I love movies. I really love movies that are geek/nerd related. I especially love movies that are geek AND take place in or around Seattle. When I saw the trailer for Beta Test, I knew I had to see it. So I sat down in my favorite spot on the couch, fired up my Xbone (Xbox One), opened Plex and started the movie.
As usual, I had stayed away from all reviews of the movie and watched it with an unbiased eye. The movie starts out with Linden Ashby’s character, Kincaid, taking part in a TV interview about his game development company, Sentinel, and the all-too-familiar gun control rhetoric currently saturating the real world news.
Shortly after the interviewer asks about former employee Orson Creed (played by Manu Bennett), we are taken to Creed’s home where he and his wife are attacked; Creed is knocked out; and the attackers attach a device to the back of his neck. The significance of this device is soon revealed when we’re introduced to Sentinel’s top game tester, Max (Larenz Tate). Which leads us to the premise of the movie–Max is controlling Creed through a video game.
I don’t want to give too much of the movie away, so I’ll end the synopsis there. Written and directed by Seattle native, Nicholas Gyeney, Beta Test reminded me of Gamer. I especially liked how Seattle was represented in Max’s gameplay — the virtual city, streets and action all looked great. The game system though, did not.
Not much bothered me about this movie–Solid plot, good acting, and decent visual effects. But once again, gamers (which I am), are portrayed as the typical “nerd living in mom’s basement.” Only this time, Max lives alone and is suffering from agoraphobia (the reason behind his agoraphobia is unbelievably lame by the way). He has a stupid ritual of rubbing his Nintendo and Xbox “shrines” (I’m not kidding, they are sitting on little shelves around the living room) before playing a game, in addition to wearing fingerless gloves. Seriously? Where the hell do movie writers, directors, or producers get this shit? None of this made me believe Max is a gamer. And don’t even get me started on the “next-gen” system Sentinel sent him. It runs games from mini-DVDs and uses a PlayStation 2 controller. WTF?
Aside from the aforementioned gamer stereotyping, Beta Test is great. I think Gyeney could have done a better job with the downtown Seattle shots (I have NEVER seen 4th Avenue empty like it is in the movie. Not even at 3:00 AM!), and the record setting single-shot choreographed fight scene (8 minutes) was not as exciting as it could have been.
I give Beta Test 4 bags of popcorn out of 5.
Now, I just need to get a copy of the DVD autographed by Gyeney!