Sundance Review: Web Junkie


Director:Shosh Shlam, Hilla Medalia


Running Time:74.00


Fun fact: did you know that China is the first country to label "internet addiction" as a clinical disorder? But in this case, it's excessive gaming. And this is not the first film or first Asian nation to deal with this issue. Another Sundance documentary, Love Child, tackles it in Korea. But Web Junkie takes a closer look at individuals we actually have access to.

Web Junkie examines a Beijing military base that rehabs teens who are addicted to video games. The film captures the minds of many who live there while trying to focus on three specific individuals ( Nicky, Hope, and "Hacker") and their families. By far, Nicky is the most aggressive of the three and his fits of rage, at times, can be unsettling to watch.

While the film aims to give us intimate insight of the teens that are participating in the program, the editing lacks a strong narrative momentum and makes it feel longer than it should. Also, I'm not sure if the filmmakers were able to get an "all-access" look as it would appear. The rehab procedure seems less meticulous than your average boot camp. While there is physical exercise, the film seems to spend more time showing the boys get lectured by Professor Mao than showing how the rehab process actually works. If all of it is just lecturing and counseling sessions, then there may be a bigger problem looming that needs to be documented.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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