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DVD Review

DVD cover

Ben X


Starring: Greg Timmermans, Laura Verlinden and Marijke Pinoy
Momentum Pictures
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 December 2008

Ben is not your average teenage boy. With everyday life an epic struggle to overcome ignorance and bullying, Ben spends most of his time residing in a virtual world, using the online fantasy adventure video game Archlord to escape from the harsh realities of his life. It is in this realm where he learns to create the real world avatar that will allow him to survive...

I have to admit to not really getting Ben X. The main thrust seems to revolve around a young man who craves normality - or at least that's what those around him expect. Ben, an autistic teenager, has a hard time fitting in at school and is often the victim of bullying. He copes with this by immersing himself in his favourite video game, Archlord; an online universe where he is in control of his fate. But Ben's obsession with the role-playing game goes beyond harmless escapism. As he becomes more and more caught up in this fantasy world, the line between reality and virtual reality is blurred to the point where he sees those around him as characters from the video game.

Ben plans to exact revenge on his tormentors by learning combat techniques from Archlord; a plot point that gives weight to the argument that violent video games encourage aggressive behaviour in youngsters who are exposed to them. He even goes as far as to construct a dagger in his metal work class which is disguised as a crucifix.

Ben X, it could be argued, is the world's biggest advertisement. At the centre of the movie is the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Archlord, released by for Codemasters in 2005 for the PC. While I totally understand that it frees up the movie's budget to feature graphics from the game, Ben's bedroom has huge Archlord posters and cardboard advertising standees all over the place. It's quite ironic really - as a lot of people will probably come away from this movie thinking how dangerous, for some, the world of fantasy game play can be - that a free copy of Archlord is included.

Extras are either really poor - or really cool - depending on whether or not you fancy a free copy of Archlord. Yes, you get a copy of the game to download onto your computer and two trailers (which are actually one trailer but presented with subtitles and then again without subtitles).

The film is incredibly bleak, more than just a tad depressing and may not be to everyone's liking. Personally, I found it a little too silly with a plot that was paper thin. It's certainly not a movie I'd want to watch again.


Nick Smithson

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