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Gamer by Robert Williamson and Geoff Zanelli


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Gamer (Soundtrack) by Robert Williamson and Geoff Zanelli

Composed by Robert Williamson and
Geoff Zanelli
Lakeshore Records (2009)

Rating: 1/10

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“We are once again hit over the head with a message, warning us against the inevitable fate of our gameshow-crazy, video game addicted, control-lusting society. The score for GAMER just tea-bags the listener for good measure.”

Review by Christopher Coleman

When I first heard the premise of Gerard Butler's latest film, GAMER, I have to admit that I was mildly intrigued. When I heard that it was being written and directed by the duo that brought us CRANK and CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE, that intrigue shriveled up to the size of a small raisin. CRANK featured the distinctive, electronic-edginess of composer PAUL HASLINGER, but the directing duo went another direction for CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE. They made an interesting choice as they brought on composer MIKE PATTON, who brought a bucket-load of creativity to the sequel. I suppose some credit is due to Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor for pushing the limits of creative photography (ie. messy-sloppy-cam) and editing for those films, but their latest effort doesn't just inch past the line of comprehension, it boldly super-jumps right over the edge and pulls us down with it.

If the CRANK films were visually exhausting, then GAMER is a clear case of visual abuse and ROBERT WILLIAMSON and GEOFF ZANELLI's score is just as guilty, but against our ears instead. In GAMER, we are once again taken down the path of an incarcerated man being able to obtain his freedom by winning some outlandish game or sport. In their respective eras, both DEATH RACE and THE RUNNING MAN asked the audience the same question, "Could this be where we are headed for our entertainment?" Hmmm. Yes. It could very well be where we are headed. Certainly nothing new about the question or it's answer. It has been asked since the age of the Roman Gladiator came to an end and the answer remains unchanged. Since we are now in the "age of the video game," perhaps the writer/directors felt it was time to re-wrap and present this question for a new generation. Or perhaps Neveldine and Taylor just needed some sort of premise to hang another couple hours of visual nonsense on. Whichever the case, in GAMER, the central is figure, Kable (Gerard Butler), a prisoner who get's to work off his sentence in a game called, Slayer. Now, this game is of the life and death sort. He also has a wife and daughter to find, who have been taken from him, but how does he win the game and save his family at the same time? It's such a pickle. In comparison, old Arnold had it easy when he won THE RUNNING MAN, since he at least had control of... himself. Poor Kable does not have this luxury, since he is merely the in-game-avatar of a teenaged-master-gamer, Simon. So off we go into this gritty, grungy, shaky, fleeting world of GAMER and to assist us into full migrane-inducing-immersion is the original score by ROBERT WILLIAMSON and GEOFF ZANELLI.

Anyone familiar with the works of these two composers might not be too surprised at what is to be found on this soundtrack. There are atmospheric tinges of Williamson's earlier collaboration with Neveldine for PATHOLOGY, but ironically, that score felt much "healthier" than this. For Geoff Zanelli, we get a moment or two of familiarity of his work on DISTURBIA or his HITMAN score, if it somehow turned into total nightmare. The onslaught of electronic grunge and industrial mayem is just dizzying in tracks such as "Deathmatch" (1) or "Dress Up Doll" (13). Oddly enough, there is some variety dispersed throughout this score. On occasion we are treated to steroid-laden, hip-hop track such as: "Society" (2) or "Simon's House"; these being perhaps the most listenable of the lot. Now, if we weren't collectively "amped" enough, Williamson and Zanelli through in a bit of speed-metal, speedcore, cybergrind (or whatever you crazy kids call it these days). Check out "Gina Parker Smith" (10) or "Blood Ball" (19) if that's what you're into. The balance of the score is filled with countless electronic rumbles, pulses, pads, crashes, 8-bit samples and even sound effects like gunshots and mumbling vocals (see "Kable's New Ride"). It would come as no surprise if the directors commissioned the composing duo to make the listener as uncomfortable as possible. If that was the goal, then job well done. There are only a couple of instances that have any connection to the realm of the musically sane at all: the brief piano solo in "Deathmatch" and final few moments of "I Think It, You Do it."

The score for GAMER certainly connects the audience to the technological and even diabolical sides of the film, but leaves out any traces of humanity. The visual and mental assault that is GAMER is matched all too well by ROBERT WILLIAMSON and GEOFF ZANELLI. We are once again hit over the head with a message, warning us against the inevitable fate of our gameshow-crazy, video game addicted, control-lusting society. The score just tea-bags the listener for good measure. Now, I'm not sure what lay ahead for ROBERT WILLIAMSON, but since GEOFF ZANELLI'S satisfying work for OUTLANDER this year, the bar has been raised. I certainly expect better than what GAMER has to offer. Neveldine and Taylor certainly have loyal fans and I'm guessing that audience will embrace this film. Perhaps that audience will think the GAMER score fully pwnes, but I have to say that If there is such a thing as "musical masochism" GAMER might just be it.

Rating: 1/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) -  Marilyn Manson 4:53  
2 The Bad Touch - The Bloodhound Gang 4:20  
3 Deathmatch 3:14  *
4 Society 0:42  **
5 Slayers 0:39  *
6 Kable's New Ride 2:19  *
7 The Prison Yard 1:39  *
8 Upgrades 3:14  *
9 Target Practice 4:22  *
10 Gina Parker Smith 0:27  
11 Simon's House 2:56  *
12 Turn Me Loose 1:50  
13 You Have to Escape 2:17  *
14 Kable is Gone 0:56  *
15 Dress Up Doll 0:41  
16 Humanz 1:55  *
17 The Thorax Bar 1:53  **
18 Kable Rescues Angie 1:19  *
19 Blood Ball 2:05  
20 Interrogating Simon 2:42  *
21 Kable Vs. Castle 2:53  *
22 I Think It. You Do It 4:38  *
22 Medley: I've Got You Under My Skin/Big Bad John... - Sammy Davis, Jr. 6:32  
  Total Running Time (approx) 59 minutes  





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