By Chris Campo
The first Lazer Team holds a special place in my heart. Not only was it the first film I reviewed on this here website, it was also when I saw the company I had been following for a good chunk of my life up on the big screen for the first time. Rooster Teeth's first feature film was a delight to behold, and though it has many flaws, it's still a film I proudly and loudly love. So much to the surprise of no one, I was excited when the film did well enough to earn a sequel. I saw this film in a packed house full of Rooster Teeth fans and the atmosphere before the film started was incredible, but how did I feel leaving the cinema...?
After failing their training to be shipped off across the galaxy, the Lazer Team is broken up, and all struggling to make ends meet. All except for Woody (Gavin Free), who stayed with the U.S. Government to develop a technology to travel through space via a rift, or wormhole. When Woody ends up getting lost in space, fellow scientist Maggie (Nichole Bloom) must convince the rest of the Lazer Team (Colton Dunn, Burnie Burns & Michael Jones) to put aside their differences and save Woody from the unknown. Upon arriving in unfamiliar territory, Lazer Team discovers that finding Woody is only part of their problem, as the evil alien race from the first film is seeking revenge on Earth, and the Lazer Team themselves.
This sequel fixes many of the first film's issues. There's a stronger female presence, the villains are more developed, the editing is tighter and the visual effects don't look as amateur. Despite this, while I did enjoy the film very much, I prefer the first film slightly more. This film is a great deal of fun, and there are some serious stand out moments, but the wackiness sometimes steals the spotlight from the charm that made the first so enjoyable. This film is still charming, like most of Rooster Teeth's productions, but something was lost in trying to make the film as crazy as it is. Credit where credit's due though, they went all in for this film. Seemingly none of their crazy ideas were shelved and they all made it into the cut.
When the bigger, louder and more outlandish moments hit, they hit hard, and the theater would erupt in laughter. They hit often, too. I was laughing fairly consistently. The film even brings to life one of the funniest moments in Rooster Teeth's history in a way that was shocking (as in I couldn't believe they actually did it) and satisfying for long time fans. In a film whose tagline is "deep space is about to get probed", it would be expected to see some sophomoric humor, and like the first film, it's mostly funny, but in a extended scene where the Lazer Team is trapped in the waste section of an alien toilet went too far into gross-out territory. I didn't find that scene funny and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Our four heroes fall back into their roles very nicely. The actors themselves are very charming and are giving the movie their all. The members of Lazer Team are all given time to grow a little too, with each of them having rather nice character moments. Even though Colton Dunn's character, Herman, is largely unlikable and they almost make a joke out of how he's never redeemed, he probably gets the best laughs in the film. There's tons of great, memorable quips by all of the cast, but some of the stuff that comes out of Dunn's mouth is so ridiculous you can't help but laugh. Newcomers Nichole Bloom and Victoria Pratt also fit nicely in the cast. Bloom's Maggie provides the film's (few) heartfelt moments and she gets a lot of laughs trying to keep the boys at bay. Pratt's Agent Killborne takes on a villain role, and where I thought some of her more menacing scenes felt forced, her character has a great, well-written reveal that tied into the first film very nicely.
Lazer Team 2 is gung-ho on expanding the sci-fi universe merely teased in the finale of the first film and it works. Action takes a back seat to world building here. We learn a lot more about the Antarian's race and their intergalactic tournament that the Lazer Team put an end to in the first film. It was nice seeing them back, even though they are covered up in cloaks the whole film, because having CGI aliens running around probably wasn't in the film's budget. The one big action scene between the team and the Antarians is a great, exciting and hilarious scene, but it was so fun that I was left wishing the film had more action. Not just that scene, but I thought the whole third act was quite brilliant. It was the fun, inventive storytelling and execution I expect with Rooster Teeth. I was smiling like an idiot up until the credits rolled.
And shortly after the credits begin, we are greeted with a tease for Lazer Team 3 that was dumb, but hey, they're in space in this one, they need to up the ante, I guess. I still laughed. The first Lazer Team had many issues that this film ironed out, but to me, I still prefer the first. I still had a blast with this film, and I will watch it an unspeakable amount of times once it's available on Youtube Red. The crew over at Rooster Teeth are amazing people, that's why I have followed them for about 8 years now. I can't wait to see them further their success with Lazer Team 3 and their soon to be released horror film, BloodFest. They deserve it.
3 1/2 Stars
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