The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Live Action Films

The Hunt For Red October: Review and Reflection

“Once more, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary — the American Navy. For forty years, your fathers before you, and your older brothers played this game, and played it well. But today the game is different; we have the advantage.” —Captain Marko Ramius

Dubbed by Ronald Reagan as the “perfect yarn”, Tom Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October (1984) began his career as a techno-thriller novelist and was adapted into a movie starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in 1990. While some minor differences arise between the film and novel, the general plot in the film is consistent with its novel counterpart. Soviet submarine captain Marko Ramius (Connery) plots a defection from the Soviet Union while commanding the Red October, a Typhoon-class equipped with a revolutionary magnetohydrodynamic drive that renders it nearly silent to sonar. CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Baldwin) successfully deduces Ramius’ intentions and struggles to convince his superiors that Ramius is planning to defect before the American and Soviet forces engage one another in combat. The Hunt For Red October was a superb novel, characterised by its matter-of-fact writing style and incredibly detailed explanations of some of the technologies utilised on board submarines. The film, although different from the novel in some places, manages to capture the atmosphere and technical details of the novel: despite the plot’s slower progression compared to contemporary movies, all of the moments are integrated well with one another to create an ever-present sense of suspense that would doubtlessly permeate submarine operations.

Tom Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October marks the beginning of the Jack Ryan universe, and my first Tom Clancy novel was Threat Vector: by this time, Jack Ryan Sr. is the President of the United States, having defeated Ed Keatly in elections. However, in The Hunt For Red October, Ryan is a CIA analyst working in London. While Ryan has training as a marine, he is not a sailor and therefore finds himself uncomfortable at sea once he is tasked to prove that his theory holds true. Throughout The Hunt For Red October, Ryan is presented as a dedicated academic in search of the truth with the aim of halting a war. By comparison, the government and military officers are more set in their ways, and find themselves bemused by Ryan’s tenacity. However, even then, there are exceptions: sonar technician Petty Officer Jones of the USS Dallas is a bright mind, devising a clever means of tracking the Red October: his actions are instrumental in helping Ryan locate the Red October and convince his superiors that Ramius is indeed planning to defect. Through Ryan and Jones, Clancy suggests that the military’s capabilities are closely tied to the quality of the intelligence that they receive. While Ryan encounters some resistance to his theory from senior US officials, Commander Mancuso of the USS Dallas is willing to take a chance on Jones’ ideas. It is therefore unsurprising that the USS Dallas does manage to find the Red October, while Ryan is given limited help to demonstrate that Ramius is defecting until he boards the Dallas. This contrast suggests that unorthodox conclusions can still have some relevance, and that solid intelligence is necessary for a plan to execute well: in general, Tom Clancy held the view that the worth of good intelligence acquisition and analysis should never be underestimated, and this theme returns in his novels quite frequently.

A superb movie on all counts, The Hunt For Red October is also said to have inspired for some of the events seen in Hai-Furi. This led some viewers to develop unrealistic expectations for Hai-Furi, and some individuals spent the anime’s entire run complaining about every conceivable element when their expectations were not fulfilled. According to the staff, Reiko Yoshida drew elements from The Hunt For Red October to guide some of the narrative elements seen in Hai-Furi. While long-held to be significant amongst those who watched Hai-Furi, it should be abundantly clear that The Hunt For Red October and Hai-Furi share only similarity in the fact that it is set on the high seas: there are no strong indicators that specifics from the former’s narrative entered the latter. The Hunt For Red October is firmly guided by the narrative, whereas the flow of events is much looser in Hai-Furi. While The Hunt For Red October deals with Jack Ryan’s adventures to prove that Ramius is defecting, Hai-Furi is about the growth the the Harekaze’s crew as they encounter one misadventure after another. The former places a great deal of emphasis on technical accuracy and even allows the military hardware to shine ahead of the cast on some occasions, whereas Hai-Furi was first and foremost about Akeno and her crew. Similarly, there is a very real suspense and sense of urgency in The Hunt For Red October: had Ryan and the USS Dallas failed, hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union may have resulted in a shooting war. In Hai-Furi, limited world-building prevents the implications of the Totalitarian Virus from being a true threat; this was acceptable in Hai-Furi for the reason that the anime never was intended about a larger perspective about the dynamics between two superpowers. Taken together, while Yoshida and the remainder of Hai-Furi‘s staff may have watched The Hunt For Red October as a reference for Hai-Furi, the similarities between these two disparate works remains superficial at best, and consequently, I hold that it is unreasonable to approach Hai-Furi with the same mindset and expect that the anime satisfy the requirements that made The Hunt For Red October such an enjoyable film.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Sean Connery is Marko Ramius, a Lithuanian submarine commander whose father was a high ranking Soviet officer. A highly competent strategist, Ramius is highly adaptive to situations and is counted as one of the USSR’s best minds on submarine warfare, having written the Soviet doctrine on it in-universe. I remark that the screenshots in this post are of an unusual aspect ratio owing to the original: my image capture software crops out letterboxes automatically, resulting in narrower images.

