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July 11, 2014

VGFlicks: Gamer (Part 3)

...Okay, here's the final part of my review of this stupid movie. Here's to hoping it ends soon.

One of the few glimpses of actual humanity in this film.
The Humanz sure chose their name well.
After the reveal that Tillman had actually been controlled by Castle to commit first-degree murder, I was sure the movie didn't have more for us. We're still at the Humanz headquarters, where Tillman's wife Angie has her nanites hacked so that she doesn't receive commands anymore. However, the Humanz leaders Brother and Dude realize that Tillman has escaped the memory-reading room. He's found grieving in a hallway by his wife, who has been cured from control. Though she's still partly wearing her stupid, stupid, STUPID attire from Society. (Seriously though, this made me realize that some alternate costumes for video game characters would indeed look absolutely ridiculous on real humans. ...Thanks, Gamer, for that deep thought.) Tillman asks where their daughter is. They learn the answer thanks to the punk girl... Here's the new plot twist: Tillman's daughter has been adopted by Ken mother-flipping Castle, the insane man behind Society and Slayers.

Simon Silverton is released from prison but is still considered a cheater by his ex-fans, while Ken Castle in his large complex waits for Tillman, knowing full well that the ex-soldier is coming. Tillman arrives at Castle's house (not a castle, oddly enough) and thinks he sees his daughter, but it's actually a super-screen that pushes him back. Tillman goes down a set of stairs, only to see Ken Castle surrounded by men in the shadows. The billionaire starts snapping his fingers... and dancing. Over “I've Got You under My Skin” (thanks to this movie, this song has taken a lot of additional, creepy significations). The men in the darkness are all revealed to be other prisoners, who... start dancing along with him.

I knew C. Hall was hamming it up, but damn! A musical bit
in a grim film like this? Whoever chose to add that had guts
and wanted to show it. Or was just insane, I dunno.
Did we jump into another movie? Man, that would be so great. I'd see Jailhouse Superstar anytime instead of this film, but I have the feeling that this is just a break until more heavy stuff comes by. I KNEW IT! During the “musical number”, while Tillman is distracted, Castle's men run into the Humanz headquarters and shoot Brother and Dude. And then the dancers start attacking Tillman in good old fisticuffs. He's badly outnumbered but eventually gets the upper hand... while the billionaire is still freaking singing. After Tillman has won this fight, he follows Castle, who's got things to show him.

"Also, the control nanites have freed me of all inhibition.
In case the previous dance scene didn't make that clear. Also,
I might have developed a form of dementia, but the rest of
the movie may have made that clear too."
Among other things, Castle has also replaced most of his cells with nanites, but obviously his aren't so that he can be controlled by others... No, his nanites can send commands and, therefore, control everyone who has the other kind of nanites. Ah, you magnificent bastard! Castle just has to visualize and the person will do whatever he commanded. He pushes it a step further by forcing Hackman – yes, mister scary himself – into dancing as well. Because, you know, he had to explain why he had all these dancers in the musical number. And due to how these things work – they can just be inhaled and they'll start taking over the brain (by the way, this makes no sense on a biological level) – Castle could have all of mankind under his control in no time.

Dude, this guy could have eben a final boss, and he got
defeated real easily! I call bullcrap on this! Did they put
nanites in him? We never ehard of that, he said he wasn't
controlled by anyone!
To prove his control over everything, Castle sends Hackman towards Tillman, but surprisingly, the black man doesn't put up much of a fight. You heard right. The scariest villain in the film, mister Juggernaut, defeated EASILY, because freaking Castle wanted to demonstrate his control over him and over potentially everyone else on the planet. Tillman offs Hackman by snapping his neck... twice... (That doesn't make sense either!) and now the true battle can begin. But there's only one problem...

Castle also controls Tillman through his nanites. Therefore, Tillman cannot attack him! In fact, Castle could very well imagine Tillman mutilating himself and Tillman would do it! And yes, Castle has control over Tillman because his hackers removed the free will program from the nanites in the prisoner's head.

But, surprise! The punk girl from the Humanz reactivates Simon Silverton's control room, and airs the confrontation between Tillman and Castle on all the main screens of the world. ...That's really exaggerated, but there's been worse in this flick so far, so I'd buy it. Of course, the billionaire reveals all about his plan, so his scheme becomes known by everyone.

