The 3-D effects of the ESPN produced documentary on last year’s X Games are eye-popping.
Some are shot from ground level and the people in the shots look like teeny-tiny like toy soldiers on a play battlefield. Others are from a bird’s eye view. All are incredible.
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But they are disconnected. The producers and director Steve Lawrence aren’t able to put much drama into last year’s games. When ABC — which owns ESPN — used to do the Olympics they were able to give you the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” via in-depth stories about the athletes, their families and their struggles. Some of the footage the network generated would take your breath away and bring tears to your eyes.
X Games 3D: The Movie makes an effort but never really get connected to the participants or get a perspective of where each event and character fits into the games. Maybe the X Games participants are such boring, self-centered, shallow people that there isn’t much to report.
Of that, I have my doubts.
Lawrence and his crew do a half-assed effort on the motorcycle jump. This is where cyclists traveling at something close to the speed of sound leap huge chasms, leave the safety to the seat and perform gymnastic gyrations and then try to land without crashing. You get a few good shots and lots of footage of the participants running to the top of a dirt hill to celebrate.
From there you are given 40 minutes of sleep-inducing car race footage and bits on skateboarding before Lawrence finally gets to something that can make you care.
The motorcycle high-jump contest is beautifully shot and is fascinating, but the highlight is a contest of wills between three contestants of the extreme skateboarding of the Slam. It is heavy drama worth the price of the ticket — unless, as the skateboarding press crew that sat behind me pointed out, you caught all of this in two-dimensions when it happened last year.
For those who didn’t or want to see it in 3D, this is an intense bit of filmmaking. These guys are certifiably insane and put on one of the best athletic shows I’ve seen in years. And in three-dimensions it is mind-boggling.
Other than that, Lawrence’s film is disappointing, and he spends way too much time on the trivial. Time we’d rather spend catching the almost non-mortal contestants pushing the envelope of physics is wasted on rambling dialogue from participants raving about themselves and each other.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG for mature themes and extreme and violent accidents. It opens Friday, Aug. 21 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.