Disclaimer: This review is more or less, spoiler free.
I put Gamer in my Netflix DVD queue because I wanted to see how bad it was. It did terrible when it was in theaters and received mostly poor reviews. I'm one of those strange people who enjoys watching bad movies with a big bowl of popcorn and my sarcasm meter turned up to full power.
The movie was buried in my queue, and I didn't give it much thought, even forgot about it until it popped up in my Instant Queue yesterday. "Who the eff added this garbage?" I yelled to no one in particular. Deciding to take a break from Combat Arms, I turned sarcasm to max and hit the start button.
I think it was probably the opening of the movie, the first 10 - 15 minutes, when a beefy looking soldier in the middle of what looks like a war says "hold on, I gotta teabag this guy real quick!"....that was when I realized how wrong I was, and how amazing this movie was going to be.
I honestly can't tell you why this movie had such a poor reception. The concept is a little overdone - prisoners with an obviously bogus deal for freedom - but in Gamer, it's still well done. The characters are flat, but they don't need to be anything else. I actually enjoyed the fact that character development didn't get in the way of all out fun. Rooting for the good guy was irrelevant, you knew just enough about the characters to follow their progress. If I had to guess, I would say they did this on purpose so that instead of feeling distant to some random outlandish movie scenario you are left putting yourself in the scene, wondering more realistically what you would do in a similar situation.
The gaming references are super classy. You get this subtle touch of the gaming community behind what's going on in the movie, and I loved it. Even the typical "young douche gamer" was well done.
Probably the most interesting thing about the movie for me was the concept behind the games. It may have looked like outlandish science fiction to the untrained eye, but any gamer will tell you that the two games the movie focuses on are games that would explode in popularity in real life; even more so, I think, than the movie infers. I mean, how many players are in Second Life? I'm pretty sure that number is huge, and one of the movie games is Second Life but with real people. Plus, I'm willing to bet the technology behind the movie is not all that far off either.
The villain in the movie is brilliant. Simply brilliant. His evil plan is so amazing and perfect; I admired him and almost wish that we come to see his technology developed. I just hope it's Valve - they would make great gamer overlords.
Don't believe the hype on this one - pop it into your Netflix Instant Queue list and watch it as soon as possible! It a great movie that is outwardly very simple with subtly brilliant elements worked in.