Does Travis Rice's latest snowboard epic live up to those that came before it? The Echo knows, and so can you.
STORY BY: Kenny Jesus
When you’re a big name in media like we are, you get invited to shit. Cool shit. The coolest shit even. So, obviously, it came as no surprise to find out we’d been invited – VIP no less – to the Parisian première of The Fourth Phase. In case you’ve been hibernating since last winter, The Fourth Phase is Travis Rice/Red Bull’s follow up to The Art of Flight.
Trying to follow up what is regarded by pretty much everyone to be the best snow-sports film of all time can’t have been an easy task to take on, so we boarded the train in the beautiful city of Dax wondering if we were in for one of the best sequels of all time (like Godfather II) or a horrible abomination of a film that shames not only the people responsible for it but their entire families as well (like Godfather III).
Arriving a couple of hours before the film was set to begin, we did what anyone with just under 24 hours to spend in Paris would do: headed to an Australian Pub to sink a few Cooper’s with the boys (anything you do with Jono from The Fall Line involves at least a few beers).
As everyone knows, Aussie’s are a people that ooze class.
3 or 4 beers later it was time to head to the cinema. We arrived in front of the Grand Rex Theatre and made our way past the crowd and up the red carpet. Surprisingly, it seems that was actually where we were supposed to be…
With our white bracelets on, we headed up to the VIP lounge to see what kind of free stuff we could get and how much awful chat the Red Bull girls would put up with (a fair bit it turns out).
While we were up there we spotted Val d’Isère local and two-time GoPro Line of the Winter winner Léo Taillefer hanging out by the entrance to the VIP area. We went to go say hi and discovered that security wouldn’t let him in. Clearly, whoever handed out the invitations has their priorities wrong but, at the risk of mixing my metaphors, we didn’t want to rock the boat our gravy train was riding on, so we didn’t point this injustice out to anybody.
Once inside the theatre people quickly became restless and Red Bull propaganda crafted into airplanes began to fly from the balconies. Luckily before someone lost an eye (Mum always warned us about that), Travis and the crew came out for a bit of Q & A before the film began. Everyone in the audience became moist/soiled themselves as appropriate and then things kicked off.
The film itself was good… very good in fact. That’s probably why it seemed so odd when all of us were a little bit disappointed by it. Whereas The Art of Flight is all thumping music and action hotter than anything you can find on PornHub, The Fourth Phase took a gamble going in a different direction.
Despite Travis telling the crowd that he hadn’t set out to make The Art of FlightII, secretly, that’s exactly what we were all waiting for. There are some unreal action scenes in The Fourth Phase, and the cinematography is next level, but I don’t think many people in the crowd were prepared for the psychological aspects of the narrative. We don’t want to give too much away, but it turns out that even when you’ve got all the time in the world and dump trucks full of Red Bull money behind you, things can still go wrong. While it might be easy to dismiss the mental strain Travis & co. are going through, given that they have a huge production team behind them, ask yourself how you felt the last time something in your life went sideways. Multiply that feeling by the pressure of having to follow up the best film of all time and answer to the guys who fund that production crew and you begin to empathise a bit more with our protagonists.
The whole ‘Hydrological Cycle’ aspect that features heavily in the trailer, and gives the film its name, wasn’t quite as fleshed out as we thought it would be but the crew still manages to find themselves chasing powder all around the world. For us the two stand-out sections were the first: Japan, and the last: Alaska.
Although the Japanese segment doesn’t feature anything too crazy it still gives you the horn as it looks like the perfect place for you and your mates to go on a pow-shredding holiday adventure. The Alaskan section is precisely the opposite. It still riles you up, but it does so with steep spines and features you can’t imagine yourself ever having the balls to hit.
It’s in Alaska that Frenchman Victor de la Rue, who does have some massive balls (phrasing), steals the film with some of the best balls-to-the-wall riding we’ve seen in a while (although we might be biased due to the fact we were sitting 10 feet from his friends/cheering section during the screening). On another note, we need to invest in a thesaurus that has synonyms for the word balls.
After the film we caught up with some of the riders, filmers, and producers and hit the town. We ended up in the Pigalle area but if you know Paris you know that’s a story for another time.
We look forward to watching The Fourth Phase again; going in knowing what to expect would probably make us appreciate it that much more. All in all we give The Fourth Phase 4 out of 5 Monoskis. It’s a great film, but it won’t be playing on repeat in every Alpine bar for the next 3 years the way The Art of Flight was. While that may not be a bad thing as far as artistic intent and the evolution of the medium are concerned, we can’t help but wonder what the Red Bull marketing department thinks…