Reviewed by: Dave Murray
David Hillenbrand, Scott Hillenbrand
What's it about
Charlie's been having a rough time since his girlfriend was killed by a drug dealing cop. His life as a video game tester leads him to a new virtual reality system so real that the people in his life criss-cross with fantasy, as his best buds, the same psycho cop, and a damsel that looks exactly like his girlfriend (TOPANGA!!!) all make up part of a video game world that Charlie just might never want to leave.
Is it good movie?
Shoot me in the head, but I enjoyed this one. One part Tron, one part The Matrix, and seven parts cheese, this movie had a cool teenage indie vibe that I remember from the movies of the 80's. Don't let the wicked box art fool you, this is no horror movie. Far from it. It's a hammy action love story wrapped up in a techno nightmare and steeped in some cool effects (and some lame ones), a pretty enjoyable story and some likeable characters.
Yes I know the whole virtual reality thing has been done before. This movie even has it's Tron-like pixel and line art moments, but what we get here is a live action tribute to such games as Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil, Duke Nukem as well as references to samurai anime and soem obvious Sin City moments. The effects are not bad. Certainly not "cutting edge", but well done. The environments are believable and the action in them is tight.
The acting here is very good. The performance given by Nate Richert (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) was top notch and shows that the kid has range and talent. The job done by hottie Danielle Fishel (yes, that is Topanga from Boy Meets World), while a little wooden and forced, was passable considering the role she had to work with. The two leads had chemistry, and they were fun to watch (in more ways than one) through all of the action filled environments. I especially loved the "health icon" concept, and how the game stored weapons for Charlie. Nicely done game touches.
But I did have two gripes about the movie. First, the makeup they used on the characters in the game world made them all look like extras rejects from a Devo video. I mean, it is cool to make everyone look plastic and other-worldly, but when you make someone as good looking as Fishel look like she has a perpetually dirty face and a moustache...not a good thing. And second....Am I missing something or are the directors? Since when do zombies act like monkeys? And I don't mean rabid tear your face off flesh muncher monkeys, but playful zoo monkeys made of....shadows? That was a little lame.
So, it was a fun flick, with only a couple of flaws. Slap on a happy ending and call it a night? Sounds good to me.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.85:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), subtitles in English and Spanish.
Since this is a promo screener, so sorry, no features, but the full DVD does include a Featurette on the "Cutting Edge Effects" (which they are not, but they are still cool), a Directors' Commentary, as well as the obligatory Deleted Scenes and Gag Reel.
Fans of fun 80's techno adventures will love this flick, as will video game fans and those of us who actually remember how cool Tron was. Pretty cool effects heavy adventure flick from Lionsgate, with a solid cast, a cliched but entertaining story, and definately some heart, soul and work poured into it. Well worth the time, as long as you don't expect greatness. Just plain old goodness.
Now, where have I seen that box art before.....