By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
From skateboard to snowboard, the evolution of the latter into Olympic contender has been inspiring. The documentary about the history of snowboarding called "First Descent" is at times as breathtaking as the long Alaskan runs five of the world's best take in the film, which cuts in historical footage of the sport with modern helicopter shots that both magnify and reduce the colossal feats these young and not so young boarders perform.
With only the limited vocabulary of voiceovers of the snowboarders, repeating "gnarly" enough to make me forget arthritic joints, the film misses opportunities to describe technicals like acrobatics and boards in informative ways. I am not asking for inane commentary readily available for televised college and professional football; I just would like a deeper look at the details of the sport rather than repetitious exclamations of awe accompanied by sequences that begin to look alike from a birds-eye perspective.
The film does capture the natural rhythms of descent and diction endemic to an uncomplicated sport--for that I am gratified and forever respect the brave souls who traverse Alaskan peaks rather than leisurely hike the lowlands as I did a few years ago. The feats of the very young Shaun White and very seasoned Terje Haakonsen give both a visual feast and a verifiable history of the sport embodied in the two famous boarders.
In no way, however, could I see the pure white mountains as the helicopter does so many times giving an IMAX experience without IMAX. The cinematography is the major reason to see this slight documentary, unless, of course, you are a boardhead.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com