It’s that time of year, when the waiting comes to an end and the new motion picture eye candy hits the shelves. All that killer footage from last season’s shredding has been edited, cut, tweaked, reworked and packaged to deliver video evidence of where snowboarding’s at and where it’s going.… all of this just to stoke you out and get you amped on the upcoming season. Here’s the first part of our video reviews to help you out with the difficult choices you have to make when it comes to what vid you want to spend those hard-earned greenbacks on. Enjoy and start drooling!
[Being that there's literally hundreds of movies this year, this is part 1 of an expected trilogy of movie reviews. It might even become a quadrilogy, if that's a word.]
Words: Marko Grgas
-90% Backcountry Freestyle -10% Urban Riding
With their seventh feature film Absinthe is becoming a household name known for some of the most aesthetic snowboard films in recent years. This year is no different. From the starting images which one sees of massively dumped on Alaskan mountain peaks, to the eerie ghostly shots of snowflakes falling in the woods to the amazing landscape shots with the setting sun, all underlined by smooth indy music fitting it perfectly. It is very, very, very, pretty. Absinthe have proven from ‘Vivid’ to ‘Futureproof’ to ‘More’ that they are capable of making great smooth beautiful heli or wire cam shots, which this time around are unfortunately a little shakey at times and taken from a considerable distance. No biggie though. Wolle Nyvelt bagged the opening part, which he well deserved! Next level spins off of windlips and spines on 60 degree plus slopes going in blind! SICK! Mikey LeBlanc toboggans his way through his part, which is probably the funniest shit I’ve seen in a while! It’s awesome. Bring back the fun! Gigi has an amazing part as well, just charging everything in his way including mountain bike parcours. The standout parts belong to MFM who is bulldozing and ollieing his way through everything and; Surprise, surprise Nicolas Müller who cannot get any smoother than he already is. Sick style, but you already know that. The urban rail riding is good but nothing special, except for some pretty nifty teched out stuff being dropped by new blood Hans Ahlund. If you want all terrain backcountry freestyle at it’s finest, then this is definitely the film you should consider buying.
+Amazing filming and editing +Good vibes +Makes you wanna go shred! -Shakey distanced Heli Shots on the good kickers
Kids on Shred-Rome Snowboards
35%-Urban Rails 35%-Backcountry Freestyle 30%-Park
This is it! I know that people are loving the flicks from productions by the like of Mack Dawg, Absinthe or Standard because the budgets, the technology and the shots are amazing. Great colours, great angles, great riding and artsy shots. But, in my humble opinion, they don’t really communicate the fun that one can have when snowboarding. Don’t get me wrong they’re awesome videos and the riding is insane and gets you stoked. Respect no doubt! They’re doing things that’s either super scary or next level shit, so fear is omnipresent, and the feeling of fun gets lost somewhere along the way. Where they fail Rome succeeds! You watch this video and you think to yourself; ‘Holy Shit, could these dudes have any more fun on a snowboard!?’ Can’t remember the last time I was so stoked! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not only fun and games, the Rome team kills everything in their path from backcountry booters, to park jumps to rails. Destruction! Next level shit is also hidden in this flick. Watch out for the rail carnage performed by Dofin and LNP! Bjorn is the smoothest vet I know and Marie-France Roy is unreal. Yes, you can make a killer video without having HD cameras that cost gazillions. Yes you can have some fucked up fuzzed footy. It’s just Rock n’ Roll and it’s FUN! Someone needed to bring back some Rock into snowboarding for Christ’s sake! Awesome f____ing video. I really feel sorry for the landlord idiot that actually rented that house out to the Rome boys……or maybe I don’t.
+Amazing rail riding +Good music +Good balance +Communicates FUN -Unclear shots
Catch the Vapors
10% Urban rails 60% Backcountry Freestyle 30% Park
It’s always hard to write about a Standard films production because it is such a legacy in itself when it comes to snowboard films. I mean Mike Hatchett has done it all seen it all, and STILL keeps pushing it and blowing minds. Season after season Standard steps to the plate with some of the most aesthetic cinematography to be seen in snowboard films. I’ll never forget the heli shot of Shredrik’s Frontside 3, or John Jackson’s Backside 7 tail not to forget his brother’s sunset Backside 180 Indy double poke. Goosebump material. This year John comes out swinging with yet another gnarly opener in the bag, with the Pixies musically underlining his 1080 heli shot! Similarly to two years ago Mr. Lando has a well-earned closing part. The man can just use terrain in an unbelievable way, spinning from pillow to pillow. How to calculate and judge that beats me. However, the killer part, in my humble opinion, goes to the world’s premier big mountain rider, Mr. Jeremy Jones. You just sit there with a gaping mouth looking at the line he is just about to do saying to yourself; ‘No way, no way, no way, holy shit……..he just did it. F___ing unreal. I think every park rat and freestyle king might rethink their whole snowboard philosophy and re-evaluate what it’s all about. Fine, you’re hucking off of a huge kicker where you know how fast you have to go. Try going onto a spine blind at a speed of 80-90 km/h. Exactly! To me one of the best parts of the year, hands down. Go Jeremy!!!
