Friday, May 02, 2008

MOVIE: King Of Kong

To borrow from Wikipedia: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a documentary that follows Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for the arcade game Donkey Kong from reigning champion Billy Mitchell.

I grew up with video games. My uncle, Earl, worked in an arcade for many years. Sometimes, if I didn't ask too often, he'd give me a bag of red quarters (the origin of the phrase "one red cent") and let me test out the whole floor. Earl was a master of video games. He'd show me the secrets to Mario Brothers, Dragon's Lair, Joust, or any of a hundred other games he had at his disposal. Unfortunately, I didn't have the skill or dedication that he had. I never achieved any top scores.

King Of Kong is all about ascending to the top of the charts. Through any means necessary. Superficially it is good versus evil, the common man versus the establishment, Wiebe versus Mitchell.

But underneath that well crafted mask is a comment about the gradual decline of Western Civilization. How we have used technology to eliminate the need for skills and patience and determination. We've moved on from the simple things in life at the price of our simplest abilities. But for all its glitz and glamor and long hair and hot sauce, the new fangled self-made monster of technology can still fall to the slow but sure pursuit of a common man.

Phenomenal, well made, well produced, well directed documentary. I don't think it is too much to predict that any male bound within the confines of Generation X will enjoy it immensely. Not a date flick. Not something the kids will comprehend. But something arcade junkies will certainly praise.

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