Into The Mind
A stellar piece of film-making? Yes.
A stellar ski movie? No.
Allow me to begin with a comment regarding expectations. If you’re looking for an eye-popping extravaganza of tricky film-making wizardry, you’ll like this movie. If you’re looking a for a ski movie with unrelenting action and jaw dropping sequences – well, keep looking. That’s not to say this is a bad movie – it’s to clarify that this movie may not give you what you want, depending on your expectations.
Following their mind-blowing 2011 release All.I.Can, whatever Sherpas did next was going to attract attention. Judging by the online gabber, Into The Mind was easily the most anticipated ski movie of the 2013 season. But what did we actually get? We got a lot of spinning, barrel roll shots of (admittedly) spectacular settings and a lot of close-ups on eyeballs (my God, the Sherpas love their shots of windows into the soul or into the mind, even) that do pretty much nothing to get you excited about skiing. The super slow-motion, high def footage of surfing waves crashing underwater and powdered snow showering across the screen beautifully illustrate the fractal quality of water droplets whether liquid or frozen and it’s all calculated to give you a real IMAX level visual experience. But, when making a ski movie, you can pray all you want (and you can even have a monastery full of Tibetan monks spinning prayer wheels praying for the same thing – and Into The Mind has a lot of that) but if you do not have a ton of ski action in your movie, well then, I’m sorry, but those prayers will be in vain.
The shots of kayakers, surfers, whales etc are just plain distracting. You’re focused on one skier’s style and then all of sudden you’re surfing in Hawaii. Who wants those types of interruptions? They bounce the ski vibe from side to side, making for a bumpy ride of a movie. The loose plotline of a skier striving for some big mountain spine action but ending up on a page of the Tibetan Book of The Dead/hospital bed is too unfocussed to add anything substantive to the movie and at best, confuses and at worst, bores with its presence. I get that he’s supposed to be some metaphorical everyman skier who’s had the shock of his life, but are we supposed to feel something here? I mean we never become emotionally vested with the guy. In this context he’s not a product of the skiing, he’s a device in a movie, so those sequences just create confusion.
Are there any redeeming moments, you ask? Well yeah, JP Auclair reprises his take on urban skiing from All.I.Can and he doesn’t disappoint even if the thrill of that type of segment is diluted because you’ve seen it before. Callum Pettit and Kye Petersen’s big mountain runs are a welcome sight. Chris Rubens and Ingrid Backstrom deliver some of their best footage ever as they shred through powder pillows. Eric Hjorleifson and Mark Abma continue to provide the type of inspiration one craves from real ski movies. But, then it’s back to the speeding clouds and the slow-motion salmon jumping up river, all those gratuitous pretty eye candy shots that after a while seem like coffin nails to those of us jonesing for sports action footage.
Ultimately, Into The Mind will be the polarizing film of 2013, many will love it, others will be disappointed. It all depends on your expectations. By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail