top of page

Film Reviews

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
Donkey Kong

By Jesse Barshop

            The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Directed and written by Seth Gordon. Recommended by Mr. Jampol. The documentary starts with a clip of Billy Mitchell, a huge fan of video games, talking about how video games are meant for relaxing after a tiring day. He then goes on about competitive gaming and how you have put a lot on the line to win. It then cuts to Steve Wiebe, another gamer, who talks about how gaming is his escape from reality, where he has control. We then see another man who talks about how gaming is a healthy addiction. Which it is not. We then see Walter Day, a video game referee. He proceeds to talk about how he just wanted attention from people, and that's why he started gaming. It cuts to the author of The Master’s Guide to Donkey Kong and what he says about the games that caught the public's eye. He explains that if you want to be the center of attention, you have to be the best at a game like Donkey Kong. We see more people just talking about why they like video games and how they became famous. It then gets revealed that in the 1980s, Billy Mitchell was one of the best video game players at the time. Steven Sanders, another gamer, was also there as a contestant, but he lied about the score he had gotten. Billy and Steve become friends after this, and then Billy makes Steve confess to lying. He goes on to say that Steve is the way he is today because of him. I think Billy has an extremely high ego and sees himself as better than everyone else because he was a really good Donkey Kong and Centipede player. A lot of people feed into his ego by just overly praising him. 

One day, Steve Wiebe wants to beat the high score of Billy Mitchell. He was very close to beating it, with a high score of 829,700, while Billy's was 874,300. Billy, Steve, and another man talk about how much skill it takes to make it past the harder levels; I won't disagree with that. I have played my fair share of video games, and most are hard to beat. I just think they are stretching it a little too much. For the next 10 minutes or so, they just talk about how video games have been their whole life and that this is what they were born to do. Then, Steve finally beats the high score that Billy made. In my opinion, I don’t like either of them. Steve ignores his kids and wife to play video games, and Billy is just very cocky and has a big ego. Now, of course, Billy is upset and angry about this because the only reason he was famous was because he held the Donkey Kong world record. Now he doesn’t. Billy Mitchell had a big fan named Robert Mruczek. He was also a video game referee. Robert went to Steve's house and took apart his arcade game. He took pictures of the inside and tried to disprove Steve's world record by proving he was cheating to give back Billy’s title. When Robert can’t find a way to give Billy’s title back, he says we can't accept the score because it was at his house and not an arcade. So now Billy has the title back. For now, at least.

We are now introduced to Fun Spot. Fun Spot is a huge arcade museum where all the guys who have a high score in a video game go to make their record official. Steve challenges Billy for the world record at the fun spot to see who truly is the best video game player. Billy doesn’t come, and so Steve just plays Donkey Kong, and a friend of Billy is there who is another referee. He keeps an eye on Steve, which he does by literally breathing on Steve's neck. Steve doesn’t let it distract him, so he keeps playing, and he is close to taking the high score again. And he does. Steve gains the title back, and Billy can’t do anything about it. Billy isn't happy about this at all. So he sent in a tape where Billy got a million points—which I don't believe one bit that he did—and Steve now needs to beat that. Robert noticed that when the tape glitched, the score jumped up. Which means he is cheating, but they don't want to believe it. Now if I say anything anymore, Billy will probably sue me for everything I have. So if you want to find out what happens, watch the film! This is something I wouldn’t normally watch on my own, but I liked the film. IMDB gives the film a solid 8/10. I think that fits perfectly. This is all about the rise of video games. Even if you don’t like Billy Mitchell, he was still a huge help in the rise of video games. This film is something that I thought at first was weird, but it turned out to be good. It shows you the games that influenced all of today's big games. I think if you are interested in video games, this film would be 100% for you.

La La Land

By Kelsang Chyapa

                “My favorite movie is La La Land, it’s a wonderful movie,” said Ms. Castillo from Manhattan Hunter Science. La La Land won six Academy Oscar awards; I watched it and here is my honest review. The movie, La La Land, follows Sebastian, a struggling jazz pianist playing a gig at a restaurant, and Mia, an aspiring actress overhearing Sebastian playing as she passes by. She enters the restaurant observing Sebastian being fired for obedience, she attempts to compliment him but he brushes her off. Months later they meet at a party, they get to know each other that night. Sebastian arrives at Mia’s workplace where she explains her passion for acting. Then Sebastian takes Mia to a jazz club, describing his passion for jazz and desire to open his jazz club. Sebastian and Mia go to the theater to watch a film but end up having a romantic time at the Griffith Observatory.


Eventually, they move in together and Mia decides to write a one-woman play, while Sebastian gets invited to a Jazz fusion band to earn a steady income. However, Mia knows their music is not the type Sebastian wants to play. Mia accuses Sebastian of abandoning his dreams while stating she liked him better when he was unsuccessful because it made her feel better. Sebastian misses Mia’s play which goes terribly wrong to the small audience comments, so she moves back to her hometown. Sebastian receives a call from Mia to be invited to audition for an upcoming film, then he drives to her hometown to convince her to audition. During the audition, Mia sings a story about her aunt being a stage actress and dying from alcoholism inspiring her to chase her dreams. Sebastian encourages Mia to devote herself to acting. The two realize they will always love each other no matter what occurs in their relationship. 


Five years later, Mia is a famous actress and married to a different man, with a daughter. One night, she realizes she has come across Sebastian's jazz club, the couple enters the club where Sebastian notices Mia in the crowd. He starts playing their love theme song on the piano. A dream of Sebastian and Mia having a thriving relationship with their successful careers. Once the dream is over, Sebastian and Mia acknowledge each other with a slight smile and go their separate ways. 


Overall, this movie was an absolute masterpiece and a favorite of mine. The movie resembles a very important and sad fact of people having to achieve their dreams. Pursuing one's dreams even if it costs their relationship. Even though they both loved each other and supported each other’s dreams, their career came first. They truly deserve their happy ending, but if you haven’t watched this movie you definitely should. In my opinion, this was a love story with a horror ending. 

bottom of page