Review: The Expendables 2 by Jamie


BANG!!! BOOM!!! FURTHER EXPLOSION NOISE FOLLOWED OR PRECEDED BY A CHEESY ONE LINER!!! Yes, I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I put forth exactly what’s expected of the sequel to The Expendables nor am I really entering spoiler territory when I say that, yes, the film has explosions, gunfights, gratuitous violence, call backs to the stars previous films and veins that bulge in a way that truly, truly disgusts me. Yes, it’s exactly what you expect, yet another throw back to the 80s when action heroes were real men, quick on the draw and even quicker with a quip and my sweet fucking God, it is awesome.

To write a synopsis of the “plot” would be an insult to the words synopsis and plot. The story is so threadbare that you couldn’t use it to make a sweater for a fly. Stallone good, Van Damme bad. There. Honestly though, the lack of a plot is fine with me. As long as I get to see some ass kickery and men who are old enough to really know better doing stupid, awesome things. More men who are old enough to know better join the cast in the form of the previously mentioned Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris. Hell, why not add an actor just to satisfy an Internet joke that’s almost as old as the main stars of this film? And no, Norris can’t act. Hell, I’m a better actor and my experience only includes playing a Roman Emperor in a school play when I was 9 and playing a pretty much non-speaking gangster when I was 15. Arnie and Bruce Willis return with expanded roles and they really, really seem like they’re having a good time.

Now there is perhaps one problem I have with this film and that’s that the violence seemed as though it had perhaps been toned down a little. Yes, there were still some pretty sweet deaths and sprays of blood but it didn’t seem anything like the chaos of the last film. On the other hand there’s also a lot less time spent watching Stallone running like the man 4 years away from 70 that he is so maybe it’s a fair trade.

So that’s about all for the review because, honestly, you already know if you’re the type of person who is going to see this movie so this is really more a reassurance than a review. Yes, everything you want is there. Go, watch it and hope that they get Kurt Russell for number three. Laterz.


Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon by Jamie

After a few weeks of issues and painfully slow internet connections, I finally present the Cinepub drunken video review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.


Review: Piranha 2: The Spawning (1981) by Jamie

Ah, Piranha 2. Whether he likes it or not, and believe me he doesn’t, this will be regarded by most people as James Cameron’s first film. I will be one of those people because James Cameron is a massive, massive douche bag. That’s not a comment on his film making abilities. You’d have to be an idiot to say he isn’t a great filmmaker but I just wish he’d knew when to keep his damn mouth shut because when he does speak, well, it makes him come off as a massive, massive douche bag. Take what he had to say about Piranha 3D’ recently. I hate pretty much every statement he makes in that interview. 3D is a gimmick whether you like it or not James. Piranha 3D understood that and it’s the first film using the new 3D technology that I’ve actually enjoyed due to the 3D rather than in spite of it. Still, I’m getting ahead of myself.

So yes, to be fair to Cameron, he was indeed replaced on this Italian produced sequel to 1978’s awesome ‘Piranha’ by Joe Dante. I’m not actually sure if the producers of this film got any kind of permission to make this sequel. I know that uber-B-movie producer Roger Corman, who produced the first film, isn’t involved at all which is a pretty bad sign because Roger Corman is awesome at what he does. Also because this is an Italian production James Cameron had the unenviable task of working with an all Italian crew who spoke no English though it probably couldn’t have hurt if maybe he learnt a little Italian. To top it all off he had to work with executive producer Ovidio G. Assonitis, a man who disliked everything Cameron did and had final say about everything. So in the end they fired Cameron, brought on an Italian director to do the film how they wanted it done but they left Cameron’s name on it because they were contractually couldn’t submit the film with an Italian name, leaving Cameron with this stain on his flexography for the rest of time. Poor James Cameron. He’s still a douche bag though.

So what’s this film about? Well, ostensibly piranha. Flying piranha at that but they don’t really show up much and when they do the screen is so dark that it can be hard to ascertain exactly what’s going on. The basic gist of the story is that a military ship has sunk carrying a batch of mutant piranha eggs. This time they’ve had their DNA mixed with a whole muddle of other fish including flying fish hence their new found powers of aviation. I don’t mean to be a stickler here but flying fish cannot fly like bats. They just sort of glide. Sure their “wings” might wobble a bit as they move from side to side to change direction but it’s certainly not flapping. Seriously, it’s a fucking B-Movie just mix the fucking piranha DNA with bat DNA. Do you know how awesome a piranha would look with bat wings?

