Review: Ashens and the Polybius Heist has finally arrived after seven years in the making but can the film stand on its own two feet?
In a year where mainstream cinema releases have been almost non-existent, 2020 has been the perfect opportunity for lesser-known films to take centre stage and shine.
Cue the arrival of Ashens and the Polybius Heist, the long-awaited sequel to 2013’s Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild.
The film, which largely features YouTube personalities and rising stars of comedy, is a love letter to retro gaming and all things geeky.
But just how does Ashens and the Polybius Heist compare with the original and can it stand on its own two feet?
Ashens and the Polybius Heist
Ashens and the Polybius Heist, which has been seven years in the making and came about through a crowdfunding campaign, releases digitally on November 19th, 2020.
As the film’s title suggests, we follow tat-collector and YouTube star Stuart Ashen as he and his ragtag heist crew work to lay their hands on the Polybius, a mythical 1980s arcade game with a puzzling past, that’s currently the property of egomaniac, Antony Agonist.
The film opens with a sequence seemingly inspired by 2003’s Johnny English and boasts a stunningly animated opening title sequence which features plenty of gags and film references as well as a song, Settle the Score, that’s impressively reminiscent of Casino Royale’s You Know My Name.
From there, Ashens and the Polybius Heist moves along at a rip-roaring pace and wastes no time in introducing us to the titular Polybius and Ashens’ rogues’ gallery of crew members which includes all the usual suspects, from the eye in the sky and the fixer to the crucial inside man.
The film is packed with gags from the get-go and taps brilliantly into silly Monty Python-esque humour and geeky references that permeate each scene.
One gag about a thermal exhaust port *pew* is a particular highlight.
Aside from its minuscule crowdfunded budget, the biggest hindrance of Ashens and the Polybius Heist comes from a slight lack of connective tissue, as it were, to help the flow of the film.
The motivation behind a certain character’s actions – in a key moment of the plot no less – comes across as a little jarring as the film is relying on you to remember one line of dialogue from its opening few minutes.
A little hint here or there, like the reappearing shoes in Jojo Rabbit, would have gone a long way.
The acting on show in the Polybius Heist is a little wobbly at times but given that most of the main cast are YouTube stars and not actors, that’s understandable.
There are a few moments of cheesy overacting but that only stands to add to the film’s silly humour in most instances.
Saying that, one performance in particular – Jarred Christmas as Jarred, the team’s mole in Agonist HQ – absolutely steals the show.
I’ll never look at a lawnmower the same way again.
The verdict – 4/5
While Ashens and the Polybius Heist won’t be winning any Oscars (although given the number of films to release this year, you never know), the film absolutely smashes the goal that it set out to achieve.
It’s a fun-filled romp that is packed to the rafters with silly, geeky comedy.
Fans of the original Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild will be thrilled with the sequel, while new viewers won’t feel left out as the new film assuredly stands on its own two feet.
Ashens and the Polybius Heist is available now after releasing digitally on November 19th, 2020 and you can find out more about how to watch it HERE.
By Paul Fogarty | [email protected]