This is a guest review by my friend Tom Frey…
Gamer is a new low for the tech trashing genre
My wife Deb and I are always up for a good sci-fi action film and the new Gamer movie seemed to fits in most of the categories of a movie we’d enjoy.
Before a movie starts, quite often the previews will tip you off as to what kind of film you are about to see. Deb picked up on this right away when we were unexpectedly seeing the previews for bad horror and vampire movies.
When it comes to movie plots, I’m not a big fan of any plot that turns technology into the villain and even less thrilled when the message creates fear and anxiety about our dreaded tech future.
In Gamer, the directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor attempted to craft a futuristic thriller set in a time when mind control tech pits two classes of people against each other – the “controllers” and the “controlees” – as the latest entertainment rage for the rest of the world to watch.
The plot centered around Kable (Gerard Butler), under the thumb of teen nerd superstar Simon (Logan Lerman) with the whole game being masterminded by the egomaniacal mega-billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). Castle has introduced a new game, Slayer, which places death row convicts like Kable in the hands of uber-gamers to battle for their lives with the carrot at the end of the journey being a full-pardon after surviving 30 successful outings.
Much like Running Man and last year’s terrible remake of Death Race, the stage is set for our star-crossed hero Kable to survive a one-in-a-million odds of survival battle to win his freedom and be reunited with his wife and daughter.
Kable’s wife, played by the disarmingly beautiful Amber Valletta, finds employment as an acting prostitute controlled by a grossly obese virtual deviant who finds pleasure in being someone radically different that himself. This character is way beyond offensive, intended to shock the audience with his sweaty, self-pawing mannerisms.
Ken Castle is first introduced in a television interview being conducted by a TV host and ratings whore (Kyra Sedgwick) wrestling with the moral issues of her position but succumbing to the allure of larger audiences. Castle epitomizes the evil rich, take-over-the-world overlord with just enough credibility to make the whole thing sound plausible.
In the right hands, this is a story that could have produced a stellar movie. The cast was well selected and the acting was quite good. But the flashing staccato style of editing, which is a big turnoff for me, and likely to cause seizures among epileptics, left us both nauseous.
In Deb’s words, “The fast movement on the screen made me feel like I was on a choppy ocean – actually made me seasick.”
We also found parts to be offensively shocking. Yes, there was too much blood and gore, but beyond that, several scenes were disturbingly over the top with characters who should never make it to the big screen.
Deb felt it was an hour too long, I felt that about an hour of it needed to be reworked.
In Deb’s words, “Too bloody and gory. Really didn’t seem to have much of a purpose. Not sure why the movie was even produced.”
Ratings: Deb gave it zero stars. I was a bit more generous giving Gamer one star.
Thanks Tom and Deb for your review of Gamer!