REVIEWS

Brandon's Word: Gamer, Or the War on Brains Everywhere

by
September 4, 2009

Gamer Review

Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor must really hate brain cells. This much is for sure. After the outrageous, but strangely satisfying romp that was Crank, and its follow up, the somehow even more outrageous but less satisfying Crank 2: High Voltage, they're back with their latest co-written, co-directed feature, Gamer, in theaters this weekend from Lionsgate. If before Neveldine and Taylor hated the idea of your, the audience's, brain, this time they're out to destroy the entire physical hunk of flesh floating between your ears. And that goes for both inside the film and inside the theater. Read on for Brandon's review!

Gerard Butler and Michael C. Hall star in this "future-world where humans can control other humans in mass-scale, multiplayer gaming environments." There are two distinct game worlds that Gamer explores (well, explores may be a bit lofty for this film), both using the Nanex technology that replaces a host's brain cells with artificial, but identical, controllable receivers: the Sims-like simulator called Society, where humans can either pay to control other humans or be paid to be controlled (which, more often than not, means wearing crazy outfits and have sex with anything close by), and the first-person shooter game, Slayers. Slayers pits death-row inmates against one another in a fight to the death where each inmate is being controlled by, well, everyone who's playing Halo right now -- but in the future. If Gerard Butler can survive 30 matches, then he wins his freedom. But, Michael C. Hall, the mastermind behind both Society and Slayers (and bizarre southern accents), has other plans for his Nanex technology than just games.

That's about as much as I knew walking into the theater. And, honestly, I think I know even less now. It's as if Neveldine and Taylor have a personal vendetta against thought. Never lingering more than a split-second on any single filter-laden, digitized composition, it's like they hacked my brain against my will, forcing me to stare lifelessly at the screen. The story is simple enough; we've seen it in The Running Man and Death Race, to varying degrees of success, but at least I'm able to recall those movies as films and not as a massive migraine. If it isn't carnal, Freudian Id, then Neveldine and Taylor aren't interested in showing it. Let alone speaking of it. If their's is a vendetta against thought, then they're positively genocidal against dialog. Characters are given a maximum of six word-sentences to speak in scenes that last maybe thirty-five seconds. And I'll give ’em credit, Neveldine and Taylor did all they could to cut those scenes even shorter by slicing out breaths, pauses, and even the periods on the ends of sentences. It feels and sounds like the very dialog that would have been written by the very Halo-fanboys who will ultimately love this film.

GERARD BUTLER
You won't get away with thi--

MICHAEL C. HALL
You're mine, boy--

GERARD BUTLER
N--

MICHAEL C. HALL
Ye--

GERARD BUTLER
[resolute scowl]

MICHAEL C. HALL
[unsettling lip quiver]

That's how I imagine the script read. If there was, in fact, a script. 'Cause if one thing's painfully apparent, it's that Neveldine and Taylor live for post-production, and it's just a race to start editing. They're stylish filmmakers. The prototypical evolution of this ADHD-America. Shaky, hand-held digi-cam with grimy, super-saturated color timing amidst quick-- quicker-- quickest-- editing, they do have vision. But their's is not a vision I hope to see any more of. At least I know I don't have epilepsy -- each showtime apparently also includes a free epilepsy screening that just so happens to coincide directly with the start of the film. So that's a plus.

If you are going to see this movie, I'll tell you this: Michael C. Hall is at least a lot of fun to watch. Imagine the live-action incarnation of Brain, of Pinky and the Brain, and you've got his character. His not-so-subtle characterizations, strange but captivating accent, and pompous attitude were welcome sips of refreshment among an overall stale, derivative cesspool. And as a gamer myself, it was interesting to watch Neveldine and Taylor attempt to provide as much authenticity to the multiplayer gaming arena as possible, but watching a dude teabag another dude while bullets are flying around his head is just not my idea of entertainment, even of the escapist variety.