  • In The Hunt For Red October, Jack Ryan is portrayed by Alec Baldwin: this role goes to Harrison Ford in The Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and while Ford does an excellent job in conveying Jack Ryan as a highly earnest, devoted analyst, one downside is that Ford’s dialogue can sometimes be difficult to hear. Baldwin, on the other hand, presents Ryan as a wide-eyed but competent analyst who’s just starting out on his journey.

  • The interior of the three submarines in The Hunt For Red October are coloured differently to ensure that they are easy to differentiate from one another: much of the film is set within submarine interiors, and according to production notes, actual filming inside a submarine would have been remarkably difficult, so in the film, large sound stages were created instead with special apparatus to simulate the motions of a submarine.

  • After Ryan obtains some photographs of the Red October in dry dock, he notices the presence of unusual doors on its superstructure. The images are sent to submarine expert Skip Taylor, who suggests that the Red October is equipped with a magnetohydrodynamic drive. Such a propulsion system would make use of magnets to draw in water and expel it to create thrust, but such technologies remain experimental for the present.

  • Ramius takes full control of the Red October after disposing of political officer Putin. He announces that their mission will be to conduct missile drills off the US Coast, and then sail to Cuba for recuperation once their assignment is complete. Carefully planning each move, Ramius betrays nothing to the other crew: impressed with the mission orders, the bridge crew begin singing the Soviet national anthem.

  • The sonar operator on board the USS Dallas, Jones is presented as being highly attuned to his equipment; he is able to differentiate between submarine signatures and the movement of whales in the ocean. In the novel, he states that he was a Caltech student with aspirations to complete his Master’s and Doctorate dissertation, but created an accident that led to his dismissal. In the meantime, he’s joined the navy, and his expertise with electronics play a vital role in helping the Dallas track the Red October.

  • Ryan is asked to present his findings to US government officials after he discusses the theory behind Ramius’ defection to Vice Admiral Greer. Played by James Earl Jones (who had supplied Darth Vader’s voice in the original Star Wars trilogy), Greer is shown to be open to whatever ideas Ryan has, and furthermore, is also quite fond of coffee. The Red October is described as being an immense threat to US security: being able to move undetected would have allowed it to position itself anywhere along the US coast for a nuclear strike.

  • Ryan describes the Soviet fleet’s movements as an indicator that Ramius had intended to defect, reasoning that as a high-ranking officier, Ramius would be able to hand-pick his staff, making it easier to defect. Coupled with the fleet’s deployment is in response to Soviet fears that the Red October will indeed defect based on a letter, and orders the Soviet fleet has received, this leads Ryan to his conclusion. The officials fear a full-on war in light of the risk that the Red October may be “in the hands of a madman”, but nonetheless ask him to investigate such that a war might be avoided.

  • The novel, more so than the film, gives ample exposition for all of the characters that play a significant role; Tom Clancy is meticulous in detailing even some of the secondary characters’ backgrounds in order to illustrate that they are highly competent for their occupations. This style carries over to his final novels, Threat Vector and Command Authority, and serves a powerful function in ensuring that there is no doubt that the characters’ actions are motivated by their experience and expertise in their given field. This stands in stark contrast with Hai-Furi (or even Girls und Panzer), which leads some viewers to challenge the appropriateness of the characters’ actions in their respective universes.

  • Adding to the realism factor in The Hunt For Red October is the fact that shots are not fired for the sake of action. As a thriller that strives to maintain some factual realism, there is a very rigid structure that ensures shots are not fired out of anger. Much of the fun aspects in the movie come from suspense resulting from close encounters, and watching the different characters draw upon their expertise in response to difficult situations.

  • One of the things about The Hunt For Red October that I initially found a little surprising was that the Russian characters started out speaking Russian, and halfway into a conversation between Ramius and Putin, the language switches out to English. This was done to aid the audiences in viewing and reduce the need for subtitles; when the Russian sailors and Americans are in the same scene, the Russians speak Russian again. In Hai-Furi, there are no Russian characters; Wilhelmina is German, but like Ramius, she is bilingual, being able to communicate with Akeno and the others in fluent Japanese.