Darkest hour, everyone; Because of Castle, Tillman is about
to kill the only two people he'd never ever kill. My God...
Castle forces Tillman to stab his own leg, and then gives him one Hell of a beating; Tillman cannot react, Castle just won't let him, like it happened for Hackman earlier! Clearly, Michael C. Hall is having a blast playing the crazy eccentric billionaire, throughout the entire film, but especially during this scene. But it gets worse. Castle goes a step further by controlling Tillman into stabbing HIS OWN DAUGHTER AND THEN HIS WIFE, after those have been brought in the room. ...No, you've got to be kidding! No, Tillman, fight it off! You can't, but try! Please try! Don't kill your young daughter! Please! Castle! Tabarnak! Die already! The knife gets closer to Tillman's daughter... Oh no...

In another twist, Simon has regained control of Tillman, and as a result now both he and Castle are fighting to manipulate the soldier! Castle's hackers try to block the signal while letting out again that he just has to imagine his commands to Tillman for the Slayer to execute them. So Tillman has a bright idea. He suggests Castle visualizes himself receiving the knife in the gut. The billionaire cannot help himself from imagining it at that exact moment (just like you start to breathe as soon as something tells you to breathe – see? You just breathed!), and gets the knife exactly in the guts. Yes! Simon controls Tillman to plunge the knife further, twist it, make it as painful as possible for the monster, and finally the billionaire falls dead. Yes! Even the people in the streets, watching on the big screens, celebrate. Hm, after so many awful moments, such a happy ending makes one feel real good. Tillman orders Castle's men to set everyone free from all control, which they do. One even congratulates Tillman, calling him Kable a final time. Last, we see John Tillman, his wife Angie, and their daughter, driving away. The end, or, as the film says it, Game Over.

Yes! Take that, you monster! I hate to sound like a violent
maniac, but his death wasn't nearly satisfying enough.
...By saying this, I'm as awful as the people in the film.

Let's go home now. You too, viewer, go home. And try not to
remember this film, it's not worth remembering.

THANKS LORD, GOOD RIDDANCE. What a piece of crap. This film bombed and I have no remorse in saying that I'm glad it did. For the fifty million it cost to make, it only grossed forty worldwide, for all the time it was in theaters. And we cannot blame the viewers. I suppose many guessed, from the previews, that this wasn't going to be a fun ride.

Gamer's biggest defect? One could say it is unfocused. But unfocused is not a word strong enough. Let me list all the plot points in this movie that would potentially make strong films by themselves. The list is kind of long:
-A falsely accused criminal is trying to enact revenge on the one who manipulated him into murder;
-A game called Society appears, thanks to which humans can control other humans in a disgusting, lewd version of Second Life;
-A game called Slayers appears, in which criminals sentenced to death can be controlled by gamers and battle on war zones;
-A millionnaire creates a type of microscopic robots that invade a person's brain, which brings a lot of moral questions to the table;
-An ex-soldier is fighting to retrieve his daughter, who was adopted by a crazy billionaire;
-A group of hackers uncovers a rich man's diabolical plans and tries to take him down;
-A prisoner becomes harassed by a more dangerous, psychotic serial killer far stronger than him;
-In a world where video games have gained immense popularity, an expert gamer is struggling with fame and the pressure of constantly performing well at this hobby of his;
-A woman whose husband has been imprisoned is trying to get her daughter back from the social services;
-And I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

Also: The extreme rise of advertisement for extreme shows.

This movie runs for 95 minutes, with about 9 of them for the end credits. You'd think in 86 minutes they'd put less in the film for the plot, because there's enough in this to fill multiple films. As a result, everything is rushed to an extreme, with B-, C-, D- and E-plots alternating with the main story while trying to link to it at the same time. The whole thing is then switching back and forth, making the first half a cluttered mess during which the viewers struggle to understand just what the Hell is going on. And it's all tied up by rapid editing with some montages here and there, which will make you sick. The slow moments are rare, most of them happening around the third act, which provides only a bit of rest for the viewers. Not enough for what it's worth, though. They could have lengthened this film by another half hour and it would have been better. Or split it in two films. Either way, there was too much for a single 95-minute film, too much exposition, too much to show, too much to explain if the director wanted that damn story to work. It does get together by the third act, finally following a narrative that makes sense, but even there most of the plots have a part in the climax, which means way too many elements are put in at once. Side-plots are resolved quickly, others only pass by for a quick reminder that they were there.

