As this is my first post I thought I would stick to a light-hearted topic. Heres a short film review of the kayaking epic, The Grand Inga Project.

Steve Fisher directs, stars and narrates ( or attempts to)  this documentary following a group of kayakers epic descent of the Inga Rapids. 

First off it should be said that this is not a kayaking elitist film. The average joe should be able to enjoy the content just as much as the thrill seeker which the film is aimed at. The film follows a small group of paddlers on their journey to conquer the world’s biggest  rapids in the lower sections of the Congo river.

The scenery, mission and people involved set this film up to be the epic which it promises.   You can moan that the use of slow motion filming is excessive and in several cases unnecessary, but as far as the actual kayaking is concerned the film is stunning.  It also manages (where a lot of similar films have failed) to make the sport look cool-In particular the scenes where freestyle extraordinaire Benny Marre is showcasing his abilities. These scenes achieve the desired ‘damn that’s awesome’ reactions from the audience.

Praise also has to be given for the logistical challenges that faced the film’s production. As described in the film, the turbulent politics of the country made for a less than ideal film set.

Where the film fails is  in breathing fresh air into what can be a frustrating genre of film.  The main problem is that none of the stars are really expressive enough to talk about their amazing feat.  First river outing on the Congo the most paddler Tyler Brandt can say about the experience is  “I was like, amongst it”.  Statements like this don’t really sum up what the paddlers are doing.

There are also several gripes with the narration. At best Steve Fisher’s commentaries are bearable and slightly entertaining.  He introduces the other kayakers nicely and informatively and he does manage to keep the viewer’s interest throughout the feature.  All too often though  he’ll say something which is too pretentious to be taken seriously. This is best displayed in his closing statement where after successfully paddling the Inga he says ‘now I’m free’.  This line raises another frustration which is his insistence on trying to describe the trip as being more important than simply cool and impressive.

In conclusion if you overlook the shoddy narration and frustrating personalities this is an entertaining,  exciting and impressive documentary which has the potential to  appeal to a fairly wide audience.


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