Monday, September 21, 2009
Director: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Amber Valletta, Ludacris, Logan Lerman
MPAA: Rated R
Lionsgate has been keeping a good eye on its fellow Crank creators/directors Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor simply because they have had a good relationship through out the two Crank films. In May 2007, Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment teamed up with the two Crank directors to develop a "high-concept futuristic thriller". Neveldine and Taylor wrote the script which was currently known as "Game". In March 2009, the films name was changed from "Game" to "Citizen Game". With lead star Gerard Butler already filming another film called "Law Abiding Citizen", Lionsgate decided to change the tile once again on May 2009 from "Citizen Game" to "Gamer".
In the not too distant future, mind-control technology allows humans to control the actions and movements of other humans, allowing reclusive billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) to create the ultimate video game. It's called "Slayers," and it's a mass-scale, multiplayer online first-person shooter that's as controversial as it is popular. In the world of gamers, Simon (Logan Lerman) is a rock star; miraculously managing to keep his character alive week after week, he racks up frags like Billy Mitchell jumps barrels. But unlike Mitchell's Mario, Simon's video-game avatar is a living, breathing human being named Kable (Gerard Butler). Defying the odds to keep Kable running and gunning though even the most explosive battles, Simon captures the imagination of a global audience.
Gamer's storyline is a disappointment on all fronts. The premise sounds very interesting and it certainly could of been a good film, but it just doesn't live up to it. The film's romance feels tacked on and hardly effective. The action scenes suffer from horrible editing and can be very difficult to see whats happening most of the time. Cheesy dialogue very much hampers the films dialogue, resulting in hardly any tension for the film to breath naturally. Its also very funny and worth mentioning that most of the cast consists of actors that have their own TV sitcom. What tickles my bone even more, is that those TV shows are a hundred times better than this film. Their are certainly some cool ideas in Gamer such as the "social network thing", but it just doesn't feel fleshed out enough to be incorporated into the story in a more straight forward way. I did enjoy some of the humorous scenes that are nicely implemented into the film, but even these aren't enough to help this movie from being the crap fest that it is. The ending is also un-satisfying and doesn't make up for the disappointing beginning. It seems like Gamer could have been a fascinating film if you take into fact its interesting premise, but it just got lost in translation. It almost feels like the creative team behind the film were not on the same page with one another.
Gerard Butler plays as the lead character of the film, Kable. His performance here is very one dimensional and hardly satisfying. In fact, I enjoyed him ALOT more in the romantic comedy The Ugly Truth than in this film, which is really weird considering he has done more action films than comedy. His character also doesn't feel fleshed out enough, making him nearly impossible to root for. Michael C. Hall plays the villainies character of Ken Castle and hes probably the saving grace in this film. Hall is a talented actor and hes proven this with his HBO hit show "Dexter". His character Ken Castle is hardly as mesmerizing or effective as Dexter, but hes still kind of fun to watch. Amber Valletta plays as Kable's love interest, Angie. I'll admit that Valletta looks absolutely gorgeous in this film, but even that's not enough to make up for a lacking performance. Her character hardly feels crucial to the story and practically feels like a character that was added in the last minute. Ludacris plays as the rebel leader trying to overthrow Ken Castle, Humanz Brother. I cant explain how annoying his character is at the start of the film, literally appearing everywhere and telling people to stop playing with Castle's games. He also feels like a missed opportunity and could have been left out in some cases.
The visual look of Gamer is really the only thing I cant complain about. The films source is an excellent condition considering it was just released a couple weeks ago. Their were some grainy scenes here and their, but hardly enough to warrant any problems. Colors are mostly grounded to grayish colors with only a few instances that shine with vibrancy, mostly in Castle's virtual game, "Society". Other than that, the film is practically grey, which is alright considering the filmmakers were trying to go for a gritty action film. Black levels are strong and hold up well in some of the later darker scenes. Flesh tones are natural and you can easily make out everyone in the film. Detail is also quite strong and is really worth mentioning. Close up shots show a great deal of sweat and pores. To put it in perspective, Gamer is definitely one of the sharpest films I have seen recently. I guess this was kind of expected considering the Crank films looked pretty damn impressive transfer wise, especially the Blu Ray versions.
The soundtrack in Gamer is a notch below the visual look of the film, but its still pretty damn good. The film's original music is done by Robb Williamson and Geoff Zanelli. The music is mostly rock with some hip hop here and their. Its good stuff and goes well with the tone of the film, but having to listen to Marilyn Manson's Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) played several times through out the film, can get alittle annoying. The bass in Gamer is really something I wasn't expecting. Not only is it as aggressive as some of the best action films of the decade, but it also competes with the likes of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which still stands as the king of bass usage. Gamers bass is pretty dynamic at times, but tends to lean alittle more front heavy than usual. Its still nicely spread out at times, but like I said, its alittle more front heavy. Its definitely reference material and should easily give your home entertainment device a run for its money when it hits DVD/Blu Ray later this year.
Gamer is a disappointing action thriller that stops short of everything. It has an interesting premise that definitely could have been very cool to see if put in the right hands, but here, it just feels like a mess. Its action scenes although intense at times, are horribly edited to the point where you can hardly see whats going on. Most of the characters feel very one dimensional and their lines tend to come off cheesy at times. The ending isn't satisfying and doesn't make up for a lackluster story to begin with. The cast is mostly a hit and miss with only Dexter himself (Michael C. Hall) being the only one that's somewhat interesting to watch. It also doesn't help that most the cast is made up of people that have their own TV shows. The visual look of the film can tend to be grey at times, but its still one of the sharpest films I have seen recently. The soundtrack is kind of awesome with one killer of a bass. I really didn't enjoy Gamer and I don't think you would either. I went in expecting at least a "B" type action film, but was left with a disappointing execution of what I wanted to see. Its certainly not the worst film I have seen this year, but it comes pretty close.