Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective.
Virtual Revolution has garnered a fair number of quite negative reviews and yet there are also a fair number of reasonably positive ones out there (which was my general impression as well). However, there was one thing I noted the more negative reviewers had in common – they all seemed to be experienced videogamers.
Which, in a way, makes sense in a movie whose writer/director, Guy-Roger Duvert, has said he wanted to bring some of the experience of a videogame into a movie.
Those critics felt that the gaming sequences went on too long – because what made a game fun was controlling the action, not watching it, which is something you just can’t bring to the movie experience.
But somehow, none of those game segments are really all that long. I suspect that it was their familiarity – combined with the lack of playability!- which spurred such negative reactions.
So, if you are a big time gamer, you might not like Virtual Revolution. But the rest of us probably won’t mind.
This one is a SF Neo-Noir set in a future where “The revolution did happen…just not really the way people thought it would.” Videogame technologies have improved so much that they became as real – or perhaps even more real – than the real world, and a huge percentage of the population, known as “The Connected”, have taken up permanent residence in the virtual world.
However, someone has released a deadly computer virus which has killed hundreds of the Connected, so a major corporation hires a bounty hunter to track down those responsible and kill them. This is a Noir film, so, naturally, there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface than our anti-hero realizes.
Admittedly, much of this looks somewhat familiar, as, thanks to Blade Runner, SF Film Neo-Noir has a look as clearly defined as the Classic Noir of the Forties and Fifties, with its shadows, neon signs and venetian blinds. Mind you, this Blade Runner aesthetic has so dominated SF and is such a strong archetype – one which draws so heavily from our current world, like those orange red night skies – that it would be hard to imagine anything else for such a film. I would argue, however, that much of the “real” world in this film reminds me as much of the crumbling reality of Mamoru Oshii‘s Avalon as anything else.
Nor are the game worlds exactly unfamiliar, as they all fit into recognized game genres. But I’ll admit I’m a sucker for dragons and big, heavily armed Mecha.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Duvert did an excellent job bringing them all to life, with a lot of attention to detail, a great deal of visual contrast between his various worlds, and some reasonably good CGI (I’m not sure how it would look on a theater screen, but at home resolutions it looks just fine).
It is also nice to see Jane Badler (who played the evil leader on V years ago) in a minor part.
Far more important, however, is that he creates a world which makes sense. At first glance, it seems unlikely that there could be a world where people have abandoned reality for videogames, but there is a surprisingly believable economic idea behind the notion, one in which a large percentage of the population entertaining itself literally to death becomes entirely plausible. That’s a greater feat than good looking CGI, or dazzling SF worlds.
Its downbeat ending is also as near perfect a Noir ending as one could ask for. After all, Noir has always been about damaged men, fighting hard against their own slide into destruction, and yes, usually losing.
At any rate, it is a striking first film, and has a few interesting ideas behind it as well. If you are an obsessive gamer, then you may not love it, but for those of us whose thumbs are not constantly sore, it should prove reasonably entertaining. It certainly gives us hope that Duvert will go on to make more intriguing films in the future.
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