Friday, August 21, 2009

X-Games 3D: The Movie Review

As the X-Games brought 'extreme' sports to the public, so X-Games 3-D: The Movie brings the X-Games to the public. Unfortunately, the folks that get the most out of this movie are the ones who are already on board. If action is your thing, like say Transformers if the stunts and effects were real and without the bad acting, grab a popcorn and some Buddy Holly-looking 3-D specs because this one's only in theaters for a week.

Let's get one thing straight, X-Games isn't out for any Oscars. It's most popular subjects are on the low end of the household name spectrum. Hell, most of the footage isn't even new. If you watched X-Games 14 last summer, most of the movie is ruined for you. Where this movie shines is the 3-D action. If ever you could feel like you're standing on a halfpipe watching Bob Burnquist skate, this is the movie that brings it to you.

By the way, this is not the blue and red glasses 3-D. Not the Super Bowl commercial 3-D. This is the new digital 3-D that's supposed to get viewers away from their home theaters and into the real theaters. The effect in X-Games is not the same as some of the animated movies out recently. No gimmicks will have you reaching out as if you could actually touch the action. No yo-yos bob tantalizingly out of reach. Like I said, it's just like you're on the deck of the Mega Ramp talking with Danny Way, which is much cooler anyway.

Why check out the movie when you already saw 2008's X-Games? In a word: information. First of all, the camera angles will wow you. Then, you'll take them for granted. Then, you'll realize that you took them for granted when you see just how small people look next to the Mega Ramp at the end. Impressive. The other bit of information is the subjects' backstory. You, the viewer, get to learn about training in foam pits. You get to learn about the athletes. You get to learn about the sports. Problem is, you don't get to learn that much.

The cursory attempt at exposition soon gives way to one of many lackluster attempts to build drama. This is where the movie misses its mark. These are real people. They have real stories. Then, just when they start telling them, we have to get to the action. It's like seeing an outline of Shaun White's accomplishments when what we really want is him spilling the gory details. Just five more minutes per athlete would have brought this movie into the 'compelling human interest' zone. Instead it felt like watching a rerun of the X-Games, but instead of commercials, we got snippets of biography. Not bad, but it left the sour taste of wasted potential. I know they're aiming this thing at the MTV generation, but give the audience a little more credit. On a similar topic, the incessant rotating billboards during the X-Games footage seem to make actual commercials redundant. How many times do we need to see those logos anyway?

Ever see that snowboarding movie First Descent a few years back? This one's similar, but instead of documenting snowboarding or any particular sport, it's documenting the X-Games. I find that unnecessary. Yes, the X-Games are culturally significant, but they've only been around 15 years now. Give them a little more time. Then maybe the movie will feel less like a sales pitch.

In the end, you will like this movie if you are a big fan of action sports, unless you're more about who they are than what they do or you've already seen the X-Games in question (especially if you went live). Not an X-Games fan? This one's not going to bring you to the land of extreme. Always wanted to go to the X-Games, but you live in Azerbaijan? Buy the ticket, watch them ride.

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