Movie Review: Beta Test (2016)


Directed by Nicholas Gyeney, Beta Test is a 2016 sci-fi / action film. It stars Manu Bennett as Orson Creed, forced to act out action as a the protagonist of a video game. His controller is Max (Larenz Tate), a reclusive pro gamer in the pocket of games development company Sentinel, run by business mogul Kincaid (Linden Ashby). Unbeknownst to Max, Kincaid has Creed implanted with a chip, causing Creed to be entirely under Max’s control as Max plays what he was told is a new video game. Once Max realises his in-game actions are having real-world consequences, he endeavours to find out what is really going on.

+ the concept, and perhaps the real world commentary of ‘video games versus reality’ was interesting, and one I’d like to have seen analyzed a bit more. It must be said, the aesop of ‘video game violence is bad’ seems ironic coming from an action film which makes no efforts to portray it’s violence as anything other than awesome
+ there is one single-take shot, of roughly six minutes, which sees Creed fighting through a number of random goons. It was an impressive scene in an otherwise amateur looking film

– overall, the film looks very amateur, as if it was a youtube short turned into a feature length film. The segments showing the “video game” are average to todays game standards
– all of the acting is rather poor, even from personal favourite Manu Bennett. I am not sure if it was the script or the fact he was literally controlled for much of the film, but he just didn’t seem to show much of the intensity I knew and loved from roles in Arrow or Spartacus
– Zane (Kevon Stover), the secondary antagonist and the muscle to Kincaid, is laughably bad, enough so to warrant his own point in this list of negatives. It was literally as if they grabbed some guy off the street and told him to do his best Danny Trejo impression
– one single line from a bit player at about the mid way point showed more promise than where the film ended up, and I am sorely disappointed it was not expanded upon better. There were several implications given very subtly, but none came to be of any importance

> the opening credits are set to a montage of real-world events, including the assassination of JFK, the attacks on the World Trade centre and an Anonymous protest, but none of these things have much to do with the movie itself. It was an awkward way to start things off, if nothing else

Should you see this film: From the synopsis, I was expecting some more in line with Gamer or Avalon, but this film did not math the intensity of the former or the intrigue of the latter. This was a mess from start to finish, and not worth watching

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