3 Great Options For A Wet Sunday
Laid out in front of me I have 3 fantastic ways to pass the time:
- The hot off the press TT-3D film
- Duke Video’s annual TT review DVD, this one of the 2011 event
- And for those who prefer to actually be able to see the scenery as it passes, Overland magazine.
So it’s TV on for possibly the most talked about bike racing film of this decade.
TT-3D, Closer To The Edge.
Before the disc gets loaded let me explain that I didn’t go and see this at the cinema – I had planned on doing so because my disappointment at I, Superbiker needed assuaging. Sadly it wasn’t to be and to say I’ve been looking forward to this release is an understatement. I’ve even got a 3D player to watch it on, yes I’m that keen.
The film reviews give you the impression that it is centred on Guy Martin, and I would say yes it is but that’s not to say it is a film about the eccentric Yorkshireman. My opinion from watching it now is that half the film is about Guy, and the rest is filled with the other great riders and support guys involved in the Tourist Trophy race on the Isle of Man every year.
2010 is the year featured in this documentary, the year Guy rode for Wilson Craig Honda in the retro suit and minimal bike markings. He’ll remember that year for other reasons too but I won’t spoil it for anyone who isn’t up to speed on how that meeting ended.
Guy is a character of epic proportions, sometimes funny, sometimes surly, sometimes humble and sometimes arrogant – all perhaps within the same five minutes. It isn’t hard to see why the film makers picked him; for as nice as John McGuiness and Ian Hutchinson are they couldn’t carry the film as Guy does.
He’s not everyone’s cup of tea but he’s as close to a celebrity star as the TT racing is going to get.
The film does a fantastic job at taking the viewer through what is involved in preparing a front running team, bikes and rider for this prestigious event which is perhaps the pinnacle event in the road racing calendar. It is a film which non-bikers will find interesting and captivating because of it’s character and honesty – this is no rushed and heavily edited compilation like I, Superbiker is – there is room for thought and contrast between footage of bikes hurtling down the narrow streets at 180mph+.
It is not an event review type disk (as is the Duke disc up next), no, this is more of a story. You meet many people in the build up from engine builders to rider’s wives and team owners and all share an unbelievable trust and love for this event.
As the races unfold and some riders win while the others lose you can’t help but be drawn in to their elation or disappointment because the film allows you to invest a little in the process too – you begin to care. No mean feat for a bike racing film judging by recent offerings.
However, it isn’t all champagne and back slapping because there is always death. The TT runs every year with the full understanding that people will lose their lives on the island during that fortnight and 2010 was no exception.
I’m not trying to glory it up or offer opinion about whether it should or shouldn’t be allowed – a debate summed up perfectly by an American tourist in the film – but we can’t ignore it. You will see accidents a plenty in the film although obviously the very worst of it is shielded from us. You will feel the effects of tragedy too because no-one involved is immune to it and all do it knowing the risks.
One racer’s widow is interviewed in the film and it’s a beautifully frank and uplifting element. I defy anyone not to be impressed by the attitudes displayed.
My hope for this film was that it not only provides entertainment but also some vindication for those involved (and no-one gets rich out of the TT really) and for the event itself. To lose this event on safety grounds would remove one of the last few hardcore races left where men and women can get up close and personal with the scenery and crowds. That would be a sad day for bikers, for racers and for the island itself.
Closer To The Edge is a triumph because not only does it provide that vindication it does so in some style.
The pre-release disk reviewed here was a 2D DVD rather than Blu-ray and thus wasn’t 3D, however that was quickly forgotten because the camera work and production on this is simply breathtaking. Yes you can tell which scenes are there for the 3D to work as a slight depth is detectable but all it does is ‘pop’ the bike away from the background in a very pleasing manner. The colours, the slo-mo camera work and general level of photography is all very high although it has been commented that some of the onboard footage shows a lot of road but that gives a sensation of speed and I didn’t mind it at all.
I can only salivate at the prospect of 3D Blu-ray quality.
LB Verdict – 9/10 without seeing the 3D effect quality. It is simply the best racing documentary I’ve seen since The Doctor, The Tornado and The Kentucky Kid. Buy it and watch it over and over then book your tickets to next year’s event. You’ll want to.
Find it on Amazon priced just under £15 for the Blu-ray and under £11 for the DVD version. See http://www.tt3dmovie.com/ for the official site.
Duke Video’s TT 2011 Review DVD
So out with Closer To The Edge and in with the more traditional review type which Duke Video produce every year for pretty much every motorcycling race held around the World (or so it seems).
