Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 10, 2021)
Titles come more nondescript than Max Cloud, but the 2020 filmís name remains pretty bland. When you look at alternate moniker The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, though, you get a much better idea what to expect from this sci-fi adventure.
Set in 1990, teenager Sarah Noble (Isabelle Allen) loves video games, and she especially enjoys the side-scroller Max Cloud. To her delight, she discovers an Easter egg in this program.
However, this offers unexpected consequences, as Sarah encounters a hidden portal that transports her into the game. There she takes over the avatar of Jake (Elliot James Langridge), spaceship cook.
As Jake, Sarah interacts with Captain Max Cloud (Scott Adkins) and deals with various threats. Back home, Sarahís pal Cowboy (Franz Drameh) tries to help Sarah get out of her 16-bit situation.
Though it takes place in 1990, Cloud really pays homage to the 80s in every way outside of its video game technology. It seems clear that 1984ís Last Starfighter offers a big influence, as does 1988ís Big - heck, the characters even acknowledge the connection to Big as well as 1988ís Vice Versa.
In addition, Cloud clearly plays like a movie made in the 80s. From its music to its photography to its general style, everything about it comes across as an homage to that era.
Which doesnít seem like a bad idea for a movie. Though I donít tend to love this kind of semi-spoof, Cloud plays it straight enough that it can be enjoyed as a goofy romp even if you donít want to take it as a parody.
Unfortunately, much of the entertainment in Cloud remains theoretical. While not a bad movie, it lacks the cleverness it needs to work as well as it should.
Some of the problems come from a lack of real focus. Cloud may revolve around Sarahís adventures, but the movie doesnít really bring a central character in reality.
With only 89 minutes at its disposal, Cloud allows itself to branch off into tangents too frequently. Honestly, the movie often plays more like a collection of scenes than a coherent narrative.
That wouldnít turn into a problem if these vignettes seemed more delightful, but they come across as erratic. Although some provide fun and adventure, others simply seem feeble and fail to produce the necessary fun.
For the most part, the actors help sell the material. The weakest link comes from Adkins. He doesnít seem bad as our he-man hero, but he tends to lean toward a Bruce Campbell impersonation without much charm of his own.
The others fare better, at least. In particular, Drameh, Tommy Flanagan and John Hannah bring some spice to their relatively small parts.
Nothing here truly fails, so Cloud turns into a decent, semi-campy little romp. It just lacks the coherence and the competence to make it a vivid comedic adventure.
Footnote: a very minor auditory tag appears at the conclusion of the end credits.