A videogame movie.
The new york times has two different reviews of this movie, and to my surprise they are complete opposites. The first one, by A. O. Scott, even designates this movie a “critic’s pick.” The second one, by Seth Schiesel, describes how he could barely get through this movie.
How can this be? Simple – the first person is a film critic, the second a video game reviewer. (I suspect age might have something to do with it as well.)
For the film critic, this movie does an excellent job of bringing to life the repetitive mindless button mashing point acquiring primal stupidity addictive feel of early video games. Back when there was no story, just the joy of being the best button masher. If you tried long and hard enough, (and had enough quarters) eventually you would win and get the girl. For him the movie does an excellent job of representing this feeling.
For the video game review writer, that sentiment is exactly what video games have been striving to get away from for years. Nowadays, video games are the ones that are very likely to be cinematic, and so story driven as to rival and greatly surpass many a cookie cutter movie offering. Today’s video games are often interactive, immersive, engaging stories that might pull you into their word more readily and more deeply than any movie ever has. With that in mind any movie that represents video games as the button mashing of yore is a slap in the face. It’s hard not to get a chip on your shoulder when you’re working in an industry that is trying to get recognition as a viable artistic medium and is constantly being compared to film.
Who to believe? Depends on which camp you’re in I guess. For me it was interesting to see opposite reviews in the New York Times, I had no idea this movie would be so divisive.