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X-Games 3D: The Movie

X-Games 3D: The Movie is proving to be a difficult review. How do I start it out? What do I write? It has no story. It has no arc. It has no conflict. It has no characters. Hell, it's barely even a movie. This thing exists for one purpose: to give more exposure to the annual X-Games where extreme sports athletes come from around the world to defy gravity and perform monstrous stunts most can only dream of. Basically, it's one giant product placement.

There's a good movie somewhere in here, a focused documentary that really puts a story to these athletes, but this isn't it. There is zero narrative here with the only struggles being the struggles to complete the tricks, which is hardly a reason to slap together a half-assed pseudo-documentary. I use the term "pseudo" because this most certainly is not a traditional documentary. Even documentaries have a purpose and tell a story. This one doesn't. It simply introduces some athletes and then you watch them perform in a variety of X-Games competitions.

This is why the movie is a conundrum. If you're a big X-Games fan, there's nothing new here. Most, if not all of the competition footage was pulled directly from last year's games, including the Big Air climax that rounds out the last third of the film. So chances are you have seen this footage already. If you're not a fan, then there's no point in seeing this movie because you likely won't care. It's a Catch-22.

Of course, there's the 3D, which is the only reason to watch it, though the core footage is nothing you can't see by simply staying home and watching ESPN. While the 3D is quite good from a technical standpoint, with terrific vibrancy and depth of field used in an attempt to pull the viewer into the arena with the athletes, I found it to be a bit of a distraction. The tricks are breathtaking (though I can't stress enough how easy it is to find the footage elsewhere), making my heart pound in anticipation for each death defying trick, but the gimmick of 3D becomes too much at times. I would have loved to have witnessed this normally, though I suspect the 3D is the only reason for a theatrical release in the first place.

Despite the film's overall irrelevance, I must admit how impressed I was by specific shots. There were some great shots of the athletes at work where the camera would get up close and personal. Here, it slows down allowing us to see every drop of sweat and turn of the board. It's quite beautiful and surprisingly artistic how these men pull off their awe-inspiring feats.

What it all boils down to is that the competition footage is excellent and the rest, like the interview material, is kind of boring. Though the good outweighs the bad, it's the bad that is new while the good is easily accessible on YouTube and unworthy of a feature length film. It's exciting, but it's not something I particularly needed to see in the theater. Still, see it I did and I was entertained enough by the fearless athletes to warrant a recommendation. But don't come complaining to me when you realize you could have watched the whole thing on television for free.

X-Games 3D: The Movie receives 2.5/5

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