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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Sports > Skateboarding > Surfing > Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001) + Riding Giants (2004/Sony Pictures Classics Blu-rays)

Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001) + Riding Giants (2004/Sony Pictures Classics Blu-rays)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-/B     Extras: B-     Documentaries: B-



Stacy Peralta is one of the best and most underrated documentarians today, underrated because the subjects she covers are about forgotten youth and fun.  A great documentary brings to light ideas and parts of the world you many not be as familiar with or as familiar with as you think.  To do works considered definitive in two broad, popular sports subjects is not easy, but she has achieved just that with skateboarding documentary Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001) and surfing documentary Riding Giants (2004), which shows the rise of both from fun to big business extreme sports.


Narrated by Sean Penn, Dogtown is the documentary that many skateboard fans consider the best of the large cycle of such work and inspired Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke (who took over from David Fincher) to helm Lords Of Dogtown (reviewed elsewhere on this site) showing how the modern era of extreme skateboarding arrived.  This begins with suburban teens and younger with not enough to do, deciding to invade the backyards of homes with empty swimming pools and reinvent skateboarding; a sport that was a pastime, but not what it became.


Giants is also as formidable in that it actually bridges the gap between the sport as we know it now and its now-legendary early peak as a popular escape and leisure pastime from the 1950s and especially 1960s.  Unlike most of the surfing films and documentaries that are endless segments of if a surfer (or surfers) gets wiped out or manage to totally succeed in achieving the title of the film, this goes deeper with vintage footage, history and new sides of surfing that make this a must-see for all fans.


Fans of both will be stunned (unless they have already seen them) by Peralta’s access to big names (she actually knows many of them in real life and for a while, even if most are not household names, they are legends in their respective sports) and both become vital records of them while still keeping them fresh and out of the mainstream.  That is not an easy achievement, but Peralta pulls this off and both are definitely worth your time, especially on Blu-ray.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital black and white High Definition image (bookended on the sides by black bars) on Dogtown and 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Giants are a compilation of vintage footage, newly filmed (on film!) footage and other visual items (some exaggerated for effect) to tell the respective stories presented.  I was very impressed with the transfers in both cases, especially where obvious 16mm footage comes in, looking color rich and with the grain as natural as an actual print.  Unless you have seen film prints of each, their Blu-ray versions will be a revelation.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mixes on both are not bad considering the older audio from the past and limits of some location audio recording throughout both, sounding as good as they are likely to ever sound.


Extras on both include Director Peralta/Editor Paul Crowder feature length audio commentary, Deleted Scenes and BD Live interactivity.  Dogtown adds an Alternate Ending, Extended “Raw” Skate Footage, Webisodes tied to the film, Multi-Angle Footage, Mar Vista 2000 and Jeff HD 2000 featurettes, while Giants adds Writer/Surfers feature length audio commentary, a making of featurette and FUEL TV’s Blue Carpet Special on the film.


To see more by Peralta, we also highly recommend Crips & Bloods: Made In America in DVD as reviewed here at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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