only other actors that I didn’t mind in the movie were Allie DeBerry, who plays Burnie’s daughter, and Alan Ritchson, who plays the original champion of earth. The worst acting came from the government officials tasked with training the team to defend the earth. Thankfully, they’re weren’t on screen for long.

With the story centering on aliens, we’d better see some aliens, right? Well yeah, unfortunately. Let me explain, other than one alien at the end of the film, all aliens in the film are CGI, and it’s some bad CGI. If I had one major problem with the movie it’s got to be the visual effects. I want to give them a pass considering it’s their first movie, but I just can’t. The only good effects throughout the film are some of the Lazer Team weapon effects and the final “boss” alien, mostly because for two reasons, the weapons effects were minimal and because the final alien was actually a practical effect, it was a guy in a suit like the old Godzilla films, and the design was actually good! Which makes me wonder why they didn’t try more practical effects like that.

At its heart, Lazer Team is a sci-fi comedy, and its comedy can be hit or miss with some people. The humor switches between sight gags and funny dialog that obviously aimed at fans of RT, and for the most part, it hits the target there really wasn’t too much in the movie that made me say “that’s not funny” to myself. Non fans on the other hand may not find a whole lot funny in the movie. I happened to drag along someone who wasn’t a previous fan of Rooster Teeth, and while he did find some parts funny, it didn’t convert him nor have him laughing out loud like others in my theater. With that being said, it’s nice to know that you DON’T have to be a fan of RT to enjoy the movie, which is good.

In this age of big blockbusters like Avengers, Batman vs Superman and Star Wars, it’s good to see something as simple as this, and actually have fun at the movies without looking too much into the movie as being an allegory for something else. Nevertheless, being a fan of RT does add to the enjoyment of the movie for the various Easter eggs they throw around, everything from references to their other shows to cameos from our favorite RT staff (I’m looking at you Barbara, Blaine and Gus, who had one of my favorite moments in the movie) and even a cameo from Barenaked Ladies member, Ed Robertson.

As you can tell from my review, the movie is nothing special. It doesn’t break any grounds and it’s not the greatest thing since The Legend of Zelda, but maybe that’s what we needed at this time. To just sit back, enjoy for this spoofy sci-fi movie for what it is and be reminded of  why it is that we actually go to the movies.I don’t know about you, but I had fun watching Burnie and the crew save the earth from aliens. So do yourself a favor, go see Lazer Team, and have fun.

Lazer Team premieres today on YouTube’s new subscription service, Youtube Red. With the free one month trial, you have nothing to lose. YouTube Red not available in your country? Lazer Team is available for purchase in a number of other countries.

August 2016 edit: Lazer Team is also available on DVD through Amazon, and direct from the Rooster Teeth store.

That’s enough from me, now I want to hear from you! What did you think of the movie overall? Do you think that in this day and age of triple A blockbusters, that we can see more B movie type films like this succeed?

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