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April 12, 2013
Storm Surfers: The Movie 3D Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
14/8/20126/2/2013MadmanJustin McMillan
Christopher Nelius
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1PGTom Carroll
Ross Clarke-Jones

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Storm Surfers 3D is on Blu-Ray now.

To say that I'm an armchair sports fan would be an understatement. In fact there isn't too much I won't sit down and watch, especially if the scores are close. Surfing though is one of those sports I have little interest in and that's despite living a couple of minutes’ drive from Surfers Paradise! Still, when this documentary was released I was keen to have a look. Big wave surfing is phenomenally dangerous and as well as featuring that sport, the Blu-Ray is in 3D which was a bonus. So what do we have...

Storm Surfers The Movie 3D follows two best friends on their quest to hunt down and ride the biggest and most dangerous waves in Australia. Aussie tow-surfing legend Ross Clarke-Jones and two-time world champion Tom Carroll enlist the help of surf forecaster Ben Matson and together they track and chase giant storms across the Great Southern Ocean.

Over one big-wave winter season in 2011 the team experience the brutal force of Mother Nature, score the waves of a lifetime and come close to death, before embarking on an expedition to surf a mythical wave that has never before been ridden. Seventy-five kilometers from land lies a secret reef known as Turtle Dove Shoal and so begins a mission far beyond anything they have ever attempted in their lives...

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Cinematography is impressive.
Storm Surfers 3D gives a great account of big wave surfing but looks at the history of Tom and Ross as well as their current home lives and motivations for risking their lives. Narration from Toni Collette is superb and the documentary moves at a brisk pace from start to finish with some stunning cinematography from a wide range of cameras - which ultimately leads to some variable video quality, but also puts you right in the action more times than not.

The conclusive section of this documentary at Turtle Dove Shoal - a surf break 75km offshore - is simply jaw-dropping and worth the price of admission alone. If anything this segment of the film runs a little shorter then we hoped, or expected, but it's clear that the filmmakers have kept this film pretty lean to keep the pacing, and excitement, up for the viewers.

Even as a non-surfer I found this documentary often riveting, often awe-inspiring and often jaw-dropping. Toni Collette's narration is clear and well scripted and Storm Surfers The Movie 3D (which can be viewed in 2D as well) gives you a real sense of the excitement, and danger, of big wave surfing.

We watched Storm Surfers 3D in both 2D and 3D versions and enjoyed both versions very much. While there are certainly a lot of scenes that don't benefit from the 3D effect, when it kicks in it's absolutely stunning with some gorgeous cinematography. The film is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which fills HDTV's, and also allows the 3D effect to be at it's maximum (well, we always find that films that fill the screen help to "immerse" you more into the 3D effect).

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Tom gets ready to hit the waves.
Having said that we did notice some compression artifacting in the video presentation including some light colour banding and compression, but when you look at any video water is often one of the hardest things to compress with fine detail, and, in general, this documentary with its wide range of cameras used gets the job done quite well.

This Blu-Ray includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and while the documentary is primarily dialogue based, when the waves kick in the sub-woofer will be given a fantastic workout with plenty of low-end rumble from the crashing waves. Surround sound channels are put to good use as well and provide that extra sense of "being there" while music remains understated but suits the tone perfectly.

Despite the packaging claiming a Linear PCM 2.0 track - this disc actually comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 192kbps which, while it gets the job done, really lacks the extra punch from the lossless DTS-HD track. There is a single English Captions for Hard of Hearing track which provides subtitles accurate to the on-screen dialogue and narration.

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Big Wave Surfing is extremely dangerous.
Storm Surfers 3D includes a few extras on the Blu-Ray which are as follows...

10 'How To' Webisodes (20:00/HD): While each webisode is only brief there is some rather interesting stuff here. Segments include "Surf", "Survive A Wipeout", "Train for Surfing", "Shoot in 3D", "Ride a Barrel", "Make a Tow Board", "Forecast a Big Wave", "Get A Big Wave", "Tow A Surfer" and "Paddle In". Unfortunately there's no way to View All.

10 Profile Webisodes (29:43/HD): Here we have 10 segments which profiles the main participants, as well as many of those that aren't seen, in this documentary. Segments include "Directors", "Tom Carroll", "Paul Morgan", "Maya Gabeira", "Ross and Tom's Need for Speed", "Ours", "Ben Matson", "Kobi Graham", "Mark Matthews" and "Ross Clarke Jones".

Mission Diaries and Game (1:10/HD): A short promotional piece for the game and EBook based on Storm Surfers.

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Storm Surfers 3D is a great documentary.
Theatrical Trailer 3D (2:50/HD): The trailer for Storm Surfers: The Movie 3D.

ATOM Study Guide (HD): In what we think is a first we've seen on Blu-Ray this disc can be put into a PC Blu-Ray drive and includes a Study Guide for Teachers of Media.

Madman Propaganda (3:44/HD): After the anti-piracy trailer we have trailers for "Man on Wire" (2:08) - which is a superb documentary, and the West Indies cricket documentary "Fire in Babylon" (1:36).

Storm Surfers: The Movie 3D is a wonderful documentary in either 2D or 3D form and is recommended to surfing, or non-surfing fans alike. The transfer is solid, and a couple of extras makes this worth picking up.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Madman. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.