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Beta Test Movie Review

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Could you play a game knowing every time you pulled the trigger... real people were dying? In July 2016, a game tester named Max was stuck in that very situation.

Directing this 88 minute action/sci-fi/thriller is Nicholas Gyeney. 

Some of the cast is: Manu Bennet as Creed, Larenz Tate as Max, Kevon Stover as Zane, Sara Coates as Abbie, Brandy Kopp as Tech Support and Linden Ashby as Kincaid. 

Max is a video game tester for a global company called Sentinel. Max is testing Sentinel's newest game, which is unlike any first person shooter before it. Thing is, during Max's game play he starts to notice the missions he's completing are very similar to the headlines in the news. Before long, Max realises the character he's playing in the game is really a live person he's controlling: A person named Creed. It doesn't take Max and Creed long to realise they're not the only ones stuck playing this deadly game. If Max and Creed want to survive, not only will they have to unravel the conspiracy behind the game, but... they'll have to beat the boss.

The story that writers Nicholas Gyney and Andre Kirkman came up with reminded me of the movie Gamer (2009), but tamed down. After watching the trailer I was looking forward to screening this one because of the cast and what looked like a cool idea for a movie. Unfortunately, after it was all said and done, the story just wasn't very interesting. The film's major downfall was a weak script. There's quite a few scenes where the characters are supposed to be emotionally amped up, be it pain or anger, and the script lacked the ability to finish the build up, which ended up leaving big scenes bland.

You get some backstory for the characters, but really, Creed's backstory was the only one that helped add to the story. I thought Max's backstory was lame and because of that, when the  character finally overcame his "big obstacle" that was holding him back, it wound up being less of an achievement than it was meant to be. By the end, I didn't really care who won or lost as long as it meant I would see some credits rolling. 

Another problem I had (and I know it's a make believe sci-fi flick) was how easy it was for the game tester to pick up a controller, with no instructions, and start playing a game he's never seen or heard of before, and move the character around with such ease. I kept getting hung-up on watching Tate work his "gamer magic" on the controller. Apparently, if you hold down L1 and mash a couple of buttons you pick up a coffee cup or jump over the hood of a car... and punch someone? Yeah, this probably won't bother a lot of people, but  it was killing me. 

The play-through felt slow and it had trouble holding my attention. Even in the more fast paced moments it felt like things were barely crawling along. Upside, you get to watch Bennett hand out some beat downs on bad guys. Downside, even though the beat downs are cool to watch, once they're over you're stuck watching the rest of the movie. The story was a cool idea, but they just didn't pull off an interesting way of telling it.

As for the cast, first off, you can't go wrong with having Manu Bennet as your lead. Looking back at his work on the TV shows Spartacus and Arrow, you know not only does he have talent, but he can pull off an action flick. However, I was a bit disappointed with him in this one. Part of the blame falls on the script, but the other part seemed like he was reading through his lines instead of delivering them (and it wasn't just Bennett).

I liked the special effects, and for the most part things looked good. I really dug the way they made the game aspect look as the game tester was playing the game. 

Side note: If you're still curious about catching this one, you're in luck because it hits theatres July 22, 2016.

Overall, I think the best thing about this one was the cast line-up. 

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence and language. 

2 stars