Let’s get this out of the way up front—in case my clever, witty pun of a title wasn’t clear—I didn’t like PBP’s latest offering, Revolver.
That’s not to say that it didn’t have its moments, or even that most people won’t like it, but I just wanted to be up front in case you’re the sort that takes other people’s opinions personally, or if you have a woefully short attention span. Feel free to proceed directly to the comment box and tell me how wrong I am if that be you.
So…why exactly didn’t I like it?
Well…it’s just too damn long. If I was talking to a buddy and not writing a review, my indictment of Revolver would probably end right there. I’m not exactly sure what it clocks in at (and there’s no way in hell I’m doing the “research” to find out), but if it’s on the short side of 80 minutes, I’d be shocked. I could make the argument that NO ski film—other than a documentary, or some other sort of ski flick with a narrative/plot—should be that long, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that, in this particular case, however long it is, it’s too long…sort of like this review will probably be.
I’m not so sure that the majority of the other issues I had with Revolver aren’t simply extensions of its bloated run time. For example, the middle of the film, which I have dubbed the “Theory 3 Mini-Movie”, is monotonous and flat. For those unfamiliar, Theory 3 is/was a Canadian film crew spearheaded by the unquestionably talented Jeff Thomas. Unfortunately, Theory 3 called it quits after releasing the incredible “Journal” in ’08, only to be absorbed by PBP the following year. It hurts me to be brutally honest, but in one guy’s opinion at least, the merger hasn’t been all that successful. To be fair, I don’t know for sure that Jeff is personally responsible for the filming and/or editing of the segments I found underwhelming, but they do feature the skiing of the Theory 3 athletes: Charley Ager, Dane Tudor, Brandon Kelly, Riley Leboe, and Josh Stack.
Basically, beginning with Dane’s segment, the middle of the flick is pow shot after pow shot….after pow shot. At this point, I can’t even intelligibly describe why it didn’t work as I loved Nimbus’s latest pow-centric offering, but that’s the problem; it was all so damn similar, to the extent that not even the missteps are all that memorable. In fact, had this sizable chunk of the movie been whittled down to the bangers (Charley Ager executing a legs spread octograb to four point landing in a reverse snowplow is not a banger. Sorry, Chuck. “I think I’ll stick to pow”, indeed.) and broken up, it might have yielded some of the best moments of the entire movie (some of Dane’s shots come to mind). But, it wasn’t and I was bored. I think the strongest argument against making a movie this long is this: By the time Tim Durtschi rode out a stomped dub cork 10 over Chad’s Gap, yes that Chad’s Gap…I didn’t care anymore. That’s a problem, PBP.
Monotony and boredom are the perfect segue into my next chief complaint, the music.
I know what some of you are thinking, “Duuuude, it’s a ski movie!! It’s about the skiing!”, and while that’s fair, I expect more out of a ski movie than quality ski footage. For me, music really drives a film and gives segments personality. If you’re cocking eyebrows out there, put on your all-time favorite ski porn and press mute. Good luck. Like the visuals it accompanies, the music is for the most part incredibly repetitive, flat, and worst of all, unmemorable. Predictably, dub-step and glitch (if it’s not technically either of those genres, I don’t care, so don’t waste your time correcting me) dominate the proceedings. If you don’t know what that means, it goes like “WOM WOM beepbloopbeep WOM WOM”, something about “you’re the shit, girl” annnnd repeat. I’m not saying that the music, valued on its own, is horrible, or even bad. But, I am saying that scoring a large portion of a ski flick with it is somewhere between curious and downright moronic. I know off-hand that Arne and Ingrid Backstrom’s segment from MSP’s “The Way I See It” is edited to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and co. I know this because it was such a perfectly fitting choice for the segment for both aesthetic and contextual reasons. Well, no one is going to remember what song accompanied…well…any of Revolver, really. I suspect that the emergence of Matt Walker and Andrew Hathaway as skiing’s in-house DJ’s influenced the soundtrack, but instead of it translating to PBP tapping into the pulse of what’s happenin’ and being hip, it feels desperate and misguided. I don’t know Chad Davis, the movie’s Musical Supervisor, but I hope he’s unemployed next fall. Sorry Chad.
I’m not a film major, a reputed film critic, blahblah, so I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the filming and editing. But, I will say that this is certainly, through and through, a Poor Boyz movie. I have no doubt that anyone intimately familiar with their movies of the last five years would be able to peg this as the efforts of their core group of filmers and editors. It’s mostly subjective whether you dig their style, but I’m not their biggest fan. Primary among my issues with the PBP style is the habitual abuse of slow-mo. I think they equate “slow” with “epic”, but I equate it with “boring”. Sure, slow-mo is a tool like any other and in plenty of instances can be effective in adding emphasis or in calling attention to detail, but there’s certainly exists a line between tasteful and overboard. Somebody toss Hamlet a life-vest already.
The filming itself is fine, nothing glaring, and there are plenty of clever and dynamic shots throughout…it’s in putting them together that PBP slides into mediocrity. Too many repeat tricks (butter 3s? Wow.) and repeat angles/features in different rider segments really hurt the film. Watching Jossi destroy a wall-ride is sweet. Watching Simon do the same thing…on the same thing…from the same angle…20 minutes later, is pointless. There’s also some silly “stunt” like shots that come across as gimmicky and, frankly, lame. Sammy gapping a road…and tapping a barrel…mounted on a stick…in the back of a pick-up truck…while it’s moving…seems a little Evil Knievelish to me. Jumping the moving truck-jib is the new Jumping The Shark, I guess.
To wrap up my thoughts as to why this movie failed, I’ll say this: There are a LOT of talented and passionate people involved at every level, top to bottom, in producing PBP films. Unfortunately, like the 2010 Dallas Cowboys, no one person or singular vision seems to be steering the ship. The result is that the whole is significantly less than the sum of its parts. This point was driven home even further for me today when I watched the AWESOME Meathead’s flick, Work it Out. I don’t think anybody would claim that the Meatheads crew is more talented across the board than the Poor Boyz squad, but nevertheless, Work it Out is a FAR superior film. It overachieves where Revolver underachieves.
Lastly, I understand that Salomon sinks a ton of dough into PBP projects, but hot damn…what percentage of the riders are on Salomon boards? 70? 80? I don’t know, but a lot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but watching Charles Gagnier’s bizarre hybrid of Gorilla Steeze meets “I don’t know where my hands are” meets “I could fall at any second” style takes away from his incredibly technical tricks and makes him painful to watch. That, and the fact that Dane Tudor is on screen for what feels like half the movie, tells me that PBP might have sacrificed some filmmaking integrity for a bigger expense account.
Quickly I’ll list a few positives and pleasant surprises as this movie is not uniformly terrible:
- The old guys still got it. JP Auclair and Julien Regnier must have found the fountain of youth, because they both KILL IT. JP has a bunch of awesome urban/jib shots that look even better sandwiched in between him charging big lines and playing with his slough in no-falls-allowed zones. Wow. Julien on the other hand, nabs some of the best helmet cam footy I’ve ever seen and makes Armada look absurd for dumping him last season.
- Sammy is quietly becoming one of the best BC/pow jibbers doing it and deserves the attention that guys like Petit and Durtschi get for their efforts. In five years, Sammy will be the bar setter and looks poised to enjoy a Pep-like rebirth outside of the terrain park.
- Jossi Wells is somehow better at skiing than people think. And, no one would call him underrated. I don’t know that there’s another guy out there (Wallisch?) who has the technical skill to win any major comp he enters, while simultaneously pulling off stupidly stylish and smooth simple tricks. He shatters the idea that “you’re either a comp skier, or a movie skier”. He’s that good.
- Mike Henitiuk is way underrated. What a well-rounded skier that kid is.
- LJ Strenio has a death wish and we are very, VERY lucky that he does.
- Finally, BroBomb’s favorite skier, Simon “Lawyered Up” Dumont, turns in bar none his BEST and most well-rounded segment since his jaw droppingly spectacular Teddy Bear Crisis part. Clearly, Simon wanted to silence his detractors who cast him as a one-dimensional pipe jock. He hasn’t, but he’s a beast anyway.