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  Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The Move Over, Flash Gordon
Year: 2020
Director: Martin Owen
Stars: Scott Adkins, John Hannah, Lashana Lynch, Elliot James Langridge, Franz Drameh, Isabelle Allen, Sally Collet, Jason Maza, Tommy Flanagan, Sam Hazeldine, Andi Osho, Shirin Daryaie, Martin Ford, Finley Sebastian Pearson, Geraldine Sharrock
Genre: Comedy, Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Spacefaring adventurer Max Cloud (Scott Adkins) has hit a spot of bother, as his spaceship crashes on the Planet Heinous and leaves him and his crew pondering their next move. One of the crew is Jake the Chef (Elliot James Langridge) who is not sure he is equipped to survive on a world where space ninjas are rife, but what he does not know is that Revengor (John Hannah) lives in his underground lair as leader of the ninjas and is planning his revenge. Now he is aware that Max has fallen into his clutches, he is over the moon, relishing the opportunity to capture him, and what remains of that crew if need be...

However, what none of them know is that they're being watched by Rexy (Isabelle Allen), a teenage gamer. That's right, they're all in the computer game in her bedroom, and thanks to a not entirely explained glitch and the assistance of a Space Witch (Jason Maza) - not a Space Wizard, let's be clear about that - Rexy ends up transplanted into the game to play as the Jake character. If you're ahead of this, you will be thinking immediately, didn't Jumanji already do this multiple times? But there were other influences too, such as Tron or The Last Starfighter, those nineteen-eighties effects-filled movies that were so in love with the possibilities of computers they built whole narratives around them.

That said, this was actually set in 1990, trying to hedge its bets in case nineties nostalgia finally began to supplant eighties nostalgia in the prevailing pop culture. Well, it had to happen eventually, but this really straddled those two eras where gaming was upgraded with better graphics to become more violent, frankly, than ever before. Not that this was absolutely soaked in blood and guts, but it did spill some claret and appeared to be aimed at teens and their parents, the latter who would recall the days it referenced and the former who would respond to the dedication to cheese. This was a cheap-looking movie in places, but no cheaper than many an early nineties science fiction television show, so if you had fond memories of Space Precinct then you would be in heaven, or somewhere near it.

Yet it made a virtue of the fact this space opera epic was filmed in a studio in Yorkshire, complete with Brits doing American accents to fool the unwary that this was a transatlantic production, or maybe just have fun with the idea that it could have been. The real draw for action fans would have been Adkins, and he was obviously having a whale of a time given the opportunity to play comedy. He did it really well, too, suggesting if anyone wanted to make a jokey Indiana Jones knock-off, he was your man, though the square-jawed Max does develop a sense of self-awareness eventually, not so much that he is cognisant that he is a computer game avatar, mind you. There was a definite note of panto about this, with ripe overacting combined with Adkins doing his kicks and punches.

As you would expect him to (you didn't hire him to prop up a mantelpiece with a sherry glass in his hand), but if anything they were too good at evoking their sources, as you imagine many would be turned off by such strong fromage whose irony was difficult to discern for those not in on the joke (if there was one thing the nineties was all about, it was irony). But plenty of this was pretty smart in using its limited resources: big combat scenes such as a battle between the three heroes and an end of level boss were rendered in arcade game graphics, which was both amusing and a neat cost-cutting exercise into the bargain. Though they did remember to let us see selected effects nevertheless, many of them endearingly tacky, and it was almost psychedelically colourful as a treat for the eyes, should that float your boat. One suspected, if you were on its wacky wavelength, you would thoroughly appreciate Max Cloud, it was a film out of time but corralled its entertainment for a specific crowd in style. Music by Timothy Boyce-Hobson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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