Published in Whitelines Magazine Issue 88, January 2010
JOLLY ROGER – PIRATES £25.00
European crew The Pirates have been making films for the best part of a decade now. With each offering, the standard of riding is raised and the production values improve, to the point where this anarchic group of mates are now one of the biggest production outfits on the continent, and work with some of the biggest names in European snowboarding. Jolly Roger is the crew’s seventh film.
Who’s in it?
Juuso Laivisto, Gigi Ruf, Emeric Front, Hans Ahlund, Dimitri Fesenko, Markus Keller, Elias Elhardt, Danny Larsen, Sani Alibabic, Stephan Maurer, Tyler Chorlton, Marko Grilc, Drew Fuller, Kalle Ohlson, Marco Feichtner, Erik Haugo, Bjorn Hartwger, Teo Konttinen, OSA, Jocki Koffler and others.
Juuso Laivisto and Marco Feichtner’s sections scream solid steeze, Elias Elhardt really ups his game and Teo Konttinen throws down a part worthy of a world-class jibber. In the end though it’s token yank Drew Fuller’s part which really takes the biscuit.
You get the impression calling this film Jolly Roger is a statement of intent by the Pirates. In the past, they’ve largely avoided Pirate puns with their titles and when they have used them – as in the case of 2007’s Walk the Plank – it’s been to draw attention to a particularly special effort. There can only be a finite number of Pirate puns after all, and they wouldn’t want to use them all up too quickly would they? So by calling this film Jolly Roger, the Pirates are nailing their colours to the mast (yes, that pun was intended). It comes as something of a disappointment therefore, when you realise that this film isn’t absolutely spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad film by a long shot. For starters, it’s well put together – the editing is slick, the section dividers use inventive graphics and the music choice is nice and varied. The riding is also impressive. Feichtner and Laivisto are super-smooth, Teo Konttinen’s street part is awesome and Marco Grilc’s double backflips are as crowd-pleasing as ever. Tyler Chorlton flies the flag admirably for the UK, with his instantly-recognisable double stiffy spins and Drew Fuller’s part is truly world-class. But for every section like Fuller’s there’s a slightly average set of spins thrown down by a forgettable Scandi. And the footage of Gigi, though stylish as always, suffers from playing second fiddle to his section in Neverland. All this would be forgiven if the film was injected with some of the personality that the Pirates used to specialise in, but it seems they’ve stopped including that sort of thing as they head for the big league. Overall, this is a slick, sick showcase for European riding, it’s just not quite the world-class film it wants to be.
THE B – BURTON £27.00
What can you say about Burton that hasn’t been said already? As the biggest snowboard company on the planet, Burton has always been able to employ the best snowboarders to ride for them, and then pay the best freelance moviemakers to film them doing it. Recently, the company decided to stick its fingers into yet another pie by creating its own filming division – hiring former MDP director Brad Kremer. The B is the first effort by this in-house team.
Who’s in it?
Pretty much the whole Burton team. So that’s Shaun White, Kevin Pearce, Keegan Valaika, Terje Haakonsen, Jussi Oksanen, Nico Muller, Jeremy Jones, Fredi Kalbermatten, Mads Jonsson, Kazu Kokubo, Mason Aguirre, the Mitriani brothers, Sani Alibabic… we could go on but you get the idea.
Keegan Valaika’s opener is an all-round banger, Nicolas Muller’s section is as epic as you’d expect and the team love-in sesh on the big B at the end is amazing.
Burton were billing this one as “a movie of epic proportions”, and we have to say, the result lives up to the hype. This is snowboard film-making of the highest order, from the quality of the camerawork to the slickness of the editing. Of course, with a budget like Burton’s that might be expected, but it really does stand out from the crowd. And then there’s the riding. Keegan Valaika gets the honour of opening the proceedings, and boy does he rise to the challenge – who knew this incredible jib practitioner could straight-line an Alaskan face like Jeremy Jones? Shaun White’s part consists of the private halfpipe session where he learnt his double-corks (see WL85 for the full low-down on this session). Muller’s section sees him throwing huge inverted 540-Japans off near vertical hits in Haines, Alaska. Jibbing Jeremy cranks out his one-footed tail whips over some gnarly-looking street gaps, and Jussi does… well, what Jussi does best – make snowboarding look fun. In fact, the whole film does a pretty good job of making snowboarding look like a damn good time, with the team session on the massive B-shaped obstacle at the end throwing up some classic moments. You could complain that this film is too slick, but you could never accuse it of not having soul. There’s the inventive structure, which sees traditional sections abandoned for the most part in favour of filming sessions on particular spots or obstacles, and there’s the abundance of brief lifestyle shots and silly, piss-around tricks. And despite all these shots, the film still manages to pack all the action into just under 38 minutes. Which of course helps ensure that every trick is a banger. Yes, Burton have a lot of money, but damn, do they know how to use it!