Skating to New York Blu-ray Review
It’s incredibly difficult not to draw comparisons between STAND BY ME and SKATING TO NEW YORK, except for any comparison in terms of brilliance. While STAND BY ME is a golden standard for coming of age movies and general nostalgia for one’s own childhood, SKATING TO NEW YORK is a “nothing is better on, I might as well” viewing experience. Both are based off a literary piece, both feature friends going on a journey, and both promise that our characters will become men at the end. That’s about it; the rest of SKATING TO NEW YORK is a mess.
There is no narration, so it’s left up to the individual who the leader amongst the five Canadian youths is in SKATING TO NEW YORK. There’s Casey (Jessup), a struggling hockey goalie, whose parents are divorced. There’s Rudy (Morgan) who has a father that’s violently ill-tempered and may be an alcoholic. As for the other three, they seem more like companion pieces to these two than actual characters. They inject their opinion every once and a while, but very little is known about them and if it wasn’t for the mature look of Casey and Rudy, I’d say they’re all the same age, but that guess could easily come under scrutiny.
So on one of the coldest days of the year, they make the decision to skate across Lake Ontario, which is frozen completely over for the first time in who knows how many years, to New York. They’re hope is that they’ll reach some kind of legendary status in their rinky dink town after their 25 mile trek in skates. Although everything I’ve just said is put into question by all the people they run into who are out on the ice and even smugglers who use the frozen lake as a way to smuggle goods across the border. So apparently going across the lake is fairly common occurrence.
Of course I’m not going to argue the logic in the movie because the movie is more about how this quintet grows. I’ll gladly say that by the end of the movie they supposedly grow, but how they reach that point is beyond me. None of them really have any meaningful conversations with one another and it’s not like the inevitable character that falls through the ice brings any of them closer together. So the entire journey feels like meaningless.
Now I will say that there is some entertainment to be had because of how chilling and breathtaking this tundra is. The visual of five slender figures gliding across the vast whiteness is visually enthralling and it’s intriguing about what kind of unexpected peril lingers before them. And even though these kids aren’t as rich and well-thought out as the pre-pubescent younglings in STAND BY ME, but they’re a likeable bunch that you hope turn out OK.
SKATING TO NEW YORK feels more like a missed opportunity than the disaster it could have easily been. It makes me more curious about the novella and if the screenwriters simply weren’t confident in characters that could carry such a bizarre premise. A few different things here or there could easily sway me to recommending this movie, but ultimately I find myself forgetting this movie as soon as I type the last words on this review.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1:85:1) Plenty of wide shots allow you to breathe in the rich arctic and on this presentation; it’s a glorious whiteout that our characters find themselves in.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) I’m not sure why, but the mixing on this movie is way off. The hockey scenes are maxed out and as soon as the sticks are off the ice, the conversation is tuned to the opposite end.