Just as the film started rolling, the Phi Centre theatre, filled with nearly 100 people, all moaned at the exact same time in complete unison after the sound went missing from the opening scene of the movie. In the end, it proved to be a minor mishap in what turned out to be a really successful night. Funny, because the exact same thing can be said about pro skater, Danny Way. Just like the Phi Centre’s rocky beginning, Danny too faced hardships early on in his childhood and career, but like all true warriors, he overcame everything thrown his way. Director, Jacob Rosenberg captures this essence perfectly in his sports docu-drama “Waiting For Lightning” a very personal and emotional look at the skateboard legend’s career and troubled childhood, all while he prepares to jump the Great Wall of China.
The major reason why “Waiting For Lightning” sets itself apart from all the other skateboard films is its strong plot, seriously focusing on the emotional turmoil that Danny had to endure throughout his childhood and adolescence. With interviews from his immediate family, childhood friends and pro athletes (like Tony Hawk, Travis Pastrana and Matt Hoffman), Rosenberg is able to paint a painful but beautiful portrait of how Danny used his love for skateboarding to numb the pain of losing the people closest to him. Rosenberg goes back and forth from Danny’s life-changing moments to scenes in China, where he and his crew count down the days until the culmination of all his hard work – making the jump across the Great Wall of China.
It’s a tough thing to do, to keep the story emotional but at the same time, keeping it gnarly and highly paced for the die-hard skate fans, but Rosenberg really seems to strike a balance between the two, creating a smooth cohesion of styles. Throwback scenes of Danny and his buds ripping it up on old-school
skateboards really raises the action to an awesome level, but everything is brought back down to earth when more dramatic themes are introduced.
The only gripe on “Waiting For Lightning” is that we just don’t hear enough of Danny’s past from, well.. Danny himself! It’s cool to hear Tony Hawk talk about certain competitions, and quite emotional hearing his mom talk about his relationship with his father, but the emotional depth would increase tenfold if we were to hear Danny’s thoughts on his own experiences.
Even though we don’t get to hear Danny spew out his heart and soul, Rosenberg uses his material masterfully to create a high-action, emotional piece of work. “Waiting For Lightning” follows one of the greatest skaters of all time through his emotional battles, and to the pinnacle moment of his career. Danny Way has made a living by catching huge airs, but it wouldn’t be as big of a jump to say that “Waiting For Lightning” could be one of the better skateboard films out there today.