My review of Grand Canyon: River at Risk is in this week's Westender.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk
By Andrea Warner
Part eco-conscious rallying cry and part paid advertising, the intentions behind Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk are as muddled as the water that flows through its majestic valleys.
The film follows Wade Davis, author/anthropologist/explorer, and his 17-year-old daughter Tara as they embark on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon to witness firsthand the environmental changes impacting the Columbia River. Davis is gathering material for a book on the very subject, and his pal Robert F. Kennedy Jr., river advocate among other things, is along for the bumpy ride.
Frustratingly, director/producer Greg MacGillivray (nominated twice for Academy Awards), periodically uses cheesy CGI wooden frames to contain his interviews in the centre of the screen, over top of any number of beautiful backdrops. There are also numerous distractions from the film's main message: Tara is heading off to college soon; Davis is making his book; and Shawna, the guide, has lived in the Canyon with her tribe her whole life. Oh, and Robert Redford narrates to little effect.
River at Risk offers some nuggets of information, and river conservation is a timely subject as the world looks to create greener living. Risk also offers some truly glorious images of first person point-of-view of the beautiful rapids batting the rowers about like small balls of yarn. But, its myriad conflicts of interest ultimately prove insulting, particularly at film's end when you're shown the benefits of switching to a Kohler energy efficient toilet moments before Kohler's credited as a major sponsor. A synergistic washout indeed.