Judge William Lee can't quite remember yesterday.
Winter is coming. Watch this first.
If you haven't heard the name Warren Miller before, then you probably don't have winters where you live. The pioneer of ski movies hasn't been involved with a film production since 2004 but the company that bears his name continues to release a new feature-length ski movie annually. The latest is Warren Miller's Like There's No Tomorrow featuring several world-class athletes. This is porn for snow sport enthusiasts. There's minimal plot and you hardly get to know the people on screen but almost every camera angle is a money-shot of expert skiing and snowboarding.
The film follows accomplished athletes like Chris Davenport, Julia Mancuso, Daron Rahlves, Colby West and Seth Wescott to ski destinations around the world. Squaw Valley, Tuckerman Ravine and Salt Lake City are among the American locales. Further north, the powder seekers make stops in Cordova, Alaska and Monashees, British Columbia. More distant mountains are also highlighted in India, Chile, Norway and New Zealand.
The movie's title suggests its carpe diem message of doing that thing that makes you most happy. For the champion skiers featured, that means flying down virtually vertical slopes. This makes for some stunning photography of the descents captured with cameras placed at various distances from the action but also sometimes using cameras strapped to the skiers for a first-person perspective. We get to hear a little of each skier's personal story but the film is mostly interested in hearing them describe that Zen-like place they inhabit when nothing else matters but the sensation of skiing, shredding, hucking, bombing, or however else they call what they do. The action is exhilarating, to be sure, but the amazing photography elevates the footage to the point where some moments conjure euphoria.
Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley narrates the movie with the right tone of casual, nearly corny humor. However, the script occasionally seems like it's slyly talking down to its audience. More than once, it's remarked that people are wasting their lives if they're working a desk job instead of skiing, if they're sitting in front of the TV instead of skiing, if they're doing anything except skiing. Let's not pretend that any of these athletes are waiting tables to save up for their ski weekends. I could totally get behind skiing all the time too if every day a helicopter were waiting outside my lodge to fly me to a peak that no one else can access. I think the average viewer of a Warren Miller movie wants to be wowed by the footage of pro skiers doing remarkable moves in beautiful locations. Being reminded that a petty thing like a day job is keeping you from achieving your full potential is not so inspiring. To be fair, the theme of Like There's No Tomorrow is kind of flimsy and none of the featured athletes really draw on that in their interviews. None of them are skiing like they have nothing left to lose; they're chasing bliss and tomorrow they're going to do it again.
To break up the monotony of the downhill footage, there is some scripted comedy incorporated into one of the chapters. One of two skiers swears he's spotted a yeti but his friend doesn't believe him. I didn't mind this gag but it doesn't really add anything either. The acting is slightly better than the usual results when athletes are tasked with acting and reading scripted lines. It is in keeping with the general tone of the film though, which is light and goofy.
The video quality on this Blu-ray release is very good. The 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded video does a stellar job showing off the winter landscapes. White is the dominant color but the excellent photography keeps it under control and captures the subtle shading as sunlight casts shadows or sparkles across the snow. The bold colors of the winter wear are nicely saturated and skin tones are pleasingly rendered.
Audio is delivered in either a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix or PCM 2.0 Stereo. The two-channel option gives a big boost to the dialogue and it's a very good stereo presentation. The surround option shows off the sound design a bit more though. The film sports a long play list of rock music and it fills the surround environment very well. The subwoofer gets a good work out as many of the songs employ a throbbing bass. Crisp sound effects underline the crunch of the snow and the soft thud when planks make a landing in the powder. With all that aural activity going on, the dialogue still comes through clearly in this well-balanced soundscape.
The extras are pretty forgettable on this disc. There is a series of "teasers" for each location, running about 90 seconds each. If you pay attention, you may spot some shots that weren't used in the final film but these short segments are little more than clips of highlights. The only other extra content is footage from a nighttime event in Denver.
If there really were no tomorrow, I doubt hiring a helicopter so I can get a few runs in would be a top priority for me. Nonetheless, this film did get me stoked for some winter sporting. Beautiful locations and superb photography of gifted athletes combine to make skiing look like the coolest, most graceful, most awesome activity in the snow. This is an easy recommendation for ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Others may find it tedious since one snow-covered mountain looks just like any other.
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