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Touchstone Home Video presents
Ultimate X: The Movie (2002)

"They're all a little messed up in the head."
- ESPN Commentator

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: March 04, 2003

Stars: Bob Burnquist, Brian Deegan, Tony Hawk, Dave Mirra, Carey Hart, Matt Hoffman, Bucky Lasek, T.J. Lavin, Ryan Nyquist
Director: Bruce Hendricks

MPAA Rating: PG for daredevil sports action and mild language
Run Time: 0h:39m:42s
Release Date: February 04, 2003
UPC: 786936200645
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B-AA B+

DVD Review

In my life I have only once braved any sort of extreme sport; it was on a skateboard and at the time seemed like a good idea. It was, like so many things I do, an effort to impress a girl. I failed, and the girl walked away with the guy who didn't have the broken arm. Who says irony is not alive and well? ESPN's Ultimate X The Movie works well because it understands that not everyone can perform the stunts done by legendary athletes like Tony Hawk, Matt Hoffman and Dave Mirra, and those who try wind up with broken arms and are left to review fascinating IMAX films based on extreme sports.

Ultimate X takes its viewer into the Summer X Games in Philadelphia in 2001, where the legends of the sport congregate for the Super Bowl of the extreme sports world. Focusing largely on the often insane and dangerous "tricks" (slang for the routines that the athletes perform), Ultimate X casts its eye on the street luge, skateboarding, freestyle BMX, as well as motocross freestyle. There are interviews with the legends of their respective sports as well as candid moments with some over zealous fans.

There is something thrilling about the way in which Ultimate X pulls you in within its short forty-minute running time. The camerawork by director Bruce Hendricks and his undeniably talented crew is at times awe-inspiring, most notably in the skateboarding and BMX sequences. The way in which the camera elevates to dizzying heights to capture the action is all the more impressive, considering the large format cameras used are often several times the size of a standard movie camera. Another outstanding touch is that Hendricks and cinematographer Reed Smoot offer a first-person view of the action, again a technological marvel given the size of the cameras. The footage is not as impressive as it likely was on the large format screen, but the idea is still there and the technical genius remains.

Aside from the impressive visuals Ultimate X is rather basic in all aspects. The interviews with the stars as well as their fans have a rather dull quality to them as no one really expands upon the basic idea of extreme sports. Instead the viewer learns more about the X Games themselves, rather than the slate of sports that comprise them. Still, the large format offers something truly thrilling.

As two side notes, Ultimate X features an impressive roster of some of today’s best bands as the background music for the extreme sports showcased. This is a nice touch at first, but after awhile it becomes repetitious, as the overbearing sound distracts from the visuals. Also, Ultimate X represents a new low in the never-ending use of product placement in film. Nearly each shot has a Mountain Dew or Gatorade logo somewhere. Like the music, this becomes something that distracts from the action onscreen.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in a THX certified 1.33:1 full-frame transfer, Ultimate X looks great with sharpness and detail that are out of this world. The scope and size of the IMAX format are lost on smaller sets, but what is so impressive is that the image does not suffer. The transfer has a very film-like look and is three-dimensional. This is as good a transfer as I have seen in sometime.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Presented in both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfers, Ultimate X will provide a workout for any system it comes into contact with. The split surrounds get a great deal of exercise with incredibly distinct pans and separation on display in the early chapters featuring the street luge teams. The .1 LFE track provides solid low-end support in several scenes and provides nice back up to the overused rock music soundtrack. The driving bass on the Incubus song, Vitamin, in the early scenes offers some serious room shaking low end. As a die hard Incubus fan, there is no better moment than this in the sound mix. Of course, your opinion may vary.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
20 Featurette(s)
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Ultimate Viewing Mode
  2. Music Videos: Save Me by Fallen From Earth, Flow Heat and No Light by Third Strike, Falling Down by Sloth, Death of the Alphabet by Schatzi, and Not Over by The Full Nine
Extras Review: Ultimate X houses dollar for dollar the most confusing set of menus I have ever seen. Set in a large arena-like atmosphere, the menu takes you from one setting to another via a series of icons. By clicking on a question mark, you are taken to a screen explaining the icons, thus supposedly ending the confusion. Wrong. After a little trickery and stumbling through I was able to find everything on the disc, though to be honest I am not quite sure if that happened.

The feature is available for viewing in two different modes. The first, and more basic of the pair, is the original version, which is simply the film in its original form as it was released to theaters in May of 2002. The second and best is akin to the Follow The White Rabbit feature on The Matrix DVD as it offers an in-depth look at the athletes via seamless branching. When an athlete appears on screen you are given the ability to explore the clips of said athlete by choosing from the film itself. When the clips are exhausted, you simply return to the film right where you left off.

Each sport of the X Games gets its own section: Skate, Moto, BMX, and Luge. Choose a sport and you go to sub menu where you can choose from a set of four options. First is Athlete Profiles, which takes you to either single or numerous athletes from which you can choose to view a collection of interview and biographical pieces. Next is Medal Moments, which goes hand in hand with the Athlete Profile as generally each athlete profiled has a collection of medal-winning tricks. X-Tra footage is simply that, a look at unseen footage, available here for more death defying stunts to be seen by one and all. Finally we come to Breakouts, a look at the construction of a trick from thought to execution. I enjoyed this piece the most as you get a real feel for the painstaking process that the athletes must go through to be truly original.

In the X-Gallery Mega Mix you can view music videos in Dolby Surround by many of the hottest new bands in music today. The list includes: Save Me by Fallen From Earth, Flow Heat and No Light by Third Strike, Falling Down by Sloth, Death of the Alphabet by Schatzi, and Not Over by The Full Nine. Each video is worth a look, most notabley the Southern California rock band Third Strike, who are a band on the rise and are most certainly going places.

Four featurettes running an average of five minutes in length round out the extra features. Girls of the Games is a look at the female competitors in the largely male arena of the X Games. This piece features interviews with the male and female stars and discusses briefly the barriers that have fallen in recent years. It is disconcerting that the female athletes are featured briefly here, but it is an improvement as only a few female athletes are given time in the feature. Old School features Ray Flores, a local legend in Southern California, offering insight into the history of skateboarding as well as its massive growth in popularity. Hits and Misses is a look at crashes and unbelievable tricks. Broken Bones is, as its title implies, a look at the injuries suffered by athletes when a trick fails to go the way in which it was planned. Had the menus been a bit easier to explore I would likely have given the features an A rating. As it stands, the difficulty of the menu system knocks the grade down a bit.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Ultimate X is a DVD that ushers the format into new territory, with its use of extra features as well as the stunning technology showcased in the film itself. The DTS audio mix as well as the crystal clear image transfer make this an easy recommendation.


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