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Monday, May 12, 2008

Long Live the King

I mentioned going to see the movie King of Kong (official site) when it was playing downtown but I don't think I ever reported back on how much I enjoyed it.

Well, I purchased the DVD last week (first DVD I actually bought since I joined Netflix). So let me tell you now: This is not a good movie. This is a great movie.

The King of Kong is a documentary film on competitive retro arcarde gaming, Donkey Kong in particular. The film focuses on Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe's quest for the Donkey Kong high score. But, as Weibe notes, there comes a point where it's not about Donkey Kong anymore. The characters are amazing, the culture is fascinating and the story is an incredibly compelling one.

This film is absolutely hilarious, heartbreaking and inspiring. If someone presented this as a script for a fictional movie you would think the characters were too unrealistic. But these are real people. There are so many instant classic, memorable lines in this movie, made all the better by the fact that they are unscripted. All of the music used in the film is wonderful and I thought it was genius that Weibe's own music is used to score parts of the tale.

This film passed my ultimate test: showing it to someone who has never played a video game and has no desire to. That person was still absolutely enthralled by this film. But don't take my word for it...check out the
overwhelmingly positive reviews.

There has been some complaints and mild controversy over the way the story in the film was framed and what was left out. If you're interested you can poke around the interwebs and find a ten part statement by Walter Day or lengthy forum posts by Rob Mruczek.

Is the film a bit heavy-handed in getting across the story? Sure. Did the filmmakers choose sides? Absolutely. But check out any other documentary and you'll see the same. The bottom line is that this is an incredibly entertaining, magical film. And I think in the long run the film will definitely benefit Twin Galaxies and everyone involved.

Did I mention everything about the DVD is awesome? The menus, the music and most importantly the extras all rule. There is a ton of extra footage with extended interviews, cut scenes and some Q&A's from the festival showings. I loved every minute of it. There is also a commentary track by the filmmakers which was fairly entertaining. There is even a side-by-side comparison of Weibe and Mitchell playing Donkey Kong.

Those are the key elements but there's some other minor stuff: a glossary, a brief history of DK and some DK inspired art and music from I Am 8-Bit. The only thing I didn't care for was the second commentary track featuring someone from IGN and I Am 8-Bit. But on the whole I was very impressed with the amount of content on the DVD.

I strongly suggest you consider buying or renting the DVD. You will not be disappointed. But I will tell you that they will be showing this film for the first time on television on June 1st on G4TV. So at the very least, check it out there. Don't chumpatize yourself.

Here is the trailer:


Anonymous Genda said...

I saw the film here in Austin when it was at the Draft House. They brought in a Donkey Kong machine and I got to get reminded how impossibly hard that game was.

Steve Weibe came by and made a record attempt, and got a top-ten score (all time). The movie is awesome. If you don't have a chance to buy the DVD before June 1st, G4 is playing the movie on that date so you could see it there. Buy the DVD though. Filmmakers need to be encouraged to make films like this.

10:42 AM  
Blogger warm_machine said...

Great movie that was actually kind of moving when you consider the subject matter.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Rotacidare said...

Awesome flick. Even my wife liked it. I pulled out the game after watching it and got about 40,000 :)

11:48 PM  
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