Max Cloud is a super nostalgic action-adventure movie about a girl who gets trapped in her favorite video game. With the help of her friend Cowboy playing in real life, she’s got to find a way to get out of the game and back to her life. The film begins with a ship crashing on the planet Heinous – home to an intergalactic prison.
We’re briefly introduced to some of our main characters before we’re taken out of Planet Heinous and into the year 1990, in Brooklyn, NY. Sarah, in quintessential 90’s teen fashion, takes a break from her game — we see she’s playing Max Cloud — to answer her plastic see-through landline. Sarah’s Dad (also in classic 90’s dad gear) comes in to let her know that she won’t be able to play any more video games over the weekend.
Sarah, of course, resumes playing. She finds an Easter egg in the game, which features Max Cloud encountering a fabulous male witch. Her dad comes back in to her room to get her to stop playing, and with the witch still on the screen, she wishes out loud that she could just play video games all day every day. What Sarah doesn’t know, is that the witch was actually listening, and he’s about to make her wish come true.
Max Cloud is filled with fun gaming action sequences, backed up by fast synth music. Fighting scenes that flash between in-game fighting and Cowboy playing the game are particularly enjoyable to watch for anyone who’s played games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. While some scenes play direct homage to specific retro games, over all, Max Cloud nails the sense of early 90’s nostalgia.
While the space ship set is over the top, it’s fun, and definitely reminiscent of early 90’s sci-fi aesthetic. All of the sets, props, and costumes are vibrant and nostalgic, truly like walking into 1990. The sets in Max Cloud are limited; we only go between Sarah’s real life bedroom, the spaceship, and the prison where the bad guys hang out — but they’re well done. It’s very reminiscent of early 90’s tv shows like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. This, along with some great characters, makes Cowboy and Sarah’s journey really fun to watch for anyone who grew up watching a lot of TV in the 90’s.
Along the journey on Heinous, Sarah (as in-game character Jake) meets Commander Rexy, played by Sally Collett (who also co-wrote the film). Commander Rexy is a great character to watch, providing feedback and smart come-backs for Jake and Max Cloud, and she’s perhaps the most convincing in her delivery of cheeky one-liners. Franz Dremah is also excellent as Cowboy, nervously trying to save Sarah in her game while he plays alone. Lashana Lynch and John Hannah are fantastic as the absolutely ridiculous villains Shee and Revengor.
With exciting twists and detours along the way, we learn a lot about the origin stories of the games characters as they go about their adventures. It’s simple, but it’s effective in making us care about these characters who could easily be one-dimensional — especially like the narcissistic ship captain and namesake of Sarah’s favorite game, Max Cloud himself. Scott Adkins is goofy and great as the hero of the game in this departure from his usual action movies.
Although not all of the jokes in Max Cloud land well, it’s still an entertaining movie that anyone who grew up in the early 90’s will enjoy. If you enjoy retro games and early 90’s aesthetic, you’ll definitely appreciate this light-hearted journey through a video game.
Max Cloud comes to digital platforms December 18
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