Back in the director’s chair after a year off, Tyler Hamlet delivers the dynamic edits and the perfect camera placement that you’ve come to expect from a Poor Boyz ski movie. The skiing is also what you’d expect from the cast: loads of dudes (and Lexi DuPont) doing things that you, the average skier, can only dream about.
But, all in all, there are not a ton of new ideas here. Well, except for the urban sequence, which given its location could be the ultimate urban experience.
Sean Pettit and company largely reprise last year’s segment from WE: A Collection of Individuals, where they ski back country and big mountain vistas and goof around in between runs. Julian Regnier, Seth Morrison, Glen Plake and JP Auclair make a 180 km trek across the mountains, the “haute route”, from Chamonix to Zermatt in Switzerland. Its more of an adventure sequence than a demonstration of insane ski skills. But the standout segment is Karl Fostvedt, Khai Krepela and Max Morello going to Detroit to film urban tricks in the derelict Packard plant. They truck in snow in a pickup and build ramps from cinder block bricks, old tires and wooden pallets and then proceed to bungee the hell out of North America’s most serious architectural ruins. The Packard plant hasn’t been rocked that hard since Richie Hawtin threw parties there in the 90s. Their dedication to get a seemingly impossible segment is unquestioned when you see them skiing over nails and broken glass; all of that adds a little more risk to the already high stakes. I don’t know how the Detroit Tourist Board would respond here but I’m certainly diggin’ it.
There is one other small touch in Tracing Skylines that bodes well for the future of ski movies and that’s the use of the drone-mounted camera in the final sequence on the kicker at Steven’s Pass. It’s an inexpensive way to get those amazing follow shots that Norwegian ski movie maestro Filip Christensen gets for his films using a helicopter. Using one of those drones on a pillow descent would be a brain- hemorrhaging thing to witness.
If there was one thing Tracing Skylines could do without, it’s all the awkward narration. Most of the skiers sound dozy. Sean Pettit has a natural flare for comedy, so he’s fine. Charley Ager, who’s pretty good on camera, (see him at Charley Ager – Ski Bum) ironically was not used at all here outside of his ski shots. By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail