ESPN Ultimate X

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

These guys are nuts.

That’s somewhat of an understatement, but say what you will – the “Ultimate” sport scene has arrived and this DVD showcases the very best of it. All of those kids you see on street corners, outside malls or bowling alleys and such now have something to actually aspire to be. It appears that with the “advent” of ultimate sports, there can actually be money made while risking your life to satisfy a few thousand fans. ESPN created the X-Games about seven years ago and with every passing year, it gets more and more popular. The X-Games, if you don’t know, showcase the very best in extreme competition like BMX biking, skateboarding and Rollerblading just to name a few. As the crowds grow, so do the number of participants and, of course, the number of sponsors. Interviewed on the movie (which was originally an IMAX movie) the so-called creator of X-Games compared it to Rock N’ Roll, as it was initially rejected by the mainstream and was never thought to last. We all know that didn’t happen. Could your kids skip playing little league and opting instead for a skateboard or bike to do tricks? These guys did and look where it got them!

As far as an actual “plot” goes, there really isn’t any. If anything, this is more like a documentary which showcases the talents of these extreme sports artists in their most basic form. Granted, they are competing, it’s not just guys hanging around on a street corner, but this shows the immense popularity of the X-Games along with the legions of fans that these guys seem to have. Call me old, but the only person I’d heard of was skateboarder Tony Hawk (who, in his own right, has helped the sport immensely and I’d say is somewhat responsible for the success of the entire thing). If you’re into this sort of thing, and plenty are, grab a few Mountain Dew’s and get ready to be energized. The entire film is designed to increase your excitement with upbeat music and interviews with the guys. While I’ll personally stick to the golf course, these guys are having fun risking their lives to do what they love. And what’s wrong with that?

Video: How does it look?

Originally shot for viewing in an IMAX theater, this is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Almost every scene is designed to take advantage of the large screen format, and it doesn’t translate nearly as well to the small screen (even the big small screen like mine). Still, the physical quality of it is good, with very little artifacting and a very nice clean picture overall. Some shots were shot on DV, and look it; while others take full advantage of the IMAX look and feel. This doesn’t look bad, maybe just scoot a few feet closer to your set than usual and try your best to re-create the atmosphere that only an IMAX movie can provide.

Audio: How does it sound?

Juiced up with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a DTS as well, this takes full advantage of all of your speakers. What would “extreme” sports be if you didn’t have guitars blasting out of all five channels? The movie, being new, takes full advantage of the sound and though there’s not a whole lot of dialogue (outside the interviews) going on, suffice it to say that the experience is a good one at that. The disc is even THX certified should you need any more reason to be convinced of the audio quality.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Maybe it’s late, maybe I’m not that bright, but I found it hard to navigate around these menus and I’m sure that I missed some supplements. Though there aren’t that many listed, what I did find were somewhat interesting. Some rather in-depth looks at some of the top performers from their respective sports make up some cast bios, complete with a video bio, their awards and so on. Three featurettes are included, a “Mega Mix” that is essentially a collage of images from the film (the opening credits have this as well). Also included is “Old School” which visits with a skate shop owner from Venice Beach who all but claims that he invented the sport. Still, its interesting to see how much the sport has evolved in just a few decades. Lastly, there is a “Hit and Miss” collage that I had to turn off. Sorry, but seeing guys bust off their motorcycles and break their bones just isn’t for me. If it’s for you, though, then it’s there. The icon-based menus are kind of difficult to get around (i.e. the “+” sign means supplements); but being trendy and such is the name of this game. Though not that long in running time, Ultimate X is kind of fun to watch, if only to see people do (and enjoy) what most of us wouldn’t ever conceive of doing.

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