Buy This Movie
2004
Rated: PG for strong language.
Genre: Sports Documentary
Directed By: Stacey Peralta
Running Time: 1:45
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 9/07/05
DVD Features:
Audio Commentary - 1. Stacy Peralta - Director, Paul Crowde - Editor
2. Sam George - Writer, Greg Noll, Jeff Clark, Laird Hamilton - Surfers
Deleted Scenes
Featurette - 1. "Fuel TV's Blue Carpet Special"
2. "The Making of Riding Giants"
Trailers

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RIDING GIANTS

 

I imagine the only audience, "Riding Giants" will appeal to are sports lovers, but people whom aren't even should give this a real chance. You won't regret it. I've never surfed before, and I'm not a sports fan, but "Riding Giants" is about much more than just surfing. It's more about a brotherhood, and a large legacy of athletes whose mind over matter mentality has really managed to etch their names in the legacy of surfers. Director Stacy Peralta who directed yet another crowd pleasing chronicle "Dogtown and Z Boys" really knows how to capture the sheer epic atmosphere of what he's filming and makes every scene look enormous. For Stacy and everyone else here, the revolution of surfing was
as important a development as skating, baseball, and basketball, and Peralta really shows respect to his subjects.

With crisp amazing direction, Peralta conveys to the audience the true nature of the historical impact surfing had on American culture from the beginning of time with the start, to its ban by settlers and then re-emergence. With amazing direction from Peralta and awe inducing cinematography, "Riding Giants" is one of the best surfing documentaries I've ever seen... it's the only surfing documentary I've ever seen, but it's still great in the end. Peralta presents the first half of the doc with a very light mood presenting the origin of surfing in a very humorous montage of pictures and cartoons that sets the whole mood for the free-spirited fifties in which the sport truly flourished thanks to "Gidget".

Often times, the waves filmed are brisk and beautiful, and the surfing scenes are so incredible to watch. Peralta chronicles the origins or surfing from the sock hopping fifties which came crashing in as a craze right down to the modern times where surfing became more revolutionized and mastered. Peralta interviews much of the famous surfers that made the sport what it is, and watching these wave riders discuss the surfing with such love really manages to increase the excitement present here. Peralta presents the audience with an enjoyable chronicle of surfing that covers basically every topic. "Riding Giants" is often a very bright and high energy documentary making for some guiltless and fascinating entertainment talking about the first surfer's confrontations with the ultimate wave that nearly cost him his life and examines these men as athletes and zen-like beings. They'll wait for hours for the right wave, get on to the waves, and then, as they say, when they're finished surfing they just get really depressed and sad.

As Greg Noll explains, "Nothing else matters but the wave". Though, most of them are truly humble and don't take too much credit, because these were men looking for a really good time, and they did, but they risked their lives immensely during the big wave surfing seeking to accomplish a personal goal and take the sport one step further. While we witness the improvements in the sport, we also witness the popularity of the sport talking about the introduction of surfing through the mainstream by none other than "Gidget", and how it went from anti-culture, to a cultural rave. Peralta really seems to bring out the best from the surfers he interviews, and luckily this never takes itself too seriously, but knows how to tell its story straight especially when talking about the deaths of the best surfers that ever lived.

These surfers talk about the sport with such love, and really don't regret much in terms of near death and failing in certain aspects of their sport, because they become so charismatic, the film never loses its balance and steadily focuses on the love of the game. Peralta discusses with great length how surfing eventually faded away and gained a resurgence in to the mainstream thus living on with new athletes as a somewhat eternal way of bonding with nature and having a damn good time, and Peralta makes it incredibly appealing.

"Riding Giants" is the first surfing documentary I've seen, and I hope it's not my last because if they're all as good as this one, I'll be there to watch them. Director Peralta scores yet again with a fun, crowd-pleasing, and beautifully directed ode to a beautiful sport.

 

 

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