That Fucking Awesome.

And why are the military still messing about with Piranha anyway? Didn’t they learn anything from the events of the first Piranha outbreak back in 1978? Did they actually manage to cover up that stuff? Did nobody find out that the military were behind it because if they did I can only assume that there would be massive investigations into their secret activities and any piranha-based research would be stopped immediately.

I’ll be honest. Describing the plot is going to be difficult because whilst I was watching this I kept on zoning out and just getting distracted by far more interesting things like practicing Guitar Hero without turning the game on and looking at bits of fluff I found on my bedroom floor. Also there are far, far too many different plot threads than there should be in a killer fish movie. Basically, there’s a diving instructor who has someone get eaten on her during one of their dives, one of her students is actually a government agent trying to find out if the piranha are there, her ex-husband is the sheriff who is played by Lance Henriksen (the only decent acting performance in the entire film really) who goes around kind of harassing people but mainly for their own safety, there’s their son who is hired to work on a rich guy’s yacht and his adventures with the rich guy’s sexy young daughter, there’s the resort owner who refuses to close the resort on their biggest day of business (of course), there’s the couple of girls who trick a retarded chef into giving them free food by offering him a threesome, there’s the local fisherman and his son who hunt for fish with dynamite, there’s the ugly girl who falls in love with the ugly dentist and there’s many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting. The point is most of that is completely ancillary. Just give me one main plot thread, maybe a side plot as well and then have piranha attack things. Is that so hard?

To top everything off, not only is the plot a mess but so is the film-making side of things. The camera work is atrocious, framing characters in such a way that it seems as though you’re supposed to be paying attention to what the extras in the background are doing sometimes and at others it just cuts the top of a characters head off at a bizarre angle in a way that just shouldn’t be done in any film ever. As mentioned previously the film is also really poorly lit, especially towards the end when most of the piranha action actually happens. Even so, the piranha look fucking atrocious as they fly towards people guided by sometimes clearly visible wires. It’s all such a massive, massive disappointment after the enjoyment that could be had watching the first film.

Well, there you have it. Piranha 2 is a very, very bad film and I mean genuinely b ad. It isn’t the kind of film you can watch and have fun watching because of it’s awfulness, it’s just awful. The one highlight is Lance Henriksen. He’s always enjoyable to watch and it’s kind of weird to see him looking kind of young here. Actually the rich guy’s daughter is kinda cute. Let’s look her up and see if she’s doing anything these days. Let’s see… Her name is Leslie Graves… Leslie Graves… Ah, here we go… Oh, she died in 1995 from an AIDS-related illness. Well, thanks for that movie. That’s really depressing. Just what you need after a bad film. Hopefully I’ll find some joy in tomorrow’s offering, the 1995 remake of the original Piranha! Join us then and find out… Oh, and the rating for Piranha 2 is one pint out of five. Laterz.


Review: The A-Team by Jamie

Pretty much spoiler free.

In the early 80s a TV show burst on to the screen with a hail of bullets (bullets that never hit anyone but you were fucked if you were a tyre.) That show was ‘The A-Team’ and everyone loved it. Literally everyone. Seriously, who the fuck doesn’t love The A-Team? If you answered “Me” then get out of here. I don’t need your type reading this blog… No, that’s mean. You can stay, I guess, but re-evaluate your life. Something has gone very, very wrong.

Why did we love the A-Team? Well, the opening intro and theme certainly had something to do with it. Let’s watch it now, won’t we?

See? You open a show like that and there’s no way in hell that the audience is going anywhere until that show’s final credits are rolling. There’s something about that theme tune that stirs the very souls of men. All men from all walks of life. If you begin humming the first few notes of that song, any man around you will join in. Then try getting that theme out of your head. It’s damn near impossible. In fact it’s a pretty sweet song to use if you’ve got something else stuck in your head. Go on, go listen to something guaranteed to get stuck in your head say ‘Africa’ by Toto or something and then listen to The A-Team theme. See, worked didn’t it?

So yes, we all have great love for the original series. So I personally met the first rumblings of a big screen version of an A-Team film with some trepidation and slight excitement. I remember first hearing about it years ago with people like Ice Cube and Jim Carrey attached at various points but then for a while it seemed as though everything had died down and the film was pretty much dead. Then came the announcements in 2009 that it was most definetly on, Liam Neeson was Hannibal, Bradley Cooper was Face, Sharlto Copley was Murdock and MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was B.A. Baracus. That same mixture of trepidation and excitement found it’s back into my mind.

