Gamer: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (22nd March 2010).
The Film

Is it possible to feel stupid after watching a film? Energy drink fueled directing duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have an incredible talent of turning even the most intellectual of people into a stupid mess after just one viewing of their films. Having previously shat out both "Crank" (2006) and "Crank 2: High Voltage" (2009) and thanks to digital cameras and low productions costs these two are actually given a green light to make movies... I know it's incredible, especially considering that there are far more worthy filmmakers out there that deserve a shot. Bottom line is the "Crank" films made money and the movie business is just that... a business. Veering slightly away from their ADHD editing style (only just) and also swapping leading man Jason Statham for Gerard Butler, sadly "Gamer" is a mash-up of other films we've seen before and themes done better by others.

"Gamer" is set in the near future, a future were gaming has taken a whole new level. Gamers can now control real people in a realistic world and do virtually anything one desires. Two worlds exists, one similar to a "Sims" world in which people interact and occasionally get into raunchy sexual situations this game is "Society", the other world is a lot moire cruel. It's a world where you have to survive an onslaught of mayhem and violence in a bullet-fueled melee in a game called "Slayers". Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) has revolutionized the gaming world with the invention of self-replicating nanites that allows gamers to control real people. Simon (Logan Lerman) is the gamer that has control over Kable (Gerard Butler), Kable has become the most recognizable face in the "Slayers" world. His winning streak is unprecedented, but Kable wants to regain his independence away from the game and also seeks to take down the game's mastermind, Ken, who he believes is corrupt and evil.

True to form for these two ADAH directors the action is non-stop and over the top. The gritty feel to the film's handheld photography place viewers right in the battlefield as we follow Kable through the game. The bullets fly overhead and the explosions are impacting and spectacular, the same can be said about the stunts and the incredible car chase sequence. If anything these two can do action real well and they certainly know where to place the camera in order to get the most bang for their buck. It's the frantic pace and editing, quick cuts, flash cuts, and music video techniques that gets nauseating, for all the action the the film is filled with head spinning effects and gimmicks. To say the least the novelty fades rather quickly.

As far as cons go, where do we start? True to form the acting is nothing spectacular, this films showcases the absolute minimum effort from its stars. They play the parts of action men well, however anything else that involves emotion or real genuine performance is fairly secondary to the action spectacle and yelling. The story is also about as idiotic as they come and borrows liberally from a number of films, there's hardly an original bone in this body and other filmmakers have taken the themes presented in this film and woven far better stories from them, for example Paul Verhoeven did commercialized violence far better in "RoboCop" (1987), themes of control and game culture were far better examined in Paul Michael Glaser's "The Running Man" (1987) and most recently controlling another body (avatars) was done to Oscar-winning glory in the biggest movie of all time from James Cameron... "Avatar" (2009).

"Gamer" certainly had its moments, however they were fleeting and overall unmemorable... this is probably worth a rainy day rental, if everything else in the video shop is out including both "Crank" films...

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps and uses AVC MPEG-4 compression. "Gamer" was shot in full HD native resolution and transferred over to Blu-ray from the original digital source. The result is a razor-sharp and infinitely deep image that shows off incredible detail. The crispness of the image balanced with the bold and striking colors make for a solid HD viewing experience. The image is clean from dirt and specs, the image is free from DNR, edge-enhancement and compression problems. The black levels are dark and although some low light scenes feature noise it's nothing major that distracts from your viewing experience. The level of detail is tremendously ample, from Butler's gruff look to the dust that rises from the explosions and bullet hits. The image plain and simply looks stellar.

Audio

Two audio tracks are featured in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit and French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. The DTS-HD audio is about as bombastic as they come. The audio range is far reaching and balances the quieter moments with the action-packed moments well with flawless transitions. Dialogue is clear and distortion free, the subtle ambient and environmental sounds are present and natural. Action effects come across with impact and aggression creating a loud and overall immersive soundtrack that presents this film about as well as expected. The 8 channels offer up an exciting mix that never lets up. Finally the film's pumping music, which is nauseating does effectively make use of the surround channels.
Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

Lionsgate has released this film as a 2-disc set that features an audio commentary, a documentary, a featurette, theatrical trailers and bonus trailers as well as a picture-in-picture commentary, the disc is D-Box enabled, features BD Touch, BD-Live access and a digital copy of the film. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

DISC ONE:

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by screenwriters/directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine and actors Amber Valletta, Alison Lohman, and Terry Crews. Much like the films and its editing style this track is kind of all over the place. The directors take the helm here for the most part offering tidbits and production trivia, the cast chime in every now and them with comments on how great some scenes turned out and their favorite moments. The track isn't all that interesting offering up random bits of info here and there, fans might get into it but there's never anything revelatory presented here.

"Inside the Game: Controlling 'Gamer'" is a 3-part documentary that runs for a total of 79 minutes 42 seconds, whether you loved or hated this film this feature is about as excellent as they come showing off the immense dedication, level of detail and sheer amount of work that was put into this film from pre-production to completion. Covering a vast amount of technical background, the tone, look and shooting style are explored, the shooting process, working with the actor, staging the amazing stunts and effects as well as the post-production from editing to music. It's all covered here in some detail and in many ways is the best thing on this disc, this documentary far outshines audio commentary which was rather bland, in fact this feature far outshines the film itself in the humble opinion of this reviewer. It's worthy of your time and places viewers right in the middle of a chaotic production and shows off how well the entire crew came together to pull it off.

Next up is the "First Person Shooter: The Evolution of Red" featurette which runs for 16 minutes 45 seconds. This film was shot using one of the best HD digital cameras available, The Red One camera, part making-of part commercial on how great this piece of kit is, the clip takes a look at the versatility of the camera the use of it on the film and the results that produce crystal clear and highly detailed images.

The disc also features the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 33 seconds, as well as the "Unseen" Gamer trailer that runs for 2 minutes 43 seconds.

Bonus trailers included on this disc are for:

- "Liongate Blu-ray" spot which runs for 1 minute 1 second.
- "Saw VI" which runs for 52 seconds.
- "Crank 2: High Voltage" which runs for 2 minutes 34 seconds.
- "Planet Hulk" which runs for 1 minute 55 seconds.
- "ePix" spot which runs for 1 minute 2 seconds.

There are some exclusive extras, the first of which is the "i-Con Mode" expanded visual commentary by screenwriters/directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine for profile 1.1 players or greater. Much more detail is presented in this feature than the audio commentary the interactive mode is worth the time if you're fan of the film as the directors really take viewers into the production process. More studios need to include extras like this that really take standard commentaries to the next level.

The film is D-Box enabled for those that have the equipment, BD Touch option is also featured and you can log online to BD-Live through the Lionsgate Live functionality for profile 2.0 players only.

DISC TWO:

This is a digital copy of the film.

Overall

The Film: D Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: B- Overall: C+

 


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