I just saw a most wonderful, upbeat summer movie about approaching the early-autumn of our years, a must-see buddy movie that, upon initial viewing, I thought was a spectacular all-wet extravaganza. Having seen it again a day later, I’ll borrow some Australian rhyming slang as this septic tank says you have to have a good Captain Cook at two china plates with lots of comic cuts and Niagara Falls. (Translation: This Yank says you have to have a good look at two (Aussie) mates with lots of guts and balls.)
Here’s the premise of the movie. For four months, two aging, world-class Australian surfers — who are also best friends — search out waves off the coast of Australia that have never been surfed. Monster waves. Like up to 45 feet tall. And you usually only get these giant waves during the winter storm months, which down-under is May through August.
The movie is called “Storm Surfers 3D,” and it’s got the most spectacular use of 3D I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of movies in 3D, everything from “Avatar” to “How to Train Your Dragon,” from “Coraline” to “House of Wax” to a bunch of IMAX science and nature movies.
What is so special and spectacular about the 3D in “Storm Surfers,” is that, first of all, it’s nature-made, and in the service of a documentary. The film-makers used 26 3D cameras, and, like James Cameron and his team did on “Avatar,” a lot of the cameras and rigs had to be specially invented for this picture.
Thus you feel that you’re standing next to these guys, dropping down off a monstrous 30-foot wall of water, or enveloped in a curl’s tunnel. You feel you’ve got to hold your breath as you wipe out and are flailing head-over-heels, underwater, as tons of water pound you relentlessly.
In other words, it’s the most stunning, immersive 3D I’ve ever seen. It’s dazzling and almost exhausting. After each screening I’d almost swear my hair was not only wet, but had that most agreeable scent of salt water.
But this movie is far more than just two guys — and you — surfing monster waves, a most impressive feat in itself.
Like one of my favorite movies that I saw last year, the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” “Storm Surfers” tells a terrific story.
The story in “Storm Surfers” is about how we handle getting older. I remember my grandmother once telling me, when she was in her early 80s, that she still felt like a 17-year-old inside. Her biggest frustration, she added, was that physically her body wasn’t cooperating.
That issue is talked about a lot by the two best buddies in “Storm Surfers,” Tom Carroll and Ross Clark-Jones. Carroll, a two-time surfing world champion, says in the film that in a few months he’ll be 50. Clark-Jones is a few years behind him. Not only is big-wave surfing physically demanding, it’s mentally demanding as well, as both men struggle to keep the mental alacrity they had 20 years earlier. Sure, there is no substitute for experience, but there’s also no substitute for youth.
“Storm Surfers” is also about figuring out how to follow your dreams of youth when you’ve now got serious responsibilities, like a wife and kids. Especially when what Carroll and Clark-Jones do for a living is so increasingly dangerous as they grow older.
Another fascinating aspect of “Storm Surfers” is how a third member of the Carroll and Clark-Jones team, Ben Matson, tracks down and finds the monster waves they surf during the winter storms.
I hope I’ve convinced you that this is one fantastic movie and that it must be seen in 3D on the big screen. Trust me, it’s an experience you won’t quickly forget.
The problem is that “Storm Surfers 3D” is almost impossible to find on the big screen. That’s because a decision was made that the showing of the film in the U.S. would be done day-and-date with theaters and with pay-per-view on numerous TV outlets. But if you don’t see this film on the big screen, in 3D, you’re robbing yourself of three/fourths of the exhilarating, breathtaking fun of seeing this movie.
Many theater chains won’t show a movie that doesn’t give them a protective window. I was lucky enough to see the film here in Los Angeles during this past week at the Chinese 6 multiplex on Hollywood Boulevard, an independent movie house owned by TCL, a major company in China known for making TV sets. But the last day “Storm Surfers 3D” was playing there was yesterday, Thursday, July 25, 2013.
However, if you live in L.A., you’ll have another chance to see “Storm Surfers 3D” at the Aero theater in Santa Monica tomorrow, Saturday, July 27, at 4 p.m. I understand that it’s an added screening because the film played there last Saturday and sold out. Go and make it sellout again and then tell your friends they have to see the movie, and have to see it in 3D on a movie theater’s big screen. With any luck, the Aero will keep playing it.
On Aug. 6 “Storm Surfers” will be released on DVD.
But what needs to happen is that the movie needs a serious chance to be seen in theaters across the country.
Some major company — how about the Discovery Channel — needs to get involved and get this documentary out into theaters. Or perhaps the National Geographic Channel can lend a hand — they are co-owned by Fox Cable Networks, which is a sibling of a movie studio. Given the muscle of the right TV marketing campaign, I am convinced that if enough people see this movie in theaters, word-of-mouth will eventually take care of the rest.
Here’s another idea. Mark Cuban owns the Landmark Theatre chain. Perhaps Landmark can make an effort to keep this movie in the theaters.
Movie maker Stanley Kubrick once said about the big screen, “It’s a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
I hope someone can get “Storm Surfers 3D” back in theaters. Seeing it on DVD, or on pay-per-view, even on the biggest TVs, it’s still a good film. But put it up on the big screen, in 3D, it’s a magical, truly unforgettable experience.