My first video game system was imaginary. I wanted a Nintendo so bad that I would put a book on my television set and then use another book as a controller while pretending that I was collecting coins and indiscriminately smashing mushrooms and turtles in a futile effort to save a princess. Not long after that, someone broke into my house and our landlord gave my mother $100 cash to help out. I immediately said, “We can buy a Nintendo with that!” though that was not what the money was for. One of my closest friends not only had a Nintendo but appeared to have every game and peripheral; including the coveted Powerglove. I always wanted one, so when I noticed the Florida Film Festival had a documentary called The Power of Glove (2017), it was immediately on my nostalgia radar.
The Power of Glove satisfied the nostalgia itch
The film takes an extensive look at how Mattel’s Power Glove came into existence, ultimately failed, and, like a mythological phoenix, rose from the ashes of its intended use to its status as pop culture icon. Filmmakers Andrew Austin and Adam Ward piece this film together in a very stylized way that has a sense of humor while maintaining its earnestness. Its seen early on as they cut back and forth between two conversations where one man’s words are finished or altered by another telling similar stories. For a documentary, the pacing is quick and matches the feel of the subject matter quite well.
One of the more interesting stories that the film follows is that of a man calling himself Triforce. He is a Nintendo fanboy and frequently walks around wearing (one of the many that he owns) a Power Glove. It has become a fashion accessory for him and part of his expected persona. He has a big presence when he gets screen time, and a spin-off documentary about this life would be intriguing to see. There is a sequence where he waits outside of the Nintendo Store in New York City for a day so he is the first in line for an anniversary performance of the Legend of Zelda score by a live orchestra. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the Power Glove, but it does demonstrate the level of obsession with the brand he has.
One of the most nostalgic moments happens when they interview director Tom Holland. He made The Wizard (1989), which was essentially an almost two-hour-long Nintendo commercial. The movie also featured a character who owned a Power Glove and how it made him “bad”. It’s a great interview, and Holland explains why he believed it was a box office failure although it had now found a cult following. In fact, it’s initial failure and current cult fixation mimics that of the glove itself.
The documentary is one of many recent films that capitalize on ‘80s nostalgia. This doesn’t mean it isn’t good – there is much to appreciate in this film and the very solid storytelling told by its directors. The Power of Glove (2017) earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.