Following up on the success of his hit DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS,
which documented the re-emergence of the modern skateboarding
phenomenon in the 1970s, it seems only natural that filmmaker Stacy
Peralta would turn his attention to one of his other passions -- surfing.
As shown in his earlier film, many of the "Dogtown" skaters began as
surfers in Santa Monica, California, before adapting the surfing style
to skateboarding. The result is RIDING GIANTS, a film which Peralta
made because he "wanted to see a film like [it]." Unfortunately for him,
much of the same ground was covered in Dana Brown's 2003
documentary STEP INTO LIQUID. (If you really are a surfing fan,
then you could pair these two with Brown's father's ENDLESS SUMMER
and you'd be in Nirvana.)
Peralta cheekily starts RIDING GIANTS with a history of surfing,
covering about 1,000 years in just under a couple of minutes. It's an
amusing bit and it quotes Captain James Cook who watched Hawaiian
locals. Of course the missionaries to Hawaii stamped out surfing as a
source of fun and it wasn't until the 1940s and 50s that surfing again
came into vogue.
There are a perhaps a few notable difference between Peralta's
film and Brown's: 1) RIDING GIANTS includes a large array of archival
footage; 2) RIDING GIANTS features one of the pioneers of "big wave"
surfing, the barrel-chested Greg Noll (not for nothing was he nicknamed
"The Bull"), and 3) RIDING GIANTS leaves the audience with the
impression that surfing is basically a man's sport. (Only one female
is included in interviews, whereas STEP INTO LIQUID features the
top three female surfers in the world.)
Both films feature impressive cinematography and major sequences
are underscored with appropriate pop tunes. Peralta has eschewed a
celebrity narrator (Sean Penn did the honors for DOGTOWN), but
there's still the reliance on hyperbolic claims from many of the interview
subjects. I have to say that I found a certain sameness to some of
the sequences -- I mean, when you're showing men riding waves, there
are only so many permutations -- so after a while, my mind started to drift,
although I can appreciate the skill set involved.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running time: 105 mins.
Viewed at the Sony Screening Room
|© 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Right Reserved.