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Gerard Butler stars in this surfing drama. Santa Cruz teenager Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) discovers that the Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, exists only a few miles from his home. Instantly gripped by the dream of surfing the wave, he begs local surfing legend Frosty Hesson (Butler) to help him achieve his goal. But with tide patterns dictating that the Mavericks is due to reappear in just 12 weeks, has Jay got what it takes to conquer this epic wave?
For more about Chasing Mavericks and the Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray release, see Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Leven Rambin, Taylor Handley, Jonny Weston
Directors: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson
» See full cast & crew
Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray Review
Live Like Jay
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 6, 2013
Off the coast of Santa Cruz—a.k.a "Surf City"—there's a seasonal combination of winds and tides that occasionally produces swells as high as a three-story building. These waves are called "mavericks," and before a well-publicized El Nińo in the mid-1990s brought them international attention, they were the stuff of surfing legend, ridden only by a small, in-the-know cadre of local surf veterans. One of these privileged boarders was "Frosty" Hesson, who took young grom Jay Moriarity under his water-wing, trained him up, and taught him how to drop in on the big ones. Moriarity later became something of a legend himself in the surfing world, immortalized at a carefree twenty-two years old after drowning in a free diving accident in the Maldives.
Chasing Mavericks gently fictionalizes the surrogate-father/son mentor relationship between Frosty and Jay, telling an inspirational story about goal-setting, dedication, and conquering fear. Directed by Curtis Hanson and Up Series documentarian Michael Apted—who took over late in production when Hanson had complications from heart surgery—the film is a production of Walden Media, known for conservative-leaning movies like Won't Back Down and Waiting for Superman. Chasing Mavericks sets politics aside, however, and focuses on simple, family- friendly storytelling. This isn't a film that takes many narrative risks—it generally follows the underdog sports movie formula—but it is warm and entertaining and eager to please.
Seventeen-year-old Jay (Jonny Weston) is a good kid in a bad situation. His father bailed when he was eight, leaving him to care for his alcoholic, perpetually-late-for-work mother, Kristy (Elisabeth Shue, looking appropriately tired for the entire film). Jay makes dinner and does his mom's laundry, he gets her out of bed in the morning and loans her cash when she needs it from his part time wages at the local pizza shack. He's the very definition of dutiful. Jay's passion, though, is surfing. He was first hooked as a kid, when his down-the-street neighbor, Frosty—a particularly shaggy Gerard Butler—rescued him from a tidal surge and paddled him to shore. Ever since, Jay has eyed and idolized Frosty, a dedicated older surfer who hits the waves at dawn before heading off for his day job as an independent contractor.
One morning, Jay spies Frosty heading out to his van with a big red board meant for riding monster waves. Thinking quickly, he runs out, covertly hitches a ride by hanging off the back of the van, and follows Frosty to the secret stretch of coastline where the "mavericks" swell and crash. From a distance, he watches Frosty sculpt his way down a 30-foot drop. Back in the van—and found out—Jay begs the now-angry Frosty to train him. It takes some convincing—with Frosty's wise and long-suffering wife, Brenda (Abigail Spencer), advocating on the boy's behalf—but Frosty finally comes around. He never had a father himself, and though he has two daughters, he has no sons of his own. Frosty doesn't mean to become a substitute dad of sorts, but that, of course, is exactly what happens.
The rest of the film plays out in the twelve weeks leading up to the close of the big wave season, with Frosty instructing Jay in "the four pillars of a solid human foundation—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual." Frosty is a peculiar dude. Along with demanding that Jay be able to hold his breath for four minutes, paddle a 36-mile loop, and tread water for 45-minutes while being pummeled by breakers, Frosty assigns the kid to write semi- philosophical essays about observation and fear, challenging him to look deep inside himself. The two sometimes clash—in the way that people who are a lot alike often do—but they grow inextricably closer, a healing process the film handles with genuine tenderness.
