Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Film

Virtually Heroes

Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Film

Virtually Heroes

Article excerpt

Virtually Heroes

Directed by G. J. Echternkamp

(Midnight)

Like a live-action Wreck-it Ralph, Virtually Heroes explores the existential condition of being a video game character from one of their own points of view. In this delightfully silly and surprisingly reflective comedy directed by G.J. Echternkamp (and produced by horror legend Roger Corman), Sgt. Books (Robert Baker) and his sidekick Nova (Brent Chase) must face down scores of easily killable Viet Cong, rescue a pretty reporter, and stop a renegade Major Merk (Ben Messmer) all while wondering what is the point of anything they do, when it is all controlled by some teen who works at Subway. "Shit happens because some pimply kid makes it happen," exclaims a frustrated Nova, who just wants to get on with the mission - or better, find the drug and sex laden paradise that is supposed to be hidden somewhere in the game. In fact, the more Books struggles with his crisis of meaning, the more Virtually Heroes becomes an outright religious allegory, dealing with theodicy, life, and death in the cruel, cruel video game world. "Remember when you starved to death because 'God' forgot to turn off the TV?!" Nova prods Books in an attempt to get him out of his existential funk. Clearly, this is a world subject to a negligent and uncaring divinity. Yet as they make their ways toward their programmed goal, even successfully completing the game starts to seem like a Pyrrhic victory, as it means the end of their virtual existence - "like being paused forever." Those who look with horror at various religions' depictions of the afterlife where all human pleasure, activity, and agency is nullified certainly can relate. …

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