  • The Red October’s situation is obfuscated by the Russian ambassador, who claims to know little beyond what Moscow has told him and later settles on the Soviet fleet’s activity as being part of a major rescue operation.

  • The Red October’s voyage is not smooth: a ways into their trek across the Atlantic, their magnetohydrodynamic drive, known more simply as a caterpillar, develops a malfunction arising from sabotage. The identity of the saboteur is not known until later in the film, but Ryan’s remarks earlier, that the senior officials on board the Red October must have been handpicked, would suggest that one of the lower-ranking crew must be responsible for things.

  • Moody grey skies and rough surface conditions define the Atlantic ocean. Ryan is not particularly fond of flying: he states that he’s never slept soundly on a commercial flight before, but the rough ride over the Atlantic makes any discomforts of a commercial flight trivial by comparison. Ryan is sent to make contact with the USS Dallas. Running low on fuel, the helicopter makes to return to the carrier after failing to insert Ryan into the Dallas, but driven by determination to see his task through, Ryan cuts himself loose, falling into the frigid Atlantic.

  • Once Ryan is on board the Dallas, he exchanges messages with Ramius and confirms that the latter is indeed intending to defect. With this knowledge in mind, Ryan boards a rescue submarine (explicitly given as an Avalon-class in the novel) and meets with Ramius for the first time. The comparisons between Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October first appeared on April 21, two days before the third episode aired and brought to attention of the anime community courtesy of one Myssa Rei. Discussions at Tango-Victor-Tango proved nonexistent, and it’s more than likely that none of their members have watched The Hunt For Red October in full.

  • Returning to The Hunt For Red October, after establishing contact with the Americans, Ramius is surprised that they have guessed what he was seeking. I find that Ramius resembles Chino’s grandfather of GochiUsa. If folks are tossing around wild theories about how Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October are related, then I get to throw an inane theory of my own into the mix. I posit that after landing in America, Ramius takes on a new name and lives in the US for several years before moving to Colmar, France, where he starts his own coffee shop, calling it Rabbit House.

  • The US Navy drops a torpedo in the water, but it is self-destructed by Vice Admiral Greer. In order to quickly evacuate the other crew, Ramius stages an emergency with the Red October’s nuclear reactor, and once the surface, Ramius will remain with the other officers to scuttle the ship. Shortly after this news became known, some folks later would claim the staff drew from The Hunt For Red October, models for the characters’ roles.

  • Continuing on from the above bullet, the only character who could have been inspired by The Hunt For Red October‘s characters is Akeno, and even this is a weak claim, as the only commonality the two share is an uncommonly good eye for overcoming adversity. Beyond this, the two characters are as different as night and day. Further to this, sonar does not play as substantial a role in Hai-Furi compared to The Hunt For Red October, and complex political elements are absent in the former. Back in The Hunt For Red October, once Ryan is on board the Dallas, he exchanges messages with Ramius and confirms that the latter is indeed intending to defect. With this knowledge in mind, Ryan boards a rescue submarine (explicitly given as an Avalon-class in the novel) and meets with Ramius for the first time.

  • The action-heavy sequences begin in the movie’s final act: besides Ryan, Mancuso and Jones also boards. Ramius speaks with Ryan about asylum in the United States and also asks about Ryan’s role. Ryan is asked to help with operating the Red October, and Ramius remarks that he’s doing a fine job for someone who’s operating a submarine for the first time. Ryan surprises the others when he reveals that he’s a CIA analyst.

  • It turns out that Ramius’ motivations for defecting arise from a combination of factors: his dissatisfaction with the Soviet Union stem partly from the death of his wife at the hands of an incompetent doctor. Because the aforementioned doctor was related to high-ranking party officials, he was allowed to continue operating without any consequences. Furthermore, upon being assigned the Red October, Ramius realised that such a weapon was built purely for a first strike mission, growing disillusioned with serving the USSR.

  • We’re now approaching the autumn season, and this year’s September has been something of a different one compared to previous years. However, while I no longer return to classes, the ceaseless flow of the season continues along: trees are beginning to turn a deep golden colour, standing out against azure skies. In another week, it will be perfect to go for a stroll in the aspen groves nearby: the temperatures now are ideal for an afternoon stroll.

  • It’s a little bewildering as to how quickly time’s flown by; this is likely a consequence of work, although this also means that I now look forwards to weekends with double the appreciation as I did during my time as a student. Yesterday, I had a chance to attend the Illuminasia festival at the zoo: under a cool and clear evening skies, I was able to watch several Chinese performances and see the meticulously-constructed paper lanterns around the zoo. A piping-hot cup of hot cocoa rounded off the evening, and today, I spent most of it going through DOOM.

