Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 25th, 2011
“In the world’s highest mountains are roads only the best can survive. It’s a whole new challenge for the top ice road truckers. They’re taking on the world’s deadliest roads to prove there’s no route they can’t conquer, and no load they can’t haul…”
The Ice Road Truckers are back, but it’s not the haul roads of Canada or Alaska they’ll be facing this time. They’ve been taken to India where they’ll haul cargo across the Himalayan mountains in trucks of wooden cabins and a third the horsepower they’re used to. And, the worse danger isn’t even the sheer cliffs or unpredictable landslides. It’s the other cars. If you think they drive like maniacs where you live, you haven’t seen anything yet. One of the drivers will get into two accidents before he even gets to the mountain.
“…But these roads average a death every 4 1/2 minutes, and one trucker won’t make it through the first day. These are the truckers who make their living on the thin ice…”
These are the four drivers you’ll see in this season:
Lisa: She’s a 28-year-old second-year driver who ends up being tougher than a lot of the guys. She’s just starting to get into the dangerous stuff, which this year included becoming a push driver. For extra heavy loads extra trucks are employed to push the load up the steep hills. She’s still looking for respect in the toughest job on the road.
Alex: Alex is one of two Canadians from previous seasons of the show. One year he had a heart attack while on the Canadian ice roads. Against his doctor’s advice, he’s back on the road, this time in India, to try to prove he can still do it.
Rick Yemm: Rick is unmistakable in his blue Mohawk. He’s another Canadian who hasn’t been on the show since it moved to Alaska. Rick’s got a short temper that is going to be pushed to its limit here.
Dave Redmon: Dave is an Alabama good ol’ boy, and he’s got a bit of a challenge getting used to the way they drive in India.
It’s called Ice Road Truckers: World’s Most Dangerous Roads, and you can think of it as a kind of spin-off. The style remains the same but the terrain and challenges are quite different. It starts with the trucks themselves. Usually, the drivers are in rigs that they are very familiar with. Here the vehicles are underpowered and are made of wooden frames. That offers little protection in a wreck. Because India was a long-time British colony, they drive on the wrong side of the road. As if that’s not enough to cause major problems, that’s just getting out of the yard.
Each driver carries a native spotter to help them navigate the really tight spots on the narrow mountain road. The dangers include cliffs that show where the road was literally carved out of the mountain itself. They offer low clearance. The roads are problematic when two trucks meet going opposite directions. Too close to the edge and it’s up to a 4,000 foot drop and often with no guard rail and a road surface that is literally crumbling under your tires. In case that doesn’t get you, there are falling boulders the size of houses that can strike without warning. There isn’t our kind of building code so that bridges are quite fragile and seem like they’re going to fall at any moment. The temperature ranges can go from 127 in the city to below freezing in the mountains. One of the passes is called the Rohtang which literally means “pile of corpses”. Accidents are a part of life here, and the locals try to extort payments from the American drivers at each incidence. They also tend to gather in hostile mobs when there’s trouble.
Lisa adopts a puppy and keeps the dog in her cab during the season run. She doesn’t get along with her spotter, however. The show obviously went to a lot of trouble to find Indian spotters with poor English skills. The communication is a nightmare, and Lisa doesn’t like his bossy nature.
The season still has those dramatic CGI demonstrations that show you what can go wrong with explosive results. And the season’s final run is a load of helicopter fuel, and only one driver will make that run successfully. There’s no “leader board” here. They don’t keep the competitive nature going in this show. In the end it’s much more of the same with a new environment.
Each episode of Ice Road Truckers is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p image is brought to you through an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. At first I didn’t expect that this kind of show could impress in high definition. Let’s be honest here. Black levels were deep and full of all kinds of shadow definition. There are some rather beautiful mountain vistas here that provide some stunning footage. A lot of the actual truck cameras are pretty much portables and deliver documentary-style footage.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Don’t look for much. It’s really a lot of dialog. The trucks come rushing through from time to time, but there’s not a ton of bottom end to this release. You can hear the talking. That’s about all that is expected from this kind of series.
Bonus Footage: (25:59)
The show retains the same appeal, and I thought I would like it more. At first the culture stuff is very interesting, but there seems to be less variety overall. I miss the competition, and with only three drivers on any particular show there is less variety in the driving footage. I’m looking forward to the next season on the ice. It’s a good way to get your fix between Ice Road seasons, but it just wasn’t as interesting after the first couple of episodes. They move very slowly here. Of course, “Just because you’re going slow doesn’t mean you can’t die.”