Video game movies tend to fall into two groups; those that are based on video games (The Tomb Raiders, the Resident Evils) and those that follow video games and usually speaks on how it affects a person, driving their addiction. Often the latter pick it as a device of social commentary. Some do it in humor (Grandma’s Boy) but more often than not they manipulate it as something that will take over your brain and kill you. Enter in Gamebox 1.0. Gamebox 1.0 is the story of a video …ame tester Charlie Nash (played by Nate Richert (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch))who is not coping in life very well since his girlfriend Kate (played by Danielle Fishel (the gorgeous Topanga from Boy Meets World))got accidentally shot by a bad cop. (played by Patrick Kilpatrick) This leads him to completely cover himself in the world of video games. So much that he forgets his friends and any mention of the world’s events around him. One day he receives a mysterious package in the mail. It is a new game system. This game system invites Charlie into the highly realistic gaming world contained inside. In that world he can do anything and interact with anybody but once he starts playing he’ll never stop. (wow, I sound just like a tagline).
Gamebox 1.0 is a decent movie, but has a few issues. First it puts Charlie into this virtual reality world that basically feels like a really fuzzy game from the 3do era. (look it up, it wasn’t pretty). The movie is a very tight 83 minutes but for the 80% of the movie where it is set in virtual land it becomes a mind numbing headache. Thankfully Princess; Kate’s virtual double (also played by Danielle Fishel) is on the screen with Charlie a lot so the viewer will tend to use a lot less Advil. It mainly mocks Grand Theft Auto (they name it Crime Spree) and does it very well. It also includes adaptions of Resident Evil (dubbed Zombie Land) and the Halo/Quake genre (Alien Nation). However, they present all the games in a very negative tone. True carjacking random vehicles or shooting up zombies isn’t exactly wholesome and it is supposed to be a horror movie too. But this movie makes several stabs at social commentary, and basically the theme is that video games can be addicting and it will suck away your life if you continue to play them. It’s that kind of negative thinking that makes this video game reviewer feel all weird inside like I’m supposed to go outside or something.
This movie sports 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. It’s truly hard to figure out what to give this movie for a video score. On one hand, this movie took three years to edit and get all of the effects right. They really did a lot with the virtual world. On the other hand as explained above, it gives you a real life headache. Video games have come a long way and this movie takes us back to games that were roughly made 8-10 years ago at best. Thumbs in the middle, ever so slightly leaning up.
Audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 mixes. (both in English). Sounds are pretty good for the most part using the surrounds well and keeping the video game world alive. I like how it adds extra sounds in the virtual world which is something that video games really do from time to time. Overall good stuff, just not super aggressive like I would have hoped for. English and Spanish subtitles are also provided.
Automatic Trailers: Employee of the Month, Crank and the Descent. These also appear at the bottom of the special features menu as Also from Lionsgate
Making of Gamebox 1.0 13:30:A good featurette that goes over the making of this movie and how it was a long(three years) and difficult process. They touch on the use of green screen a lot and the cast that makes up the film.
Deleted & Extended Scenes(with and without commentary) 12:00: Mostly extended scenes that add extra dialog and mess up the pacing, well at least according to the directors. It was only 83 minutes folks, I wouldn’t exactly call it an epic.
Blooper Reel 5:30: Lots of fun bloopers showing the good natured personalities of the young and hip cast.
Audio Commentary with Directors David Hillenbrand and Scott Hillenbrand, Co – Executive Producer John Coven and Editor Dave O’ Brien: The commentary can be best described as okay. They do a good job of staying on task and describing the movie as it happens. However, they really get into the whole video game social commentary thing and while they seem excited to bring elements of the gaming world into the movie; they present it rather negatively.
As a video game reviewer (who dabbles in the dvd arena); I naturally have a tendency to like any movie that is based on or messes with video games. Gamebox 1.0 does present a few moments of good acting all provided by the two leads (Richert & Fishel). They also present a world that is very faithful to gaming with little nods to us geek…errr aficionados. However, they do it in such a way that it makes those who play video games feel a little less stimulated about our own hobby. The disc itself is solid and the extras will make any fan of the movie stand up and cheer. Perhaps this reviewer is being nitpicky (why on the earth would you put a Playstation controller on the dvd box when the system most noticeable in the movie is the XBOX?) but this movie wasn’t very good for taking three whole years to make. I would call this a renter at best. Now, excuse me while I take a trip to EB Games. (hrmmm, this is going to require going outside)
Special Features List
- Automatic Trailers (3)
- Making of Gamebox 1.0
- Deleted & Extended Scenes
- Blooper Reel
- Audio Commentary