Aliens and dinosaurs and furries OH MY!...
...Brought to you by the neon and techno-filled interior of Nathan Letteer’s mind, Monster Force Zero lives and breathes the nerd lifestyle and dips into several fandoms with a significant level of sincerity. It may be yet another film in the 80s nostalgia genre, complete with VHS style graphics, repetitive pop music dance scenes, and radical bright colors, but Monster Force Zero possesses something other retro movies lack: a tyrannosaurus rex who shoots lasers from their eyes. The costumes, the quotes, and the guest stars dip into multiple fandoms; from video games and comic books to Star Trek (Garrett Wang) and wrestling (Pat Tanaka). (Throughout this article I will use the word “nerd,” but I mean it in the most loving way possible.) Nerds, in this sense, mean people who develop an undying passion for a part of pop culture which might otherwise go largely unappreciated by the general populace.
A comic book artist named A.I. (Adam Singer) who loves everything nerdy attends a con to promote his creation: Monster Force Zero. Unfortunately, A.I.’s experience has him encounter con-bullies named Destroyers of Destruction who mock MF0 and A.I. for his love of comics and Ancient Aliens. Gunns Lazar (Heath C. Heine), the leader to the Destroyers, closely resembles Biff Tannen and other meatheads, which shows us even in an environment owned by nerds, bullies still exist. Like any con, the true experience occurs at the after party where nerds of all types mingle, model their cosplay, and show off their battle skills in a competition with some Last Starfighter-style motivation.
None of the characters question it when a floating robot named Drone-bot 64 appears with a team of furries playing the prize awarding spokesmodels. Instead, the good guys and the con-bullies eagerly partake in the battle. A.I., joined by girlfriend Kadabra Couture (Dalena Nguyen), comic artist Ammorama (Aeon Cruz), and a silent stranger dressed in a Yeti costume (Shale Le Page) face off against the Destroyers in a laser tag type game where the players gain powers from touching glowing orbs and then use said powers to zap each other. Taking place in an obstacle course likened to the original American Gladiators, both teams embrace the neon glow of their new super-human abilities. The cosplaying hits a new level of fantasy fulfillment as the powers connect directly to the costumes and allow the wearers to become the idealized version of themselves.
After the glow-y and magical game, an advanced alien species (who uses Apple IIGS looking technology) explains the plans to their newest recruits: winners of the battle, Monster Force Zero. The little battle between MF0 and the Destroyers goes way beyond the con and actually serves as a competition to find fighters for an intergalactic battle against an evil space scientist. The good guys feel prepared because they have a Yeti on their side. However, the bad guys have a yeti-gone-bad, named Squatch, and now MF0 has to kick some yeti ass! Space travel, Gamma-reptilians, and Mega-Manesque music make for an interesting retro sci-fi/fantasy adventure.
Pat Tanaka probably sums up the movie the best when he heartfully tells A.I. “we need more creators.” The world would benefit from more people unabashed about their creativity and willing to share their fantasy worlds or merely revel in others’ creations. Monster Force Zero was made by nerds who love being nerds and wanted to create a film for fellow nerds. Throughout the film the director provides the viewer with references from more obvious pop culture with mentions of Close Encounters, Star Trek, and Assassin’s Creed, but even more obscure fandom such as Ultraman earns a nod or two. My powers of fandom detection are unworthy, but those more immersed in various types of pop culture will enjoy the comic-con who’s-who storyline. Originally crowdfunded on Indiegogo and shot at an authentic comic-con, Monster Force Zero does not have the budget to fulfill all the big screen sci-fi dreams, but if people can enjoy cosplay, then they can enjoy a low-budget homage to Comic Cons. Honestly, B-movies are just films in cosplay anyways.
Monster Force Zero comes to VOD from Wild Eye Releasing October 13th.
By Amylou Ahava
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