Violent camera work induces seasickness

The video-game first-person shooter concept of the movie can make the audience nauseated.
The video-game first-person shooter concept of the movie can make the audience nauseated. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

Exciting new techniques of filming marred by lack of narrative

This movie comes with a health warning: Its visuals may cause "motion sickness... nausea, disorientation or other discomforts", according to distributor Golden Village.

You might be interested to know that this reviewer walked away with his dinner still inside his body, but the head did suffer a lingering throb afterwards.

Was the experience worth the two aspirins? Yes, but barely.

The reason for the medical panic is less to do with violence in the story (though there are buckets of splatter in this) and more to do with violence in the camera work.

Imagine what the footage would be like if you went with a GoPro camera strapped to your forehead. Imagine what the video would look like if you parkoured across the city, then had to watch the result for 90 minutes.

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    The story: Henry (uncredited actor) wakes up in a hospital bed with his memory wiped out. A female scientist named Estelle (Haley Bennett), who claims to be his wife, replaces his lost limbs with cyborg prosthetics. The lab is attacked by telekinetic warlord Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), who kidnaps Estelle.

Russian writer-director Illya Nai- shuller scored a viral hit a few years ago with a short filmed from the point of view of the hero, a man freakishly skilled at shooting, stab- bing and generally maiming the hordes of baddies coming at him.  

One successful crowdfunding campaign later and this is the result - a  feature-length version of the video-game first-person shooter concept.

The elements that people liked about the short film have been kept.

There is that initial blast of immersion, the visceral sense of motion and, yes, the exhilaration of bashing, bludgeoning and blasting apart dozens of villains.

For some psychological reason, when the hyper-violence is viewed from the first-person perspective, the excitement is more palpable.

On the flip side, the inherent weakness of the format - the seasickness - is exacerbated because of the extended running time.

The first movie to test a first- person shooter viewpoint was actually based on a game. But Doom (2005) was a major studio production and not an indie project like Hardcore, so the jiggly-cam style had to be reined in.

Could GoPro projects be the future of cinema? This movie has the shiny new techniques, but it suffers from a very old problem - the lack of anything resembling a narrative.

Fix that and maybe one day, we could all relax by jacking into someone else's visual data stream.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Violent camera work induces seasickness'. Print Edition | Subscribe