Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Review: King of Kong - A Fistful of Quarters

Welcome to June and with it, a new movie review. To be honest, I've never been a fan of documentaries. I didn't hate them, I just didn't watch them unless they were about horror movies I loved like Document of the Dead. King of Kong was recommended to me by Rob of Rucksack Films and I'm glad I watched it, for it is awesome.

If you were a child of the 80s or have a passing knowledge of video games, you've heard of Donkey Kong. If you're into the culture, you know that it's a big deal to get a high score in a video game, particularly one that nobody else has come close to getting. I'm more in tune with the competitive gaming scene with fighting games but I recognize the beauty of a high score, particularly with DK, since it used to madden me as a youth. Well, King of Kong looks at the high score record holder, Billy Mitchell, and the man who seeks to usurp him, Steve Weibe. What follows is a sordid tale of back room politics and barrel jumping as Steve tries to win the title and Billy tries to keep him down.

The documentary does a good job of portraying its subjects in certain lights. You dislike Billy and the Twin Galaxies crew for the most part, though Walter Day--professional referee is pretyt likeable. You also feel for Steve, who just wants his high score validated and his own skills as he seeks to beat the score and by proxy, Billy himself. It's an engaging hour and a half with many ups and downs but it keeps you moving and takes you into a world you might not be familiar with. I know I, for one, didn't know that there was a Donkey Kong kill screen or what one was (it's when the game ends because the system just can't handle anymore levels and you die). I also didn't know that there was a Mappy champion or a Ladybug one either, go figure.

It's well worth checking out and plays like a drama more than a documentary and you'll find yourself cheering along with Steve as he seeks to become the King of Kong.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Agreed...couldn't have said it better. Glad you posted this.