Ultimate X

"Good"

Ultimate X Review


At times, documentaries walk a fine line between history and commercialism. ESPN's testosterone-filled IMAX film Ultimate X jumps over that line with its exposé of the Super Bowl of extreme sports - the X Games. The film is complete with ultra-slick, glossy cinematography, clever interviews with the crazed but revered heroes of extreme sports, and the ever-ready hot soundtrack filled with pulsing, radio-friendly bands that only your kids know the names of.

The film captures a whole smorgasbord of footage including events like Moto X, Street Luge, Freestyle Skateboarding, and Stunt BMX. Using large-format cameras, the film captures the awe-inspiring antics of these adrenaline junkies living out the golden dreams of youth in full IMAX amazement. Special P.O.V. camera mounts on bikes, skateboards, and motorcycles provide an intense experience when splashed across the immense IMAX screen. The exquisite calm of a street luge race is particularly memorable.

The film crisscrosses between action, sound bites with the faithful followers of the X Games, interviews with gladiators of the various competitions such as Bucky Lasek, Mat Hoffman, Dave Mirra, Travis Pastrana, Bob Burnquist, Carey Hart, and the Christ figure of extreme sports - Tony Hawk. The open and frank nature of the interviews illustrates the naïve attitudes of both the participants and their audiences, especially when it comes to the issue of injury.

The interviews also carry a strange undertone of commercialism. For every broken bone caused by a bad fall or broken axle there's a Coca-Cola knee wrap or a Gatorade neck brace. Then the film never just refills with another series of stomach churning footage of dirt bike riders in mid-flight.

On the other hand, another more excellent but similar film regarding the emergence of skateboarding in the seventies - Dogtown and Z-Boys - delivers a message of innovation and hope. In Ultimate X, the message is canned and rehearsed, as if concocted in an ESPN board meeting.

The Ultimate X DVD manages to make a lot of this stuff look considerably less thrilling. Not only is it all obviously much smaller on TV, the extras (pardon: X-tras) are pretty boring, lacking the polish and cool effects of the fully edited material. Street luge, when not sped-up and judiciously trimmed, looks totally dull and unexciting. This is all presented with considerable glam through breakout menus that show you how to do bike tricks and provide dim outtake interviews with the Pastranas and Hawks of the world. Stick with the original film, er, at 39 minutes: Filmette, really.

This motorcycle jump brought to you by Nike.



Ultimate X

Facts and Figures

Run time: 47 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th May 2002

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Frank Zagarino as Lou, Mark Gregory as Jason, Romano Kristoff as Ricky, Sabrina Siani as Glenda

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