Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Sundance ’13: Virtually Heroes
was one film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival 100% guaranteed to turn a
profit. We can tell this by the fact
Roger Corman serves as its executive producer.
Although Corman was the subject of Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel which was a selection the 2011 edition
of the festival, director G.J. Echternkamp’s Virtually Heroes marked Corman’s Sundance debut as a filmmaker this
year in Park City.
Books is a fully aware character in a Rambo
style video game, who is getting increasingly frustrated with the futility
of his existence. His sidekick Sgt. Nova
is far less so. The impulsive Nova still
enjoys the in-game killing as well as the post-fight preening. Books is only
interested in Jennifer, the “sexy lady reporter” who has been captured by the
Viet Cong, or whoever. Unfortunately,
she is always plunged back into jeopardy right every time she and Books start
to share a moment.
VH largely repeats
the same one-joke premise over and over, as Books and Nova work their way through
successive levels of the video game.
Still, it is rather clever to have Mark Hamill, Mr. Videogame Voice-Over,
appear as the mysterious Buddhist Monk.
However, from Corman’s perspective, it was a brilliant opportunity to
re-use his old jungle exploitation action footage, with no need to worry about
that pesky continuity.
Corman was not about to fritter away good money on name actors either. At least, Robert Baker looks the part of the
brooding, square jawed Books. For his
part, Brent Chase earns a lot of points as the over-the-top
testosterone-charged Nova, understanding full well his role in the mayhem. Katie Savoy’s reporter is about as
down-to-earth as is possible in a film like this, while Kiana Kim, the future
Mrs. Pete Rose, adds further cult-camp appeal as a sleazy stripper (believe it
This is definitely a meathead movie, but it
tries hard. Screenwriter Matt Yamashita
clearly gets the gaming mentality, but too often VH resembles the first-person shooters it is lampooning. While the film maintains it energy, the wit
and originality flag over time. A so-so
midnight offering, Virtually Heroes still
holds the distinction of bringing the Corman brand to Sundance. Expect to find it coming soon to a Syfy
Channel near you.
Labels: Roger Corman, Sundance '13