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Cinema review: Game on

Category: Gamer Reviews
Article Date: September 3, 2009 | Publication: | Author: Jeremy Slater
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Posted by: admin’s Jeremy Slater is pleased to discover a ‘movie of a video game’ that doesn’t insult the intelligence…

Most grown-ups and many moviegoers would shy away, these days, from films that appear to be based on PC games, and who can blame them? The sub-genre has produced some of the worst films ever, outdoing the lousiest of horror gore fests or slushiest happy-ever-after romantic comedies by a multiplex mile. As proof, consider Steven E. de Souza’s 1994 outing Street Fighter in which Kylie Minogue joined forces with Jean-Claude Van Damme, or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) (or The Cradle of Life (2003), take your pick) which, despite Angelina Jolie’s pulchritudinous assets, fell flat.

However, Gamer proves to be rather more, and is worth the time of more discerning audiences. Set in the near future, it tells the tale of wrongly imprisoned man Kable, played by Gerard Butler (300 (2006)), who must fight for his freedom, sort of like a Gladiator on micro-chips. The premise, in fact, is far better than that, because the directors, described only by their last names Neveldine/Taylor (Mark and Brian respectively, the makers of Crank:High Voltage (2009)) turn what might have been a simplistic shoot-em up tale into a far more demanding and arresting affair.

Gamer is set in a dystopia controlled by a media corporation that persuades its inhabitants they are living in a far more pleasant world than is in fact the case, by allowing its citizens to control other people’s lives. We soon learn that Kable has remained alive during his previous 28 sessions in Slayer thanks to the assistance he gets from the highly computer literate and wealthy teenager Simon (Logan Lerman).

He’s already a hero to the billions who watch each edition of the show and, if Kable can survive another battle, he will become a free man. But that’s not all – Kable’s wife Amber (Angie Tillman) is making ends meet by hiring herself out to the social-networking community Society.

She is also lusted after by her controller, a 500lb slavering slob who can barely move from his computer. In order that they can both go free, our man has to take on the megalithic corporation with a hold on the planet.

Because of the name, the film’s captive audience will undoubtedly be XBox etc gamers, and it does have sufficient body-shattering explosions to keep such viewers happy.

However, it is also genuinely more thoughtful than this, clearly targeting cinemagoers who loved The Matrix (1999) and hated its sequels. As with the Wachowski brothers’ offering, Gamer uses the very latest in cinematic techniques to create a world that (who knows?) we may be inhabiting sooner than we think. Exciting sci-fi, with a real brain.

95 mins. in English

Jeremy Slater


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