Man vs. Snake: The Long & Twisted Tale of Nibbler
Empathetic doc following several gaming misfits as they try to score one billion points on an obscure arcade game.
When The King of Kong, this film's obvious antecedent, came out in 2007, it was rightly hailed as a hugely entertaining and perceptive piece of work. By examining an inherently bizarre subculture in rigorous, almost academic detail, director Seth Gordon successfully combined freakish spectacle with pointed social commentary. An offbeat meditation on contemporary western values, Man vs. Snake takes much the same tack, but with mobile phone staple Snake replacing Donkey Kong as the obsession of its arcade-gaming misfits.
In some respects, the comparative obscurity and basic graphic design of the former add purity to the motives of these aspiring record breakers, prestige barely factoring in to their agendas. Star Tim McVey seems intent on defying the ageing process, while his rival, the obnoxious and cocksure Dwayne Richard, is driven by competition. Each is willing to subject himself to a gruelling, physically damaging gaming marathon in order to prove some kind of personal point before a generally disinterested world.
While the picture's premise carries an off-putting air of familiarity, Tim Kinzy and Andy Seklir find no shortage of larger than life characters populating its peculiarly testosterone-fuelled environs. Each has his own distinct backstory and personality traits, and it's a joy to watch these handled with shock, open-mindedness and empathy.