Reviews: RPG Real Playing Game

Michelle reviews Rutger Hauer's latest sci-fi flick. 

"I'm not crabby. I'm just trying
to impress this chick to
the left of me."
Dystopian science fiction flicks are hot in the streets right now, with films like The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game and The Maze Runner cleaning up at the box office. RPG is a Portuguese film that tries to capitalize on similar themes, however, it fails on almost every level. It steals ideas from much better films and implements them poorly—it’s sad because the concept of the movie is actually quite interesting.

Rutger Hauer plays an elderly millionaire named Steve Battier, who is dying from an unknown illness. In Total Recall style, he goes to a corporation that says they have the ability to give him a youthful body—for a price. There is some bait-and-switch going on with the promotional material for RPG as they emphasize Hauer’s involvement but he is only in twenty minutes of the entire film. The basic premise is that the company inserts the minds of old people into younger bodies in some sort of simulation program and then they have to use those bodies to fight each other to the death Hunger Games style. The winner gets to keep the new body and go on their merry way. It doesn’t make any sense and they make no attempt to explain it.

Since this film takes place in some indeterminate future, they give everything neon glowing outlines and touch screens. The special effects are alright, but it looks like a direct-to-TV movie—it had a low budget and it shows. Most of the film takes place on an island and there is no attempt to showcase the scenery or area. The cinematography is bland and for whatever reason everything is filmed with shaky-cam. It just looks…cheap. I have seen films with small budgets look great, as they use the special effects in a creative way. There is no tone consistency in this film which makes it seem cobbled together from two completely different movies.

"Is this the future?
I really hope so cause I want to
kill some teenagers."
Now, I understand this was filmed in Portugal, but they decided to have all the actors speak their lines in English. That’s fine, but everyone speaks their dialogue so stilted and oddly—it’s hilarious. So you have terrible acting coupled with horrendous writing and delivery which equals the kiss of death. It makes the film into an unintentional comedy and half the things the actors say are unintelligible. It would have worked much better if they had stuck to using the native language as it would have seemed more natural. It’s some of the worst acting I have ever seen, which unfortunately brings the entire film down. Even Rutger Hauer, who is normally a fine actor, is completely phoning his performance in.

With a little more care and love, Real Playing Game could have been an interesting little indie sci-fi flick. The idea is intriguing on paper, but the execution is so bad that I can’t give this movie a recommendation to anyone.

-Michelle Kisner