Finally a solid feature film about snowboarding
Tomo Bystedt | Hong Kong | 03/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In terms of story and content, this is probably the strongest film ever made about snowboarding. Gorgeous photography and a really solid storyboard made this film a real motion picture rather than a collection of montages like you see so many other boarding films. Unfortunately this film lacks the real jaw-dropping moments you really need in a film of this caliber. This film has one or two, but needs more to really sustain the interest level. Terje Haakonsen was spectacular as always, though, and any film blessed with his participation is almost always sublime.
On a side note, I was a little disappointed in Shaun White's performance in this film. It seemed as though his heart was not really in the big back-country experience and that he would have rather stayed at home in the park. As a big fan of his riding, I was hoping to see more of his awesome freestyle ability translate to the open terrain. I was surprised to see him board with his freestyle binding setup (wide centered stance) rather than something more conducive to powder riding. I think the film crew noticed the lack on enthusiasm and actually showed him the least of all the five riders in the actual boarding scenes (they showed plenty of his interviews).
Overall though, I'd strongly recommend this film to any snowboarder who is truly interested in the sport."
Great Riding Scenes, But Could Be Better with a Different Ap
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 03/02/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After "Dogtown and Z-Boys" and "Riding Giants" -- documentaries that cover the similar sports / culture territory, "First Descent" arrived at the theatre. As you know, the film is about snowboarding which is getting more and more popular, and as it title suggests, "First Descent" includes the exciting footages about six riders snowboarding in the mountains of Alaska -- Shawn Farmer, Terje Haakonsen, Nick Perata, Travis Rice, Hannah Teter and Shaun White.
The film's topic is interesting even if you're not a snowboarder or a fan of these six athletes interviewed here, but I feel someone else could have made a better film with the same material.
The feature film runs almost 110 minutes and spends its time mostly on two topics: history of snowboarding as sports, and the six athletes' rides in Alaskan mountains. Some part of the former section is fresh and informative; I didn't know snowboarding is so popular in Japan where you can see the riders jumping in packed stadium of Tokyo Dome. The excitement of the place is like the Rolling Stones concert, proving the riders' popularity.
But the film gives me an impression that the treatment is a bit cursory. You hear words like `big' or `huge' many times, but we are not allowed to know how big or huge the snowboarding business has become. We are told that snowboarding progressed with time, but seldom is the film incisive as to how. I am not saying the film should be erudite as textbook; I am only saying that we need more original approach to it, something humorous or human that made "Dowgtown and the Z-Boys" a joyful watch.
The same can be said about the section that follows the six riders in Alaska. They are all likable persons, quite frank about themselves and their snowboard riding is amazing. Which made me wonder - How dangerous is it to snowboard on the mountainside that looks vertical, that conceals crevices here and there? How can they pick up the `line' or safe paths to go while jumping from the snow ledge? One of the riders got almost swallowed up by avalanche, but does that happen all the time?
I asked myself these questions while watching "First Descent," but the film only keeps showing the mountain ride footages which are amazing at first, but soon becomes repetitious. "First Descent" has great material in it, but another way of treating it would have made a better documentary film."
Too much White
J. Higa | Boulder, CO | 03/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's refreshing to finally see a snowboard movie on the big screen. However, I was hoping it would be more like the Dogtown and Z Boyz Documentary. Someone who reviewed this film thought that Shawn White got very little footage, are you kidding me? This film was one big advertisment for Shawn White. I don't deny his ability or his domination of the contest circuit but personally, I'm sick of all the hype surrounding this kid. You could have cut out over half the interview with him and replaced it with actual riding or possibly more footage on Nick Perata. His presence was virtually non-existent. And while we're at it, why not include a big mountain rider such as Victoria Jealouse? She's one of the best out there, but as usual women rarely get any coverage. I did enjoy the vintage footage from the days of yore and the trip to Alaska but would have been happier with strictly veteran riders on this trip. The footage on Terje was excellent, and there should have been more. Snowboarders out there old enough to remember classics such as "Snowboarders in Exile" may be a little disappointed with this film. But, it far excels the last 7 or 8 years of crappy Snowboarding flicks that feature nothing but rail riding and gap jumps. In this one, big mountain riding finally gets the attention it deserves. It's nice to see Farmer out there again. We've missed him. I'd like to see a film with the reunion of the fall line film crew. Dave Seone, Steve Graham, Damien Sanders, etc. Overall, the fim was pretty good and I would recommend it for anyone looking for big mountain riding and a little history."
Finally less repetition - Focus on Lifestyle and Downtime
Jim M. Van Cise | Mentor, Ohio USA | 02/09/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After viewing too many snowboarding and skateboarding videos featuring one trick after another by faceless people who you wouldn't recognize if they knocked on your front door, I was happy to find this gem. It's a manic lifestyle with intense highs and boring lows. I got to see the stars during downtime when it was raining or too cloudy to shoot. They are serious. There are antics but it's not a big party every night. I loved the avalanche scene and the snowflake that Shaun White palmed that was bigger than a baby chick."