Monday, 21 August 2006

Supercross: The Movie (DVD) (2005)

What do you mean, I get 4 seconds of fame? Just FOUR?!

The brains and purse behind Supercross: The Movie are none other than Fox and Clear Channel Entertainment Motor Sports. Perhaps that’s why the main cast hail mostly from Fox television dramas. Or why Supercross is less of a sports movie than an 80 minute PR kit for the motor racing event known as Motorcross.

There are only 3 questions you should care about when watching a racing movie.

1.How is the racing choreography? How good-looking are the bikes?
2.Is the soundtrack something you can groove to?
3.How are the girls?

And any bonus would be a coherent plot (note I didn’t say believable plot), and whether this movie has any added depth or non-cringe inducing dialogue.

Unfortunately, Supercross fails on all counts. Steve Boyum has several credits to his name, notably as the stunt director for Buffy the Vampire series, but in this movie, he appears to be out of his depth. There is nothing inherently wrong with the sport of motor racing and the aerial stunts drivers frequently perform. There is something really wrong with Steve Boyum’s handling of the camera, which captures all the stunts and racers from a mid-shot. Where is the drama in that? Where is the danger? Where is the spectacle? The races looked terrifyingly dull and boring, and it must take special talent for Boyum to do that. What’s even more wrong with Steve Boyum is the final race sequence, where he finally discovers the close-up button on his camera, and the gritty, grainy film stock that he didn’t know what to do with earlier!

In the midst of the roaring motorcycles, there is surprisingly little soundtrack, and what was left of it couldn’t be heard over the roar of the motorcycles at times. That’s fine, because we gather that the fans of Motorcross don’t really listen to hip hop and are more of the rock music types. But for all the mean growling of the bikes, we still have to watch the ineptly-filmed sequences of the bike races and stunts, so what’s the point?

The girls occupy far too little screentime and look too familiar (they are after all your Fox television drama regulars) for anyone to care. And we should care about these girls – like why Sophia Bush does a remarkable disappearing act in the middle portion of the movie, and why Cameron Richardson keeps getting cut off when she takes off half of her blouse or all of her pants and only reappears at the end of the climactic race to cheer on the protagonist.

Can you tell that I seem to be avoiding any description of the movie’s plot? I apologise. Simply put, the best parts of Supercross: The Movie are its racing sequences. Once the characters start talking, you begin to lose the war with sleep – the dialogue is that corny. Plot angles that are heavily worked at are dropped for no reason whatsoever: the rich girl-poor boy romance between Sophia Bush and Steve Howie’s characters; the racetrack rivalry between Aaron Carter and Mike Vogel, who happens to be dating Carter’s onscreen sister; the mysterious death of the protagonists’ father, an indie, non-factory backed Motorcross minor legend.

Perhaps if the director had any sense of decency and honesty to the sport, he’d take out the dramatic plot and release the remaining badly-shot racing scenes as a fan movie. Real motor racing fans should watch Chow Yun Fat in All About Ah-long, a movie about the Macau Grand Prix.

First published at incinemas on 21 August 2006

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