(Copyright 2002. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)
Making a permanent impression since 1994
May 9, 2002
-- Review --
Insane athletes hit the really big screen
By Mike Nguyen
is debuting its first movie on the BIG big screen, and its all X.
it's not porn on an IMAX screen, it's the X Games.
summer, ESPN took out some special cameras and documented all the guts and glory
that played out at their annual X Games competition, the Super Bowl for extreme
sports, according to the athletes that participate in them.
some ways, it's a typical IMAX movie: a mostly plotless documentary with
weird camera angles, the always-present helicopter shot that gets people airsick
in their seats, and some stunning cinematography that leaves you breathless.
other ways, it's anything but a typical IMAX movie.
most IMAX films are ecological, including documentaries of Mt.
Everest, Kilimanjaro, the ocean, space and other topics that would bore everyone
but a scientist, ‘Ultimate X’ provides some action to the scenes, and
appeals to more than a group of kids on a class field trip.
movie is basically a recap of some of the greatest moments at the recent X
Games, but that's OK, because it's nothing like what you see on your television
ESPN channels, the action was fast, loud and over in less than a minute most of
‘Ultimate X,’ ESPN has the courtesy to slow things down so one sees
everything -- the sparks flying from the wheels of luging, the intricate body
maneuvering to land that backflip or 900, and even the nasty spills.
cameras go everywhere, from a bird's eye view, to right on top of the head of an athlete,
to right on the boards and bikes themselves.
more levitation to the screen, the movie is backed by an awesome rock
soundtrack, including POD and Sum 41.
between scenes are interviews with athletes, spectators, and commentators,
and retrospective clips of X Games past, from Tony Hawk's 900 to
athletes bungee jumping in a canoe dressed in Elvis costumes at the first X
of the commentary is hilarious, and gives away some information on the lifestyle
of extreme sports that a regular Joe might never assume.
most recurring theme in the film is that all the X Games athletes are, in fact,
they’re mentally insane athletes, but nonetheless they spend hours
conditioning their bodies, practicing their moves and progressing the sport.
ESPN's first whack at the big screen shows some obvious flaws also.
most annoying one was, it wasn't all big screen!
of the clips, especially old clips from previous Games, and interviews, only
took up a third or less of the humungous IMAX screen.
certainly understandable, as documentation only took place during the two weeks
of competition last summer, but it’s nonetheless irksome.
choice of what events to show was also odd.
skating must've been cut out of the movie, save a short, out-of-place clip
of female rollerblading star Fabiola de Silva.
events -- particularly motorcycling, biking and skateboarding -- got a good
portion of air time, although vert and dirt events got the most focus.
sports were pretty much cut entirely.
weird twist, ‘Ultimate X’ devotes a good long time to a slow-motion luge
race from the start to finish.
are usually short, and go back and forth from different cameras, perspective,
and angles. Before an athlete lands their tricks, four or five different shots
of the same move will flash through the screen.
did one camera follow a trick to its entirety, and many of the shots lost
their momentum at the peak of their viewing pleasure.
however, it's still a movie to see.
me, it's not a movie just for the skater gangs.
fact, people unaccustomed to this new extreme generation will gain much more
perspective and appreciation to what these athletes do.
will see that this wave of sports is more than a farce, kids might find the alternative
to baseball and other traditional sports, and experts have the opportunity to see the
technicality of every trick and jump.
funny, it's exciting, and it will get your stomach turning (like any good IMAX
it brought back memories of the X Trials in
for those unfortunate enough to only watch the X Games on TV, get out into your
local IMAX theater and get the true feeling of what the X Games is like.
X’ opens today at many IMAX theaters and it won't be coming to the smaller
screen anytime soon.
stands by the fact that this movie is just too big for regular movie screens,
and I'd have to agree.
Click here for another Tattoo review of "Ultimate X" -- Wild crashes and dynamite music
Click here for yet another Tattoo review of ESPN's "Ultimate X" IMAX movie
RETURN TO THE TATTOO HOME PAGE