Under Review: The Fourth Phase

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My First Honest Impression of the 4th Phase
By Paul Bourdon

The Fourth Phase premiered last night on Red Bull TV, and I was excited – genuinely excited. It had been five years since the last Travis Rice film (The Art of Flight / 2011) and for the last year or so the hype surrounding the latest effort from the world’s most talented snowboarder and most gifted film crew was ever-present on nearly all snowboard related media, and rightfully so. This op-ed is going to make me sound like a hater and I really don’t want that. I have a tremendous amount of respect not only for Travis but for everyone else associated with this production… except for maybe Red Bull, but I’ll save that for another discussion. Let’s face it: Travis Rice is the best rider in snowboarding today. Hands down, end of discussion. No, he doesn’t have several olympic medals hanging around his neck, but is that really the metric we want to use to quantify who is “the best” at this artform we all love? I don’t know Travis personally, but from what I’ve heard about him, from the people who do, he’s a really good guy. He’s not one to wear cheetah printed spandex, or have rock star fantasies; he’s just a ripper from Jackson Hole, who through hard work and a level of dedication unlike anyone else’s has happened to find himself in the mainstream spotlight. I can’t really say anything bad about the guy. He’s not sending poo porn to female friends of his, and I feel like he’s a great dude to have at the forefront of snowboarding. What he and the other world-class riders in this film are capable of is nothing short of jaw dropping, but I still couldn’t make it more than 10 minutes into this film last night without my eyelids getting heavy, and my brain getting bored, ultimately forcing me to turn off the live feed and go back to watching a documentary on happiness on Netflix for the second time. And therein lies the rub….

Maybe it was the 4+ years of hype, maybe it was that Red Bull broke the internet last night (how you couldn’t allocate the appropriate amount of server space to handle the amount of hits you KNEW you were going to get on this is beyond me), maybe it’s because I’m not 16 anymore, and watching dudes throw variations on double and triple corks doesn’t really inspire me, but I was bored by the Fourth Phase before it even got started. I talked to Jens Heig from Snowboardmag about this, and even talked to Brooke about it too. Jens assured me the movie gets better and that I should give it a second chance, which I will; I plan on buying it and fast forwarding through the opening Wyoming segment with high hopes that the story that unfolds after the first ten minutes of gymnastiboarding and holds me for the duration of the movie. I want to like Fourth Phase; I really do. But, and I’m saying this with tremendous respect, the film just fell short for me last night. I was let down. I was disappointed. After talking to a couple other friends, I wasn’t the only one. It begs the question: Does every pow turn and landing really need supplemented audio? Do we really need to spend 4 years and millions of dollars making a snowboard film? I get that I’m not really who this movie is intended for; I get that this movie is intended for more of a mainstream audience and mass consumption. I realize that this movie is for the kid who wants to show his parents and grandparents snowboarding so they can say “WOW!!!! THAT IS AMAZING!!! THAT IS EXTREME!!! THAT IS DANGEROUS!!!” but is that where we’re at in snowboarding these days?

I blame Red Bull mostly. Lets face it, at the end of the day this is a multi-million dollar marketing piece for an energy drink company that sells poison to kids, dudes who vote for Trump, and drive teched out diesel trucks who like to ‘roll coal’ on cyclists and people who might have a world view wider than about six inches. And I can hear the people flaming me already, “But Red Bull has done sooo much for action sports!!!!” and you’re right, they have. I can’t deny Red Bull and other corporate sponsors have helped bring our lifestyle into the mainstream spotlight, but at what cost? We have an industry that for years has over produced product on the bet that more people will get involved after seeing films like this. The reality is, that just hasn’t happened.

Films like the Fourth Phase are amazing visual journeys no doubt, but the problem is, they aren’t accessible. I don’t know that many people travelling the world and making a living from snowboarding. Yes, there are some exceptions, but lets face it, it’s not 2003 anymore. I guess I just prefer films and edits that are more accessible. Stuff like Liam Gallagher’s ‘Search for a Cool Place’, Warp Wave’s ‘A Place Called Kookabunga’, Work Shirt’s ‘Close to Home’, and the all girls film ‘Full Moon’ and of course the classic Robot Food trilogy do way more to make me actually want to go snowboarding with my friends and speak to what I think this lifestyle is all about than any offering from Red Bull or another larger production company ever has. But hell, that’s just like my opinion….man.

97 replies
    • The Elephant in The Room
      The Elephant in The Room says:

      No one is going to comment on how Travis came off like an absolute PSYCHO?

