'Lazer Team' uses a unique concept to play out a familiar trope
It’s a story you’ve heard before: Earth is in danger and our last hope is in the hands of four average Joe misfits who just need to learn how to work together. But in Lazer Team, the first feature-length film from comedy and gaming-centric production company Rooster Teeth, that need to work together is a lot more literal than in most films with similar storylines: Each protagonist is permanently equipped with one part of a powerful super-suit meant to be worn by only one person.
Lazer Team, out now on YouTube Red, begins in 1970s Texas, as the U.S. military branch D.E.T.I.A. (Defense Extraterrestrial Intelligence Agency) receives a warning message from the peaceful alien race of Antarians that a warring alien race will attack Earth years in the future. The Antarians promise to send D.E.T.I.A. a weaponized power suit to help defeat the evil aliens, and the military prepares for the attack by training a “champion of Earth” from birth to use the four functions of the suit: an intelligence-boosting helmet, super-speed boots, an impenetrable shield, and a powerful laser cannon.
However, when the suit finally arrives, a firework accident causes it to fall in the hands of four random dudes instead of reaching the military golden boy, Adam. Hot-headed high school quarterback Zack (Michael Jones) is drawn to the laser cannon, washed-up former quarterback Herman (Colton Dunn) is drawn to the boots on account of his chronic limp, dopey yokel Woody (Gavin Free) snags the helmet, and finally, the oft-disrespected local cop and de facto voice of reason Hagan (Burnie Burns) accidentally finds himself with the shield arm while trying to keep Zack from interfering with the bizarre technology any more. D.E.T.I.A. quickly finds and apprehends the confused group, and a bitter Adam (Alan Ritchson) explains that the suit compononents cannot be removed once they lock onto a wearer, forcing him to train the decidedly non-golden-boy team to defeat the impending alien attack.
While the plot of the film is largely predictable, tired fare, it’s hard to deny the enthusiam of the Rooster Teeth team. Burns, Dunn, Jones, and Free feed off each other’s jokes and gags naturally, and Burns and Dunn in particular manage to infuse some heart as well with the revelation of their shared traumatic backstory. Ultimately, while some jokes certainly fall flat (thankfully Free’s character loses his unfunny group dunce personality thanks to the super helmet early on), it’s the confidence and energy of the four leads that keep the comedy moving forward.
Also of note are the effects and design of the film. In 2014, Rooster Teeth began seeking funding for Lazer Team by setting up an Indiegogo page, setting their goal at $650,000. When the campaign closed, more then 37,000 backers had raised nearly $2.5 million for the film’s production on Youtube Red. Of course, this tremendous donation went a long way in upping the effects and design value for Lazer Team. The sci-fi and action elements fo the film are very capably executed, albeit with a few shticky moments that can be attributed to the movie’s spoofy tone. In particular, the climactic final battle came off like the last ten minutes of an episode of Power Rangers — complete with the group putting their individual parts together to form Megazor… er, I mean, the Dark Matter Ray.
Lazer Team may not be a necessarily fresh story, but an energetic cast and some unique sci-fi ideas make it a fun little movie to check out for fans of the genre.