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HTS Moderator , Reviewer
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Discussion Starter #1

Title: Chasing Mavericks

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3stars:

HTS Overall Score:78

There are not a lot of inspirational surfing stories out there. The only one that’s been in recent history was the much underrated “Soul Surfer”. “Chasing Mavericks” is another movie based off of true life events in the surfing world. Jay Moriarity was a real kid who really did chase after the infamous Maverick waves. He was unfortunately killed later on in life by his own hobby and drowned while diving off the coast. I went in hoping for the best and came out mildly disappointed. While I wasn’t expecting fantastic acting, I was at least going in expecting a decent script. Sadly that was not the case.

Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) is a young boy who is just drawn to the ocean. Surviving a near death experience in the water as an 8 year old boy he continues on with his fascination, becoming an excellent surfer by the time he’s a sophomore in high school. After following his next door neighbor Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) to a hidden cove he sees him ride wives bigger than any other before known to him. These waves are called “mavericks”, giant waves that ride in from storms in the ocean that were previously thought of as myths. Begging Frosty to train him, Jay puts everything on the line to follow his dream. At first refusing Jay, Frosty relents and consents to train Jay just so that Jay won’t go out and try to ride one of those waves on his own and gets killed doing it.

Jay doesn’t come from the most stable of households. His father left when he was a young boy and he has to take care of his mother who has a tendency of slipping into depressions as a result of the separation. Frosty and his wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer) become the surrogate parents that he’s been lacking. Taking his role as mentor seriously Frosty puts Jay through the ringer, both mentally and physically so that he can be in peak shape for the next set of mavericks that are coming in about 3 months out. Amidst the troubles of a teenage romance, rivalry and the death of a loved one, two males form a bond that neither though could exist upon first meeting. All of this leads up to a finale where man must meet nature and only one can come out on top.

“Chasing Mavericks” was based off the life of the very famous real life surfer who carries the same name as our hero in the film. Besides the standard liberties taken about people’s private life and relationships, the events pictured in the film actually were pretty accurate. The real problem that we have here isn’t a story that goes wildly off course, or even bad acting. What went wrong seems to be rather poor script writing. The dialogues, the circumstance, all were rather ham fisted and very obviously a strained attempt at creating an emotional response. The dialogue had some great lines only to have the next scene be littered with lines that had me rolling my eyes. It was as if every cliché in the book was rolled out so that we could feel sorry for Jay, or wrap everything in a nice tidy bow. Relationships just happened in a way that was just too picture perfect and would fit in the allotted time frame rather than happen naturally. We even had the classic cliché of the “villain” actually rooting for our hero at the end.

Now all criticism’s aside, the movie was not terrible by any means. Rather the issues that I brought up pulled the movie down from being a “GOOD” movie rather than making it outright terrible. There were plenty of good things going for it, especially being based on real life events. The surf scenes were great, and the cinematography was excellent. There were tons of absolutely hauntingly beautiful scenes of the ocean and shoreline that made me wish I was at the beaches once more. Gerard Butler did a very solid job as the gruff teacher and Jonny Weston was quite passable as the teenage Jay Moriarity. He was a bit stuff at times, but that’s not unexpected for an unseasoned actor. The real jewel in this movie was Abigail Spencer as Brenda Hesson. A totally sweet and endearing character she was able to cut through the poor dialogue and portray a genuine character with the compassion and kindness of saint. Both my wife and I loved her to death.


Rated PG for some thematic elements and perilous action

Video :4stars:

The video encode for “Chasing Mavericks” is rather a mixed bag. There are some truly breathtaking shots and others that tend to be not nearly as glorious as the others. Outdoor shots are absolutely stunning, crisp and clear with detail out the wazoo. Colors are nice and bright with very natural flesh tones. Facial detail is fantastic and longshots of the ocean are beautiful. Unfortunately, the movie has quite a few very dark scenes and there is where I have my complaints. When I say that certain shots are dark, I mean they are REALLY dark. Covered in crushed blacks the dark scenes just suck the detail right out of the picture and leave us with this deep black whole. It switches back and forth so often that you can literally see the picture pop in one moment and shift to a dark void in the next. Compression artifacts are nowhere to be found, besides some mild aliasing in a few of the bright scenes. No macroblocking, DNR or anything else bad, my only real complaints had to do with the excessive dark levels in the film.

Audio :4.5stars:

Fox gives us a rocking 7.1 DTS-HD MA track that is aggressive and nuanced. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes to realize that we were going to be in for an auditory treat. The surrounds are given full reign to light up like the fourth of July and don’t let up the entire movie; whether it be the merciless onslaught of the surf or the delicate sound of footsteps walking up behind you, they never let up. Dialogue was locked firmly in the center channel and very well balanced with the rest of the track. Dynamic range was expansive and gave us a truly visceral experience. I wasn’t expecting too much of the LFE channel going into the film, but I was pleasantly wrong. LFE is frequent and deeeeeeeeeeep, pounding our ears with the pounding of waves against the rocks and even lent a hand with the musical score, giving a nice deep low end to the movie.

Extras: :3stars:
• Audio Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Surf City
• Shooting Waves
• Live Like Jay
• Surfer Zen
• Trailers

Overall: :4stars:

“Chasing Mavericks” is a decent movie, marred with some seriously underwhelming writing issues. Clichéd and a bit ham fisted, it awkwardly tries to push you into an emotionally uplifted state and fails. Hovering just outside of being a good movie you wish that the script writers had taken a little more time writing the screenplay than they did. The film does have some great visual shots of the surfing world and the end rises up above the rest of the story, but it seems to be too little, too late to save the film. Not a bad movie for a boring Friday night or a Netflix/Redbox rental, but I’d skip on purchasing unless you’re a die-hard surfing fan.

Additional Information:

Starring: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Abigail Spencer, Elisabeth Shue
Directed by: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson
Written by: Kario Salem
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 7.1, English, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG
Runtime: 116 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: February 26th, 2013

Buy Chasing Mavericks Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Rent It

More about Mike

HTS Moderator , Reviewer
5,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the review Mike! :T

I was trying to remember where I had seen Abigail Spencer before - then it dawned on me. She was in an episode of "How I Met Your Mother"!
oooooo, you're right, I knew I had seen her before.

1,546 Posts
Thanks for the review, Mike. I was curious when I first heard about this movie, but I have not been impressed with a lot of Gerard Butler's work as of late. While it seems this movie got an "average" score, I definitely will be passing on it.
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