Movie Review: Beta Test Needs Some Serious Upgrades.

BetaTest

Beta Test

Written and Directed by: Nicholas Gyeney

Starring: Manu Bennet, Larenz Tate, Linden Ashby, Sara Coates

The correlation of violence in video games leading to violent behavior in real life – it’s a hotly debated topic everyone has an opinion on, whether they’ll admit it or not.

Andrew Kincaid, the big boss at a gaming industry giant called Sentinel. is no different. Kincaid thinks that guns in games can be more therapeutic than harmful. His rationale being that the digital release of aggression can be cathartic, making it less likely that said aggression will pour over into the real world.

Kincaid and Sentinel’s chief security officer, Orson Creed, seem to be at odds on this issue. Creed is rumored to be pushing for Sentinel to be contractors, creating tech for military use. Kincaid is focused rather on giving players the highest level of game interactivity, and Creed is about to find out just how interactive it can get.

A new day has dawned and Max Troy, a champion gamer and game tester, is about to start beta testing a brand new game for Sentinel. This game seems a bit different from others he’s played- there are no options menus, inventory menus or load screens. But Troy is a pro, so it’s not like he really needs them anyways.

What Troy doesn’t know is that thanks to the aid of a neural control implant, he has Creed on a digital leash and can make him do his bidding. So in this “game” Troy must be at his best, because there are no health packs and extra ammo.

Upon completing the first “mission” of the “game”, Troy takes a break and sees a news story detailing events that match those that he experienced in the game. When he tries to exit the game, he learns that there will be dire consequences for both Creed and himself if he doesn’t continue to “play”. It’s an unenviable catch-22 to say the least.

Maybe there’s a way Troy can help Creed escape the grip of the control device. If he can do that, together they may be able find out who’s responsible and what they hoped to achieve with their sinister plan before any more atrocities are committed.

Beta Test is a little bit Gamer and a little bit Die Hard with a Vengeance. It’s an action movie premise with a great deal of potential that unfortunately it fails to realize.

Nicholas Gyeney spread himself pretty thin on this movie in the roles of writer, director and producer on Beta Test. Juggling all these tasks may have been a detriment to the movie as a whole.

One place this is apparent is the acting, which ranges from adequate to just plain awful.

Manu Bennett, as Orson Creed and Larenz Tate, as Max Troy, are the best this movie has to offer in the acting department, and unfortunately they aren’t allowed to give the performances we know they are capable of. At times they are solid but are sadly wasted here. Frankly a younger actor (late teens very early twenties) should have been cast in the role of Max Troy.  It would intensify the turmoil and inner conflict Troy has to face as a result of his decisive actions.

As Kincaid, Linden Ashby is basically stuffed into the mold of the stereotypical greedy, deceitful and power hungry face of corporate America. It’s essentially a plug and play type of villainous character that could be inserted into any story featuring corporate corruption.

Kincaid’s squad of baddies is full of unremarkable, cliche mercenaries , and their leader Zane is by far the worst. Kevon Stover, in the role of Zane, comes across as cheesy, annoying and frankly just painful to watch.

Abbie, played by Sara Coates, is Creeds wife and also serves as a very important character in the plot. Given that fact, it was confusing as to why she is so horribly underutilized. She put what scant amount of screen time to good use and may have given a really solid or even good performance if she had been featured more.

The production values also left something, a great deal in fact, to be desired. The look of the movie was on or just below par for a made for cable movie – perhaps similar to some of the lesser quality fare on SyFy. The game graphics in the movie were clunky and not even close to what a gamer would expect from an elite game company, as Sentinel was being touted in the movie. Action sequences that switched back and forth between game-play and real world were distracting because of the lack of flow in the game graphics.

I usually want a movie to have a run time of at least an hour and a half.  However, given the quality of this one…I was okay with 88 the minute run time. If the movie were better as a whole I would like to have seen it clock in at between 100 minutes and two hours.

I wish this were just a beta test version of the movie, so that I could give suggestions on what needs to be improved to make it a better movie. Sadly, this is the finished product.

As it stands I wouldn’t recommend Beta Test to any of you readers out there.

5/10…and that’s being  kind.

 


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