Sunday, September 6, 2009

Box Office Review - Gamer

In 1977 there was the release of the Atari 2600. A video game system that allowed gamers to skip the arcade and play video games at home whenever they wanted. The film Gamer is set in the year 2034, a mere fifty seven years after the release of the Atari. Now through the use of nano technology gamers are able to use mind control to play a real life human from the comfort of their own home. If that premise seems ridiculous to you, that is because this is from the writer/director duo Neveldine &Taylor the minds behind the Crank movies.

I was initionaly intrigued by the idea of the film. I have no problem forgiving any bizarre plot devices as long as the film is entertaining. You would think a movie about convicts forced to compete in public death matches would be entertaining, but alas it is not. The actual gaming parts of the movie were okay, but those scenes took up a small part of the first half of the movie. See there is actually more than one game in this alternate reality and it is a lot less interesting than the one shown in the trailers. The main game which appeared to be the basis of the game is called Slayers. This consists of the aforementioned convicts being controlled by gamers who compete there human avatars in modern day gladiatorial matches. Gerard Butler’s character is Kable the reigning champion of the game. The other game is similar to that of The Sims, called Society. Instead of convicts being controlled, regular people get paid to be controlled by gamers who can make them do whatever they want. Kable’s wife played by Amber Valletta (Hitch, Transporter 2) is a participator in Society. The world of society was over stylised with lots of bright colors. It reminded me of The Fifth Element, and I do not like the fifth element. There was a scene in a club that was just there so that there could be flashing lights while a gun battle was going on. It was very heavy handed and obvious, a poor choice by the directors.

It is not like the directors had that much work to do, as they did not seem to do anything with the actors. They have a scapegoat though because when the characters are controlled by gamers they become emotionless drones. Basically, there was no reason to cast Gerard Butler other than needing a name to sell the film. Anyone could have run around and look expressionless. I am being a little unfair as Butler has some emotional scenes near the end, but the meat and potatoes of his performance was uninteresting. Amber Valleta seemed to be channelling Patricia Arquette in her performance, at least in the way that she looked. Valleta had even less acting to do than Butler, so not much to judge her acting abilities on. The best performance in movie was Dexter’s Michael C Hall. It appears that he had a lot of fun playing the bad guy. When he was on the screen the movie was at its best. The rest of the cast features some people that have turned great performances in the past, but here were underused. Chris Bridges was okay, Alison Lohman deserves to have much larger roles in much better movies, Terry Crews who plays a psychopathic killer sent into Slayers without someone controlling him was crazy and awesome. He is probably best known as the dad from Everybody Hates Chris. He is a very good actor and with his upcoming role in The Expendables I hope he gets lots of exposure. Zoe Bell appears in the Slayers game as well and when I saw her I was hoping that she would have a large part to play, but that was not to be.

As much as I can say bad about this film, it is directed by the guys who were able to make a sequel to Crank. Neveldine/Taylor have managed to gather a small cult following for the type of cheap action films and that should be lightly applauded. They seem to focus on a few select scenes in their films and forget about making a complete package. That can be seen in some good action scenes in Gamer. If they gave that type of care to the entire movie it would make a better film.

A Banana Peel

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