At its heart, surfing is an intensely cinematic sport—the dozens of films, from Step Into Liquid to Point Break, must outnumber all golf and hockey movies put together—but it's not an inherently dramatic one. Landlubbers shan't ever fully understand just how competitions are judged, and shots of idyllic settings aren't all that far removed from home movies, however arresting the footage. New documentary Storm Surfers 3D ups the ante in regard to visual appeal. Technological advantages put the observer literally in the wake of towering surf, and because the film focuses solely upon those wave riders seeking the very biggest crests, we get an inkling of the dangers that threaten professional surfers. The film follows graying foxes Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll, whose daft vision and track record of success carry an innate narrative, to be sure. For fellow travelers, Storm Surfers 3D is a wet dream upon the biggest stage. But newcomers might well question the expense of helicoptering out to uncharted surf with a small crew of assistants. Our heroes have no doubt earned the right to such devoted support staffs, but there's little sense of the bohemian romanticism that once marked sun-worshipping libertines and propelled pioneering surfing doc Endless Summer into the mainstream. Technically, this film—concentrating solely upon the squalls of the Southern Hemisphere—could've been titled Endless Winter, which perhaps seemed too sadly apropos.
Critic's Grade: C
SEE IT: Storm Surfers 3D opens Friday at Cinema 21.