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Senna review
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Brazilian legend gets the documentary treatment

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Formula 1 is the ultimate sport. First, you have to have a brilliant athlete, with superior reflexes, an ability to endure high levels of stress, a creativity that allows him to outsmart his opponents, and absolutely no fear in the face of mortal danger. Second, you have to have a team of genius engineers who have just a few weeks to design machines that are as sophisticated and advanced as the latest military fighter jets. Finally, the athlete has to be able to work with this team of engineers to adjust the racing vehicle to a level of perfect harmony between man and machine! All of these elements, and a touch of luck, have to come together to win a Formula 1 championship.

Ayrton Senna made all of this look easy by winning 3 Formula 1 championships in 4 years. This film shows us many different Formula 1 characters, from fellow drivers, to media types, to team members, all praising the talent of the young Brazilian driver who dominated the sport in the early 1990s. We are shown various clips as Senna rises up from Go Kart racing, to his early days of over-performing in a weak F1 car, and onward to his move to McLaren Honda in his prime. This is where the story gets interesting, as every F1 fan knows. Senna's rivalry with the other great champion of that era, Alain Prost, is examined in great detail, and thankfully Prost himself is allowed to speak in his own defense about their many clashes.

Despite the amazing subject matter - Senna is easily one of the most loved athletes who ever lived! - the film really doesn't flow at all. Unfortunately, instead of simply allowing the events to unfold visually, we have to constantly watch several talking heads explain every event in the greatest detail. Watching Senna gracefully fly around a racetrack, and then interrupting this for two or three people to explain Senna's driving skills, is really the kind of thing you would expect from a TV production. For a feature film, you would think there was plenty of time to edit together a bit more amazing archival footage, and a bit less talking head footage. It's not that these experts aren't impressive, big name F1 insiders, but it is simply inherently boring to watch a person sit in a chair and talk.

Overall, the story of Senna's amazing career, his epic battles with the "villain" Alain Prost, and of course the drama of his horrific death in front of 100s of millions of TV viewers, is all plenty of material to make this documentary fascinating. Just don't expect anything more visually innovative than a typical athlete feature from any sports network pre-game show.

Added by Film Ninja
7 years ago on 21 June 2011 15:41

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