Sunday, July 14, 2013

Storm Surfers (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
 Storm Surfers 3D

"Storm Surfers 3D" directed by Justin McMillan and Christopher Nelius, sketches the life of champion Australian surfers Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll as they face big monster waves with names like Cow Bombie, The South Coast Bombie, Ship Stern Bluff  and Turtle Dove.

Ross Clarke-Jones with his dark hair and tan appearance is a rock star surfer of the Australian coast, a little like Rod Stewart with a dash of Ozzy Osbourne thrown in. Ross Clarke-Jones feels the powerful cyclone of water and air pressing in around him like a thrashing dance at a disco surrounded by beautiful girls. He lives for the beating which appears to hit him in curious caressing attacks.

Tom Carroll, by contrast is a bit more reasoned and careful. He bares a resemblance to Lance Armstrong in his grim and chiseled face. Both men are nearing 50, but they abhor the concept of slowing down as they are both thrill junkies.

Shot in extraordinary three dimensions,  the film puts you right in the core of the swirling wave, transforming the deep blue projections into huge leviathans that fill the entire screen. The 3D is even noticeable in the living room interview scenes which highlight some green foliage intruding from the room. Although this is overdone, "Storm Surfers 3D" does not use its effects as a gimmick.

Gradually we get a somewhat divisive portrait of the two men. Carroll, a winner of the 1987 Pipe Masters among other achievements, has suffered some rough outings and is in the midst of a semi-respite from the big curls. Clarke-Jones is like a teenager. He accuses Carroll of acting like "a girl" for wanting to spend time with his family. Self absorbed with a seven league ego, Clarke-Jones comes across as insensitive in this documentary.

Faults aside, Clarke-Jones emerges as a most entertaining provocateur as he runs about the surf-headquarters, setting radio controlled helicopters on fire and laughing riotously. These two men have worked and shot waves alongside each other for decades and despite the rivalry they clearly care for each other. Repeatedly almost like a mantra throughout the film,  Clarke-Jones refers to himself and Carroll as kids who refuse to grow up.

They need the waves.

There is an underdog story as we see Carroll pore over tidal maps and diagrams. He worries about his mortality or the moment when he won't want to surf. His face is stern and determined. He is a boxer in a fight, an oceanic Jedi of water and velocity.

When Carroll rises from the isolated and singularly man-eating Turtle Dove, you will feel the vibration, akin to the sight of Rocky's raised fist.

Both Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones emerge as nautical matadors who spray themselves with irreverence and by the end of "Storm Surfers 3D" (well narrated by Toni Colette) these natural forces are seen as they are: vexing, monolithic walls of water that roll on, only to be challenged by two skilled but reckless rockers of balance.

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