“If it doesn’t excite you, you’re not alive,” says one motorcycling enthusiast in 3D Brit docu “TT3D: Closer to the Edge,” and even the most racing-averse auds will have to agree this entertaining whiz around the 2010 Isle of Man TT racing event puts across the thrill of the sport. A mosaic of interviews, background coverage and, most importantly, footage of bikes going really fast, this competently made assemblage will be high octane fuel for fans. Nevertheless, crossover appeal to other demographics looks much more iffy. Starting gun for the pic’s wide release goes off April 21 in Blighty.
Predicted hot weather over the long holiday weekend when the pic opens will also work against it, but ancillary should rev high.
Aware of auds’ need for human interest and drama, sports docu and commercials helmer Richard De Aragues, making his feature debut, starts off by interviewing about a dozen of the key protagonists as they prepare for the TT (the initials stand for “tourist trophy”) in June 2010. Those intro’ed include soft-spoken but determined racer Ian Hutchinson (who will have a good year), frequent champion John McGuinness, ill-fated hopeful Paul Dobbs and his family, and various mechanics and pit-crew personal. But by far the most screen time is devoted to Guy Martin, an outspoken maverick motorcyclist who’s yet to win a TT race, but whose charisma, popularity with the fans, and shaggy-haired good looks prove irresistible to the filmmakers. Martin comes across initially as a charmer, but is later less sympathetic when things don’t go quite so well for him.
Beverley Mills’ deft editing of the TT — not just one race, but several around the Isle of Man over the course of a week — assembles the action that’s been recorded via a wide range of rigs, from helicopter-mounted 3D cameras to sports channel archive footage to tiny HD recording devices strapped to various riders’ bikes and helmets.
The course is a famously treacherous one that frequently claims riders’ lives, and the pic conveys this danger as it delivers the adrenalin rush riders experience as they go streaking through the island’s usually sleepy villages, often at amazingly close angles to the road. A few droll static shots record peaceful tableaux — a church surrounded by trees, or a suburban duplex whose owners are enjoying a cup of tea in the front yard — whose quietude is broken by the screaming sound of the racers flashing by in a blur.
Auds less than passionate about motorcycle racing may start to get antsy about three-quarters of the way through, as yet another race kicks off around the same circuit, but some awful accidents revive interest in the same ghoulish way they do when races are seen live.
By the end, coverage feels a little unbalanced given so much screen time allotted to Martin rather than some of the riders who perform better. Hardly more than a minute is spent on femme rider Jenny Tinmouth, for instance, whom distaff auds dragged along by their partners might liked to have learned more about.
Tech credits are pro across the board, although Jared Leto’s narration makes the docu feel more like fodder for niche sports cable channels.