The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud aka Max Cloud (2020)

I caught this when it was available on Hoopla, which I thought was a big deal, since it didn't seem like it was available for free anywhere else. Now that I've finally gotten around to covering it, it's available on Prime too. Either way, it's more Adkins, and we have a lot to catch up on with him. In addition to us, our friends at Bulletproof Action have covered this too, so you can go there to see what they thought. Now without any further ado.

Max Cloud has Scott Adkins as the eponymous hero of a video game that a girl, Sarah, living in Brooklyn in the early 90s, loves playing. As luck would have it, she gets transported into the game, and the only way out is for her friend Cowboy, who has a penchant for eating "tinned" sausage, to beat the game. That's not going to be easy, because the characters are stuck on a prison planet, with baddies aplenty and danger all around--a lot of places where a character can get themselves killed. Will Cowboy do it and get Sarah out of the game before she dies--and more importantly, before her dad wonders where she is?

The  problem with this one, at least for me, is we've been here before, and I don't know what this film is doing that's new on that score beyond giving us a female video game playing protagonist--which I agree shouldn't be understated, as the stereotype is only boys play video games. The thing is, for me it needs to be more than that. It had some nice callbacks to the games I enjoyed from the early 90s, which was a nice touch, but again, nice touches need to be accoutrements to a solid greater whole, and this just wasn't quite there. There was some good Adkins, as he played a goofier kind of hero, almost Inspector Gadget, only instead of gadgets he had his martial arts ability. The sets were nice too, there was a great supporting cast, and I liked the way the shots of the video game on the TV looked like a 90s sidescroller I would've played; but ultimately, I felt like we were left with a concept that's been done many times before, and the film's nice touches couldn't get it past that for me.

We last saw Adkins here when we did Accident Man in March, and I think in that time he's released three more movies. I'm kidding, but it's still believable with him and his output. This is one of five films he had come out in 2020, which is following four each for 2019 and 2018. Of those 13, I've seen 8, and now have reviewed six, so we have a lot to catch up on, and with the rate at which I'm watching films and doing reviews, he might as well be Eric Roberts, I'll probably never get there with him. The thing about this one is, when I saw it being mentioned, I thought it looked fantastic--the problem was, I didn't know it was going the "player transported into her video game route." I do like though that Adkins is showing us his range here, and maybe in the future, we can get more fun, wisecracking heroes from him who also kick a lot of buttocks.


As always, whenever I have bones to pick with the film I'm reviewing, I try to be solutions oriented, so that leads us to what I would have done differently. I think the first thing I would have done is stopped at "kid transported into her video game." Whether it's transported into movies, TV shows, or video games, we've seen it, and I think it takes a lot to take that idea and do something new with it. With that in mind, I think you just scrap the transported into the video game part, and keep the rest. Adkins as the Inspector Gadget-type goofy hero, Sally Collet and Elliot James Landridge as the people left on his crew trying to help him, and the rest of the story of them trying to fix the ship and get off the prison planet is the same. The transported into and stuck in the video game part I think bogged the film down in a way that it didn't need, and also took the elements that were inventive and made it less so.

This film had a great cast, and two great parts beyond the ones I've already mentioned, were Tommy Flanagan as the mysterious intergalactic bounty hunter Brock Donnelly; and John Hannah as the evil villain Revengnor. The problem with both I think is that, with this added intrigue of Sarah trying to get her friend to get her out of the video game, neither Flanagan or Donnely's characters are really developed well, and we kind of lose them for parts of the film. On the one hand it's good, because both do their jobs so well that we don't need a lot of development for them, but on the other, there was a sense that we weren't getting enough of them. Either way, they were a welcome site and fun to have here.


Finally, no post like this would be complete without my own memories of early 90s video game playing. The thing about sidescrollers is they were good on my own, or if only one buddy was coming for a sleepover, but in bigger groups, the fighting games that were becoming popular at that time were a much better bet. Winner stays, loser gives up the controller. My wife and I got one of those new Super Nintendo machines that has a bunch of games pre-loaded in it, and we were playing a lot of Super Mario World, until we weren't. I think we got it like two years ago, and it just sits now. Not that I don't play video games, I have some on my phone, but this movie did bring back some of the nostalgia of loading up on junk food and having a friend over to try to beat a certain game; or just playing myself and trying to pass a certain point or gain another accomplishment. Again, ultimately more accoutrements accompanying an overall idea we've seen before.

And with that, let's wrap this up. This is now available on Prime, and if you have Prime, streaming it without paying extra may be the way to go. It has a lot to like, the problem for me was, I've been there and done that with the whole transported into whatever medium I'm consuming, and I think that hurt the film overall.

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