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The Gamers: Hands of Fate (2013)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Brian Lewis, Trin Miller, Samara Lerman, Jesse Lee Keeter, Conner Marx, Nathan Rice

Written By: Matt Vancil Directed By: Ben Dobyns, Matt Vancil

The Short Version

Are you a gamer, or do you love one?  This is your anthem.

Don’t understand/respect gamers?  Watch this, and maybe you will.

Love gaming, but hate some of your fellow gamers?  This movie feels your pain.

Never mind gaming.  Do you just want to watch a great, funny movie with heart?  Hey!  Here you go!

There are myriad reasons to watch The Gamers: Hands of Fate.  Pick one and watch it already.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


The best, created by artists who care.

Pairs Well With...


Yeah, gaming cons are the stuff of beer, but this flick deserves the gold.  Besides; it’s my personal favorite shot.  Chase it down with a craft brew if you must.

“Chibichan!  Chibichan!  Chibichan!”

Good evening everyone, and welcome to tonight’s panel discussion of The Gamers: Hands of Fate.  I’m Ziggy Berkeley, the sole member of the panel.  Let’s start the discussion, shall we?

Seriously?  Gamers?  Those overweight dudes who bathe maybe once a week – not always coincident with the days they emerge from Mom’s basement to hit up the shop or the con and show off cards or miniatures or even rule books like they’re made of real gold – and just never bothered to grow up?  Why would I want to watch them?

If you can ask that question in the way you just asked it, you obviously don’t know too many real gamers, and could use some enlightenment.  The Gamers: Hands of Fate is a great way up to the mountaintop.  You’ll discover that the group collectively known as “gamers” represents people of all backgrounds, incomes, and body types, including women and people who get actual sunlight every so often.  Maybe even your mom.  You’ll also learn that there are a lot of different subcultures to be found in the wonderful world of gamers, and those subcultures tend to be very different from each other.  You’ll see that gamers are generally fun and intelligent people, and a great group to tell a story around.

Oh, so it’s a shine job, then?

Absolutely not.  While The Gamers: Hands of Fate can certainly serve to enlighten those who cling to stereotypes and clue them in to the fact that anyone can be a gamer and that gamers have the same social skills as the rest of the world, it also doesn’t shy away from the other side of that truth.  Since the gaming community at large is just as diverse as the rest of the world, this means that along with well-mannered and well-groomed folk, it also has its share of a-holes, and yes, those physical stereotypes did come from somewhere.  Indeed, this “tell it like it is” approach is one of the things that impresses me most about this movie.  It’s a lens on reality even as it tells a fantasy story, and it’s not shy about the bad stuff.  It could have ignored the blatant misogyny and ruthless trolling that are real problems plaguing gaming culture as a whole, but nope: there those things are with a big ol’ spotlight pointing them out.  Our Hero starts out as a d-bag who doesn’t deserve to share intimate personal space with Our Heroine, and while he does show that he’s capable of real human feelings and the occasional act of goodwill, he’s still a d-bag at the end, and he still doesn’t deserve to share intimate personal space with Our Heroine.  That’s honesty, and when all is said and done… well, I’ll let you discover that for yourself.  But no, it’s not a shine job.

What if I don’t give a damn about gaming?

You poor soul, you.  Maybe you will by the end of the movie.  After all, the script for The Gamers: Hands of Fate does an excellent job of balancing the line between playing up the inside references for established gamers – lots of those, don’t worry – and providing enough explanations of things for the uninitiated without getting too yappy about it.  But even if you aren’t swayed, the fact is that The Gamers: Hands of Fate is just a great story, period.  Gaming may be the axis around which this world turns, but you honestly don’t have to be a gamer yourself to understand it.  In the end, it’s still about people, and no matter what crowd you run with, you’re sure to be able to relate to someone here.  This movie is funny, heartfelt, and heroic in ways that have everything and absolutely nothing at all to do with gaming.  This movie will make you feel something, and that’s powerful stuff.

Wait a minute… isn’t this a crowd funded indie film?  Doesn’t that mean it’s got a bunch of no talent actors who couldn’t even pass muster in a high school drama class?

Let me take a moment to clobber you with a Nerf bat.  Your answer is “Hell No.”  The talent in front of these cameras is nothing short of outstanding.  Most of the people you’ll be watching in The Gamers: Hands of Fate are actually better trained in their craft than a lot of Hollywood headliners.  I’d say that Trin Miller can stand toe to toe with just about anyone you might be watching on the big screen at the Cineplex, but I’d be lying… because she’d be wiping the floor with them, instead.  She is one brilliant casting director away from a theatre near you, folks, and that’s no joke.  You want gravitas?  You want power?  You want it to look effortless even though it’s really hard work?  Here you go.  Want more?  Try Conner Marx, whose supporting performance is fun, heartfelt, and all-around brilliant.  Then just run your finger right on down the cast list and figure out that everyone does a great job, including and at times especially the ones whose job it is to make you hate the characters they’re playing.  “No talent”?  No chance.

Okay, okay!  But even assuming that you’re going to say that the people behind the camera are just as good as the people in front of it, surely they couldn’t afford to make the movie look all that great.

Step away from the multiplex and broaden your horizons.  As Michael Bay has proven time and time again, throwing cash at things doesn’t necessarily make them great, and as thousands of others have proven, a tight budget can lead to some very creative solutions.  Is this to say that The Gamers: Hands of Fate is the pinnacle of polish?  Of course it’s not, but for the story being told here, that’s an asset, because that’s not the reality of the world being portrayed.   And when it’s time for the world to get unreal, again, the people behind the scenes take maximum advantage of what’s there to create an outstanding atmosphere that works extremely well, indeed.  If there’s anything about this flick that looks cheesy, it’s being done on purpose.

All right, cool; sounds like they did pretty well on the movie front, then.  But what if I am a gamer?

Then, my friend, you are in for one hell of an awesome ride.  The regular movie fans get a great flick; you get a great flick and a trip to Nerdvana.  The card game that was created for The Gamers: Hands of Fate is extremely well thought out (I love the twists in play), the tournament mechanics are interesting, and the drama that’s conveyed as or heroes and villains go at each other’s role-playing throats makes the World Poker Tour look like Amateur Night.  CCGs not your thing?  There’s some LARP love, and good old fashioned D&D style goings-on as well.  There’s also the full-on pop explosion of the con, complete with good old fashioned television fandom and a cadre of Imperial Stormtroopers who serve as convention security.  And Chibichan.  You can’t forget Chibichan.

Now I really want to see The Gamers: Hands of Fate.  Where can I find it?

Hie thee hence to WatchTheGamers.com.  Costs less than the stuff at the multiplex, and it’s more than worth your time.  So get your friends together and click already.  Worlds await!

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, September, 2013

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

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