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The ViewHamilton Review

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Review byMatthew Turner1/04/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 78 mins

Watchable surfing documentary with some genuinely stunning footage, but you never really get to know the surfers themselves and the film doesn't do anything that Riding Giants didn't do twenty times better.

What's it all about?
Directed by Joel Conroy, Waveriders briefly examines the history of Ireland's surfing scene, primarily through the story of Irish / Hawaiian pioneer George Freeth, who's credited here with bringing surfing to California as well as inventing several of today's lifeguarding techniques (including the red mini-board so beloved of Baywatch). The film then focusses on a group of soul surfers (surfers who travel the globe in search of the perfect wave) and their intention to surf the new and extremely hazardous surf spot Aileens, in Mullaghmore, on the Northern Irish coast.

The Good
First things first. Conroy's cameras have captured some truly spectacular footage, to the point where you feel that the Making Of documentary might be just as interesting as the film itself. The film also conveys the sense of genuine danger, as the film culminates with professional surfers Gabe Davies and Richard Fitzgerald tow-surfing (using jet-skis to reach the waves) in order to ride waves that are over 50 feet high.

The Bad
The problem with the film is that it's practically blinded by the waves, so we don't really get to know any of the individual surfers and they all sort of blur into one as a result (it doesn't help that they're a fairly cocky and largely unlikeable lot). Similarly, Conroy doesn't give you any real background on the area (there are no interviews with locals, for example), so they could be surfing any rocky-looking coast in the world.

Waveriders is also guilty of the same sin of other recent extreme sports documentaries, in that it briefly introduces a solitary female surfer (in this case Easkey Britton) and then promptly ignores her, despite the fact that her story is inherently much more interesting.

Worth seeing?
Spectacular surfing footage aside, Waveriders is ultimately repetitive and, ironically, rather shallow. Rent Stacey Peralta's excellent Riding Giants instead.

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Content updated: 20/11/2019 13:19

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