Equal parts nostalgia and video game humor, Max Cloud is a fun and often silly sci-fi action comedy. Set in 1990, the movie conveys an accurate representation of that era of sidebraids and Kid-n-Play hairstyles that so dominated that almost-forgotten gray area of popular culture between the day-glo 80s and the grunge-flanneled 90s. It also finds all the humor to be mined out of side-scrolling video games from that era. For instance, it's hard not to laugh at a scene in which the lead character, stuck as an avatar in her favorite video game, is running in place against a load-bearing beam while her best friend in the real world leaves his shoe on the controller while he takes a quick bathroom break. As the titular alpha male lead character in the video game, Scott Adkins hilariously delivers over-the-top "macho" dialogue before accurately parodying the fighting movements of 16-bit martial arts and laser gun brawls.
While entertaining, the premise doesn't quite sustain an entire movie. There's a space in the movie, before an expected Mortal Kombat style mano y mano deathmatch, in which the action comes across more like lower budget sci-fi, and also includes a flashback scene of Max Cloud's origin story that doesn't quite work. There's a feeling of the movie barely making it to the finish line, once the "press A, B, B, A, right, left, down, up" controller references are exhausted. It's not a masterpiece, but there's enough good -- and enough gender, race, and age diversity to convey that not all gamers are dudes of a certain age, and that not all heroes have to be alpha males -- to make it an enjoyable watch.