Each time I see scenes from Society, a part of me dies inside.
It IS wrong in all the possible ways. If that was the director's
intention, sadly he has succeeded. Urgh...
What else will make you sick? That world pictured in the film. It feels wrong in all possible ways. Nearly all the characters are either jerks, assholes, self-titled brats, or downright disgusting. Even the good guys, most of them are awful, even Tillman who, while fighting to save all of mankind from becoming slaves to a crazy billionaire, has no qualms about killing people, even when he isn't being controlled by his gamer (example, the Society character who was killed when Tillman went to get Angie). Even the in-universe viewers, those watching Society or Slayers, seem fine with seeing people getting pretty much dishonored in Society, or seeing prisoners dying by the thousands in Slayers. Yes, even the everyday people are awful in this world. The few parts of light in this film with a depressingly dark undertone are Angie, Tillman's wife, as well as his daughter and the members of the Humanz (the main three, anyway: Brother. Dude and the punk girl). But the biggest offender in this film is the portrayal of gamers. It doesn't help that we see only two gamers consistently throughout, and one is a rich brat with no back thoughts about killing off death-sentenced prisoners, while the other is a disgusting obese man who basically pushed his Society character into sex and, later, even got aroused by two other Society characters getting killed. Although Simon redeems himself by the end, his contribution to the climax is way too small. Okay, he does cut off Castle's control in time to prevent Tillman from killing his own daughter, so there's that. The quick glimpses we get of other gamers either show them as obsessed, sex-craving, ugly or just disturbing.

One of the only films to have both an avatar of "righteous"
(sarcasm) violence and of insane violence.
Doesn't make it good in any way.
Now, let's talk about the violence in this film! Does it carry an anti-violence message? Really? Sorry, I couldn't notice it when it's so god damn violent all the way through! Is it that violence in the media is bad? That video games are bad? That violent video games are bad? Either way, we get our fair share of murders and deaths through the movie. So it's not exactly condemning violence if it has no second thoughts in showing us lots of violence. This is hypocrisy in film form. Don't even get me started on the constant, gratuitous appearance of female attributes to titillate the male viewers!

The acting is fine, I mean, Gerard Butler is doing a good job, and so does Amber Valetta as Angie, who has to act like an emotionless puppet within Society. Same for Logan Lerman, who had to act like the worst teenager there is. Michael C. Hall portrays a despicable human being, and really tries to have fun by hamming it up as much as possible. Ludacris is also doing okay. The only actor in this that had nothing good is the young girl portraying Tillman's daughter. She shows no emotion each time we see her, and her only line of dialogue is said with so little expression that you'd think she, too, was infected with the nanites. Considering her age, it can be excused. (Plus, has anyone noticed that this young girl is the only child in the entire film? Oh great, more unfortunate implications...)

Holo-room: Awesome. Simon Silverton, not so much.
It's a room-sized computer screen, mixing all sorts of ideas...
But it's used by a jackass.
But about this film, I have to admit this. Some of the ideas are good on paper. However, they're sunk down by the film's problem, the editing, the over-abundance of plot elements and characters, and the violence. As I said, many of these would make good movies by themselves, but instead they're a part of this mess. Another interesting detail in this movie is the futuristic technology, not necessarily the nanites (considering their purpose), but other subtle appearances by the holo-room used by Simon to control Tillman, and the memory viewer used by the Humanz. Also, while the soundtrack is nothing special, this cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” by Marilyn Manson, which plays in the intro and in the third act, actually does sound pretty good if you don't mind it defacing a famous song that oddly fits the theme of Gamer. (Fun fact: I added it to my music collection,. The only other Marilyn Manson song I own is his metal remake of “This Is Halloween”. Though, ironically, “sweet dreams” sure isn't what I'm gonna have thanks to this movie. Also, even if I do find the song good, it cannot save this flick.)

Finally, despite how awful this movie is, I think it does raise interesting questions: In the human's quest for more entertainment, for better entertainment, when are we going to go too far? When will it stop being fun and games and turn into snuff? Most of all, will we realize it once we've crossed that step? Through the years, numerous people have turned their games into something horrifying, taking it beyond the step that should have never been crossed. In this movie, prisoners died by the thousands in Slayers while thousands of people were controlled into doing awful things in Society. When did mankind as a whole said, in the years before the events in the film, “ah, screw it” and decided it would be entertaining to see people die or suffer? Not characters, real people?

Oh right, I had almost forgotten. We're talking about a world
in which government agents are laughing in the face of
hopeless women. Seriously, fuck you, agent.
At least Castle is dead, but you survived, asshole.
You deserve death, you m'f'er.

That's probably the best questions we can get out of this movie, the only serious questions to come out of this mess. This was Gamer, everyone. I hate it. Hate so much about it. Hate way too much about it. I don't want to see it ever again. I really don't recommend it. Watch it if you want to see the awfulness by yourself, but I promise to you that it will NOT be a fun viewing.

Sigh... I'm done. I'm freed from the obligation to review this piece of crap in its entirety. What do I do now? ...Wait. We're July 11th... This blog was created On July 19th... Oh my God, we're a week away from the first anniversary! What am I gonna do???

... ...Hell yeah!

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