It is 2019, the world is unknowingly on the cusp of a global pandemic, and Gamestop, a mall retailer, is soon to shut its door for good or, so we think. Despite the vast number of hedge funds betting big on the collapse of a once vibrant gaming store giant, a few unlikely heroes still have faith in the brand that promised: “Power to the players.” Only a few seemingly insane investors hold out for a miracle upswing in the stock. Jonah Tulis’ Gamestop: Rise of the Players chronicles the journey from investing suicide to meme stock and the eventual “French Revolution of Finance,” as our unlikely heroes seek to squad wipe the short-sellers.
Jenn, Jeff, Justin, Farris, Rod, Dmitriy, and Joe all bet on Gamestop early. Each forges a different path towards the former juggernaut of video games. Despite ridicule from the investing community, the group finds solace in the Twitch streams of Gamestop and stock enthusiast Keith Gill, aka Roaring Kitty. Soon these eight people find validation to what their colleagues called “crazy” as Gamestop proves to be their most lucrative investment. The stock keeps rising, the memes get danker, and the hedge funds are furious as Internet and stock-market culture collide.
GameStop: Power to the Player is instantly engaging and continues its blitzkrieg of content through the closing credits. Writer-director Tulis captures every bit of the chaotic, euphoric energy of the Gamestop boom. The meme-infused montages of the company’s stock rising are hilarious, stylish, and tailor-made for a Reddit-savvy audience. The filmmaker captures the unbridled essence of the Internet in a way gamers and meme-lords will adore.
“…Gamestop proves to be their most lucrative investment. The stock keeps rising…”
In a film with eight main characters and tons of stock information to digest, a lot can get lost in the shuffle. Jenn’s story of finding Gamestop and her battle with cancer is genuinely moving. The group of investors connecting through the Internet is displayed in beautiful 8-bit inspired animation. Roaring Kitty is a fantastic addition to the narrative and offers some great moments when speaking to Congress on behalf of Gamestop investors. However, due to the overwhelming amount of information, motivations, and stock jargon, the documentary does miss a few moments of clarity and closure, primarily when discussing the market beyond emojis and the conclusion of some character arcs.
Going into Gamestop: Rise of the Players, it is vital to note this is not a documentary about the company or video games themselves. This film is more about a moment of triumph in the stock market and how an online community believed in a stock everyone else counted out. It’s about how the Internet sought to hold corporations’ feet to the fire, and if they got rich doing it, even better. The movie does suffer from information overload at times.
However, it’s unapologetically centered on a gamer/internet indoctrinated audience, and, as a proud member, I had a lot of fun watching it. If The Last Blockbuster was a personal film about keeping the people’s champion alive, Gamestop: Rise of the Players is a kinetic tapestry about using the people’s champ to send a message: you can never count out Internet fans and great memes.
"…a kinetic tapestry..."