Max Jenkins (Tom Plumley) and his pals Reggie (Joey Morgan) and Liz (Hassie Harrison) spend most of their time, free and otherwise, playin’ a Warcraft-esque MMORPG, but those fabricated adventures are about to become all to real…
You see, Max works at a video game store… in fact all of his pals do; and it’s within those confines that our hero discovers a long lost Colecovision game, Nether Dungeon by name, that when conquered unleashes an ancient curse upon the small town our protagonists call home.
Soon Max, Reggie, and Liz must face the Nether, along with the help of one of the game’s creators, Eugene Wylder (Greg Grunberg), and their level of success will determine the fate of the entire world!
One of the greatest assets to Max Reload and the Nether Blasters is the mythology the flick conjures up around the fictitious video game that causes so much trouble for Max n’ friends. There’s a brief television documentary (narrated by Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Wil Wheaton) featured within the film that details the lives of it’s creator’s and the game series itself.
It’s that commitment to world building that clues the viewer in to the fact that writer/director duo Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp have nothing but complete conviction and investment in the off-kilter world they are presenting, and that translates to us cats n’ creeps being totally all-in on the adventure as well.
Aiding and abetting the above are the game performances from the cast; our heroes are a truly likable bunch, and the actors do a fantastic job of making us want to follow them into a world of 8-bit danger and all too real consequences… okay, nothing in this frantic flick is realistic, but goddamn it, it’s entertaining as all unholy hell!
Adding to the fun are some 8-bit-style segue scenes (and a bit of regular animation as well) and some great cameos from legendary actors such as: Martin Kove (The Karate Kid, Rambo: First Blood Part II), Kevin Smith (come to think of it, the plot of this film could easily have been an episode of Smith’s short lived early 2000’s animated version of his indie-cinema hit Clerks), and Lin Shaye (Critters, Insidious… and so very, very much more)… not to mention some truly awesome CG visuals and creatures (which is no prob in a flick about video games coming to life)!
Bottom line; Max Reload and the Nether Blasters is a whole heap of fun and definitely not to be missed, especially if you grew up in the 8-bit era and dreamed of what it would be like if you were transported into your favorite video game (not a stretch as the games of the day required your imagination to fill-in the gaps left by limits in technology)!