The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 101 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Hindi
Starring: Greg Noll, Jeff Clark, Laird Hamilton
Directed by: Stacy Peralta
Music by: Various
Written by: Stacy Peralta, Sam George
Region Code: Free
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 5, 2010
"It doesn't get any bigger than this"
From acclaimed director Stacy Peralta comes ‘riding GIANTS’, the story of big wave surfing. Breaking the mold of traditional documentary filmmaking, ‘riding GIANTS’ uses its dynamic, cross-generational approach to profile the lives and times of the intrepid surfers who, over the decades, have dedicated their lives to finding and successfully challenging the biggest waves on Earth.
I’m not into surfing or extreme sports and wasn’t excited when plopping this Blu-ray in. Much to my surprise I really enjoyed ‘riding GIANTS’. It did what a good documentary should: it made me interested and captivated while educating me on a subject I knew nothing about, “Big Wave Surfing”. Giving a brief history of surfing, we end smack-dab in the 50’s and meet a crew of guys who, led by Greg Noll, started the surfing counter culture of Southern California. We also get a good reason to hear a lot of 50’s surfer rock (thanks Dick Dale!). From there we meet Jeff Clark who found the famous and dangerous Maverick's break in Northern California. This is where I got hooked. Watching these guys and their dedication, not only to the sport but to each other is inspiring. There is portion of the documentary where the guys were talking about wiping out and getting swallowed under these huge waves. It was filmed and edited such that I felt out of breath… It was pretty cool! Dogtown and Z-Boys skateboarder, Director Stacy Peralta really shows a passion and grasp on the subject. He ends us with Surfing's most famous personality, inventor of “tow-in” surfing, Laird Hamilton. Hamilton has surfed some of the most insane waves you will ever see. They are so big and fast he has to be towed into the wave by Jet Ski to have enough speed to catch it. To see him surf and own one of these waves is awe-inspiring. I really enjoyed this documentary and am excited to see more of Stacy Peralta. ‘riding GIANTS’ is well-paced, captivating and sure is gnarly, dudes.
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
‘riding GIANTS’ comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27.8 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.9 mbps.
With mostly archival footage, ‘riding GIANTS’ looked better than an up-converted DVD, however, I was expecting amazing visuals of huge waves and HD surfing shots that would blow me away. It didn't. It did do a good job with the resolution of the old and often non-pro footage. The newer filmed interview segments were over stylized and overly full of film grain, which I suspect was intentional so I can’t knock too much it for that. Colors and black levels were natural and consistent with the source material. All in all it's a competent release but not the visual stunner I was anticipating. The audio was good but again, the sources left it without much oomph. The voice overs were clear and not lost in the eclectic soundtrack. Never did the crunch of Soundgarden's "My Wave" or Dick Dales "Misirlou" overpower the mostly dialogue driven track. The music did sound really great, giving the track a dynamic it really needed. The effect channels were limited, but I did hear some waves roll by every once and a while. I was expecting the crashing waves to give my sub-woofer a workout or even a minor challenge, but other than the intro to the film, it was the low end in the soundtrack that utilized the LFE. Like the video, the audio was above average but nothing to show your system off with.
- Audio Commentary Director Stacey Peralta and Editor Paul Crowder
- Audio Commentary Track with Commentary with Writer Sam George and Surfers Greg Noll, Jeff Clark and Laird Hamilton
- (HD) Making-of ‘riding GIANTS’
- (HD) Fuel TV’s Blue Carpet Special
- BD Live Enabled
Even if not the big blue Blu-ray experience I was hoping, ‘riding GIANTS’ is a winner. It made a fan out of a naysayer and kept my attention for its entire 100 minutes. Not packed with the most supplements I have come across, what it does have are quality- check out the audio commentary with Stacey Peralta and Editor Paul Crowder. After seeing this documentary I am going to be watching Stacey Peralta's, 'Dogtown and Z-Boys'. I am excited to see if he can pull it off again. This one is an easy rental recommendation and if you are a fan of the subject matter go ahead and grab a copy, you will watch it more than once.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
Anthem LTX 500 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Prismasonic HE1500R Anamorphic Lens
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC07 Receiver
Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer