Documentary Review: ‘Pretending I’m A Superman-The Tony Hawk Video Game Story’

Review by James Lindorf

On August 18th, Wood Entertainment will be releasing their latest documentary, “Pretending I’m A Superman The Tony Hawk Video Game Story.” Arriving two weeks before the highly anticipated remake of Tony Hawk Pro Skater (THPS), Director Ludvig Gür tells the story of skateboarding history through the lens of the sport’s greatest legend and his $1.4 billion video game series. The X-Games and Tony Hawk THPS made household names out of Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Chad Muska, Bob Burnquist, Eric Koston, and Aaron “Jaws” Homoki. They each offer valuable insight into the industry pre and post the release of the first THPS.

I only have two pet peeves when it comes to movies. The first is when they are shot so darkly that you can’t see what is going on without messing with the settings on your tv. The second is when the sound mix is off. Think of when you are watching tv, and it is the perfect volume, you can hear every bit of dialogue and the sound effects aren’t rattling your windows. Then a commercial comes on, and even though you didn’t touch anything, it’s now three times louder than it was. That is how it is watching Pretending I’m A Superman. The interviews are great, and then they cut to video game footage with some blaring Ska music over the top. Once or twice would have been fine, but it happens consistently throughout the film, and constantly adjusting the volume detracts from the ability to enjoy the movie as a whole. I watched an advanced copy of the film, which may not have been completely finished, and I hope that is the case for future audiences.

“Pretending I’m A Superman” is at best 50-50 when it comes to the mix of skateboarding history and the creation of the THPS series of games. Gür follows the sport from the skate parks of the 70s, to the backyard ramps and rise of street style in the 80s, to the meteoric rise in the 90s thanks to the X-Games and the videogames. Now, as Hawk is a fan of mentioning, the sport of skateboarding is set to make its Olympic debut. Whenever the next summer games officially get underway, that is. The love the
interviewees have for the sport, the community, and the games are palpable throughout the film.

The movie feels like it has a small case of ADD. It moves from person to person and topic to topic at a rapid-fire pace. In just a couple minutes, you can experience Tony talking about the game, then Gür cuts to Water Day of Twin Galaxies, then they jump to a member of Primus, before coming back to Tony. The pace is relentless, and if you are not paying attention, you could miss out on a lot. Some people will love “Pretending I’m A Superman,” most people will like it, a small minority may even dislike it, but no one will ever be able to say it is boring. It is a lot of fun but will not have the lasting impact of its subject.

Reflecting on “Pretending I’m A Superman” I came to the conclusion that it feels more like a unique skateboarding documentary more than an exploration of the video game. If it was indeed about the game, I think more would have been done to build excitement for future installments or encourage me to pick up the old versions again. I expected to have more than a nostalgic moment. I thought by the time credits rolled, I would be on Amazon preordering the remakes and whatever else is available. While it didn’t leave me filled with eagerness to play the game, you can do a lot worse than spending 75 minutes reliving fond memories of simpler times when pandemics were a thing you learned about in history or social studies classes.

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