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The Gamers: Hands of Fate (2013)
A change of pace, but a good one.
Those I've spoken to who have watched G:HoF seem divided into two camps. The first camp is disappointed, because the movie isn't what they expected. In fairness, G:HoF is quite a departure from Gamers and Gamers: Dorkness Rising. The humor is more subdued, and the storyline is much more pronounced; the film is primarily character-driven rather than situation-driven.
The second camp...and I fall firmly in this camp...are pleased with the movie for precisely those reasons. I honestly think that if they'd tried to do a third movie exactly in the vein of the original, it would have fallen flat. There are only so many joking references to gaming tropes and clichés you can make before the material starts to become stale.
Instead, the third movie builds on the characters established in the second, fleshing them out and humanizing them; making them less caricatures and more fully-fleshed characters. Cass takes the role of protagonist, and while he's still the same cocky, hyper-competitive power-gamer, he's given a chance to demonstrate other facets of his personality; there's real character development here, and you find yourself rooting for him as the film progresses. Leo gets a welcome chance to be something other than "the guy who dies a lot"--I personally think that Scott Brown is one of the most talented actors in a talented cast, and it's nice to see him get a chance to show it.
The focus is on a collectible card game in this film, but I found that much of the humor is a loving send-up, not just of CCGs or gaming conventions, but of epic fantasies and their tropes, with a good dose of spaghetti Western thrown in. Most of the well-worn and well-loved conventions are here: the rebellious loner who comes to down to find it beset by a tyrannical band of marauders; the call to heroism; his initial resistance ("I'm just passing through") worn down as he comes to care for the community; his arrival at the last minute for the showdown with the villain.
One discordant note for me is Gary's subplot. It starts off funny, but quickly goes in a very dark direction that doesn't seem to mesh well with the overall tone of the film...less "Eccentric gamer" and more "Seriously psychologically disturbed gamer." While, yes, there were over-the-top acts of violence in the earlier films, those were generally confined to the characters within the games. Seeing similar behavior from one of the players comes across as less funny and more disturbing.
Apart from that, though, the film's a very solid and enjoyable one, and one I plan to both own and watch again.
Shadow Creature (1995)
I auditioned for the film, I got the callback...and, alas, it was on a day where I simply couldn't make it to the filming site.
My ambition of appearing in a b-movie will have to wait. Still, fond memories of the audition, and I made some friends, including Rick Pawliewski, who handled the prosthetic makeup--he does excellent work.
Nowadays, the film's a treat to watch for Buffalo locations that aren't there anymore, including the old George and Company store on Main Street.
This is a film that should be watched in the proper spirit. It's good, cheesy, silly fun, and meant to be taken that way. Zebra mussels in Lake Erie?
I do wish they'd stuck with "Flesh Eating Cannibal Creatures from Cleveland," though.
To the Locker with the critics--it's fun!
No, it's not going to win any Oscars. Yes, critics will turn up their noses at it.
That just demonstrates how out-of-touch the typical film critic is with why most people go to see a movie like this.
To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about AWE. The fact that they shot it back-to-back with the second movie, and started filming without a script, made me twitch a little....and then, there was the fact that the second movie was just lacking. "Dead Man's Chest" came across as very labored and formulaic, whereas the first movie came across as "This probably won't go anywhere, but let's make a fun pirate film and have a good time doing it." After the success of the first movie, it seemed like Verbinski and his cast started taking the franchise seriously. Way too seriously. We had very formulaic, heavy-handed references to the first film, we had about a dozen too many rum jokes.
But then...a miracle occurred. It's as if, by the time they got done filming the second movie, the cast and crew were so burned out that they said, "Heck with it, let's just make a fun pirate movie" once again.
I, for one, am pleased with the results.
Oh, it's not perfect. It's a little too long, and the Calypso subplot really doesn't seem to go anywhere, given the amount of screen time dedicated to it. The focus of the film is much more divided than the first two, and some fans may be annoyed that Barbossa gets most of the best lines.
And in the end, none of that matters; it's fun, it's entertaining, it's crammed so full of clever little details and homages to other films (I particularly like the nod to Sergio Leone with the two musical lockets) that you can watch it over and over and see something new each time.
If you want Deep And Serious Film-making, avoid this like the plague. If you want to kick back and wish you were a pirate for three hours, go see it.
It tastes like burning!
The horror...the horror.
I have looked into Conrad's Heart of Darkness...and Mark Hammill was there.
Wearing heavy pancake makeup and eyeshadow.
Now, please don't get me wrong: I'm a Star Wars fan. I'm also a bad movie aficionado, and I enjoy 70's chintz. I have gleefully sat through some of the worst movies in history multiple times.
I truly do not think that I can sit through this again. It's not the schlock...it's the alternating bouts of schlock and sheer, mind-numbing tedium.
The opening scene...in which we watch Chewbacca's family shamble about aimlessly making unintelligible Wookie noises...lasts for seventeen and a half hours. The clock may say fifteen minutes; the clock lies.
The search of the Wookies house...by two stormtroopers, one extremely swishy Imperial Navy officer, and a guy dressed like Dark Helmet ten years prior to "Spaceballs," might have been good for a chuckle, had it lasted for a minute or two.
It doesn't. It goes on...and on...and on...and, at some point, you discover that you're weeping uncontrollably and can't stop.
In the name of all that's holy: turn back before it's too late.
Oh, the hurting...the hurting...
This movie is pure, concentrated evil.
I acquired my copy from the dusty back bins of a video store which was going out of business back in 1987. Just to put things in perspectrive, it was on Beta--I had to dub it over to VHS. As a gamer, I tend to collect movies in the "Roleplayer Goes Crazy" genre. Most of them are pretty bad...but this one has them all beat, in terms of sheer deep hurting.
Nevermind the blatant anachronisms--such as the opening scene, set in 14th century England in an 18th century manor house where a 16th century nobleman is killed by a guy in a cheesy 1980's wizard costume. Nevermind the fact that the lead actor looks for all the world like he's dead, and was animated by black magic just for this movie. Nevermind the fact that the best actor in the entire movie is a puppet who just hangs there and doesn't do anything. Even without all of those factors, the movie would just be painful.
And yet, it holds a kind of sick fascination, not unlike a car wreck---you want to look away, but you can't. This movie has spawned an unwholesome and degenerate cult (at least two of the other comments on this list are from members.) Beware--this movie is CONCENTRATED schlock of the worst kind. Do not, do not, do NOT watch this movie and Mazes and Monsters back to back. The last person who did that wound up in the hospital a few hours later with an acute gall bladder attack. I kid you not.