Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Atari: Game Over (2014)

I don't usually do documentaries. This is third one after Pumping Iron and The Salt of the Earth. I knew I have to see Atari: Game Over when I heard it first time. That was when landfill digs were on mainstream news. That kind of spoiled documentary's plot. Atari: Game Over tries to build suspense over landfill digs. But most people will know what will happen because it was in mainstream news.

Atari: Game Over has two stories. First story tells about landfill digs and legend of buried E.T. games. Second story tells briefly rise and fall of Atari which ends to release and returns of E.T. games. Documentary interviews people involved Atari at the time. Even E.T. programmer Howard Scott Warshaw is interviewed. He had to program the game in five weeks when games were normally programmed in five months.

E.T. was released at the time of video game crash of 1983. It was one of biggest commercial failures and has reputation of being worst video game ever. Atari: Game Over gives absolution to Howard Scott Warshaw. Nobody could have done better on time he was given and game is not the worst game ever made. It just happened to come out when game industry was crashing anyway and legend of buried video games gave it reputation of being really bad game.

Landfill story was not as interesting. It was publicity stunt that made documentary famous but documentary would have been better without it. Documentary is little over hour long. It is too short for story of Atari when other half of the movie is about landfill digs. Documentary doesn't tell anything new if you know the subject matter. If you are interested about it you might feel bit disappointed. Interviews with people involved were interesting but there isn't anything deeper than that. Some people seem to be there just to show themselves without bringing anything related to subject.

Atari: Game Over is content of being over one hour long. It doesn't have ambition to be anything more than few interviews and footage from landfill. If you want to know more about video game crash of 1983 you spend your time better watching videos of it from YouTube. You won't get interviews but you learn more about the event from different points of views.

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