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[Fantastic Fest ’21] ‘Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest’ review: Video game documentary about friendship

A great tale of friendship and games.

Canon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a story about pushing human limits and friendship. Kim Cannon Arm is a legendary Gyruss player. The 55 year old decides he wants one more achievement: he is going to play the game for 100 straight hours on one coin. Video game documentaries have become increasingly popular with most of them focusing on setting world records. That is only a small part of what Cannon Arm sets out to accomplish. More than anything else, it is a story about friends. Director Mads Hedegaard introduces Kim and his group of friends. (Mads is not a gamer, but he is also a part of the group.) Throughout the film, the audience is given a peak into each of their lives.

It gives Canon Arm a unique feel. Video game documentaries are informational and/or nostalgic. While there may be personalities introduced, there is not much for a personal relationship with the characters. The most intimate information about Kim and his friends are revealed. It makes it easier to get involved as it is more about seeing someone break a record. Viewers will be emotionally invested.

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Which is not to say the film does not provide the sense of nostalgia usually found. It actually manages to do so better than similar movies. It does not just rely on the viewers familiarity with arcade games. The soundtrack includes Iron Maiden and Bonnie Tyler. Since much of Canon Arm takes place in the Bip Bip Bar, that there are plenty of neon lights to invoke the feel of yesteryear.

[Fantastic Fest '21] 'Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest' review: Video game documentary about friendship

Getting so initiate with Kim’s friends leads to one of the issues with the documentary. Since there are so many people to deal with, Canon Arm can sometimes go on tangents. As interesting as things can get, it is a lot to process. Hedegaard is willing to go deep into the lives of his friends, but getting back to the point – even the friendships – can be a little difficult.

Overall, Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a great look at the retro gaming scene. By looking at a group of friends, it makes its tale more intimate. This is not a documentary about a bunch of nerds or a history of arcade games. While there are elements of that, it is about friends and doing amazing things. The writing is beautiful and the end credits provide some of the most emotional moments of the movie.

Fantastic Fest takes place from September 23 – September 30. Check out AIPT’s ongoing coverage.

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