13 April 2011

Movie Review: TT3D: Closer to the Edge


B+

TT3D: Closer to the Edge
2011, 104mins, 15
Director: Richard De Aragues
Cast includes: Guy Martin, Ian Hutchinson, Michael Dunlop, John McGuinness
UK Release Date: 22nd April 2011

Few films can provide thrills as organic as those felt in “TT3D: Closer to the Edge”, a consistently entertaining and informative documentary focusing on the Tourist Trophy (or TT for short) motorsports event held in the Isle of Man each year. Spotlighting several of the competitors, “TT3D” takes place at the 2010 championships, chronicling the preparation, passion and ultimately flawless execution needed not just to win, but to survive. Filled with memorable personalities and some of the most enjoyable 3D spectacle yet committed to celluloid, “TT3D: Closer to the Edge” is a must watch for adrenaline junkies too chicken to partake in such dangerous activity themselves.

Director Richard De Aragues places heightened emphasis on some figures over others, the most prominent character in the film being cheeky underdog Guy Martin, a man with a love for motorsports but no major accolades to his name. Martin makes for an engaging, honest and likable lead, his desire and thirst for glory evident with every word he speaks. Other major players in the sport also get screen time, but it’s Martin’s amusing and oddly charismatic journey that feels the most inherently cinematic. De Aragues seems to realize this, almost painting “TT3D” as Martin’s story, with a few other notable supporting entities thrown in for good measure.

“TT3D” examines both the highs and lows that arise from such obviously dangerous competition. De Aragues always seems happy to promote the sheer enthusiasm locals (it’s a great source of pride on the Isle of Man), fans and contestants all share, but similarly makes audiences fully aware of the tragic consequences that occur on an annual basis. Few sports can boast the sort of fatality rate evident at the TT, and it is saddening to watch families and friends have to cope with such heartbreaking loss. However De Aragues ensures a feeling of intimacy is depicted throughout this brotherhood of athletes, sculpting a picture that views their deaths through a frame of bittersweet happiness. After all, everyone’s got to die, so you might as well kick the bucket doing what you adore most. It’s a viewpoint that encourages hope, even in the face of tremendous grief.

The first act of the film sets up the protagonists economically, and whilst the middle segment is perhaps slightly bloated, De Aragues unleashes a spectacular finale as compensation. Creating a frantic sense of kinetic energy, De Aragues gets his camera right in the thick of the action, utilizing a combination of sweeping overhead shots and riders’ eye view perspectives. It’s relentlessly exciting, the tension reaching palpable levels as bikers go missing, accidents upset the balance and victory gets ever closer. The 3D also undeniably benefits the experience, immersing viewers totally within this universe of unstoppable speed. We’re not talking “Avatar” levels of technical wizardry here, but rather De Aragues’ own inventive use of the extra dimension to help the world come alive. “TT3D” opts for creativity over excess, and the results speak for themselves.

I knew next to nothing about the TT before seeing this impressive production, but thanks to the movie’s interesting dissection of the phenomenon and its respectable detailing of the sport’s history, I now feel rather well educated. “TT3D: Closer to the Edge” is a surprisingly astute blend of sympathetic characters, fearless action and extreme bravery. At 104 minutes it’s perhaps too long, but on the whole I’d consider it a documentary worth seeing.

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2011

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