The Last Blockbuster is an ode to the fans of a bygone franchise admired by movie goers of all ages back in the mid 2000s. This Netflix documentary not only explains how Blockbuster went into bankruptcy and how it ended up with only a single location left in existence, but it also incorporates irreverent and sometimes troubling perspectives from industry insiders. All this being said, what this film communicates the best is what Blockbuster means to everyday folks and the ways in which their interactions inside those dusty blue and yellow stores have shaped their fond memories of the past.
The Last Blockbuster captures the essence of the single movie rental community that has survived the complete destruction of the franchise over the years. This film utilizes interesting gimmicks and inventive reels of footage to create a similar air to what the stores represented for many Americans. There is a campiness that not only stems from the obviously somewhat limited budget, but also from the ridiculously over expressive re-enactors of specific stories of Blockbuster encounters. While this is partially due to the editing style, much of the tone of the film is conveyed through the speakers who ranged from employees of the last store to a director of fringe horror flicks who despises the franchise. Funnily enough, this creates an interesting juxtaposition of opinions and perspectives on Blockbuster, but it still lacks a direct persuasive argument. One reason for this is that it tries to cover so much information. Because of this lack of persuasive direction, the documentary turns into a mishmash of tangentially related points that conclude in very little actually being said.
Additionally, the narration of the film felt off, tonally. While I’m all for female representation in the voice acting world, this specific voice actor’s peppiness jarringly overlays the film and distracts from the content generating this weird disconnect between voice over and on screen action. Also, this film doesn’t really need much narration at all. The exclusion of it would probably have benefited the production and would have provided the producers with more budgeting for copyrighted songs so they don’t have to replay the same eighties, synthesized royalty free background music.
So here’s the thing, this is objectively a good film to watch casually with friends to reminisce about the good old days. There’s nothing wrong with watching a feel good documentary that’s main persuasive ploy comes through an emotional connection to the past. Certainly this film is aimed at people who not only care about industry entertainment, but also people that have fond memories of a time when video rental was a tactile experience rather than a digital one. The Last Blockbuster is a response to the returning relevancy of early 2000s trends, but it also serves as a last ditch attempt to keep the remaining store location busy by likening it to a tourist stop. In the end, while this film is by no means winning any awards, it still does what it set out to do which is disprove some myths, tell some heartwarming stories, and praise the last standing Blockbuster manager for caring about her community even after all these years of fighting to stay alive.
‘The Last Blockbuster’ is available on Netflix.
By Kyra Matus