X Games 3D: The Movie
In 3-D, X Games jump off the screen
Touted as the most elaborately filmed 3-D production ever, “X Games 3D: The Movie’’ uses 10 simultaneous digital camera rigs to cover snowboarding, rally car racing, motocross, and skateboarding. The action includes the Step Up, a gravity-defying high jump on a dirt bike. Skateboarders ride monster Mega Ramps, structures that can be 350 feet long and 200 feet high.
Such thrills and inevitable spills should please X Games fans, and video game fans, too. Director Steve Lawrence (“Down the Barrel’’) follows six top athletes competing at the 2008 Summer X Games and at private practice sessions. Most of the dudes (and they’re all dudes) have that low-key but driven demeanor endemic to these dangerous sports. They push the body hard and the sport even harder, trying to nail tricks like a physics-bending front flip on a dirt bike.
We see the jumps and crashes in slow-motion, from multiple angles, intercut with footage of guys like skateboarder Bob Burnquist quipping, “There is no such thing as ‘You can’t do that.’ ’’
With its self-promoting tone and overwrought voice-over, the movie can seem more an ad for the X Games (and ESPN Films) than a real sports documentary. Lawrence treats the competition with nothing but hype and awe. What’s missing is context. Are the rally cars racing against the clock or each other? What is this dark past medalist Danny Way mentions that drives him to escape into skateboarding, break his bones, and keep on competing?
You’d think the 3-D effects would bring the action closer, but the kooky optics often have the opposite effect, turning the athletes into GI Joe and Boba Fett action figures zipping around a dollhouse set.
“X Games 3D: The Movie’’ finally begins to gain momentum as it falls back onto a tried-but-true competition story line. By the time Ricky Carmichael (a.k.a. “the G.O.A.T.’’ or “Greatest of All Time’’) jumps 33 feet in the Step Up, and good buddies Way and Burnquist go head to head on the Mega Ramp, the 3D effects don’t matter. You just want to see who wins. And perhaps be inspired to fly, and become an action figure yourself.
Ethan Gilsdorf’s new book is “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.’’ Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org