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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Surfing > Sports > Science > History > Ancient Animal Life > Environment > Nature > Water > Oc > The Endless Summer (1966/Monterey Media Blu-ray) + Highwater (2010/Image Blu-ray) + Image IMAX Blu-ray 3D Wave: Ultimate Wave Tahiti (2009) + Dinosaurs: Giants Of Patagonia (2007) + Mummies: Secrets O

The Endless Summer (1966/Monterey Media Blu-ray) + Highwater (2010/Image Blu-ray) + Image IMAX Blu-ray 3D Wave: Ultimate Wave Tahiti (2009) + Dinosaurs: Giants Of Patagonia (2007) + Mummies: Secrets Of The Pharaohs (2007) + Ultimate G’s: Zac’s Flying Dream (2000)


Picture: B/B-/B+ & B-/B+* & B/B/B     Sound: B-/B-/B+/B+/B-/B+     Extras: C/B/B-/B-/C+/C+     Films: B/B/B-/B-/B/B-



Surfing makes for some of the best documentary special interest programming around, lending itself to classic moments and formats beyond standard video and even standard film.  This includes IMAX 70mm and 3D shooting.  We will look at three great surfing releases on Blu-ray, one of which is an IMAX 3D presentation, then look at three more IMAX 3D presentations.



One of the most significant documentaries ever made, Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer (1966) helped put surfing on the map, added to the legend of the sport and the idea of California dreaming (although this film traveled the world) then proved that documentaries do not have to be merely educational and political.  This one also proved they did not have to be boring.


Nicely restored from the original 16mm elements, the film was shot on a silent camera in all the locations the surfers hit and because the music, comedy, editing and outstanding voiceover by Brown are so good, it is easy to forget this basic fact.  However, it works exceptionally well and despite dating a bit (which just makes it a time capsule, including a few innocent moments of what we would hear marked as politically incorrect), it is a truly beautiful film that was part of the beginning of an American New Wave of filmmaking that has made this a classic.


It is must-see filmmaking for anyone serious about it, the sport, the purely cinematic experience and on Blu-ray is the best you are going to get next to a really good film print if you can find one.  Brown is a natural filmmaker and talker (as he is a surfer) and this is an all-time labor of love that also casts a huge shadow over the many surfing films and videos, plus their younger skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding and other extreme sports counterparts.


The only extra is a Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, though I would like to see a special edition of this sometime down the line.  It also spanned a sequel and Brown’s son Dana has turned out to be as formidable a filmmaker with releases like Dust To Glory (long overdue on Blu-ray) and Step Into Liquid, which we reviewed in its terrific Blu-ray edition at this link:





Now, Dana Brown has delivered another surfing film called Highwater (2010) and it is every bit as excellent as his previous work and another key work on the subject of surfing.  This time, brown goes to the North Shore of Oahu for a classic Triple Crown event that turns out to be one of the most important in the history of the sport for so many reasons.  Some legends will compete for the last time, while new up and comers shine, the women make their case for being the full-fledged equivalent of their male counterparts, the biggest names around are there and the film even flashes back to Endless Summer and Step Into Liquid in ways that male this a must-see once you have seen those classics.


Also on hand is tragedy, a debate about if commercialism is killing the sport, the true meaning of a soul surfer and if the soul of the great land of Oahu is also at stake.  Like its priceless predecessors, it brings the experience home and really allows you to get to know the people and the sport in a way that shows why it is so great and important.  This is great filmmaking as well and deserves as much attention as it can get.  A trailer and extended interviews are the extras.


Among the great surfers featured include Kelly Slater and he is the focus of the never-can-be-long-enough IMAX 3D production The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D directed by Stephen Low.  Awesome in its scope of history and visuals, Slater, the brilliant Tahitian surfer Raimana Van Bastolaer and company go to the mighty surf spot Teahupo’o for waves so huge, only IMAX 70mm film could do justice to them.  Add the 3D and you get some stunning shots no matter what.


