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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Drew: You really think you can surf it for real out there?
DVD ReviewI had no interest in seeing Blue Crush upon its release in theaters in August of 2002. In fact, I openly mocked the film in the days leading up to its release at the theater my girlfriend managed at the time. To go one step further in my honesty, I chose to sit with my girlfriend as she screened the positively dreadful The Adventures of Pluto Nash rather than having to see Blue Crush. Then, as is always the case, I broke down. While waiting one afternoon I decided to sit in on it, and within only a few minutes I was positively hooked. Here is a film that is fun, is filmed amazingly well, and has more heart than a thousand other teen films.
Set in Hawaii, the story follows Anne Marie (Bosworth), an expert surfer who suffered a blow while practicing some three years earlier. After wiping out on an enormous wave, she came close to drowning after hitting her head against a rock on the ocean floor. Looking to make a comeback, she is seeking a spot in an exclusive surfing competition that draws a large number of surfers to Hawaii, where chances for sponsorship and the spotlight are at hand. Afraid to return to the big waves that nearly killed her, Anne Marie is helped in her confidence by an NFL quarterback (Davis) who is on the island for the Pro Bowl, and seemingly, to win Anne Marie's heart. Backed by a trio of supporters, Eden (Rodriguez), Lena (Lake), and her kid sister, Penny (Boorem), she may have what it takes to get back on top of the world again.
Based on a magazine article titled "Surf Girls of Maui" by Susan Orlean (who is also a key figure in the brilliant Adaptation), Blue Crush is essentially a teen version of Rocky, or any other sports film for that matter. But what makes this movie a bit more special is that it shows the athletes, in this case surfers, in vulnerable situations away from the sport. I liked the way in which director John Stockwell (who also made the heavily underrated Crazy/Beautiful) approaches the romance and surfing with the same matter of importance, instead of making the characters seem secondary to the wondrous shots of the water.
And wondrous they are. Cinematographer David Hennings has effectively crafted some of the most intense visuals to have been captured on film in quite some time, and no, I am not kidding. By eschewing blue screen or water tank simulations, each shot is real, down to the last drop of water. When we follow the point of view from the surfer's perspective, it is all the more incredible when you consider that it is literally what you would see if you were surfing yourself. Hennings and Stockwell craft some truly awe-inspiring underwater shots as we see the effects of a wave from beneath as it crashes down, making them into the film's villain.
The casting also works very well as the trio of lead actresses each deliver very strong performances. The best by far is Bosworth, whose beauty is only a small reason as to why her presence is so commanding. She plays Anne Marie with the sort of sly attitude needed to make her character seem vulnerable and self-assured almost alternately. Lake and Rodriguez offer commendable back up for Bosworth, though they really aren't given much to do.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Presented in a beautiful anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, Blue Crush looks great, though given the visuals it would not have taken much. The lush blues of the water look terrific, while sharpness and detail are very nice, and the transfer has a very film-like appearance. The print used is pristine with no grain or flaws evident throughout, and there is no edge enhancement noticeable at all.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: Crank this one up to 11! The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Blue Crush is as immersive as you are likely to hear on any DVD. As one may expect, the soundfield heard during the surfing scenes offers an all-out assault on the senses. The surround and front speakers effortlessly pan across the room and make you feel as if there are waves in your home. The .1 LFE track offers a nice low end when the waves come crashing down. The surrounds are also effective during the quieter scenes as the ambient sounds of life in Hawaii come off nicely. Dialogue is also nicely done with no distortion or dropouts.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
8 Deleted Scenes
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by director John Stockwell, Casper Stockwell, producer Rick Dallago
Kate Boswoth, Michelle Rodriguez, Sanoe Lake
The second track features Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sanoe Lake as the trio discusses the making of the film, both on and off the set. I would imagine that for the teenaged fans of the film, this track will certainly be considered entertaining, but I found it to be rather tedious. We largely hear about how the three learned to surf, chased guys in the off time, and generally hung out for a summer in Hawaii. Nice, but nothing informative about the filmmaking process.
Running just shy of fifteen minutes is Three Friends, One Passion, an overly promotional look at the making of the film. The featurette is heavily peppered with interviews by the cast and the crew as well as producer Brian Grazer. You don’t learn much about how the crew achieving the extraordinary shots used in the film (that comes later in the disc), but you do get to see some stunt footage that is exciting.
A series of deleted scenes are only available for viewing together, though Stockwell does offer optional commentary. None of the scenes warrant inclusion in the final cut, which is nice considering the film runs a little long, given the material. Stockwell does offer some interesting comments as to why scenes were cut, making his comments more entertaining than the scenes themselves.
A series of short making-of clips is where the disc earns its money, as each deal in some way with the surfing aspect of the picture. Stockwell offers commentary on the shorts, which run an average of four minutes each. First up is Wipeout!, a look at the best spills taken by the surfers in the film. Filming Blue Crush is the best of the lot, a look at how some of the shots were obtained (a body-boarding cameraman, anyone?) and how the filmmakers struggled to find the right techniques to make the shots exciting. Surf Fashion follows actress Sanoe Lake around a clothing store as she describes the look of a typical surfer. Women in the field of pro surfing take centerstage in The Female Surfing Revolution, a short that looks at some of the most influential female athletes in the sport. Skateboarding features two minutes of outtakes from the party sequence seen early in the film as locals show off their skateboarding moves for the camera.
The two shorts that offer the most fun are the Blue Crush Promo, which Stockwell and others cut together in order to sell the film to Universal, and Riding the Waves, clips of surfing that did not make the final cut. This can be viewed by choosing either the boys or the girls sections.
Finally, production notes, cast and filmmaker bios, a Lenny Kravitz music video for If I Could Fall in Love, the theatrical trailer in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1, and nearly thirty pages from The World of Surfing , which is a guide to the phenomenon covered in the film.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsBlue Crush offers the best visuals of any film I have seen in quite some time, making it a worthwhile recommendation, but there is something more to the film that just its look. The performances and the script are just as good, and are likely better than any other film aimed towards teen audiences released this year. Highly Recommended.
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