The X-Games, Disney subsidiary ESPN's expo of free-style skateboarding, snowboarding, motocross and closed-course car road rallies, makes a dandy proving ground for 3D film. The depth of field, the skateboards flying into your face and dirt kicked off the screen are novel and even help you see all the way-cool stuff these stuntmen-by-another-name do as they "create new ways to fly."
As a movie, though, X-Games 3D: The Movie isn't a movie at all. It's a 90-minute commercial for the games, lacking much in the way of drama, compelling characters or story line. When your contestants are all nice, sportsmanlike chaps who "only compete against themselves," it's like watching tennis, pre-Jimmy Connors, or a NASCAR race with all Jeff Gordons. These guys do edgy stuff, but the movie rubs that edge off boarder Danny Way and most of it off multisport junkie Travis Pastrana.
The thrills here are in the stuff guys like Kyle Loza do when they snap on their helmet and say, "I gotta go try to kill myself." Bones are broken — none graphically — and wiseacre commentators make cracks like "He's a human lawn dart" after a bad landing.
But aside from the 3D, this commercial screams "DVD." Fans who ignore the "don't try this at home" warnings will want to catch that slo-mo flip or spin over and over. Even the most extreme theaters don't have provisions for that.