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:: Lord Of Dogtown

California’s “ghetto by the sea” is the setting for The Lords of Dogtown, the story of revolutionary skateboarders, the Z-Boys. The Z-Boys are Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk), Stacey Peralta (John Robinson) and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch), a group of teenage surfers from the working class streets of “Dogtown”. Made famous by the award-winning documentary, Dogtown and Z-Boys, the Z-Boys transformed the sport of skateboarding with their exciting and attacking surf-style.

The film follows their journey, as they go from a tight-knit group of young skaters to a divided and competitive group of professionals. Needless to say, as the group becomes successful, egos get out of control and the once solid friendships dissolve. The film’s strength is its energy. Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) captures the pace and exuberance of the sport which propels the Z-Boys through the steep, concrete streets of Dogtown, to the superficial and drug-fuelled world of professional skateboarding.

Unfortunately, the characters are one-dimensional. The Z-Boys come across as obnoxious ratbags, making it hard for the audience to empathise with them. The female characters in the film are little more than hot-pant-clad groupies devoid of personality. The film’s saving grace is Heath Ledger's great performance as the always drunk but charismatic, surf-shop owner, Skip Engblom. Ledger ensures Skip is the most believable and complex character of the film.

Although Lords of Dogtown is fun and captures the feel of 1970s youth/skate culture well, it fails to appeal to a mainstream audience.