Gamer (Blu-ray Review)

Gamer Blu-ray ReviewLet’s cut straight to the chase here.  I realize that I am probably going to lose credibility points amongst the masses for having nothing but good things to say about this Blu-ray release, but today I became something I never thought I would ever be…a “gamer.”  Yes, that’s right, today I fell in love with the world of gaming, particularly Lionsgate’s upcoming Blu-ray title, Gamer.  It’s ironic how I have heard nothing but negative attributes about this film the past several months, but I seemingly can’t help myself from singing anything but hymns of positive praise.  Whether you love it or you hate it, there’s no denying that this Blu-ray release is the real deal.  Give me a few minutes of your time to tell you why.  Who knows?  Maybe you too, will become a “gamer!”


Gamer is a science fiction thriller movie that was unleashed theatrically upon American audiences on September 4th, 2009.   The film was written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.  If their names sound familiar, then that’s because they should.  However, I will talk about them more very soon.  The movie is filled wth a surplus of actors whom I have grown to love over the past few years from other films.  Obviously the first one, the man who sold me on this film, needs no introduction.  If Xerxses and his army of thousands couldn’t take him out, then you did not think a little bad press against his film could hold him back, did you?  The man, Gerard Butler, kicks a$$ throughout the entire film and diehard junkies of non-stop action and crazy mayhem should not be walking away disappointed from this feature.  Other names of notoriety appearing in Gamer include such stars as Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), John Leguizamo, Amber Valletta (Transporter 2, 2010’s The Spy Next Door), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Kyra Sedgwick, Alison Lohman (Drag Me To Hell), Efren Ramirez (Crank) and Ludacris.

Who would have ever thought I would even be talking about other actors in the film besides Gerard, but I can’t help myself from singing the proverbial gospel of praise towards the supporting cast.  Now I know why my friend Sandy loves the show Dexter so much.  After watching Michael C. Hall’s performance within the film, I have become an instant fan of his television series without even having seen a single frame of the show.  Seriously, his acting is off-the-wall and simply brilliant.  I really thought I was going to have a stiff Blade-like villain on my hands here initially, but he only got better as the movie went along and by the end of the film I found myself nervously rooting equally for the villain character as well.  Wait until you see his song and dance routine towards the final showdown.  It’s not only hilarious, but one of my favorite film moments from what would have been a film I would have seen in the year 2009.  There’s also a little known actor named Milo, who shares a small amount of screen time with Gerard and Amber, but trust me, it’s a memorable one.  If I had to pick a least memorable performance from the film it would have to be that of Ludacris.  I’m just not a fan of him here.  Oh well, not everything can be perfect.

So remember I was talking about Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor before?  I have to admit how stupid I am.  I did not even look at the cast or credits before popping this Blu-ray in to watch.  Despite being a huge fan of the Crank films, I simply did not put two-and-two together until I watched the special features on the Blu-ray disc.  I was commenting with fellow reviewer Gregg Senko how familiar this film seemed compared to the Crank pictures and guess what…duh…Gamer is done by the same guys.  It shows you how much I was interested in seeing this film while it was out in the theaters.  I must have not given it more than five seconds of thought before, but that’s no longer the case now.  Much like my initial blind viewing of Crank so many years ago, I became an instant fan of Gamer.  And not only will you see the same crazy action sequences and eye-popping Blu-ray clarity that you are used to from the Crank films, but there are a lot of little nods and references to the film that can be found throughout with a watchful eye.  Just to help you out I will give you two quick ones.  Make sure to catch the Crank t-shirt and a quick two-second performance by a familiar face that can be found in a prolific booth within the dance club scene.

So what is Gamer all about anyway?  I must admit, when I first saw the trailer for this film I was instantly turned off.  I muttered to my wife “How stupid.  I’ll never waste my time and see this.”  Well I guess my love for Gerard grew over the past few months (after Law Abiding Citizen and The Ugly Truth) and when the Blu-ray press release for this film first stumbled upon my laptop screen some months ago, I found myself doing the unthinkable, requesting an opportunity to do an advance review of this exhilarating Blu-ray disc.  And when that fateful day came and the Blu-ray disc arrived in the mail, all the way up to the point when I first hit play from the disc’s main menu, I was dreading that I was about to be in for 95 minutes worth of pain.  Was I ever wrong!  Thank you Lionsgate!  I can almost guarantee with 100% certainty that you will not see or hear a single mention of this title at this year’s Oscars, but that’s no reason us Crank fans can’t have fun with this title.  There’s plenty of t&a  and non-stop zany action for us males and some very buffed and hard chiseled bodies for the female viewers.  I guess what I am trying to say is there’s something for everyone in Gamer.

