Plenty of arguments have been made about the merits of our current 3D cinematic boom. While much of the talk focuses on ticket prices and the gimmick factor, one common discourse is that the experience of watching a film in 3D actually distracts the viewer from the story being told. The argument goes that if the viewer is busy saying “cool!” then the story’s curtain of escapism will be torn away.
It’s in a new wave of documentaries that we have seen the most successful implementation of 3D thus far. Wim Wenders’ modern dance doc Pina led the way with a remarkable cinematic experience that was enhanced by its 3D cool factor without the trapping as a narrative distraction. Yet to truly take off, sports documentaries are bound to be a sub-genre that utilizes the technology to its best effect. That is most certainly the case with Justin McMillan and Chris Nelius’ Storm Surfers 3D. Filmmakers take note: This movie defines a new generation of 3D action-sports filmmaking.
The escapist curtain may have been ripped away by the “wow” factor, but there’s still a compelling story that’s told in Storm Surfers 3D. The film throws us right into the crazy lives of famous Australian big wave surfers Tom Carroll and Ross Clark-Jones. These best pals were fixtures on the surf competition tour in the 80s and 90s and then transitioned to big wave riding when that took off in the last decade. Now they travel around Australia with their trusty storm forecaster Ben Matson in tow, hunting for the craziest waves on the planet.
The guys have a natural dynamic that makes it fun to just hang out with them as they goof around or discuss the old days. Their ideas on manhood and the difference in their outlooks on risk as they careen towards middle age makes for very strong narrative backbone. But let’s be honest, what you really want to see in a 3D sports movie is the action, and in this department, Storm Surfers 3D does not disappoint.