Note: I have previously done freelance video work for Anthill, so this is by no means an unbiased review, I just wanted to share a few quick thoughts.
In 2019 we’re absolutely spoiled for mountain bike video content. Each day here on Pinkbike we’re treated to the latest and greatest from riders and filmmakers around the world... but there's still a mystique about feature-length movies. It’s like listening to one song versus an entire album.
Return to Earth is Anthill Film’s sixth movie and, at this point, you know what you’re getting with an Anthill production: world class riding, stunning cinematography, and great tunes. The film’s stated goal is to motivate us all to get off our phones, to get our heads out of the clouds and return to earth. It’s an inspired idea and one that’s carried throughout the film by a gravelly-voiced narrator.
RTE sees the Ants looking backward, borrowing music cues and the cedar tree logo from their days as The Collective. The soundtrack features an all star Dad rock lineup, with songs by The Band, The Beach Boys, Steppenwolf, and The Mamas & The Papas, among others. It sounds like someone at the office raided the jukebox of a 1970’s FM station.
Stand-out segments belong to the usual suspects: Brett Rheeder showcases why he’s the defending Red Bull Rampage champion, riding some of the most stunning snowboard-inspired builds we’ve yet seen in Utah; Thomas Vanderham and Ryan Howard’s stylish dissection of Quebec’s foliage is another highlight. The ending segment is an instant classic, bringing nine riders together to ride a gorgeous Hawaiian mountain top, culminating in a tightly choreographed crossover jump with multiple riders in the air at the same time.
Anthill is rightly famous for their Whistler Bike Park segments over the years and Return to Earth is no exception. My favourite segment in the movie features a gaggle of groms, aged 10-15, from Squamish and Whistler including Max Wittenburg (son of director Darcy Wittenburg), Jackson Goldstone, Dane and Jakob Jewett, Anthony Shelley, and Mateo Quist. These kids ride the bike park just as hard as pros twice their age and watching this segment is guaranteed to put a smile on your face - as well as making us jealous we didn’t have bikes like this at their age. The future looks bright.
Anthill’s last effort Unreal pushed the conceptual limits of what a mountain bike film could be, each segment featured an outside of the box concept and complicated logistics. Return to Earth is much more modest in its scale and ambition. It seeks to inspire us to step away from the screen and go ride your bike. Who can argue with that goal? Watch this film, then go ride your bike.
You can buy Return to Earth
on Apple, Vimeo, Google Play, and Amazon Prime. The 4K Apple Store version is $14.99 CAD.