Consisting of “Show & Prove” (2006), “Believe” (2007) and “The Massive” (2008) Constantine Papanicolaou’s (“CP”) “Tanner Hall Trilogy” is fundamental to understanding not only the virtuoso level of skiing that Tanner Hall and his crew have achieved but to what has been accomplished in skiing in the first decade of the 21st Century. Without a doubt, these skiers have had a large role in developing what is now called “freeskiing”. It’s well-worth viewing all three in succession and since they total just over two hours it’s not an impossible task.
Considering CP’s final installment in his Tanner Hall trilogy is called “The Massive” it’s appropriate that we look at the some of the skiers that form the Tanner Hall Massive as of 2008. Appearing in every movie of the trilogy, first and foremost has got to be the brothers Pettit. In 2008, when “The Massive” was released most viewers were thinking of Callum and Sean Pettit as an indivisable whole, and seeing as they appeared together in almost all of their many sequences in the Tanner Hall Trilogy, one could be forgiven for making this mistake. Their gutsy moves and tricks throughout these three movies elevated both skiers to the forefront of the sport. Likewise, brothers Ian and Neil Provo push hard in their appearances and deserve kudos. Dana Flahr sends it in “The Massive” showing he’s coming up and will deserve all the sponsorship support he’ll get in future years. Another thing that remains clear in these films is that no one goes big quite like Seth Morrison. He’s hucked monster cliffs in the two prior films of this trilogy and this movie is no different, except he seems to go even bigger. You gotta see it to believe it.
“The Massive” covers all the bases: park skiing, urban rails, big mountain, steeps and so on. The star of the show, Tanner Hall, lays out his mastery on all disciplines in every sequence but one in this movie. The kid from Kallispel, Montana might be rough around the edges off-piste (literally) but he skis everything with finesse and aplomb. Teaming up with other masters like Ian McIntosh, Frank Raymond and Morrison, Hall does the exact same thing Prince used to do when working with other musicians in the 1980s: if you are already incredibly accomplished, work with the best in the field and you will look even better.
Two drawbacks about “The Massive” that make its impact on the viewer a little less than it could be. One is minor and one is major. Minor one first: the lack of name title cards on the screen telling you who you are watching. CP tries to compensate here by showing you the skier in question in the scene right before the run but you have to be paying serious attention to pick that up and you had better know what all the skiers look like to be certain who you are watching. Not an easy feat for most people given the helmets, goggles and balaclavas in use.
The second issue is the music. Tanner Hall’s love of reggae music is well known and so the soundtrack is loaded up with island vibes. Sometimes it works, like in the sequence where Hall and Frank Raymond hit urban features like cement towers and walls. Clone’s dance hall track “Tiwony” provides a terrific underscore. However, the sequences in the Uinta wilderness the Million Stylez track seems way too mellow when put up against extreme vertical skiing executed by Ian Provo, Neil Provo, Sean Pettit and Callum Pettit. This situation was repeated a couple of times over in “The Massive”. Music plays such a huge role in these ski action movies, so if the track does not convey the right feeling, the impact of the sequence is diminished.
Being released in the fall of 2008, “The Massive” is basically a record of the calm before the storm when Hall breaks both legs at Steven’s Pass in May, 2009 and CR Johnson dies in February 2010. While it might not have the focus of CP and Hall’s prior film “Believe”, it’s a strong finish for CP’s trilogy and a worthy catalogue of Tanner Hall’s abilities as a freeskier. By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail