If you’re a fan of video games, halls of mirrors, video games with halls of mirrors, or “Too Many Cooks,” the amazing parody of 1980s TV credit sequences that went viral back in 2014, you’ll be glad to know that director Casper Kelly has released a new short film, “Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough,” through Adult Swim’s infomercials program. This time, he co-wrote and co-directed with Nick Gibbons, who worked with Kelly on Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell. The new film, “Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough,” is a blistering look at video game streamers, video games, the military, and human civilization in general, and, like “Too Many Cooks” before it, is both not particularly safe for work and best experienced unspoiled:
The amazing thing is how long Kelly goes before pulling the curtain back for the first time: For more than nine minutes—nearly half the film’s runtime—this is nothing more than a spot-on satire of the paper-thin ways AAA video games usually engage with war, violence, and the military, filtered through a spot-on satire of the depressing ways video game streamers interact with those same games. If “Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough” ended nine minutes in, it could live on those merits alone, but once the camera starts pulling back to reveal the film’s structure, it spirals off into unexpected and amazing places. The recursive structure gives Kelly the chance to parody a dizzying array of video game genres, from AAA sludge to free-to-play cravenness, as he builds toward a Magnolia-like scene in which characters from each of the film’s levels share a common moment of depression. But despite that brief moment of unity, the structure is more like a rickety Jenga tower than a smooth arc of rising and falling action. And there’s no reason to build a Jenga tower if you’re not going to knock it over.