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MOVIE REVIEWS : ‘FIRE AND ICE’: PERFECT FOR DEAF SKI BUMS

Times Staff Writer

Willy Bogner’s ski film “Fire and Ice” (selected theaters) is loaded with visual razzle-dazzle and hamstrung with atrocious narration.

Its skiers perform soaring leaps and comic cartwheels on the slopes. It has an elegant, sparkler-lit ballet on a glacier, an exciting hang-gliding sequence, a sublimely beautiful intercutting of windsurfing with the near-identical sport of ice boating, a roller-coaster-like ride down a bobsled run, a hair-raising bicycle chase through Manhattan streets and even a pair of break dancers doing their stuff on the snow as well as asphalt.

But the sappy sound-track narration brings the film down to earth (with a thud) every time it tries to take off. This narration evolves out of its fragile story line about the cross-country pursuit by a handsome Swiss skier (played by Canadian Freestyle World Champion John Eaves) of pretty Suzy Chaffee (former U.S. Olympic ski team member).

Despite the silliness of Eaves’ lovesick chase, it’s a serviceable enough device to string together a series of otherwise unrelated--or only tenuously related--sequences. But it’s too much to ask of “Fire and Ice” to sustain this wretched narration when it already has to absorb considerable cornball comedy relief. (Eaves has a fine, resonant speaking voice but he was dubbed by John Cooper, who unaccountably seems to be parodying Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent.)

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Visually, “Fire and Ice” (rated PG but surely a family film) is a stunner, thanks to the Munich-based Bogner, who was the ski unit director and cinematographer on four James Bond films, and it has a driving rock score--in fact, it often seems like a rock video. Films like “The Man Who Skied Down Mt. Everest” and Werner Herzog’s “The Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner” invite us to share in the exhilarating spiritual experience that skiing can be, but the hokey-jokey tone of “Fire and Ice” undercuts even its most awe-inspiring moments.

‘FIRE AND ICE’

A Concorde release. Director-cinematographer Willy Bogner. 2nd camera Peter Rohe. Underwater camera Yuri Farrant. Special effects Richard Richtsfeld. Music Harold Faltermaier. Film editors Petra Von Oelffen, Claudia Travneck. With John Eaves, Suzy Chaffee, Jan Bucher, Kevin Wright, Richard Pinheiro.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

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MPAA rating: PG (Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.)


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