Lazer Team  is Roosterteeth’s (an internet entertainment network) first feature length film and their first crowd-funded film. As a young teen, I watched Roosterteeth’s staple web series Red Vs. Blue, a sharp, witty and surprisingly poignant story of soldiers within the Halo videogame universe. As a young and stupid teenager, I didn’t understand much of the comedy and didn’t appreciate the masterful and meticulous construction of the humour within it, but watching it now I’m shocked I didn’t like it even more. That being the case, I had fairly high hopes for Lazer Team.
Where's the money? Being the highest crowdfunded film on Indiegogo (at the time) isn’t easy. Despite the near two and a half million dollars raised for the film, most sci-fi films have budgets tearing into the dozens of millions. This lack of available funds is apparent at times. Some poor CGI hampers otherwise brilliant production values. This is especially conspicuous in the third act and denouement where the CGI becomes more prominent. Near the start of the film a video chat conversation highlighted some major and extremely overt audio issues which infuriated me to no end. Outside of these certain cases, the CGI and technical aspects of the film are inventive and creative (especially in regards to the shield and laser blaster which look and sound just right). The film’s use of slow motion creates a sense of speed and chaos and generally looks great, however, some jarring changes in exposure and colour temperature ruin the effect.
Familiar faces. Lazer Team is cliche and selectively subversive. In terms of its overall plot and characters, it fits snugly into a sports film archetypal plot which, for a sci-fi film, is quite fresh and unique. This, however, doesn’t change the fact that as an audience we’ve seen many of these characters and beats several times. We’ve seen the oversexualized daughter, the dead-beat dad and the aggressive high school sports star and we’ve seen stories where a group of unlikely friends are forced together for the greater good. As a result, Lazer Team doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table. Despite this, there are moments of self-awareness which point and laugh at sci-fi tropes and concepts. Though the characters can feel like factory assembled archetypes at times, the actors fill them with their own voice and make them lovable by the end of the film. Burnie Burns and Michael Jones give great comedic performances though some of the lines and supporting cast are unconvincing in their roles.
Some killer, no filler. The film’s jokes, like many elements of the film, are inconsistent in their quality. Many are puerile and some of the slapstick fall short of eliciting a laugh, however, for the most part, the film is funnier than not. The majority of the good jokes come from the concept and feel inventive and part of the film as a whole. The film is fast paced and has a cause and effect structure which keeps the pace up and cuts a lot of the filler out, keeping proceedings interesting. The film’s villains and secondary villains , however, are underdeveloped and uninteresting respectively but manage to impose a reasonable and believable threat. The film’s action sequences are messy and difficult to read due to the fast cuts and shaky-cam, an issue plaguing many action films of late. The only respite from the wild and shaky camera is the slow motion which helps consolidate all the scene’s information into a single shot, clearly and cleanly.