Directed by: Patrick Levy
Starring: Said Taghmaoui, Camille DePazzis, Alexis Loret
Since their creation, video games have had a working relationship with film. From the early days of Joysticks (oh do I miss USA Up All Night) and The Wizard( “I give you Super Mario Brothers 3” and “I love the powerglove, its so bad”) to the mediocre at best adaptations of games such as: Resident Evil, Max Payne, and Silent Hill, Hollywood just can’t seem to create a good movie based on gaming culture or games themselves. In the case of Uwe Boll, he creates horrendous mockeries of taste and general welfare. However, how does the French film Gamer measure up?
Gamer is the story of small time mafia thief Tony and his attempt to create a video game, the one thing he loves out of life. Throughout the movie, Tony must face pitfalls that are understandable like his fear of failure and copyright infringement to the over the top mob vandalism of his gaming studio. This film has many references to late 90s and early 2000s video games, which date the film, but also create a sense of relevance.
The first thought I had of this film is that is resembles Hackers. Both have similar use of poorly rendered, but high tech for the time, CGI and hacker/gamer stereotypes. In fact, the love interest plays out in a similar fashion. This is not a bad thing though since it is a bit familiar and definitely drops enough hints that it has gamer geek street credential.
This cliché is a bit old though since it permeates the film. The audience can tell when bad things are going to happen and when Tony will definitely triumph. I actually figured out the ending of this film about half way through it. This is a definite turn off, but I liked the subject matter. Characters are a bit flat but still likeable. The only thing about characterization that bothers me is that Tony and his best friend work for the mafia. Seriously, how many gamers work in organized crime? This form of cliché, the misunderstood street kid, got on my nerves a bit.
My love/hate relationship with this film continues with its use of CGI scenes to play out real time happenings. Tony and his friend are being chased by the police when the whole scene becomes animated and more like a racing video game complete with car jumps and techno music. Another scene has Tony fight a vandal in a best of 3 Tekken style fight. The spirit of gaming is there, but it is still a bit over the top for my tastes. Plus, the CGI is really dated, something you do not want in a classic. Instead of Tron we get Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within, which we do not want.
This movie has a lot of heart and the fact that it is French works in its favor. While many will be turned off by subtitles, I love to see how a French geek reacts to the gaming genre. There is a cheesy love story, yet it works. Again, this film isn’t an Oscar winner, but never really set out to be. It is French, but not an art house film, which it is not trying to be either. What Levy is doing with Gamer, is trying to give us a feel good movie wrapped around the world of gaming where the good guy gets the girl. Like most mediocre video games, this movie deserves a rental, but purchase only in the discount bin.
This release really looks grainy for some reason. The film stock really looks bad in certain shots of the film. Plus, the CGI looks horrible even for the time this film was made. It’s as though the makers of the film made the CGI on their laptops with a garage program. Colors are rather drab in this film. While the costuming and clothing work, they are still a shade of brown mixed with the desired color. I blame a lot on the transfer as well as the initial photography. The DVD is presented in widescreen with unspecified aspect ratio.
The love hate relationship continues with the audio that is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, a rather dated form of Dolby. I liked the filmmaker’s use of techno music though. It really brings out the overall feel of the time and of gaming. While I liked the music, it was used too much in this film. Dialogue needed to be a bit louder too. I felt that the actors’ voices did not carry a lot in places. I am mentioning that this film is subtitled in English as well. If you hate non-dubbed movies, you will hate this fact, but the original language adds to the overall piece.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The amaray case has small film stills and a graphic of the title. In fact, the cover looks bootlegged (which we assure it is not). In addition, a lot of information is not present such as the aspect ratio of the visuals. The only bonus feature I saw from the case was “trailers”. However, after 2 attempts, I finally gave up.
Overall (Not an Average) 5.5/10
The Show 5.5/10
The Video 4/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5.5/10