Plot: What’s it about?
Of all the sports out there, I’m not sure if I could handle being a surfer. Not so much due to the nature of the sport itself, I’m actually pretty coordinated (I used to play ice hockey), but mainly because of what lies below the surface of the water. Yeah, like so many others out there I’ve seen Jaws one too many times, which is to say once is enough, and I’m just paranoid that after hanging ten, a Great White would come up and snap me in half. Hey, it’s happened! But I’ve got to hand it to these guys and gals, the life of a surfer, professional or not, has to to be a labor of love. I see golfers on television every week making millions of dollars for putting a little white ball into a hole, yet a surfer risks literally life and limb for the sheer adrenaline rush. With Chasing Mavericks, it tells the true story of Jay Moriarity, someone who gets bitten by the surfing bug early in life and makes it his goal to conquer the ocean. This raises the inevitable question: can he do it?
Jay (Jonny Weston) has a passion for the ocean. He’s taught himself how to time the waves, knowing when they’ll get bigger. After having his life saved by local surfer and neighbor, Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) the two form an unlikely friendship with Frosty acting as somewhat of a surrogate father to Jay. Jay’s mother (Elisabeth Shue) lacks motivation, is an alcoholic and is perpetually late for work. Suffice it to say that if Jay wants something, he’s got to do it himself. He hitches a ride, literally, on the back of Frosty’s van only to see some of the largest waves known to man. Jay makes it his goal in life to surf those waves and come out on top in the most literal sense of the word. Using Frosty as a coach and trainer, he’s told it’ll never happen but we know that with a movie being made – the odds are in his favor.
Chasing Mavericks is your typical coming-of-age story that has all the right elements in place. Jay’s childhood friend early in life (Levin Rambin) has of course blossomed into an amazing beauty who acknowledges Jay, but flirts with other guys. His absent father is replaced by “rough around the edges” father (Butler), the local bully who has a penchant for carrying around a baseball bat is always nipping at his heals and so on. Once the plot is set, we essentially know what will happen, though with the direction of Curtis Hanson (who had to drop out of the movie with three weeks left due to health issues), it’s in good hands. Yes, maybe the film doesn’t tell an original tale and movies about surfing are few and far between (with Soul Surfer being the only one in recent memory, also based on a true story). It’s actually fairly inspirational and with the added bonus of it being a true story, it’s even more so.
Video: How does it look?
Fox has brought Chasing Mavericks to Blu-ray in a gorgeous-looking 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer. Some of the shots of the waves are truly remarkable and it makes me think how powerless we are against Mother Nature if she really wanted to teach us a lesson. Detail is crystal clear, we can make out every whisker on Gerard Butler’s face and every curl in Jonny Weston’s golden mane. Color saturation is good as well, with some truly beautiful shots of the ocean. It’s pretty much what we’d expect form a new to Blu-ray movie and Fox has given us a nice-looking transfer to gaze at.
Audio: How does it sound?
I can only imagine what it’d sound like to have 1000 gallons of water pouring over your head, though I’ve got a much better image now that I’ve heard the DTS HD Master Audio (7.1 channels, folks) soundtrack. Vocals are clear and crisp, surrounds are prevalent throughout but what takes front and center are the LFE. If you’ve ever wanted to hear the sound and sheer power and force behind that of a crashing wave, I can’t think of any movie that conveys this better than this one. The room seems to shake as some of these waves do their thing and this uncompressed soundtrack is literally second to none in terms of an overall mix. Why this wasn’t nominated for an Oscar is beyond me, but this is one powerful mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
We get a nice selection of extras, starting off with an audio commentary by Michael Apted, Brandon Hooper, and Jim Meenaghan. As I mentioned earlier, director Curtis Hanson had to pull out of the movie near the end due to health issues. He must have still been ill since he didn’t take part in this commentary track. That said, it’s a pretty decent track full of facts about the film, the sport and the challenge of shooting in Santa Cruz, California. Next up is “Surf City” which is a bit more about the challenge of shooting in Santa Cruz. “Shooting Waves” tells us of how the cinematographer chose to film some of the scenes and sequences and “Live like Jay” has some of Jay Moriarity’s friends tell us of his passion for the sport and so forth. “Surfer Zen” shows us some of the real-life surfers, the thrill they get out of it and Gerard Butler tells us of a harrowing experience he had while filming the movie. There are five deleted scenes as well as an UltraViolet copy of the film.