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Guns, Girls and Gambling(2012)
The story throws Elvis impersonators, Indians, modern cowboys, a 6-foot-tall blond assassin, a frat boy, a corrupt sheriff and a prostitute into a chase for a priceless American Indian artifact stolen during a poker game at an Indian casino.
For more about Guns, Girls and Gambling and the Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray release, see Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Gary Oldman, Christian Slater, Helena Mattsson, Powers Boothe, Dane Cook, Jeff Fahey
Director: Michael Winnick
» See full cast & crew
Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray Review
"This town wasn't big enough for the both of 'em. Either of 'em. Hell, any of 'em."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 14, 2013
It had to be a favor for a friend's nephew. Or a bet gone horribly, horribly wrong. A botched three-picture deal. Maybe his family was being held at gunpoint. What else could explain Oscar-nominated star of stage and screen Gary Oldman's rock-bottom gig in Guns, Girls and Gambling, a shoddily shot direct-to-video misfire so unbelievably bad it's destined to live out its days in the dank depths of a Walmart bargain bin? Taking cues from Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez -- and bumbling and botching every single one of 'em -- writer/director Michael Winnick delivers an unoriginal, ungainly bit of pulp fiction as poorly conceived and wholly uninspired as it is disastrously slapped together. How it even came to be, much less how it found its way onto Blu-ray, remains a mystery its barebones supplemental package chooses to avoid. How it made it out of the editing bay, much less out of the studio, a crime someone might just pay for with their career. Only time and Worst Films of the Decade lists will tell.
The white man versus the Indians. That's what we all learned in school, but that's not entirely accurate. It was actually the white man versus the Indians, versus the Indians. You see, when Europeans first came to the new world the Indians viewed them as just another tribe. One to trade with, fight with or ally with against other Indians. But the Europeans brought with them something that the Indians had never seen before and had no defense against. And I'm not talking about guns and disease and facial hair, though that was true too. No, I'm talking about greed. And soon the Indian tribes were being backstabbed and treaties were being broken, and whole peoples were being slaughtered and moved onto reservations, land that was completely barren and worthless. And that was supposed to be the end of the story, except for the fact that the Europeans forgot that greed is contagious, and the Indians, along with smallpox and whooping cough, had caught it...
I suppose it's best to outline the story that follows before firing off another round of ammo. Although here's a fun game to play at home: count the number of times the word "generic" comes to mind as you read:
Accused of stealing a centuries-old mask from an Indian casino, naive first-time Elvis impersonator John Smith (Christian Slater, True Romance) finds himself on the run from a leggy femme assassin dubbed The Blonde (Seven Psychopaths' Helena Mattsson, quoting Edgar Allen Poe for no conceivable reason), tough-as-nails hunter The Cowboy (Jeff Fahey, Grindhouse) power broker The Rancher (Powers Boothe, Sin City), crooked sheriffs Hutchins and Cowley (comedian Dane Cook and True Blood's Sam Trammell), vindictive chief... The Chief (Gordon Tootoosis, Legends of the Fall), tomahawk-wielding killer The Indian (Matthew Willig, Year One) and a lineup of other bloodthirsty opportunists and hired guns. It seems a group of impersonators -- The King (Oldman, The Dark Knight Rises), Gay Elvis (Chris Kattan, The Middle), Asian Elvis (Anthony Brandon Wong, Haywire) and Little Person Elvis (Tony Cox, Bad Santa) -- are being being offed, one by one, and its up to him to stop the carnage. And he only has 24-hours to find the mask, turn it over and get out of Dodge without a bullet in his back.
Your count? I hit thirteen.
