Riding Giants


          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.


                   
Rating:                        B-
                   
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.