The Gamers (2002) is worth seeing if you are a fan of roleplaying games (RPGs), adventure, and comedy! It has Mages, Barbarians, Thieves, Elves, and a world of medieval fantasy (on a budget) as we watch our heroes brave the wilds in comedic derring-do to rescue the fair princess from the clutches of that nefarious villain… The Shadow!
The Shadow? The Shadow!? The *Shadow*…
The Gamers is sort of a fan-film, but also an original product; it isn’t beholden to the “Dungeons & Dragons” brand, but it owes its existence to said game and other tabletop RPGs like it. And much like your average tabletop RPG gathering, there’s a whole lot of funny coming from the players!
Where else will you see the party’s Thief steal not only a stranger’s purse, but also his knife and his… pants…? Only the daffiest of players would dare try something so ridiculous; but mischief like this works out in the movie! Odds are in the favor of the players, for the most part… Like impossible shots made by the Elven Archer which seem to follow the target around corners.
The picture quality is not spectacular like its sequels would be, or other fan-made projects are… Also, because this is a fan-made film before the time of crowdfunding, the special effects are minimal; so don’t expect high fantasy epic level visuals in this tale, alas… But don’t be discouraged by either factor! The charm of this movie more than makes up for both. With a clickety-clack of the dice, the characters’ fates are cast as the film interweaves back and forth between showing us the point-of-view of this motley crew and their players in a college dorm; occasionally, the campaign is interrupted by a very annoyed student who is trying to study for one of her courses.
I don’t have one favorite scene in the film, I have a few favorites: first is the scene in which the characters, upon reaching a river they must cross, attempt to render their Mage unconscious due to his “paralyzing fear of water” which has disastrous results. Second is when the Thief keeps heading into a flaming trap and his player keeps fudging whether he meant he walks, sneaks, or crawl down the pathway an inch at a time and irks his Game Master. Third is when the adventurers face enemy Hunk in the tavern early in the story and the Thief “backstabs” him with a ballista — a siege weapon — and makes Hunk go explode-y; it’s ridiculous and silly enough to work here.
I love this movie because it is one of those fan-made projects which both presents a great story and also, I feel, in its way like many a fan-film reminds all aspiring geeky/nerdy filmmakers out there what is possible; that if they have a dream and want to tell a story, they *can*!
What’s more, this *is* a funny, clever movie! The comedy is good, it’s not pushing any boundaries unnecessarily just to do so. The medieval mishaps are not exactly the stuff of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), but it’s still funny stuff. The characters and players are basically believable, even if at times the player characters are a bit stereotypical of gamers. But then, stereotypes of both gamers and their characters being put to satire is rather the point, so… Can’t fault them there.
The Gamers is a movie which deserves to endure and live on and have its name spread in the geeky/nerdy world! A couple of sequels have come around since its release — The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (2008) and The Gamers: Hands of Fate (2013) — and are based off the same principal idea: juxtaposing between the worlds of the players and their characters; they are good in their own rights, but The Gamers is where the fun began. If you can, grab a copy of The Gamers and enjoy some goofy fantasy adventure!
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