Sep 14, 2009

[Movies] Gamer (2009)

GamerComputer gaming culture is pretty much part of our day-to-day lives by now. Whether it's just the seemingly harmless educational games we allow younger children to play or the highly involving MMORPGs that unite players across the planet, at one point or another everyone games. Of course the challenge posed to every game maker is to create an experience that is as authentic as possible in order to really put the player into the game. With the steady advances of technology in related fields, we've seen better graphics, more realistic sound effects and alternative means to portray the gaming world to make it as real as possible.

Of course concepts like virtual reality and other such highly involving simulation environments have long become the cannon fodder of science fiction writers and movie makers for some time now and even evolving entire sub-branches of science fiction like cyberpunk. Computers are amazing tools and naturally their power is easily used as a plot device to somehow play the role of the villain.

So it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie that tried to address some of the finer nuances of modern gaming at this time.

Gamer is an action-packed science fiction piece set in the not-so-distant future, a setting that is also becoming more and more popular in movies these days. Here, seemingly red neck computer genius Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) is the richest man in the world because of his creation of "game" known as Society where people can control other people / actors as their avatars, very similar to games like Second Life today. Of course building on that success, Castle then created a second gaming environment known as Slayers where convicts on death row can get a second chance at life if they volunteer to play as the avatars in this game very much like our own first person shooters like Counterstrike. If the player surives 30 matches, then they are set free.

Gerard Butler while giving autographs at the B...Image via Wikipedia

Thus we get to the central character of our story, the top Slayer known as Kable (Gerard Butler) who is controlled by the seventeen year old gaming genius Simon (Logan Lerman). Of course not everyone is enthralled by these gaming environments where people sign up to become the virtual puppets of others and one such group is a band of hackers known as Humanz who are actively trying to stop Castle. Somehow Kable plays a key role in their plans and this is pretty much was pushes the game along.

Now its more than appropriate to give credit where credit is due and the scenes when they're showcasing these gaming environments with their living avatars are pretty good. The opening Slayers sequence really feels like a live-action FPS including those annoying civilian characters who serve no purpose other than to get killed in crossfires. What was even more impressive was how Society was presented since that really was a sad look at what people tend to get into in virtual worlds like Second Life. Despite the disturbing implications of such sequences, they were pretty impressive all the same.

Gerard Butler still has the acting prowess for action movies and hadn't overly softened up yet given all the romantic comedies he seems to be getting into as of late. His character is certainly a mean killing machine and his plight as a person trapped in this game is felt well enough. Simon, his controller, was a little more lackluster and didn't really contribute all that much in the end.

There were a surprising number of fairly well-known actors in this movie and most of them also had really lousy one-dimensional or insubstantial roles. Kyra Sedgwick played Gina Parker Smith, some top talk show host that tried to have a bigger role in things but failed at that. John Leguizamo got to be the disturbing inmate Freak who pretty much just showcased the same kind of acting range we saw when Leguizamo played Clown in the Spawn movie. Ludacris was here too playing a not so believable smart member of Humanz and Milo Ventimiglia had an odd cameo involving a black latex outfit. Ugh.

The movie had an interesting premise and some great action sequences, which is to be expected from the writing / directing team that brought us movies like Crank but failed on the storytelling side all throughout. The movie ends on a rather awkward note that leaves you wondering what the heck happened or simply asking "That was it?" Clearly they ran out of ideas in terms of how to end this story and just sort of fumbled with that part.

Gamer could have been a lot better but as it stands remains to be a movie that is only good if you're into gory violence and seeing people exploited in a variety of ways - in other words you're a hardcore gamer with no social life.

Gamer gets 3 save points out of a possible 5.

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