What the movie doesn't handle quite as well are its many subplots, which are here to add drama and drive but feel merely obligatory and underdeveloped. Jay is antagonized by the local beach bully. He pursues his childhood sweetheart, Kim (Leven Rambin), who's two years older and sees him more as a younger brother. He doles out forgiveness when his best friend and surfing buddy (Devin Crittenden) goes to the dark side, dealing drugs and falling in with the wrong crowd. We're glad when Chasing Mavericks gets back to the wind, the waves, and the inspirational mentoring.
Gerard Butler seems to be playing a variation on the brash do-gooder character he played in Machine Gun Preacher—another based-on-a-true- story film—and the Scottish native is surprisingly great in these curmudgeonly American roles. Here, he's the embodiment of the washed up surfer who only works to support his wave-riding habit—perhaps even more than his family—but his Frosty is also a well-rounded creation, with vulnerabilities you don't necessarily expect. Jay is less interesting as a character, blandly Boy Scout-ish, without any real flaws beyond a certain impetuousness. Still, he's relatable enough, and we certainly find ourselves quietly rooting for him as he prepares to chase his first maverick. Will he succeed? That's probably not a question that needs asked. In a film like this, fist-pumping triumph is a foregone conclusion. Not that this is a bad thing. Chasing Mavericks paddles hard, hops up, and rides its narrative wave all the way in to feel-good shores.
Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray, Video Quality
Chasing Mavericks was shot digitally using Arri Alexa and Red Epic camera systems, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are some occasional DSLR or action-cam inserts as well. Despite the all-digital production, the movie's 1080p/AVC-encoded Blu-ray presentation has a surprisingly filmic look, with a thin layer of source noise that doubles nicely for grain. As usual, 20th Century Fox has kept the fidelity of the picture intact, with no obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement, or compression issues. (Sitting on a dual-layer, 50GB disc, the film has plenty of room.) There are a few shots from the surfing sequences that look a little soft, but most of the time, clarity is excellent. Closeups, in particular, feature an abundance of tightly resolved detail in the areas you tend to notice it—hair, skin, and clothing textures. Color too is vivid and dynamic, from the bright sky blues and greenish water to funereal overcast grays. Contrast is consistant, and skin tones are accurate to the grading of each scene. On the whole, the image is very satisfying. No distractions here.
Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I was expecting the film to get 20th Century Fox's usual lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 treatment—which would've been just fine—but I was surprised by a full 7.1 mix that goes above and beyond the call of duty. The track makes great use of the extra aural real estate. The surfing sequences in particular really do come alive, with foamy spray, pounding waves—often triggering some deep low-end subwoofer engagement—and a wash of general oceany ambience, from soft wind to the distant caws of seabirds. During the quieter scenes, dialogue takes precedence, and the actors' voices are always, clear, balanced, and easy to understand. Garden State composer Chad Fischer provides a tonally complementary score, but what you'll really remember is the film's smattering of mid-1990s hits, from The Butthole Surfers' "Pepper" to Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You." The music frequently fills the entire soundfield, and has a strong sense of clarity. The disc includes several dub and subtitle options—see above for details—along with a descriptive audio track.
Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you're looking for some wholesome, life-affirming, family-friendly entertainment, look no further. Chasing Mavericks is an inspirational true underdog story about the power of perseverance and dedication, and while it borders on cornball in two or three spots, it is a genuinely good- hearted movie. Some of the surfing footage is killer too, so if you're into the sport, it's probably worth checking out for that alone. It also works well— unexpectedly—as an early 1990s period piece. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray is, uh, totally bodacious, with strong picture quality and a lossless 7.1 surround track that goes beyond the normal call of duty. A great choice for family movie night if you've tired of Pixar. Recommended.
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Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray - December 20, 2012
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray directors Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson's Chasing Mavericks (2012), starring Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue, and Abigail Spencer. The release will be available for purchase on February ...
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