HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: I am Bolt
HTS Overall Score:69
For those of you who don’t know, Usain Bolt is probably the single fastest sprinter to have ever lived. Born and raised in Jamaica, Bolt has been running for the better part of two decades and has made quite the name for himself with 9 Olympic gold medals and multiple world championships, as well as world record after world record for the 100 meter and 200 meter sprint. Having the name “Bolt” is amusingly accurate as the race has is basically a human lightning bolt on the track. I had the pleasure of watching him run a couple of years back and he really IS that fast. This documentary starts right around his 2015 slump and follows him through his races, back to Jamaica and into his personal life as we try to see just who the fastest man alive really is. Parts of the documentary are fantastic, and some parts tend to be a little bit slow, with the only major flaw being that it runs about 20 minutes too long in my opinion.
Like every other athlete, Usain had to start somewhere and that somewhere is back in his local Jamaican High School running team where he would run races for glory and for free lunches (the runner jokes about running to win free lunches from his best friend Nugent, who also is his manager as well as a producer on the film). Soon he was discovered as a star in the 2002 Junior World championships and got his first gold medal. Only a few short years later he was winning Olympic gold medals at a regular pace and has now acquired 9 of them in his 14 years of world class running. Bolt has gone to London, Beijing, Monaco the world over with his grizzled coach Glenn Mills, who whips the spastic runner into shape year after year.
Ironically Bolt also has quite the habit of injuring himself. Usually a year doesn’t go by that the lanky athlete doesn’t roll an ankle, sprain a knee or hurt his back. One of the main physical injuries that we get to witness in the film is Bolt twisting his ankle and finding out that he is in a heap load more trouble than he initially thought he was. Having to travel to Germany for a specialist and special surgery, Usain and his crew have to forgo some time on the track and engage in getting him back to a good standing (pun not intended) before going on. However, Usain Bolt is still the fastest man alive and even a serious injury is not about to keep him from the track and the glory of the race.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87450[/img]Usain Bolt has become an icon in the sport of racing. He is one of the few professional athletes that hasn’t had a scandal about doping (and so far has proven his innocence on that front through heavy testing) and stands as a hero for many runners. His dedication to his sport is legendary, but also he has the ability to be a bit of a grandstander and revel in the applause of the crown, imitating a lightning bolt as his stance. Co directors Gabe and Benjamin Turner employ a mixture of archival footage from races and his home training life along with broadcast and original footage to create a map of the racer’s career (although most of it is only form the last couple of years). The really good stuff tends to be the archival footage where we get to see Bolt streak to the finish line, but there is plenty of new stuff that helps delve into his home life for some goodies.
While it’s a thrilling and gushing documentary, that’s also part of the problem. Being that Bolt’s best friend and manager Nugent (NJ) is the producer for the film, he tends to paint a very glowing and gushing diatribe that really is almost saccharine sweet in its portrayal of Usain. If there are any negatives or really bad parts of his life they are easily shuffled to the side and hidden from view. The viewers will be seeing the best of the man and that sometimes feels a bit fake. The second negative aspect to “I am Bolt” is that the movie runs JUST a little bit too long. There are too many scenes that go back to his home town and we just watch him hang around. The training montages are great and the history of Usain and his Jamaican heritage is well done, but it feels like about 20 minutes could have been trimmed from the film and we would have been alright.
Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87458[/img]Like most documentaries, “I am Bolt” can be a bit of a mixed bag. However, most of this particular bag is actually quite nice. There is a copious amount of new original footage for the film and that is mainly shot with hi-tech digital cameras and we get a nice and glossy image. The rougher parts are where we have broadcast footage from years ago that is a bit lower quality, or Usain Bolt shooting handheld camera footage of himself and his coach which can breed mosquito noise and crushed blacks. For the original “new” footage the colors are bright and natural, and the documentary has that smooth motion look to it that comes from shooting 30fps. Blacks are crisp and clean and the fine detail is very revealing.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87466[/img]The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is more of a glorified 3.1 track than anything. Most of the material is pushed to the front sound stage (even the cheering of the crowd in the archival shots), but we do get a flicker or two from the surround channels when the musical score is at play (although just barely a flicker really). LFE is fairly restrained and really tends to come out and play when the crowd is cheering, but overall the track is quite pleasing. Dialog is strong and well replicated, and the effects in the main channel keep it a fairly lively, albeit front heavy, experience.
• The Making of "I am Bolt"
“I am Bolt” is a fun documentary about one of the most iconic runners in modern times. Funny, poignant and witty, the look at Usain Bolt is a great watch for those of you who love informative documentaries. I do admit that it runs a bit long and seems overly gushy at times, but that still doesn’t take away a whole lot from the film. The look back through the archival footage and new footage alike flesh out the character of Bolt and gives us some insight into what really makes him tick. The audio and video for this DVD sadly aren’t HD, but they are more than capable for a 480p DVD although I would have liked to have seen a few more extras. Worth it as a fun watch.
Starring: Pele, Neyman, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt
Directed By: Benjamin and Gabe Turner
Written By: Benjamin and Gabe Turner
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 92 Minutes
DVD Release Date: December 6th, 2016
Buy I am Bolt on DVD at Amazon
Recommendation: Enjoyable Watch
More about Mike