Highly Recommended
4 stars
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

IMAX: The Ultimate Wave - Tahiti - 3D

Street Date:
March 1st, 2011
Reviewed by:
High-Def Digest staff
Review Date: 1
March 24th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
Image Entertainment
45 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

They say Tahiti is the last great unspoiled place on Earth, and 'The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti' does a great job illustrating that point. At face value, this film would appear to be a documentary about the world's greatest surfer, Kelly Slater, but below the surface, it's far greater than that.

Kelly Slater is on a quest to surf the most infamous wave in Tahitian culture, known as "the demonic wave." This wave is caused by a combination of elements, including tide, air temperature, moon position, and distant storm formations. While we wait for this intense wave, we are treated to some stunning sequences showcasing the Tahitian culture, the natural beauty of the island, daily life there, and finally a little bit of science explaining how Tahiti was formed. The natural beauty displayed is simply stunning. The Tahitian travel agency should probably send a thank you card to Image Entertainment for the way they displayed their beautiful country, because after watching this, I feel like I need a vacation there.

As beautiful as this film is, it's equally educational. Sometimes in documentaries, facts can feel a bit forced and get a little tiresome. Thankfully, that is not the case here at all. Director Stephen Low does a masterful job mixing facts with stunning visuals. For example, we learn how ocean waves are formed due to the position of the moon and air pressure on Earth. Low uses a 3D animation sequence showing the planet spinning around the sun and the earth around the moon to demonstrate the effects of gravity on Earth's surface conditions. I learned a great deal on tides because of this. This teaching is done just right, because it's introduced at relevant points in the film, just when the audience is probably wondering, 'how does that work?'

Of course this is a surfing movie, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent surfing sequences. Going into this viewing, I knew very little about the sport. I had heard of Kelly Slater, but that was about it. After watching, I gained an appreciation for the difficulty. Watching Kelly Slater ride a massive wave is something special. His ability to make this look effortless is truly incredible. You will really see how surfing is a huge part of the Tahitian culture.

Overall, I enjoyed 'The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti.' It tries to strike a balance between education, action, and culture and for the most part, it succeeds. Of course, this being an IMAX documentary, you would expect some incredible shots and saying this film excels there is an understatement. The 3D presentation is top notch and will practically transport you to the island. With a run time just over 40 minutes, this film is a great option for anyone looking for some good entertainment.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti' storms onto 3D Blu-ray with a stunningly beautiful 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer. As far as I'm concerned, this is about as good as it gets for at home 3D entertainment.

Not surprisingly, the strength of this transfer is the rich colors. Tahiti is a place that was made for high definition, and boy does it shine here. Greens appear vibrant and lush, while the water looks so crystal clear it could be mistaken for a swimming pool. Detail is also stunning in everything from skin tones right down to the rough texture noticeable on some of the stony beaches featured in the film. I could go on about the beautiful color and detail, but simply saying it is flawless does it the best justice.

Now for the 3D elements of this transfer. As with the Colors and detail of this transfer, the 3D is simply stunning. Being filmed entirely in IMAX 3D, the 3D elements shine through with some of the best results I have seen on the format yet. Depth is truly amazing, it will really transport you to Tahiti. Notice how in the start of the film it almost seems as if water is pouring out of your TV as you look down the river. There are also a few in your face 3D moments, mainly in a stunning underwater sequence. It will seem like schools of fish are swimming into your living room and a curious shark has a fun face to face. None of these moments appear to be over the top, all have a very natural feel. As far as ghosting issues go, yes, there were a few microscopic instances, but they're nearly unnoticeable, you have to go out of your way to find them.

Overall, this is a flawless transfer that earns my first ever perfect score for video quality. Colors and detail are stunning and the 3D elements are simply some of the very best I have seen to date. 'The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti' will be the go to 3D movie I take off the shelf to demo my 3DTV for the foreseeable future.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Equally as impressive as the video presentation is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

This is a flawless mix. As you would expect from a documentary featuring heavy nature elements, the natural elements of Tahiti such as the sounds of water rippling, waves crashing, and native animal sounds provide for an incredibly immersing experience. Spoken dialogue is very clear and well centered. In addition, the heavy native music soundtrack featured never overpowers nature sound effects or spoken dialogue on screen.

When combined with the amazing 3D visual experience, this audio will nearly transport you to the beaches of Tahiti!

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

'The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti' also provides a few special features that will add to your enjoyment. Here is what comes included with this package:

  • Vignettes This is a set of five mini documentaries lasting about 4 minutes each. The five different topics include: Board design, Kelly Slater, Raimana, Tahiti, and Wave Science.
  • Ultimate Tahiti: Beyond the Wave (HD, 6 minutes) This is basically a short advertisement for people thinking about planning a trip to Tahiti. It features some beautiful scenic shots, as well as various activities the country offers.
  • Coming Soon Three movies are featured, each containing a brief discription of what they are, please note that no footage of the films is provided. The films are: 'Rocky Mountain Express,' 'Legends of Flight 3D,' and 'Rescue 3D.'
  • Trailers Several trailers are included including 3D trailers for 'Wild Ocean 3D,' 'Dinosaurs- Giants of Patagonia 3D,' and 'Dinosaurs Alive! 3D.'
  • BD-Live enabled

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

'The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti' is an exceptional IMAX documentary that anyone with an itch for an exotic vacation should run out and buy! Not only does this movie feature some cool surfing sequences, with arguably the world's greatest surfer, it also does a great job mixing in some beautiful scenery, as well as teaching a little bit about the science behind everything from waves to the formation of Tahiti. The 3D visuals and audio are also demo worthy. Depth appears endless, while colors and detail can barely be contained by your screen. That, combined with the demo Audio, creates the perfect 3D home viewing experience. Toss in a few extras and this film is highly recommended and easily the best effort we have seen from Image yet!

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray 3D

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MGEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


  • None


  • Trailer gallery
  • Vignettes: 'Board Design, Kelly Slater, Raimana, Tahiti Wave Science'

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