Video Games: The Movie

User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 19
  2. Negative: 3 out of 19

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User Reviews

  1. Aug 17, 2014
    3
    As a documentarist and a gamer, I felt the need to review this release in detail. Despite not being a backer of either of its fundraisers, it interested me greatly in the buildup to its release, while ultimately falling short of my lowest expectations for a documentary piece.

    Let's start off with a key problem, which is also the documentary's main gimmick: a well-built and beautifully
    As a documentarist and a gamer, I felt the need to review this release in detail. Despite not being a backer of either of its fundraisers, it interested me greatly in the buildup to its release, while ultimately falling short of my lowest expectations for a documentary piece.

    Let's start off with a key problem, which is also the documentary's main gimmick: a well-built and beautifully rendered timeline that chronicles the evolution of gaming. Now, the fact that it is well-built does not in any way mean it was implemented well. The narrative constantly moves back and forth in time, but often what is being shown onscreen does not seem to relate with what is being narrated. Even worse, there is so much shifting going on that what is supposed to be a fun visual crutch ends up making it hard to keep focus on what the director is trying to convey at a given point.

    The documentary was divided into 3 not so neat sections, but it never really gets around to justifying why that was necessary. In fact, this greatly harms the overall flow of the piece. The sections do not have enough individuality to them, and their subjects often bleed so much into each other that you are really left wondering if it wouldn't have been better to simply follow a linear narrative and get the job done in a cleaner manner.

    On that same vein, themes are started seemingly at random, and as suddenly as they pop up, they fade away. There is a constant juggle of topics, some of which barely relate to the history of gaming. For example, at one point the timeline goes all the way back to ancient humankind, and a segment about primordial campfires is displayed, only to be forgotten for an extended period of time and then closed off without any grace in mere seconds later on. Why? This is just one example of many that I could cite.

    The director has declared that, quote, "about 45-hours of footage" was shot, and claims there is enough material to produce other similar films. But really, 45 hours is so little footage for a project of this scope. The interviewees that were brought on board are amazing, and I can barely believe that names such as Hideo Kojima are featured, but to what end? The film is heavily padded with video game commercials, game footage that is not related to anything in particular (or even with each other), and montages. Oh, the montages.

    There are several of them spread throughout the film, and they accomplish so very little. These montages are not much different from the many music videos that you can find on Youtube, only those are fan work, and this is a costly (over 100 thousand dollars form Kickstarter alone) documentary piece. If the director feels there was such a surplus of unused footage, he certainly could have used his time better than with montages that occupy a tenth of the film! There is no greater sin a documentary can commit than wasting the viewer's time. Every second counts in trying to enrich your piece. But not here. Au contraire, it stalls for time, which is downright unacceptable.

    Music is an issue as well. The spectator is treated to a non-stop roll of dramatic piano music and epic orchestra swells that makes the product feel cheap rather than electrifying. To begin with, the music barely matches the film. Sure, those songs could have been used in the sappy segments, of which there are many, but it just goes on and contaminates everything else. Almost all attempts at using video game music make little sense as well, such as when a Donkey Kong Country song plays when a completely different era is being exposed (refer to the timeline problems already mentioned above).

    But what seems really strange is the constant veneration for the current generation of gaming, depicting it as the medium's uncontested pinnacle. Particularly egregious is the often repeated claim that games with rich storylines and empathy are a very recent accomplishment. It is also implied that this is a result essentially of the evolution of graphics, which is absurd. That is a bold and completely unsubstantiated claim. Also, SEGA is systematically ignored, in a way that I'm sure raises eyebrows from its fans.

    I watched the documentary together with my wife, who has been a gamer only for the 8 years that we have been together. You could say she is a prime target for a documentary such as this one. She was deeply engrossed in the vastly superior Indie Game: The Movie, but here she was just left bored and finished watching only to keep me company. So really, if it's not a good film for somebody with 8 years of experience or for somebody with 20, then who is the target audience here? I don't know.

    I cannot recommend this documentary to anybody. I feel that there is definitely some effort put behind it, but it simply never comes together into a cohesive piece. I cannot highlight a strong point or give it any more praise than saying that there were impressive interviewees, but even so, they are so badly used, it's not worth it.
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  2. Oct 24, 2014
    5
    Provides a quick primer for newcomers or policy-makers, but mostly saying obvious platitudes and showing showy footage of a bunch of predictable titles. Gamers would be better entertained by a Youtube channel or one of the more in-depth and subcultural alternatives (for example Indie Game The Movie, or the more recent Us And The Games Industry).
  3. Nov 5, 2014
    4
    There's everything been said already about this "documentary" that needs to be said.
    While it starts out with your regular "that's where it all started" story about the first computers and Pong, etc. it soon becomes a really dull, unreflected, almost pathetic appraisal of the industry.
    You'd think that for a documentary, funded independently, you'd get a more critical view on the
    There's everything been said already about this "documentary" that needs to be said.
    While it starts out with your regular "that's where it all started" story about the first computers and Pong, etc. it soon becomes a really dull, unreflected, almost pathetic appraisal of the industry.

    You'd think that for a documentary, funded independently, you'd get a more critical view on the subject, rather than an all around appraisal.
    The only "critical" subject they covered was violence in video games, great. Instead of actually digging into the subject they come up with some "speakers" that use platitudes that could be compared to anti-gay slogans like "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" or gun enthusiasts making dumb "guns don't kill people" comparisons.
    They should have at least come up with the results of a proper study in this regard. But I guess that was too hard.

    There were no questions raised about the development of micro-payment systems or the DLC policy of some companies. Neither was there much mentioning about the flood of early access games.

    All in all most of this piece dumbs down to: omg look at the graphics - how we went from this, to that... so amazing. Yea, great - I get the same insight watching "Kids react to" videos.
    Also, too many segments with **** music and just clips from games... what's the point?
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  4. Jul 21, 2014
    4
    More of a money making venture than a genuine documentary. Questionable speakers, padding out with montages, and weird views (facebook is a game?) don't help this effort in documentary making.
  5. Aug 13, 2014
    9
    Muito bom o documentário! Vale a pena! Este filme realmente mostra a trajetória dos video games! Mais uma coisa é certa, vai ser difícil achar um documentário da Discovery ou Nat Geo ou até mesmo da History Channel querer criar um documentário desse tipo (pelo menos, novo)!
  6. Apr 18, 2016
    4
    This wasn't really needed. Scratch that, it's supposed to be useful, but no one wanted this movie to exist since there's a whole load of information about video games on the Internet.
Metascore
40

Mixed or average reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jul 18, 2014
    40
    Amid it all, Snead does a nice job of laying out the history of video games. If nothing else, there's a lot of information here. But there's also a lot of information on the Wikipedia entry for "video games." All in all, I'd rather be playing "Madden 15."
  2. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Jul 18, 2014
    50
    A missed opportunity; a documentary that plays too much like fan service, ignoring actual insight or even detailed history of its chosen subject in favor of unapologetic adoration.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Jul 17, 2014
    40
    Unfocused and repetitive, this feature-length commercial by Jeremy Snead uses a muddled timeline and bargain basement graphics to produce a horn-tooting, “Aren’t games awesome?” tone.