Gamebox 1.0 – Review

This is an interesting pick and a good way to kick off the holiday season, the movie is called Gamebox 1.0. A low budget independent film that shines because of the talent and ambition of the directors and actually won awards for Best Screenplay and Visual Effects. I’ve actually owned the DVD for a few years now and just recently popped this bad boy in and was pleasantly surprised.

The story of GB1.0 is unique and fresh, some have tried to imitate the plot but have fallen short. Charlie Nash is a depressed and unenthusiastic video game tester, his girlfriend was recently killed by a dirty cop and spends his time in a routine. He gets a package which includes a state of the art game system, but before he is allowed to play he must take pictures of people in his life to act as characters in the game.

This includes his dead girlfriend, his personal friends and the cop that killed his girlfriend. He starts the game and is whisked away into a virtual reality simulator, but once he starts he is unable to quit. He must play through the three pre-set levels in order to win, he finds out that the game actually affects him in real life. He is allowed to exit the game twice before it locks down, once he finds his girlfriend portrayed in the game he becomes addicted.

There is much more to the story, but I don’t want to ruin anything. But it unfolds nicely and unravels. I know it sounds a bit like the film Stay Alive (2006) but this came out two years prior to Stay Alive, this is more entertaining in my opinion anyway.

The visual style is incredibly interesting, the virtual world is matted with digital locations. The frame rate is dropped so the film looks grainy and digital, not perfectly constructed. So it looks like a video game cut scene, which I found awesome. It feels like a Sega Saturn quality which takes me back, some could complain that it looks too fake — but I feel that is what the film makers were going for.

The action is superb and features many angles and POVs from different video games, including a first person shooter perspective and some other unique shots straight from a video game. This gives the picture a slick and unique tone. The hardcore VG score amplifies the action and increases the intensity of the scenes. I was thoroughly impressed with how the action held up, given that the budget was a mere one million.

The acting is as good as it gets for this type of movie, Charlie (played by Nate Richert of Sabrina The Teenage Witch fame) gives a solid dual performance as real world Charlie and the video game Charlie. One being loner and down about life, the other being a typical action hero of cliche origins. It’s interesting to watch, Danielle Fishel (Topanga on Boy Meets World) also hits the mark as the ex-girlfriend image portrayed through a digital avatar who does not quite understand the concept that she is in a video game and nothing is real.

The award winning screenplay contains some true to life dialogue which clashes nicely with the unreal characteristics of the virtual world. You feel that the real world is bleak and undesirable just as Charlie feel that, which is a tremendous feat and should be applauded.

Now since this film is shot almost entirely on green screen it has a similar look and feel that some bigger budgeted films do. Comparing to Sin City (2005), Casshern (2004), Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) and Immortal (2004). I feel this stands out from the pack and cements itself as an original work, this film is criminally overlooked and deserves more respect than it gets. Not perfect, but what movie really is?