Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story may be a crash course on the popular gaming staple, but it’s also about the waffling relevancy of skateboarding – a journey through its cultural ebb and flow – during the sport’s ongoing search for innovation.
Since the 80s, skateboarding would accrue attention through videos and shows, which eventually led to the X Games. What the documentary teaches is that the industry would desperately latch onto these pillars of interest in hopes that the sport wouldn’t fade away by the end of the decade. One of these pillars, and what could be argued as the most important influence for skateboarding, was the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game series. The first video game, originally released for the Playstation and then later ported to Nintendo and other Sony systems, fulfilled its aspirations to generate a newfound interest for the sport from the general public. But, the creators couldn’t have predicted the game’s supreme significance in pop culture and as a literal game-changer.
Being shy of 70-minutes, Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story seems like it sells itself short. However, it’s clear that director Ludvig Gür is aware of the amount of material he has to work with; resulting in a documentary that may be short, but doesn’t overstay its welcome by repeating itself to gain extra minutes
As expected, and understandably, the doc also milks the video game’s nostalgia factor. Usually through the inclusion of video clips or samples from the game’s iconic soundtracks. The interviews with various skateboarders that have been featured in the games (including Chad Muska, Eric Boston, Jamie Thomas, Rodney Mullen, and Steve Caballero) are a lot of fun, as well as interviews with game developers who, at the time, were also searching for their own relevancy. These segments give the audience different individual perspectives as well as more comprehension of how these lighthearted games had the power to revitalize someone’s career (including established musicians featured on the soundtrack).
Ludvig Gür’s questioning is fairly standard issue though. I wish he probed a bit harder when his subjects were talking about the later, wilder additions to the Pro Skater series. An opportunity to challenge Tony Hawk is passed up, for instance. Hawk went into the first game wanting to make an easy game for anybody to pick up, only later to help develop a more hands-on, complicated model with a replica skateboard. I suspect Gür probably didn’t want to tread touchy topics, but this becomes troublesome when it affects his potential as a documentarian.
Still, Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story is unlike any skateboarding documentary I’ve seen considering it covers new material I had never seen delved into before. And just like the video game series, anybody can jump into this and have fun.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie