These huge, whale-killing monsters bash surfers around like seaweed. But cinematographer David Hennings captures this beautiful blue chaos with an almost IMAX-like eye, climbing inside the waves themselves as surfers pass by on a curling wall of water.
After Maui native Anne Marie (Bosworth) almost drowned in a surf competition three years prior (portrayed in brutal, head-meets-rock flashbacks), she's wary of anything bigger than a pond ripple. Inching forward, she does gather up enough courage to go out in the kiddie waves, training for Pipe Masters, surfing's most dangerous, high profile (and male-dominated) surf competition.
In a questionable dramatic choice, Anne Marie's lack of focus serves as the focus of the film. She's left to look after her younger rebellious sister Penny (Mika Boorem) and reconcile her own scattered youth with newfound responsibilities (her mother abandons them to pursue a tryst). Adding to her confusion is pro quarterback Matt Tollman (Matthew Davis), in whom she quickly shows more interest than in her training -- much to the dismay of friends Eden (Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake).
Freddie Prinze Jr.'s baseball yarn "Summer Catch" has much the same structure, as do many teen sports dramas. A promising talent can't quite pull it together professionally, as romantic, financial and parental pressures build up and knock them over. Nothing new here.
Even the dialogue from the film reads like notes scribbled into the script by a producer. Example: When Anne Marie wipes out one too many times, the sports announcer punctuates plot points with, "She needs to redeem herself here."
Apart from dazzling cinematography, we've seen just about everything in "Blue Crush" in one form or the other, down to the digital magic of pasting a star's face onto a stuntman's body.
Anne Marie's constant balking at the ocean becomes tiresome, though, as director Stockwell treats her nervous behavior as if it were some sort of a Hitchcockian device, drawing it out until the last possible second. Even this gets botched, as she's never allowed to pick herself up and find her own intestinal fortitude.
Instead, she has to be coaxed out into the waves in an unlikely fashion that reeks of a movie production ingratiating itself to the surf industry. But if you can ignore this and simply get lost in the crushing splendor of the waves themselves, the script might not leave you so seasick.
2 stars (out of 4)
Directed by John Stockwell; screenplay by Lizzy Weiss, John Stockwell; photographed by David Hennings; edited by Emma E. Hickox; production design by Tom Meyer; produced by Brian Grazer, Karen Kehela. A Universal Pictures release; opens Friday, Aug. 16. Running time: 1:46. MPAA rating: PG-13 (sexual content, teen partying, language and a fight).
Anne Marie -- Kate Bosworth
Eden -- Michelle Rodriguez
Lena -- Sanoe Lake
Penny -- Mika Boorem Matt -- Matthew Davis
Robert K. Elder is a Chicago Tribune Staff Writer.