  • Back in The Hunt For Red October, the sabateur, revealed to be Loginov, a cook, opens fire and wounds Borodin before fleeing into the missile bay with the intent of launching a missile and sinking the Red October in the process. During a tense standoff in the labyrinthine quarters, Ramius is wounded, but Ryan manages to kill Loginov before the latter could destroy the missiles.

  • I have no doubt in my mind that, had the submarine crews of The Hunt For Red October been assigned to immobilise the Musashi of Hai-Furi, they would have succeeded within a much shorter period than the Harekaze and its allies during the final battle. The logistics of how exactly the Blue Mermaids work in Hai-Furi notwithstanding, I found that the relative lack of world-building meant that numerous elements were poorly-expressed: I recall a particularly awful set of Tweets where someone claiming to be staff attempted to explain away modern aerodynamics and heavier-than-air flight.

  • The Red October faces one final threat: the Konovalov and its captain, Tupolev. One of Ramius’ former students, Tupolev both admires and despises Ramius, making it a point to personally sink the Red October to demonstrate the might of the Soviet system. By capitalising on the arming distance for the Soviet torpedoes, however, the Red October escapes destruction from a direct hit.

  • A second torpedo fired from the Konovalov is set with no arming distance in order to avoid a repeat of the first torpedo, but skilful maneuvering from the Red October results in the second torpedo impacting the Konovalov, sinking it. In the novel, Red October rams the Konovalov broadside, suffering damage to its hull but otherwise sinking it all the same. Either way, the final threat is ended, and thus, the stories enter their denouement.

  • Back on the surface, the rescued Soviet sailors watch as an explosion breaks the surface, leading them to believe that the Red October has been destroyed. The Red October’s fate is not mentioned in the movie or in the novel, but Tom Clancy makes an aside in The Cardinal of the Kremlin, where it’s revealed that the Red October was analysed extensively. Its technology was reverse-engineered, and the vessel was then sunk in a remote ocean basin to minimise the odds of its wreck being discovered.

  • Like my Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie review, one of the greatest challenges faced during the acquisition of photographs for this post was to find those that were not blurred. Live action photographs can be quite difficult to capture when movement is involved, in comparison to anime screenshots, and I needed to go through some sections, frame by frame, to pick those with the least amount of blurring.

  • Despite the vast disparities in terms of emotional tenour and technical detail between Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October, I nonetheless enjoyed the former for the elements that it was able to execute well. Even at present, I’m not sure why some individuals are so vociferous about an anime when such a wide selection of more technical, fully fleshed out stories are available for enjoyment.

  • When Ramius cites Christopher Columbus, Ryan responds with a cordial “Welcome to the New World, sir”.This brings the movie, and this post, to a close: intended to partially be a discussion of the movie and, partially be a rebuttal to dispel any remaining notions that it is reasonable to expect Hai-Furi to match the same standards as The Hunt For Red October, it marks the second time I’ve done a review for a live-action film. Upcoming posts will include my impressions of DOOM after the halfway point, and later this month, a talk on New Game! once its finale is out. As well, I’m planning on reviewing Rick and Morty‘s first season at some point in the very near future, now that I’m only one episode from finishing (consider that I started watching during May 2014).

Hai-Furi will likely be consigned to oblivion within a year’s time, but The Hunt For Red October remains immediately recognisable and has been counted as a timeless film: its narrative and capacity to keep audiences guessing is masterfully executed even some twenty six years after its release. Coupled with a fantastic soundtrack from Basil Poledouris (whose Prokofiev-esque “Hymn to Red October” summarises the entire tenour in The Hunt For Red October completely), The Hunt For Red October was an absolute joy to watch. With its wonderfully detailed presentation of the hardware and depiction of competent naval staff for both sides, The Hunt For Red October is able to connect the significance of every character’s actions with respect to the bigger picture. These aspects result in a film that remains quite memorable and definitely worth watching, and on a similar note, Tom Clancy’s novel is likewise a solid read. With both the novel and film finished on my end, I’ve set my sights on reading Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising, which is set outside of the Jack Ryan universe and deals with a third World War fought entirely with conventional weapons. I’ve heard that there is a fantastic section dealing with armoured warfare and that the novel satisfactorily captures old Soviet military doctrine such that Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy was motivated by Tom Clancy’s works to some extent.