So does this film live up to our memories of that original series? Well, in a way. Let’s get things straight right of the bat. This isn’t ‘Inception’. This isn’t some massive, high-art experiment in film making. It’s a film based on The A-Team, a beloved but admittedly cheesy TV show from the 80s so it doesn’t need to be. All I went into this film hoping was that it would be fun and keep at least somewhat true to the feel of the series.

Well, it certainly succeeds on the fun part. I certainly felt as though I had been entertained by the time that the end credits rolled. There’s enough crazy action shit going on here to keep the average A-Team fan entertained. There’s a tank falling from a plane with the team using it’s massive gun to help them to land. There’s a great scene early on with the team executing a massive elaborate plan in order to recover some US treasury plates from a shady group of mercenaries called Black Forest (Yeah, it’s not the most subtle of films) and the whole final showdown, whilst not as fun as some of the earlier stuff, does have a bazooka blowing a whole in a massive freight ship. So that’s cool.Oh, there’s also a kick ass scene involving a 3D movie and the original theme but to say too much would be giving it away.

But what about staying true to the spirit of the show? Well, for the most part I thought it actually captured it pretty well. The characters are fun, fairly decent adaptations of the ones from the 80s. Their interactions are enjoyable and, especially in the case of BA and Murdock, fairly accurate to the way they interacted in the show. There are, however, a few problems. First off, they actually shoot and kill people. What the hell? That’s not the A-Team I know and love. Hell, BA even breaks a dudes back and kills him at some point. I can see why Mr T didn’t exactly enjoy the film and said it focused a little too much on the violence.

Still, I feel as though some of this can be forgiven because of the nature of the film. You see this is very much an origin story, beginning just before the team has actually formed. Murdock meets BA in a desert in Mexico in one of the most ridiculous coincidences put on screen since Kirk stumbled across future Spock on the ice planet in the recent Star Trek film. They then go and save Face before busting Murdock out of a mental institution. It then cuts to 8 years and 80 successful missions later and you actually get to see them getting convicted for he crime they didn’t commit before busting out of jail and trying to hunt down the bastards who framed them in order to clear there name. To sum up, these guys aren’t yet the soldiers of fortune hiding out in the Los Angeles underground. They aren’t going up against over-zealous land developers and corrupt law enforcement officers. They’re fighting military, mercenaries and agents of the CIA. It makes sense for them to be a little more violent at this stage in their lives. I just hope if they do make a sequel and they are taking jobs and going against smaller scale bad guys they don’t kill them. They’d better not accept any cash either.

So what of the acting? Did the new guys manage to bring the old characters to life as we remembered them? Well, Liam Neeson is pretty much doing what Liam Neeson does, playing kind of a more lighted version of his character from ‘Taken’ but it works quite well as John “Hannibal” Smith, the older, gruff guy who’s seen some shit in his time and has a plan worked out in his mind for every situation. A plan, by the way, he is always glad for the coming together of. Did they make sense? I don’t care. Speaking of plans though, there are certain goddamn times throughout the film where I swear every fifth or sixth word out of Hannibal‘s mouth is the word plan. It really started to grate on my nerves.

Bradley Cooper is pretty much the perfect choice for Templeton “Face” Peck. I never really liked Face in the original TV show and I can’t really put my finger on why. There was just something about his cocky, smarminess that never sat right with me but I really enjoyed the character here. He’s just as cocky and just as smarmy and it just works. Maybe it’s because he’s kind of the main character here so he gets more to do whereas in the original series he always seemed like the one who had the least to do and he just didn’t stand out as much compared to the other three. But yeah, Cooper really pulls Face of well. He‘s even got that same kind of smile that Dirk Bennedict used to flash in the show.

Now, what can I say about Sharlto Copley? The man is a fucking great actor. He was brilliant in my favourite film last year, District 9, and he is perfect in the role of H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock. He manages to capture that wackiness that Dwight Schultz used to bring to the character and is pretty damn funny throughout. They even managed to make him a little bit dangerously insane, at one point even going so far as to set Face on fire, apparently just for the fun of it which I enjoyed because to be fair, the character in the show never really seemed Howling Mad, he just seemed a bit eccentric.

