Here is the unedited version of a video review I wrote for Caught in the Crossfire about the new Vans film Propeller. It’s really rather good and worth the asking price. Thanks to Zac for the support.
Vans – Propeller, a video by Greg Hunt
I don’t know about you, but one of the most recognizable aspects of skateboarding for me are Vans skate shoes. The patent waffle-gripped rubber soles have been supporting skateboarders for almost fifty years. Say that again: supporting skateboarders for almost FIFTY years! I won’t try and defend the weird colourways, collabos or simply ugly pairs of Vans that litter the high street shops, but you have to recognize that virtually every single other skate shoe brand you see at your local skateshop (where you should be buying your skate gear!) has produced their own version of a Half Cab, Lo-Top or Slip-On at some point or another. What do they say? Copying someone’s work is the greatest form of flattery.
So, Vans is a skateboard culture heavyweight with riders spanning several generations, commandeering all sorts of terrain and actively sponsoring events across the Globe. You’d think that the day Vans decided to release their first ever feature length film, Propeller, video dedicated to the skateboard team, they would be shifting the gears on the hype machine for at least a few years prior to it’s screening. Apparently not. They don’t have to. Everyone knows their team is a legit band of brothers that go to war at every spot they skate and the filmer they hired for the job, Greg Hunt, is about as dedicated and craftful as it gets. Propeller clocks in at about one hour of just skateboarding. Albeit the short introduction featuring the older gods (Tony Alva, Jeff Grosso, Christian Hosoi, Ray Barbee, John Cardiel etc…), the rest of the video features a full part from each of the riders – except for Jason Dill who moonlights a couple of tricks in Anthony van Engelen’s ender. To quote a fellow skateboard enthusiast, Ben Powell of Sidewalk Magazine, speaking about the last part: “Best over –Thirties part ever. Basically do some good skateboarding or fuck off!”
I think everyone knew Anthony would get the curtains seeing how much time and effort he put into his section, but Propeller still has 45 minutes of bangers from the likes of Chris Pfanner, Elijah Berle, Tony Trujillo, Pedro Barros and others to gawk at. I have to give Elijah and Chris double thumbs up for the raw power they exercise on their boards; Tony has matured a lot over the years but he’s still just as reckless as he was when he was young – More so even; and Pedro bears the ugly stigmata of being the ramp dude but when you see the lines he threads together on cold concrete mountains, you’ll respect him nonetheless. As a British native, I can’t forget my fellow countryman Geoff Rowley who has been a figurehead for Vans since the early Nineties. Geoff has a reputation as a notoriously gnarly skateboarder with little regard for personal safety and most of his tricks support that point. I can’t help but get the feeling that after watching Geoff roll down the last of many hellish ditch spots, this section may be an honest farewell and passing of the guard to the next generation of gnarlers.
Gilbert Crockett and Andrew Allen take care of business in the streets and will probably increase their popularity among the skateboarders who feel they need someone to relate to when watching skate videos. That is by no means an understatement to both of these guys incredible talent, nor is it meant to undermine the likes of Curren Caples, Chima Ferguson, Rowan Zorilla, Kyle Walker or Daniel Lutheran who embody the modern skateboarder, born and bred to rip every kind of spot be it a quirky transition, a kinked rail or a curved ledge.
Propeller is a pretty good name for product that’s sole purpose is to push things forward. Vans kept everyone pushing hard when they introduced their skate shoes to the world, and several decennia later the skate team are leaving their mark on the future generations of skateboarders. Cliché as it sounds in the free internet era, this really is a skateboard video worth purchasing. Vans have supported you for so long, it’s only right that you should show some gratitude.