Save vs Sequel – The Gamers: Hands of Fate Reviewed

15 Aug
Jazz Hands!

Jazz Hands!

This isn’t technically the type of movie we normally review, but I haven’t posted a review in a while and just finished watching this. Besides, I still have to wait a bit for Sharknado to become irrelevant enough to put a review out – wouldn’t want to buck the timeliness trend that I’ve been nurturing throughout most of my other reviews.

I’ll try as hard as I can to avoid spoilers, but some small ones may slip through. You have been warned…

I found The Gamers: Dorkness Rising years ago on Netflix and instantly loved it – saw it over and over as I played it for different sets of unenlightened friends. I enjoyed the quirky gaming humor and the brilliant inter-cutting between the game within the movie and the “real life” world of the players. So when I heard about the KickStarter campaign to fund a sequel, I jumped at the chance to contribute (I’m actually in the credits in this one, if you wait long enough) and eagerly awaited its release. Did this new movie live up to my expectations?

The Gamers: Hands of Fate continues the adventures of our favorite cinema gaming group – sort of. Actually, they rarely have time to game together anymore as the movie starts – a point I can unfortunately relate to. Cass (played once again by Brian Lewis), the one player seemingly least able to cope with this turn of events, turns to a gaming genre he loathes – collectible card games – when the woman he’s attracted to agrees to go out with him if he accomplishes the impossible task of winning a national card game tournament at Gen Con.

The cast from the last movie have all returned, and their time on screen brings back fond memories. That said, this is less a sequel about the whole group and more Cass’ heroic journey to “get the girl” and inevitably (and unintentionally) grow by film’s end. The other cast members have dramatically reduced roles in this movie – to the point where a couple of them are no more than glorified cameos. Indeed, the movie might have worked better if instead of The Gamers: Hands of Fate, they’d gone with something like “The Gamers: First Cass”, or “Cassablanca”. It really is all about him this time. Christian Doyle’s Gary has a bizarre subplot that breaks up the A story, but at times those scenes seem to be more random filler than anything.

As with the last two movies, there are two worlds in this film – the “real world” of the players, and the “game world”. Unlike the last two movies (especially Dorkness Rising), this game world doesn’t weave itself into the storyline as well. There is no actor crossover between the worlds nor is there any real interaction, which I think is a mistake – some of the funniest moments in the previous film dealt with “real world” conversations while in the “game world”. Those moments are virtually non-existent here.

At this point, you might be thinking “he hated this movie”. And you’d be wrong. I found myself enjoying the movie as it went along – the main story, while definitely evoking a “Magic: The Karate Kid” feeling, was compelling enough for me to want to see it through to the end. The production quality is much improved over the previous films, and as a whole, the acting is pretty decent. Aside from a scene with larpers that I suspect the production crew pulled from the convention floor, there were no real moments of bad acting to pull you away from the narrative

There are a few newcomers this time around, most notably Trin Miller as Natalie – the card-playing woman Cass wants to impress. She does a fine job with her role, and there’s an uneasy chemistry between Natalie and Cass that seems perfect for the story. Similarly, the “game world” interplay between Myriad (Samara Lerman) and Dundareel (Jesse Lee Keeter) is especially well done.

So, did this movie live up to my expectations? Almost. But to be fair, I don’t think any sequel was going to live up to my expectations after Dorkness Rising. Overall though, I recommend watching this film – especially if you’ve seen the previous one. If you, like me, loved Dorkness Rising and are expecting more of the same with Hands of Fate, however, I suggest you watch it with tempered expectations – you’ll enjoy it more…

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4 Responses to “Save vs Sequel – The Gamers: Hands of Fate Reviewed”

  1. oldskool August 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    Huh, that is funny. It’s as if you did not see that “The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising”, was in fact, the actual sequel, with “TG3:HoF” was the sequel to the sequel….. to the original “The Gamers”

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    • thomasserio August 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      “As with the last two movies…” etc.

      Actually, I did see it (though admittedly after first watching Dorkness Rising). I didn’t reference the first one that much because it wasn’t nearly as good as Dorkness Rising – which I was mainly using to compare the new one to.

      Like

  2. Alex September 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    If you think there’s no real interaction between the real world and the ingame world, you might have missed some of the most important scenes, and I suggest you watch the movie again. Hint: one such scene is when the two ingame heroes speak to the lamp genie while Cass is slowly scooping his cards after the game.

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    • thomasserio September 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

      I might have over-generalized in saying there was no real interaction, but I stand by the sentiment that this aspect was greatly reduced from the previous film – to this one’s detriment.

      As for watching it again – I’ll definitely take a look once the extended version is ready…

      Like

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