Starring Megan Ward, Peter Billingsley, John de Lancie, Sharon Farrell, Seth Green, A.J. Langer, Bryan Dattilo, Brandon Rane, B.J. Barie, Humberto Ortiz, Jonathan Fuller
Directed by Albert Pyun
Expectations: Pretty high.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Arcade is supposedly one of Full Moon’s most popular films, but after seeing it I have little understanding why that is. Video games were pretty popular in 1993, so maybe it’s just that an overwhelming amount of kids convinced their parents to rent this “video game movie” for them (wonder what they thought of the bloody suicide aftermath seen in the first couple of minutes!). But if Arcade actually did so well, Charles Band would’ve cranked out a sequel (or four). Hmmm, all I know is that people seem to harbor a nostalgic love for Arcade that is not in line with the film’s actual quality. That’s no crime, but it did come as a surprise.
Alex (Megan Ward) is having trouble coping with her mother’s recent suicide. She seeks solace with her group of friends: her boyfriend Greg (Bryan Dattilo), Nick (Peter Billingsley) and Stilts (Seth Green). Together they head down to their local arcade (Dante’s Inferno) where a new virtual reality game called Arcade is being test marketed. It’s no ordinary game, though, and after Greg tries it out he is nowhere to be found. Now it’s up to Alex and Nick to uncover the secrets of Arcade and find Greg!
The flip side of this disappointment is that the final act is ridiculously entertaining, comprised of the characters blasting through the remaining six levels in rapid succession. Seems like an odd choice structurally, doesn’t it? But that’s the way it is, so if you are able to persevere through the murk you are rewarded pretty well. The levels themselves are interesting, too, as only one of them seems to follow any kind of standard video game trope (in this case, a simple racing game). In a film that’s otherwise boring and repetitive, this kind of innovation is welcome, but far too late to pull the movie from the quicksand.
No matter how much I liked the weird game world and the film’s finale, there’s no way around the fact that Arcade is a rather bland film beyond these points. You certainly don’t see any flash of talent from screenwriter David S. Goyer that would suggest his later success on films like Batman Begins, that’s for sure! I didn’t particularly care for this one, but maybe you should watch it anyway because it seems to be well-liked in the Full Moon fanbase.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be watching the 2000 Ted Nicolaou film The Horrible Dr. Bones! I hope it’s not horrible. See ya then!