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STORM SURFERS 3D is an epic, character-driven adventure documentary following two best friends on their quest to hunt down and ride the biggest and most dangerous waves in Australia. Aussie tow-surfing legend Ross Clarke-Jones and two-time world champion Tom Carroll enlist the help of surf forecaster Ben Matson and together they track and chase giant storms across the Great Southern Ocean. Braving enormous waves, freezing conditions and near-death experiences, the film follows all of Ross, Tom and Ben's adventures over the 2011 winter big-wave season, all in stunning 3D. Along the way they join forces with big wave chargers Paul Morgan, Mark Mathews and Paul 'Antman' Paterson to conquer waves in Western Australia, on the east coast and in Tasmania, with a special appearance by the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly Slater. The holy grail for this team of big wave hunters is to discover and ride new waves that have never been surfed. This year, Ross, Tom and Ben get the chance of a ... Written by
Does to its target audience what I wanted it to do for all viewers
Let's get a few things straight. I have no doubt in my mind surfing a humongous wave gives you a thrill-rush incomparable to any other rush of energy out there. I have no doubt that fans of surfing or such events as the X-Games will find Storm Surfers a boring film whatsoever. But I do possess doubts that those with little knowledge or investment in the sport will be able to enjoy this documentary. The film, aesthetically, is a bold visual-piece, and in 3D, it could've increased the adrenaline levels of the audience if used to fortify the right moments and capture them with a sense of placement and movement. However, as someone who viewed this on a large, fifty-two inch HD DVD, it had little to offer other than something pretty for my screen to show.
For me, film criticism must be about two things - illustrating the goal of the film and its methods for achieving it and then vicing what you thought of the overall project and its attempt to achieve that goal. Storm Surfers has accepted rave reviews from surfers and critics alike, and just on that note, it has achieved what it wanted to do; make a movie about two daredevils that enjoy surfing waves on large bodies of water during vicious storms. However, my issue is that the film is too much of a muchness; too constructed on gravity-defying visuals to offer any kind of meaning or justification to the actions of these men other than they want immediate gratification and satisfaction. There's nothing wrong with that on a fundamental level, but if you're going to throw yourself in a large body of water during a breakneck storm, there needs to be more of that "will he make?" suspense. The scenes of suspense in Storm Surfers are far too little to warrant any kind of excitement.
The film follows two world-famous surfers, Tom Carroll and Ross Clark-Jones, along with their storm forecaster Ben Matson, as they try and track down the most vicious storms in the Great Southern Ocean. They want to find the most terrifying wave, so they can brave whatever weather condition is in their way to surf and conquer it. Carroll and Clark-Jones are without a shadow of a doubt big fans of what they do. They are thrill-seeking men, even well into their forties with families to think about, and their love for the surf hasn't decimated over the years, despite taking more precautions than before. However, their passion and execution could be fitfully summed up in a half-hour documentary on the Discovery Channel. It doesn't need to be a ninety-five minute, theatrical event with an added dimension.
However, I can see a number of devoted followers of Carroll and Clark-Jones justifying the need for a film like this to hit theaters and be seen. Sure it may welcome audiences to a new kind of unforeseeable culture. Sure it may show them a dangerous life they may not have known they liked. And sure the film may welcome in a new legion of fans of storm surfing. But this is the kind of film that preaches to the choir and advertises like it does nothing more than do so. The trailers show nothing that will interest the already-interested and the content does the same. There isn't much of a human scope to these characters as there should be, considering the stunts Carroll and Clark-Jones are performing here. This was the same mistake made in Nitro Circus: The Movie, the theatrical adaptation of the popular stunt program.
Storm Surfers provides those who already know what they're getting into the material they'll need to survive and smile. On that note, I'll give it two stars, which is average and fair, considering I wasn't a big fan of it. I recommend this to the already marketed-to audience and the overly-curious cinephile looking to check a new documentary off of their watchlist. Just don't be surprised if you get lost in the gigantic waves rather than the story or characters, like I did on numerous occasions. Now on that note, I was like the characters.
Starring: Tom Carroll and Ross Clark-Jones. Directed by: Justin McMillan and Christopher Nelius.
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