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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer II: The Journey Continues (review)

Forty years ago, in 1964, Bruce Brown’s wave-riding documentary The Endless Summer introduced the world to surfing, and ten years ago he returned with a look at the worldwide phenomenon the sport has become. Now, The Endless Summer II arrives on DVD, though it may as well not have. Following champ surfers Robert “Wingnut” Weaver, who does nifty new tricks with an old-fashioned “long board,” and Pat O’Connell, who’s determined to travel until he’s out of money, Brown searches the globe for the perfect wave. An adventurous travelogue of all the places you’d expect — Costa Rica, France, South Africa, Australia, the Fiji Islands, Indonesia — and some you don’t — Alaska, where you have to compete with bears for access to the water; landlocked central Texas, where there’s a waterpark that makes an artificial standing wave — this is a beautifully shot and exhilarating film that gets short shrift on this barebones DVD presentation. Mysteriously, the transfer is full-screen, not widescreen, sucking some of the drama from the long ocean waves, bizarrely, the sound is simple stereo and in some places sounds like single-channel mono. The disappointing extras include static bios of the two surfer boys, a scrapbook of still photos in which no person or place is identified, two uninformative and redundant making-of shorts, and a recently made short in which Brown and Weaver reminisce on making the film, a cheap-looking video that looks like it was shot in someone’s basement with a home camcorder. Wipeout.

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MPAA: rated PG

viewed at home on a small screen

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