HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:73
Describing “MindGamers” is like describing a kaleidoscope, or an abstract Picasso painting. The movie itself isn’t really a movie at all, but more a neurological experiment that USES the visuals on screen for supposed scientific study. A few months back there was some hubbub on the web about this new movie that would blend science and entertainment together for one night (March 28th, 2017). What would happen is that people would get together in their respective theaters (and the wonderful price of $20 a ticket) and have a neuro headband given to them for the watching of the movie. While there the brainwaves of the participants would be mapped and then compared for study on neurological brain waves in social groups of human beings sharing the same experiences. Sounds nifty, right? It reminds me of a human version of the PS3 being used as a super computer for science back when it first came out. A way to help out the scientific community AND have fun at the same time.
Well, watching “MindGamers” WITHOUT that extra hype and sensory feeling of belonging in a group takes out half of the social experiment, and with it most of the entertainment (if there WAS any entertainment to be found). The premise of the movie is fairly simple. REALLY simple, in fact. A group of high tech scientists are working on creating a neural network, like a giant supercomputer, for the human mind. They’ve been given full access to a giant facility and have EVERYTHING at their fingertips to get the job done. With the help of a mysterious girl named Stella (Melia Kreiling), they stumble upon the answer. A network that allows everyone linked in said neural network to share emotions, minds, abilities, and the like. Thinking it is the gateway to the future, the group unleashes it upon more people, only to find out that they are being controlled as lab rats in an even bigger game.
That’s LITERALLY all I can tell you about the plot. Not because I would give something away if I told you anymore, but because that’s all there IS to the plot. Most of the movie is actually just an amalgamation of moving images and sounds (we can say that all movies are really just an amalgamation of sounds and images, but in this case that’s LITERALLY all there is to the film). There’s a barely coherent plotline with Sam Neill playing a scientist/priest/madman who wants to use the neural network to give his body back to him after an apparent stroke (or Bells Palsy, can’t be certain), but the rest of the 98 minutes is just a bunch of incoherent scenes put together on screen.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96274[/img]HOWEVER, before you think the film makers were off their rocker (this was actually made by neuroscientists), you have to understand that this was exactly the purpose. A plot was almost meaningless, as the entire purpose of the experience was to create shocking images and allegories that would stimulate certain portions of your brain while watching so the neuro bands at the live viewings could be examined and studied. Thus, the chaos and complete incoherency of the experience IS the actual point. At the same time, those going in looking for an actual film with plot and three distinct story acts are going to come out extremely disappointed and VERY confused.
The thing is, this is a great idea, but the execution was so incredibly poor that you have to wonder if they really thought this through. As a one-time experiment where scientists could monitor brain waves of people watching something together it was probably a success, but as a FILM that would be marketed and sold to the average viewer it is a complete and utter disaster. The story (if you can call it that) is nonsensical, and while the visuals are cool, without that science experiment going on it’s basically like trying to sell leftover memorabilia from a sports game. You’re not enjoying the game without being there, and all you’re left with is a piece of the dirt field, only the dirt field is being sold to you as the actual game.
It’s hard to gauge the acting as it doesn’t give much to anything without a coherent storyline. Sam Neill does the best with what he’s given, and while the dialog makes you think, that’s all it really does. Make you think about nothing, since that’s the entire point of the film. Seeing “The Walking Dead’s” Tom Payne interact with the rest of the crew is ok, but other than that every performance feels like it was cut out from an audition and then spliced together to make a movie. There’s pieces of a plot embedded in the visual kaleidoscope, but past that we’re left with this feeling like we’re missing a piece of the puzzle.
Rated R for violence, language, some sexuality and drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96282[/img]Universal’s 2.39:1 framed Blu-ray looks visually stunning (as it should be considering that visual stimuli is how this film was supposed to work), and despite some cheap looking CGI (the film was definitely shot on a shoestring budget), the experience is visually mesmerizing. The shoot was obviously digital, and uses stark contrasts of black and white, mixed with almost neon bright primary shades of red and blue to grade itself. Contrasts are sharp and well balanced, and the color saturation can vary from flat and almost dull grey/blue, to almost overly saturated red’s and golds. Black levels maintain a healthy amount of shadow detail, and don’t seem to show much crush. There’s some banding that goes on when light is used in a dark room, or when special effects are on screen, but not enough to really hamper the movie. Skin detail and facial shots show startling clarity, but then sometimes can look rather soft and gauzy (such as during the dream/reality sequences).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96290[/img]Considering the purpose of the movie, it’s no surprise that the 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix for “MindGamers” is a stunner to listen to. The entire experience is incredibly immersive at times, with the sounds of fluttering birds, crumbling buildings, and electronic dub step music blasting all around you. The dialog is never compromised with the aggressive moments, and there are quite a few quieter bits where the surrounds are actually a bit more subtle (such as when you’re hearing the rustling of sheets, or the light scrape of a bare foot across the ground). LFE is punishing at times, with deep and low bass that hits you right in the chest during the music, but also goes down WAY deep near the end of the film.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96298[/img]• Audio Commentary
• The Making of "MindGamers
I was honestly intrigued about watching the movie when I heard about the science experiment that was the live screening, and the trailer itself is incredibly deceiving. You think you’re going to watch a Sci-fi thriller that was used in a social experiment, but what happens is you’re really just privy to the flashes of light and sound that were used to create an emotional and neurological response in human test subjects, but without any context or knowledge of what is going on. The movie itself (if you can call it a movie) is horribly disappointing on an enjoyment level, and what little science was involved in making the film is so disconnected from the viewer that they’re going to be left horribly confused unless they read up on the experiment and use the viewing as a curiosity project. Audio and video are simply stunning (besides some cheap CGI since the movie was shot on a shoestring budget), and the film itself is really nothing but an oddity to be viewed for the curious.
Starring: Sam Neil, Tom Payne, Oliver Stark
Directed by: Andrew Goth
Written by: Various
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 99 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Buy MindGamers On Blu-ray at Amazon
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