Pure Pwnage Teh Movie: Review and Reflection

“Maybe one day, I’ll inspire so many people to help so many other people suck less, there will be no suck left in the whole world.” —Jeremy, aka teh_pwnerer

With the occasional Pure Pwnage reference I make here and there in my other reviews, it should come as no surprise that I would take an interest to the Pure Pwnage film, dubbed Pure Pwnage Teh Movie: announced back in September 2012 and released in January 2016 (I was in Kelowna assisting with a The Giant Walkthrough Brain performance for UBC Okanagan the night the movie première back home), Pure Pwnage Teh Movie aspired to be the gamer movie that captured the spirit of gaming. Originally a web-based mockumentary on gamer culture, Pure Pwnage‘s earliest videos were characterised by over-the-top, hilarious takes on what life as a gamer is like: captured through Kyle (Geoff Lapire)’s perspective, Pure Pwnage follows the misadventures of Jeremy (Jarett Cale) and Doug (Joel Gardiner) as they interact with both the gaming and real worlds. A TV series was also created but was later cancelled: the web universe generally was met with greater acclaim, so in filming the movie, the creators decided to capture the spirit present in the web series as best as they could, and Pure Pwnage Teh Movie winds up meeting expectations: its been some ten years since Jeremy and Doug have last picked up a controller or pwned someone with a keyboard and mouse. Both are working, but when Kyle decides the time is ripe to produce a film and wishes to bring back the Jeremy and Doug of the web series, he finds out that Jeremy has settled in to life in the real world. However, not everything as it seems: it turns out that Jeremy’s been longing to do something beyond accounting. Rejoining the world of gaming, Jeremy’s surprised at how much games have changed in the past ten years. Things are more team-oriented now, and Jeremy must learn to be an effective team player. While he is able to lead a team to the world championship for a League of Legends tournament, Jeremy discovers that it’s ultimately not about winning, money or fame, but rather, it’s the spirit of friendship, cooperation and being true to oneself that truly matters.

Pure Pwnage Teh Movie rightfully earns its place as a comedy film about gamers: this movie is characterised by outrageous imagery and dialogue, whether it be Jeremy applying his über-micro towards working more effectively at his desk job or Doug smashing up a keyboard in frustration when he dies in Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The movie consistently delivers humour throughout its run, and fans who are familiar with Pure Pwnage will note that many of the elements that made Pure Pwnage‘s web series make a return in some from or another in Pure Pwnage Teh Movie (at one point, when Jeremy takes off, Doug chases after him but grabs a kitchen knife first, reasoning that “you run faster with a knife”). Similarly, in preparation for the competition, Jeremy decides that, given that the South Koreans are the greatest gamers on the planet, the only way he will reach their level of proficiency is to “breath the same air” and “eat the same food” as they do, dining on Korean cuisine and training as he imagines Koreans would. This particular aspect mirrors the legendary training scene during the web series where Jeremy trains under teh_masterer to further his skills after losing to a n00b. This is a movie that will bring smiles to gamers at all turns. While it is a fantastic caricature of gaming culture and non-gamers may find some of the jokes or references difficult to follow at times, but the film is reasonably friendly towards audiences as a whole, presenting a coherent story about Jeremy’s journey to understand what he really wants from life.

In spite of its prominent comedy aspects, Pure Pwnage has always managed to fit in life lessons into its seemingly frivolous narrative. The web series suggested that one must be willing to work hard in order to succeed (“it’s those people who are better than you that make you get better, you know? You gotta just put your nose down, you gotta work harder, you gotta train harder, you know? And you gotta think about that guy so, next time you meet, you’re gonna walk up to him and say ‘you know what? I’m gonna kick your ass!’, and then you do!”), be humble about one’s ability and never become complacent (“you don’t wanna be like all pro up in people’s faces, right, ‘cuz sometimes, you start thinking that you’re probably better than you actually are, and when that happens you start to lose focus, right? Next thing you know, you’re losing to a n00b”) or to be multi-disciplinary in order to adapt to different situations (“If one is to truly pwn, one must pwn in all games”). Pure Pwnage Teh Movie brings these subtle messages back in different forms. The one of major themes in the movie is that a team is only successful if its members cooperate: Jeremy, having played independently for such great lengths, is unfamiliar with working with his teammates to win, but with some tips from Doug, manages to be a better team player. Similarly, when Jeremy’s stubbornness nearly costs him the world championship, it’s Doug, understanding what friendship means, who returns to help Jeremy out. Overall, the main theme in Pure Pwnage is that happiness arises from being true to oneself: Jeremy is not truly happy with his job and returns to gaming, but when he goes pro, he realises that teamwork is a challenge for him. When given a chance to lead a team and sponsor a product, Jeremy decides that in the end, he merely wants to be true to himself, doing what he’s good at under his own terms. He tells Kyle that the film should happen on Kyle’s term’s (rather than the studio’s), and decides to play in the championships, because he wants to, not because he’s here to showcase a new piece of technology. In the end, this is the main message that Pure Pwnage Teh Movie truly seeks to convey: more often than not, people follow paths and careers because it’s what others want, losing sight of what they themselves want in the pursuit of satisfying someone else’s ideals. However, for those who are bold enough to remain faithful to themselves (and put in the effort to make their dreams a reality), the end results can be very gratifying. In Jeremy’s case, he wins the tournament with Doug’s help and goes on to use the winnings to start his own gaming school, where the goal is to make the world suck less and inspire others to do the same.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is my first time doing a full-sized review of a live action feature film in the blog’s entire history: the Skyfall review I wrote back in 2012 was smaller in scale and scope. Boasting thirty images, I encountered some difficulty in distilling out which moments to feature in the talk, since the entire movie, from start to finish, was one hell of a riot.

