Snowboarding is extolled in glorious 3D by The Art of Flight, a Red Bull-produced documentary that primarily functions as a promo reel for its star athletes and as a demo reel for its glasses-required special effect. Curt Morgan’s film is a beautifully shot affair, paying great tribute to its subjects’ risky stunts and the majestic, untamed mountain ranges—in Chilean Patagonia, Alaska, Wyoming, Aspen, the Andes, and British Columbia—they race down with awe-inspiring skill. Capturing the snowboarders from myriad angles, and employing some breathtaking POV shots, Morgan provides ample amazing sights throughout; taking flight off homemade jumps (sometimes deliberately into tree branches) or navigating treacherously narrow terrain, star Travis Rice and his band of merry cohorts prove both their dexterity and bravery at every turn. But that’s all there is to the film, which supplements its primary material with scant interviews in which the snowboarders reveal a fondness for clichés, most of them centered around the idea that to be truly alive, you have to push yourself past normal limits. Alongside such empty-headed soundbites, Morgan shoehorns in footage of the crew firing shotguns and tossing axes in a bit of down-time-crazy fun, but without any real sense of the snowboarders’ individual personalities, these brief interruptions from the snow-shredding action merely underline how little the film has to say about these daredevils or the risks they take. That Morgan barely bothers to address the possible imprudence of such perilous behavior is ultimately something of a welcome relief, allowing the film to eschew judgmental pedantry in favor of simply celebrating the beauty of its many locales and the boarders’ death-defying moves. But even at 80 minutes, The Art of Flight feels severely empty, an aesthetic showcase whose repetitive nature winds up diminishing the excitement of its breathtaking feats of mountainous flight.
- Red Bull Media House
- 80 min
- Curt Morgan
- Travis Rice, Jake Blauvelt, John Jackson, Jeremy Jones, Scotty Lago, Mark Landvik, Pat Moore
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