Sundance Review: Chasing Ghosts
by Alex Billington
January 29, 2007
One of the most talked about documentaries coming out of Sundance this year was one called Chasing Ghosts about the world's best arcade players during the arcade revolution in the early 1980's. Although I'm not a huge documentary fan, I thought I'd give this film a look and see if it was all the pixelized glory that it's been talked up to be. Chasing Ghosts focuses on a whole handful of 80's wanna-be gamer nerds (see photo below) who had their glory days in the arcade for a few years during the 80's. Although very well made, I don't exactly consider Chasing Ghosts to be theatrical.
Chasing Ghosts is chock full of plenty of realistic 80's nostalgia that will give any child-of-the-80's a hard on for arcade gaming all over again. It focuses on the personal lives of the players and who they were and who they are now more than an event, but also goes over the arcade phenomenon. It sets up some great comedy relying largely on the interviews with the people and the quirkiness of those players. Despite this great content, it seems much more like a film I'd see on the History Channel or G4 than anything designed for being shown in theaters. And the biggest let down was some unnecessary sexual imagery, voluptuous paintings to be exact, from the personal life of one of the guys, which is going to kill its hopes to be played on TV for no practical reason. If you want to relive your 80's days and dive head first into the world's best arcade players, than this is a great doc. Otherwise, wait till you are snowed in and it rolls by on the History Channel's late night schedule.
This is the kind of specialized documentary that, if you weren't intimately involved in the time covered, will hold no appeal for you whatsoever. I'm of the age that just as I discovered arcades, they were on the way out, so this provides some insight into how things were in the Golden Age that I so narrowly missed. As for the brief sexuality & nudity preventing a wider viewing, it's easily edited out or blurred. (Have you seen what G4 gets away with these days? It's practically Playboy channel content!) But this isn't exactly going to take over the Network slot against "Lost" so that's an unnecessary point. It's a little long for a theater, but well worth a DVD rental/purchase.
FubarGuy on Aug 24, 2008
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