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What if Jumanji and Kung Fury had a love child? The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud answers that question by giving us 88 minutes of sci-fi, action, comedy awesomeness where a gamer is sucked into a retro-style console video game and must complete the game (with some help from the real world) in order to get out alive. With a likable cast, surprisingly well done fight sequences, an amazing soundtrack and solidly fun premise, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.
Set in Brooklyn in 1990, Sarah (Isabelle Allen) loves playing console video games. Her current favorite is a space adventure where Captain Max Cloud (Scott Adkins), Jake the Chef (Elliot James Langridge) and Commander Rexy (Sally Collett) are the sole survivors after their spaceship crash lands on a prison planet called Heinous. They must repair the ship and get off the planet before its inhabitants, led by the vengeful Revengor (John Hannah) and his right-hand woman Shee (Lashana Lynch), steal the ship for their own nefarious purposes.
When the Space Witch (Jason Maza) – from the game – witnesses Sarah’s dad, Tony (Sam Hazeldine), confiscate the game controller from her as punishment for disobeying him, the Space Witch hears her wish to be able to “play videos games all day, every day” and transports her into the game. Sarah now finds herself inside the body of Jake and realizes she must defeat the game and find the Space Witch in order to get back to the real world. Fortunately for her, she won’t be doing this alone. Her food-loving friend, Cowboy (Franz Drameh), back in the real world is ready and willing to help out.
Only the game won’t pause, Sarah has one life left and neither she nor Cowboy have beaten the game before.
Scott Adkins is wonderfully comical as Max Cloud – the over-the-top, ass-kicking, douchebag hero who talks in the third-person. It’s not his fault he’s a bit of a tool – that’s just how he’s coded. But there’s no denying he’s fun to watch as he delivers martial art punishment to the space ninjas (yes, space ninjas) on his ship and equally fun to watch as he delivers silly and obnoxious dialogue. With Adkins’ martial arts background and masculine jawline, he is perfectly cast to play this macho, but fun character.
Elliot James Langridge is also well cast as video game character Jack the Chef, whose body is taken over by Sarah. Langridge’s smaller physique, coupled with the fact he’s playing a girl trapped in a man’s body, creates many comedic moments with his overly masculine co-star. While this film isn’t trying to be too serious (nobody should worry about getting any kind of award nominations for acting), Langridge does a stand-up job of playing the cautious hero who eventually must step up and risk their own life if they are to save the day.
Director Martin Owen (Killers Anonymous, Let’s Be Evil), who also co-wrote the film with Sally Colllett, has made an incredibly silly, but fun movie that is highly entertaining. By channelling the ridiculousness of video game plots and gameplay mechanics (such as learning specific patterns to defeat an end level boss) he’s struck comedy gold. Outrageous characters partaking in ridiculous fight scenes with equally ridiculous costumes and sets, all complimented by a pumping soundtrack, pays loving homage to the video games I grew up with while still delivering a captivating cinematic experience.
The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud may lack the slick big-budget production values of Hollywood blockbusters, and the premise isn’t quite as original as it thinks, but it’s still far more entertaining than most big studio efforts I’ve seen this year. It’s silly, ridiculous and, given how 2020 has been, exactly the right type of light-hearted action comedy to help lift your spirits. If you’ve grown tired of all the serious, tent-pole Hollywood features that bombard you with CG spectacle with the same stable of familiar actors, press start and give Max Cloud a chance.