Vanilla Ice Archive (2012)

Description (from YouTube):
VANILLA ICE ARCHIVE is a feature length documentary showcasing the career of rapper Vanilla Ice. Starting with his passion for motocross and breakdancing in South Dallas back in 1985 to 1990 where the song Ice Ice Baby, a rap he only wrote at the age of 16 became the fastest selling hip hop single ever. The movie continues to showcase the next two decades of Vanilla Ice’s life and career through archive footage in order for future generations to understand this infamous rapper’s place in pop culture and hip hop history

Special Features:
None (Online Screener)

Directed by Bjarni Gautur

 

Bjarni Gautur (aka Bjarni Thomas) is an Icelandic filmmaker that has been making no-budget films in the Troma vein since he was a pre-teen. He is so influenced by Troma, that if you pay attention you’ll probably find him in the newest Troma film (once it comes out), RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH. I had originally signed up to review one of his Troma-esque films, KNIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD years and years ago… but that never happened. Years later, Bjarni contacted me about reviewing his newest film, a documentary about Vanilla Ice, aptly titled VANILLA ICE ARCHIVE.

The title for this film is perfect, because VIA is just that: an archive of about every piece of footage that has ever been on TV about Vanilla Ice. In addition to all the VH1, MTV, and reality stuff, there is also a plethora of lesser-seen bits (like a commercial for Castle Light beer), and lots of shot on video/cell phone concert footage. There is so, so, SO much Ice footage in this film, it clocks in at 186 minutes. There is everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Vanilla Ice in this movie ever, and more… much more. If you are the world’s biggest Vanilla Ice fan (and I get the impression you’d have to fight Bjarni for that title), this will be the best movie you’ve ever seen, ever. If you’re not, then it starts to become tedious pretty early on.

How was he NOT the coolest guy on Earth in 1991? You know you loved him.  Don't front.
How was he NOT the coolest guy on Earth in 1991? You know you loved him. Don’t front.

VIA follows the story of Vanilla Ice from his early days as a breakdancer in Dallas to his giant explosion onto the music scene with “Ice, Ice Baby,” and all the way back down, then up, then down, then up again. His story is certainly an interesting one, and no matter what you think of him as an emcee, he certainly makes a good subject for a documentary. It’s pretty obvious that his fall from grace was pretty much from “selling out,” but I have to agree with Vanilla when he states that going from barely being able to pay bills to having a million dollars is tough to say no to. There is a lot more to Vanilla Ice than a funky hairdo, semi-slick dance moves, and rhinestones on his jumpsuits, and VIA gets into all the nooks and crannies of his story by compiling all of the different stories out there into one centralized place.

An example of some of the concert footage, and it's quality issues.
An example of some of the concert footage, and it’s quality issues.

The vast majority of the television footage seems to be taped from TV onto VHS, then uploaded digitally, so the quality suffers for sure. Occasionally there is some footage that seems ripped right from the original source, so the footage is a bit better every once in a while. A vast majority of the concert footage is obviously unauthorized, and looks to be shot on cell phones. So the look of VIA makes it tough to sit through; it varies from occasionally good to really, really bad. Right along with the video quality is the sound, which also have a wide variance of quality, the worst of which is the concert footage. So first off, the movie is kind of hard to watch because of the quality, but then it suffers from its quantity.

186 minutes is way too long for a documentary; 186 minutes is way too long for just about any sort of movie (there are a few exceptions here and there), but especially for a documentary about Vanilla Ice. VIA would be greatly served by a thorough editing session, and easily about half of the movie could be cut. There are sections that just amazed me at their length and needlessness. There are 3 to 5 minute stretches (more than a couple of them) of concert footage from the aforementioned cell phones that really does nothing for the story; a short 30-second clip of this hard to watch footage would have been well more than enough. There is a good six plus minutes of the Celebrity Boxing match between Vanilla and Todd Bridges when there could have been just a few seconds to let you know that there was such an event. There is just gratuity throughout the film: too much, too often.

Vanilla Ice backed up by his hypeman Michael Myers and DJ Killer Klown... WTF?
Vanilla Ice backed up by his hypeman Michael Myers and DJ Killer Klown… WTF?

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate Vanilla Ice. I won’t lie either, I owned “To The Extreme.” Hell, I still have “Hard to Swallow” in my CD collection, mostly for the novelty of playing the hardcore, KoRn-esque “Too Cold” (Vanilla’s metal cover of his own “Ice, Ice Baby”) for friends that have never heard it before; it was not the worst nü-metal album Ross Robinson made in the mid to late 90’s. I’ll even go as far to say that Vanilla Ice is a decently talented emcee, and can put together some better wordplay than most people give him credit for. But even with my complacency towards Vanilla Ice, sitting through three hours of VIA was extremely difficult for me. For those people that don’t absolutely think he is just the best thing ever to come on the music scene, ever, VIA is going to be very tough to sit through. The combination of mediocre video quality and the extreme amount of footage just makes VIA very, very hard to swallow.

This pretty much sums up 1991 for me: Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer.  But 18 years later.
This pretty much sums up 1991 for me: Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. But 18 years later.

Overall, I think that VIA is the perfect title for this film, because that’s truly what it is: an archive. This truly is so far beyond a documentary, that calling it anything else would be incorrect. VIA is an interesting film, and while I knew quite a lot about Vanilla Ice, it still taught me some new things about him I didn’t know before. With some better quality source video and further editing (a lot of it), VIA could be a very worthwhile film for anyone looking to learn a little more about the man behind Ninja Rap, but the problem truly is the quantity and the quality, and for those reasons I don’t think this film will appeal to anyone other than the most hard-core Ice Ninjaz.

 

Overall 5 / 10

VIA on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2172137/

VIA is not for sale, but you can watch it for free here: http://youtu.be/VZAu4bRXsUU

VIA site: http://www.youtube.com/morbidchid

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