More derivative and, God help me, less clever than a Wayans Brothers' parody, more desperate and grating than the worst late-90s Tarantino rip-offs, the highest compliment I can pay Guns, Girls and Gambling is that it makes 3,000 Miles to Graceland look like The Godfather. The action is so stocky and stagy it's silly. The rat-a-tat dialogue feigns wit and comes up empty. The performances devolve into primordial ooze as the already struggling tale limps along. The camerawork suffers, the music fizzles, the set pieces bore. Oldman chews scenery and gets heartburn, a perpetually squinty Slater gnaws on his lines and upholds his end of the deal, and Mattsson licks her lips, putting on a by-the-numbers smoky blonde as if it she had to throw together a last-minute Halloween costume. And it only goes downhill from there. Cook and Trammell get the best bits, if you can call it that, but embarrass themselves handily. Kattan, Wong and Cox aim for criminal report and come up tragically short. And Boothe and Fahey are left to their own noble devices, which are sadly all for naught without a decent script to work with.
If there's any saving grace it's that Guns, Girls and Gambling is mercifully short. Winnick drowns his sorrows in homage, getting sloppier and sloppier the more he drinks, but he at least doesn't take the film too seriously. Still, three laborious twists and an obnoxiously long rundown of the events that actually transpired, though, is too much, and I was itching for the credits to roll long before Winnick dotted his last "i" and crossed his last "t". And that's where Gary Oldman comes in. Guns, Girls and Gambling would be easy to pass by if it weren't for Commissioner Gordon's mug slapped on the cover. Dressed to the nines and packing heat as Elvis, no less. But don't be fooled by the direct-to-video rat trap. Oldman is just the bait. After all, even great actors make mistakes every once in a while. It certainly wasn't for the paycheck, unless Christopher Nolan is being frugal with his billion-dollar franchises. I'm going to go with Oldman's family was being held at gunpoint. Otherwise, good God, Gary. What were you thinking?
Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray, Video Quality
For those fools among us who rush in -- Gary Oldman's on the cover, it can't be that bad! -- Universal's sun-baked 1080p/VC-1 video transfer will come as a much-needed relief; a sip of water in the desert that makes 90-minutes of hell a bit more bearable. Though no amount of encoding prowess can take away the sting of labored cinematography, the presentation is bolstered by sizzling colors, striking primaries and deep blacks. Contrast is a touch hot by nature, with at-times slightly oversaturated skintones, but it's vivid and consistent, so no real complaints here. Detail delivers too, with crisp edges, nicely resolved textures and revealing closeups. Scrutiny uncovers some negligible artifacting, ringing and crush, but nothing too severe or troublesome. Imperfect and unremarkable as it can be, the video presentation is by far the high point of the disc.
Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track does its job and does it well. It just doesn't have much to work with. Guns, Girls and Gambling is riddled with rather flat sound design, louder than it is powerful, shriller than it is precise. Dialogue is clear, intelligible and competently prioritized, and gunfire, tomahawk thunks and quick-draw cannons sound the part, front-locked as they tend to be. LFE output is decent, although it lacks finesse, and the rear speakers are active, albeit fairly inconsequential, particularly when so many scenes involve one long conversation after another. Directionality is passable but underutilized, dynamics are strong but a bit dodgy, and the soundfield never quite engages the listener as pointedly as it should. All things considered, it's solid at best, serviceable at worst.
Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Did you really expect special features on a disc that doesn't even sport a main menu?
Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
With a title like Guns, Girls and Gambling, you'd expect... shot in the dark here... guns, girls and gambling. The guns, though, are straight out of a videogame. The girls are irksome and overshadowed by the boys. And the only real gambling to be had comes when you decide to slide your credit card through the Redbox reader. Even with Gary Oldman playing an artifact-swiping Elvis impersonator with a machine gun, this one is bad. Not so bad it's good bad. So bad it's just awful bad. Yes, Universal softens the blow with a commendable video transfer and a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, but I'd still avoid this one at all costs. Even a rental involves too much risk for too little a reward.
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Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Guns, Girls and Gambling Blu-ray - November 2, 2012
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has officially announced the Blu-ray release of director Michael Winnick's Guns, Girls and Gambling (2011), starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater, Helena Mattsson, Powers Boothe, and Jeff Fahey. Street date is January 8th.
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