James Rolfe has always wanted to tell stories. His dreams were realized from the moment the video camera “brought out the beast” in him, as was described in the 2008 documentary about him, “Cinemassacre 200.” This was the art medium through which his storytelling dream would be realized. It swept his youth and continued on to his adulthood.
Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, digital luxuries that we tend to take for granted today were non-existent. Filmmaking was a very tedious process for Rolfe growing up, but that never stopped him. It was his passion.
“It’s just something I do and that’s the story of my life,” he said in “Cinemassacre 200.”
Rolfe’s character, the Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN), was born out of a joke for his friends in 2004. By that time, Rolfe already had a number of short films under his belt and had launched his own website, cinemassacre.com.
But it was ultimately thanks to the Nerd character that his popularity took off.
The character ushered in a web-series that continues to run after a decade.
In the series, the Nerd reviews some of the worst retro video games ever made. It’s ironic that AVGN episodes have required even less effort than Rolfe’s other projects, but it connected with avid gamers and anyone else who enjoys looking back on nostalgic times.
The show was a sensation and its cultural impact is undeniable, as it established the formula that many online reviewers would imitate. No basis could have been more appropriate for Rolfe’s first feature film.
Development of “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” started in 2006 when the Nerd’s fame was beginning spread. It was officially announced in 2010 and an Indiegogo campaign started on Oct. 17, 2011, with a goal of $75,000.
When the campaign reached its closure on Feb. 2, 2012, the campaign had accumulated $325,371.
Such is the dedication of Rolfe’s loyal fans, without whom this project may never have been possible.
“Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” centers on the urban legend surrounding the supposed worst video game ever created: “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” for the Atari 2600.
The story goes that Atari, Inc. buried game cartridges in a landfill in the New Mexico desert, a fate only fitting for a game that should never have seen the light of day.
Since the beginning, Rolfe was asked by fans to review the game, and for years he avoided the self-torture.
Well, fans, consider this movie your answered prayer. It falls to the profane King of Game Reviewing himself to prove this legend true or false, once and for all.
In an interview, Rolfe described his magnum opus as having “mixed genres, with something for everyone to latch onto.”
True to his word, the AVGN movie has it all: action, adventure, sci-fi, horror and, of course, comedy, in addition to aliens, zombies and a titan of apocalyptic proportions. Anyone who has watched enough Nerd episodes will have a lot of fun recognizing the many “Easter egg” jokes littered throughout the film.
The movie also refrains from use of CGI, choosing instead to concentrate on practical effects such as models and puppets.
“Sometimes the fact that you can tell something is fake only adds to the charm because it engages the audience in the process of what it takes to make a movie,” Rolfe said in “Cinemassacre 200.”
In essence, the film serves as a tribute to the B-Movie era and incorporates all the storytelling elements that influenced Rolfe growing up, akin to such filmmakers as Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino.
Rolfe completed “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” in 2014. Throughout the summer, it was shown in select theaters across the United States, starting with its premiere in the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles.
Rolfe conquered overwhelming odds to reach this breakthrough and all the strife was not in vain. His first feature-length production is a movie by the fans, for the fans.
Here’s hoping for many more.