Saturday, August 10, 2013
Blu-ray 3D Review: 'Storm Surfers'
Article first published as Blu-ray 3D Review: 'Storm Surfers' on Blogcritics.
Living in Utah obviously doesn’t lend itself well to oceanic exploration. Thankfully, the shores of California are close enough that growing up, trips to the beach were more frequent than you’d think. I love the ocean, hate my home desert climate. I would never move to California, but it’s nice to at least have the access. And while I never have picked up a surfboard, I probably would have, had I been raised closer to sea. Thankfully, there are plenty of films to live vicariously through from Blue Crush to the new surf documentary, Storm Surfers 3D. And if there was going to be a demo-worthy disc to show off just how well 3D can be used at home, even in documentary form, the Storm Surfers 3D Blu-ray from XLrator, would be it.
Storm Surfers chronicles Aussie best friends tow-surfing legend Ross Clarke-Jones and two-time world champion Tom Carroll as they enlist the help of surf forecaster Ben Matson to track and chase giant storms across the Great Southern Ocean. Ross is an adrenaline junkie through and through while Tom still loves the adventure, but also loves his home life just as much. While both are far from old, they might strike some as surprisingly spry for their age. Ben mostly sticks to his offices, while Ross and Tom venture out to surf the storms Ben finds for them. Eventually, they discover a new location in Turtle Dove Shoal, located 75 kilometers offshore, and they take off for the surf of a lifetime; along with the help of Paul Morgan and Mark Mathews.
With an army of 3D cameras attached to their surfboards and jet skis, the 3D transfer is nothing short of spectacular. Even with water smeared across the lens, you never lose depth or focus. Detail is astonishing, bringing every wave to crashing life, making every closing barrel the living threat it can be. After watching the trailer online in 2D, it just makes the 3D look even better. Even when it’s a static camera shot of Tom talking, when he reaches his arm out, it looks like he’s trying to touch your face. With 3D cameras attached to their surfboards, every air bubble and wave break feels as if it’s about to come spilling out of your TV. Depth goes on for miles into the distance making the ocean feel as expanse as it is in real life.
The only slight negative is that with so much water onscreen, there’s always bound to be banding. Surprisingly, I only found two instances. There were also maybe three shots of noise during a couple of nighttime scenes that take place in almost complete darkness, but no crush creeps in. A buddy of mine who reviews Blu-rays for HighDefDigest.com watched the film with me and swore that he saw an instance of crosstalk, but I didn’t see it, which means it was maybe a few fleeting seconds. All in all, this is by far one of the best 3D Blu-rays on the market and the perfect showcase to sway any 3D naysayer. The 5.1 DTS track is appropriately roaring as well. LFE makes sure you feel every crashing wave putting you right smack in the middle of the pipe with Tom and Ross.
Co-directors Justin McMillan and Christopher Nelius have already won Best Feature Length Documentary by the Australian Film Institute, and it’s no surprise. It doesn’t get bogged down with any kind of agenda and just shows that even while approaching mid-age, there’s still time left to have a little fun. The special features feel more like an electronic press kit, considering they’re literally three minute profiles of Tom, Ross, and Ben; a “Behind the Scenes with the Directors;” and the film’s trailer. But the 3D is astonishing and the film is chock-full of screen saver photographer, with the trio and their waves being the real stars here. This may be one of the most entertaining documentaries you’re likely to see and is totally worth a purchase, dude.