Movie Review: Step Into Liquid

2003, USA, Dana Brown

From the North Shore of Maui to Sheboygan Wisconsin, there are people who live to surf. This film celebrates their skill riding waves and the passion they have for doing what they love to do. Amazing photography captures spectacular waves, rides and wipeouts. If I lived a thousand miles closer to the ocean and wasn’t such a chicken, I might be inspired to take up the sport. And yeah, I grew up in California, and never once stood on a wave, but what of it? Not everyone in Minnesota plays hockey. Hmm, so that’s a bad example…

Anyway.

I caught the trailer for this movie on the internet about five months ago, and was amazed even then, watching on a tiny 2×4-inch-sized preview window on the computer, at the shots of huge, crystal blue waves crashing into white avalanches of spray. I couldn’t wait to see this film on the big screen. Months passed and I’d just about resigned myself to straight-to-video when last week it finally opened locally in theatres. The big screen, with THX sound, is definitely the way to see this film.

Step Into Liquid (a great title, by the way) begins with on-screen credits informing the audience that no special effects or stunt men were used in the making of this film. The locations are beautiful (Tahiti, Hawaii, California, Costa Rica, Chile, Australia and, surprise, Ireland,) and unusual (Lake Michigan, a Texas shipping lane where surfers ride the wakes of super tankers and, surprise, Ireland.)

I love waves and watching surfing.  The way surfers make it look so easy, gliding through a wave, with their wave-side hand trailing along the surface, occasionally dipping it into the wall of water.  Or the shots of huge waves where the wind kicks spray off the top that look like curls of smoke.  Some shots take you up and over the wave as it crests and the surfer shoots up over the lip, landing in the flat, foamy water behind the wave.  Others take you inside the curl, or plunging beneath the wave to see the pounding water from the other side, the surfer keeping low, just under the churn.

The most exciting shots are of big wave surfers, who are towed by jet skies to the largest waves, too far out to paddle for.  Near the end of the film, a group of tow-surfers charters a boat to take them 100 miles off the coast of California to catch some of the biggest waves on the planet.  Out in the middle of nowhere, in shark-infested waters, facing 60-plus-foot waves, these guys are having the time of their lives.  [*** out of 5]

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