Chasing Mavericks (2012)
Review by Jude Felton
Despite my initial thoughts that this might be a movie about Top Gun, of course I am joking, it actually turns out that it is a surfing movie based on a true story; that of the ill-fated surfer Jay Moriarity and his quest to find Mavericks, which are mythical waves that apparently every surfer dreams of riding.
The long and short of the plot is that as a young boy, Jay (Jonny Weston), meets Frosty (Gerard Butler) when he saves the youngster from getting washed away by some mean looking waves. As Jay grows, and further develops his passion for surfing, he follows Frosty and discovers that these Mavericks are not actually a myth. Wanting to surf them himself, he persuades Frosty to train him so that he can eventually ride these waves.
So, the majority of the film plays out like a wet version of the Karate Kid, with Frosty setting Jay all manner of seemingly unrelated and pointless tasks as he prepares him for these waves. Throw into the mix a story strand about Jay’s friend, who gets caught up with the local dicks, his mother (Elizabeth Shue) who’s a bit of a waster, Frosty’s personal life and Jay’s burgeoning love life, and you get yourself a quite bland movie.
When the film isn’t focused on the surfing scenes it really isn’t very interesting at all, in fact it is quite dull and predictable. The surf scenes though are fairly spectacular and make the whole process bearable, especially in the latter stages of the film.
What really grinded my gears though was that Jonny Weston just didn’t have the chops to carry this film. He’s all cheesy grins and not much else, and as such makes a weak lead. Butler does his best to lift the film, but this is no Law Abiding Citizen. Stick to action flicks, Gerard. Please. I also ask what has become of Elizabeth Shue? She seems content to play weak supporting roles in which it doesn’t make any difference whether she appears in the movie or not, and it’s very much the case here. Surely she is better than playing a mother with little or nothing to do throughout the film’s running time?
The surf movie sub-genre is fairly small, with only Big Wednesday and Point Break really standing out, and Chasing Mavericks is nowhere near either of these films. Sure, it borrows liberally from both; Frosty meet Bodhi, Bodhi meet Frosty, but it doesn’t have the excitement or passion of either.
There is a certain inspiration factor to the whole thing, although this is kind of redundant when you know the full story. The two directors here, Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted, are both capable of much more than delivering a good looking movie, which is what we have here. There’s no real depth, the excitement is short-lived, and regardless of whether the story is true or not, it is filled to the brim with cliché piled upon cliché.
It’s not that Chasing Mavericks is particularly bad; it’s more of a case of just being bland and predictable, with weak characters. There will definitely be an audience for this film, although I am not entirely sure where, or who, that audience is.
The Blu-ray comes with a few extras, including an audio commentary, and on the whole the picture quality and sound were good. There was the odd occasion where you could tell Butler, in particular, had been CGI’d into the surf scenes, but overall it was a good looking flick. If only more focus had been put on the surfing, this could have been a flick worth watching.
Chasing Mavericks is released on Blu-ray and DVD by 20th Century Fox and is available now.