Review:  Big Up Productions’ Progression DVD

Review: Big Up Productions’ Progression DVD

Time after time, year after year, Big Up Productions finds a way to up the ante with each climbing movie they release.  Without fail, each movie is somehow better than the previous release which is no small feat considering the popularity of each of their movies.  Their latest release, Progression, continues this strong tradition.

Progression follows the same tried and true formula as other Big Up movies, namely it follows the world’s best climbers climbing on some of the most difficult routes in a handful of the world’s most beautiful crags.  The camera work is top notch and Big Up utilizes several interesting methods to capture the action in a lot of cool, different ways.  They also do a good job of weaving a story throughout each of the segments, something that doesn’t seem as forced as other climbing movies.

A few surprises in the movie include an engaging segment on World Cup comp climbing as well as a rare glimpse of Chris Sharma showing some of the pressure he was feeling working Jumbo Love.  Slightly exasperated, Sharma lamented the stress he felt he was under to finish the line…and then he of course sends.  A fitting way to end the movie.

Progression comes in two versions, an HD download ($19.95) and a DVD ($29.95).  I was sent a copy of the download for this review, but I also bought a copy of the DVD.  I wanted to be able to watch it on a bigger screen, but I was also interested in checking out the extras.  Featured in the extras is a very long segment of Daniel Woods and Paul Robinson bouldering at Rocklands, SA (presumably from Reel Rock Tour ’08?), Tommy Caldwell trying to free Magic Mushroom on El Cap in a day, Sharma’s Pachamamma segment, Adam Ondra tossing a wobbler after falling from the last hard move of some absurdly difficult sport route and a handful of other clips that didn’t fit with the movie.  To me the Rocklands and Magic Mushroom footage alone made the DVD well worth the extra $10.

To borrow a line from Borat Paul Robinson after he sends Amandla (V14) in the Rocklands segment, Progression is a “great success”. If you are only going to buy one climbing movie this year, Progression is a pretty good choice.

In case you need more convincing, check out the trailer below or this interview I did with Josh Lowell when the film was released.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpu8cQGn1LY

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18 Responses to Review: Big Up Productions’ Progression DVD

  1. lpeterson37 October 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Note to reviewer: Maybe skipping English classes after 5th grade wasn’t such a good idea after all…

    “Time after time, year after year, Big Up Productions finds a way to up the ante with each climbing movie they release.”

    Try instead, “Once again, Big Up Productions has upped the ante with their latest release.” We already know BigUp released a climbing movie, and it’s less wordy and awkward this way.

    “Progression follows the same tried and true formula as other Big Up movies, namely it follows the world’s best climbers climbing on some of the most difficult routes in a handful of the world’s most beautiful crags.”

    Ouch… how about “Progression follows the same tried and true formula as their other releases, following elite climbers on cutting edge routes at some of the world’s most beautiful crags.” Better, right?

    Hope this helps – and good luck with that GED!

    Lori Peterson
    English Teacher
    Jefferson Elementary School
    St Louis, Mo

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    • Narc October 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback. If Mrs. Narc were able to browse this site from her job as an English Teacher she would no doubt agree with you.

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    • Justin October 28, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

      Dear Ms. Peterson,

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      • Justin October 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

        It’s so lame trying to degrade someone and them accidentally submitting your post before you even start…

        any-who – it’s not worth it…let’s move on and all praise Ms. Peterson for her excellence in English. I know it took a long time to get that teaching credential.

        This movie was all we heard about for a while. I liked it, specifically the part where we saw Sharma act like a human and realize that this dude actually feels that kind of pressure. We all knew he did, but he presents himself as puppies and roses so often it’s hard to guage true emotion from psychos like that (I should know, I’m one of them). Can anyone who knows a lot more than me tell me why Jumbo Love is so amazing? I got bored partway thru it and then when it was over I was like – oh that was it? I mean, it’s likely that it’s so beyond my comprehension that I couldn’t even fathom how hard it was. I’m a V3-V4 scrub making my way up so I’m quite naive when seeing a sport route like that. Does anyone have a take on Jumbo Love and how hard it is and why?

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        • Patrick October 28, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

          It is hard because it is long–@250ft–and mostly overhanging. The holds are mere features. As one observer said about the slopers on the overhang, “You can see the tops from below.” And that is after 140 feet of climbing. Sick.

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        • casting October 28, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

          “…it’s likely that it’s so beyond my comprehension that I couldn’t even fathom how hard it was.”

          Bingo

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    • Mark October 28, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

      Dear Ms. Peterson,

      Tone down the attitude. I can also see you and see that you are not employing proper body basics. Additionally, you might want to talk to the people at your school, because you are not listed as an employee on their website. Lets hope your employment is not just wishful thinking and that all your angst and daddy issues are worked out online and not forced upon your students, who by the looks of Justin’s link, need all the help they can get.

      Sincerely,
      Concerned Citizen

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  2. peter b October 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    Dear Ms Peterson,

    Is Big Up a plural or singular entity?
    Then the “their” and “they” would be “its” and “it.”

    Also would “cutting edge” and tried and true” merit hyphens?

    Then there’s the use of “up the ante” and “tried and true.” Time to let those expressions take a break.