+Excellent filming +Great riders -At times a little slow
X-treme Video Distribution
Mack Dawg Productions
30% Urban Rails 40% Backcountry Freestyle 30% Park
‘Picture This’ might be the end of snowboard cinematography as we know it. Why? Because it’s filmed in HD and the images are ubercrisp. Color explosions in harmony with beautifully filmed footage of arguably the world’s best riders. What can I say? The riders do indeed kill it! Seth Huot’s opener sets the tone, with crazy concrete ledge kink destruction, to Wille’s Fs 3 to little wheelie off of a cliff, to Shawn White and Kevin Pearce’s tag team pipe destruction, to Jussi’s out of this world backcountry massacre, to Eero and Heikki’s rail to huge drop down Jones’ everything finally culminating in Jp’s two tricks that are just insane. A switch wall drop in and a wall to wall upside down spinny thing? Two tricks and a huge statement! Most of the shots are shot with a dolly cam, which really is a nice little touch making almost all the shot’s done that way look epic. The HD technology really makes everything look super sharp and detailed. Check out Jussi’s jacket and pants flapping in the wind on the in run. Looks sick and really communicates the speed that ol’ Oksanen is hitting the booter with. The only point of critique might be the somewhat short running time of approx. 28 minutes, but Mack Dawg is known to keep things short, concise and banging. There’s not much to say more. The boys filming and riding are really on top of their game. Word!
+HD filming +Editing +Balance +Riding -Length
X-treme Video Distribution
White Out films
-85% Backcountry Freestyle -10% Urban Riding -5% Park
This is for all of you who are stoked on the wildcat BC backcountry freestyle madness that we have gotten accustomed to in the past four years. This year’s film is called ‘Season 4’, which quite frankly is not the most original title and the lack of creativity in choosing the name is unfortunately also reflected in this year’s flick. We all know that the Wildcats throw down and have thrown down some amazing banging stuff and are definitely to be found in the upper echelons of backcountry freestyle riding, but the film suffers because of the editing. Almost 90% of the shots are the one same angle standard shot of the rider dropping, hitting the cheese wedge and landing. It gets BORING really quick. The music does not really help because it’s just a lifeless mix of electro, some hip hop and some rock. Nothing special. It’s a shame because there’s great riding from all of the cats, especially Benji Ritchie! He kills it with pretty amazing tweaked inverted spins. Other standout parts include Paavo Tikkanen, Ikka Backstrom and Devun Walsh. The other slight problem in this year’s video is that it’s a bit too short. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the credits crept up onto the screen in the 25th minute. Next year will be better for sure.
+Solid Backcountry Riding with some bangers -Bad Editing -Very short -Heartless compared to their previous releases
We’re People Too
Mack Dawg Productions
-70% Urban Rails -15% Backcountry Freestyle -15% Park
This might sound intense and disrespectful to a certain extent, but I think I like ‘We’re People Too’ better than Mack Dawg’s number one vid ‘Picture This’. Don’t get me wrong ‘Picture This’ has amazing cinematography and cool shots, but ‘We’re People Too’ is way more fun! The rail riding is insane and beats almost any rail tricks thrown down in ‘Picture This’. A perfect example would be Zac Marben’s Sw Back Lip down a double kink to 270 out. Pretty jaw dropping stuff guaranteed. The backcountry riding is very solid as is the park footage of the riders throwing down. For me, the craziest thing to see and compare and realize about the two Mack Dawg releases is that the riding level of the younger upcoming riders is almost up to par with the likes of the überpros such as Jussi or Jeremy Jones. The riders in ‘We’re People Too’ have NOTHING to hide. Almost every part is good, well edited and has decent music to go with it. The standout parts belong to Jordan Mendenhall, Zac Marben and Austin Smith. Jordan has a killer opener, where he shows he’s a rider complete as they come. Watch out Jeremy Jones. Zac Marben kills the rails with impeccable accuracy and pulls off the most insanely tweaked method I have EVER seen. Even Jamie Lynn might think it’s a pretty good tweak and Austin Smith got the closing part where he simply annihilates everything he rides. SICK video that definitely got me stoked for sure.