      Hey I understand that this was complicated narrative about the movement of water and how it effects snowboarding buuuuuut ultimately T. Rice seems hell bent on hid own personal brand of self-destruction.

      But hey, E. Jax is a G so thats cool.

    • The Author
      The Author says:

      As a filmmaker your job is to create a story that pulls people in right from the start. If people can’t get into/behind your story and as a result, become disinterested you have failed at your job in a major major way.

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        Haven’t you ever listened to a great album with a shitty opening track? Haven’t you ever visited a rad mountain with a shitty village? Haven’t you ever watched a porn with a shitty blowjob but great sex?

        Yes the creator has to draw you in, but the opening is only one aspect of the film. And that’s not to say that I think it got better, it didn’t. And that’s not to say that you should force yourself to watch the whole thing, I didn’t.

        The whole point of writing a review is to look at something as a whole piece of art and to discuss what parts worked what parts didn’t. So watching the first 10 minutes means nothing and your opinions have no weight.

        • Chester Cheesecake
          Chester Cheesecake says:

          The point is that an album with a shitty first track you need to listen over and over to start loving usually is NOT a pop-culture piece but of a more artistic breed.
          Everything REDBULL does is pop-culture. Hence the notion of a fail.

    • get real
      get real says:

      IF RICE wants to be the next Jacques Cousteau by a tight red speedo a couple SCUBA tanks and go count goldfish in JAMACA MON .

    • King SHred
      King SHred says:

      OK, lets get some shit straight Travis is not the most talented rider out there–that would be Bode Miller–sorry.
      Also, at least that quasi-criminal toothpick picking Mark Carter isnt in the film.
      TO all the people looking for inspiration ala Robot Food–get a grip–this is a big budget flick designed to showcase big mtn pow riding and exotic locales—wtf were you expecting?
      What–youre bummed that Rice didnt show up to shred Bear Mtn or Trollhaugen?
      Please.

  1. Stoweked
    Stoweked says:

    It was a snooze fest!! I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that it was a let down. I watch the whole thing and it didn’t really get any better!

    • fuck-the--bro--system
      fuck-the--bro--system says:

      LANDO needs to be in a rehab / 1/2 way house , wearing a bathrobe and peeing on himself ……GET SOME GOD DAM NEW FACES …there sure out there …

    • The Author
      The Author says:

      It ain’t about the money. It’s about the over-hype and the idea that somehow shit like this will make the mainstream want to snowboard. It won’t. Its just a ‘wow factor’ piece, that will ultimately be kinda forgettable. That’s it, That’s all was ground breaking for sure; but at this point they’re beating the fuck out of a dead horse. It’s like the last back to the future movie…which also sucked.

  2. fugyomomma
    fugyomomma says:

    saw it last night…. what a letdown. i thought it was supposed to be a snowboard film, but it was more like a 90 minute screensaver

  3. Da cheat
    Da cheat says:

    This shit blew. A couple impressive big mountain lines but double cork mutes are dead and we don’t need some well funded middle school explanation of the water cycle.

      • Da cheat
        Da cheat says:

        Oh whooptee doo I just wet my pants because that back 5 Japan totally outweighed the number of tricks that had no lasting impression. 4 years bruh. 4 years.

  4. Landvik's Mom
    Landvik's Mom says:

    Travis made my son look like a bitch, but he couldn’t even ride that pussy hill and got wrecked. Can’t believe I waited over two years to see more heli’s and weather forecasts.

    The shot of them all ripping Japan together was rad tho.

    • Lance
      Lance says:

      Landvik = little baby
      At one point I found myself saying “waaaah” out loud when I heard him talk.

      • Lance's Life Coach
        Lance's Life Coach says:

        Watch “A Constant Evolution” and get back to us. You never know what other people are dealing with.

  5. dat boi
    dat boi says:

    Never been a big fan of the huck fest tricks that travis and his crew throw down but for some reason I love the Art of Flight. The 4th phase in my opinion wasnt as good but maybe I just have to watch it again.

  6. Sauce
    Sauce says:

    The Japan section was pretty rad, mostly Mikkel’s riding. There were some mind bending tree taps for sure. The rest of the movie just didn’t really get me excited, as others have already commented. It seems like a combination of bad weather and injury wasted a lot of time and money on this project. I never touch Red Bull, but it was cool to be able to watch the premier for free from the comfort of my own home.