It too delivers the essence of why surfing is a beloved way of life and is as stunning as the other titles we covered.  Extras include trailers, five vignettes about the film, more about beautiful Tahiti and BD Live interactivity.



Marc Fafard’s Dinosaurs: Giants Of Patagonia 3D is another IMAX dinosaur release and the second on Blu-ray 3D, also from Image Entertainment.  Not to be confused with the also from 2007 Dinosaurs Alive!  We reviewed that Blu-ray 3D release at this link:




Giants Of Patagonia 3D is even a little better with less animation and more science, though they are compatible and both well made, this one does not age as much and focuses on the larger of the species, some of which you may not have heard of before.  I would screen both at the same time, especially if you have a 3D set-up.  Extras include trailers, Lizard King documentary and BD Live interactivity.


We previously reviewed Mummies: Secrets Of The Pharaohs 3D in its 2D-only Blu-ray at this link:




I really enjoy Christopher Lee’s narration and the 3D is not bad, though not enough to outdo the 2D version, both of which are supposedly scanned at 8K.  Extras are the same too including BD Live interactivity.


Finally we have the entertaining Keith Melton/Carl Samson film Ultimate G’s: Zac’s Flying Dream 3D which stars a very young Michael Cera as the title character who loves the idea of flying and the freedom that comes with it.  The acting is mixed, but this is not a narrative-heavy film.  It is about flight and delivers some great moments, though it is shorter than I would have liked it to be, 37 minutes makes it below the average regular IMAX production.  However, Cera was a natural for the camera and when the flight moments kick in, it is worth the wait every time.  I like the location and overall visuals, including the least amount of digital animation in the four IMAX 3D releases here.  Extras include seven trailers for other IMAX titles and BD Live interactivity.



All six Blu-rays offer 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition images and the non-IMAX offering as expected are the runner-up performers.  Endless Summer was shot entirely in 16mm film, but purists might have preferred a 1.33 X 1 transfer.  What we do get has some detail issues here and there, but color is consistent and some footage is outright impressive.  Any special edition should offer both frames, but the restoration is nice.  Highwater is a mix of 16mm film, HD video and low def video, so the results play like a multi-media show on some level, but there are still good shots throughout.  I would like to see Brown do an IMAX 70mm production.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on the four IMAX Blu-ray 3D releases are at least as good as their 2D 1080p versions (3D and 2D are on the same Blu-ray disc in all cases) and in the case of Ultimate Wave Tahiti and Dinosaurs: Giants Of Patagonia, definitely exceed the 2D editions, though some people are reporting issues with Patagonia since we first posted this review with instability throughout and now seems more noticeable on larger screens and is something we will reexamine as we try the title (along with Dinosaurs Alive!) on more systems.  Only an overuse of digital work holds the performance back a bit, but you get demo moments on all four discs just the same.


Endless Summer has a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that tries to upgrade the sound, but it still shows its age, though this is mostly a narrative film with some great music and fun sounds originally issued in monophonic film prints.  Maybe a lossless track might help.  The other Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes that in two cases are barley better and three cases are exceptional.  Highwater has a mix of stereo, mono, sometimes flawed location audio and studio recordings (including music) that make for a mixed mix, but this is as good as could be expected.  Mummies repeats the soundfield limits of the 2D-only Blu-ray despite originally being a Sonics-DDP presentation, but it is still well recorded.


That leaves Ultimate Wave Tahiti, Dinosaurs: Giants Of Patagonia and Ultimate G’s: Zac’s Flying Dream as the sonically impressive presentations with enveloping soundfields at their best and demonstration quality sections that will challenge the best home theater systems.  Ultimate G’s has the kinds of flight surrounds the Top Gun Blu-ray should have had and only some quiet moments and narration in the center channel hold back the sound mixes.


I really liked all six films and recommend them all!



For more IMAX Blu-ray 3D coverage, try these links:


IMAX: Deep Sea 3D



Ultimate Wave Tahiti/Dinosaurs: Giants Of Patagonia/Mummies: Secrets Of The Pharaohs/Ultimate G’s: Zac’s Flying Dream




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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