Given access to B-movie giant Roger Corman’s fading prints of his Vietnam War actioners, director G. J. Echternkamp fashions a vaguely watchable whatsit with “Virtually Heroes.” Self-parodically wedding the cheesy real-world combat carnage of the Corman clips to the chintzy tale of a meathead existentialist grunt who also happens to be a videogame character, “Heroes” is a one-joke movie that runs 83 minutes. Endless Reagan-era shots of “Vietnamese” extras taking squibs grow exceptionally tiresome as Sgt. Books (Robert Baker) wages war against those who would prevent his full dimensionality. Pic’s sales would appear as sketchy as its sense of humor.Mark Hamill plays a red-robed monk in the film for all of five minutes, the holy man teaching Books to meditate by chanting all the joystick moves from A to B. Dying much too often, the pixelated protagonist digs deep for the strength to knock out his jingoistic former buddy (Brent Chase) and rescue a bespectacled brunette of a babe reporter (Katie Savoy). Echternkamp’s HD shots never remotely match the 35mm footage of Corman’s, and it doesn’t matter; production values are even more low-rent than the satire requires.
A Roger Corman presentation of a G. J. Echternkamp production. (International sales: Paradigm, Los Angeles.) Produced by Echternkamp. Executive producer, Corman. Co-producer, Dwjuan Fox. Directed by G. J. Echternkamp. Screenplay, Matt Yamashita.
Camera (color, HD), James Mann; editor, Echternkamp; production designer, Brandon Nicholas; art director, Tyler Nicholas; costume designers, Amber Becton, Camille Rousseau; sound, Jakob Beetem; line producer, Jay Reid; associate producer, Mann; casting, Cynthia Brown. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 24, 2013. Running time: 83 MIN.
Robert Baker, Brent Chase, Katie Savoy, Mark Hamill, Ben Messmer.