“Revolve,” the Kranked kidz latest mountain-biking DVD, has its moments. I mean, a blind guy riding the jumps at Whistler? Maybe sight is overrated on the extreme stuff!
Some Coast, B.C. footage is spectacular, and the whole thing with groms building X ramps and criss-crossing back and forth over the jumps is a real hoot. You come across this stuff in the woods and you think, Who are these guys? Well, “Revolve” introduces you to some.
There’s some great footage of Lance McDermott at Crankworx, doing back and forward flips in the Slopestyle competition, and you think to yourself, “How’d the guy finish second?” And a nice mini-profile of last year’s 27k Megavalanche (Alp d’Huez) winner, Rene Wildhaber, talking about strategy for the race, which he’s won six times. More interesting is his bike, a kind of burly but short-travel configuration that looks like just the right build for all-mountain classification. Wish he’d talked about it some.
There’s a great bit on Jamie Goldman where he relates how he got fired from his first job with Santa Cruz Bicycles. Another high point is hearing Sam Pilgrim pronounce “aluminum.”
The videography in “Revolve” is second to none, with lots of breathtaking aerial shots, fast close-ups and track camerawork. We’re coming to take this stuff for granted, but the Radical Films folks just keep ramping it up a notch. Showing how the blind rider, Bobby McMullen, sees the trail is a stroke of cinematic brilliance.
In general, though, “Revolve” doesn’t light up the sky. It really represents a video approach that, hopefully, the industry is moving away from. What we’re ready for as an audience is more depth on a particular riding style or rider. We don’t want MTV, where the M stands for Mountain Biking, full of flips and 360s and monster hucks. It’s getting old, and “Revolve” doesn’t even have a killer sound track like “Latitudes” or “Stripped” to carry the day.
We want a story.
For comparison, check out this season’s best DVDs, “Freedom Riders” and “The Tipping Point.” The former tells the story of legitimizing rogue trails in the Grand Teton National Forest by working with local enforcement agencies and land-use groups, notably the Forest Service. It isn’t just a polemic, though, you get to know the lead characters, warts and all, who typify the mtb mentality to the 9s, and you come away with a real human feel for what the sport of mountain biking means to its denizens as well as a community at large.
“Tipping Point” goes behind the scenes of the 2008 World Cup series with interviews and fly-on-the-wall, at-home footage of leading riders, including Steve Peat, Sam Hill, Greg Minnaar and others. You get a real sense of the ebb and flow of a long race season, as well as the thrills and spills of wins and losses. I would rather have had a more incisive look at the individual strengths and weaknesses of each rider as well — Peaty’s amazing bike control and Sam’s unbelievable cornering technique, for instance — but as it stands “Tipping Point” is the most penetrating, appealing and humanized look at the downhill racing scene ever produced.
Compared to “Freedom Riders” and “Tipping Point,” “Revolve” comes across as superficial and old-school. We’ll look forward to something a bit more innovative and forward-looking from Radical Films, because in every technical respect they’re still the gold standard.