180 South Reviews

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Harlequin68 Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2011
"180 South" is an invigorating and impressively filmed documentary about Jeff Johnson, who intending to settle down somewhat, decides on one last big adventure to follow in the footsteps of his idols Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins who drove down the Pan American Highway to climb Corcovado Mountain in Patagonia in 1968. Johnson deviates from their route by going by water, instead. And by boat, I don't mean a cruise ship, either, but a 54 foot cutter that he constantly gets nauseous aboard. That's not to mention the mast breaking, leading to a detour to Rapa Nui, aka Easter Island.

Whereas most people get flummoxed when they miss a connection in their daily lives, Tompkins, Choinard, Johnson and other "conquistadors of the useless" thrive on the challenges from mishaps along the way. And there is no greater challenge for all of us than to save the environment before it is too late.(The tragedy of Rapa Nui, whose ecosystem collapsed through overproduction, serves as a chilling warning for future generations.) In Chile, there are pulp mills, commerical fishing and proposed hydroelectric dams to support the evergrowing city of Santiago at the cost of the livelihoods of local fishermen and farmers. To fight this, Tompkins and his wife Kristine have devoted themselves to the cause by founding Conservacion Patagonia, buying millions of acres of land for preservation. In the end, "180 South" makes a persuasive case for putting away your iPod, interacting with the environment around you and thinking about the kind of world you want to live in.
Jeff L
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2012
Interesting scenery and content, but nothing that will make this one stand out over time. Wasn't a big fan of the soundtrack though; it created a weird feel, and screamed "look how indie I am!!" Still, I enjoyed watching 180 South.
HeroPK HeroPK June 10, 2010
Part "tree hugger" documentrary and adventure film. Imagine a Warren Miller film with no sking. The film is a little too laid back and unfocused. If you don't mind just looking at beautiful sceanery with a bearded mountain man surfer guy then go for it, but I hoped for more.
Richard L ½ August 28, 2014
Ultra cool documentary
Rorschach Rorschach July 30, 2014
Inspiring travel documentary with an awesome soundtrack including Ugly Casanova that captures the feel of the trip.
Jeff H ½ November 29, 2013
An artful presentation of a unique "tribe's" journey and their grounded reality views regarding our shared human journey taking place on our Mother Earth Thank you to all the players. Hopefully more people will "get it" than not.
Matthew M. Matthew M. January 5, 2013
From a technical stand point this film was excellent. Great shots and great use of music. While I am a lover of the outdoors and am all for saving the environment, I found this film a bit too preachy and I found Yvon and others to be quite pretentious. If they just stayed focused on the journey to Corcovado, this could have been a 5 star movie.
Ezra J November 26, 2012
I cannot heap enough criticism on this movie to satisfy the contempt I have for it. I don't think I've ever disliked a film this much in my reasonably extensive film viewing history.
The story:

From the yacht trip (the owner of the vessel is 'returning to his home' in Patagonia) to picking up the native girl on Easter Island, to the various scruffy wanderers that they collect on the way, the story is contrived and painfully scripted. If this was a Hollywood fiction, people would reject the story as ridiculously forced and simplistic, fitting within the writers vary basic understanding of exposition. It seems that this lies somewhere between that and a documentary, to the total detriment of the film. This film stinks of having a script that the filmmakers set out to follow: a wanderer gives up everything, takes a boat trip to meet some 'old friends' in south america, gets sidetracked, meets a beautiful native girl, and climbs an insanely difficult mountain with little experience. Unfortunately for the film makers reality is harsh, and the scripted nature of the film comes through when the plot frays at the edges: the mysterious friends don't show up on time, they can't make the summit, etc. Literally ever part of this film seems forced, and should have been a red flag to scrap the project from the start.

The Billionaires and their Kipling-esq goal of 'saving these savages':

The idiocy and outdatedness of their perspective on how to save the native peoples from themselves and from the big, bad, western world is so painful and aggravating that I can barely write this without just swearing, pounding the keyboard and giving up. The storyline of this film is punctuated with interviews with rich white people on how this country needs to be saved from development, with ridiculous mullings of their duties as good Buddhists to 'end the suffering'. Unfortuantely, the only time they actually ask any of the people who's country it is (native gouchos who used to ranch on the bought-up land) how they feel about these strange rich people's attempts at saving them, the response seems forced and almost under duress. These people and their goals are arcane, and reek of an 19th/early 20th century motivation to civilize these barbarians, that the white man knows better, and is here to save the day.

On second thought, I recommend seeing this film, to experience the worst 'documentary' ever to be taken seriously.

Edit: The lack of cohesion in my post stems from my boiling anger over how bad this film was. Sorry folks.
Jeff L
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2012
Interesting scenery and content, but nothing that will make this one stand out over time. Wasn't a big fan of the soundtrack though; it created a weird feel, and screamed "look how indie I am!!" Still, I enjoyed watching 180 South.
Jez M ½ September 13, 2012
While the eco-centric narrative occasionally seems unfocussed, what 180 South does perfectly is capture the sheer wide-eyed wonder that the natural world can inspire. Although it perhaps succeeds better as a paean to wanderlust than a campaign against rampant consumerism, Jeff Johnson's journey still has the power to inspire, and should be seen by anyone who has ever felt like the city was all they needed.
Ciarán O May 29, 2012
This documentary is iinspiring if you love the water, travel, the planet, conservation, native people's rights, and beautiful surf footage.
Josh M ½ May 10, 2012
the soundtrack is icing on the cake!
Patricia Z April 21, 2012
I am prowling my apartment this morning thinking how to get rid of all my earthly possessions.
Tammy A April 16, 2012
This is an inspirational documentary that introduces an alternative thought to our daily 'city' life activities. I enjoyed watching this and hope my children, as well as others, will consider the ideas presented for more than 5 minutes. Like Yvon illustrated, sometimes there is no substitute for getting out and just doing it.
Harry J February 13, 2012
Great insiders view of the life of conquerors of the useless.
Stephanie B January 7, 2012
A beautiful and moving documentary.
Emily B January 2, 2012
Truly inspiring. Watch it.
Chase F ½ November 28, 2011
Playful as much as it is powerful Johnson's narrative of he and his friends' journey investigates the downfall of over-consumptive societies while taking the audience on the dream adventure of any outdoor enthusiast, full of sailing, rock-climbing, surfing, and more. It's a sort of coming-of-age story that pulls at heartstrings and tests the pressure points of widespread environmental ignorance-a documentary to get you moving and thinking. And the soundtrack (predominantly featuring Ugly Casanova, the side project of Modest Mouse's frontman Isaac Brock) would make for a great accompaniment to your own adventure.
Jeremy S July 23, 2011
It's what every boy dreams of doing sometime in his life! Great story! Great work being done in South America by Dough Tompkins..
Danny L July 6, 2011
Perfect. Inspirational.
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