No one expects a film titled X Games 3D: The Movie to be The Hurt Locker of action-sports documentaries—i.e., a sober dissection of the adrenaline junkies who make their living executing death-defying stunts on skateboards and motorcycles—but still, director Steve Lawrence’s glitzy infotainment raises the question, “How much awesomeness can an audience take?” Chronicling the titular Games, an annual Olympics of extreme sports that have made athletes like Tony Hawk millionaire icons, this stereoscopic 3-D documentary segues between cursory profiles of the sport’s major figures and footage from the competitions. Although the novelty of 3-D adds some drama to the contests, your snazzy glasses do nothing to block out the inanity that comes from the mouths of the participants, the play-by-play commentators, and narrator Emile Hirsch, who all endlessly remind us that action sports are about pushing boundaries and/or testing limits and/or living life on the edge. Since none of the on-camera subjects register as anything more than mass-marketed symbols of youthful rebellion, it’s damn near impossible to care who wins. Not that it really matters—the real victor is the film’s distributor, Disney, which conveniently owns ABC and ESPN, the two channels that broadcast the X Games every year. Synergy—now that’s awesome!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 18, 2009