I suppose I could say this was like watching someone else play a video game, but, it was much worse. It was like watching someone else watch someone play a video game while another person screams in your ears while still another person shines a laser-pointer directly into your retina. In other words: I did not enjoy this film. And a warning to you gluttons for punishment out there -- be prepared to dodge giant hammers hellbent on smashing you firmly on the nose. Watching Neveldine and Taylor attempt social commentary is like being taught sex education from a freshly-pubescent twelve-year-old boy. Or, you know, anyone who's totally pwning you right now on Last Resort. Same difference.

Achievement Unlocked: Completed Gamer -250 XP

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  • Yes another review!! Great one by the way, it made be laugh a lot.
  • Elycia
    Great review... I will avoid this film for sure. *Maybe* catch it on HBO sometime...just to see some of the craziness!
  • nelson
    #2 you obviously were not gonna see it to begin with if it took a first showing review to make up your mind lol
  • I liked it for what it was...a shoot em up action movie.
  • SuicidalOptimist
    But, but...it's Leonidas vs. Dexter! There is no way I'm gonna miss this, no matter how terrible it turns out to be. It was a nice review, but I am someone who watches pretty much every movie, regardless. I like making up my own mind. I consider myself warned, tho. 😉
  • Xerxex
    I like how the reviewer took a stab at Halo fanboys, I wonder if it made him feel cool, me I play Halo but I'm far from a Fanboy. And why is that nearly every critic set themselves on a pedestal, and judge the fans on movies they don't like? well now it seems that I have put myself up on a pedestal, judging those, judging fans of movies they don't like. Well the worst I'll get is negative feedback from other respectable FS.net users, who deem me an a$$hole, oh well...back to Team Slayer.
  • Rorschach90
    I saw this morning and liked it quite a bit. Some of the action scenes were a little Michael Bay-ish in that it was quick cuts and confusing, but overall I liked this. I'm a big fan of Gerard Butler, so it's hard for me not to like any thing that he's in. So I may be biased
  • case
    #6 - to be fair, most Halo fanboys (i.e. those who are still playing /and/ enjoying it) typically fit a nice and tidy stereotype. While the movie piqued my curiousity, it's going to be one of those "if I get the chance" movies, and there's a good chance that I won't. I like watching movies, not wondering what that big blur was that just flew across the screen (see: Bourne 3). The reference to Michael Bay doesn't entice me at all either.
  • Xerxex
    You're right Case, I came off as a dick, they usually are what everyone assumes, but I rarely bash anything and i just figured why not this, every knows that Gamer was gonna a big dumb over the top action flick and critics treat like a failed attempt at an oscar film.
  • Sabes
    @5, suicidaloptimist, get to bed young lady! >:O As for this movie, I like Gerald...and after starting to watch Dexter I find myself feeling the same for Michael C Hall. Even though it might be one of those, leave your brain behind type of movies, I still want to see it.
  • Eesh, no fighting you guys! I saw Gamer a while ago, and it's pretty whack, just as Brandon says... I thought the in-game action scenes were cool, but the story was just utter crap, and it was really freakin' crazy weird, like all the stuff in Society - wtf?
  • Jon Purkis
    Enjoyable scathing review. Shame the film is shit, the concept and the trailer made it seem interesting. Clearly these guys need to stop being given money to make films, Crank is pathetic at best.
  • Movieraider321
    if you guys did not like it you obviously went in expecting Grade A dialogue, plot, and acting. This is an action movie, nothing more nothing less. Sure it can try to be something else but all in all, it's guns with Leonidas. So go see it as a ridiculous popcorn movie. I liked it for that reason. And there was no plot just every couple of seconds another explosion went off. And frankly that was satisfying because it delievered just like the trailer said it would
  • SlashBeast
    Neveldine and Taylor are like two stupid kids trying to do progressively stupider things with their "movies".
  • Maxx