The weakest link in the film by far is Quinton Jackson as Bosco “Bad Attitude” Baracus. There are times when he’s pretty much just imitating Mr. T and I suppose that if you playing B.A. Baracus in an A-Team film that’s kind of all you can do. In the original show the other actors seemed to actually be playing characters whereas Mr. T was just being Mr. T. Still, there are a lot of times when his line delivery just falls really flat. Still this is his first film role and I do think he’s got a lot of potential and good be quite a good actor if he works at it. I also really enjoyed his on screen chemistry with Sharlto Copley. They really seemed to capture the antagonistic relationship that the two had on the show. You also get to find out just why B.A. is afraid of flying which is a nice touch. Still, having Pity and Fool tattooed on his knuckles is a bit much.

There’s also the ‘fifth member’ of The A-Team, the van. All I’ll say is what happens to the van really, really pissed me off. Mother fuckers. It seems as though remakes nowadays always have to do something to destroy or mock something from the original. There’s Bubo the Owl in the Clash of the Titans remake, the ruining of the fly scene in The Karate Kid remake and what happens to the van here. I love that van and this is a damn outrage.

As for the rest of the cast well, let’s do a quick summary. Jessica Biel is really just there to move the plot along and be a love interest for Face which she does satisfactorily. Patrick Wilson is actually pretty fun as the C.I.A. Agent Lynch, being just slimy enough to be a fairly convincing villain and Brian Bloom is also pretty enjoyable as the slightly unhinged Brock Pike, a man who at one point seems to accept death as long as he isn’t shot by the incompetent C.I.A. agent who can’t even attach a silencer to a gun correctly.

So, what can I really say to sum up? Well, all in all the film is a fun, summer blockbuster that captures at least something of the spirit of the original show. Whilst I said that the actors did I pretty good job portraying the original characters, they still aren’t THE A-Team and they never will be but they are probably the best we could have hoped for. Well, maybe not Quinton Jackson but could they ever really find someone to fill Mr. T’s boots? Of course not and I still have faith that he will grow as an actor and be better if they do a sequel. And I really hope for a sequel. I really want to see the team become the soldiers of fortune they were in the show, helping out the little guy in small desert towns. Until then I’ll say that if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy this. It won’t be everything you’d hope it could have been but you’ll have a good time, especially considering some of the shit that’s come out this year. I rate The A-Team three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

BONUS CONTENT!: Here’s a special message from the big man himself. I pity the fool who doesn’t take his advice.


Review: The Princess Bride aka Jamie Learns An Important Lesson About Not Judging A Film By It’s Title by Jamie

Generally with a film you can get a pretty good idea about what kind of film you’re going to get from the title. ‘Jurassic Park’ for example. That title may not tell you the intricacies of the plot but you can get a pretty good idea that dinosaurs are going to be in it. That’s awesome. Everyone knows dinosaurs are the greatest thing that ever happened ever. Ever. Or take the ‘Terminator’. That title may not exactly tell you that it’s a sci-fi film about a robot but it does tell you that there’s something that terminates things. On a side note robots are the second greatest thing. Combine robots and dinosaurs and you have something so pants-shittingly awesome that it can cause your eyes to bleed.

Please consult a doctor regarding the blood leaking from your eye sockets.

There exist, however, films that have what you might consider deceptive titles. Today we’re going to look at one of those films, ‘The Princess Bride’. You see what that title implies? It implies the girliest film that mankind has ever created. It has the word ‘Bride’ and the word ‘Princess’. Neither of these words suggest a film that a young boy or a manly, masculine man such as myself would want to watch. So I spent years avoiding this film. Throughout those years I’ve had people come and tell me that it’s a great film and yet I resisted, probably because most of the people who told me that were women of the female variety. You know, the ones with the breasts and things. This did nothing to persuade me that this was a film that a tough, testosterone-filled male like me would want to watch. My God, I’m Manly.

Then one day, I just relented. I bought the bullet and just decided to watch the damn thing. After all it was only an hour and a half long so what did I really have to lose?

So how did I get on with it? Well, I will admit I fucking loved this movie. It was so ridiculously awesome that I barely know where to begin. I don’t really want to give any of the plot away because I’m sure that there are other powerful, virile chaps like me out there who also haven’t seen this film based simply on the title. What I will say to you my manly brethren is just ignore the title or, as a friend suggested, imagine a new title for it. I found his suggestion of ‘Quipping Gents With Swords Go Adventuring’ most apt.

