Adrenaline Ride (Time Life) Review
That this presents itself as, "The best ever collection of extreme sports action!" isn't really saying very much. Looked at in the context of Adrenaline Ride, the Old Spice adverts from the seventies, which featured much use of Carmina Burana, are classic extreme sports action, with that lone surfer finding an echo in the slow-motion action presented here. Waves roll over surfers, the sunlight glinting off the sea looks beautiful and at least a little part of you will think that the hours of preparation may, in some small way, be worthwhile. The seconds that pass whilst in the zone, so to speak, may well be exhilarating but then one thinks of the hours that would have to be spent in the company of surfers and it's suddenly a lot less appealing. Like how hanging out with teenagers is less appealing...or being castrated.
And speaking of which, bollocks to extreme sport. Or at least what Time Life have presented here as extreme sports. Given the mouth-breathers who clog up the nation's pavements, skateboarding is as much an extreme sport as pissing while there's far too much climbing to be watched here for an entire life. Indeed, I can't help but think I've seen enough to spare three or four others the sight of the lycra-clad arse of a free solo climber and thus will gratefully accept payment in kind from anyone who feels themselves disobliged to watching this. As for Motocross, if your only memory of Kick Start is watching two St John's Ambulance men falling into a hole then it's unlikely this is going to be atop your 'most wanted'. Similarly, watching kayaking/white water rafting isn't quite as exciting when you know it's not going to end with buggery.
The problem - narrowing it down, for the sake of this review, to one - is that there's already far too much of this stuff already. DEF II - remember that? - used to regularly feature some kinds of extreme sports and both MTV and T4 have given over much airtime to Bam Margera, Tony Hawk and Cory Nastazio. There may even be satellite channels devoted to round-the-clock coverage of windsurfing, although the thought of actually watching any of it makes an all-night Babestation session suddenly sound very appealing. Frankly, there's enough skateboarding in the few minutes of the video of Sonic Youth's 100% for most of the population to get by with - and a better song than anything here - whilst Aloha Scooby Doo! has better surfing action from Shaggy, Scooby and the Wiki Tiki than any of the five episodes of Adrenaline Ride included here.
The very lowest point in amongst almost 200 minutes of them is Waterfall Climbing, which is exactly what you might think it is. Shot very cleverly to suggest someone climbing a raging waterfall, there's no small amount of disappointment when, as it ends, the waterfall is revealed to be not much more than a fairly tricky weir. No Niagra Falls this and certainly nothing to concern anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves stuck in a barrel. Waterfall...barrel. Grizzly bears...skateboarder. Navy attack boats...surfers. Why the very mention of those words so close together brings the thought of real extreme sports to mind, ones that might raise the dead such is the excitement that they offer.
Looking as though it works best in 1.33:1 - if RGB can have control signals that automatically switch a television's aspect ratio, I can see no good reason why HDMI can't - this doesn't come with a very good transfer. As you might expect given the material on the discs, there's a lot of rapid cutting but the transfers suffers from artefacts between edits. Although always in the picture, there are a few times when this is very noticeable and with the rest of Adrenaline Ride never looking much better than stock sports footage. The two audio tracks aren't that much better with the DD55.1 being the best out of a rather poor pair. Unfortunately, any actual location recordings tends to get drowned out by the dreadful hip-hop/metal soundtrack, which is sure to attract the ear of many a fourteen-year-old boy. Who, though, is almost certainly going to be let down by the lack of female nudity.
Mayhem (23m26s): Featuring all of the best smashes from the five episodes, as well as the outtakes, this extra is much more entertaining than anything in the main feature. Almost twenty-five minutes of tumbles, falls and crashes that actually do look painful, particularly any of those that involve motorbikes, there still isn't one that will have you saying anything but, "Well...you deserved that!" to the television screen.
But then, near the end of this collection, the graceful action is interrupted by a surfer getting whacked full in the face by a surfboard flying across his path. Regardless of whatever the particular source of the sub-Limp Bizkit metal on the soundtrack, it will be drowned out by the laughter that comes with a punishment long overdue. There's not enough blood shed in Adrenaline Ride to compensate for the hour-after-hour of dreary sports action on these two discs but this one moment goes some way to making up for having to watch the rest of it. Some way...but very far from what this audience demanded because, like the Romans, I wanted heads to roll. If not of Christians, then at least of skydivers, skiers and - yes, them again - surfers.