Many seem to rule surfing out of hand as some sort of pastime for burnouts, potheads, or life’s free spirits. But Bruce Brown helped shine a light onto the sport with his release of 1966’s The Endless Summer, a landmark release that still is highly revered by people to this day for the revolutionary photography and its ability to capture the awesome feats of nature. And where some studios put out near-annual sequels, Brown waited 28 years to get his done, appropriately titled The Endless Summer II, repr…sing many more of the stunning visuals and amazing camera shots from the first. Bruce’s son Dana picks up from that film, and produces another film similar in style and substance to the first, although with a more hippie-ish title in Step Into Liquid.
The movie is about, well, surfing. There’s not too much more than that. Both in the Endless Summer II and Step Into Liquid films, Bruce and Dana combine the trademark Brown visuals with the usual “betcha didn’t know they surfed here” locations ranging from Galveston, Texas to Vietnam, shooting holes of truth through Robert Duvall’s immortal quote in Apocalypse Now, that Charlie does surf after all. The movie also shows you some of the current names of surfing, from ex-Baywatch actor (and multiple World surfing champ) Kelly Slater, to longtime big wave seeker Laird Hamilton. And the other main parts of substance have to do with the simple passion that some surfers have (like Dale Webster, who have caught waves once a day for over 10,000 days) or the joy that new people have when introduced to surfing for the first time (such as a group of Catholic and Protestant children who were united for a lesson). The movie culminates with a desire to catch waves in the Pacific, some of them reaching over 60 feet in height. At the end of the day though, the movie is about surfing, plain and simple, and the fascinating pictures nature can give us.
I believe this is the first surfing movie (not that I’ve seen many) that incorporated a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, and I found it to be pretty immersive, and my subwoofer picked up the low end a lot when the waves would break or crash down, making me proud I spent that severance check money on a new sub.
Step Into Liquid is shown in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and while some of the footage looks a bit gritty at times (perhaps the result of sand?), the waves, the main attractions to the film, look very clear and vivid, and considering the film is essentially a nature documentary, you won’t get reference quality stuff, but it still looks impressive.
Artisan has done a lot with some of their recent releases in the past, Standing in the Shadows of Motown comes to mind, and they’ve loaded up another two-disc set of extras and overall fun material once again. After the feature on Disc 1, there is a 20 second introduction to the DVD by Brown, and Brown returns for a commentary also. The commentary is pretty bland, as Brown falls into the situation of watching rather than commenting, but he does mention some information on some of the shots in the film and some technical info, and also gives you some description on some of the people in the film.
The next feature is called Let’s Go Surfing, which is a 13 minute look at surfing basics with Maureen Drummy and Robert “Wingnut” Weaver. They cover everything from how to get in the water, up on the board, and even what supplies to bring with you too. Capturing the Wave is a profile of the photographers who caught some of the amazing action on film, how they got started, and close calls when shooting. Making a Surfboard is an 8 minute piece that travels through Robert August’s surfboard shop, and the processes involved in making a stylized piece of foam and charging so much for it. All kidding aside, it’s a fascinating look.
Next are some deleted/alternate scenes, only 5 total, but they run for over 20 minutes. Passion for Liquid are some of the thoughts and opinions of those in the film, on the film, and what they think it may accomplish. Following that are interviews with 8 of the people who appear in the film. These are new interviews separate from the DVD, and total over 40 minutes. It serves primarily as some biography information, and has clips from various Bruce and Dana Brown films accompany it.
Next are some features from something called Surfline, the first being a set of 10 rules of etiquette, the second being a glossary, and it appears to be a fairly extensive one at that. A channel named Fuel covered the film’s premiere and provides footage on that, and completing the first disc are trailers for the film, as well as The Punisher and House of the Dead, along with promos for the Disc 2 bonus features, and 2 music videos.
Disc 2 is primarily for those who have DVD-ROM drives, and starts off with a HD version of the film playable on Windows Media Player. My tiny laptop could play it, but I didn’t have enough juice to keep it running without freezing. The parts I saw looked very good, a much better choice to use this version instead of other Artisan choices (Standing in the Shadows of Motown, ironically, being one of those) to do this for. The other bragging point for the set is the complete version of Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer from Activision. On its own, I probably wouldn’t have bought this game to play, but it makes for a really cool addition to the DVD. Think Tony Hawk in water, and you’ve got this game, one that allows you to do a bunch of tricks in various different situations and locales, along with other features that closely resemble familiar games. Again, put in context with the other material here, and it’s a really imaginative addition to the set.
Next are 7 locations from the film, using 3-D tours and satellite imagery from Keyhole.com. The tours start from space, zoom you in on top of the locations, where you’re rotated and show a slow gentle tour of the area. Cool stuff. The DVD-ROM fun continues, as using Robert August’s Surfboard Outfitter, and answering 7 basic questions, you are matched with a surfboard best suited to your location, gender, skill and body type. Rounding out the package are weblinks (including webcams from Surfline.com), some previous Artisan HD DVD efforts, and the DVD production credits.
For a $24.98 SRP, you get a very good looking movie, with quality sound and some awesome extras, including a PC version of a game that people are spending $15-$20 alone, just for the console version. There’s a bunch of great stuff here, much of it serves as a great primer to the sport for the uninitiated. Get in your car, drive until you see water, get a board, and step into liquid.
Special Features List
- Extensive deleted scenes/outtakes
- Surf lessons with Wingnut and Maureen Drummy
- Making of a surfboard with Robert and Sam August
- Surfline feature: “The Bill of Rights and Lefts… Te Final Word on Surfing Etiquette”
- “Capturing the Wave” featurette
- Multiple interviews and commentaries with the surfers and filmmakers
- Music video montage
- Complete video game of Kelly Slater
- Step into Liquid high-definition (DVD-ROM only)
- Robert August Surfboard Outfitter: interactive surfboard-customizing feature
- Additional Surfline features: surf glossary: essential surfing terms, surf cams
- Stunning 3-D fly-through satellite imagery tour of surf locations featured in the film provided by Keyhole
- Dana Brown intro