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Max Cloud (2020) Review

DTV superstar Scott Adkins playing the hero of a 16-bit side-scrolling computer game sounds like a natural, right? All he has to do is look heroic, spout frequently clichéd dialogue and kick lots of asses as intergalactic hero Max Cloud. Director Martin Owen (L.A. Slasher, Killers Anonymous) and co-writer Sally Collett want to turn that concept into a low-budget TRON or Ready Player One.

Sarah (Isabelle Allen, Let’s Be Evil) is obsessed with the game The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, (the film’s original title). Things get a little out of hand when one of its characters, The Space Witch (Jason Maza, Bulletproof, The Hooligan Factory) conjures her into the game.

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Now stuck in the body of the ship’s chef Jake (Elliot James Langridge, Peripheral) she must help Max (Scott Adkins, Legacy of Lies, Seized) and Commander Rexy (Sally Collett) defeat the evil Revengor (John Hannah, Scorched Earth, The Mummy) and his sidekick Shee (Lashana Lynch, Captain Marvel, Brotherhood) and escape from the prison planet Heinous, and by doing so, get her out of the game and back to Earth, 1990.

Unfortunately, by locking him into the persona of a video game character, Max Cloud wastes Adkins’ abilities. His fights are limited to moves that you would see in a game like this, and that isn’t a lot. That’s fun to watch the first couple of times but grows old fast. And the bland persona he plays means it’s easy for other characters such as bounty hunter Brock Donnelly (Tommy Flanagan, The Wave, There Are No Saints) to upstage him.

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Then there’s the question of just how Sarah manages to communicate with her friend Cowboy (Franz Drameh, Attack the Block, Edge of Tomorrow). He’s able to control her character’s movements via the game controller. But somehow she retains control of what she says within the game. And to him via the system’s audio output.

Having Cowboy outside of the game allows the filmmakers to stretch their budget by having him watch some of the more elaborate scenes as gameplay rather than stage them with actors. That includes the film’s Mortal Kombat styled final battle. Unfortunately, the limited number of sets they could afford, and the limited number of moves Adkins is allowed to have, make the fights we do see start to look repetitive. That’s actually accurate for a lot of these games, but it still makes for less than entertaining viewing.

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Things start to pick up in the last act. There are a couple of twists that help freshen the plot up a bit and a funny flashback to Max’s childhood. But It’s too little too late, the script needed to show this kind of imagination a lot sooner.

As it stands, Max Cloud would have made a great short, or an episode of an anthology show. It could have delivered the fun and got out before its limitations showed. Instead, there are a few inspired moments mixed in with a lot of going through the motions.

Max Cloud is available to stream and on DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.

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