Sony // 2008 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 28th, 2009
Tempt fate. Test friendship. Chase glory.
What do you get when you cross a butt-load of snow and a couple of guys with five o'clock shadows and perfect hair? This movie!
Tyler Crowe (Eric Lively), is an all-pro skier -- a "maverick" according to the synopsis -- capable of some amazing downhill tomfoolery. But he's just a bit too mavericky, and that of course results in a horrifying crash during one of his televised competitions. He's cut from the team and drifts around for a while, until he hooks up with his best friend Mark, who's officially characterized as a "renegade snowboarder." Mark invites him to Alaska to be part of an extreme sports movie. Their challenge: to take on "The Meteorite," a lethal mountain no one in his or her right man should even consider tackling.
You know, I wasn't expecting anything more than a cookie-cutter snowboard jock-movie starring annoying characters, but Deep Winter surprised me. It's an entertaining spectacle, sporting some jaw-dropping downhill footage, a serviceable human drama, and likable players to tie it all together.
Deep Winter is sort of a meta-snowboard movie, quite possible the first of a genre. The story is about these guys making a ski and snowboard movie, but it's obvious from the crazy downhill shenanigans that human beings are actually strapping themselves to thin pieces of sculpted plastic and voluntarily sliding down a big-ass mountain. Really, I can't say enough about how awesome the skiing and snowboarding is in this movie. If I had to guess, the angles are sheer 90 degree drops of doom and somehow the nutjobs the filmmakers suckered into rocketing down the slopes negotiate this wintry peril with ease. Just fantastic.
Buttressing all of this is the movie itself and it's decent. You'll be able to chart out the trajectory of the plot no problem: the twists, the relationships, the looming fatalities, the Final Momentous Choice our hero makes, all of it. You've seen this melodrama in countless other works. The clichés are tempered with some solid acting and a likable Alpha Male awesome skier guy who bangs his best friend's sister, sure, but that's a necessity in movies like this, so you can't fault him for that. Even Michael Madsen brings his game, likely relieved he's not hoisting around a fake sword and incomprehensible accent from a Uwe Boll movie or playing a gangster for the billionth time.
Again, the centerpiece of Deep Winter is the ski action footage, so I wouldn't hold it against you if you skipped through some of the extended sentimentality to get to the good stuff.
The film looks good in its 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment, though the picture quality isn't as vibrant as it could be. In fact, Deep Winter is best-suited for a high-definition treatment. Audio is pushed by a 5.1 track, and it's rich, pounding bass and blasting out the nifty soundtrack. The total lack of extras is a major missed opportunity.
The dramatic elements are hit-and-miss, but the snow action scenes are a sight to behold. Highly recommended.
Not Guilty. I'm cold.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13