Movie Review: TT3D: Closer to the Edge

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Before one starts a review on the new TT3D: Closer to the Edge movie, one should note the film’s underlying purpose. Funded by the Isle of Man government, the hour and a half long movie is designed to promote the Isle of Man as a tourist destination, to promote the controversial fortnight-long TT racing event in a favorable light, and to cultivate potentially new fans of the TT by providing a primer to this year’s racing action. Part documentary, part advertising, there is accordingly an agenda with this film.

Now with that caveat of information brought to light and understood, I can go on to say that TT3D: Closer to the Edge is an enjoyably great film that makes you range the gamut of emotions as it follows John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson, and Guy Martin through the 2010 Isle of Man TT. Though the use of 3D filming is gimmicky at best, the short version of this review is that this is a movie that will end up on my DVD shelf as soon as it becomes available.

If you’re a collector of the yearly Isle of Man TT DVD’s, or fortunate enough to actually be able to watch the nightly coverage of the TT in your home country, then you already know that the video footage coming off the Isle is absolutely spectacular. Accordingly the video sequences in the TT3D film don’t disappoint, with the slow-motion shots of riders jumping, sliding, and hanging on for dear life seemingly able to drop jaws at will.

I should preface further that outside of the movie Avatar, I’ve always thought the latest push for 3D films was dubious at best, as the movie industry is suddenly learning that charging $10 a pop for an experience that can be replicated at home is dying proposition. While Avatar was a truly immersive experience with its use of 3D, I find that movie just as enjoyable to watch in a regular two-dimensional format, and it’s been my experience that other 3D films seemingly use the technology to swindle you out of another $3 in glasses fees. Which group does TT3D: Closer to the Edge fall into? Probably the latter, but that doesn’t mean the film is devoid of substance.

There are moments where seeing the bikes in 3D is quite impressive, but where the movie wasn’t shot with a proper 3D camera, the gimmicky “we’ll float this trophy over a static picture” 3D effect takes over. Without actually measuring the time for both of those experiences, my off-the-cuff estimate is that there’s a 50/50 split between 3D gimmick and 3D immersion. While it doesn’t takeaway from the content of the film, it does at least confirm my fears in part about this movie when I first heard it announced.

That being said, the actually content, story, and videography for TT3D: Closer to the Edge is absolutely brilliant, and makes one proud to see another proper film about motorcycles enter the public domain. While the movie is about the 2010 TT and follows several riders, the Isle of Man TT clearly is trying to build-on the Guy Martin brand, thrusting the Lincolnshire rider into the spotlight of the film. It’s easy to see why, as the Brit is funny, witty, rebellious, and easily quotable as he talks about “having a wank” in his van. The irony is that the film plays on Guy Martin’s aversion to being a media personality, while at the same time is trying to do just that with the then Wilson Craig Racing rider.

Martin’s antics before and during the 2010 Isle of Man TT are well-covered in the film, and its hard not to root for Guy as he looks for his first TT victory. Unfortunately for those who follow the TT, they know the story the conclusion to the story already. But, those who don’t will get caught up in the moment, and there’s enough fresh perspective here that even die-hard TT fans will walk away with something new. TT3D: Closer to the Edge’s coverage of riders John McGuinness and Ian Hutchinson may not be as extensive as Guy Martin’s, but paint similarly compelling stories about both riders, though the gravity of McGuinness not winning a race in 2010 is somewhat lost in Hutchinson’s complete domination of the field. The film also touches on the story of other TT riders, though not as extensively.

TT3D: Closer to the Edge entwines and ends on a sober note, with the story of Bridget Dobbs, wife of Paul Dobbs who died during the 2010 TT. Bridget’s story is the counterpoint to the argument that a race as dangerous as the Isle of Man TT should be cancelled (a growing sentiment of main-landers). Her message is one that’s echoed in the film by other riders, and a viewpoint that you can readily find in the TT paddock: the riders who compete in the Isle of Man TT know the risks, and those who die on the TT course, die doing something they absolutely love. The film ends with her message about living life, and enjoying the fleeting moment we have on earth, which is something that not only resonates in motorcycling, but is an integral part of the TT message, allure, and culture.

It’s hard to quantify succinctly what the Isle of Man TT is about, since it spans such a large timeframe, and covers such a depth of issues about life, motorcycling, and sport, but TT3D: Closer to the Edge’s does an excellent job of creating that summary for us. For any avid motorcycle racing fan, this will be a truly enjoyable movie experience, and you won’t have to watch it alone, as the film is easy enough to follow had you never seen a motorcycle in your life. More importantly, TT3D: Closer to the Edge manages this feat without watering-down the TT experience, and instead counts on strong storytelling to lure the viewer into the TT fortnight.

I’d strongly argue that the movie is required viewing for anyone going to their first Isle of Man TT, as it primes the senses to what one experiences here on the Isle. For die-hard enthusiasts of true (note the extreme use of bold and underlined font here) road racing, it is a film that is equally enjoyable for the entertainment value, not to mention Guy Martin’s almost incomprehensible banter and antics. It would get my money in the theater, which is a rarity these days, and TT3D: Closer to the Edge is an absolute purchase item for my video collection when it comes out, as it should be for you as well. Of course, don’t blame me if you end up wanting to go see the TT after you watch this film. Afterall, that was one of the original purposes of making this film.