Avoid Like the Plague: 1UPThe Dark Herald
Vaevictis eSports is a legend in the world of competitive professional esports. They are unquestionably the worst team of all time. They hold the record in everything from lowest score in a professional game, to quickest defeat, and thanks to Riot Games giving them way too many chances, the longest losing streak in pro gaming history. No one will ever beat their records because no one is allowed to. Any other team would have been banned for trolling before they were allowed to embarrass the league that much.
But Vaevictis eSports was allowed to do all this because they were the first and still only professional team in the history of esports that was comprised entirely of *women.
There is no rule against women competing in League of Legends professionally. It’s just that there is no woman player who can compete at that level. This is called reality and it is never popular in fashionable circles.
There are a number of LoL leagues that consist of all women players and their stated goal is to “prove that the girls are just as good as the boys.” Which would be fine, but they haven’t done it yet.
This gets esports accused of sexism with dazzling regularity. Which brings us to the #GamerGate inspired movie 1UP.
The movie’s title pretty much tells you upfront how familiar the filmmakers are with tournament esports.
Prey had me starting to wonder if Woke filmmaking had begun to understand the simplest basics of subtlety in the storytelling craft. Then this thing came thundering out of my TV screen pummeling my eyeballs with Woke incompetence.
I hit play with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Anything with Ruby Rose in it has to be utter crap.
Film opens and the first thing I see after the Lionsgate logo is Buzzfeed Studios. My sinking feeling is replaced with a sunk feeling. I know I’m done for before the credits are finished.
The first scene is the completely expected shot of some computer game play. I was surprised that I recognized it. It’s a game that actually exists, I expected some fake MOBA. They got Knights of the Elder Orb to be the competitive game for 1UP because there was no way in hell Riot Games would let League of Legends anywhere near this thing. If Buzzfeed had been faster off the blocks they could have used Heroes of the Storm, but Micro-Blizzard pretends it doesn’t exist now.
The oppressed feminist gamer is quickly identified as V. She was very, very angry because the MAN leading her team took risks to win. And she was getting yelled at as the solo healer for not healing everyone, everywhere all at once, (that is quite realistic BTW).
After a few minutes of gameplay, I was certain that the screenwriter had never played a single computer game outside of Candy Crush. And I had serious doubts that she had ever been to college. I checked her writing credits. Julia Yorks’ work is pretty much all tv kids’ shows BUT one of them was Skylander Academy, which makes her the most expert gaming screenwriter of all womankind in Hollywood.
That they could afford.
This thing is fucking cheap. It looks like a Disney Channel movie of the week.
The sexist male esports team is called (I shit you not) the Betas. The delicate subtlety in naming the boys’ team the Betas demonstrates a keen mastery of the writing craft that will be present throughout this motion picture.
The boys are saying the kind of crap to a girl that would get you expelled in a heartbeat today. Honestly, it would have got you slapped down by other men when I went to college. However, I can’t really find it in my heart to condemn them for it because V is stunningly obnoxious. The reason the boys are behaving this way is to justify V’s future behavior. The actress is named Paris Berelc and she was (here’s a shock) a Disney Channel actress, on the basis of that I am willing to assume the obnoxiousness wasn’t acting. She’s not capable of acting beyond Mickey Mouse Club levels. This whole thing feels like a Disney Channel show with the word “vagina” peppered randomly through the entire script.
Time for some girl bonding between the lead actress and her significantly less attractive new best friend. They go on at length over how great Captain Marvel was. Then they talk about how empowering it is to be slut, but they weren’t paying Paris Berelc enough money for her first nude scene, so it stays just talk. Pity, her surgeon worked hard on her.
They go to a class where Batwoman, who now has a buzz-cut, is lecturing on the history of video games. I brace myself for Ruby Rose’s usual wooden performance, but she doesn’t deliver one. This feels odd to me. I don’t know what’s going on. A good performance from her is unsettling and I want her to stop.
Anyway, hearing about this “lapsed feminist” failed career as a game dev inspires the girls to form their own all-women’s esports team at their college called 8-Bits.
They are going to college on esports scholarships. Yes, they exist. Usually for colleges that have a game dev program. Anyway, they talk to the Dean of the whole damn electronic game design college and he has never heard of professional gaming but he gives permission and resources to these girls to form their own team because why not? Since they aren’t playing in a women’s gaming league Barret College now has two separate esports teams competing in the exact same league. Which is retarded.
