Watching new Burton snowboard movies are kind of like watching World Cup finals when your country has already been knocked out back in the second round (now that’s easy enough for us Brits to relate to eh?): you’re not necessarily all that excited to sit down and watch but you feel like you should anyway – they are some of the best in the world after all. And more times than not you end up walking away pleasantly surprised nonetheless.
Prior to last years Standing Sideways, which was Burton’s first cinematic offering since The B Movie in 2009, Burton have generally pumped out a new movie every year. Perhaps the extra year logging footage and cherry-picking the best shots paid off, or perhaps the 2010/2011 season was a particularly good one for snow conditions, but in our eyes at least, Standing Sideways definitely seemed a step up from its predecessors. With that in mind, we had high hopes when we cracked open the tinnies at the end of a seemingly longer than usual hump-day and settled in to watch Burton’s new one ‘Thirteen.’
If you watched the teaser, the intro to Thirteen will feel very familiar to you. It uses the same frantic Justice song, the same dramatic smoke filled shots and the same tight, choppy editing style. It’s definitely a well-put together sequence of shots and great way to kick off the movie but we wish they’d perhaps mixed it up a fraction more.
Mikkel Bang earns the hugely deserved opener. The lanky, baby faced Norseman has steadily risen up through the Burton ranks from bright eyed grom to hardened superstar and has flourished into one of the most well rounded and most stylish riders on Burton’s ridiculously stacked roster. The kid really can do it all: lazy no grab backside 1’s, massive spins into powder, slow, stylish double corks and mind boggling tree redirects. Mikkel’s part is totally on-point and like any good movie should, Thirteen opens up strong.
For Burton movies, appealing to the mainstream snowboard scene is a necessity and it’s therefore pretty much a given that Thirteen isn’t really one for the die-hard jibbers out there. As expected, the amount of urban riding here is fairly limited. Ethan Deiss and Zak Hale share a part that is filled with big, clean, technical bangers and innovative transfers to features and while jib veteran Jeremy Jones’ part shows that he is very much still in the game, he does come across a bit like an old, wise gecko: great at sticking to walls, but not necessarily willing to venture too far away from them. His part is solid and ballsy no doubt, but a tad repetitive with all the wallrides.
Terje Haakonsen has a corker of a part, complete with Art of Flight-esque swooping heli shots, epic rooster tails and the precision and control that we’ve come to know and love from the godfather of snowboarding. John Jackson takes the second half of the part, which features the huge hit that put an end to his season (landing on trees ain’t pretty kids), before his own mini part (proper) kicks in.
Thirteen doesn’t get the universal thumbs up by any means. The obligatory park section along with the albeit more interesting ‘Peace Pipe’ section – a pipe littered with cutaways and jibstacles, despite Burton’s best efforts, felt a wee bit formulaic to us. By no means is the riding sub-par (far from it actually); it just feels like we’ve seen these parts umpteen times before. Of course, there are still some gems in there: Seppe Smits sending a huge shifty shifty over the monstrous Heavenly kicker, Danny Davis boosting with his uniquely understated style and what Mark McMorris section would be complete without a backside triple cork?
Mark Sollors, Jussi Oksanen and Mikey Rencz absolutely rip in the backcountry and gave us some of our most enjoyable moments in the film’s 44 minute running time. Sollors has an incredibly well rounded part with some technical urban hits as well as a whole load of massive, clean backcountry tricks. His frontside 9 ender is quite simply, huge. Rencz had one of the standout parts in Standing Sideways and earns the electro-pop tinged ender here. He really steps up to fill the slot with clean spins and stomped landings that really show off his vast prowess and experience in the Whistler backcountry. But ultimately it’s Jussi that once again takes the cake for us. Opening his section with a huge, casual backside 180-switch butter-180 out combination that you just have to see to fully appreciate, the following few minutes are just classic Jussi. Think slow, smooth backside 180’s, three out of four double cork 1080 variations and plenty of pre-buttering off the lips of kickers – a style of riding that he helped to pioneer.
Overall we were impressed with Thirteen. Each section is well rounded and polished in true Burton style and there's a distinct lack of gimmicky stuff which is refreshing these days. The editing is tight and on beat, with the relatively laidback soundtrack (the mellow Alexander Ebert tune in Jussi’s part being the pick of the bunch for us) being a fitting accompaniment to the riding. It’s definitely not their best ever and overall we reckon Standing Sideways probably had a touch more to offer in terms of variety and as a complete package – but it’s light-years away from being their worst. Maybe Burton should take another year off this season and really rock the boat in 2015? As the first new film we’ve seen this season, ‘Thirteen’ has done a fantastic job of setting the standard and tone for the next couple of months that will inevitably be spent drooling over the latest snow porn to pop up on our screens - big and small.