Friday, May 9, 2008

I <3 The King of Kong

It’s my current mission in life to make you see The King of Kong. If a movie ever deserved word of mouth, it’s this one. And so far, nobody I’ve watched it with is disappointed.

In a nutshell, The King of Kong is about a fight for the top score on the classic arcade game, Donkey Kong. I’ve played Donkey Kong, and I SUCK at it, but everyone who’s ever dropped a quarter into an arcade machine should see this movie. Or even if you haven't. It deserves an Oscar. Go throw it in your Netflix queue right now.

I’m not sure my friends are quite as fanatical about the film as I am, but I’m an utter gamer geek. As a kid, I had a book on Pac-man strategies and dreamed of pulling off the “donut dazzler.” As an adult, I swear one day I will have a Ms. Pac-man table-top machine in my basement. I started off with the Magnavox Odyssey II and the Atari 2600, and have fond memories of many a birthday party hosted at Aladdin’s Castle. I would sit on my bed, eating bacon bits and reading the latest Nintendo Power, and get excited about every trip to the grocery store, knowing that Crossbow and Wizard of Wor awaited. The King of Kong is the documentary I was born to see.

I recommend you watch the movie before really delving into what the story is all about, it’s so much more interesting to be drawn into it gradually, to watch it unfold without knowing the ultimate end. That’s how I watched it, and afterwards I declared it the feel-good movie of the year. Then I watched the extra footage, which you will also need to do. Another great thing about this scenario is that it’s not over (do NOT go to http://www.billyvssteve.com/ until you’ve seen the movie, if you can help it).

Another thing, if you get G4 tv, you CAN catch the world tv premier on June 1. Then afterwards you'll go out and buy it.

There’s a narrative remake of this movie being done for New Line by the director, Seth Gordon. I dug up a really excellent interview with him on that at http://thefilmlot.com/interviews/INTsgordon.php. I'm not sure how I feel about a remake. As the interview points out, the real-life characters are stranger than fiction here. Oh for sure, I'll go see it though! I'll have to do some thinking about what Hollywood actors ought to reprise those roles. Again, I advise you to see the film first before reading that full interview. Spoiler alert!

The creators of this documentary did a fantastic job of polarizing the rivalry of these two classic video game players, and making you care, and that's why this film succeeds. They'll tell you how the story was there to begin with, but like Michelangelo chipping away at a block of stone to reveal the work of art within, it took skill to weave the tale for us in such a compelling manner. You can see the results if you visit the official forums. Unlike many of the forum posters there, I appreciate Billy for what he’s done for this film, though I’m wrestling with an extreme inner conflict at the moment. To buy the hot sauce, or not to buy the hot sauce? I’m torn, I don’t know if principles allow me to cross that line and contribute to the evil empire...

But back on the subject of emotion, this story wouldn’t be remotely as entertaining as it is if Billy weren’t the way he is. Would Steve Wiebe be as endearing if he were up against some other equally likeable guy? Hell no. Every hero needs a foil. So really, I consider Billy the villain I love to hate. As was the case with Watership Down’s General Woundwort, I’m guessing it’s a monument that would not displease him.

Oh and by the way! If you pay attention to the end credits, you'll see two shots of Asheron's Call 2. That's one of the games I worked on, and actually implemented a handful of quests for prior to its closure in December of 2005. I was there to the final second, playing music with the community members of Thistledown as the servers winked out. /shout out from Ramen to my AC2 peeps!

Read about other geekumentaries in my Top 10 Geekumentaries article.

2 comments:

John Willis said...

Very nice blog of the movie, Rabscutle!!

I was originally attracted to the movie because we share a similar background in classic gaming. I loved the movie for pretty much the same reasons as you.

However, for me, what is far more interesting than the movie itself is the "back story" and "continued drama" that can be witnessed first hand in the forums. A good place to start is with Mruczak's posts on classicarcadegaming.com and the King of Kong official forums. It's absolutely amazing, the amount of controversy this film has started in this sub-culture. It's like all these people were living in a fantasy world for 20 years and the film finally made them take an honest look at themselves, and it is tearing the twin galaxies crowd apart. People are really at eachother's throats! However, if KOK dosen't kill them, they will come out stronger.

Rabscuttle said...

John,

After you posted this comment, I did some additional investigation on the ongoing drama issue (I was aware it was there, but not really well-versed in the details). Good lord. The internet LOVES controversy, eh?

I'll look to doing another write-up in the near future on that aspect, though I'm hesitant to stick my nose into such dangerous territory. Still, inquiring minds want to know!