Where: Imax Victoria theatre
When: Opens Friday
Rating: 2 1/2
As its title implies, Air Racers is a movie about aerobatic daredevils with a need for speed.
It's no wonder the film is narrated by Paul Walker, who had a similar obsession with speed in The Fast and the Furious.
This is one of the more inspired moves in a film that will appeal mostly to aviation buffs such as those who recently took in Victoria's Largest Little Airshow, the Victoria Radio Control Modellers Society's enjoyable high-flying event at Michell Airpark.
The aviation event that propels this new Imax documentary from directors Christian Fry and JeanJacques Mantello is considerably larger - the Reno National Championship Air Races that have been held in northern Nevada since 1949.
"Fly low, fly fast, turn left," is the motto for the event in the Valley of Speed, billed as the world's fastest motorsport race.
While Air Racers provides an up-close-and-personal look at the pilots and their magnificent flying machines competing in an event many never heard of until a place crashed into a grandstand and killed
11 people last fall, it doesn't quite reach the heights to which it aspires. It certainly has some thrilling sequences, but not to the extent you might expect from such a film.
Fry himself appears in an opening sequence that replicates a Second World War dogfight, putting into historical perspective the airshow that features modified, mostly vintage planes from the 1920s to the 1940s. The film also gives us a primer of aviation history, flashing back to the first American air race in 1909 - six years after the Wright brothers' inaugural flight.
Archival footage and factoids woven into the instructive screenplay Fry wrote with Rick Dowlearn are intercut with some impressive aerial photography. It illustrates the risks and thrills of a sport in which colourful racing planes - some almost cartoon-like - fly as low as 15 metres above ground and reach speeds of up to 800 kilometres-per-hour on a 13.6-kilometre oval course, cheered on by fans in packed bleachers.
Imagine an airborne NASCAR track.
Local audiences will especially appreciate some visually stunning footage of the Canadian Snowbirds in action.
Within a narrative that is somewhat disjointed, the film focuses on Steve Hinton Jr., 23. The rookie California pilot's goal was to perpetuate the legacy of his father, two-time Unlimited Gold champion Steve Hinton, by becoming the youngest pilot to win in that category. We also see the late Greg Poe doing his legendary and truly spectacular aerobatic manouevres.
While Air Racers is intermittently fun and fascinating, it's less likely to thrill casual viewers than hardcore aviation buffs.
Fry will be in attendance at Friday's opening-day screenings at 11 a.m., 1, 2 and 6 p.m. The director will share behind-the-scenes stories about the challenges of filming such an event, and what inspired him to realize his own dream of flying.
Tickets are available online and at the theatre box office in the Royal B.C. Museum, 675 Belleville St. email@example.com