Back in October 2020, longstanding YouTube video creator Ashens released a teaser trailer for his second film, Ashens and the Polybius Heist; a movie production which had been backed by numerous kickstarter pledges from his adoring following of fans & supporters for his channel. Following the release of this motion picture in November of last year, I did not miss the opporunity when he announced for a short time you could pick up the feature film for yourself..
I’ll admit here, I have been planning to write this blog since I first placed my order and that was back in February; now we’re in May of course. I was aware that it would have taken one or two months to arrive (which in the end included a delay in the production factory – this was emailed to me that I appreciated); but anyhow, I received the movie on DVD alongside his first feature production as well (Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild; 2013) a few weeks ago, so last Sunday evening I decided to watch it for the first time. But before I give my first view of Ashens and the Polybius Heist, let me give you a brief introduction to the man behind the brown sofa. Known in real-life as Stuart Ashen, he primarily lives in the lovely city of Norwich and creates video content for his YouTube channel that consists of him talking about and showcasing a wide range of different ‘tat’ – essentially worthless junk that costs next to nothing.
Although it is not considered to be any sort of sequel to Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild, in this latest movie there is a continuation of a few characters & settings which we were first introduced to back in 2013, including Ashens (obviously), the Professor (played by Robert Llewellyn, best known for Kryten in Red Dwarf) and Geoff Excellence (Dan Tomlinson). Now to begin with, we start with the main protagonist Stuart Ashen, and his partner Benny (Eli Silverman), who work together at the constantly misunderstood as a waste collection company, Ashens Collection Services; where they collect rare & worthless electronic items of junk for ‘historical preservation’. After their next successful acquisition Benny reveals to Stuart that he had been spending his time recently to research the lost arcade machine known as the ‘Polybius’, in which revolved around a myth at the time of release that playing it turned players mad and into mindless freaks. Referring back to what I alluded to above, the Polybius Heist film follows a similar plot to the original movie, as we see the main arch of the story is based around collecting a seemingly dangerous video game console/machine.
To continue with the story from above, what is then revealed to Stuart is in fact that the Polybius was created by his father, Jonathan Ashen, and with this realisation, Ashens reflects back to his childhood alongside his sister Christine (Joanna O’Connor) when his father left them to work on an unknown ‘secret project’. We are then introduced to the ‘villain’ Anthony Agonist (Stuart Barter), a businessman who obesses over the newest & modern technology, and of course has been able to obtain the Polybius device, a fact that is later confirmed by the Professor, when Stuart visits him at his laboratory. He also discloses to Ashens that Jonathan was hell-bent with completing the Polybius despite becoming clear to everyone else it would be too dangerous to use. With all suspicions adding up, our ever favourite ‘tat’ collector decides to plan a heist in order to break into Anthony’s business facility and recover the device.
Known as ‘Ashens XI’, the team consisted of:
- Stuart Ashen (played by himself)
- Benny (Eli Silverman)
- The Cube, tech expert (Daniel Hardcastle; known as NerdCubed on YouTube)
- Jarred, ‘smooth talker’ (Jarred Christmas; comedian)
- Vocal, voice actress (Katia Kvinge)
- Annalise, tech fixer (Alyssa Kyria)
- Jeff, ‘financial sponsor’ (Dan Tomlinson)
- Yiannis, misunderstood to be a ‘Greece man’ instead of ‘grease man’ (Yiannis Vassilakis)
- Ryan, owns a driving license (Ryan Livermore)
- Plus.. two strangers who are sent to raise additional funds on the streets
Did you know however that there actually was an arcade machine known as the Polybius? Or well there might have been.. emerging in the early 2000s as an urban legend that had described the arcade machine game to be part of a government run experiment which took place within Portland, Oregon in 1981. These devices supposedly produced intensive & stimulating effects for the player, and would be visited occasionally by men dressed in black in order to obtain any data collected within the machine and analyse the effects it produced. Similarly relating back to the first movie production, believe it or not there really was a handheld device known as the ‘GameChild; it being a bootleg being no suprise obviously; which this time became to fame in the 1990’s. The point I’m trying to make here is that both films have faithfully followed the history & myths surrounding these two pieces of worthless gaming junk and thus recreated them ready to be shown to the audiences in the 21st century.
My closing thoughts of Ashens and the Polybius Heist are that if you are a fan of his YouTube videos, watched his first film, or are just a nerd in general, its definitely something you should watch. One aspect I really loved in particular was the attention to detail taken (including to what I had referenced above), meaning also that I enjoyed the cameos from some other of the YouTubers I subscribe to as well including the likes of Larry Bundy Jr. and DadCubed. It’s difficult to criticise the film in any way, one because I am biased as a fan of the channel & the character, and secondly, because it is targeted towards the audience which enjoys a guy talking about tat (which includes me for that matter). Even if you haven’t heard of Ashens before, now is the perfect time to go give his latest film a sit through.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I was able to pre-order both films on DVD when his store was temporarily open but as far as I am aware, the movie can still be purchased on Amazon Prime & YouTube for that matter.