  • From the writers, the movie is a direct follow-up to the web series: by this point in time, both Doug and Jeremy have full-time employment at an unspecified firm. Jeremy is working s an accountant of some sort, and Doug seems to be involved in various jobs around the office, ranging from mail delivery to window cleaning (both tasks, he performs with the zeal of someone who is one with the first person shooter).

  • Jarett Cale admittedly resembles our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in physical appearance. Pure Pwnage Teh Movie is a Canadian-produced film, although through the movie, it should be clear that not all Canadians are hockey experts who live in igloos and eat copious amounts of maple syrup: here, Doug and Jeremy have bacon-and-kale salads for dinner while discussing technical tax terms that I have no understanding of. As Doug says, the bacon offsets the kale, making for a perfect (“strange” seems more appropriate, though) combination.

  • A parody of modern augmented reality devices, the XOBO is leaps and bounds further ahead than anything that currently exists: it’s supposedly able to read neural impulses and use those to control the UI. The closest we have at present is the Microsoft HoloLens, and my old research lab has acquired a device for development purposes. I’ve used the HoloLens, and it is an incredible experience.

  • Throughout the earlier scenes, Jeremy is taking an inordinate number of pills, and although their effects are never specified, it appears that they slow down Jeremy enough, allowing him to focus on the present. So, when Kyle takes the pills away, Jeremy suddenly realises that everything around him seems to suck, causing him to create a ruckus at his workplace and becomes fired in the process.

  • Jeremy and Doug later return to their old lifestyles and habits: here, they bring back the old RTS vs FPS debate while taking a stroll around the neighbourhood. In the web series, Jeremy and Doug have their differences with respect to which genre of game requires more skill. Jeremy argues that RTS requires more skill in demanding players keep track of multiple events and actions at once, while Doug contends that FPS is superior, boiling down to how well one knows the environment and tools needed for victory.

  • Anastasia (Miranda Plant) makes a few cameo appearances in the film here and there. In the web series, she briefly dated Jeremy but the two broke up near the finale. Jeremy and Anastasia appear on amicable terms in the movie and here, she remarks that Jeremy quitting his job might allow him to begin pursing the things he loves.

  • So, for the first little while, Jeremy and Doug spend their days playing games: a few modern titles, including Street Fighter IV and Counter Strike: Global Offensive make an appearance. Bringing back old memories of Doug smashing his keyboard in a rage after dying to lag, Doug tears up a keyboard after losing in CS:GO. Long accustomed to Doug’s outrageous actions, Jeremy calmly hands Doug a new keyboard.

  • Gaming in and of itself is a hobby, but there are professional competitions that result in payouts for participants who are successful. Jeremy is surprised to learn that competitions are team-based; this stands in contrast to his background as a gamer, as he is most comfortable with playing and winning on his own. This would suggest that Jeremy’s instructor, teh_masterer (a mysterious gamer clad in ninja attire), does not place particular value on teamwork and therefore did not cover it in Jeremy’s training during the web series.

  • Thus, while trying to recruit members for his team, Jeremy runs into considerable roadblocks and constantly tears down his teammates for not playing flawlessly to his standard. It’s ultimately Doug who provides Jeremy some suggestions and pointers for being a more effective leader. With this, Jeremy finally manages to work with his team and train with them in preparation for their first tournament.

  • I personally value self-sufficiency to a very high extent, but in my professional life, I understand the importance of good teamwork and communication: a large majority of humanity’s greatest achievements arise from the result of teamwork, and working independently (such as my graduate work) presents numerous obstacles that might be handled more effectively while working in a group of people.

