Review for Cosplayers UK - The Movie
Anyone has seen Seth Gordon's awesome The King of Kong about the world of competitive gaming, will love this look at the world of Cosplay in the UK and the people behind it. I thought Cosplayers UK - The Movie would be an actual movie and not a documentary, but at times it did feel a lot like the docu-drama/comedies that Ricky Gervais is famous for. Thankfully, this is all real. Everyone on screen is real and that makes it all the better.
This documentary looks at the UK's MCM Expo and all those who participate in the event and the competition for the best costume. The winners are judged on a number of different criteria and the winners are to go to the Euro Cosplay championships. Yes, this does exist and doesn't matter if you think this is Uber-Geeky because no one else cares.
Cosplaying is essentially dressing up as a famous character. This can be from films, comics, cartoons, anime, games or even just from the general infamy that most celebrities have these days. Those who attend the events are usually devotees to a certain genre or character and make a costume to play as that character. Now this could come across as deeply sad and boring, but it doesn't, it actually makes it look so much fun, so much so that I am actually considering it myself...
Batman maybe? Though would probably struggle to find someone to go as Robin with me.
And where am I going to get a Bat CREDIT CARD!!!!!???
One of the main things that is brought up in this documentary, is the camaradie between everyone there. In the beginning one comments about going to the events with her brother so that she at least has someone there she knows. But as you watch you see everyone interacting, whether it be over similar characters or same characters or even just a love for the show or film they come from. At times you see multiple people dressed as the same character and instead of stamping their feet and going 'That's not fair, I wanted to go as Harley Quinn!' they all just come together... surrounded by the obligatory guy in The Joker costume...
Hey now there's an idea. Just gotta get me some green hair dye!
Throughout we get interviews with many of those involved including Granny Gertrude, James, Tae who works in Sainsburys and many others. I spent much of the film playing 'Spot the Character' and it made the film even more fun as you see The Punisher walk across the back as someone is speaking or a crazy Ronald McDonald mixed with The Dark Knight Joker.
Other characters that pop up are Lara Croft, Batman, Predator, Pikachu, Dr Who, Ryu and Ken skipping, Deadpool which is shown as a group of them doing the macarena and is all kinds of awesome. Other costumes such as Star Wars' Stormtroopers and Darth Vader were obviously bought, but even if they weren't handmade they still look amazing. More elaborate and impressive costumes include an awesome 10 foot Optimus Prime, The Chamberlain from The Dark Crystal and the truly creepy Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth.
One of the other costumes that is amazing is the TeenWolf costume (the original, not the remake) played by a female funnily enough. Considering this was actually made by her, it's incredibly impressive. She also created some great costumes for Pris from Bladerunner and Lidia from Beetlejuice. It is a shame that there are no subtitles or a banner to say her name as I watched her introduction a couple of times and couldn't get it at all, until the end gave her name as Begona.
I really enjoyed this documentary, but I think one of the things that was missing was a central character to get behind. Unlike Kong, which followed Steve Wiebe's attempt to break Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong record, this was just a random number of interviews. If we had followed one person from the beginning, such as the one who made the Teen Wolf costume then it would have been a nice progression. However, by the mid point Nick Rockwell who created the awesome Chamberlain costume wins the competition and goes forward to the European Championships.
What is nice is hearing Rockwell express how happy he is and you genuinely feel it. Again, if we had been following him as the throughline of the film it would have been a lot better. When he explains how he created the costume and that it only cost about £300 it is surprising, especially how good it looks. His use of a small spycam so he can see is also pretty cool and you wonder why other people don't do this. I say this because one cosplayer is dressed as a huge robot warrior which looked impressive, but he needed one of the tech staff to help him see and move around, which ruined the effect.
This is almost where the film starts... almost... unfortunately instead of following Rockwell to the European Championships we then continue with the interviews with those cosplaying. It feels almost like if at the end of Rocky 2 he wins the match and then we go watch another forty minutes of Rocky training. Sure, it's still entertaining, but it feels odd. What is then bizarre is that we don't see what happens next. Did Rockwell win? Or did the Europeans blow him away with awesome costumes? It seems strange that even as an afterthought or epilogue they didn't at least let us know what happened. Because of this, this feels almost like either a missed opportunity or possibly Part One of a series of films. If that is the case and the sequel follows Rockwell through to his triumph or failure then I will be happy with that. As it is, the film just feels like it tripped at the last hurdle.
Now, that is not to say this isn't enjoyable. It is. It is nice to hear these people explain why they cosplay and what they get out of it and at times it is great to see some of the costumes. It is surprising that there are no awful costumes that look nothing like they should, but all of the costumes are amazing and the end credits going through them all shows just how diverse and awesome they are. However, the documentary just didn't have that narrative drive that a main character or goal would have achieved.
That being said I still enjoyed it immensely.
There are no extras and this is a shame. It would have been nice if the end credits which included multiple picture of those featured in their costumes was included as a slideshow to view, but you can always just select the final chapter of the film if you want to view it again. Sadly, there are no interviews, no follow-ups or even some extra bits and pieces that maybe didn't fit in the documentary.
Cosplayers UK-The Movie has to stand up on the merits of the film itself and it works. It is an enjoyable look at this world though it is doubtful as to whether you will watch it more than once, unless of course you want to get some ideas about what your next costume will be.
Now where can I find three other people to go as the Ninja Turtles with me?