Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DVD REVIEW: "This isn't really even about Donkey Kong anymore."

It is so exciting to find a film that comes out of nowhere and really floors you. I watched "Once" this year and fell it love with it, not only because it is a great film, but, also, because I did not know much about it. So we step back a few days ago when I came across a clip from the documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Dollars." The clip showed a man with a huge-sick mane of hair discussing the difficulties of playing Donkey Kong. I watched the clip and was bemused by its odd look at this odd person... and then amused as it continued...that led me to Netflix the film.

Skip to last evening when I somehow convinced Cara to sit with me and watch it last What an experience.

Here we have Steve Weibe. Steve is a "almost made it" kind of guy. He pitched in high school - but got injured before playing in the playoffs. He was an engineer with Boeing, started a family, bought a house... and got laid off on the very same day. Steve has so many musical talents (piano, drums, writing songs), so many ambitions to succeed... he even passionately plays Donkey Kong.

Steve is not a loser... but someone who continually wants to win. Steve focuses his all in every area he has interest and that applies to Donkey Kong too. Steve knew the top score reached on Donkey Kong was held by Billy Mitchell who achieved this back in 1981. Steve beats that score, proves it by sending on a tape of his game... and then the world turns upside down!

Billy Mitchell has been gaming his whole life and he stands as the authority on many games - including Donkey Kong. Billy is a winner... his business thrives - he is loved and admired by the gaming community - his wife has some amazingly fake boobs... and he is known as the best gamer in the world.

But Billy is not one to play too nice... and Steve Weibe is just another score to take down.

I never dreamed that a film about two men trying to best one another's score on an arcade game could ever have made for an interesting film... but "The King of Kong" is nothing but superb!! I was completely engaged with Steve and his drive to win - Cara and I vocalized our passion for his success throughout the film - hoping he could take down the evil Billy Mitchell!!!

The film is also filled with sad men who hold on so dearly to this gaming world... that their stories often move past shocking hilarity and move into absolute empathy. Who has not wanted to be the best at something? Who has not wanted to take down the ultra cocky show off?

Steve Weibe is an average guy - the true underdog... whom you cannot help but love... and Billy Mitchell, as crazy as it may seem, breezes through the film not ever realizing how petty and awful he comes across. His bravura and moment stealing has no ends... when it should be Steve's time to shine, Billy steps in and grabs the spot light.

It is truly amazing how the film connects - pumps - and inspires the viewer to cheer for Steve.

The aesthetics of the film are spot on - not only is it simply shot, there is never any showy animation or annoying narration. The film also includes Joe Esposito's immortal classic "You're the Best!" that was prominently featured in the mind blowing Karate Kid tournament montage. The use in this film... simply rocks!!!

Honestly, it is amazing some of the moments that the crew catches - and I have checked the extras and no that they are real! Everyone does an amazing job... I truly loved the film... rent it immediately!!

"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Dollars" : A-



Kern said...

Very cool. I had heard nothing but great things about this movie when it was playing up here, but I never got around to going to see it. I think I actually put it in my Netflix cue yesterday before I read this. Looking forward to it

c-note said...

I had low expectations when I realized we were watching a movie about video games... but it was really good. I really wanted to Steve to beat Billy at the game, not only for him, but also for his wife so he would spend less time playing Donkey Kong! It was great to watch.