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5 Live Review: Gamer

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Mark Kermode | 14:20 UK time, Tuesday, 22 September 2009

5 live's resident movie critic Dr Mark Kermode reviews Gamer.

Go to Mark on 5 Live for more reviews and film debate.

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  • Comment number 1.

    thanks for the post

  • Comment number 2.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Finally on line :)

    I'm not sure you missed it, but you didn't mention "Running Man", which I think is a big inspiration for Gamer – but of course it could be one of the million other movies with a similar plot. What you also didn't mention was a) why does the bad guy adopt the kid, i.e. the humongous plot holes, and b) the final confrontation begins with a musical number.

    For a more serious oversight on your part, I think ultimately the biggest flaw of "Gamer" is its hatred towards its own audience. Because you want to get young male gaming kids in there, right, with tits and violence. So who's a Gamer in the film? A spoiled rich kid that is forgotten for most of the film, a woman with a beard (we only see the beard) and a fat, sweating naked super-freak who may even have more time on screen than the rich kid. So gamers, to "Gamer", are repulsive beings, both morally as well as physically. It's a film straight from the time when computers were scary.

    Plus, finally, there is no way that "Society" would work that way, because after a day max people would start committing suicide with their avatars, or cutting hands off or something, and there simply are not enough people on death row to sustain even 30 weeks of "Slayer", let alone the full 9 months that this show exist (leading people to tell the main character "no one has *ever* done what you did").

    In the end, though, you're right in that it's a boring film which has no mind for anything to say about games or the internet, hates its own audience and can't even make a musical scene work.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Woola woola woola!"
    LOL! Thanks doctor! A fantastic review, and you absolutely cracked me up! The Podcast is one of the highlights of my week.

  • Comment number 6.

    Gamer is just another film like Crank that merges aspects of martial arts cinema, 90s b-movie fashions and nostalgia for 1980s filmic machismo. What someone should do is show these new batch of Bay-esque filmmakers the back catalogues of certain actors such as Charles Bronson or Lee Marvin, to then see how a macho homoerotic movie can be done with an ounce of intelligence. Even if they just looked at some Asian-Korean cinematic vengeance films such as (the aforementioned) Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr Veangeance or A Bittersweet Life they would realise that an intelligent vengeance movie with a macho strutting lead, is much better than an explosion and violence ridden no-brainer, vin diesel b-movie with no soul!

  • Comment number 7.

    "All that someone should do is show these new batch of Bay-esque filmmakers the back catalogs of certain actors such as Charles Bronson or Lee Marvin, to then see how a macho homoerotic movie can be done with an ounce of intelligence."

    An ounce of intelligence? More like and ounce of FUN! Seriously, action films can be many, many, many things, but they shouldn't be boring.

  • Comment number 8.

    "An ounce of intelligence? More like an ounce of FUN! Seriously, action films can be many, many, many things, but they shouldn't be boring." -
    Rock n Rolla was fun, but it doesn't mean it was a good film. I agree there should be humour - Nolan's Batman films (and Burton's) are brilliant examples of mixing somewhat subtle dark humour with violence, and in the case of Dark Knight - getting away with a 12a certificate despite the fact it should have been a 15. I'm not against violence in films by any means just as long as the certificate matches the levels of violence and content.
    I don't think a bay-esque movie that just consists of sleaze and explosions with random violence qualifies as a good film, and I imagine any one 12 to 15 year old seeing a film like that will feel assaulted on some level (even on a subconcious level). I think films like Gamer and Transformers 2 lower the standards of movie making, maybe it's just because CGI and SFX are evolving and are coming to the forefront of mainstream cinema and lesser film makers wanting to make a quick buck want to cash in on that - i don't know? But I do think, if you're dealing with the premise of a vengeance film say, you see violence that then produces the violence of a oneman rampage, and in turn his violence and vengeance are demosntrated, therefore the repurcussions and results of violence are clearly showcased. Even in films such as Taken, which wasn't a great film but like Transporter, it added a slant on the average 'action hero film', even Get Carter is sort of a Bronson film, such as Murphy's Law, transposed to an English setting. All I'm asking as a guy who invests in film is for these guys to actually invest their intelligence into the making of action films such as Gamer, rather than perhaps just coming up with a decent premise, then badly directing it with the token A) autumnal wheat ridden flashback sequence and B) jiggly BSG handheld camera effect, completed with excessive CGI explosions with nada content to back up the said violence.

  • Comment number 9.

    Don't forget the all time classic Tron, and the other 80s sci fi kids flick, The Last Starfighter, and not forgetting Wargames. Oh and not forgetting the cult 90s flick Brainscan, with Edward Furlong.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Dr K

    I've not seen this film but from your description it sounds like watching somebody playing a real life "shoot em up" game, without the opportunity of playing it yourself? Isn't this the equivalent to going round to a friends house only to just sit there whilst he's playing a computer game? (which has happened to me on a many occasions when I was younger). I like "shoot em up" games but there's nothing more boring than watching someone else playing them because I what to play it myself. Maybe this is the flaw in the film and the reason why you found this boring. Lock and Load.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm male, and whilst far from being a feminist, I definitely echo Mark's continued concern about the increasing misogyny in Hollywood movies (Gamer is just the latest). It seems more and more women in movies are being hired just to gyrate in hot pants, and bend over in tight fitting tops (mainly over sports cars).

    Mark, if you're reading this, perhaps a video blog about your view on this rise in this 'hot-pants-ification' would be interesting.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Last Starfighter is a really terrific film, with charm, humour, accessibility and a real sense of fun. Its fuly aware of its own conceit and revels in it. An underrated classic.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hey Markkermode,
    I follow your reviews and notice you always say in a hurt fashion 'I keep saying that I have nothing against computer games, just against films based on computer games'. I think that your comments in this review show that you actually do have something against the computer game medium! I think you should take back ur previous comments ;)


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