FANTASTIC FEST 2021 REVIEW! Set against the glow of arcade screens and filled with a chorus of Iron Maiden anthems, Kim “Cannon Arm” Kobke makes his fourth attempt at history by playing Gyruss for 100 hours straight. Kobke and his community of gamers begin the preparations for this 8-bit marathon. Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest chronicles this monumental journey towards the record books on just a single coin.
The majority of writer/director Mads Hedegaard’s documentary takes place in the Bip Bip Bar in Denmark. A local bar built for those wishing for the nostalgic days of the classic arcade. It is here that Kobke sets out on his quest to claim his place in the record books and memorialize his late friend Thomas. Having already attempted the record three times, it becomes clear that this may be Kobke’s last chance at the record. What follows is a nerdstalgic adventure into the Danish arcade scene and the lengths a community will go to support a fellow gamer.
“…fourth attempt at history by playing Gyruss for 100 hours straight.”
Hedegaard’s narration is diligent in introducing the characters. We learn several details about Kobke, including his career, favorite games, bands, family life, and more. This care is not just given to our hero but the entire community at the bar as well. The filmmaker transports the audience to the arcade and presents each team member as a unique person, and makes you feel as though you have grown up with each of them. The film captures each person’s passion for gaming, their life outside of nerdom, and how they all support Kobke without feeling overstated or overstuffed.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is Hedegaard’s ability to capture the atmosphere of Koboke’s gaming odyssey. The movie pairs classic 1980s synths and neon imagery to create a stylish, exhilarating expedition into the world of Gyruss. The director even keeps with the 80s tradition of montages, including several set to the quintessential Iron Maiden tracks “Run to the Hills” and “Hallowed be thy Name.” And for good measure, there is even one to Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero.” For every bit of heart present within the characters and the narrative, the documentary matches with equal amounts of style and pure entertainment.
I had a blast watching this documentary. It has scenes of pure joy, sentimental bliss, and even deeper philosophical moments of loss and acceptance. The film does linger a bit on some weaker scenes and cuts some of the strongest bits short. However, the movie is no less inspiring and no less engaging. The “Hallowed be they Name” montage is superb, the character set-up is flawless, and the final arc is unexpectedly satisfying. If you just finished Insert Coin and are looking to continuing your retro gaming crawl, Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is the perfect next stop.
Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest screened at the 2021 Fantastic Fest.
"…I had a blast..."