Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Liquid Rising (2012)

Before I begin this review, I’d like to apologise that I haven’t posted any reviews for the last two weeks. I have had some important exams on and decided not to write any reviews until they were over. I’ll release two extra reviews to make up for the two weeks that I missed. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Liquid Rising is a really niche documentary, to say the least. Funded by online pay-what-you-want donations, it tells us about the members of Team Liquid, arguably the biggest non-Korean professional Starcraft 2 team. Their lives in Team Liquid, their tournament careers, and their personality are all shown in detail here, through a bunch of cut-up interviews with all the Team Liquid members and other big Starcraft community personalities. I’m going to say right now that if you are against the prospect of gaming being considered a sport, you’ll find no enjoyment here. In fact, unless you already have some level of interest in Starcraft and E-sports, you probably won’t find anything to like here at all.

A major problem with Liquid Rising is that it doesn’t really know who it’s appealing to. The interviewees consistently use terminology exclusive to Starcraft and E-sports without ever explaining a single one of these words, which would suggest that the audience is the people that are already invested in the professional Starcraft scene. However, it primarily explains things that this audience would already know. You learn about the relationships the players have with each other, and a few interesting and moving stories are told, but a lot of time is spent going over where each player won or lost and how good they are altogether. If you’re only a casual Starcraft watcher, or have just come into the scene, most of the contents of this documentary would be new to you, and it would be a great way to learn about Team Liquid’s players. Otherwise you’re spending about 50% of the time waiting for something that you don’t already know to be said.

When viewed simply as a film, Liquid Rising is extraordinarily uninteresting. The Director, Michael Krukar, is an amateur photographer and cinematographer, and it shows. 80% of the time we’re just looking at the interviewee sitting in a chair. The rest of the scenes are bits of footage from tournaments and special events and so on (the majority of which wasn’t filmed by the director, I would assume). This makes it very visually uninteresting. It would have been cool to have seen more actual Starcraft gameplay too. Seeing the final push of a tournament-winning game as the interviewees talk about it would have been fun, for instance (if I recall correctly, they do actually do this once).

The soundtrack is a selection of indie techno and electronica (likely just what the director listens to). It fits in well with the subject matter, as techno is a pretty thematically appropriate genre to E-sports. It’s nice to see them supporting some independent musicians, too.

If you have no interest in Starcraft or E-sports, there is no reason at all for you to watch this. If you’re curious, you may have a little trouble understanding what they’re talking about, but can at least have fun learning about the personalities involved in the scene. If you’re somebody who questions the legitimacy of E-sports (unfortunately, there’s a lot of you out there), have a quick look to see if this changes your mind, but there’s no reason for you to watch all of it. If you’re looking for an interestingly structured or well shot documentary, you’re going to be severely disappointed (just go watch Senna). However, if you are a part of the Starcraft community, by all means give this a watch. You’ll learn a few new things about some of your favourite players, and won’t be bored (most of the time).  

Don't forget to catch me on my friend's podcast, of which I am a regular member, here!

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