    Aha No #13, I expected a movie with some kind of pace. It was so choppy and I remember thinking what the hell happened to the middle of the movie? We were at the beginning and then boom he is in Castles home. And all of a sudden in choppy cinematography Ludacris and that funny Asian kid from Disturbia are dead. Gotta say though I LOVED the I Get A Kick Out Of You scene. I love that song and Michael C. Hall is one of my favorite actors. And no, not just because of Dexter and Six Feet Under. He is a great stage actor too.
  • dan_the_man
    who thought this film would be good are crazy Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are rubbish writters and directors. i personally dont have high hope for Jonah Hex since they wrote the script for the movie.
  • DoomCanoe
    good review
  • Tra la la la la di da
    Great review...well, great piece of writing to be more precise. The review was the worse, jsut a bunch of shit thrown together. To be honest, I read the review and felt like I watched Gamer based on what is said. There's nothing too it and while it had the funny inserts and great comparisons, I still felt like I would have been happy enough to catch it on HBO. Seriously, WRITE ABOUT THE MOVIE!!! I'm actually highly disappointed in this as I love Brandon's writings and, well, I did like this but it wasn't a review. It's more of a random article. Now if you've seen the movie, sure, but this does nothing for those that haven't. From what I got, Brandon doesn't understand an action film, or he does. Like I said, majorly confusing.
  • As someone with ADHD, I really hate it when people use the term in a negative connotation to describes things such as this film's awful cinematography. Heck, I even know how to properly frame and shoot a camera (having done a couple short films for school)
  • Bry from Chi
    I agree with Alex, I saw it on Friday. The "in the game action" was great to see, but all that society stuff could have been left behind...like on the cutting room floor. Still...some folks may like it. I was there purely for the beefcake factor and there was not enough of it. I wanted a pure action film and got 30 minutes of an action film. Oh well...better luck next time.
  • Blue Silver
    Damn, this movie was weird. However, Michael C. Hall stole the show and I could have done with less of the shaky camera. At this rate, I'm gonna start paying closer attention to who the director is prior to checkin' out the movies. I'd be willing to avoid any future Neveldine/Taylor films.....just hate to come out of the theater with motion sickness.
  • Mike G.
    They should make more Crank movies. That I want to see.
  • Sam
    Nice review, keep up the good work.
  • This was the first film to ever make me flinch away from the screen because my eyes couldn't take the quick cuts and in your face strobe lights in the camera lens. The entire film made be feel nauseated and although Hall was great in this film, I literally felt like I dropped 50 IQ points by sitting through it.
  • Richard
    I didn't think this game would be AWESOME but there was nothing else playing so we all went to see this and I kinda loved it, no thinking involved just a crazy ass fun ride, sure there was a bunch of stuff that didnt make sense, but who the hell cares.
  • RStewie
    Thank you for the head's up on the quick action editing this film has. I get a headache when I watch those, so it's good to know going in that it will be that way. I'm going to see it anyway, though, just because I like both Butler and Hall. I'm a HUGE Dexter fan (we watch the new episodes devotedly in my house and I'm all set for Season 4 this month), and I really like most of Bulter's films (even the Rom-Com ones, shockingly enough). But I'm really excited to see his next release, Law Abiding Citizen, next month.
  • Clokwrk
    Saw the movie a couple of days ago, and while I wasn't too impressed with the story I thought it was worth watching. It wasn't an amazing movie (haven't been but a handful of these this year in my honest opinion) but it wasn't terrible either... Ditto to #26... Law Abiding Citizen looks like it could be a great flick!
  • Can't wait to see how Michael C. Hall does in Gamer. I always see him as Dexter... Never got into Six Feet Under.. Some people have said they always think he looks gay! :-( I have to wait until Gamer hits the UK screens tho.. NOT HAPPY! The previews of Gamer make him look twisted and controlling... not a far stretch 😉
  • I suppose I could say this was like watching someone else play a video game, but, it was much worse.

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