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Warren Miller's Ride
Warren Miller has been making people antsy to get back on the slopes for over 50 years. He has become world renown for his use of cool music, breathtaking locations, cringe-worthy wrecks, and of course, some of the sickest snow tricks caught on film. Ride, his 2000 feature, offers all of this and more.
Narrated by Warren Miller and his son, Kurt, Ride starts with a bang as the cameras follow the Dawn Patrol avalanche hunters at Whistler, North America's largest ski area. Carrying backpacks filled with explosives, this daring group of men are up before the sun to blast the snow and trigger slides in order to keep skiers safe from avalanches. Naturally, the cameras next show some very avid skiers riding fresh powder on the same hills the Dawn Patrol blasted at dawn.
Perhaps the coolest segment featured Keystone, Colorado (it's always cool to see a resort you frequent being ridden by experts). This time around it was mogul time, and the riders caught on film were some of the best at taking these bumps in stride. It looks painful, yet graceful at the same time.
Naturally, Ride features a bit of humor on top of all the awesome tricks and moves. This time around, Miller chose to feature some kids from Wisconsin as they build a huge jump and bring in a makeshift snow-maker and just enough water to make a kick-ass jump. Watching these locals use bales of hay to get their jump high enough was hilarious, but also inspiring. If these two can go through all that hassle in sub-zero temperatures just for a few hours of thrills, then I most certainly can brave the traffic on my way to the hills of Colorado.
Aside from skiers and snowboarders doing what they do best, Ride also shows some insane vertical junkies in New Zealand (anyone up for jumping off a cliff?), some slightly off-kilter Australians as they jump into a pool of freezing water, and some wicked snowmobile maneuvers. It also features heli-skiing like never seen before, and of course, wonderful scenery from Russia, Montana, Greenland, and Washington, just to name a few. The scenes are either fast paced and exciting, or when the camera pulls back to reveal the expansive nature of the mountain, both peaceful and surreal. If this stuff doesn't get your heart pumping, you're in a coma.
Perhaps the only thing I didn't like about Ride is the Nissan product placement. Sure, Nissan was the proud sponsor of this film, but seeing a PathFinder in nearly every location got old. At times I actually felt as if I were watching a PathFinder commercial, and that's the last thing I want to feel when seeing a snowboarder blaze his own trail.
Luckily, the Nissans weren't around enough to ruin the experience Ride offers viewers. Like most Warren Miller films, Ride completely made me ready for winter. It also instilled in me the desire to try some new tricks this season. Sure, I'll probably break a bone attempting to do what those in this film do so easily, but as Miller says, if I don't do it this year, I'll be a year older next time. Now all I need to do is find something to keep me busy until the resorts open.
Ride is presented here in its original 4x3 aspect ratio. I was pleasantly surprised with this transfer. Colors are bright and the snow looks so pristine, so clean and cold, that my feet got chilly just watching. As with any film shot on location in varying weather conditions, some minor problems occur occasionally, such as slight graininess in night shots and some general softness throughout. However, for the bulk of this film, detail is very solid with nice texture. Some halo effects are apprarent, but they are never really distracting.
You can ignore the 2.0 audio track because the Ride DVD comes fully equipped with a very powerful 5.1 Dolby Digital track. The speakers really blast with all sorts of fast paced rock music that will get your whole body into it. The low end could've been lower, but for the most part the sound features some nice booms. The rears aren't used actively (except for some ambiance) and the left-to-right sound movement is rare. Voices sound well placed in the center channel during interviews.
THE BONUS FEATURES
Not much here, really. You get three trailers all mixed into one preview. The trailers include Cold Fusion, Storm, and Ride. You also get a pretty tame making of featurette. These 17 minutes are mostly filled with clips from the film with a new narration that explains some behind-the-scenes information. You do get a few interviews, but I would've liked to see more footage of the cameramen on skis and more get detail on how it's all shot.
Thanks to Ride, I'm ready to hit the slopes right now, easily the earliest I've ever considered snow. Although this film isn't quite as good as Cold Fusion, it's definitely better than Miller's latest effort, Storm The tricks and moves featured on this DVD are amazing. Combined with a solid audio track, I can't help but give this a high recommendation.