What a Rush!
It seems almost silly to release IMAX movies on video and DVD. After all, they are designed to be seen on huge screens that make Michael Jordan look taller than he is and give you the feeling you actually are in outer space. You simply can't feel the same way watching them in your TV room (not even by lying on the floor at the far end of the room). But even without the giant screen, there's fun to be had viewing these flicks. Ultimate X is a prime example. While it never goes too deep into its subject matter, the 39-minute documentary is a thrilling, entertaining look at extreme athletes who show the audience the best they've got. It all but puts you right next to the cameraman.
Ultimate X is a brief retrospective of the X Games VII competition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Athletes like Tony Hawk, Dave Mirra, Bob Burnquist, and countless others have converged to engage in arguably the most well-know extreme sports competition around. The camera captures some nice shots of the action, from dirtbikers sailing through the air to point-of-view perspectives of lugers speeding down the street -- from the althletes' defeats to their successes. The guys (and girls) take time-outs to throw an interview or two the camera's way, giving the viewer an idea of the competition through their eyes. Even the fans have their time in the spotlight, enjoying the atmosphere and cheering on their favorite athletes. No matter where the camera goes, the spirit of the games and passion of the competitors receive in-your-face emphasis.
Ultimate X sets itself up to play out like an ESPN overview of events, and it works perfectly on just that level. The behind-the-scenes drama doesn't even begin to reach the level of the brilliant football documentary Go Tigers!, but that's because there's not much required of viewers in order to enjoy the picture. Do you like extreme sports? Do you want to see a couple of guys falling off their bikes and proudly listing off the number of injuries they've incurred? Do you want a quick, easy-to-swallow documentary without much thought getting in the way? Then Ultimate X fits your needs.
One warning: viewers who don't like sports may be counting every second of the film's running time. Still, I'm not a sports nut, and I had fun watching this documentary. I felt like one of the fans sitting in the stands as I watched the dudes and dudettes risking injury because they love what they do best. I cheered for skateboarding legend Tony Hawk as he competed in an intense run and admired the way the footage of the street luge competition captured the furiousity of the game. And yet Ultimate X never goes too deep; the people in the film want you to have fun, and that's exactly what you do once you get into it.
MY RATING: *** (out of ****)
(Released by Buena Vista Pictures and rated "PG" for daredevil sports action and mild language.)
Review also posted on www.ajhakari.com.