Great, another sport that looks super-fun, but will likely get Judge David Johnson killed. It's just not easy being a hapless, gangly white boy.
A kiteboarding experience. Ten days. Ten kites. Ten personalities.
What is kiteboarding? Before this disc I had no idea. After spending 60 minutes with kiteboarding "guru" Paul Menta and his band of fellow k-boarders (note: not official kiteboarding shorthand) I still don't know a lot about it, save for this: it looks frickin' awesome.
Here's what I did manage to glean: an offshoot of wakeboarding, instead of a motor boat or Jet Ski pulling you on your board, kiteboarding depends on the wind for power. These guys and girls strap themselves to humongous kites, insert their feet into the (wake) board, and let the breeze drag them all around the ocean. The more accomplished kiteboarders are able to truly harness the wind's power, and boast some impressive air, flying 30-40 feet easily. Tricks play a big role in the sport too, as the kiteboarders bend their bodies in different positions to score style points and bragging rights.
Into the Air is less an instructional film on kiteboarding and more a documentary chronicling the adventures of a group of kiteboarders kicking back and catching air in gorgeous Puerto Rico over a 10-day span. Translation: it was yet another example of how great it must be to free of responsibilities and have access to unlimited funds.
As the subtitle declares it is "a kiteboarding experience," but kiteboarding makes up just a portion (a major one, sure) of what our players do. They also lounge on the beach, they talk to the camera about what motivates them in life (one guy left medical school for this!), they hang out at exotic bars, and, as some deleted footage shows, embroil themselves in violent confrontations with rivals. Into the Air definitely has a Real World flavor to it, for better or worse. Some of these boarders were colorful personalities, specifically "Top Hat," some dude who walked around with a top hat all the time. He may have been a super-villain of some kind, too. The disc never makes that clear.
The kiteboarding footage is easily the best part of this disc. Twenty-somethings acting like asses I've seen before. Twenty-somethings hurtling through the air with giant kites attached to their stomachs…well, that's new. These kids skim through the water and suddenly leap up to awesome heights, do a flip or two, then land on their board to go again. It looked like fantastic fun. And that's probably the biggest compliment I can lay on this disc: as someone who is relatively adverse to alternative sports and skis with the finesse of a front end loader, I desperately wanted to try this.
All of this action is beautifully captured, and set against the backdrop of a full-fledged paradise. Menta takes his crew to a special island ("his special island"), a tropical fantasy land situated in the middle of crystal clear, shallow waters, wide open and flat enough to provide the perfect milieu for some fierce kiteboarding. The scenery is lush and the strong video quality (1.33:1) transmits this in warm, striking color levels. Watch this disc with at least SP-25 sunblock.
My one issue with the program is how I never felt like I knew that much about kiteboarding. I knew it looked fun, I knew some of its history, and I learned a bit about the most suitable conditions for kiteboarding, but info like price, technique, and even general how-to tips was lacking.
Supplementing the strong video quality is a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix that operates the music-heavy soundscape well. Extras include lots of bonus footage, including a kiteboarding montage, "the San Juan incident" detailing the aforementioned scruff, and a few outtakes.
Into the Air is a dope little film tackling a sport I had never heard of, and, while it tended away from "show and tell" info-parlaying of documentaries of similar ilk, living vicariously through these kiteboarders and their kick-ass diversion was more than cool.
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