So now they need players, naturally, they hold tryouts. Time for a montage, these are inevitable in any sports movie, and I appreciate the makers front-loading it just to get it out of the way. (Future Dark Herald: If only I had known what was coming).
Montage completed and scrappy gang of girl misfits is assembled. Now they need a coach, so they invade Ruby Rose’s home. We get the standard thing about the coach who quit the sport and doesn’t want to get back into it because ‘I can’t face the heartbreak again.’ The girls naturally talk her into being their coach while my paradigm shifts without a clutch.
I feel like the black athlete in this clip as I realize something.
Ruby Rose can act. They just wouldn’t let her do it in Batwoman.
They begin their training and shit, there’s another montage here. While that is doing its thing I have to wonder, where the screaming hell are they getting the computers from? I assure you a competition gaming rig is not free. But it’s never mentioned. Not even in passing.
The characters have no interest at all in gaming PC hardware. None. Just like real PC gamers.
The 8-bits run into the Betas and they swap insults like these are the two lamest street gangs on Earth. One girl hawks a loogie onto one of the guys, and the camera does a loving close-up showing the mucus and everything. There is a “school of thought” among feminists that it’s liberating or something for women to prove they can be as disgusting as men. The truth is we never try, we just do it more by accident than anything else. We are nowhere near as competitive about it as you seem to think, consequently when you are deliberately being more disgusting than men you succeed magnificently. In fact, you leave us in the dust. Congratulations, you are now malignantly revolting, and no man of any real status will want anything to do with you.
They lose their first match. Well, there’s a shock. V blames everyone but herself, although even the movie knows she lost the game.
Then the clueless dean shows up and informs her that he’s discovered some basic facts of collegiate athletics and next year there will be only one team. Whoever wins the “Big Tournament” is going to be that team.
There are stakes now. Pretty contrived stakes but they’re there.
We see a bit of V’s personal life and it’s exactly what I thought it would be. She works at a GameStop because MOAR GAMING. Look if she has to live, eat, and sleep gaming, fine, but have her work in a PC repair shop or make custom porn mods for Fallout. OR… just throwing this out there… Trying. To. Develop. Her. Own. Fucking. Game. Something you think would have come up just once in this “GamerGate” movie.
Bottom line, working at GameStop is for console peasants.
While she is working at GameStop, we get to know the one nice guy on the Betas and he is s-o-o Beta. She clearly kinda likes him and WHY? Why him? This guy is a Gamma, a dweeb, a scrub, a loser, and in all honesty, Paris Berelc is way out of his league.
Why is this super-empowered chick supposed to find him attractive? If you are going to throw in a romantic subplot then do it right. The foundation of any romance is going to be conflict. Examples: Boundaries of Class; the boy is the son of Gabe Newell and she’s the lowly immigrant daughter of a boomer-shooter-Slav-Jank dev. Star Crossed; they already fell for each other, but he is the son of John Carmack and she’s the daughter of John Romero. Victims of fate; they are attracted to each other, and the team Captain thinks she’s a great player. But his real enemy on the team convinces the rest of the (gag) Betas to demand she be thrown off the team. To preserve the team, he regretfully does so, hating himself for the injustice of it. She vows to start her own team as a means of validation. When the Betas are forced to disband after losing the “Big Tournament,” the Captain humbly asks her if there might be a place for him on the 8-Bits.
Girls like any of this stuff, but you know what girls don’t like? Simping. Which is what the greasy wonder is doing.
The coach decides they need to do some team building, and…
I am forced to accept the reality that Ruby Rose is too good to be in this movie. Hold me.
The team building will be done by means of all of them playing their favorite games. During yet another damn montage, we find out that ALL the girls are console peasants, except for one LARPer, (that was so close to being a joke). I realize this movie is for normies but you still have to service the gamer market if you want even a thimble full of gamer cred. Competition-level gamers don’t go on at length over what console game they are into.
Back to the dorm. The simp calls V so they can, of course, play a game together because that is how gamers date. Her roommate congrats V for having a “hot boyfriend” (the simp? Really?) by saying, “con-vag-ulations.” This writing is Diablo Cody in 2022 sad.
Oh god, the bar isn’t even at the halfway point. There is still fifty-seven minutes left to go!
The 8-Bits get steamrollered in another game. The rest of the team is bonding but it turns out that V is a garbage-tier gamer. And a horrible human being.
The coach decides to work with them some more. I am now in a world where Ruby Rose is the only thing worth watching in this flick.
