PWN3D indie film review

Directed by #FrancoLeng

Starring: #JoeNoh #DavisDeRock #BrianErvin

Film review by Nathanial Eker


Do you remember that viral video of an angry German boy viscously smashing his gaming keyboard? Imagine if someone took that video and stretched it into a feature film. PWN3D boasts an endearing, 90s inspired mise-en-scené and enjoyably geeky intertextuality, but little else. Regrettably, both script and actors let it down immensely and many segments are so riddled with unnecessary screeching that PWN3D becomes difficult to take seriously.


Joe and Bo are average nerds, with all the typical problems that the stereotype brings; they can’t talk to girls, they’re obsessed with video games, and they live with Joe’s Grandfather. However, their lives turn around when they steal a talking fish. Yep. The fish, who lost his wife to a horrific flushing, bonds with the boys, as the trio evade his former owner, Claxton.


Let’s face facts; the biggest issue with PWN3D is that the plot is utter nonsense. While there is a loose cause and effect, a lack of scene structure and convincing dialogue leaves the audience with sequences that are either totally unnecessary, dreadfully boring, or a combination of both. The script aims for Clerks, but settles on Troll 2, with an unhealthy infusion of A Talking Cat. The climax descends into such madness that what little verisimilitude the film did have is demolished by a wave of mediocre geeky fan-service.


Characterisation is ignored in favour of constant (and highly irritating) screaming. Both Bo and Joe are entirely skin deep and the former’s jokes are so painfully devised and executed that the film is defined by cringe, not comedy.


Muted, the film fares far better. The 90s aesthetic is well developed and the often-blurry cinematography works to craft a period piece that exemplifies classic gaming culture. Equally, the use of VFX in an intentionally primitive manner is charming and further engulfs us in that classic period of Sega v Nintendo that gamers remember with fondness.


PWN3D’s soundscape is a mixed bag. At times it crafts a genuinely engaging 8-bit score that works with the irreverent, retro style that the film is going for. Then unfortunately there are the ballads, sung (hopefully) in an intentionally amateurish way, perhaps to satirise traditional love song clichés. At any rate, these vocal songs fail to be funny or sweet and merely add an additional level of childish annoyance.


There is something there in PWN3D; it boasts a sometimes-great soundtrack and a wonderfully nostalgic mise-en-scené. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end, as its sloppy writing, juvenile characters, and nonsensical story make a seventy-minute film feel like we’re watching War and Peace with dorks.


Despite its fantastic geeky style, it’s regrettably game over for PWN3D.



#NathanialEker