May 7th, 2013 marked the release of the first of Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray 3D conversion of a regular 2D movie with Gamer 3D.
Perhaps Gamer was the ideal choice since they considered shooting in 3D from the get go, and also considered conversion for the theatrical release.
However neither were considered commercially viable at the time, and now that it is, Lionsgate has opted to release it for the 3D Home Theater.
Gamer 3D the Movie
It is the year 2020, and inventor Ken Castle has revolutionized the gaming industry.
By using self-replicating nanites that replace human brain cells, giving full control of all motor functions to a third party.
The first application of this technology is a game called Society, which allows gamers to control a real person in a pseudo community similar to The Sims.
The game allows players to engage in what would normally be considered inappropriate behaviour through their ‘characters’.
As a result, those who work as ‘characters’ in Society are well paid.
With Society‘s huge success and profits, Castle created a second multiplayer game called Slayers.
In this game, the ‘characters’ are death-row inmates who fight lethal battles with real weapons on specially created battlefields.
If an inmate survives 30 matches, he earns his freedom.
John “Kable” Tillman is the most famous and the best soldier in Slayers, having survived 27 matches in the game, far more than any other player.
Kable is exclusively controlled by Simon, a seventeen-year old superstar gamer.
Things are complicated though by an activist organization called ‘Humanz’ that occasionally hijacks the broadcast links to claim that Castle can use the nanite technology to control people against their will.
In addition to this a faceless female visits Tillman in his prison, giving him a picture of his family and taking some of his blood.
A new inmate named Hackman arrives at the prison, and it soon becomes clear that he is not controlled by a player and therefore has an edge since there is a control lag between the player’s commands and the character’s response.
It also becomes clear that Hackman is there with the sole purpose of killing Tillman before he earns his freedom.
As the game plays on, it becomes Castle and Hackman versus Tillman and the mysterious Humanz, but who will have the upper hand?
As with these films, sometimes the movie is a bit ‘tongue in cheek’, but the action and style play very well and have a strong impact.
If you start asking questions, in some ways the story doesn’t hold so well, but if you don’t dig too deeply you will probably have a good time with it.
The movie is definitely pretty edgy, both with the fight scene violence in Slayers and the sexual nature of the Society game – certainly not suitable for younger family members.
The style is slick, especially in the editing, with super fast cuts and a lot of interesting visual effects in the games and futuristic User Interface for the game users.
All in all I have to say that I liked the movie a lot – it is certainly quite a trip watching it – though with the high level of violence, it is not for everyone.
The cast includes Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Amber Valletta, Logan Lerman, Terry Crews, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Kyra Sedgwick.
The critical response to the film tended towards the negative, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 29%, though it did better at the IMDb with a score of 5.7/10.
Gamer didn’t do so well at the cinema, earning only $20.5M at the US box office when the budget was $50M.
That said I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a cult classic on home video formats.
Gamer 3D on Blu-ray 3D
The video on the disc is an MVC 1080p stereo encode at 21.5 Mbps, and is presented at 1.78:1 aspect ratio, filling the HDTV screen.
Apparently the film was originally intended to be a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, though after doing the edits in 16:9, the directors decided to retain that aspect ratio.
Being shot on Red, the images are very crisp and clear, and come across very well on the Blu-ray.
There are a lot of excessively stylized looks used in the film, so that you instantly understand if you are in the Slayers or the Society game, or in the ‘real life’ locations like the prison or the city.
The Blu-ray 3D conversion is interesting and calls for further discussion.
The conversion appears to be a little flawed in places – perhaps most obviously, there appears to be depth on some of the poster images that should be flat.
Another possible concern is the 3D tracking through all of the fast cut fighting scenes.
While the 3D effect is no doubt accurate in each shot, the constant changing of angles and magnifications is hard for the brain to track and as such the 3D effect can be a bit hard on the senses.
I think you do become somewhat ‘numb’ to the ‘3D abuse’ we are exposed to here, though for some viewers it will find it difficult to cope with.
Typically films designed for 3D use slower cuts and techniques that allow the brain to track the 3D depth queues, allowing for a more comfortable experience.
That said, folks who watch a lot of 3D content might not be so disturbed by the quick cuts.
In any case, the relentless nature of the cutting is part of the style of the film and the 3D only highlights the tension and potentially unsettling effect that this editing style creates.
See the details page for Gamer 3D for full resolution PNG screen captures taken directly from the disc.
The main audio is lossless DTS-HD Master Audio with 7.1 channels – 24 bits resolution at 48 kHz.
The disc is a dual layer BD50, with 45.9 GB used and is coded for Region A.
Note that while this is a Blu-ray 3D title, it will play in a regular Blu-ray player in 2D.
Gamer 3D on Blu-ray 3D – The Bonus Features
On the surface, this release only has a single supplement.
That said, the ‘making of’ featurette called Inside the Game: Controlling Gamer is an extensive documentary about the production of the film.
All in all the featurette runs for almost an hour and twenty minutes, and features interviews with writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
Each of the major cast members are interviewed and discussed in depth, as well as many of the key crew members.
You also get extensive behind the scenes footage here, as well as cast and crew discussion on the nature of Neveldine and Taylor.
This included the fact that Neveldine and Taylor like to operate the cameras as well as direct, and that Mark Neveldine’s favourite dolly technique is to shoot while on rollerblades.
The production was shot largely on Red cameras, and while shooting stereo 3D was preferred, it was decided during production that the Red workflow was challenging enough, without adding the complication of 3D stereo capture.
The decision to shoot in New Mexico is also covered, as well as the challenges of shooting the key action scenes in ‘run and gun’ fashion.
Special effects, blood and gore are discussed, and the extensive range of weapons made for the film get special attention.
All in all the documentary is extensive and well worth a look if you have the time.
For additional formats, this release includes an UltraViolet Digital Copy code.
Gamer 3D on Blu-ray 3D – Final Thoughts
Gamer 3D is a fun action movie that is and edgy and modern marriage of science fiction, action, thriller and crime genres.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has put together a technically strong Blu-ray 3D release here, including a highly detailed behind the scenes documentary.
The retail price is a budget friendly $19.99, and you can get it at Amazon for $14.99, saving 25%.
- Game: Controlling Gamer ‘Making Of’ Featurette
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.