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GAMER

GAMER 1

THE PLOT THUS FAR

Gerard Butler stars as Kable, condemned criminal and globally famous super-soldier in the ultimate multiplayer game, “Slayers.” Human controllers direct each thought and move of real-life prison inmates battling in hyper-intense environments – where the goal is freedom and the penalty is death. But when Kable suddenly decides he wants out, his rebellion threatens the twisted plans of game creator Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall, TV’s “Dexter”), who will stop at nothing to crush the renegade commando in this taut, adrenaline-packed action-thriller.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

Kable, a death-row resident who has earned 27 wins at “Slayers” as well as the eyes of everyone around the world. He is controlled by 17-year-old Simon, who has reached his own celebrity status through his talent. The game’s creator and world’s richest man, Ken Castle presides over the proceedings with a manic giggle, trying to keep Kable from both his freedom and his “Society”-enslaved wife (Amber Valletta). He recruits Hackman (Terry Crews), a snarling murderer who — unbeknownst to billions of rabid fans — gets to play without the hindrance of someone controlling his moves. Meanwhile, the cyber terrorist group Humanz is intent on taking down Castle’s empire using all the technological tricks in their arsenal.

Sadly, this is just one more blemish on the resume of talented actor Gerard Butler. I applaud  the star for easily moving between action and comedy, but his taste in projects doesn’t match his abilities. Even if Gamer weren’t such a dreadful viewing experience, he still could’ve shined, but even though his name is above the title, Butler has very little to do here other than dodge bullets and break necks.

At times, Gamer seems like it could be a cautionary tale against modern society’s obsession with sex and violence (and video games). In better hands, there would’ve been smart satire amidst the action, but the message gets more than a little muddled here with the hypocritical inclusion of enough blood and boobs to sate any teenage boy’s lust. The players in “Society” are clearly being exploited, but you can almost hear the heavy breathing of the people behind the camera as they linger on exposed, gyrating flesh.

The Blu-Ray comes with a reference quality transfer that shows off every inch of the futuristic gaming world. There’s an expanded visual commentary that takes you through the creation of the film and its amazing special effects. If that wasn’t enough, you get even more BD Live apps to take the experience into a personal level. The commentaries have commentaries.

The 7.1 DTS-HD audio is pretty much LionsGate standards. These guys set the bar for audio when it comes to next-gen formats. Even if you’re not a big fan of Butler or the film, it’s worth experiencing on your home theater. Sometimes, you just need to feed it fun flicks to wipe all that mopey Criterion stuff. Give it a rental before you buy.

RELEASE DATE: 01/19/2010

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