Released by: Sideshow Production
Running Time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Christopher Folino
Available On: DVD
Gamers is pretty surprising. I honestly don't expect much from mockumentaries lampooning staples of nerd-dom, especially when the subject of which is one that I'm really not all that familiar with. I've never played a table-top RPG in my life, mostly due to the fact that I've never had any friends that were into the hobby... and they're also so nerdy that it's almost crippling.
That's exactly the topic at hand in Gamers, a fun flick that follows a group of nerd caricatures documentary style as they prepare to break the world record for role playing over 74,568 hours. That's right, they've been playing the same game (DND… not what you're thinking. It stands for Demons, Nymphs & Dragons, but I think you get the parallels here) for the past 23 years. Sound like you and your friends? Right.
As the camera crew follows around each member of the group, both together and individually, leading up to the big day, the movie is peppered with flashbacks and allusions to their history as friends and as a gaming crew. There are a lot of laughs in Gamers, and it's not entirely dependent on the audience being "in on the joke," as far as the role playing references are concerned. Sure, there's a lot of 20-sided jargon, but it's obvious that the intended audience sweeps out wider than the inner circle depicted here.
The movie's not nearly as mean as the packaging would have you believe. The characters therein are extreme exaggerations that even the most grizzly of basement-dwelling spellcasters can chuckle at. From the kid-song-singing oblivious nature of the group's leader to their most recent and nerdiest recruit, Reese, these cats are the prototype for the dead-end job loser. Something like this is even harder to pull off cast-wise, but the mark is hit for the most part, with a collection of actors that seem genuinely nerdy, as if dragging them off set would do nothing to cool the flames of fandom. It's also worth mentioning that, aside from the main cast of dorks, John Heard and Beverly D'Angelo appear frequently, and with a majority of the laughs, as Gordon's apathetically disappointed parents.
Most importantly, it looks like the entire cast and crew had a blast making it. Both the film credits and the special features on the disc are full of scenes that didn't make it in the movie itself, and the self-aware, retarded nature of the film is reflected in the overall execution. Despite the fact that some of the gags are hit or miss, most anyone will find something to laugh out loud about in Gamers. Writer and director Christopher Folino's debut is definitely a successful one, and it's going to be interesting to see what comes from his camp next.
Let's be honest, though. Any movie that opens with "Everybody's Workin' for the Weekend" has a place somewhere in my heart.
DVD Features: This disc is a pretty healthy one. There are commentaries from the cast and crew, as well as multiple cast interviews and a handful of deleted scenes to dig through. Picture and sound-wise, this is a solid release from Sideshow of a flick that will definitely own a spot on many cult film fan's shelves in the future.
Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
Released by: Manga Entertainment
Running Time: 99/101 minutes
Directed by: Gisaburo Sugii
Available On: DVD
Raise your hand if you haven't seen this one before. That's what I thought. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie was pretty much required viewing when it was originally released over here in 1997 on VHS, to the tune of a pretty silly rock/industrial soundtrack and the grating snip-snip of editing scissors. Still, stuff like this only detracted slightly from what was widely considered a fun action romp that loosely tracked everyone's favorite ass-kicking video game roster toward an epic battle of good versus evil.
Much like a night on Xbox Live Arcade, there sure is a lot of Ken and Ryu in the mix here. Luckily, and unlike most of America, however, director Gisaburo Sugii (Lupin III: The Secret of the Twilight Gemini, Street Fighter II V) and co. know how to play with more than two characters from the legendary seminal fighting game. But how does it hold up after almost ten years of domestic release?
Pretty well, actually. There's no question that this is, and always has been, a goofy gumbo of fan-service action both on and off the streets, but what more could you ask for in a Street Fighter flick? Van Damme and Raul Julia? If you're looking for a more in-depth study of the origins of your favorite characters, you'd be better off digging up the aforementioned Street Fighter II V series, which was a nice exploration of the growth of Ryu, Ken, and the rest of the gang. This movie is more notable for Chun Li's ass and some quick and fluid brawls that do the game justice.
This is only going to age better as time goes on, too. Watching it now, with the pumping music that sounds like something straight out of a Michael Dudikoff Cannon Films late night actioner, it's all very acclimated to fun movie nights with friends.
Throughout the fights are some pretty iconic moments that have left a major lasting impression since its initial release. The big Sagat opening, Vega vs. Chun Li (yes, even without taking the preceding shower scene into account), etc. It's all purely popcorn, but whoever said there was anything wrong with that? Fans of the games already own this, but even separated from its source material, it's a nice example of a video game to anime adaptation with decent production values and a focus on entertainment. You can watch this with some friends and be as loud and obnoxious as you want without really giving a crap about what's happening in between fights.
Sounds like a fighting game, after all.
DVD Features: The real bonus here is that we finally get to watch the original uncut Japanese master of the movie, clocking in at 2 minutes longer than the one that hit our shores. Some of the differences are really like night and day. The Vega fight, por exemplo, is much more effective without the corny industrial blasting through the duration. Manga isn't keeping fans of the Americanized version in the dark, though, since this is a flip-disc with both available in 5.1 along with a few other, less noteworthy extras.