Written and directed by Charles Barker (His second time in the big chair and his first feature length film.) The Call Up stars a number of relatively unknown Brit actors and a plot that is three parts CoD and one part Existenz. For whatever reason, this film is almost universally hated by gamers and film audiences alike.
In a many ways The Call Up is also reminiscent of Gantz, a 2004 Japanese anime where players enter a virtual reality world to battle creatures and monsters. These gamers also died, but to gain entrance, the player had to have died in real life first.
Unlike Gantz, this film’s plot is quite straight forward.
A group of seven online gamers have been recruited to take part in a virtual reality trial run of a new gaming experience. The participants don special suits and gear to play.
As the game progresses, the volunteers learn that this virtual reality game play can be deadly. The players love the experience initially but as the game progresses and they begin to die, the whole experience becomes a fight for survival.
Part of the problem may have something to do with the film’s faint resemblance to the Ubisoft video game Haze. The 2008 video game was roundly panned by critics on both sides of the pond.
The Call Up is not that bad, it may rely on stereotypes to a certain degree but to be fair, the film is not a Shakespearean tragedy. The premise is that the players who enter the game via the virtual reality helmets and gear will die if not given a media-pen injection in time.
Complaints include the musical score of the film and the acting, which is actually pretty decent considering the actors are all British and affecting American accents.
Critics have been more accepting of the film while gamers, on sites like IMDb, have almost unanimously panned the movie full stop. UK newspaper The Guardian actually quite liked the film, calling it cheap and cheerful.
All the action takes place in one location and if there could be any complaints at all it would be with the A. I. sergeant who barks orders at the players. (The thing actually interacts physically with the gamers as well, beating one and breaking the leg of another.)
The sergeant has a slightly robotic sound as it directs and instructs the gamers on what they should do. It an annoyance to have that sort of character in the game. First person shooters (FPS) have characters which sound quire realistic, actors like Tony Todd, for example, have lent their talents to games like Call of Duty (CoD).
CG in The Call Up is good enough that it carries the storyline well and provides enough believability that the viewer can get caught up in the action. The players who enter this virtual reality world may seem a tad two dimensional but once again this is an action/adventure FPS film, not high art.
There are no “names” in the film and this adds to the action. The director does a good job carrying the film’s momentum forward and there are no bits that drag. The Call Up runs for 90 minutes and not once does the film get off track.
In terms of endings the final few moments of the film can be termed an anticlimax. The Call Up is a solid 3.5 star film. The concept is entertaining as is the film itself. Streaming on Netflix at the moment the film is definitely worth a look or two.