Even the simplest of dreams can seem pretty darn big, especially when trying to do something that has been rarely been done before. “Chasing Mavericks” follows the true life story of a young man trying to catch a wave to a better life and the mentor that is training him to survive it.
Starring Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston and Elizabeth Shue
Directed by Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson
Based on the true story of surfing icon Jay Moriarty (Weston), “Chasing Mavericks” tells the story of a young man’s quest to surf Northern California’s most dangerous wave, and the local legend (Butler) who takes him under his wing. What begins as a mentorship turns into a unique lifelong bond, as the two unlikely friends discover that there is nothing more powerful than pushing your limits and chasing a nearly impossible dream.
When it comes down to it “Chasing Mavericks” is really the tale of two different movies. From a visual standpoint, Apted and Hanson craft a lush and visually stunning film that feature some beautiful photography along with some excellent surfing montages and sequences that will simply jump out of the screen, an impressive feat considering that this is not a 3D film. On the other side of the coin, is family drama bio picture of a young man looking to belong in a crazy world where finding his place is a day to day struggle. A solid and well told story to be sure, but it is nothing that we haven’t seen at least 100 times before, as it navigates us through the cookie cutter conventions of a young man from a broken home in need of a mentor and the developing of an unlikely bond as they share common goals, deal with common tragedies, etc, etc. Visual impressive yet emotionally a little dull, as the performances while solid certainly didn’t light the world on fire.
Jonny Weston as Jay Moriarty in one of his first high profile leading roles, certainly has the looks to belong up on screen, especially in southern California during the time period, but the script seemingly paints his character with a little too much blind reverence for who the young man was because there are admittedly times in the film when he is getting picked on by bullies at school that you aren’t necessarily feeling bad for him as the role is played with almost a little too much attention paid to his wide blond eyes and blue hair. Gerard Butler as his sage mentor Frosty Hesson was actually much more subtly played and it was a good turn from Butler as man with a broken childhood of his own who is trying to what he can to be a better father to his kids then his was to him. In many ways Butler is the anchor and star of the film as we get more emotional depth and gravitas out of his character’s struggles then we do from Weston’s Jay Moriarty.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are first rate and the gorgeous California coast side and massive waves are just jaw dropping, special features include deleted scenes, 4 behind the scenes featurettes, the theatrical trailer and a feature length audio commentary track from director Michael Apted and story creators Jim Meenaghan and Brandon Hooper.
At the end of the day; “Chasing Mavericks” has its own built in audience as it tells its inspirational story, aiming at younger people and teenagers to not give up on their dreams and their passions. However as jaw droopingly beautiful some of the photography and surfing sequences were, as a film it really didn’t reinvent the wheel in any way shape or form. It’s just a nice story, and in this case that’s enough.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Chasing Mavericks” is now available for rent on DVD & Blu-Ray at video stores everywhere as well as via all major on demand services. You can also find it for purchase at all major retailers like HMV, iTunes or amazon.ca.
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