No. No. No. Not another montage! I can’t take another one…. Yeah, it’s another training montage.
Okay, skipping ahead now. I can’t keep doing this.
The dodgeball portion of our show starts now. The “Big Tournament” has begun.
The 8-Bits have been turned around as a team now and are unbeatable. They blast through team after team because of their amazing girl power.
The tournament games are close to, but not quite montages. The games are interspersed with “comedic” gamer celebrity cameos. And honestly, I was kind of surprised at their choices. I was expecting Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, and of course Anita Sarkissian. Instead, these are just a bunch of nobodies who are “famous” for having tangential contact with professional esports. I had to google all of them. I was momentarily congratulating the producers for their admirable restraint for not invoking the feminist holy trinity of #GamerGate when I realized that the producers were probably not willing to pay anything more than scale for their participation, and they would have all wanted a lot more than that.
Back to the games.
My favorite of these pretend matches is the one where the 8-Bits lose three of their players in the first minute and the remaining two players win the game. Speaking as someone who has actually played PvP computer games, let me assure you if you lose three-fifths of your team, you will automatically get crushed.
The Betas are now getting all kinds of scared because of the girls’ awesome skill. So, they cheat. The Betas get them SWATed.
The Betas are about to win the tournament by default but at the last second the 8-Bits show up. Final match is played, V takes a dive so the weird girl can win with the giant chicken riding player character, that she has never played before. Yeah, that never fails in PvP games. That’s a fire strat if I ever heard of one. The weird girl makes triumphant “ba-caw” sounds. Good for her, she earned it.
Awards and accolades all around. The captain of the Betas gets arrested for SWATing, which is a thing that can happen. He probably should have thought of that.
For whatever silly-ass reason Mercedes-Benz offers to sponsor the team at “pro” level, which would normally mean they are all dropping out of college but in this world probably not.
All the team members of this college team get a Mercedes GLA 250, and the taxes on those things are going to wreck a college student on a scholarship.
And it was a weak way for Mercedes to virtue signal, a better way to play it would have been for V to work part-time at a Mercedes dealership detailing or some low-on-the-totem-pole job. The girls are desperate because they are having to train on decade-old computers, and they have crappy tee shirts for uniforms. They are going to have to give up soon if they don’t get a sponsor. V is working late one night when a well-dressed older man with a German accent strikes up a conversation. They bond for a little bit, she tells him of the team’s troubles and ends the scene by saying “the best or nothing” (Mercedes motto), old Kraut nods in stern agreement. In the morning 8-Bits is shocked to discover Mercedes has sponsored them, they now have “deadly uniforms and glow up rigs.”
And since they were doing product placement, why no gaming PCs or component manufacturers getting in on the product placements? It possibly never occurred to Buzzfeed to waive that tin cup under their noses.
There is no part of this thing that isn’t utter crap except for Ruby Rose who was great (*shakes head to clear it, then shakes it again harder*). This was Nickelodeon-level production values. The direction was as flat as the performances. There was probably music but I was too busy hating this thing for it to make any kind of impression. The writing was tweener level but with potty mouth thrown in. The dialog reminded me of a Mom dancing with the teenage boys and saying, “people think my daughter and I are sisters.” In no way does it understand gaming culture. This film had less business commenting on esports than the Vaevectis team did in playing them.
They couldn’t even do the Woke right, there should have been much more Gay in this feminist show and you get more drag queen appearances in an It’s A Gundam video. Nobody with weird pronouns or multiple genders at all.
1UP gives you the overwhelming impression that computer games are this new-fangled thing that hasn’t been around in any serious way up until now. It’s just kids’ stuff and really isn’t too serious but it might be big one day. Despite the fact that any twenty-year-old who plunked a quarter into Pong when that first came out just turned 70 this year.
It’s this movie that isn’t serious.
I very rarely give out my lowest rating. A film has to earn it but this one did.
The Dark Herald says, avoid 1UP like the fucking plague!
* Vaevictis eSports all-women team had a weird origin story. It started out as a regular all-male Russian team. But they couldn’t land a sponsor, so the team’s owner fired the players and put the franchise including its tournament slot up for auction. No one bid on it. Now they had a problem because they were facing fines if they didn’t compete in the tournament, and they didn’t have any players now. So, they hired a bunch of girls whose looks were in Morgan Webb territory, taught them to play LoL (barely) and sent them to the tournament.