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New technology exploits kids in Ride for Your Life

Ride for Your Life

Directed by Bob Bejan.

Written by Bob Bejan and Tracy Fullerton.

Starring Adam West, Betty Buckley, Tyrone Henderson, Matthew Lillard, and Amy

Hargreaves.

Sony Copley Place.

By Rob Wagner
Staff Reporter

Ride for Your Life is a bad early attempt at what might turn into an Orwellian nightmare. The third of an unfortunately growing series of interactive movies, Ride shows signs of Bradburyesque entertainment.

Ride presents itself as more of a video game than a movie. The plot is not unlike that of many video games. The earth is on the brink of invasion by an alien race, and if the audience does not win the game, the aliens will enslave all of humanity. This plot would be fine for a video game, because in a video game, the player might blast the aliens to oblivion or else lose the game.

In Ride for Your Life, however, the audience is forced to make a additional leap of faith: Whether the aliens invade the earth and enslave all of humanity depends on the outcome of a bicycle race. This race is between the two fastest bicycle messengers in Manhattan, one of whom is allied with the aliens.

Not even a stunning performance by Adam West (Batman from the 1960's TV series of the same name) could save this flick. West brilliantly portrays Monty Oliver, President of BigCorp., the world's largest communications company, who has a vested interest in the outcome of this bicycle race.

The principle of an interactive movie, in which the audience decides the outcome of the movie, has some problems. One problem with this film is that it has a PG rating, so the voting options the audience has to choose from do not include the popular choices of beheadings or murders. Instead, the choices involve only left turn versus right turn, or showing Adam West versus showing some boring character. Another problem is that it is just plain bad.

Whether all of humanity is enslaved also depends on active participation by the audience. At times, the audience has to press as many buttons as possible to score the most points possible. These points help toward saving the earth. Attempting to win the game, a viewer often has a tired arm.

The method used for tallying up the votes is the raw number of votes. Thus, a voter may vote several times on the same question to emphasize his choice. This utilitarian method, where intense voters press buttons frantically, results in several tired arms.

The technology also includes a new feature: that of a Most Influential Voter. The computer surveys who has voted the most times, and that voter is given total control of the movie at a few points in the movie. With audience members vying for that position, they again have tired arms.

"What makes Ride for Your Life so different is that [it is] unlike a branching interactive movie where the audience simply chooses which door to open or which path to choose," says Bob Bejan, director and co-writer. "Ride delivers a true cinematic game - something that you have to play and get better at to win." Some viewers, however, might seek entertainment, and might not care about winning the game.

The technology, however, is not bad. The computer that controls the film is impressive. There is no delay between the voting and the outcome of the voting. Once the votes are cast, the result appears on the screen immediately. The sooner the audience could see Adam West, the better.

The target audience for this film is definitely young. One happy young viewer commented, "It was pretty cool, especially when we got to push the buttons." Perhaps that viewer would be just as entertained by a Kevorkian machine.