So what can I say about this film without revealing nothing about the plot? Well, I can tell you about the fucking incredible cast. We’ve got Cary Elwes as Wesley, the main gent with a sword, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, the quipping Spanish gent with one of the most quotable lines in movie history, Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck, a right royal prick, The 5th Baron of Saling Christopher Guest as the sadistic Count Rugen who has one of my favourite lines ever uttered in a movie (“Have you been chasing me your whole life only to fail now? I think that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard… How marvellous), Wallace Shawn as the too clever for his own good Sicilian Vizzini, Fred Savage as The Grandson, Peter ‘Fucking Columbo’ Falk as The Grandfather (The character names for these two make much more sense when you watch the film), Peter Cook as The Impressive Glergyman, Mel Smith as Rugen’s torture assitant The Albino, Robin Wright as the titular Princess Bride, Billy Crystal as the fucking hilarious Miracle Max and Andre The Fucking Giant as Fezzik. Yes, Andre The Giant. Can’t understand a fucking word he says but it’s just awesome to see him in this film.

The film is directed by Rob Reiner, yes the same Rob Reiner who brought us possibly the single greatest comedy film of all time, Spinal Tap and this film has a slightly similar feel to that hallowed work. The humour that pervades it does parody the entire fantasy genre somewhat but the comedy works in parallel with the story much in the same way that the comedy in Spinal Tap parodied 80s metal bands whilst still having a coherent plot. Well done Rob Reiner, I applaud you… or at least I would if I weren’t typing.

Go back up and look at that cast. Every single performance in this film is golden and it’s hard not to when you have a cast like that. Even Cary Elwes who have issues with (I really don’t like the first Saw film) is incredible and some of the physical comedy he pulls off towards the end of the film is truly a joy to watch. As I said before the only bad part of the film is Andre The Giant’s incomprehensibility but you kind of let it slide because you’re watching a fantasy film with Andre The Goddamned Giant in it! It’s brilliant.

There’s really not much else I can say about this film. It’s so good that I actually hate myself a little bit for not having watched it earlier. What a fool I was! So if you haven’t watched it for fear of having your masculinity compromised then get over yourself you prick! And if you have seen it but haven’t watched it for a while then dig it up and give it another watch. You know you want to. Five pints out of five. Laterz.


Depress-A-Thon: Threads Double Repost by Jamie

Well, unfortunately there was just too much to get on with at work last night for me to find a spare moment to finish writing the list of my favourite Sci-fi villains. I did manage to get half of it done and plan to have it up tomorrow. Instead it’s time for another repost in the Depress-A-Thon, this time dedicated to the film which truly scarred my soul, ‘Threads’. I’ve decided to stick the two occasions which I’ve written about ‘Threads’ together since the original review was a little shorter than I remembered.

So included below is the part the bit I wrote about Threads for my top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Films List (Which can be found here: Part 1, Part 2) and, after the video, the original review entitled “Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.” Enjoy.

1. Threads

Cause Of Apocalypse: Nuclear War.

Yes, for number one I’m going a little obscure. It’s a made for TV British film that I’ve reviewed before and it’s truly fucking chilling. The acting is corny, it’s incredibly 80s, scratch that, it’s incredibly Northern England 80s and it’s a little slow to start but fuck, after the bombs drop, it’s just… Wow.

This film portrays what life would have been like if the US and Russia had decided to launch nukes at each other and what would have happened had England been completely ravaged by nuclear bombs. I’m sure that a few of the things that are described aren’t considered exactly scientifically accurate these days but I’m also sure that it’s still as close as I’ll ever see a film get to the truth.

This film essentially put me into a sort of mini-depression after watching it. It made me feel doomed, as though at any moment the world could come crashing to a halt if a small group of people wished it so. Keep in mind that the Cold War had been over for some time at this point. Seriously though, there doesn’t need to be a cold war for it to happen anyway. All it takes is a few buttons being pushed and then Boom. Life as we know it will be over. The lucky ones will die in the initial attacks. Oh, god. It’s happening again. Just thinking about this fucking film is bringing it all back. What the fuck is the point?

Still, if you feel that happiness is a commodity that you just don’t need in your life anymore, I heartily recommend ‘Threads‘. It’s incredible and horrifying. Oh god, why? Why?

Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.

I love post-apocalyptic films and games. Despite the harsh existence that the people living in the post nuclear war landscape have to eke out, they always seem fun, especially something like Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome or Fallout 3. So I decided to buy and watch the DVD of the BBC’s 1984 nuclear war drama, Threads. Spoilers ahead.

