Film: The Gamers
Production Company: Dead Gentlemen Productions
Writer: Matt Vancil
Director: Matt Vancil
Staring: Nathan Rice, Matt Cameron, Chris Duppenthaler, Justin MacGregor, Emily Olson, Phil M. Price
The Gamers was the first film I purchased from Dead Gentlemen. I saw an add in the now deceased Dragon Magazine and it looked like something I would like. The add had a quote from Monte Cooke that claimed that The Gamers was the real D&D movie, so how could I pass it up? I ordered it from the DG website (they no longer run their own store but Paizo does it, and they do a great job) and eagerly waited.
When the movie arrived I immediately ripped open the packaging, barely sparing a thought for the cover, the plot summary on the back, or any of the special features of the DVD. Instead I delved straight into the film.
They had me right from the opening credits.
Classic fantasy sounding music played and the each of the five players character sheets were displayed. Newmoon the Elf, Nimble the Thief, Rogar the Barbarian, and Ambrose the Mage. Oh and Mark the Red, last of the Bloodfire berserkers! Almost forgot about him. I was baffled over what stat GLE was but in the commentary Monte Cooke asks and is told that the stat is Guile.
The movie opens with the gaming group standing around chatting about D&D related stuff like Lord of the Rings and Drizzt. Unfortunately their dorm mate Paula has a test the next day and isn't very understanding of their loud behavior she comes out to berate them. After being yelled at the group decides to retire to their game room and get started. From this point on the movie jumps back and forth between the real world and the game world inside the imagination of the players.
In the game world we see our four... I mean five heroes at an inn outside Dragonsmead where they receive a note from King The Reasonably Just. The King explains in his letter that the Princess has been kidnapped by THE SHADOW (I feel this name should always be capitalized you'll see why when you see the movie). The remainder of the movie contains the exploits of the four... uh... five adventures as they attempt to defeat the shadow and rescue the princess.
I'm going to try not to gush about this movie, but you should know that I am hardly an objective observer as I LOVE this movie.
This movie is rush around the edges, still being one of the earliest movies made by Dead Gentlemen. The budget of the film was a paltry $500, but the Dead Gentlemen were none the less able to make movie magic. The movie is flat out hilarious to any gamer. From start to finish they are able to satirize gaming and all of its idiosyncrasies as only gamers can. Their love of gaming and understanding the great parts of it that keep us all coming back for more is the key to the film's success. As Monte Cook said, this is the true D&D movie. It captures the game and the people that play it so much better than either of the poorly made D&D films could.
The music (Gamer Theme by Steve Wolbrecht in particular), scenery, and acting are all better in this film than DG's Demon Hunters series. The filmmakers are able to use a lot of wilderness scenes for the party's adventures. The actors are well chosen, with the possible exception of Matt Cameron who is pretty flat as the Gamemaster. The costumes and props are good, especially given the small budget. Matt Vancil's script is excellent and is paced very well. In addition Vancil also directed this movie, and did a phenomenal job. Unfortunately this is not a feature length film. It runs just 48 minutes, which is disappointing.
However, the film's main weakness is its lack of relevance to people outside its target audience. Non-gamers generally will not get most of the jokes presented in the film. That having been said, the jokes that poke fun at the most mainstream gamer geek stereotypes will be recognized by almost everyone and will retain their punch.
Also this film presents a great look into what it is that we do as gamers. I showed this film to my girlfriend who "didn't get it." After seeing the film she has an idea of what it is I do when I go out to game every Thursday. This ability to form a bridge to the non gaming community really helps people not only understand what we do but want to get involved themselves. Many people have started playing because they saw this film.
Overall Rating: 8/10 - This film is essential to any Gamer's DVD collection!
Here is the trailer for the film! You won't find it at the video store but you will find it over at Paizo!