  • This screenshot captures a sizeable crowd at one of the competitions: such crowds were never depicted in the web series, and the largest competition was the Lanageddon event held in Calgary’s Bowness Community Center during 2005. I visited the venue for myself a few summers ago during the Omatsuri festival (a redundancy, but that’s what it’s called), taking in some of the Japanese community’s cultural events and food in the area.

  • When Jeremy discovers that Kyle’s taken his pills (directly precipitating the movie’s events), he tears up the scrip and resolves to get his job back. This scene remains one of my favourite in the entire movie: Jeremy lectures Kyle on how his actions are for drama, prompting Kyle to go with it. Kyle suggests that Jeremy continue where it’s brighter, so Jeremy counters by moving to a darker spot. When Kyle says he’ll turn up the ISO, Jeremy retorts that he’ll turn down the ISO, even though this is not possible on his end.

  • ISO refers to the sensitivity of the image sensor, and turning it up results in camera gain, but as Jeremy predicts, his actions result in camera lose: it turns out that the movie’s gone overbudget, lost its main protagonist and failed to deliver the romance component. As a result, the company backing the film takes the rights to production and filming.

  • This is perhaps the only R-rated moment in the entire film, when Jeremy decides to expose himself on camera in protest that someone else is filming Pure Pwnage Teh Movie. The TV series had a few moments that were censored, while the web series was careful to ensure that everything remained 14A. I encountered some difficult in capturing screenshots for the movie because, unlike anime or games, there’s a great deal of motion blur, but I did manage to get a good spread of screenshots that capture some of the movie’s spirits.

  • Another director, Mike, is assigned to look after the movie.Here, Kyle and Mike fight over filming Jeremy, slinging insults at one another about notions of pedestrian and the F-stop. It turns out that Jeremy is not conducive to having someone else film him.

  • With some encouragement from Dave, and Jeremy’s background in accounting, Kyle agrees to Jeremy’s request that Pure Pwnage Teh Movie should not involved anything scripted, and simply, “just let stuff happen”.

  • With this new take on the movie, another aspect from the web series is brought back to life in Pure Pwnage Teh Movie: in the first season, Jeremy loses to a n00b and seeks teh_masterer for additional training. After succeeding in convincing teh_masterer that he is indeed ready, he trains in a variety of unorthodox ways, ranging from practising his micro in an empty room with nothing but a keyboard, jogging and executing shoryuken in real life, or eating rice with a Nintendo controller in a scene mirroring that seen in Kill Bill.

  • I love the shots of Jeremy walking down the streets of Toronto, showcasing the different areas of inner Toronto. Here, Jeremy steps into a Korean restaurant and explains that in order to best a Korean at video games, he must immerse himself in their ways. Scenes of him learning to eat (and eventually mastering) Korean food are interspersed with training scenes and Jeremy’s infamous monitor dance.

  • I watched Pure Pwnage Teh Movie on my flight back nearly two weeks ago, and found it to be the polar opposite of When Marnie Was There: whereas the latter is emotionally charged, Pure Pwnage Teh Movie delivers nonstop humour, and I could not stop smiling on my flight back home. The evening I got back, I had dinner at a Cantonese restaurant that served excellent dishes, including sweet and sour pork that was clearly grilled. The next day, I visited the Stampede for the free admissions and pancake breakfast, then walked the midway before having a smoked meat poutine, plus a deep-fried whole onion with chipotle sauce for lunch. Carnaval food is absolutely delicious but also ridiculously unhealthy.

  • Jeremy’s infamous victory dances are a critical part of Pure Pwnage, and it was most definitely welcome to see them (taking the form of Jeremy humping and spanking the monitor or controller of whatever device he’s using to pwn) make a return in the movie. I intend to upload a .gif of this happening somewhere and use it as my default response to whenever something hilarious happens (such as when a certain onee-sama got banned at an anime forum I frequent).

  • Like the web series, whether or not the training actually happens is left ambiguous: in the web series, Jeremy is found sleeping a most uncomfortable sleep on the floor after seemingly overcoming teh_masterer in a micro battle as the final phase of his training, and in the movie, he’s asleep at the keyboard at the internet café he’s training in. In both cases, I imagine that the training did indeed happens, since the sessions do appear to have a non-trivial impact on improving his performance.

  • Jeremy meets Charles, the CEO of the company behind the XOBO. A collected, laid-back businessman, he convinces Jeremy to be the face of XOBO and participate in the international competition. He assures that by backing XOBO’s branding, regardless of how the actual tournament ends, he will be paid handsomely for his troubles, and Jeremy agrees.

