Thunderstruck 16 Film Review
Mountain Sledder | On 24, Sep 2017
You may recognize the intro to Thunderstruck 16 as the film’s teaser, which dropped online during the summer. Its quick-cut action hits hard and will get viewers on the edge of their seats right away. Hits, climbs, jumps, pow and carnage, what more could you want? It’s all there in the sixteenth feature-length release from Team Thunderstruck.
Running time: 1hr35m
The film is produced in association with well-known industry names such as Hickshow Productions, Marlenee Photography, Logan Ladouceur, Tudizzle Films and of course, Mr Thunderstruck himself, Jim Phelan. Thunderstruck 16 really benefits from such a diverse range of creative direction.
Big Jim shoots with a raw style that really lets you feel like you’re actually there, connecting with the riders like part of the gang. It’s not all business with the Thunderstruck crew and it shows. The fact that they’re always having fun certainly translates on screen. And at the end of the day, that’s what sledding is all about.
Fun and games aside, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. It’s nice to see that Thunderstruck 16 has been trimmed down to a more moderate 95 minutes this time around. We’re not sure if the crew did less shooting last winer, or more footage hit the cutting room floor. Either way, 16 is plenty long, and it’s nice to avoid the distraction of having to get up for a bathroom break midway through the film.
The soundtrack is a blend of mostly heavy and alt-rock with a dash of reggae, featuring independent acts such as Judd Hoos, Fight The Fade, Citra, Sleep Signals and Tribal Theory.
From the get-go, Thunderstruck 16 continues to diverge from its hillclimbing roots. In fact, this has been the case long enough now that we shouldn’t even bother to point it out anymore. The Thunderstruck 16 riders are well-rounded bunch; This is a sled flick that should appeal to sledders who enjoy a wide variety of riding styles.
Winter 2017 was pretty epic in terms of snowfall, so it comes as no surprise that there would be more than a couple deep powder shots. While it may not require much talent to lay down a pow carve, seeing a sled slicing up neck-deep fluffy white stuff gets us excited every time.
There’s a healthy dose of big jumps in Thunderstruck 16, thanks to Shad Simmons amongst others…his jump-right-over-the-camera shot is pretty cool.
But fear not, adrenaline junkies; the hillclimbing pucker factor is still here, predominantly in the segments of 4-stroke warriors Randy Swenson, Julio Eiguren, Trennis Baer, Shawn Hastings, Jeff Rosner and more. Young gun Shad Simmons gets in on the uphill action as well, when he’s not busy launching his sled into the stratosphere.
In fact, there are a surprising number of young guns who pull some seriously burly chutes in the film. We kind of thought that the younger demographic of sledders were moving away from the hillclimbing scene, but 16 has us second-guessing that assumption.
Prefer one ski? There’s plenty of snow bike action to be had as well. Brock Hoyer throws his snow bike off everything in sight, including being the first to hit a pretty iconic gap at Turtle on a snow bike. And he follows that up on his Yamaha Sidewinder! There’s no doubt that Brock has amazing talent on both a snow bike and sled, and it’s super impressive to see him ride both at such a high level, all in one segment.
There is a host of riders featured in Thunderstruck 16. Some familiar names like Randy Swenson, Julio Eiguren and Trennis Baer go way back in the Thunderstruck catalog. But there is an unprecedented amount of young blood featured as well.
Thunderstruck 16 opens with a James Finsterwald segment. Finsterwald is a talented young rider who can slay deep snow, drops and hopovers with equal aplomb. His riding is super smooth, and he has the kind of natural ability that all riders wish they could possess. He’s really fun to watch.
Cody Hunt—huge airs, hillclimbs, huge airs, tree riding, backflip attempts galore and huge airs. Did we mention huge airs? This kids got cajones. And please tell us that’s his car with the sled rack on it? Good gracious, someone with a truck dealership please sponsor this kid.
Though still young, Linden Ladouceur has established himself as a Thunderstruck veteran. He’s an incredibly talented sledder who shreds every kind of terrain from tight creeks to big chutes to cliff drops on his turbo-charged Cat.
Matt Entz like to huck his meat off cliffs, we know that much. Beyond that, his riding is super smooth and in-control at all times, and you can’t help but feel like he’d be really fun to watch and learn from in person.
Have Fun, Stay Safe
There are many more standout performances, but Clay Hockel’s segment is notable as he narrowly escapes trouble in a significant-sized avalanche. It’s nice to see him debrief the audience about the precautions the crew had taken ahead of time, including spectating and filming from a safe spot and being prepared with all the requisite avalanche rescue equipment.
On a related note, Thunderstruck 16 starts out with a dedication to the Krazy Canadian, who once was part of Team Thunderstruck and who tragically passed away in an avalanche over a year ago. It’s a fitting reminder that as much as Team Thunderstruck enjoys the heck out of riding in the backcountry, it’s important that they—and all riders—be prepared and remain vigilant out there.
Thunderstruck 16 and all of Thunderstruck’s entire archive can be rented, bought, subscribed—you name it—on thunderstruck.tv. Viewers have the option of enjoying content by rider, segment and full-release. There are a ton of ways to tailor your viewing experience of the entire Thunderstruck catalog. It’s a pretty cool way of delivering content, and we suspect that we’ll start to see more of this type of offering in the future.