DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Gamer - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}The hyper-frenzied minds behind the Crank series, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, are back behind the camera and pulling the strings of the public again. Their frenetic approach to the action genre is as free-spirited as it is, at this point in their career, chiseled in perfect celluloid stone. No, Crank wasn't an off-the-cuff joke on the audience; these two men know what they are doing in the action genre. Now with the futuristic storyline in Gamer, these two artists prove to be perfectly suited for the thinking man's sci-fi genre, too.

In the not too distant future, on-line gaming has morphed into a disturbing hybrid of sorts, where humans play other humans for sheer entertainment. Yes, the world has become that meaningless and vapid. In this vision of man's future, billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) is capitalism's mighty king and it took him all of a month to do so. Forget Bill Gates' successes, Castle has developed something entirely beyond Microsoft's capabilities. First he developed an interactive hybrid game called â"Society" which has its origins, visually and structurally, in the classic Sims phenomenon. The success of that game inspired the maddeningly real concept of â"Slayers", where young gamers only two generations out from the world of Xbox and PS3's, play actual death-row inmates fighting to stay alive through 30 games of Modern Warfare-like gameplay. It's a high-energy game, explosively full of real bullets, real people, and brutally real kills. In fact, nothing about â"Slayers" is an actual game and to Kable (Gerard Butler), fighting to reclaim his name and his honor, surviving is the only option. He's the mighty wall to be toppled in the ultraviolet streets of â"Slayers" and with only three games left until his freedom, everyone including Castle - comes gunning for him. Successfully played each week by Simon (Logan Lerman), Kable's real story is revealed to him by the underground group called â"Humanz", led by Brother (Christopher ‘Ludacris' Simmons), who fight to free humanity from Castle's oppressive and inhumane technology.

GamerWhile Gamer's visuals, especially in the on-line world of â"Society" are tongue-in-cheek references to all things glittery and pop (note the Crank t-shirt and brief cameo by Julanne Chidi Hill), there is an underlying foundation to the Neveldine/Taylor script that seems eerily plausible and, in this way, the soul of Gamer despite its high octaned action sequences and frenetic editing style (things we've come to expect from the dynamic duo) seems frighteningly familiar; this is our world they are lampooning after all - only most don't (or won't) get the joke especially the critics (currently with a 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). It's this current of concern that draws forth comparisons to the sobering efforts of Ridley Scott's Bladerunner visually referenced at least twice during the movie in which â"replicants" are hired to kill other â"replicants" in an amoral society nearly devoid of human feeling. I am not suggesting that Gamer has the thematic complexity of Bladerunner, only that Neveldine/Taylor's style and substance works as a contemporary critique of American pop culture, both where it's been (the musical number in the middle of the last major fistfight recalls the past fingersnapping glory of West Side Story) and where it's headed in a world full of on-line pornography and gaming.

The performances of the actors including appearances from Kyra Sedgwick , Zoe Bell, Milo Ventimiglia, John Leguizamo, Allison Lohman, and Keith David are as confident as the directing is. Fans of USA's Psych will also be rewarded by the casting of Gamer with surprise cameos from James Roday and Maggie Lawson as strung-out entertainment news reporters. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the casting is Michael C. Hall whose performance (and accent) is as hilarious as it is southern and nihilistic-like. There's not many a man who can pull off lead in a dance number and, merely seconds later, appear to be threatening to the muscle-bound machismo of 300's Gerard Butler.

While this cautionary tale is not for every moviegoer and critic, especially those who enjoy watching slow moving currents and steamboats, Neveldine/Taylor's Gamer packs a muscled punch straight into every fanboy's flabby gut and rips at the flesh of the on-line gaming community with claws sharpened and appetites bent on fatty flesh. These two directors, working as one agent, deserve more praise than critical bashing because they are three movies into their collective career firmly in control of their own game.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
4 stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
1 Star

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English; Spanish
Language and Sound: Closed captioned; Language and sound; English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; making-of featurette; additional featurettes; trailer.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature-length commentary track with Filmmakers and Cast Members (95:00)

Featurettes

  • Inside the Game: Controlling Gamer
  • First Person Shooter: The Evolution of RED

Trailers: Original theatrical trailer for GAMER.

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

{pgomakase}

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