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Friday, March 18, 2011

THE ULTIMATE WAVE TAHITI -- DVD review by porfle

The tropical beauty of Tahiti helps make up for the lack of 3D in the flat DVD version of the IMAX film THE ULTIMATE WAVE TAHITI (2010).  As a surfing documentary, though, it has a similar lack of depth.

As we join surfing champions Kelly Slater and Raimana Van Bastolear, they're sitting next to Raimana's beachfront shack watching the ocean and waiting patiently for the waves to come in.  The viewer must wait as well, since there really isn't all that much surfing in this movie and most of it doesn't take place until around the halfway point. 

Till then, we get some nice helicopter views of the heavenly Tahitian landscape and watch the assembled surfers pass the time by skiing and riding outrigger canoes.  The camera takes us underwater to observe them lugging rocks around on the bottom to keep in shape, while schools of fish, a few sharks, and even some humpbacked whales glide by.  We also get a look at some of the ships and airplanes that have sunk beneath the waves over the years.

These picturesque views are periodically interrupted by animated science lessons which teach us things such as how the solar system's gravitational ebb and flow affects ocean currents on Earth, how waves are created and shaped, and how the Pacific islands came to be in the first place.

Tahiti's culture is touched upon with some weird animations of their ancient gods floating around an old shack before flying at the camera (which no doubt looks cool in 3D) and a Polynesian cookout around the campfire which features indigenous costumes, music, and dancing. 

Things begin to pick up when the surfing finally starts, with Kelly and Raimana trying their skill at what's known as "the demonic wave", one of the biggest and most dangerous in the world.  It's pretty exciting stuff although not always up to some other surfing docs I've seen.  The best parts feature a surfboard-mounted camera that places the viewer right in the middle of things.  Other shots put us inside the wave as it washes over us.

Unfortunately, the surfing sequence is over way too soon for me.  We get a number of good rides and some amusing wipeouts, and that's about it.  This is disappointing since I was expecting massive amounts of awesome surfing footage from this film.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with English, French, and Spanish Dolby 5.1 sound.  No subtitles.  In addition to several trailers for this and other documentaries, extras include five brief vignettes--"Board Design", "Kelly", "Raimana", "Tahiti", and "Wave Science"--and a short film, "About Tahiti", designed to attract tourism.

THE ULTIMATE WAVE TAHITI is fairly engaging although I felt it could've taken better advantage of its subject, with the science lectures and travelogue elements taking up too much valuable surfing time.  But if you're interested mainly in a scenic travelogue and aren't all that keen on watching people surf, you should enjoy it.

Buy it at
Blu-Ray 3D

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