8 February 2009 | lost-in-limbo
This is no holiday retreat.
Before Kevin Bacon tackled the wilderness' harsh rivers in "The River Wild (1994)', he played Vic a spiritually in touch hiking guide who takes some city boys in to the mountainous wilds to learn more about themselves and to push the best out them. But his methods come under the eyes of the boys, with his constant testing of the young, inexperienced lad Alan. But soon enough we find the tables are eventually turned around on just who relies on each other.
'White Water Summer' is a respectably bold and hearty, if unspectacular presentation that Ernest Kinoy and Manya Starr's actively mediative and theme-grown material feels unsure to what it truly wants to be, as it treads between feel-good adventure, psycho-territory and being morally hounded in finding the mental toughness to go beyond your limitations and fears. Jeff Bleckner's direction is well-measured and slickly handled, as the standouts range from the excellent white water rafting scenes and rock climbing views. The harrowing tension within these passages seem to bubble, but Bleckner also gets a great bunch of performances, especially from his young confident cast (Sean Astin, Jonathan Ward, K.C. Martel and Matt Adler) who show binding chemistry. That when a change in Bacon's character begins to show, the suspense and dangerous air kicks in the adrenaline as the boys begin to feel the circumstances change. Astin is impressive as Alan, as he goes head on with stupendously hard-pressed Kevin Bacon. His way is the right ways
don't question it. As he goes on to test them out individually and as a team to become dependant on one and each other. But does it become beyond breaking point to get these results.
What I could have done without was the flash-forward smart-mouth laced narration pockets of an older Sean Astin talking to the screen, while cutting between the central story. They somewhat lessen the impact and became off-putting. Even the soundtrack with its squealing rock tunes became a little overbearing, as it regularly pumped it out. Michael Boddicker's soothing original score does a better job in camouflaging with its surroundings and activities. John Alcott's striking cinematography naturally hovers over the beautiful backdrop getting amongst organic growth and swirling waters to isolate the viewers along with the small party.