STEP INTO LIQUID

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Release Date: August 08, 2003

Starring: Kelly Slater, Rochelle Ballard, Rob Machado, Keala Kennelly, Taj Burrow, and a host of other professional and amateur surfers

Genre: Documentary

Audience: Older children to
adults REVIEWER: Jan and Jared
Stallones STEP INTO LIQUID is
as exhilarating and refreshing
as a summer day at the beach,
and at times as exasperating
as the long, sandy drive home.
Through a series of loosely
connected vignettes, Dana
Brown showcases some of the
finest surfers and most
spectacular waves in the
world. Numerous interviews
feature world champions of the
sport attempting to distill
the essence of surfing’s
allure. Their shallow and
sometimes silly explanations
cannot match the grandeur and
majesty of their subject. None
of these athletes so in tune
with the creation references
the Creator on camera, and the
Christian viewer wants to
“connect the dots” for
them. Breathtaking surf
footage is the staple of
surfing movies, and Brown
treats his audience to lavish
slow motion and fast motion
sequences. In settings as
exotic as Costa Rica, Vietnam,
and Tahiti, world-class
athletes perform impossible
moves shot from every
conceivable angle, even
underwater. Thanks to fine
sound editing, viewers
experience the thunder of
giant waves off Maui and San
Diego as expert surfers are
towed into the swells by jet
skis. In one astounding
sequence, the sound stops
entirely as Peter “Condor”
Mel catches and rides a
66-foot wave. Occasionally one
camera picks up shots of
divers with cameras, providing
a glimpse of the painstaking
techniques that blend so
seamlessly to create the
surfing sequences. Oddly, when
the camera is stationary for
simple headshot interviews, it
is often out of focus, as if
the camera operators have
become so adept at surf
photography that they can no
longer film on dry land. In
seeking to explain surfing’s
appeal, STEP INTO LIQUID
reveals as much about the
lifestyle of surfing as it
does about surfing itself. The
wide diversity among surfers
is depicted by contrasting
world champions challenging
huge waves on cutting-edge
hydrofoil surfboards with
giggly preteens competing at a
beginners’ level contest at
a family beach. Brown profiles
Dale Webster, the solitary
northern California man who
has surfed every day for
nearly 30 years. The
light-hearted goofiness of
surfing is exemplified by a
group of Texas coast surfers
who surf for miles on the
wakes of supertankers and
“freshwater” surfers who
experience the “stoke” of
Lake Michigan shorebreak.
Surfing’s recent history is
portrayed through a profile of
characters featured in ENDLESS
SUMMER and ENDLESS SUMMER II,
who show that they can still
ride longboards like the pros.
Unfortunately, for a sport
whose popularity is growing
fastest among young women,
Brown gives only a few minutes
and scant footage to
world-class female surfers. In
several heartwarming
vignettes, STEP INTO LIQUID
attempts to display the
international brotherhood that
surfing engenders. A Vietnam
veteran travels to southeast
Asia with his son in order to
spread goodwill through
surfing. At the end of his
trip, he makes a gift of his
surfboard to the ten-member Da
Nang Surf Club. In a
particularly moving vignette,
three brothers from Ojai,
California, the Malloys, use
the draw of surfing lessons to
bring together Protestant and
Catholic children who would
otherwise have nothing to do
with each other. In another
vignette, Jesse Billauer, a
promising young champion who
suffered a crippling injury,
is helped back onto his board
by loving friends. Dana Brown
has proven himself to be the
equal of his Academy
Award-nominated father, Bruce
Brown (ENDLESS SUMMER), as a
maker of beautiful, fun movies
about serious surfing. STEP
INTO LIQUID spans the globe,
not in an elusive search for
the perfect wave, but in
search of the essence of
surfing. However, the essence
of surfing may be merely that
it is an exhilarating sport
that brings its adherents into
close contact with the
creation, and, if they are
sensitive to Him, with the
Creator. None of the surfers
interviewed in the film quite
gets to that point. Instead,
some attribute surfing’s
allure to the fellowship that
develops among surfers, a
“tribe of people that feed
off the energy” of the sea.
Others credit the sublime
experience of surfing to the
mysterious urge called “the
stoke.” Ultimately, though,
the deepest meaning the
interviewees can give their
experience is hedonistic,
expressed in statements like,
“I get out of the water
happier than when I get in,”
and “all I’m looking for
is a smile.” This is far
removed from the simple
eloquence of missionary Eric
Liddell’s declaration,
“When I run I feel His
pleasure.” While we cannot
expect those who are not
Christians to appreciate this
depth of communion between
Creator and creation, it is
sad to see those who are so in
tune with the rhythms of the
sea miss the Author of those
rhythms. Despite its
weaknesses, Christians will
appreciate the majesty of the
creation depicted so
effectively in the surfing
sequences in STEP INTO LIQUID.
Perhaps, they may understand
surf culture more deeply, too,
the better to minister to
surfers. Please address your
comments to: Amir Malin,
CEO Artisan Entertainment 2700
Colorado Avenue, 2nd
Floor Santa Monica, CA
90404 Phone: (310)
449-9200 Fax: (310)
255-3810 Webpage:
www.artisanent.com

Rating: Not Rated

Runtime: 88 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(PaPa, BB, C, ACap, E, I, LL) Pagan worldview with characters attributing mystical qualities to natural elements while some characters perform biblical acts of charity and peacemaking, including uniting some Protestant and Catholic surfers; five uses of “God” as exclamations and 12 mild to coarse obscenities; and, characters refer to global brotherhood of surfing and vague anti-capitalist environmentalism.

