Published in Whitelines Magazine Issue 93, December 2010
THE STORMING 3.5* (STANDARD FILMS)
Standard Films are big dogs in the world snowboard film-making, having been there pretty much from the start. They produced the legendary TB series during the 90s, and have kept putting out high-class films ever since. The Storming is their 20th film.
WHO’S IN IT?
Torstein Horgmo, Eiki Helgason, Xavier de le Rue, Lonnie Kauk, Ryan Tienne, Will Lavigne, Sammy Luebke, Kazu Kokubo, Halldor Helgason, Raewyn Reid, Erin Comstock, Leanne Pelosi, Hanna Beaman and Kimmy Fasani.
Sammy Luebke’s opener, Xavier de le Rue’s balls out big mountain lines and both Helgason brothers mixing up double corks into powder with insane street-rail madness. Oh, and Torstein is just off the hook.
Given Standard’s illustrious history, it’s not surprising that their movies attract some of the world’s best riders and generate a lot of media attention year after year. But while overall their back catalogue is pretty much unrivalled, last year’s movie felt ever so slightly robotic. The rider list made it look a little bit like a Monster team movie, rather than a properly independent production. Seeing that this year’s film is also sponsored by the energy drink brand made me slightly apprehensive. On the plus side, the riding is absolutely insane once again. Sammy Luebke’s opener show shim hauling-ass down Alaskan spines right on the very edge of control; the Helgason brothers both rinse out, destroying urban rails and backcountry kickers in similar style (it definitely shows that they’ve been riding together a lot recently); the girl’s section, though a little bit lumped together and brief, showcases some cutting edge urban stuff; Kazu’s section, concentrating on his Olympic ‘disgrace’ is as cool as you would expect; and Torstein, whose triple-cork closes the movie, is also sick and stylish. But while all of this is rad, you do get the feeling that the fi lm lacks a certain soulfulness. Xavier dele Rue’s part, as incredible as it is, feels a little bit like it’s been shoe-horned in just to tick the free ride box, and it’s obvious that the focus of the film lies with park and rail riding. In fact, everything about the movie, from the soundtrack (metal to dub step by way of hip-hop) to the computer game editing style, screams that it’s trying to win over the kids. It’s definitely impressive, with slick production values and non-stop action, but a bit clinical. What happened to the fabled Standard soul?
NOW/HERE 4* (ABSINTHE)
It’s odd to think that just over a decade ago, Absinthe were a bunch of Euro upstarts filming local riders with very little budget. These days they can cherry-pick riders and collaborators from all over the world, travel to Alaska every spring and consistently produce one of the best movies out there. Now/Here is their 11th film.
WHO’S IN IT?
Dan Brisse, Jake Blauvelt, Gigi Rüf, Lucas Debari, Fredi Kalbermatten, Sylvain Bourbousson, Romain de Marchi, DCP, JP Solberg, Annie Boulanger, Marie-France Roy, Bjorn Leines, Taka Nakai, Tadashi Fuse, Jules Reymond, Cale Zima, Blair Habenicht, Terje Haakonsen, Bode Merrill, Wolle Nyvelt and Nicolas Müller.
Lucas Debari’s opener made me sit up and take notice. Jake Blauvelt and Muller’s joint part is incredible, and of course Dan Brisse’s ender is insane.
In the last few years the Absinthe movies have been some of the biggest and best-funded out there – especially since Mack Dawg decided to call it a day. One look at their rider list should tell you that this year’s film is no exception, and their choice of locations - Alaska, Japan, Kamchatka- confirms it. They have pretty much every snowboarding base covered: Mt Baker local Lucas Debari kicks things off with an incredible pow and pillows section in the Pacific Northwest. Freddi Kalbermatten (making a welcome return to Absinthe) takes care of monster booter business, while Blair Habenicht blows the doors off in Alaska with an insane part. Meanwhile, Muller and Blauvelt’s joint section leaves you struggling to tell who’s who some of the time! Cale Zima provides some serious urban gnar mixed with a bit of comedy, and Bode Merrill proves he can do everything– including BS rodeo to board slides! Blauvelt pops back for a solo slot(set to a Collie Buddz classic) before Dan Brisse finishes things off with an ender part that marks his arrival as a big player – from ridiculous Salt Lake roof gaps to huge backcountry spins, he really has it all. But while the riding is consistently incredible, the filming is amazing and the music is nice mix (with no less than two Gorillaz tracks!) the production and editing doesn’t offer that much new. Absinthe’s reputation had as much to do with their seeming ability to innovate as with the action, so while riding-wise this is probably the best film of the year, you do wonder if they might be resting on their laurels somewhat in the post-production process.