So I was about to give a brief synopsis of the film and look what happened.  I got sidetracked.  I guess that’s not unusual for me.  Let’s try this again.  Gamer takes place in a not so distant alternate reality where death row inmates volunteer to be part of a Running Man-like contest where if they can survive 30 televised shows they are awarded their freedom.  Of course, most did not even survive to make it near ten until fan favorite Gerard Butler’s character arises out of obscurity and kicks some serious carnage while concurrently shattering all records.  But will he survive episode #30 and earn his freedom or is there more than meets the eye?  Of course, the latter is true.  If it weren’t, what fun would it be?  The man responsible for this whole video game prison reality show, Michael C. Hall’s character, has a little more up his sleeve than just providing some good old fun American fun.  He is looking to take over the world using his nano mind-controlling technology and one boy’s game character just happens to pose a threat to his plan.  It’s not the most realistic of all movies, nor is it one of the best from 2009, but nevertheless I had a rousing good time with this Blu-ray disc over the past 3 days of 4 + viewings.  Crank fans of the world should find this an adventurous ride with subtle hints of Running Man homage, Death Race carnage and plenty of Ultraviolet futuristic imagery.



Gamer arrives on Blu-ray with an eye-popping visceral 1080P AVC MPEG-4 encode and is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  You got to love when the picture fills the entire real estate of your HDTV screen.  Anyway, I found myself struggling with the scoring on this section.  It’s not that the video suffers in any way.  Heck, it was shot using 4K resolution cameras.  It’s just that if you are familiar with the Crank experience, then you will know what I mean here.  The video is inconsistent as it jumps back and forth between three different reality worlds and is stylized in an artistic fashion much like the wild imagery and landscapes of Crank.  You see, I keep referring to Crank right?  Good, you are paying attention.  If the visual cues and adrenaline-charged aggressive style of Crank were distracting to you, then I can’t see you being much happier here.  But, if you can get past all of that, then what we have here is one hell of a video presentation, not failure to communicate (sorry…I could not resist).

The 4K resolutions of the new groundbreaking cameras used here capture it all.  Every shard of exploding glass, nose hair out of place and bead of sweat is painstakingly captured and brought to life in your living room.  Who needs 3-D when your images are this clear?  Of course, as I mentioned above, we are constantly bouncing back and forth between three different reality worlds so the video is homogeneously mixed up amongst all three of them.  Whether it is the ultra bright PS3 Home-like virtual reality world or the dark, dismal and gritty world of prison warfare, you experience it all firsthand.  Depending on what world you are viewing at the particular moment throughout the feature, your eyeballs are being subjected to different styles and elements that play a crucial role in determining the presentation of the colors, clarity and varying levels of sharpness.  Skin tones always remain natural throughout and the black levels never gave me a reason to want to adjust my television’s contrast.  I would love to call this presentation perfect, but due to the extreme differences between the various worlds I think I will play it safe with a score of 4.5.



The audio on the other hand is a completely different story.  This bombastic track needs no obligatory marks of criticism, but instead heavenly songs of devotion and praise.  It does not get much better than this folks.  For lack of a better word, sh!t is flying all around you throughout the feature film and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I can’t say enough good things about the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround mix used here.  It will peel the paint off the walls and the stain off the wood moldings as it wrecks your living room in chaos and destruction.  Bullets spray and zing past you in every which direction.  Despite the wild and zany action, the dialogue is never lost in the background or subjected to the proverbial back seat.  How does the expression go?  The audio is always “in your face!”  Gamer takes Hi-Def audio to the next level of perfection on the Blu-ray format.  I know the year is young, but this is simply the best example of Blu-ray audio I have heard all year long (those big 10 days thus far) and I think it will really take an impressive feat to topple this track in 2010; although I would love for someone to prove me wrong.  Without any hesitation, this one deserves a perfect 5-score.


Special Features 

I feel I am being generous with my score here, but I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the wealth of extras contained on this Blu-ray release.  It may look like nothing much on paper, but once you sit down to watch it all you quickly realize you are investing a full-day’s work at the office.  Although, when it comes to the fun I experienced with Gamer, how could I ever equate that to work?  Refreshingly, all the supplements found within are all presented in glorious 1080P!  That’s the way it should be on a Blu-ray release.  But when it comes to Lionsgate would you really expect anything less from them?  Quite simply, I found most of the extras I am going to talk about below fascinating from a filmmaking perspective, so without further ado, let’s dissect the special features package found on the Blu-ray release of Gamer.

Below are some pictures I took of the back cover art, the inside packaging of the 2-disc set (Digital Copy on the left and the Blu-ray disc on the right) and the paper insert with the Digital Copy activation code on the flip side (valid until January 19, 2011).  Click on the below images to enlarge for maximum viewing pleasure.