The synopsis promised a realistic look at what would happen if Britain were suddenly struck by nuclear weapons launched by then biggest threat to the Western World, the Soviet Union. I know what the effects of a massive nuclear launch would be, so I wasn’t expecting to be shocked by anything on screen. How wrong I was.

Let me start off by saying never ever watch Threads. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliantly made drama, especially for the time it was made but if you ever want the possibility of happiness to be present in your life ever again, then you really should watch a Mad Max movie instead. Seriously, I think I may have killed joy by viewing this.

The story follows two families in Sheffield, one working class and one middle class. The two families are linked by the fact that the son of the working class family has gotten the daughter of the middle class family pregnant and they have become engaged to be wed. The first forty-five minutes follows their everyday lives whilst highlighting the fact that tension between the US and the Soviet Union are growing due to military movements by both sides in the Middle East.

The film is also interspersed with narration and text that highlights the fact that Sheffield would be a prime target for nuclear strike due to it’s economic value as a producer of steel and chemicals and it’s proximity to a US Air Force base. These little pieces of information continue to mount the tension as relations between the US and the Soviet Union continue to become increasingly strained.

Then the main event occurs. Britain is essentially nuke raped by the Commies. Sheffield itself is devastated, with buildings being flattened and bodies turned to ash in seconds and the pregnant girl‘s fiancée is killed. There are some who have built shelters but the film makes it perfectly clear that the radiation will destroy those peoples futures. Hooray!

The film then follows what happens to the survivors during the years following the nuclear strike. Nuclear winter sets in meaning that during the day illumination remains at twilight levels. This, compounded by massive radiation contamination of the earth, makes the growth of crops increasingly difficult. The ozone layer is massively depleted allowing increased ultra-violet exposure resulting in more instances of skin cancer, premature aging and cataracts and the population of Britain dwindles to medieval levels.

Children are being born more frequently with physical and mental mutations and even those who are born normal have no education and speak broken English. Their parents generally die before the children are able to take care of themselves and are many of them scamper through the ruined cities, trying to scavenge for food and clothing whilst avoiding the gunshots of people who shoot looters on sight.

I’ve pretty much avoided any major plot points of the story because, despite what I said earlier, I think it’s worth a watch. For a made for TV British production it’s all pretty good. The acting and special effects are a little dated but bearable. In fact the only things that don’t really hold up are the fashions and the haircuts. So yes, I’d highly recommend it. But if you do watch it, be warned. Once you watch something, you can’t unwatch it. I spent the day after viewing this film wandering around in a kind of daze, not entirely sure what the point in doing anything was.


Documental: King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters by Jamie

It’s Christmas time and what’s the true meaning of Christmas? Video games of course! Yes, the giving and receiving of video games. Alright, fine. It’s also got something to do with the birth of a baby a couple of thousand years ago or something. I don’t know, I’m an atheist. Still, video games play a lot into the Christmas experience, especially for anyone in my age bracket. Who doesn’t remember receiving a NES at Christmas? Well, I don’t because I have a shitty memory but I did own one and I’m sure it can’t have been a birthday present. No way, not for just one of us. It must have been a combined Christmas present between me and my brother Jason. Maybe Jordan as well but he was born in 1989. Might have been a bit young. On the other hand, I’m sure we all thought that the NES would be the only console there would ever be, something that would last for our entire lives, so maybe it was for all of us

So yes, for as long as I can, and apparently can’t, remember, video games have been a part of Christmas for me. And so it is with this tenuous link that I segue into today’s review, ‘King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’. It’s a tale as old as time, a tale of rivalry, a tale of conspiracy, a tale of competition between two men. A tale of Donkey Kong.

And what a tale it is. This film is so brilliant in it’s simplicity. At it’s core its about nothing more complex than one guy trying to beat another’s score on Donkey Kong but it’s the intricate events and characters that surround it that makes it so much more. There are three major characters who are at the forefront of this story. There is Steve Wiebe (pronounced Wee-bee), the challenger, Billy Mitchell, the mulleted champion and Walter Day, the referee and an old friend of Billy Mitchell.

