Movie Reviews

Cheers and The Arena Snowboard Movie Reviews

Published in Whitelines Magazine Issue 96, March 2011

Joe Sexton, Photo: ANDY WRIGHT

CHEERS   3.5*

The People Crew

Since their former umbrella company Mack Dawg bowed out of snowboard movie production, leaving the People Crew on their own, they have impressed. Their first movie as an independent outfit, last year’s Nice Try, was generally pretty well received, and they’ve managed to keep a lot of Mack Dawg’s big name riders on their roster. Cheers is their second film.


Simon Chamberlain, JP Walker, Jeremy Jones, Seth Huot, Zac Marben, Lauri Heiskari, Aasron Biitner, Eero Niemela, Curtis Ciszek, Joe Sexton, Mikey Rencz, Shaun MacKay and Bryan Fox.


Jeremy Jones’ opener proves he still has a screw loose, Mikey Rencz’s backcountry skills are sick, and Lauri Heiskari’s style is as smooth as ever. Joey Sexton’s super-tech ender proves he’s got it what it takes to step up to the big league.


The People Crew used to be responsible for making movies with the less well-known riders in the Mack Dawg crew – while Jeremy Jones, JP Walker and the rest of the big guns featured in the main film. That was, of course, back when Jeremy was undisputed king of the jibbing scene, and everything JP Walker touched turned to gold. These days things have moved on a bit, and when the movie opened with Supergrass’ Alright I couldn’t help feeling that it was trying a bit too hard to make the case for these guys’ continuing relevance. Far from being young, with the “nice and clean” gnashers celebrated in the song, Jeremy, JP and the rest are now looking a little long in the tooth. That’s not to say their riding isn’t impressive. Jeremy Jones’ opener shows he’s still got the biggest balls in snowboarding. OK, so the motorbike scenes may be a bit predictable, but the massive gap to brick wall at the end is not! From there, things calm down a bit, and the movie settles into a comfortable, if familiar, groove. The music is nice, but not incredible, and the occasional interesting montage, or surf-style slash from one of the younger riders like Curtis Ciszek doesn’t really buck the overall trend. Things step up a notch or two with Lauri’s part, which shows him back on the kind of form we hadn’t seen since he left Forum. But JP has the look of a man going through the motions, as does Simon Chamberlain, despite some gnarly gap-to-rails. You can’t help feeling the People are a bit like the snowboard equivalent of AC/DC, content to keep playing the same classic tunes to confirmed fans, but unwilling to strike out and do anything original. Joey Sexton’s part is a stand out, with all manner of tech rail radness, as well as a few big bails. It’s safe to say that this kid is now at the point where he can easily headline the show, but the aging rock stars around him could perhaps be doing more.


THE ARENA   2.5*

Finger On Da Trigger Productions

Finger On Da Trigger Productions was just one of the many projects that Marc Frank Montoya had a hand in setting up in the early 2000s. While he wasn’t fully involved until last year, the influence of snowboarding’s original G has always been evident in their output – from their hip-hop heavy soundtracks to their choice of riding spots. The Arena is their eighth film.


Marc Frank Montoya, Travis Kennedy, Dylan Thompson, Jonah Owen, Lucas Magoon, Johnnie Paxson, Derek Dennison, Jake Devine, Andrew Brewer, Johnny Lazzareschi, Cory Cronk.


Johnnie Paxson is good, Derrick Dennison’s opener is sick and Lucas Magoon is – as ever – awesome to watch. But it’s Dylan Thompson’s ender that really stands out. Where did this kid come from?


By the time we sat down to watch Finger On Da Trigger’s latest movie, we’d already seen Dylan Thompson’s full part, which they’d released online back in October. He may only be a rookie when it comes to filming, but Dylan had a soulful hip-hop soundtrack, some unusual obstacles, and the smoothest style going. To say we were impressed would be a massive understatement – where did this kid come from? Needless to say then, we had high expectations for the full movie. Which meant we were even more gutted to find that it never quite lived up to the hype. It’s not that the riding’s bad. The crew hits up some cool-looking spots with battered old cars and grimy graffitied walls, and some of the shots are seriously ground-breaking – Lucas Magoon’s massive back 180 over a freeway looks sooooo sick. Derrick Dennison’s opener is rad, and Travis Kennedy also has some nice moments, although nothing that quite matches what he used to do with Forum. It’s just the film-making itself that comes across as a bit… well, amateur. The opener, a montage over heavy dub step, sets the tone. It’s always entertaining to see the yanks aping our music styles, but the messiness of the cuts and the over-use of the contrast control on the picture kind of spoils it. This slight sloppiness continues throughout the whole film. Spots crop up repeatedly in different riders’ parts, often shot from exactly the same angle. Because most of the riders are Tech nine Team members – all baggy pants and tall-tees – you end up with the impression you’ve seen a trick before. Most of the music sounds fairly familiar, and a mish-mash of editing styles means every part looks like it’s been cut by someone different. It lacks coherence and overall direction, as if the whole thing was made to be released as short webisodes, and someone decided to stick it all together at the last minute. None of this takes away from DylanThompson’s amazing ender (which actually looks like it might have come from a different film) but this isn’t a movie you’d keep coming back to.


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