NASCAR 3D (6/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

This is basically style in place of substance. Itís a documentary of the NASCAR tour promoting auto racing. But itís made in the IMAX format (an 8 story high screen!) and 3D! The last 3D film I saw was Bwana Devil (1952) in which Robert Stack cavorted in a forgettable film that had knives thrown at the audience. In 1952 the glasses you had to wear were plastic and paper.

Now, the glasses you wear are like helmets. But I couldnít see much difference in the 3D. Letís face it, this is a gimmick. Very few would go to see a 47 minute documentary on NASCAR when they can watch the races every weekend on TV, so they glimmixed it up with a huge screen and 3D and, viola! a built in audience!

The best part of this film is the opening, which is shot with the police chasing a í49 Ford driven by two moonshiners through the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is based on history because first generation NASCAR driver Junior Johnson was a whiskey runner who became a racing legend, winning 50 NASCAR stock car racing titles. The Moonshiners get away but NASCAR was born because the moonshiners built cars that could outrun police cars. In an ďinĒ scene the "actors" portraying the policemen chasing the moonshiners turn out to be Mike Helton, President of NASCAR and Gary Nelson, NASCARís Managing Director of Competition. But nobody explains this. If you see the film cold without reading this, or some other review, youíd never know it.

Thereís some racing in this, but not a lot. We see NASCAR cars being built and lots of shots of big racing tracks and losta people (up to 135,000) and lotsa noise and a few shots of races taken from the cars themselves. But we see this every weekend on TV! The only difference here is that itís in 3D and the 3D becomes commonplace after about 15 minutes. The obligatory knife-throwing-at-the-audience scene from Bwana Devil is transformed into a tire that comes off a racing car that comes out into the audience. Even though I was expecting it and saw it coming, I still flinched.

This is a manipulative film, nothing more than an advertisement for NASCAR. However, I think itís worth seeing because of the 3D. But had it been a minute longer than 47 minutes, it would have been too long.

March 5, 2004

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