Steve is a man who’s life has been beset by failure. Every time he’s gotten close to even tasting the smallest bit of victory or success it’s been snatched away from him. Maybe that’s not fair. He does have a wife, two kids and a nice job as a high school science teacher but in terms of things that men care about such as sporting victory or musical accomplishment, despite being talented in these areas, Steve hasn’t gotten where he’d dreamed he’d be. The main problem seems to be that Steve has, as his brother puts it ‘a few social hang-ups’. In other words he seems to be quite shy and is also incredibly nice. The kind of nice that actually becomes a problem because you allow people to walk all over you. So what better achievement for someone with such social hang ups to aim for than a high score in a video game. Steve also has another thing going for him and that’s that he has a very, very analytical mind. He can detect patterns and find solutions to things that I, someone who has an incredibly poor mathematical mind, find truly astounding.

Billy Mitchell is essentially the polar opposite of Steve. He’s achieved success in his life, both with video games and with his hot sauce business ventures. He’s had the high-score on Donkey Kong ever since the 80s and is basically an idol to the small group of hardcore classic arcade gaming nerds who surround him. Scratch that, he’s more than an idol, to them he’s like a living God. He’s the embodiment of Neo from the Matrix movies if the Matrix had the graphical capabilities of an Atari. As such, Billy Mitchell has a very inflated sense of self-worth. He’s uber-patriotic, uber-egotistical and an uber-arse hole. He’s one of the greatest screen villains I’ve seen in recent years and what’s terrifying is he’s a real person… well, that and his hair. The scene where Billy and Steve are finally on screen together is one of the most tense and heart breaking scenes in any film, documentary or otherwise.

You can’t deny, however, that Billy has a talent for success. He clearly strives hard and works towards achieving his goals, sometimes using questionable means. There’s one scene which shows him in a supermarket, moving another brand of hot sauce out of the way and pushing more of his own into the spare space. What a man.

Walter Day is a bit more like Steve Wiebe. He’s also incredibly nice to the point of it perhaps being to his disadvantage. He seems to be a refugee from the love generation, an aging hippy who somehow found himself in the arcades during the 80s and never managed to find his way out. He’s the founder of Twin Galaxies, an organisation that collects and ranks high scores and acts as it’s official referee during live events. There seems to be the suggestion, however, that because of his nature, Twin Galaxies has been almost high-jacked by the gamers themselves, Billy Mitchell in particular. Most of the other people who make up TG also seem to have high scores and there are times when it seems as though they are doing everything they can to stop Steve Wiebe from removing their king from his throne. Of course it could just be that the only people qualified to check if people are cheating or not or if a score is valid are the people who have truly mastered those games. It’s the nature of the beast.

It’s these other people who surround the situation that add yet another layer to this film and it’s interesting to see the juxtaposition between the two worlds, the very ordinary world of Steve and his family and the very odd and sheltered world of Twin Galaxies and the people it’s made up of. Some of these people, such as Robert Mruczek who watches every taped high score attempt that comes in, have given their lives over to the past time. It’s really quite sad to see though I suppose they can be admired for their passion. Maybe.

So what’s left to say about the film without giving too much of the story away? Well, it has an awesome soundtrack. In particular their use of the ‘You’re The Best’ from the Karate Kid, ‘Eye of the Tiger’, ‘In The Hall Of The Mountain King’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows’ and one particular track that Steve Wiebe composed himself are all brilliant and just add to the feeling that this is just like watching a film about boxers, karate masters or any other physical contest between two men… I dunno, wrestling or something. It has the feel of a true sports underdog story.

So to wrap up, I love this film and I haven‘t really covered too much of the plot because I don‘t want to spoil it for anyone. I honestly think that it might be perfect and I can’t see anyone not enjoying it. Go and buy it right now and by several more copies for your friends and loved ones for Christmas. It’s only £3.98 at and $15.99 at You can afford that! Actually, Americans might wanna buy it from… It’s probably cheaper even with the postage and packaging. And don’t just download it. You need the DVD and the two brilliant commentaries that come included on it, especially the one with Chris Carle and John M. Gibson. It’s hilarious. Seriously, buy this film. You won’t regret it. Even if you don’t like video games, you’ll enjoy this film. I showed it to my mum and before she said “What? A movie about Donkey Kong? That sounds stupid! You’re stupid! I wish I’d never given birth to you!” Ok, she didn’t exactly say that but she thought it sounded stupid but afterwards she loved it. And so will you. That’s a promise. Look, here’s the link:

King Of Kong DVD

No more arguing, go buy it. I give this film five pints out of five. Laterz. Buy it.


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