Glamorous locations. Gorgeous mountains. Glistening snow. Exhilarating ski frontiers. Fifty- degree slopes. That's "Steep." It's almost like an extreme skiing recruitment film.
Visually and philosophically, "Steep" has a certain sameness running through its 90 minutes. Not exactly a story, the film does offer a history that peaks interest. Not exactly dynamic in film-making technique, it does showcase its subjects' extremes with greater extremes, and it delights in raising the lifestyle ante.
Some people need to push the envelope. If you just want to lick the envelope, see "Steep." It does encapsulate the world of extreme skiing well.
I'm going to shift this review space to re-emphasize my praise for last year's "Into the Wild." Granted, "Steep" is a documentary, but "Into the Wild" explored an extreme, personal pursuit in a character-rich way.
I'm not against pursuits that send things such as adrenaline and endorphins maxing through our internal passageways. Indeed, an understated point made in "Steep" is that realizing accomplishments of this sort is one of the compelling potentials of being human.
That said, the truth-based story of "Into the Wild" is not about the build up to and repetition of short- lived rushes. It is about the foundation and unfolding of a life project. The challenges wrought in "Into the Wild" seem a tougher quest to live and a tougher movie point to make.
In "Into the Wild," Chris McCandless dies as a side effect of his extreme choices. In "Steep," death slaps extreme skiers, too. Both invite head shaking and shrugs about lives ended too soon.
In "Steep," though, lots of technology accompanies the vainglories. Finding a dead young man's diary and seeking out the people whose lives he touched seems more soulfully reflective than documenting challenges sponsored by companies that sell sporting equipment and energy drinks.