180º South (2010)
★ ★ 1/2 out of 5
Directed by Chris Malloy
Featuring Jeff Johnson
A group of mountain climbers make a half year expedition from up north, all the way to Patagonia, where they plan to climb one of the largest, and most difficult mountains around.
Few times have I ever encountered finding a film so absolutely stunning and thrilling, while being completely bored to death by it. I think I know why this contradictory phenomenon happened to me while watching 180º South. We get to follow a group of explorers, mountain climbers, and surfers, as they make a dangerous sailboat trip down to South America, and then climb one of the most dangerous mountains around. This sounds exciting, and visually, it is. However 180º South has the subtitle of “conquerers of the useless”, which explains everything I dislike about the film. Even though these people go on a huge, epic journey, full of adventure that most people will never experience, it just feels inconsequential. As though even though they took this huge journey, which meant a lot to them, it was useless, it didn’t mean anything. This takes a lot away from the tone of the film, which should have been grand and exciting, inspiring those watching to go out and live a little. Instead, it makes me feel like getting up and going to Mount Everest, or skydiving, or scuba diving the great barrier reef would just be useless. Of absolutely no importance. This coupled with a lazy narration makes the movie a lot more boring than it ever should have been. However, the stunning visuals make up for it. I have never seen a documentary that is so stunning (other than Samsara but I don’t really count that as a documentary). Every shot, from the lighting down to the landscapes, is like a masterful painting to look at. In the end though, 180º South is like a longer, less inspirational GoPro commercial. Full of amazing feats, great camera work, but all of it meaning nothing.