Gamer - Back of Blu-ray Cover Art Gamer - The Discs Gamer - Digital Copy Validation Code Insert 

Below are some screenshots I took of the Blu-ray disc main menu selections. As pictured from left to right, I have included an image of the play movie screen, scene selection and special features.  Click on the below images to enlarge for maximum viewing pleasure.  

 Gamer - Play Screen Gamer - Scene Selection Screen Gamer - Special Features Select Screen

  • Audio Commentary – The standard audio commentary track contains thoughts from writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and actors Amber Valletta, Alison Lohman and Terry Crews.  Alison comes in a bit late on this track as she relieves a fellow cast member during a bathroom break.  Overall, this was a very fun and informative commentary track.  I learned a lot about the movie’s budget and all the roadblocks they had to work with during the production of the film.  Also interesting to note was the fact that they originally wanted to do this film in 3-D, but the technology was not available yet.
  • I-Con Mode – This is an interesting alternative look into the making of the film as we are given the Watchmen-style Picture-in-Picture track where Mark and Brian literally walk out of the movie and onto your television screen.  This P-I-P track lasts a bit longer than the feature film’s runtime so make sure to hit the bathroom before sitting down with this one. 
  • Gamer Cheat Codes – This one is also time consuming as this time we are going through the film again with interactive specialized scene-specific audio and video commentary accessible via the viewpoints of numerous crew members.
  • “Inside the Game: Controlling Gamer” – This “making of” documentary left the biggest impression on me out of all the extras.  When I hit ‘Play All’ on my remote, I thought I was in store for some quick 2 to 3 minute video clips of useless production footage, but never was I led to believe that I was about to be mind blown by a wealth of knowledge clocking in near 80 minutes in length.  Wow!  This extra alone made me respect the movie and all the grueling behind-the-scenes work that went into making it even more and probably was responsible for me bumping the overall film score up a half point. 
  • “First Person Shooter: The Evolution of Red” – This was probably my second favorite featurette on the disc.  It’s a real gem that I felt like I stumbled upon by accident, but one that was meant to be.  I guess an explanation is needed for that cryptic sentence huh?  Well the long story short is that I stumbled upon these guys in this documentary last year at Comic-Con.  I even talked to them, not realizing who they were and what they did until now.  How stupid do you think I feel now?  To sum this featurette up in one sentence I would have to go on record that this is about the groundbreaking technology (the cameras) Mark and Brian worked with to create the immaculate 4K resolution of Gamer.  This one is probably best left for us technical junkies.
  • Theatrical Trailer – I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Unseen Trailer (The Doobie-ness Cut) – This Doobie White edited video gives the viewer a unique look at an alternate trailer for Gamer.
  • Lionsgate Live – Experience all the magic of Lionsgate on your Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player.
  • BD Touch – This is an iPhone/iPod Touch app (does anyone even have any of those?) where users can download and control certain film content.  I don’t have an iPhone/iPod Touch to try this out.  Any love for us Android users?
  • Metamenu – You are able to control your Blu-ray player through the website www.my.metamenus.com.  I am not familiar with this one, so make sure to check it out!
  • D-Box – If you are one of the few people on the planet who have a D-Box Motion Control System, then you are in luck!  Gamer has a D-Box feature to let you get more rumble for your buck.
  • Digital Copy – The second disc in this Blu-ray release is a DVD that contains a Digital Copy that is compatible with both Apple iTunes and Windows Media Player.  Enjoy!


Final Thoughts   

Well there you have it folks.  I am sure by now you all understand that while this movie is far from ever being called perfect, the stellar Blu-ray package is near orgasmic in every which way.  I never thought I would be saying this while going into my first viewing, but I whole-heartedly recommend a purchase of this very fine Blu-ray release on January 19th.  Heck, why wait?  Pre-order yours now!  And I will leave you with my final word of caution.  I know I sound like a broken record or a skipping CD, but I just can’t stress this last point enough.  If you are not a fan of the Crank films, then I strongly suggest you give this film a rental before a blind buy.  I just don’t see you liking it for all the 10,000 obvious reasons I listed in the above Blu-ray review.  You have been warned.  All others prepare your home theater living rooms for 95 onslaught minutes of blood, guts, carnage, explosions and resolution like you have never seen before.  It’s that good!

I hope you enjoyed my review of the Lionsgate’s Gamer Blu-ray release.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.  I look forward to receiving any and all feedback from my readers.


Gamer will be released on Blu-ray January 19th, 2010.  If you like what you read in the review above, then please show your support for our site by clicking the shopping cart link above to pre-order and save with Amazon’s Pre-Order Price Guarantee.  Thanks! 


 Gamer Blu-ray Cover Art


1 Response to “Gamer (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Sandy

    Never heard of this movie, but I think I’ve gotta see it now.
    Gerard Butler – YUM!