I've seen 'Blue Crush,' 'Blue Crush 2,' and even 'Soul Surfer' and I'm wondering how many more coming-of-age surfing movies we can realistically have. 'Soul Surfer' was the best of the bunch, mostly because it dealt with a real-life incident and the feel-good story that came with it. 'Blue Crush 2' was a journey of one girl to find herself, which, coincidentally is the exact same story in 'Beautiful Wave.' Only, in 'Beautiful Wave' the main girl isn't a surfer, yet.
Nicole (Aimee Teegarden) travels to Santa Cruz to spend time with her grandmother (Patricia Richardson). Nicole is troubled by the loss of her parents and loses herself in books. She soon comes across an old map that belonged to her grandfather. The map shows all the best surfing spots down into Baja, Mexico, ending at a place called Beautiful Wave. Don't worry, the movie repeats its title a few dozen times just to make sure you remember what it was called.
Nicole is set to go on this trip, because she's in a coming-of-age movie and there's simply no other choice. The only way Nicole is going to grow and learn is if she follows this map and finds something valuable out about herself at the end.
No self-affirming road trip would be complete without a few friends to take along. Kayla (Alicia Ziegler) is Nicole's gal pal. She's older so she looks after Nicole like a big sister would. Danny (David Thomas Jenkins) is the resident pot head and chauvinistic idiot. In one scene he tries spying on Nicole while she's changing. Seeing that Nicole is only 16 and Danny appears much older, this scene felt sickening. Finally, there's the good-natured, blonde haired blue-eyed heartthrob for Nicole to get all twitter pated about. Jeff (Ben Milliken) is the nice kid who Nicole is supposed to fall in love with.
The four of them set off in her grandpa's old van hitting all the surf spots marked on the map. Like so many road trip movies before it, 'Beautiful Wave' has a few close calls – like when the group runs into a checkpoint patrolled by the Mexican army, a few fights – like when Nicole thinks Jeff is cheating on her, and a few tender moments – like when Jeff and Danny rescue the girls from a group of drunk college kids. In other words, 'Beautiful Wave' acts as cinematic Ambien.
Being a surfing movie much of the film's runtime is taken up by musical montages of people surfing. The formula here is a shot of rolling waves, a shot of a character staring off into the distance as they contemplate, and then a shot of someone popping up to surf a wave set to catchy pop music. And that's about it. Like 'Blue Crush 2,' and any other coming-of-age surfer movie, the fifth, sixth, and seventh surfing montages are just overkill; filling up space on a movie that's overlong anyway.
There's nothing new or dramatic about 'Beautiful Wave.' It's a rehash of an old idea which never carried much emotional weight anyway. Even the tagline for the movie causes one to roll their eyes: "The further you get from home, the closer you get to finding yourself." The further you get from this movie, the closer you get to watching a good one.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Beautiful Wave' is an Anchor Bay release. The movie has been pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. It's packaged in an eco-friendly Blu-ray keepcase and it's marked as a Region A release.
The movie features a 1080p video presentation that looks as bad as anything I've ever seen on Blu-ray. I wasn't expecting much, but I also wasn't expecting a movie which was shot just recently to look like it's been sitting around on a shelf for twenty years without any sort of care taken to preserve it. Honestly, this movie just looks bad from start to finish.
The picture is overly soft. Even mid-range shots feature faces that aren't much more than blobs with two black spots where eyes would go if you could see them. Close-ups are soft too with little to no fine detail actually being represented. Edges aren't crisp, colors are diluted, and the whole film feels like it was shot on a low budget in the 70s. I noticed some banding during underwater shots of sea turtles. I didn't notice any blocking, but aliasing was obvious in a few scenes. There's not much to like at all about the way this movie looks on Blu-ray.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound presentation doesn't fare much better. Dialogue is soft and routinely lost. Directionality is forced as voices jump from channel to channel rather jarringly, instead of making smooth transitions. Rear speakers get a bit of ambiance, like waves rolling into the beach and gulls cawing, but that's about it. There isn't much rear activity to speak of beyond that. The movie's pop soundtrack is confined to the front speakers and doesn't really carry much weight. LFE is light, even when waves are crashing and songs are blaring. It's a disappointing audio presentation even if you weren't expecting all that much to begin with.
There are no special features for this movie.
There's nothing special about this direct-to-video surfer story about a girl who "finds herself" on a road trip to Mexico, but I'm sure that's what you were thinking anyway. There's no possible reason I could see why anyone would want to purchase this movie. With subpar audio and video, along with no special features, this one is one to avoid.