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February 16, 2010
Gamer Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
4/9/2009 (USA)11/2/2010Village RoadshowMark Neveldine
Brian Taylor
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Gerard Butler

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There are plenty of explosions in Gamer.

When it comes to movies, one called Gamer is probably the most applicably titled for Futuregamez readers, and indeed the entire movie is based around a Deathmatch styled game where humans control other real-life people in a battle that often ends in death for the participants. Starring Gerard Butler (300, The Ugly Truth) this is a bloody and quite brutal movie, but at the same time is quite entertaining. For one reason or another it was never released into Australian cinemas, and perhaps the modest theatrical gross of $US38 million in other countries around the globe scared off the Australian distributer from releasing it. Whatever the reason the movie is out now on Blu-Ray so we can all check it out...

Gamer is set in a future-world where humans can control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environments. One called "Society" is a social place for interactions and love, but a second environment called "Slayers" is a brutal game where the ultimate penalty applies - death. A star player known as Cable (Gerard Butler) has become world famous due to his ability to survive almost 30 battles but is looking to regain his independence while taking down the worlds richest man and the game's mastermind Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall).

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Gerard Butler and Amber Valletta.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things to note about this movie is that it is from Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and this movie has a similar look and feel with bold characters, crazy moments and plenty of extreme violence. The movie, with a runtime of 95 minutes the pace is brisk and this isn't a movie you'll start to fall asleep during its runtime.

Ultimately Gamer feels a bit like a cross between The Running Man and the more recent Death Race. This is a game of life or death to the end with prisoners on Death Row and indeed the deaths in this movie are pretty brutal with plenty of blood and dismemberment. In fact, it's this over-the-top brutal action that gives much of this movie its appeal - and we know that it won't appeal to everyone as a result. The movie also has quite a bit of nudity in places which all contributes to the deserved MA15+ rating.

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Now that's one impressive gun!
As with his performance in the action movie 300 Gerard Butler is proving his worth as a great action star. While he doesn't have the liveliest of personalities, he does have some good, entertaining, moments in the film. We were a little less thrilled with the performance of Michael C. Hall as the main villain Ken Castle - he reminded us of a 'low budget' version of Sam Rockwell's character from Charlie's Angels, Eric Knox.

Admittedly Gamer isn't one of the best movies we've ever seen, but those that spend a bit of time playing shooters, or living in virtual worlds like Second Life or Playstation Home may notice some "parallels" to real life and a potential future. As an actual movie the storyline is decent enough with some entertaining moments and it's one we recommend to action fans.

Gamer comes to Blu-Ray using the VC-1 codec at the films original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it's a brilliant transfer with a bitrate that hovers between 15Mbps and 25Mbps throughout the movie. It must be said though that it's hard to grade this film given that the image is often intentionally distorted with video signal degradation, blown out whites, and various other techniques used to give it a gritty look.

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Time for a knife fight I think...
While much of the movie is pretty dirty and gritty, the virtual world of Society is bright, colourful (and quite erotic in places). Indeed, the video transfer, be it in the gritty real-world battles, the vibrant Society virtual world or the "normal" world looks fantastic and this is a hard movie to fault on a technical level.

It must be said that this is a very aggressive movie sonically and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (16=bit/48Khz) does sound fantastic. The action sequences in particular are brutal and intense with plenty of use of surround sound channels while the sub-woofer will certainly come into effect when required too. Even the opening music by Marilyn Manson has plenty of punch.

There are no other audio tracks on this disc and only a single English SDH subtitle track which was accurate to the dialogue from the samples we took.

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The battles are intense, and bloody!
Gamer comes to Blu-Ray with quite a few extras which was a pleasant surprise although some content has been dropped off from the US release including a 17 minute look at the Red One digital cameras used for filming.

Audio Commentary with Witer/Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and Actors Amber Valletta, Alison Lohman and Terry Crews.: This is quite an entertaining commentary which may be a bit light on technical details but provides a fun look at making the film.

iCon Mode - The Making of Gamer (HD): This is a PIP styled commentary where the filmmakers comment on the film and occasionally pop up, pause the film to point out things or branch out to behind the scenes footage. It's a fairly entertaining look at the making of the film which adds about 38 minutes to the runtime overall.

We now move onto the second disc in the set which contains quite a bit more content...

Inside the Game - Controlling Gamer (1:19:35/HD): This is basically a making of documentary with plenty of interviews. This is actually very well put together and details how they came up with the story, casting the actors, filming, and working on this movie at the same time as Crank 2 which is from the same screenwriters and directors.

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Check out some online porn!
Cheat Codes (41:20/HD): This is an interest featurette in that various scenes from the movie are selected and various members of the crew (such as stunt coordinator, cinematographer, composer and editors among others) offer their comments about that scene. It's quite interesting and worth a watch.

I can certainly see that non-tech savvy people would be pretty lost in this movie within a few minutes, but gamers and those that spend time in online virtual worlds will certainly get a lot more out of this movie. For readers of Futuregamez we would certainly recommend you check this out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.