Title: Nitro Circus The Movie 3D
Directors: Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle
Years ago, our minds warped by the spectacle of Dennis Rodman, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mickey Rourke appearing alongside tigers and exploding soda machines in Tsui Hark’s certifiably insane “Double Team,” a friend and I jointly speculated that Hollywood was on a path to ditching any semblance of narrative genre filmmaking and just releasing a movie called “Tricks and Stunts.” A feature-length indulgence of the same-named stunt spectacular, which used its MTV show in 2009 to spark a string of bestselling DVDs and, eventually, a live show in Las Vegas, “Nitro Circus The Movie 3D” is pretty much a realization of that theory.
Using the latest compact camera rigs and other innovations in 3D cinematography, co-directors Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle provide viewers with bucket-seat and bird’s eye perspectives of much spectacle and mayhem as Travis Pastrana, the decorated freestyle motocross champion who co-founded Nitro Circus and still serves as one of its merry ringleaders, and his cohorts engage in all sorts of bike-, auto- and skate-inspired shenanigans. The roster of stunts includes purposefully flipping cars, ramped jumps into various bodies of water, back-flipping bikes over a chasm between two 60-story buildings, and trying to land an elusive double back-flip on modified tricycles amongst the mulch mountains outside of Pastrana’s Maryland home.
Is there a quote-unquote story here? Ummm… not really. Amongst much back-slapping talk about balls, and platitudes about brushing the dust off oneself, there are brief, chummy interview clips with “Jackass” director Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville and Rob Dyrdek, among others. Even Channing Tatum weighs in, opining that Nitro Circus is something “everyone understands, because of their relation to fear.” And nominally, mostly using countdown title cards, the movie builds toward Nitro Circus’ first live show, at the MGM Grand. The payoff? Five minutes worth of highlights, which comes across as decidedly anti-climactic given much else of what we’ve seen.
Is “Nitro Circus The Movie 3D” terrible, then? No, it’s just almost entirely inessential. From a technical standpoint, the movie is fairly superbly captured. There are moments when one can just back and bask in the roar of motorcycles and trucks thrashing about in criss-crossing jump patterns. But there are no edifying theatrical stagings or emotional undercurrents to “Nitro Circus.” And if one believes, as I do, that those sorts of things imbue the “Jackass” movies with a certain level of socially significant (if warped) fraternal commentary, they’re wildly wanting in this brawny offering. Fifteen minutes of this sort of thing is basically enough, and one then wants to change the channel.
NOTE: For more information on the movie, which opens on Wednesday, August 8, visit its website, at www.NitroCircus3D.com.
Story: I, for Incomplete
Written by: Brent Simon