Video Games: The Movie (2014)
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Sean Astin, Zach Braff, Jim Brown, Ernest Cline, David Crane, Warren Davis, Chloe Dykstra, Donald Faison, Clare Grant, Alison Haislip, Chris Hardwick, Don James, Max Landis, David Perry, Wil Wheaton
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In the Beginning, There Was PONG
Favorite Movie Quote: "Is Facebook a video game?"
Writer/Director Jeremy Snead takes us on an almost nostalgic journey through one of the greatest cultural sensations of the last half of the Twentieth Century, from some ambitious students at MIT to the multi-billion dollar industry known to all worldwide as the Video Games Phenomenon.
Executive produced by Zach Braff (GARDEN STATE, "Scrubs") and narrated by Sean Astin (LORD of the RINGS trilogy) VIDEO GAMES: the MOVIE relates testimonials from the pioneers of the industry, like the inventor of the game PONG, Nolan Bushnell, to the founders of the largest video game makers in the world (Atari, Nintendo, SEGA, etc.), to self-avowed geeks like "Star Trek's" Wil Wheaton, "Attack of the Show's" Chris Hardwick, Kickstarter Supporters, and the superstars of the Gaming World.
Not being a real gamer (which, by the way, has had its stigma removed, and is revered the same way the term "geek" has now been validated), this reviewer had to break down this documentary into distinct, almost programmer-like sections: the historical perspective, which took the viewer to the very beginnings of the video game experience, back to when the computer was in its infancy; the social impact of the video game community, a strong, tightly knit, but very welcoming community; the deconstruction of the industry, looking at the barebones grunt work that goes into a video game today. Then it goes into the equivalent of the "terrible twos," when the "grownups" began to poo-poo on the industry, regurgitating the same accusations used in the Fifties when comic books were attacked for their "morality-destroying influence," which led to the self-regulating system of age ratings, similar to the MPAA ratings of the cinema. Snead ended with the expected predictions regarding the future of the video game, where futurists see the industry becoming close to "Star Trek's" holodeck experience.
Again, not being a real gamer, this reviewer was captivated by the history; this reviewer remembers many of the machines and consoles of his youth. There was an Intellivision console (remember them?), and an Atari 800 in the house, which was later converted to a business computer used at the hospital where I worked. At that time, this was still "magic" to my fellow co-workers, that a game console had real-life business applications. The social impact was the least interesting for this reviewer. Not being a part of the gamer community, hearing stories of lifetime relationships forged, and even marriages that stood the test of time had this reviewer's eyes glazing over. But rest assured, while my eyes were glazing, others will be welling up hearing these stories, and connecting with their own, lonely lives, and how video games gave them a sense of community; one testimonial actually stating it saved his life. The other sections were interesting, not as good as the first two, but gave an insight on the technology, and the business of the industry. The solitary surprise, the one that came out of left field, was the influx of independent game makers in the industry, the ones that have eschewed the Big Box gaming studios, and created a lucrative niche of their own, mirroring the Big Box movie studios vs the indie movie house relationship that exists today. Finally, as a wrap-up, we all looked over the horizon and declared that the video industry will not only exist long after us, but will be more a part of our daily lives.
On my personal rating scale of with "5" being drop everything and see the movie now; if you're female, bear the producers' children and '0' being burn down the theater, murder the movie staff, and violate their dog, this movie earns a "3.5," using Patented Bell Curve for Documentary Films. Since it is almost certain that everyone has had exposure to video games, especially since the narrator explains that the median age of the average gamer today is 30, VIDEO GAMES: the MOVIE has something for everyone, though, in this reviewers' opinion, will not be for everyone on a whole. There will be parts that will be fascinating to some, and dreadfully boring to others. This makes sense, since the documentary was made for everyone, audiences will pick and choose their favorite parts.
VIDEO GAMES: the MOVIE is unrated, but has some - very minimal - video game violence, and, of course, no gore, sex, nudity, or severely graphic violence. As a commentary, this reviewer is aware of the seedier representations of the video game world, which this documentary chose to ignore completely. This reviewer assumes that since the way it was presented,with obvious and periodic breaks in the film for commercials and station identifications, that it will be marketed to commercial television for the various documentary channels on cable today.
VIDEO GAMES: the MOVIE stars Sean Astin as its narrator, and features video game personalities and superstars of the industry, such as Al Alcorn, Peter Armstrong, Cliff Bleszinski, Zach Braff, Jim Brown, Nolan Bushnell, Louis Castle, Ernest Cline, David Crane, Warren Davis, Chloe Dykstra, Donald Faison, Brian Fargo, Reggie Fils-Aime, Ed Fries, Clare Grant, Alison Haislip, Chris Hardwick, Don James, Wyeth Johnson, Hideo Kojima, Max Landis, Cricket Lee, Francis Mao, Peter Molyneux, Mike Neumann, Rob Pardo, David Perry, Randy Pitchford, Mark Rein Justin Richmond, Tommy Tallarico, Kudo Tsunoda, and Wil Wheaton. Written and directed by Jeremy Snead, the film opens in VOD on July 15,2014, and in wide theatrical release July 18, 2014.
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