Mixed Plate
Movie Review: Blue Horizon (7/1/04)

The surf movie genre is alive and well with Blue Horizon. Forget about the direct-to-video surf shows. We're talking about the old tradition of surfers congregating for some cheering, hooting, oohing and aahing.

Cinematographer Jack McCoy spent two years filming pro champion Andy Irons and soul surfer David "Rasta" Rastovich. While the film doesn't quite pull off its "Two Paths… One Journey" namesake, it does provide an interesting contrast in what a modern pro surfer is all about.

Make no mistake, this is a commercial endeavor with strong corporate sell. However, the passion of the lifestyle comes through in both Andy and Rasta's words and deeds.

My buddy Makani had an extra comp ticket for the Hawaii premiere, so I met him at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. I saw my second to last surf movie (Surfers, the Movie, prior to Step Into Liquid) at this very same venue about 14 years ago.

The crowd was an eclectic mix that ran the gamut of demographics: young groms and old timers, male and female, solos as well as families. Pretty obvious that surfing has gone more mainstream.

There were typical star sightings at an event like this, including: Andy and Jack, Mike Stewart, Mark Cunningham, Randy Rarick (who coordinated the Hawaii showings), Jeannie Chesser, Bernie Baker, and on and on and on.

As for the event, it started off like the movies of yore, with the cinematographer getting up and talking about the film. McCoy said a few good words, along with two-time world champion Andy Irons.

And the movie itself? Well it was pretty awesome. As with any Jack McCoy film, the cinematography was epic, with especially incredible water photography. The most memorable footage for me was the Teahupo'o wipeout sequence. Absolutely painful just watching.

There actually was an intermission to the movie, complete with prize giveaways. The kid who pulled the lucky numbers was a classic. Although he wasn't a surfer, the nine-year old said his favorite parts of the movie was when the surfers "went into the tunnel."

Rasta was an interesting character. In this world of mostly contest pros, he's one of the few making it as a soul surfer, serving his sponsors by photo shoots and videos. Although he is a great surfer, I have to admit that his surfing pales to the Andy Irons and Kelly Slaters of the world. Rasta's father was a trip though, and I think added a lot of amusement and insight into Rasta's persona.

As for Andy's footage, the movie understandably focuses on last year's to-the-wire title race between Andy and Kelly. The candid interviews of both Andy and Kelly were refreshingly (brutally) honest, and showed that being a pro surfer isn't all its cracked up to be.

In the end, Andy got his second trifecta--Pipe Master, Triple Crown and World Championship (although they failed to show the team blocking tactic by Joel Parkinson in the Pipe final). And as is typical to surf movies, Andy and Rasta paddle out in the end to share a session. Andy then dials into a mind-bending tube to finish off the movie.

The key to a good surf movie is if the audience wants to go surfing after the movie. For me, I couldn't wait to get in the water since my "stokemeter" was pegged. Another successful Jack McCoy film.

Surfermag press release
IMDB page