The debut feature from Texas internet, film and gaming production company Rooster Teeth, Lazer Team combines the stupidity of Hot Tub Time Machine with a concept cribbed from TV’s Misfits. There’s precious little satire, but there’s plenty of well-executed dumb fun. Just don’t raise your expectations going in.
A government plan to train a Champion of Earth against an impending alien attack goes awry at the eleventh hour, when a bunch of four bickering good-for-nothings accidentally shoot down the UFO that’s bringing the Champion his power suit – a gift from another, more benevolent alien race – and each become irrevocably attached to one of its component pieces of armour. At first going on the lam from authorities who want to retrieve the suit by whatever means necessary, the self-dubbed “Lazer” (sic) Team eventually work together to repel an attack from a further set of alien surrogates, causing the military to realise that the hapless losers probably actually are mankind’s best and only defence against the planet’s imminent annihilation.
Lazer Team could have been a horribly cheap straight-to-Vimeo production, but thanks to one of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns in history, it looks a lot more expensive than it otherwise would. It also has a considered, if not remotely sophisticated, script which ought to satisfy most viewers thanks to the speed, variety and sheer volume of gags and references; this might be for the YouTube generation, but there’s nothing to prohibit couch potatoes of all ages and backgrounds from laughing along.
The four main characters are a mostly likeable if fairly nondescript bunch, basically a jock Justin Timberlake, a Mr T-lite, a feckless featherbrain and a deadbeat town sheriff (co-writer Burns), whose daughter is more Playmate of the Month than all-American girl next door. But the relationships are convincing – if exaggerated – and the acting from everyone involved is a notch above the usual in films of this ilk and provenance. The special effects are ubiquitous and mostly very effective.
If there’s one issue it’s that in this Director’s Cut the pacing has been allowed to wander, occasionally prompting a desire for the film to get back on track, but the story is effective and encompasses many of the clichés of the genre without allowing any of them to feel tired. The action, of which there is much, is physical and sharp and unexpectedly accomplished, and while the climax of the film might not be quite the battle it feels promoted to be, the plot turn that precedes it mitigates against it being a disappointment.
Cineastes will hate Lazer Team, but if you like to wash your popcorn down with a beer or three, this is the perfect entertainment to accompany the experience.
Special Features: Audio commentary / Orchestra featurette / VFX breakdown / Concept art / Bloopers / Deleted and extended scenes / Trailers
LAZER TEAM / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MATT HULLUM / SCREENPLAY: BURNIE BURNS, CHRIS DEMARAIS, JOSH FLANAGAN, MATT HULLUM / STARRING: BURNIE BURNS, GAVIN FREE, MICHAEL JONES, COLTON DUNN, ALLIE DeBERRY, ALAN RITCHSON, STEVE SHEARER / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 15TH