Descent (PG-13) B-
by Amy Diaz
Snowboarders are just big surf rats at heart in First Descent, a
documentary about the phenomenon and all those nifty stunts.
First Descent is very much the kind of movie that begs to be watched on
the biggest screen possible. Much of the action takes place in the
large, largely uncharted Alaskan mountains. The snowboarders ride
through avalanches, jump of cliffs, fly (or rather, fall) through blue
skies and create sprays of powder in their wakes. It’s very cool and
after a good 20 minutes of this footage I would have been an easy sell
for some lift tickets and a board.
course, I felt this way after Blue Crush, the cheesetacular Michelle
Rodriguez and Kate Boswell surf movie. The two sports are very similar
in that they involve standing upright on a board moving across some form
of H20 and trying not to let your bravado get you killed. They also seem
to attract the same type of kids. You know the ones: scruffy clothes,
artfully unkempt hair, frequently having of the munchies. First Descent
loves these good-hearted kids with the same Mountain Dew-fueled
enthusiasm with which it loves the sport.
get the story of snowboarding, from its days as something done in secret
and to the dismay of skiers, to its current status as a
multi-billion-dollar industry. This documentary talks with the people
who started the sport and are still a bit ambivalent about its
transition into an X-treme vehicle for marketing.
also get the stories of five different snowboarders, of whom, to be
honest, only two are really all that interesting: the enthusiastic
Hannah Teter and the world champ Terje Haakonsen. These kids are still
young enough to be undaunted in pursuit of a better “line,” i.e. path
down the mountain, even if the line is fraught with danger.
First Descent is the kind of movie that snowboarders will watch over and
over and those unimpressed by sports that involve the possibility of
death will find a little too dry (this is no Murderball, where
characters take over the story of the sport). If you’re somewhere in the
middle, you’ll probably enjoy this little trip up and speedy ride down
the big pretty mountains.