Posted by: Dr P | June 21, 2009

Gamer

I actually fell asleep for about 20 minutes at the end of this film. For a complete cinema whore like myself, that’s heinous, and it should tell you all you need to know about this lame ass excuse for a movie. The trailers suggested to me that this would be a proper boys film – computer games, futuristic, thrilling action, stunts, eye candy, explosions, violence … and aside from an entertaining 20 minute start, this turned out to be about as exciting as a wet weekend in Hull with the Cheeky Girls.

The film was shown in screen 7 at Bolton, which is MASSIVE, and allowed me an entire half to myself – there were only about 7 other people there, and they were clustered in the middle. Whilst this afforded me the luxury of a good 40 rows to myself, it did mean that when every trailer being shown was for a Halloween horror film, I was jumpy and nervous! If someone had tapped me on the shoulder I may actually have screamed and thrown my cookie dough ice cream up in some girly manner.

So what went wrong? Well, the premise was interesting enough – a billionaire TV network operator of the future, Ken Castle, has the genius idea of giving death row inmates the chance to save themselves by taking part in a live action wargame “Slayerz”, along the lines of a typical PS3/XboX shoot ’em up, but with real people … anyone who survives 30 stages of the game wins their freedom. Of course until now no-one has even survived 10 attempts, but suddenly along comes Kable (Gerard Butler), who has made it through 27 rounds as the movie commences.

The opening scene is fast and furious, as we follow Kable on his 28th mission, and witness the brutality and horror first hand – this is without a doubt the best bit of the movie, it’s all downhill from there! We discover that far from being just a killing machine in his own right, Kable is actually being controlled by a game player – in this case a teenage whizzkid – due to the neurological implants put in every gamer’s head. Clearly this means that Kable is not just relying on his own wits but on his controller – it’s probably not your night if you’re being controlled by a nerd and something distracting comes on the telly … or by an incontinent. “What? I just popped out to the loo … oh, you got your head blown off … that kinda sucks”.

Some of the plot is remarkably similar to Death Race, which I reviewed last year – neither the authorities nor the network actually want Kable to make it through his last missions, while the world has been captivated by his exploits and network ratings are huge. So attempts are underway to sabotage Kable before he can escape his prison and reunite with his wife and daughter. Meanwhile attempts are underway to assist Kable and make sure he gets out one way or another …

It all started really promisingly, but then I think the director lost the main thrust of the plot and started focusing on subplots – what really happened to put Kable in jail (do we care?), a group’s attempts to sabotage the cable network, Kable’s young operator and his own issues … it’s all meaningless fluff that adds nothing to the film. Gerard also plays the film pretty straight, which is annoying as I was hoping for at least one character of alternate sexuality so I could use the “he put the gay in gamer” line which I thought of on the way šŸ™‚

As I said above, Death Race did this much better – and while I like Gerard Butler as an actor, he was totally wasted here.

Oh and then I fell asleep … and when I woke up the plot had moved right to the end and the credits rolled … so unless there was a totally kick-arse finish (which would have been really unexpected given the dross of the middle hour), that was possibly the actual highlight. However it’s 2 hours of my life I can never get back. Obviously as a Bury supporter I’m used to wasting hours of my time, but I actually had expectations of entertainment here!

Avoid like the plague!

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