Trying to review a movie, in a normal sense, takes into account plot, characters, storyline, cinematography, etc, etc...the normal things that hold your interest and intrigue. Read any review from anywhere, and the majority of time is spent talking about the actors performance, the way in which the story moves from one plot point to the next and how it all works as a cohesive film.
A waterski movie, or video, as the case may be, isn't something that can be judged by the same style points that one would use to judge a regular movie.
Thats the real difference between any movie and any waterski or sport related video, you can't judge what you see in the same way you judge anything else.
So, why even bring this up?
Well, one of the memories I have of growing up and waterskiing was hanging out in a buddies shop and checking out the latest ski gear that was for sale, talking big and watching the various waterski videos that were either supplied by vendors, or simple videos that they recorded on their own on the water and set to music.
Thats the basic genesis for all of these videos, its not so much a movie with a point, its more of a waterski celebration, or a celebration of waterski...depending on where you want to put that descriptive adjective modifier.
So, at its core, the video "Gifted" is just that, a celebration of waterski and is to be judged accordingly. How well does it showcase the skiers, how is the production value improve on anything else, are their unique angles to catch things you wouldn't see and do you really gain any insight into the skiers that are featured.
The answer to all those questions is yes.
I am not going to bother going through the movie shot by shot, or scene by scene, or vignette by vignette. Actually, Vignette makes the most sense, as the video is a series of vignettes strung together with the connecting pieces being inspirational quotes linking the scenes together.
Which, I suppose, is why the movie was titled "Gifted" as they, Ski-Hd, took some of the currently best skiers out there, the gifted, and promoted them as the hook.
Each little vignette begins with a bit of an informal interview, followed by the normal ski scenes set to music that, basically, no one has heard of...which isn't actually a bad thing, but...and here is where one of the quibbles comes into play is. (and that was a horribly constructed sentence, but, I got going and wasn't sure how to end it.)
Meaning, there really is only so much of slaloming you can see before it gets a bit repetitive. Thats not a bad thing mind you, its more of a note. Because, combined with some music that isn't particularly notable or recognizable and with similar shots of the same discipline, you don't tune out necessarily, but, you tend to drift a bit.
Case in point, the scenes with Alexei Zharnasek, trick skiing, provided a neat change of pace within the construct of what was happening.
Either way, its a gorgeously shot movie that, as a waterskier, everyone should go out and purchase. There are a few reasons for this as well.
1) Its very good, and its great to have on during a party or gathering or something like that.
2) The more we support the people who do this sort of work the better, as it will no doubt encourage more like this.
3) It really is very good.
My hopes for videos like this in the future would be a few.
1) Less of the quick-cut style editing of a slalom run/jump cut/trick pass. I.e, its difficult sometimes to grasp the entire scope of Freddy's jump cut if you see his pre-turn, then cut to him crossing the wake then cut to the jump. A single camera shot from the wrong side of the lake showing the entire set-up, cut, jump and landing would be awesome.
2) Maybe a better merging of the interviews into the action. In a silly way, it reminds me a porn movie (not that I have seen any) but, there is the set-up scene.."I am here to fix the cable"...then bow-chicka bow-wow, and they get it on. You can have, for example, a skier talking about that specific run, or how they got where they are, or what they are thinking or something.
Meaning, the interviews are cool, and I like the look inside, but...maybe it would be nice to hear the skier describe whats happening, how they got there...whatever...etc.
3) Music. This is way more of a personal thing then a overall aesthetic thing. I wish I knew what the music was ahead of time, i.e, I was familiar with it. Maybe thats stupid, but, if I was to set my own skiing to music I would probably use Neil Young or Kings of Leon or something...
Then again...maybe people don't know what that is and would have the same complaint. So, its a moot point in a sense, and maybe the rights to the music is expensive and maybe it was the skiers choice to have that music. Don't know. But, thats just what I think.
As a skier, there is a strange feeling that I have and the reason...in a vague sense...as to why this website was began (other then goofing with Rykerts dog and what-not) was to maybe have a place to vent frustrations with things that don't live up to the standard that our sport deserves.
Its a strange thought, but, when something waterski related is out there for public consumption, you want it to strongly identify with our sport, not make light of the work that the skiers put in, the work the companies put in, and you want our sport to be portrayed in a light that accurately reflects that.
Videos like "Gifted" do just that, it shines a very nice light on our sport, it looks professional, it doesn't take the skiers work, their passion for granted, and shows the athletes that make our sport so kick-ass in a light that accurately reflects their passion and dedication.
"Gifted" is just like that. You can sense the dedication and love for the sport within the movie, qualms aside, it sets out with great ambition and does raise the bar for waterski movies that are surely going to be shot in the future. It celebrates what these athletes do and puts that dedication down on film for us to enjoy.
Four Thumbs Up!
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