Video games do an excellent job of of creating nostalgia. They take people back to a certain time in their lives and do an excellent job of bringing back memories. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series is one of the most popular video games franchises of all time. Its appeal crossed over to mainstream audiences. The name one is enough to bring a smile to people’s faces.
Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story is a documentary about the titular video games. The film shows the impact of the game on the sport and those involved with its making. It also shows how a video game can change the world. It is not often that video game documentaries discuss the positive effects games had on culture. Often, they are about government hand wringing and unknowing parents clutching their pearls. The countless segments about video game violence and its effect in children is a great example.
Pretending I’m a Superman almost takes the opposite approach. It is not so much about finding the good video games can do. In this particular case, it is more about timing. The documentary discusses how Pro Skater captured people’s imaginations. Skateboarding had been around for decades. However, it’s popularity was always inconsistent. Hawk helped bring the sport back into the public consciousness.
The effects were long reaching. The game not only reignited an interest in skateboarding, it influenced a future generation. Pretending I’m a Superman does a great job of showing the influence of the game through interviews with many pro skaters. These are the standard interviews found in documentaries; they just have more meaning here. This includes an interesting segment on inclusion thanks to Elissa Steamer.
One of the most memorable things about the Pro Skater games were the soundtracks. The music was perfect for grinding in the park or trying to hit a 900. It is not an exaggeration to say the games influenced the musical tastes of those who played. Which is why it is ironic the parts of Pretending I’m a Superman dealing with the soundtrack may be the least impactful. There are definitely some interesting tidbits. And the documentary makes a strong argument for the game introducing Southern California punk to the masses. These moments usually seemed shoehorned in and do not flow as smoothly as the rest of the film, however.
Documentaries about video games have a tendency to get stale. The problem is no matter how loved a game may be, the documentarian seem to only concentrate on a small range of topics. These are often the ideas that have often been visited. Pretending I’m a Superman: The Story of the Tony Hawk Video Game Story is a well rounded doc that never wears thin.