Ultimate X (2002)

Written & Directed by Bruce Hendricks
Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker
Starring Tony Hawk, Travia Pastrana, Carey Hart, Bucky Lasek, Cory Nastazio, and a whole bunch of other lunatics


Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

My Advice: Rent it.

These are the X-Games. These feature athletes (and there's no contention: they are athletes) doing things that most people would find insane. This is coming from me: I won't skydive or bungee jump--I think life's interesting (not to mention potentially lethal) enough as it is. But here you have guys (and a few girls) who have as a life goal doing a 360 heads over heels loop on a motocross bike. I guess they watched Streethawk too much when they were kids or something. Regardless, this forty minute documentary takes a look at the genre of sports in question.

This film was originally created for IMAX, so obviously you're not going to get the same effect that you do on a ginormous screen the size of the side of a building. However--whackos leaping BMX bikes into the air in all directions is pretty impressive no matter what size screen you have. It makes sense that the film is as short as it is: because you can have too much of a good thing. And granted, if I had watched all forty minutes all in one sitting straight through, I'd have probably had my fill of the stuff for a year or so. Thus enters the beauty of the DVD.

You can watch this thing in what they call "Ultimate Interactive" mode. That's just a snazzy name for saying that they've got icons on the side of the screen that will pop up in places to give you more info on what's going on. Through branching, you go, you watch the featurette, you come back. In some places, four icons will pop up--so you can take a while getting through everything. And it seems like there are featurettes coming out of your ears. Granted, they're not all star quality--the featurettes that focus on a particular athlete can have only a few sound bites scattered amidst footage of them doing crazy shite in their particular sport, and that's all. However, some of them do give you a feel for their subject matter.

Particularly of interest are the featurettes covering the various injuries involved (the centerpiece of which is Pastrana rattling off a list of the fifty or so broken bones he's had) and the one talking about the early days of zanies on skateboards. It's also a bit annoying to come back to the film after watching a featurette and have some footage or sound bites repeated. But what these things lack in quality they make up for in sheer numbers. A little something for everybody.

Beyond that, the disc has a menu for the featurettes so you can snag any that you missed while going through the main film. And there are a few easter eggs as well, including a link to a "Wrecks-tra" montage of spectacular wipeouts, just in case you haven't gotten your fill.

For the whacko sports enthusiast, this might be worth owning, just for the sheer amount of information alone. And hell, the music's pretty good, too. But the rest of us will at least want to give it a rental, even cautious guys like myself.

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