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Rated 2.97 stars
by 1852 people


ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Surfer's Choice
by Jeffrey Chen

Hawaii is receiving some excellent P.R. in the movies this summer. First, Lilo & Stitch features it as a watercolored paradise wondrous enough to mellow-out a space alien's destructive habits. Now Blue Crush comes along to display the appeal of surfing while luring bystanders to the Maui beaches.

I knew I wasn't going to hate this movie the minute the first surfing scenes hit the screen. I'm the kind of guy who loves to find out more about the activities that others pursue passionately, especially when I know little about them. Thus, Blue Crush earns points by taking the audience straight into the surf to feel the relentlessness of the ocean, to experience the thrill first-hand, and to taste the salt in the water. Shots are taken from every conceivable angle -- over the board, under the board, under the water, from the surfer's p.o.v., facing the surfer, and into, over, and through the gigantic waves. Particularly exhilarating are the p.o.v. shots from inside a "pipe," one of those stunning waves that curl over and allow the surfers to travel sideways along it, speeding toward the opening as it closes up.

Much credit must be given to the water-camera operating team of Don King, Sonny Miller, and Michael Stewart. (Stewart, who is actually a champion boarder, took many of the shots while surfing.) Their work is fantastic -- I haven't been to a movie in a long time that made me wonder, "How did they do that?" Computer graphics and advanced special effects techniques have dulled my sense of awe for years now, so it's refreshing to see the footage featured here, which, according to the publicity material, did not employ blue screens or water tanks.

Although the story is a standard-issue sports movie plot -- protagonist prepares for big contest, while obstacles both inner and outer must be overcome -- it does have a few things going for it. The focus is on female surfers who pursue the sport with as much determination as their male counterparts. The main heroine (Kate Bosworth) and her friends (Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake, a real surfer-girl in her acting debut) are seen working a crummy job to fuel their livelihood, and this gives the film a comfortable blue-collar atmosphere as opposed to some asinine beach-party environment. Quite frankly, I would have been happy just seeing more of that rather than watching the introduction of a love interest in the form of a visiting football player (Matthew Davis). This  character's presence kicks the corniness level up a notch too high, and the plot begins to feel like it's getting in the way of the good stuff, like the relationship among the girls. It does, however, lead to a fun surfing-lesson scene that shows the different skill levels of teachers, students, and casual surfers in the area.

Director John Stockwell's verite style keeps Blue Crush from feeling like a glossy Hollywood product, so viewers feel like they're right there, on the beach, watching these athletes go. Personally, I could have watched those surfing scenes all day, dreaming of Hawaii while viewing the shots of the dawn and dusk. When the film comes to an end, the credits are  accompanied by the pop tune "Cruel Summer," but a movie like Blue Crush proves this summer is not.

(Review also posted at http://www.windowtothemovies.com)

Released by Universal Pictures and rated "PG-13" for sexual content, teen partying, language and a fight.


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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