However, before you yawn and think it’s something for pure enthusiasts just hold the bus a minute. This is a monsterous DVD package right here.
There is only the smallest of story told and of plot to unfold because it’s racing – bikes go around in circles and the fastest wins right? What we though is possibly the most in-depth review of what happened on the island in 2011 that can be practically squeezed onto DVD discs.
New trackside camera angles show different perspectives to the usual coverage while it is always fun watching the helicopter trying to keep up with the Superbikes up the mountain. Slow motion footage is relatively new and anyone who loved what they saw on the BBC’s coverage of the event will love this disk because there’s more!
Since we were talking about Guy Martin in the previous review, 2011 saw him signed for the Relentless Suzuki squad on the all black machine while John McGuiness was riding the all new Honda Legends official factory team instead of the usual HM Plant or Padgetts Honda machines of the past. After a disappointing 2010 John’s 2011 was more like his usual winning seasons and his lack of dramas as always does him credit.
The disc contains Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races plus two sidecar races and of course the Senior TT race (The Race) on this single disk release. All the races are captured in full with enough helicopter, road side and on board angles to make you dizzy as you try and work out how they do what they do.
My particular favourites are the onboard shots of one rider catching another, they get so close! Inspiring stuff.
Regular commentators Steve Parrish and James Whitham are joined by Steve Plater although one person missing is the unlikely hero of 2010 Ian Hutchinson – he nearly lost his leg in a BSB crash shortly after the 2010 TT and was still in recovery when the 2011 island races came around.
Extras include a lap with Mick Doohan, Nicky Hayden and Cal Crutchlow plus a look at Yamaha’s 50th Anniversary celebrations as well a special feature with Murray Walker.
This disk is 240 minutes long. That’s a whole lot of material to sift through and represents fantastic value for money. All of it is of the highest quality and for any racing fan this is a must have. Available from Duke Video and others at an RRP of £24.99.
LB Verdict: 10/10. You get exactly what you expect from this and more, much more. Breathtaking breadth and quality abound.
Right, so that’s the high-octane TV stuff out of the way, now let’s relax with some quality reading in the form of Overland magazine.
Overland magazine is run by a nice Irish fellow called Paddy Tyson, himself an adventure rider of some standing and is both new and different. This £6 magazine is more of a periodical rather than a traditional £4 newsagent type magazine, something which gives it an edge over the usual dross both in depth and in quality.
What you get is a pretty square format mag which is slightly shorter in height than Bike but about about 15mm wider with what appears to be more pages with far less adverts (although I hope to see more adverts in the future – this is not a cheap venture).
Overland issue 2 was release in late November and follows the tradition set by issue 1 in the summer; that of detailed, well written articles accompanied by at worst ‘good’ and at best simply breathtaking imagery.
Paddy is a traveller himself and therefore has the credentials to call on the most respected adventure and overland riders in the world so we have contributions for the father of adventure motorcycling Ted Simon himself, the author of Jupiter’s Travels which has inspired countless people to get out there including Charlie and Ewan.
Looking at the first two issues what we get is a mix of already published material in the form of excerpts, and self contained pieces which have either appeared on the net before or are written specifically for the magazine.
Examples of the former would be extracts from the nicest guy in the business, Sam Manicom and his multi-book series charting his 8 year travels; and perhaps the oldest adventurer out there – the delightfully grizzled and my personal favourite biker Simon Gandolfi who in 2006 travelled from New York to the southern most tip of South America on a Honda 125. Most recently he did the trip again, in reverse this time and it is from this book we have an extract in issue 2.
Of the less well known material in the magazine we have articles from Paddy himself on an Icelandic trip, some excellent photography featured in an article about a Scottish tour by Sheila Kiggins and an interesting trip to Morocco by Frederic Jeorge accompanied by his mother as pillion! Not everyone’s ideal travelling companion and you’ll have to read it yourself to find out how it went. Plus there’s a feature on a diesel engined Triumph Tiger.
There are other articles too, these are just some of issue 2’s highlights (15 articles actually). All are printed on glossy ‘proper’ paper with real weight and quality to each and every page. It really makes the usual mags look like student union productions.
Online there is a great Overland website which details out the contributors and more info about the magazine including sample copies via a rather nifty online magazine reader thingy. All very well put together.
To sum up then, Overland is a very well put together, high quality and interesting periodical. It feels like it should be more like £12 an issue rather than half that, and I thoroughly recommend you subscribe and support Paddy in his efforts to bring inspiration and enlightenment to us all.
LB Verdict - 10/10. A magnificent achievement which everyone with a desire to see beyond their view should read.