I'm-a-X Fan
Ultimate X
Review by Ross Anthony

(Note: This review reflects a screening of a reel yet to be color corrected. We were told the reel was 99.9% finished.)

Ultimate XA dirt motorcyclist myself, I was stoked for this film. Granted, more of a trail enthusiast, I'd never gotten my two wheels more than five feet off the ground, but that's exactly why I thirsted for this film. Just as "Space Station" takes the viewers out into orbit, I hoped to be up there with the true 2-stroke flyers, leaping off and then onto their bikes while in flight. And to some degree, "Ultimate X" delivers some of that experience.

The motor-gymnastics are left to close the show; teases of several events comprise an appetizing intro. More or less first, the BMX-bikers tear up the dirt, taking to flight, somersaulting even ... these guys rock. Then the skateboarders, though infinitely graceful Ultimate Xand almost hypnotically rhythmic in the half pipe, I couldn't help but long for the motorbikes.

Almost as an interlude, street-lugesters (athletes lay their backs on their boards and speed feet first) race down a winding road on the side of a hill. The break from the interviews (talking) to a more meditative music is welcome, while the segment is pleasant; it's not thrilling. And despite earlier claims that these guys can reach speeds of up to 80 mph -- the displayed action feels more like 35 or 40.

Finally, the big event, poison-colored cycles soar fifty feet above the ground. Riders, so comfortable in flight, perform aerial acrobatics about their mechanical steeds sometimes letting go of them completely before returning to the seat, then Earth. Some of them occasionally land no-handed or with their legs up on the handlebars just to show off their prowess. All gorgeous. And though the slow motion photography offers a special insight into the feat, I think more "real-time" stunts ought to have been included to spark that element of speed/thrill. As for the big trick (of course, the aerial back-flip), three failed attempts are shown - all stunning and highly respectable; despite that fact that no one nails it.

While the finished product is still fun, never dull and the athletes themselves remarkable, inspired and apt, the production could have been improved in the following ways:

  1. Cut the talking heads in half. (That said, I loved the well-edited bit where athletes list their injuries: "left hip, right shoulder, flat-lined twice ... etc."

  2. Vary the angles of the cameras just a tad more. And I know I'm asking a lot ... but I want that thing mounted to the bike while airborne, I want that camera in the hands of a skateboarder in the half pipe. I want to be in the experience, not just witnessing it. Put me in the event -- not the event in front of me. That said, the moments when athletes leap over and/or barely clear mounted cams - are wonderful.

  3. Loved the trick-bike cut at the end. Would have liked a full segment on that.

Click here for my interview with Jeremy McGrath which includes a review of the live World Supercross event in Pasadena, California (1999).

  • Ultimate X. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG.
  • Starring: Bucky Lasek (Skateboarding), Dave Mirra (Bmx), Mat Hoffman (Bmx), Travis Pastrana (Moto X), Bob Burnquist (Skateboarding), Carey Hart (Moto X), Tony Hawk (Skateboard), Ryan Nyquist (Bmx Bike Park) And Many More.
  • Music includes: Black Sabbath, Incubus, Cypress Hill, 3rd Strike, P.O.D., The Suicide Machines, Handsome Devil, Grand Theft Auto, Fatboy Slim, Tricky, The Get Fresh Crew, OPM, Pennywise, Feeder, Guided by Voices, Moby, Foo Fighters, Janis Joplin, Sum 41.
  • Written and directed by Bruce Hendricks.
  • Directors of Photography: Reed Smoot, A.S.C., Rodney Taylor, C. Mitchell Amundsen.
  • Produced by Art Repola at Touchstone/ESPN.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:43:46 PDT