TADFF 2015: Lazer Team
Lazer Team arrived at the festival riding an impressive wave of hype. Selling out back-to-back screenings, fans of the comedy troupe known as Rooster Teeth, the brains behind the long-running web series Red vs. Blue, came out in full force to see their beloved actors on the big screen. Quoting lines while standing in the dense line, and continuing the love once inside the cinema, the setting could not be more perfect for the sci-fi comedy.
Despite this euphoric atmosphere radiating off of the Rooster Teeth disciples, I could not help but feel like the old guy in the room by time the film ended. While I was not yelling at the hipsters to get “off my lawn”, Lazer Team did not engulf me the way I had hoped it would.
To its credit, the film’s premise is ripe with comedic potential. Receiving an intergalactic message from a friendly alien race decades ago, in which they warn of some evil creatures plotting to takeover Earth, the government takes it upon themselves to raise a super-soldier of sorts, Adam (Alan Ritchson), to be the “Champion of the Earth” against this unknown foe. To assist Adam in battle, the aliens send down a ship containing a suit made up of four key pieces of technology – a helmet that gives the wearer enhanced intelligence, speed boots, an energy shield arm, and an energy cannon arm.
Unfortunately for the citizens of Earth, the ship is accidently shot down by four perpetual underachievers. There is Hagan (Burnie Burns) a cop who gets no respect from anyone in his small town; Herman (Colton Dunn) a former athlete who blames Hagan for the derailment of his football career; Zach (Michael Jones) a cocky quarterback whose juvenile ways annoy his peers; and a man named Woody (Gavin Free) who takes the term “dimwit” to a whole new level. When each man becomes physically attached to a piece of the suit the army has no alternative but to attempt to turn this ragtag group, self-proclaimed “The Lazer Team”, into heroes.
Playing like a cross between a Steven Spielberg style Amblin production, and a zany Police Academy style comedy, Lazer Team never quite feels comfortable in either realm. Though director Matt Hullulm gives a valiant attempt, the characters are too thinly written to sell either the heavy sci-fi action or the comedic beats convincingly. There is very little about the men that made me want to invest in their journey. While the film has its moments, there are some great one-liners within, I found myself watching Hagan and his team go through the motions with little attachment to anything occurring onscreen.
It also did not help that the action and comedy frequently felt at odds with one another. The film either gets so infatuated with the special effects that it loses sight of the humor, or the comedy gets so silly that it feels out of place when the action sequences kick in. Even the hardcore Rooster Teeth fans in the audience were oddly silent for large portions of the film. It is completely possibly that they were merely taking it all in for the first time, but their silence spoke volumes to me.
Though the film looks great from a visual standpoint, and the cast occasionally displays glimmers of the comedic timing that has brought them legions of fans, Lazer Team ultimately missed the mark.