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PCR # 370  (Vol. 8, No. 17)  This edition is for the week of April 22--29, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Gamebox 1.0"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Nate Richert, Danielle Fishel and Patrick Cavanaugh
Directed by: David Hillenbrand and Scott Hillenbrand
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 23 mins

Gamebox 1.0It's been 25 years since the film "TRON" came out. Hoping to capture the same audience that was just starting to discover video games, "TRON" was a critical and financial disaster. Things have certainly changed since 1982. Video games are more lifelike then ever. And while I can't predict the final box office gross of "Gamebox 1.0," it certainly exceeds "TRON" on this critic's scale.

In a small town in Utah, a young man is thrashing in bed, apparently having a bad dream. As his parents struggle to wake him he suddenly goes limp in their arms. He is dead. It is discovered that many of his internal organs have been slashed, yet there are no wounds on the body.

Hundreds of miles away in L.A., Charlie Nash (Richert) heads to work. He seems to have a dream job as a video game tester. But the joy is gone. Charlie is still mourning the death of his girlfriend, Kate (Fishel), who was shot to death. The shooter is Ronald Hobbes, a crooked cop (Cavanaugh), who has been acquitted of the shooting. Charlie still sees Kate everywhere he turns. In his dreams. At the table they used to share at the local restaurant. One day Charlie finds a package in his mailbox. Inside is a gaming system for him to try out. The instructions tell him to photograph his friends so that the characters in the game are more familiar. When he gets to the villian, he is told to use the photo of "someone you hate." Without hesitation he uploads a photo of Hobbes. "Once you begin," the game informs him, "you won't be able to quit." That being said, Charlie puts on the game's headset and presses START.

A small film that deserves a big following, "Gamebox 1.0" is a surprising new film from the brothers Hillenbrand. Best known for their outrageous "Dorm Daze" comedies released under the National Lampoon banner, the Hillenbrands have teamed with long time writing partners Patrick Casey and Worm Miller to create the ultimate game inside a game. Imagine if you could be the main character in any of the popular "Grand Theft Auto" games. Unlimited weapons. Lots of bad guys. Beautiful women. But, like "GTA," the more you play the harder it gets. The bullets and the punches take a toll. But what's a little pain when love is on the line?

Technically the film is well done. The filmmakers have created a perfect "gaming" world, and you really feel like a part of the action. The photography by Phillip Schwartz captures the bright lights and colors of the video universe while the special effects team work seamlessly to make Charlie and company a true part of the action. The musical score helps drive the film and the performances are excellent across the board, with special mention to Cavanaugh for creating a truly evil bad guy that, like Charlie, the audience can hate.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give "Gamebox 1.0"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Gamebox 1.0" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page (except for the "Gamebox 1.0" poster) are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.