How do you make the biggest most exciting action sports event of the year dull? Mix one part talking head documentary and one-part 3D tricks to create a 90 minute commercial for the X-Games.
X-Games 3D, the one week only release from ESPN Films, focuses on the 2008 X-Games, which are typically held in the Summer and Winter. The documentary focuses on some of the most popular events of the games. Motocross Free style, Rally Racing, Motocross High Jump, Skateboarding, snowboarding, and the grand daddy of the event, the skateboard mega ramp, which in some instances stretches 197 feet into the air allowing riders to reach heights of 50 feet in the air, at amazing speeds with bone shattering results if they “bail”.
The documentary spends quite a bit of time with some of the elder statesmen of their respective events. Travis Pastrana (Rally Racing) Ricky Carmichael, the greatest of all time or G.O.A.T. (Motocross high jump), Danny Way, Bob Burnquist, Jake Brown, (Skateboard Mega Ramp), Olympic gold medalist Shaun White (skateboard and snowboarding) and up comer Kyle Loza (motocross freestyle).
Using the typical off camera interviewer interviewee setup, it was interesting to see many of these now grown men moving on to new events or other ventures away from action sports. You are provided some insight about each of the athlete’s character from these interviews. My problem is the documentary doesn’t spend enough time with them and uses the interviews more for sound bites than actual information about the individual. It doesn’t help that the narration by Emile Hirsch is tinged with hyperbole, making events on screen sound larger than they appear. It ends up coming away feeling as if it’s trying to be taken seriously due to the juvenile label that action sports typically seem to attract and are marketed toward.
The 3D element of the documentary can be spotty. Some segments it adds quite a bit of depth to the film and at others, it feels unneeded. I felt that one particular event that it didn’t do anything for was the rally racing segment. Being a fan of rally racing, arguably one of the most intense forms of motor sport in the world, the 3D didn’t do anything for me during the short coverage of the event. It ended up feeling more flat, and took away a sense of speed.
I went into X-Games 3D expecting a big screen 3D version of the footage typically seen on TV. Doing so will lead to one coming away disappointed. X-Games 3D goes beyond just the surface of the highlights but not deep enough to really learn anything about it’s athletes. If you are a fan of action sports and its athletes at their top level this may be for you, if not it’s best to wait for highlights of the next games on Sports Center.
I give X-Games 3D 1.5 Travis Pastrana rolled the rally car again out of a possible 5
by John Coovert