Film Review: Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie

What do you do if you are too busy or cheap to read a lot of comics? Watch somebody review all the bad ones on YouTube, of course!

Several months ago I stumbled onto the YouTube channel of Lewis “Linkara” Lovhaug. He is the creator and host of the long-running web series “Atop the Fourth Wall“, where he reviews bad comics. What is unique about the show compared to other reviewers on the Internet is that all the reviews are serialized. When not reviewing comics, the character of Linkara defends Earth from mad scientists, inter-dimensional conquerors and Lovecraftian gods. Thus you have to watch most of the episodes in the order they appear to know what is going on in the skits before and after the review proper. Additionally, I like how Linkara is more subdued then other reviews and is not prone to angry rants or swearing. I personally don’t have any issues with rants or swearing (I do it occasionally on my own blog and channel), but it’s refreshing to know there is someone out there who can be entertaining and thoughtful without resorting to shock value.

So when I learned Linkara was releasing Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie on YouTube after a successful Indiegogo campaign, I was intrigued to see what he could do when he focused just on the story-line of his character. Here is part 1 of the film:

Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie takes place after the events of To Boldly Flee, a Channel Awesome production that Linkara was one of the stars of as his show is affiliated with that site. Linkara is celebrating his birthday with Nash, The Cinema Snob, Obscurus Lupa, Marzgirl and Angry Joe when he is contacted by Agent Allen Park. Turns out the United States government has lost contact with the spaceship they sent to Jupiter and since Linkara is the only one they know of with a spaceship in orbit (trust me, its explained in his videos) they need his help to rescue the crew. Linkara agrees and with the help of Pollo, 90s Kid and Harvey Finevoice, he takes the rest of the Channel Awesome crew into Jovian space to help. There they run into Mechakara, which is actually an alternate universe Pollo designed to look like Linkara, who plans to kill Linkara and all of humanity once and for all. Meanwhile, Linkara questions how weird his life has become and whether he will continue doing his show.

Much like Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, this is definitely a film for the fans of Atop the Fourth Wall or Channel Awesome. It is full of in-jokes and cameos that fans will recognize and enjoy, but they may fly over the heads of new viewers. Still just as Linkara admonishes comic book creators about putting effort into their books because any comic could be someone’s first, I’ll take off my fan hat and try to judge this film from the perspective of someone who has never see Atop the Fourth Wall.

Well since this is a low-budget, indie film, the acting and the special effects aren’t anything to write home about. Admittedly I enjoyed Brad Jones as his character, The Cinema Snob. He seemed liked he was having a blast during playing his role and it showed in his performance. The rest of the cast’s acting is okay or amateurish, but considering some of the atrocious acting you can find in both indie and Hollywood films, you can tell people were putting effort into their acting and I appreciate that. Even all the in-jokes weren’t that bad since you had Nash and others able to act as audience stand-ins at times to make the explanations more natural without ruining the joke. For example, take 90s Kid, a recurring character from Atop the Fourth Wall who will interrupt Linkara’s review to declare how awesome pop culture from the 90s was. I liked how we actually learned more about this character, saw him use his skills as a techie and even learned his real name, thus taking a long-running joke and turning it into a real character.

The special effects weren’t bad either, although there were moments when objects seemed to merge into each other, but they were brief. I even found the practical effects involving Mechakara when he began ripping the flush off his metal skull pretty convincing (and disgusting) despite the fact we didn’t see him take all that much off. Sure a lot of the action scenes could be silly amd over the top, but remember that Atop the Fourth Wall is a show where Linkara lampoons not only the cliches of comics, but also other aspects of pop culture. If the Power Rangers can do silly poses and formations before they take down a badie, why not Linkara?

If you are a fan of Linkara and his show, you will enjoy Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie. If you are not a fan, well you still might enjoy seeing someone who is passionate about comics and speculative fiction create something that he and his friends put a lot of effort into. In an age where Hollywood is releasing a major film where we see Batman holding a gun (I’m still pissed about that ridiculous Batman v Superman trailer) its refreshing to see a real fan set out to make a movie that tries not to make the same mistake the entertainment industry does again and again. It may not win any awards, but I think you may find yourself tracking down some old Linkara videos after you watch this movie.

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