Motor Away

Marla Streb braves the science of speed (and another serious injury) in Top Speed.

We had no idea how much trouble Sandra Bullock's career was in until we heard about Top Speed coming soon to a theater near us. The final film in the trilogy of Speed action flicks, Top Speed takes place when, on their honeymoon, Annie Porter (Bullock) and Alex (played by a third, B-grade brunet actor) are trapped on a golf cart rigged with bombs to explode if the speed drops below 15 mph. Will they jump off? Oh, no, they're riding this death trap to its ultimate destruction (or nearest man-made lake).

Wait, it's an IMAX film about science? No wonder the full title is actually MacGillivray Freeman's Top Speed. Running daily at the Omni Theater in Fort Worth, this film's B-list star is Tim Allen. The former star of Home Improvement, working with animated pal Zippy the Hummingbird, narrates and stars in several segments that explain different aspects of the science behind speed and how man (not the fastest animal on the planet) attains new records of speed through different means.

Set to a soundtrack by Mozart, these segments feature five individuals known for their advancements in different ways of obtaining speed. First, race car driver Lucas Luhr takes the audience on laps around the racetrack with a view from the front seat. Join him as he tries to win the Petit Le Mans in Atlanta at speeds of more than 200 mph. Second is Marion Jones, a five-time Olympics medalist in running. Cameras put the viewers literally in her shoes on a quiet track as she reaches up to 23 mph on foot. Then comes mountain bike rider Marla Streb, who has broken 10 bones and experienced four serious concussions while speeding on her two tires. The camera shows what it's like to be sitting in Streb's seat and holding the handlebars as she propels herself and her bike off a cliff. Next, car designer Stephen Murkett explains how he designs high-performance cars and tests them in extreme conditions using devices such as a wind tunnel. Finally, 11-year-old blind bobsledder Blaise Bryant talks about guiding his craft without vision and his dream of competing in the Olympics.


MacGillivray Freeman's Top Speed continues through September 4 at the Omni Theater at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, 1501 Montgomery St. Tickets are $5 to $7. Call 817-255-9300.

Along the way, Allen tries out each person's craft, showing how difficult the pursuit of speed can be (especially in comparison with a speedy li'l hummingbird). Besides showing up his human counterpart, Zippy also explains different elements of science, including G forces, centrifugal forces, traction and sheer human concentration. Then there are the parts that can't be measured by science: fear, the influence of adrenaline and sheer human tenacity. Top Speed also attempts to figure out why humans want to keep going faster and faster and the extreme ways they'll try to do that. That's a tall order for a film only 45 minutes long. Too bad Speed 2: Cruise Control wasn't that short.

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