18 April 2010

"Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D" Review

Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D isn't playing very near San Francisco; you have to drive to the Cannery Row IMAX in Monterey. Since we were heading south on a day trip yesterday, I wanted to check it out. I bought tickets online, after googling the collective mind for the best seats at an IMAX (center, of course, and in the upper two-thirds). As it turned out, I needn't have worried; it looked for a time like Scott and I would have a private showing in an otherwise empty theater. But they held the movie a few minutes for six stragglers. Unlike at other IMAXes, the screen didn't extend over the ceiling; it was more like a regular movie screen with a bit of curve. The theater smelled disgustingly of toilet bowl cleaner and the cheap 3D glasses were dirty and scratched, although they proved adequate when the lights went down.

The 45-minute movie showcases the famous wave at remote Teahupoo, and the acclaimed best surfer in the world, Kelly Slater. Some of the best 3D-time is spent under the clear blue water, where colorful fish and coral heads burst from the screen. There are scenes of fire dancers and odd bits with floating masks drawn in white chalk. The formation of waves generally is described, plus the details of what sculpts the "ultimate wave" at Teahupoo. The wave itself actually looks quite fun and doable on the smaller days - it is a left after all - but it turns into a toothy monster when the swell's up, the teeth being a shallow reef just below tons of crashing water. That's when Kelly shines, being towed into one giant wave... and another... and another. Non-surfer Scott was a bit sleepy by the end of it, while I was near the edge of my seat.

There are a couple quotes that stuck in my mind. One, I think by Kelly, was that you are never more real than when you might die. The other was from the Tahitian shepherd of the wave, who said there is no need to travel far, just be patient and the perfect wave will come to you.


  1. Looks good. I will wait till it comes out on DVD, though I am sure 3D on the big screen would be much better.

  2. so is it actually worth the journy?

  3. The journey to Monterey? Or to Tahiti? You can see the movie in LA. I wouldn't travel all the way to the south Pacific for the wave when I have some nice semi-secret lefts in my own backyard :)