  • It turns out that the team he will be playing with is the same team that he had won with in the local tournaments, and in the competition’s opening stages, they proceed to demolish all teams they go against on virtue of skill in League of Legends. I’m not sure how well I’d fare in League of Legends, myself, given that I’ve never been able to motivate myself to play the game and learn its mechanics closely. Like Doug, I prefer shooters.

  • Like Anthem of the Heart, it would be quite vapid if Jeremy and his team waltzed through the tournament without any drama: similar to how Takumi’s revelation that he does not see Jun in a romantic light threatens to derail their performance, Jeremy’s remarks about Shawn being “friendzoned”, leading Emma to leave the team. This particular aspect of social interactions is one that is remarkably complex and therefore, difficult to discuss in a single figure caption (or several), so I will not explore it in greater detail in this post.

  • The new XOBO is lighter than the older model, and Jeremy has an epiphany here, realising that after everything he’s seen, it’s not really about cool stuff or money bringing people together, but rather, it’s about people coming close to one another because they share a passion (for gaming, in this case). Understanding that he’s made a mistake, he accepts that he might lose the competition and proceeds to begin the final match against the South Koreans.

  • Disappointed at Jeremy’s decisions, Doug decides to leave the tournament and return home. However, he has a change of heart, and right as Jeremy’s team is about to fold, he returns to fight in Emma’s place. When Jeremy asks him why he’d made this decision, Doug replies it’s simply because they’re best friends. This marks another theme of the movie: friends don’t expect favours to be returned, but rather, are simply there for one another when things get difficult.

  • Their combined offensive allows Jeremy to win the tournament and the associated prize money, and in the process, Jeremy and Doug reconcile. This has been a longstanding theme throughout the web series, and to see it reinforced again in the film is a reminder that despite their differences in beliefs and preferences for games, Doug and Jeremy exemplify the sort of bond that best friends have with one another. Of course, it wouldn’t be Pure Pwnage without comedy: while the message here is profound in the aftermath of Jeremy’s triumph, the writers mange to work in another moment for laughs.

  • It turns out that Kyle forgot to load fresh batteries into his camera for the tournament and runs out, leaving Jeremy to explain what’s happened. In contrast with the Harekaze sinking for no apparent reason in Hai Furi‘s finalePure Pwnage Teh Movie appropriately uses an unexpected twist to further reinforce an idea: here, it’s that the movie is supposed to be comical in nature. With his prize money, Jeremy decides to open a gaming school and make the world suck just a little less. He’s also back together with Anastasia now, and remarks that many things also happen off-camera that didn’t make it into the film, mirroring reality.

  • As such, when the end credits begin to roll, I found Pure Pwnage Teh Movie to meet expectations for what I had been looking for in the movie: it brings back the elements that made the web series entertaining and scales the narrative up to work in a movie format. In fact, although this might be an “apples and oranges” comparison for some, I would tend to think that Pure Pwnage Teh Movie succeeds in presenting a larger story on the silver screen more effectively than Girls und Panzer Der Film did: unlike Girls und PanzerPure Pwnage Teh Movie manages to keep anticipation high and suspense palatable throughout its run, leading me to constantly ask myself “what will happen next?” Overall, this movie was superbly enjoyable, and I have no trouble recommending this film for gamers. For those wondering how this movie relates to those interested in anime, there is a model of Char’s Sazabi somewhere in the movie, and I’ll let interested viewers try and find it (hint: it’s not featured in any of the screenshots).

While it’s been more than ten years since Pure Pwnage first was posted to the internet, Pure Pwnage Teh Movie has lost none of its efficacy in both conveying a sense of humour, as well as integrating a rather compelling reminder about being true to oneself. It’s a film that I enjoyed immensely, bringing Pure Pwnage into the modern age, complete with Jeremy’s transition from an older gaming culture to one that’s more widespread and occurring at a greater scale. In Pure Pwnage Teh Movie, some of the moments served to remind me of why the old web series was such a phenomenal watch, while at other points, one must marvel at the scale at which some things happen, especially with regards to the tournaments themselves. The web series was done with a much smaller budget, at a much smaller scale, but the different tournaments and competitions in Pure Pwnage Teh Movie illustrate that the writers can effectively tell a bigger story with a bigger budget. In spite of this increase in scale, however, Pure Pwnage Teh Movie remains true to its own theme and true to its origins: it is a comedy about gamers, first and foremost, providing a humourous take on a hobby and community that’s only really begun to become more widely known. Pure Pwnage Teh Movie easily earns a strong recommend from me (I am a gamer and relate fully to all of the jokes), and even for audiences who are not gamers, this movie still earns a strong recommendation for being able to weave in a solid narrative and theme together with consistently good comedy.