  7. Ely C
    Ely C says:

    This movie was insanity! The art of flight dod have more riding in it but nothjng as extreme as what happened in this movie. Doing opposite directional corks of trees and the lines travis did are alone worth the hype. Lats also not forget that the movie didn’t have as much riding footage because Travis almost died twice in it one getting caught in the single biggest fucking avalanche ever and another almost whipping his spine in half. All of it was worth it and it was an interesting film ;it’s not like a cinventional video part of just riding its a documentary so theres more substance than just riding it’ss all about the story of the three years and seeing probably the gnarliest snowboarding ever to occur in the face of the earth.

    • ok but
      ok but says:

      if you want a good snowboard documentary just watch any of the jones series of flicks. his first one was a better story than this.

    • That's should be it, that should be all
      That's should be it, that should be all says:

      The art of flight was shit too, that’s it that’s all was good though. These are not good documentaries and there isn’t enough shredding (japan was dope, that’s really it) for it to be a shred flick. I know it’s not really aimed at core snowboarders, it’s more for kids and nonriders, but give me think thank, robotfood, or mackdawg any day.

      Also you shouldn’t song jack an old Pat Moore part in a new movie especially if it features Pat Moore.

  8. Iceberg
    Iceberg says:

    I have not watched it yet so I do not know if it really sucks or not. But you lost me when you said you only watched 10 minutes…. and you are going to critique the movie. Kinda lame. You did win me back with the Robot Food comment.

  9. PoorTravis
    PoorTravis says:

    I’m surprised no one’s brought up how that ski dude made Travis look like a little bitch on that tunnel run. Victor de Le Rue’s riding impressed me more than Travis’s for the few runs he was in there. **spoiler** How the fuck can you end the video with a double underflip on a relatively average jump? there is a handful of no name 15 year olds who could pull that off. especially when you end the last video the way you did. not to mention there are very few dialogue sections that don’t make me want to throw up the tackiness/10000 instances of “hydrological cycle” I just swallowed. Someone else needs to be writing the lines brain farm, that’s for sure.

  10. hydrological cycle??
    hydrological cycle?? says:

    As said before?

    “I can’t wait for 30% time lapse shots, 30% accessing inaccessible locations, 30% loading, riding, unloading snowmobiles and helicopters, 5% dogs, 2.5% Travis in contemplation, 2.5% snowboarding a location you will never get to go to. This is going to be awesome lol”

    this is like all the Jeremy Jones movies but title this one, #sadder

  11. someone
    someone says:

    This is the shit that I don’t like about snowboarding. The complainers constantly whining about tricks being to big, someone being sponsored by an energy drink company, not enough style, blah blah blah. Shut up and ride. Watch the movies you like. If you don’t like triple corks and brain farm movies then don’t watch them. Let people do the tricks that they want to do. It’s snowboarding for christ sake, there aren’t any rules to this shit.

  12. truth
    truth says:

    The Japan section was the only decent part but ruined by the corny sound effects. I was also extra stoned so the sound effects were more noticeable than usual.

  13. Ramsey
    Ramsey says:

    I thought the message of the movie was change. Change and uncertainty is okay. Lando jumps ship with doubts on riding and I imagine personal life issues. That’s okay. Rice showing that even he struggles with where to draw the line. And the price that can be paid for bad judgement.
    I agree that the movie starts off from an odd place. They dive way too deep into hydro and don’t really make a case for us to care as much about the topic as they want us to. Oh well.
    How many rotations and tree jobs do we need. Not this many but there is some sick riding in the movie. De La Rue reminds me off Johan.
    It was an odd cameo by Jones. And I understand why. But I would have left him out all together since they never did the glacier country segment. Maybe that was a contractual issue with Jones.
    I still enjoyed it. Even though I believe we saw a movie that struggled to get the action they really wanted and the stories that would have come along with the action. This we got a disjointed narrative.

  14. Toby Grungerson
    Toby Grungerson says:

    If you can’t do something, critique something.

    If you can’t critique something, critique something on yobeat.

  15. Knead
    Knead says:

    i do know this: obviously Mr Rice is getting way too much of your consumer dollars. Every time your drink a Red Bull, slip on some DCs, ride a lib tech (I would still ride Lib even if he wasn’t the main rider), you are contributing a single breath of wind for his sails…… literally

  16. Guy
    Guy says:

    They had a pretty stacked line-up and didn’t really utilize them. Travis shoulda realized there’s some dudes that are more technical than him these days. Maybe not as well rounded. But show some more calculated and gnarly Victor and Jeremy Jones spine lines. Or Bode and his one footed specials. That’s what those guys do best. They started to portray it in Japan a little with Mikkel, which was sick. Still top notch riding in epic locations. It’s just hard to top your last two videos especially when the main riders haven’t really progressed a ton and Red Bull for financial reasons hype the shit out of it. Either way, Kudos to Travis for extending him and his boys’ high dollar careers well into their 30’s (40’s for Iguchi) in a sport dominated by guys in their teens or early 20’s. And like many said above, Great for Redbull for making the premiere free!

