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Ashens And The Quest For The Gamechild (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000163940
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 10/7/2014 15:39
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    Review for Ashens And The Quest For The Gamechild

    7 / 10


    So who or what is Ashens? Googling, googling... Ah, the IMDb says... “Stuart Ashens aka ashens is a British Actor, Presenter, Tech Guru and Comedian from Norwich. He is best known for his "Tech" reviews on YouTube under the name Ashens. On that channel he produces mainly Old tech reviews, reviews of cheap rip off technology and Poundland specials in which he reviews cheap "Tat". His comedy is mainly satirical.” Well, that leaves me none the wiser. The choice is whether to do the full reviewer research and delve into Youtube, or just watch the film, and hope it’s funny. Life’s too short. The movie it is. Incidentally this film is on Youtube if you want to try before you buy.

    Ashens may be a Youtube celebrity through his reviews of comically useless items, but he has a secret double life as a Collector of Worthless Tat. He can often be found with his useless sidekick Richard in the back alleys and corner-shop underworld looking for items that taste forgot, and inevitably being pipped to the post by his lifelong nemesis, um... Nemesis. That’s the guy’s name, seriously. But there’s been one item that he’s longed for since the late eighties, the mythical GameChild, a knock-off handheld console that caused serious injury to all who played it. Only 200 were released, and then immediately recalled. But the legend is that one escaped the recall and is still out there.

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    Ashens has long since put that from his mind, but an enigmatic letter reminding him of its existence arrives the same day he meets his old friend, Chef Excellence, now merely Geoff Excellence after being fired from the Terrifically Good Company (the same company that released and recalled the GameChild), down on his luck, and needing something like a quest to perk him up. So now Ashens has a new sidekick, and a new mission (absolutely not a quest) to find the mythical GameChild, only it’s a mission (not a quest) that will cause him to face his past. And it turns out that the Terrifically Good Company isn’t all that Terrific, and not in the slightest bit Good.


    Ashens and the Quest for the Game Child is presented in the “we’re not going to sell this in the US, are we?” format and aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen and 1080i 50Hz. It’s all digital filmography as you would expect from a low budget, part crowd-funded feature, although professionally finished and looking very cinematic. The interlaced format means that the playback isn’t all that smooth, with jerkiness and apparent missing frames serving as a petty annoyance throughout. Otherwise the film looks pretty good, the odd moment of CGI comically low rent as it should be, the film atmospherically colour graded, and with impressive detail levels and depth. Also worth watching out for are the animated title sequence, and a Claymation dream sequence that both come out very well.

    The images in the review are sourced from the PR, and aren’t necessarily representative of the final retail release.

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    You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo English. If you want subtitles, you’ll have to watch the movie on Youtube, which is captioned. This Blu-ray is not. The dialogue is mostly clear throughout though, and the surround gives the film a little space, and oomph for the action sequences. And indeed there are sequences of action within, explosions even. I love the James Bond-style theme song, while the incidental music does enough to drive the story along without really sticking in the mind.


    Ashens and the Long Title is distributed by Anchor Bay, but somehow gets sister company Manga Entertainment’s logo on the disc. The disc presents its contents with an animated menu that is straightforward enough to navigate.

    As for extra features, you’ll have to access the audio commentary through the audio options, and it features co-writers Stuart Ashen (Ashens), and Riyad Barmania (Director). It’s a nice observational commentary, full of information, and they also point out the special edition additions to the DVD/Blu-ray release.

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    Otherwise the disc offers a collection of 4 short behind-the-scenes featurettes running to about 2 minutes apiece, most notable a quick chat with Robert Llewellyn who plays the Professor in the film. Be warned that while the film is rated PG, there are a few 12-rated instances of profanity in the featurettes.

    There’s a spoof GameChild commercial, apparently starring a Nick Griffin lookalike. There’s also a Warwick Davis promo for the film, a spoof tour of the Art Gallery in the movie, character trailers for the film, and the theatrical trailer.

    There are around 4 minutes of Outtakes for the film, and the longest extra here is the 7 minutes worth of Deleted Scenes.


    A few years ago, I opined that the current economic crisis would spur a burst of creativity, and independence of spirit in cinema that would rival that of the eighties, when so much of what we consider classic cinema was made. I thought that a recession would once again coincide with an increase in audiences desiring escapism, as well as more risk taking from filmmakers. I confidently rubbed my hands, and waited for the multiplexes to fill with the same kind of fantastic and original cinema that I grew up with. And I waited... Instead the cinemas continued to churn out the mega-budget low-risk sure-fire identikit hits, this time adding 3-D to the mix. It turns out that this time, the cinematic revolution is taking place online, courtesy of platforms like Youtube, with digital cinematography now bringing the possibility of the next Steven Spielberg emerging from bedroom editing suites, the way that the synthesizer created bedroom music producers, and eight-bit computers created bedroom games-coders.

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    Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild is a movie made predominantly for online audiences, and on a budget of around just £100,000, about a third of that through crowd-funding. The result is a film that holds up well under scrutiny, and is about as entertaining as any comedy that the mainstream cinema is putting out these days.

    It’s a fun, low budget adventure romp, riffing heavily on the Indiana Jones movies (although quite necessarily without the stunt work), but throwing in ample Star Wars and Matrix references and the like to keep the geekiest geek happy. It’s all about the collector instinct that many of us have, the need to horde useless tat because it has sentimental value, or the vain hope that in a few years it will have financial value. If you’re reading this review having clicked over to a speciality review site, chances are that you share that instinct too. This observation from someone who still has LPs, but doesn’t have a record player, who still owns VHS tapes that he doesn’t watch, who keeps a ZX Spectrum, peripheral and games packed away, who has VCDs, audio tapes, CD singles, things that I’ll never use, but will never throw away either.

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    This film reaches out to the hearts of us collectors, not in judgement but in sympathy, as its main character doesn’t just horde his old useless tat, he takes it one step further, and seeks even more of it out. It’s a daft premise, but from it is drawn a delightful and whimsical comedy, replete with surrealism, pop culture references, and absurd and quirky characters. And while it follows a tried and trusted path through its story (you can hear how they adhered to script writing principles in the commentary), it still manages to be inventive and charming.

    I only wish it was funny. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not a humour vacuum, and there were a couple of moments in the film that I did guffaw. Chuckles weren’t rare even, but too often it was a knowing smile, a nod of agreement. I found Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild to be humorous. It has a knowing sense of humour that I recognise intellectually, not a piercing sense of humour that stimulates the intellect and also bypasses it going straight for the chuckle muscle. I also had an issue with the ‘whining’ sidekick Geoff Excellence. In the commentary they discuss how casting him was an issue, getting the balance right between annoying and funny. For me they tipped the balance a little far towards annoying, and since he’s in almost every scene with our deadpan hero, I found the irritation interfering with the comedy. Your mileage may vary of course.

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    Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild may not be perfect, but compared to the useless tat that passes for film comedy these days in Hollywood, a film about the pursuit of useless tat is probably the better option. Give this film a try, and maybe we’ll get the current generation of pioneering filmmakers off the Interwebs, and into the multiplexes where they belong!

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