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Case Number 20992: Small Claims Court

Buy The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti at Amazon

The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti

Image Entertainment // 2009 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // March 27th, 2011

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart prefers to do the wave at ballgames.

The Charge

"On the far side of the island of Tahiti, near the village of Teahupo'o, there is perhaps the most dangerous wave on Earth. Surfers call it the demonic wave."

The Case

It's a little unsettling watching surfers chasing "the most dangerous wave on Earth" in The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti right now, as I'm reading news reports about tsunami damage. There are waves big enough to scare me in this 2009 travelogue, but fortunately nothing that could create the devastation seen in Japan.

That said, The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti isn't a bad travelogue, and it fortunately isn't all about waves. True, it follows a group of surfers, including champ Kelly Slater, as they visit Tahiti resident Raimana van Bastolaer to catch a "big and gnarly" wave near the village of Teahupo'o. However, it's mostly a tour of Tahiti. It was done for IMAX, so it's a beautiful one.

You'll see surfers out on the water, and the blue water is really blue. Moreover, the flora of Tahiti is really green, pink, yellow, and red. The colors are bright and gorgeous. There's also a diving scene to capture the underwater scenery. My favorite shot was one of surfers walking against the skyline, with a rainbow behind them. There's also a nice performance of a Tahitian dance around—and with—fire. It's accompanied by music that's a combination of lilting Polynesian sounds and surf rock.

The Ultimate Wave isn't just about pretty pictures, though. You're supposed to be learning something. To make that point, it includes a narrator delivering a lot of facts about Tahiti in with the melodramatic lines about waves. It also includes supposedly educational animations of such topics as the formation of the island or why there are waves. I know these are meant to distinguish the tour from the kind of cheesy travelogue that Anthony Bourdain mocks on his show, but they backfire, especially when ghostly canoeists paddle to Tahiti.

The DVD includes a short travelogue (actually, another shorter travelogue) and five vignettes as extras. There's a rundown on board design, but these are mostly about providing more pretty pictures.

I'm not much for thrill seeking, but the way this travelogue showcases the beauty of Tahiti mesmerized me. It would be better on an IMAX screen, of course, but if you're dreaming of distant shores, it'll feed those dreams.

The Verdict

There might be some bad timing involved in the release, but The Ultimate Wave isn't guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• None
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• Vignettes
• Travelogue


• IMDb

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