Gamer purports to be a morality tale, or maybe a warning as to our technological fixation. So bound by our devices, we never consider the lives of others on the other end of the connection. Thus, this perceived future where “Slayer” is born, wherein death row inmates can be acquitted of their crimes if they survive a real life, pay-per-view video game.
There is more to Gamer conceptually than wild directors Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor can offer the piece. So much of the film is unrelentingly vile and sadistic as to be wholly unappealing. It’s not that the language is inherently offensive so much as it towers over the rest of the dialogue as if expletives were linguistic kings.
No one is attachable here for the audience, Kable (Gerard Butler) meant to be the everyman shoveled into a grisly scenario against his will. His actions are equally distasteful, chugging booze and then vomiting the contents into the gas tank of a truck for his escape. How easy it is to relate to his situation…
Gamer’s world is composed of debauchery and rampant lawlessness, all of which the government has given a pass. Thus inserts an abrupt parable about capitalism, an eccentric billionaire an overnight success as he pushes to gain additional control. Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) is in his reality scape for more than fame as we learn, his wild delusions of grandeur placing him at the upper echelon of society, high enough to be untouchable.
Restraint is not something the film is aware of, so pushy and forced as to destroy its mythology. Shots of stone faced humans splattered with blood as the violence from “Slayer” erupts are dismal, squished between frantic, indecipherable edits as if these displays of indifference give the bloodshed purpose. Edits without erratic motion, jumpy photography, visual slices, or egregious overuse of filters are welcome, if only to settle the mind.
It may sound as if Gamer takes itself seriously, although that’s hardly the situation. Gamer runs with Terry Crews as a hulking madmen, and the scathing overtones that scorch internet culture are likely deserved, a scolding shared by all of us despite the comedic venture. It’s a shame this had to all be done within such a divisive, icky frame that is as off-putting as it is conceptually inviting.
Gamer released back in 2009, pushed onto Blu-ray in early 2010. With three years between the releases, Lionsgate has dug back into the same master for this double dip. Everything in the first Gamer Blu-ray review rings true here. That means exceptional definition, striking contrast, and (mostly) exquisite black levels.
Even now, the overreaching color palette shifts give the piece plentiful variety, from bleached deserts, grimy battle scenes, to the candy coated world of “Society.” Colors are to the point of being oppressive at their peaks, if no less appealing. With no compression quirks to speak of, the disc can reproduce the camera work sans artifacts.
Hints of noise still remain, limited to a handful of underground shots. The Red One was new to market as Gamer launched, and oddly, this is one of its best results. Quirky camera work stays in tight and often. With little time between cuts to pick apart visual quality or be distracted by digital smoothing, this one shows no signs of aging.
However, whoever decided this (or any Neveldine/Taylor offering) was fit for 3D was… well, wrong. So much is going on at any given time, there are no static images to appreciate or soak in depth. Motion blur and ludicrous amounts of edits force shots past the viewer in rapid fire fashion. Timing here does not allow for appreciable depth. Action is frustrating in 3D, mostly because seeing anything, let alone 3D effects, is nigh impossible. Even when it slows for conversation, minimal separation is par for the course.
There is potential here – and even some success stories – within the simulated computer images. Entire rooms are displayed as screens and internet accessing services, floating in air. Those are nifty, as are some of the cityscape aerials that peer down on future living spaces that look much like our own. Remastering in three dimensions has its perks, but this was an awful, even stupefying choice for the process.
Awesome audio is delivered from this vicious DTS-HD 7.1 mix, as reference now as it was back in ’09. Audio does not allow for elements to be missed, vivacious in its ability to spread the surrounds, make use of the two additional rears, and break through the stereo channels. Gamer is a barrage of sound, directional in its action and brutal with its LFE.
Music may be downplayed lightly in the middle of firefights, intentional no doubt and no fault of the mixing. A chase scene leads through a rave, the subwoofer lighting up with activity and throbbing to keep a beat, even as the guns begin to fire. Not much can be said that hasn’t already in the first go ’round for this disc. It’s reference.
Gamer’s 3D release includes a 2D version, although the disc is shared. That means almost every extra has been cut, leaving behind the admirable Inside the Game, an 80-minute documentary that cuts through the production with none of the usual generic banter. What’s lost is a pop-up feature that led the director’s through the movie “live” along with a commentary track.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.