+Excellent diverse riding +Good length +Editing and Filming -A little to weighty on the rail side of things
X-treme Video Distribution
35% Urban rails 30% Backcountry Freestyle 35% Park
Capita’s ‘First Kiss’ proves a point about an important aspect of snowboarding, which seems to slowly be fading away into being forgotten as the main stream sets in. Snowboarding was not invented by jock athlete assholes, but by the outsiders who refused to conform and abide by the rules imposed on them. This movie similarly to the Rome flick is going against everything that snowboarding movies have become. Meaning sharp filming, super slow mo etc...’First Kiss’ comes at you kicking and screaming with difficult music, strangeness, over exposed blurry shots. The whole works. The riding is really good, especially some rail shots, but compared to double backflips to 5-0’s to cab 270 japan’s to smith grind’s to whatever, it might seem not so good. Wrong. I think it’s cool to see more simple riding that you can actually imagine yourself doing. Gets your stoke on way more than when you watch something, where you get totally depressed thinking to yourself; ‘I will never be able to do that, EVER!’ But then, just when you think it’s all over a man by the name of Dan Brisse steps into the arena! His riding is on point and just when you’re thinking pretty good part it all goes blank when he pulls a weird type double cork manoeuvre, but then again not really. I can’t even name it! All this, over a huge park kicker. When I saw it, I started laughing cause it’s such a statement and such a punch in the face to all the snowboard jocks. It’s fantastic! You’ll be rewinding it over and over again.
+Unique +Raw feel +Ignores the boring stock scheme of vid’s -Some overexposed, blurry shots -Difficult music
Try This At Home
Sugar Shack Productions
50% Urban rails 25% Backcountry 25% Park
Hmmm. I don’t want to be mean. It’s good, but doesn’t have that certain something that will differentiate it from other stock productions. It’s a mix of mostly urban rail riding, some park kicker sessions and some backcountry kickers. The rail riding is up there with today’s riding. Lots of really controlled extremely smooth looking press slides with the mandatory pretzels. Even though I think pretzels are way too common nowadays. There are some pretty cool wallrides with 180’s out that can definitely compete with the top productions. The three rail killers that you should watch out for in the video are Alex Cantin, who bagged the opener, Ben Bilocq who busts out some very original urban shredding and Louif Paradis’ closer. The other rider that definitely rips hardest is non other but DCP. I’m super happy for him since his part in Mack Dawg’s ‘Picture This’ was so short, and they didn’t really show what he’s got. There are some awesome pillow and chute lines where he just charges it! Controlled, tweaked styled spins off of backcountry booters that make you want to eat your heart out. DCP just rules. Surf’s up dude!
+Innovative rail riding +DCP’s part -Doesn’t really differentiate itself from others -Music is just there
Think Tank Productions
Alongside of Capita’s ‘First Kiss’ and Rome’s ‘Any Means’ comes ‘Thanks Brain’. And, it could be the most entertaining of the three. If you’re looking for the classic snowboard flick with nice epic shots, first try powder landings on humongous backcountry kickers and super long Fs Boardslides with the big names in snowboarding, then you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for unknown riders who could be Travis Parkers offspring on crack, then you’re spot on. All I can say is that you have to see it to believe it! ‘Thanks Brain’ is also probably the most fitting title of any movie this year, because the creativity and innovation that the relatively unknown U.S. riders, to us Europeans, hit you with is almost limitless. I mean, one-foot boardslides, one foot Bs 3’s in powder, bunny hops onto boards down pillow lines or maybe a 50-50 to butter 5-0 to Nosepress down a rail! How about a method to Bs Lipslide? Boardcontrol anyone?!?!?! The motto here is not bigger is better! It’s all about insane little lines using any kind of obstacle that comes to mind. I mean there’s no ending to what these guys come up with. Every once in a while you see a decent park jump or backcountry booter where someone hucks a super styled out Sw Bs 9, but these guys are way past that shit. I seriously didn’t know that such things were possible on a snowboard, I didn’t even think of it!
+Innovation +Creativity +FUN -Boys get carried away at times
X-treme Video Distribution
Back to the Zoo
60%-Urban rails 20%-Backcountry feestyle 20%-Park
This french vid can’t get more hip hop. This is not meant in a negative way, thinking it was quite fresh to hear some hip hop in these days where the video’s are being over flooded with electropop and indy rock. So in a certain way it’s going against the grain. The riding from the O.G’s francaise is smooth and solid, with standout riding from Vincent Pages and Florent Marot. Their rail riding is controlled as it can get, and the big booters they eat for breakfast any day of the week. Of all the video’s I thought that those two had some really cool pokes, which just make the Bs 1 look so much better. The first part of the video is almost only rails, which gets a little bit boring after a while, but then the park and backcountry freestylin’ picks up giving it a bit more balance. The tricks are not super bangers, but can definitely hold their own in the European circuit. It was good to see a crew of really nice humble French hip hop riders just doin’ their thang. Go boys.
+Hip hop music +Good rail riding -Has a weird composition
More to follow...