Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Call Up (2016)

Number Rolled: 95
Movie Name/Year: The Call Up (2016)
Tagline: This time it’s for real.
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Red & Black Films, Stigma Films
Producer: Bob Benton, Andy Brunskill, Isabelle Georgeaux, John Giwa-Amu, Victoria Goodall, Richard Holmes, Caradog W. James, Alan Martin, Matthew James Wilkinson
Director: Charles Barker
Writer: Charles Barker
Actors: Chris Obi, Morfydd Clark, Parker Sawyers, Max Deacon, Tom Benedict Knight, Douggie McMeekin, Adriana Randall, Ali Cook, Boris Ler
Stunts: Levan Doran, Vincent Keane, Cristian Knight, Pablo Verdejo

Blurb from Netflix: Invited to play a virtual reality simulation for a $100,000 prize, gamers discover that its innovative technology is capable of causing real harm.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m a gamer and I have always relatively enjoyed the trope utilizing virtual reality to put people inside the game. Hollywood and Indie makers have been using the idea in various incarnations since the 80s. If it started sooner than that I don’t know of any examples.

The problem is that it’s starting to get slightly overused. That means it’s important for films that use it to do something exemplary or different in order to make it stand out.

The only thing The Call Up did to stand out was create the single most stereotypical character profiles that could have ever existed in a movie like this.

As a result of the intensely shallow characters, the story became weak and nothing the actors could have done would have saved it. They could have had A-list acting from support to lead and it wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference.

Not only that, but the way the film was shot highlighted just how disjointed the whole thing really was. There were parts of the story where characters lost something significant and the film doesn’t so much as give you flashbacks as to how it happened.

At the end of the film, there are questions left unanswered and that doesn’t really help things at all.

You can do better than The Call Up if this is the trope you’re looking for.

Cat’s Point of View:
For the life of me, I can’t remember hearing about this movie before it landed on our list. It’s a shame, though. A gamer-centric movie like this would have gotten my attention.

Regardless, I was happy to see that we had it to watch this week.

I think the concept is really interesting and, I dare say, believable. Sure, it’s not the only movie out there exploring this sort of concept but this certainly wasn’t a cookie-cutter of any of the other films or shows I’m aware of. With emerging technology in both the entertainment sector as well as every-day utility, it’s entirely plausible for a scenario such as this – maybe not now, but in the not too-distant future.

I love it when science fiction skirts the boundaries of present-day reality or something currently just barely out of the reach of existing technology. It helps further suspend disbelief – and in this case, that’s a bit eerie to think about.

This is a rather impressive debut movie for writer and director, Charles Barker, whose only other IMDb listing is a short film titled Indecision (2004). There are some aspects that could use some polish here and there but it’s solid. I think they got an incredible amount of bang for their buck in the effects department, as well.

While the movie wasn’t flawless, Chris Obi (Burke and Hare, Doctor Who, American Gods) and Morfydd Clark (Madame Bovary, The Falling, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) stood out in their roles. The cast was a bit of a grab bag but they weren’t bad.

All told, I was entertained by the film. It’s not as high impact or fancy as something like Gamer (2009), but I don’t feel my time was wasted.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 32%
Metascore - 60/100
Metacritic User Score – 7/10
IMDB Score – 4.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Movie Trailer:

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