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Movie Review: Gamer

Posted by representingpuroresu on 01/22/2010

A lot of us enjoy our video games. But imagine stuff like Second Life on a much bigger scale, where you’re playing a game but controlling a real person in a life-or-death MMO shooter where you can win freedom for your character…if he survives long enough. That’s kind of the premise for the latest movie I’m briefly reviewing here: “Gamer”.

Set in a future-world where humans can control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environments, a star player from a game called “Slayers” looks to regain his independence while taking down the game’s mastermind. At the center is Kable, the superstar and cult hero of “Slayers,” the savage, ultraviolent first person shooter game. Kable is controlled by Simon, a young gamer with rock star status who continues to defy all odds by guiding Kable to victory each week. Taken from his family, imprisoned and forced to fight against his will, the modern day gladiator must survive long enough to escape the game to free his family, regain his identity and to save mankind from Castle’s ruthless technology.

Based on the opening seuqence you’re led to believe this will be a bloody, adrenafilne-fueled thrill ride. And it is, for at least most of the first half. In the second half it starts slowing down a bit as the story gets more complex and starts playing out, but it does pick up again near the end until a not surprising semi-lame finish. It’s quite clever at times when it’s set in the “Second Life”-type world that is the games, which we see more of as the movie goes along, a rather unique concept and one I like. Most of the acting and dialogue, however, is just crude and plain old bad. No real substance, too much cliches and profanity, gets stale quickly. But it’s not all bad though, as rapper Ludacris gives a fairly good performance here-UFC fans may also recognize a brief appearance by UFC star Keith Jardine (I missed it first time through). And at times this VR stuff gets a little too crazy and some of the themes and obscene stuff goes a little too far for me-way too much of this one fat boy who has a secy woman avatat-it’s kinda disgusting. And there’s a lot of disturbing stuff along these lines too, it doesn’t have too much of a place here. Additionally, there’s not a lot of bonus/extra content, only about 20 minutes’ worth.

In the end, Gamer gets high marks for the concept and first half of the film but gets dragged down by the weak dialogue and lack of action in the second half until the end. But it’s still a clever experiment in video game-themed/inspired films and if you’re a diehard gamer or into stuff like this, you may enjoy it. Otherwise, if you’re not squeamish you might want to try sitting through it once but it’s not a must-see.

“Gamer” stars Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Logan Lerman, John Leguizamo, Zoe Bell, Kyra Sedgwick and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Directed by Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor. Released in 2009 by Lionsgate. 94 minutes. Rated R for frequent sequences of ultra-graphic violence, excessive profanity, nudity and sexuality. Lionsgate sure knows how to make strong R films that should be unrated or even NC-17. Absolutely not for anyone under 17.

Rating (1-10): 6.5 (Decent).

Recommendation: While gamer-types like myself might enjoy it enough or think good enough of it to buy it right away, rent it first.

Available on DVD or download from iTunes ($14.99 for regular version, $19.99 for HD; Rent for $3.99 [SD] or $4.99 [HD]).
iTunes Extras (included with purchase): “First Person Shooter: The Evolution Of Red” featurette (feature on the new digital cameras used to film the movie), an unseen theatrical trailer for the movie, visual FX comparisons. Total extras running time: About 20 minutes.

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