    You can correct my up-coming review of Andrew Bisharat’s book on sport climbing if you want

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  3. Patrick October 28, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    Ms. Peterson:
    While your suggestions for improving the content of Narc’s post were decent and you made some good points, your opening and closing lines were mean spirited and rude. I can only hope you are getting it out of your system on the Internet so you do not interact with your students in the same manner.
    Narc, thanks for taking one for her students. You handled her post with aplomb and cordiality. Good for you.

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  4. Justin October 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    Oh, by the way: Jefferson Elementary School ranks 1031st out of 1052 schools in Missouri for 6th grade students. LOL! Thats all.

    http://www.schooldigger.com/go/MO/schools/2928001950/school.aspx?entity=41&grade=6

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  5. Patrick October 28, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    Oh yeah. This thread is about Progression! I loved it. I think the narrative was good, but The Sharp End did a better job weaving a narrative. That being said, the climbing in Progression was pure adrenaline. Some of my favorite moments: Daniel Woods’s move on El Corazon was SICK. Tommy Caldwell being the early bird who gets the worm was classic. Patxi Usobiaga’s training left my mouth gaping. Favorite quote: “My talent is being a masochist.” Kevin Jorgeson’s stupefied face when he realized his belayer was fiddling with a jammed GriGri elicited a laugh.
    I agree with Narc. If you are going to buy a movie, get Progression. I coughed up the $20 for the digital version, and it was worth every cent. Don’t download the torrent or rip it from a friend. Support the climbers and the companies who fund their trips. They deserve it.

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  6. Andrew from Nickolodeon October 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    I don’t read climbing narc looking for fine literature, I read it because narc does a truly commendable job of hunting down climbing media, condensing it and presenting it to the public in an enjoyable fashion. Peterson’s post upsets me because it offers what could potentially be constructive criticism in a rather snarky and dismissive manner. That said, I’ve found all of narc’s posts to be well written and clear. Kudos to you narc, and my apologies that this thread got replaced with petty argument.

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  7. Matt October 29, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    I apologize for Ms. Peterson on behalf of St. Louis. I swear we aren’t all pricks. If you want to hit up So Ill, Narc, hit me up.

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  8. Sean October 29, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    I hate being critical of a movie that is in so many ways so good, but it is what it is.

    The climbing, photography, and editing in Progression are first rate. That said, after seeing it, and King Lines, I don’t really like Big Ups’ movies.

    Recently I stumbled on First Ascent, the Sharp End, and Return 2 Sender. Now, aside from Timmy Oneill (not trying to start an off topic flame war), I really liked all 3 of them.

    The difference is the overall feel of the movie. I’ve only been climbing a little over a year, but first and foremost I’m a ski bum – and I’ve seen a lot of ski/snowboard movies. Usually there’s a couple companies that fall into the “we spent the most money, used the best cameras, and shot in the craziest places” category. Then there’s the rest. 99% of the time I don’t like those movies nearly as much as what other companies provide.

    Why? I guess it’s the formula. For one, I don’t think the music really works. It seems obvious that they pick a handful of unknowns that do beats and will be cheap/easy to license from, and use a ton of that. And though it seems like a theme in climbing videos in general, does everyone really like down temp drum and bass all that much? After the music, it’s hard for me to verbalize it, other than to say it feels like I’m watching a documentary, but not in a good way. I kind of know what’s coming around the corner.

    First Ascent or the Sharp End made me want to watch them again. With both KL and Progression, it was more like “wow, that was some HARD climbing in cool places.” But no desire to re-watch the movie.

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  9. goD October 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

    I agree with Sean. I thought Progression was a good movie due to its camera work and elite climbers, but it’s not a movie I would watch over and over again. I felt like I watched that movie before. Wait. I did. Dosage 1. The only part I really liked about Progression was seeing the human side of Sharma. It’s nice to see elite climbers flailing on projects and getting shut down and giving into emotions. Just like “average Joe” climbers.

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  10. Eggbert October 29, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    That’s my issue with climbing movies in general: I never want to buy them as I rarely want to watch them again. Except Friction Addiction. So I wait until they get to Netflix.

    On another note, Narc did you read the interview in Urban Climber on Chuck Freyburger? In one part he talks about dealing with bullshit criticism of his work by biting his tongue and saying, “Thanks for the feedback”. Too funny. Just read that interview yesterday, then saw your response to Ms. Nitpicky today. Hilarious.

    Peace. ce

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  11. Rob P. November 1, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    Hey Miss Peterson,

    Can you help me clean up the following text? I think it needs some of your fine editing.

    Brief and powerless is Man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned to-day to lose his dearest, to-morrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power.

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  12. Ernie November 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    The footage of progression is nice but it takes more than good footage to make a good movie. After watching progression one time you’ve seen it and there is no need to watch it all again. Yes, climbing jumbo love is a spectacular achievement but it’s just not so spectacular to watch it being climbed. Maybe because of it’s character; very, very long sustained hard climbing without a real climax or crux section.
    Personally I enjoy watching movies like frequent flyers, stick it or first ascent a lot more than progression. Not because the climbing is more spectacular or of a higher grade (not at all actually), but because they’re just much better movies which you can enjoy over and over again.

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