Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Gamers (the first one)

So, I finally got around to watching the first gamers movie. You may have noticed that I already reviewed its spiritual sequel earlier. So... I would say that it was worth watching, especially since it made me re-evaluate my opinion of Dorkness Rising. Somewhat.

You see, I still stand by my original conclusion that Dorkness Rising is a good film that approaches greatness, yet is too easy to forget. However, I now feel that I was a bit too harsh on the movie. I know I couched it all in terms of "it's not bad, but...", but I also understand that the "but" makes all the difference.
So... Let me tell you about The Gamers and how it simultaneously changed and reinforced my opinion of its sequel.

The Gamers is the story of five (well, six, really) gamers who are finishing up an RPG campaign in their dorm... during finals week when everyone else is trying to study. Needless to say, they are not winning themselves any friends with their boisterous roleplaying. (And we've all been there, haven't we? ... Actually, I never have, but I thought I'd try and show some empathy.)
The movie follows them in their in-game exploits as they approach the end of their campaign to defeat... The Shadow! (Insert running gag here.) And when I say in-game, I mean that most of the movie (I'd say 75% plus (minus narration) takes place in the game. This is different from Dorkness Rising, which takes place roughly half in real life, and the other half in the game. The group dynamics are somewhat similar to Dorkness Rising, in that there's a group of power gamers and a GM who seems to barely tolerate their antics, like sneak attacking someone with a ballista... from point blank range... indoors. However there's not nearly as much person-to-person dynamics. Aside from talking about the one guy who hasn't been showing up recently since he has a girlfriend now. Though one of the funnier running gags is showing the characters all react wildly to what's going on, except for the absent player's character, who's off in the background, standing as still as a mannequin.
And... that's kinda it. Well, there is the ending, which is just... weird. But that's fine with me. The simplicity of the whole setup is actually rather appealing. They don't try for anything fancy and they do what they set out to do rather well. Hombre, it's not going to win any major awards, but it's good, solid, fun entertainment. You see, Dorkness Rising is to The Gamers what Portal 2 is to Portal. The Gamers is the base concept, and Dorkness Rising is the concept with extra stuff added on. Unfortunately a lot of the same pitfalls that plague DR also plague TG. You see, the movie, while fun and funny, is entirely forgettable, which is sad, because you can tell that Dead Gentlemen put a lot of effort and love into both movies. However, Because TG is that pure concept without any extra trappings, I was able to see some more of what was going on in DR that I hadn't seen before. It's hard to explain, but some of the stuff happening in DR just made more sense. It was kind of like being let in on an in-joke. (In a couple cases, this was literal. There are a couple jokes in DR that you won't get unless you've seen TG. I won't say what, you can find out on your own.

Bottom Line: I guess what I'm trying to get as it that The Gamers a good movie with a lot of heart, but is also, sadly but ultimately, forgettable. However, don't let that get you down, because it's definitely worth at least one watch. You'll be glad you saw it because you'll laugh and have a good time. Just don't expect to remember all the details a week later.

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