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Features > The Escapist Video Movie Review Report > Gamerz

GAMERZ

Director: Robbie Fraser
Starring: Ross Finbow, Danielle Stewart, James Young
Rated: Not rated - Contains language, situations, and subject matter that are not appropriate for children
Release: 2005
Website:
www.gamerz-the-movie.com
IMDB listing: Gamerz
Find it at: Amazon

Gamerz is the story of Ralph, a young man preparing to leave his humdrum job stacking cans of peas at the supermarket and begin a new adventure in college life. A gamer at heart, and eager to share his custom campaign with other gamers, he makes two fateful discoveries in his new environment - a gaming club (which he assumes control of during his first session) and a hidden and forbidden passage to the maintenance tunnels beneath the university (which are PERFECT for playing his campaign in!).

Ralph's new gaming group consists of the neurotic Davy, obnoxious Hank (who speaks mostly in belches), and the lovely Marlyn, who over-identifies with her elf character. Lennie, a former friend of Ralph's before taking to a career as a thug, finds out about the game and wants in. He explains that he has fostered a fascination with all things fantasy ever since sitting through a Lord of the Rings triple bill while under the influence of psychedelics.

Ralph grudgingly allows Lennie to play, but when he sees him begin to hit it off with Marlyn, he lets his emotions carry over into the game, and before long, none of the player's characters are safe from his wrath.

Gamerz crosses the love triangle story with a genre that we see in the States frequently - the "college movie," where a group of students get into a load of trouble but always seem to find some way to weasel out of it in the end. The events here are not quite as outrageous as Animal House, however. They're limited to the relationships between the members of Ralph's gaming group, and their collective desire to keep the game going.

My DVD review copy was difficult to watch at first, due to a slight image jitter that seemed to happen whenever there was a lot of on-screen movement, such as someone running. I tried the disc in two different DVD players and got the same result, so it's difficult to say if the issue is from an actual problem with the disc, a DVD region issue, or my own faulty eyesight. Over time, it became easy to get accustomed to it, but it could bother some people who are more sensitive to such things than myself.

Likewise, the dialogue was difficult to follow in parts, mainly due to the accents of some of the characters. If you aren't a long-time fan of Britcoms (like myself and many other gamers), you may have even more trouble understanding the dialogue, particularly in Lennie's case. Subtitles would have been helpful here - it's a shame that the DVD didn't offer them as an option.

Rating System

0 dice - The worst. Ever.
1 die - Very poor
2 dice - Not so bad
3 dice - Good
4 dice - Very good
5 dice - Excellent

Total Score
No dice - the worst imaginable score
5 dice - might be good for mocking
10-13 dice - (average) a renter
15 dice - don't miss it
20 dice - a keeper
25 dice - the best possible score

STORY - The story is a good, if simple, example of the love triangle story. I really enjoyed the alternate ending (which is actually more of an "extended" ending, as it doesn't change any of the events of the story) and if they had kept it in, I might've tacked on another die.

CHARACTERS - The characters are funny and, for the most part, believeable. One scene, in which Ralph's grandmother patches his cloak ("Canna have ma wee game keeper goin' out weth a repped cloak, now can I?"), even got me a little choked up. The film would have gotten five dice here if not for the scenes where Davy expresses his fondness for Hank late in the movie, which seemed sort of cliche and underdeveloped, as if it was added as an afterthought.

LAUGHS & GASPS - There are lots of good laugh-out-loud moments, and at least a few gasps, particularly when Marlyn gives her gift to Ralph in the last part of the film.

REFERENCES & REALITY - It is clear that the writer/director Robbie Fraser is either a gamer himself or knows a lot about them and the games that they play. The patter between the players, the references to game mechanics, the maps, figures, dice - it's all here. Ralph and company do not play a specific RPG system - in fact, it's never mentioned what game they're playing when he first joins the group, and he announces that he's introducing his own game when he takes the group over - but the keen eye can spot many, many popular RPG books and boxes in his bedroom (I saw Gamma World!) Ralph's custom-made GM screen is beautiful, and will probably make many gamers want to start working on their own.

BONUS DICE - The fantasy sequences are extraordinary - a mix of character silhouettes (played by local LARP enthusiasts), animations, and watercolor backdrops that are reminiscent of Ralph Bakshi's animated Lord of the Rings. A DVD extra explains how they did these effects on a relatively low budget. The "chapter" wipes are also fun - each is a copier scan that reveals the next "level" of the movie. These touches combined earn Gamerz four bonus dice.

DICE BAG - Gamerz has earned a bag of 20 dice - It's a great little film with excellent low-budget effects that puts gamers into the leading roles of a love-triangle college movie.

 

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This review is pure, 100% opinion, and could be completely wrong. Agree? Disagree? Just want to add your two coppers? Email me at

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