GENRE: Documentary

PaPa

BB

C

Acap

E

LL

I

Summary:

STEP INTO LIQUID is an engaging series of surfing vignettes seeking to describe the essence of surfing. Lavish cinematography of breathtaking feats set against gorgeous scenery combine with surfing’s trademark goofiness to make this the most enjoyable surfing movie since ENDLESS SUMMER.

Review:

STEP INTO LIQUID is as exhilarating and refreshing as a summer day at the beach, and at times as exasperating as the long, sandy drive home. Through a series of loosely connected vignettes, Dana Brown showcases some of the finest surfers and most spectacular waves in the world. Numerous interviews feature world champions of the sport attempting to distill the essence of surfing’s allure. Their shallow and sometimes silly explanations cannot match the grandeur and majesty of their subject. None of these athletes so in tune with the creation references the Creator on camera, and the Christian viewer wants to “connect the dots” for them.

Breathtaking surf footage is the staple of surfing movies, and Brown treats his audience to lavish slow motion and fast motion sequences. In settings as exotic as Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Tahiti, world-class athletes perform impossible moves shot from every conceivable angle, even underwater. Thanks to fine sound editing, viewers experience the thunder of giant waves off Maui and San Diego as expert surfers are towed into the swells by jet skis. In one astounding sequence, the sound stops entirely as Peter “Condor” Mel catches and rides a 66-foot wave. Occasionally one camera picks up shots of divers with cameras, providing a glimpse of the painstaking techniques that blend so seamlessly to create the surfing sequences. Oddly, when the camera is stationary for simple headshot interviews, it is often out of focus, as if the camera operators have become so adept at surf photography that they can no longer film on dry land.

In seeking to explain surfing’s appeal, STEP INTO LIQUID reveals as much about the lifestyle of surfing as it does about surfing itself. The wide diversity among surfers is depicted by contrasting world champions challenging huge waves on cutting-edge hydrofoil surfboards with giggly preteens competing at a beginners’ level contest at a family beach. Brown profiles Dale Webster, the solitary northern California man who has surfed every day for nearly 30 years. The light-hearted goofiness of surfing is exemplified by a group of Texas coast surfers who surf for miles on the wakes of supertankers and “freshwater” surfers who experience the “stoke” of Lake Michigan shorebreak. Surfing’s recent history is portrayed through a profile of characters featured in ENDLESS SUMMER and ENDLESS SUMMER II, who show that they can still ride longboards like the pros. Unfortunately, for a sport whose popularity is growing fastest among young women, Brown gives only a few minutes and scant footage to world-class female surfers.

In several heartwarming vignettes, STEP INTO LIQUID attempts to display the international brotherhood that surfing engenders. A Vietnam veteran travels to southeast Asia with his son in order to spread goodwill through surfing. At the end of his trip, he makes a gift of his surfboard to the ten-member Da Nang Surf Club. In a particularly moving vignette, three brothers from Ojai, California, the Malloys, use the draw of surfing lessons to bring together Protestant and Catholic children who would otherwise have nothing to do with each other. In another vignette, Jesse Billauer, a promising young champion who suffered a crippling injury, is helped back onto his board by loving friends.

Dana Brown has proven himself to be the equal of his Academy Award-nominated father, Bruce Brown (ENDLESS SUMMER), as a maker of beautiful, fun movies about serious surfing. STEP INTO LIQUID spans the globe, not in an elusive search for the perfect wave, but in search of the essence of surfing. However, the essence of surfing may be merely that it is an exhilarating sport that brings its adherents into close contact with the creation, and, if they are sensitive to Him, with the Creator. None of the surfers interviewed in the film quite gets to that point. Instead, some attribute surfing’s allure to the fellowship that develops among surfers, a “tribe of people that feed off the energy” of the sea. Others credit the sublime experience of surfing to the mysterious urge called “the stoke.” Ultimately, though, the deepest meaning the interviewees can give their experience is hedonistic, expressed in statements like, “I get out of the water happier than when I get in,” and “all I’m looking for is a smile.” This is far removed from the simple eloquence of missionary Eric Liddell’s declaration, “When I run I feel His pleasure.” While we cannot expect those who are not Christians to appreciate this depth of communion between Creator and creation, it is sad to see those who are so in tune with the rhythms of the sea miss the Author of those rhythms. Despite its weaknesses, Christians will appreciate the majesty of the creation depicted so effectively in the surfing sequences in STEP INTO LIQUID. Perhaps, they may understand surf culture more deeply, too, the better to minister to surfers.

Please address your comments to:

Amir Malin, CEO

Artisan Entertainment

2700 Colorado Avenue, 2nd Floor

Santa Monica, CA 90404

Phone: (310) 449-9200

Fax: (310) 255-3810

Webpage: www.artisanent.com

SUMMARY: STEP INTO LIQUID is an engaging series of surfing vignettes seeking to describe the essence of surfing. Lavish cinematography of breathtaking feats set against gorgeous scenery combine with surfing’s trademark goofiness to make this the most enjoyable surfing movie since ENDLESS SUMMER.

In Brief: