Surfing isn’t necessarily my thing. I haven’t lived near a beach since 1989, and Maine was not necessarily the big surfing scene. However, science is my thing. If done right, watching other people having fun is also entertaining. One last thing; watching other cultures can – if done right – can also be entertaining to watch. These four unlikely things combine in The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D.
So 9-time World Surfing champion Kelly Slater and some friends arrive in Tahiti – located within the islands of French Polynesia. Slater and Co. are looking for, well, the ultimate (surfing) wave. They meet their host, local surfer Raimana Van Bastolaer. Here’s where different cultures collide; for Slater, surfing is competitive – for Raimana, it’s an ancient Polynesian wave-riding art form. So if the conditions are right, the water will form barrels on itself, making for good surfing.
Remember that I said there was science involved? There is plenty in The Ultimate Wave 3D. Using computer graphics, there is mention of underwater volcanoes that erupt enough to form islands. Other bits of science include tectonic plate shifting, light and heat waves, and how all of those have an effect on the weather. All in all, the explanations are perfectly clear to the layman, so don’t worry about getting lost in the science – The Ultimate Wave is about having fun, and there is plenty of fun-having in this documentary.
There is no way to accurately predict the best surfing times, so Raimana keeps Slater and the other tourists occupied. There are breath-holding competitions, outrigger canoes (which look fun even to someone like myself – a total shut-in), and carving up in the gentle surf.
When the surf finally arrives, Slater and other surf-seekers are ready. While clouds are ominously looming in the distant sky predicting storms, the wave riders weigh the risks. An animation is shown, displaying how a wave gathers energy and from how far out. It is easier to understand the violence of the water in the middle of the sea that sailors experience; with some imagination of course.
The overall experience looks fun. The documentary (movie?) inspires a trip to Tahiti itself to take part in the whole experience myself. What is the goal of this: if it were about how awesome Kelly Slater is, then he would be featured more prominently. If this were about actually encouraging people to come visit Tahiti, the hard sell to beat cheeks to a travel agent isn’t there. So what is this about?
The best available answer it seems is that people are going to Tahiti to surf and have fun. To fill in time, they added some science behind how surfing works, and that was executed properly; not too long, not too in-depth. Volcanoes erupt underwater to make islands – when that’s shown graphically, it’s all very straightforward.
Tonally, this video is shot in bright and vividly. It’s about people having fun, and the director and crew know this. This features aspects of competitive surfing, but it is able to grasp the attention of people who know nothing of that world.
FINAL GRADE: B
TRR DVD Revue by Geoffrey Beebe