  17. bud
    bud says:

    Art of Flight so so much better. I think it’s hard for Travis Rice to top that. Watch this and then go watch AOF, AOF grabs your full attention from the start and takes you through an exhilarating ride.

  18. rust
    rust says:

    i like how you have tremendous respect, yet did not watch the whole movie before writing this turd of an article.

  19. Jeremy Wallace
    Jeremy Wallace says:

    It’s literally because Curtis Morgan wasn’t even directing. Curt Morgan was the creative brains behind AOF and That’s it, That’s all. Who is Jon Klaczkiewicz? Not the same.

  20. Lance
    Lance says:

    The cheese wedge in the JH backcountry for the first ten min? It was painful. It did get better but tainted from the beginning. 🙁 disappointed for sure.

  21. Mud
    Mud says:

    To the reviewer:
    1) when you pointed out after 10 minutes you stopped watching you can’t honestly write a credible review.
    2) if you can’t keep your attention for 10 minutes how can you formulate lasting opinions that are worth listening to.
    3) if it wasn’t for guys like Travis, who put snowboarding on the map to the rest of the world, you wouldn’t be writing this blog post about your opinion on his movie. we need guys like him at the forefront of snowboarding. they keep money coming into this industry and have a large reach.

  22. RKD
    RKD says:

    Pretty disappointed in the film, it wasn’t a snowboard movie, more about how travis rice is a rad dood and is always pushing limits. Very big lull I the middle of the movie the first two scenes are the best, with the final crash by rice being the best in the second half of the film. Some corny lines as well.

  23. Matt
    Matt says:

    “Does every pow turn and landing really need supplemented audio?”

    I’m with you. This film was way, way, way over done. And by the end of it, it just felt fake.

    The soundtrack wasn’t that good either. Art of Flight flowed really well. This one didn’t.

  24. South Lake Tahoe
    South Lake Tahoe says:

    The free premiere at the casino theater was fun. Packed house with everyone drunkingly cheering on the shred moments. Have to realize they’re films for everyone. My grandma can watch the thing and be entertained. That said, leave out the water cycle, landvik bummer bail out, cheesy inspirational quotes. Overall it’s a alright flick to me, I don’t need to own it. Thanks for the free premiere party’s all over the world Red Balls!

  25. Your mom
    Your mom says:

    The only thing worse than this shitty excuse for a movie, is this sad excuse for a review. You have the vocabulary and interpunctuation of a 14 year old girl, you review a movie of which you’ve seen only 10 minutes (who the fuck does that?), and you go off on a tangent about redbull and trump voters and coal?? Stop trying to be smart – you’re not, you’re an idiot. Nobody cares about your opinion. And please stop the ALL CAPS! Meanwhile, go read the verdict on whitelines to learn how to write a proper review. Dick

  26. Vladmir
    Vladmir says:

    Anyone else NOT surprised T. Rice’s crew didn’t make it off the heli in Russia. That seemed like a big gamble going there.

  27. TROOF
    TROOF says:

    ALL OF THE RESORTS SHOULD REPLACE THEIR EXISTING LIFT CHAIRS WITH NEW ONES THAT ARE BUILT TO LOOK LIKE MINI-HELIS.

  28. HARDINGHAM
    HARDINGHAM says:

    RICE IS always sick ….LANDO / GUICH are so fucking over cooked…get rid of those burnouts .

  29. Jack Mort
    Jack Mort says:

    you people are whiny bitches. there is amazing footage of places you’ll never get to go. there are amazing tricks that most of you can’t do. quit hating and get back to riding, you’ve got a lot of work to do if you wanna be half as good as any of these riders. yes, Rice is a douche sometimes but so is every athlete that has the world up their ass. most of it is cheeky humor that falls flat in places but the guy isn’t a comedian, so what? The corporate sponsorship is annoying at times but the movie could not be made without. They went to fucking Kamchatka for fuck’s sake, when are you ever going to see that again? If you don’t like it, don’t buy it but quit the whining already you’re embarrassing yourselves.

  30. Sit on Deeez
    Sit on Deeez says:

    “dudes who vote for trump”
    cmon now, don”t make snowboarders sound like total pussies. Who gets political on a snowboard movie review. A person who doesn’t even finish the movie. Sit on a dick.

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