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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on July 10, 2004
It's not likely I'll every step onto a surfboard. But I do love to live vicariously. I was able to do that with this 2003 surfing documentary. Splendidly!

Written and directed by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown, who created "The Endless Summer" in 1966 (and who appears in this film), the words that roll out with the opening credits are "No special effects. No stuntmen. No stereotypes". How refreshing!

The sport of surfing has come a long way since it started to become popular in the late 1950s. It was started in Hawaii, of course, hundreds of years ago. It was then, and always has been, purely recreational.

This film is about the pure joy of the sport and this comes through loud and clear in every frame. We see children having a blast. We see professional surfers. We see the fun a group of big beer-bellied guys in Sheboygan Wisconsin have when they put on wet suits and surf the small waves in the muddy waters of Lake Michigan as well as and surfers who actually surf in the waves made by oil rigs in Texas.. We see what is called the "pipeline" in Oahu and watch the experts in serious battle with nature. Here, the surfers know that injury is almost inevitable and they just hope that when it happens it is something that can be fixed. Later, we meet a young man whose neck was broken while surfing. He's paralyzed from the waist down but he still rides a surfboard on his belly.

It must be quite a thrill. And scary. Surfers say they think "I'm gonna die" often. But still they surf.

It's impossible to paddle out to the really big waves. The surfers need a buddy on a "ski tow" for this. This is a dangerous job because the guy on the ski tow has to rescue the surfer when he falls off his board.

We meet Dale Webster, a man who works in a fast food restaurant but who made a commitment to surf three waves every single day. He's been doing this for 25 years and will likely continue for many more, always supported by his family who understands his need to surf.

We meet the three Molloy brothers from California. They travel to Ireland, where their grandparents came from Here, they put on wet suits and surf the cold and dark turbulent waters. The locals are delighted, especially when they teach the children from both Catholic and Protestant schools to surf. The children are wonderful to watch and they enthusiastically speak on camera to the filmmakers.

We meet the men, now in their 60s, who were the original surfers in "The Endless Summer". One of them lives in Costa Rico now and he surfs with his grown son. We meet Australian champion surfers and learn what creativity in surfing is all about. Some of the surfers we meet are women who are wonderful athletes but tend not to go for the really tremendous waves.

Then there are the GIGANTIC waves. We follow a group of four surfers who have to take a boat 100 miles into the Pacific to catch these waves. Wow! There is a great shot of them surfing in a wave a full 66 feet high.

The cinematography is absolutely fantastic. Later, in one of the DVD's extra features, we meet the photographers and learn about the excitement and the danger of their craft. They have specially made housing for their cameras and do not have a lens to look through.. They have all been injured and recovered and came back and took more pictures. They specialize in surf photography because they, too, share the passion for the sport.

Yes, passion is what it's all about. I felt it while watching this film. And I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch all the fascinating extras. There's even a lesson on how to surf.

I give this film one of my highest recommendations. It's pure joy all the way.
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on June 12, 2004
This film is perfect. It captures everything that is great about surfing or sports in general for that matter. The best part about the movie is the amazing footage captured on film. There are some shots in the movie that will blow you mind. It is like "Winged Migration" for surfers. The two-disc set has a load of special features like an extensive commentary and deleted scenes which are good to watch. It also includes a version of "Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer" for PC. Thsi is the perfect film and I would recommend it to anyone who has the slightest interest in surfing, documentaries, or athleticism.
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on December 2, 2012
I think this is a really good documentary about Surfing. I saw it a number of years ago and just got it on Blu Ray. It is really well done and has some fascinating footage and interviews. So you will definately enjoy it.
The downside is, the transfer to HD on Blu Ray really doesn't add anything. The footage still seemed like it was in Standard. I was hoping the footage would be so much more impressive and lifelike on HD, but it wasn't. There really isn't any advantage to getting this on Blu Ray. Just buy it on DVD and you'll get the same thing.
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on May 3, 2004
This movie makes a good first impression, but it's not anything I have to watch again. Ironically, though one of the key points of the movie is not to take surfing (or life) too seriously, the movie takes itself too seriously. Not as funny as Endless Summer I & II, and too many pieces about a very, very small aspect of surfing - Wisconsin AND Texas, the paralyzed, the bring Ireland together bit and Vietnam father/son boding, mixed in with tow-in surfing. The tow-in surf does not come in a cohesive form but is instead scattered througout. It's as if surfing is about nothing but tow-in and using surfing to bring world peace. The meandering style of this movie also renders it useless as surf porn, even on mute.
If you want a real surf movie, that is entertaining to watch and gets to the essence of what surfing is really about without trying too damn hard at it, check out Shelter and Thicker Than Water.
If you're not a surfer and just insterested in what the hub bub is about, Step IL is made for you.
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on April 28, 2004
Nice DVD presentation with plenty of extras. Hey, there's even some instructional stuff with Wingnut nonetheless. I really am impressed with everything they piled on to the first disc. But man, they must have guessed that all surfers are computer geeks because you need to be on the NASA matrix grid in order to make that second disc work in your computer. There's a ton of features on the second disc, but I'll have to find someone who's got a totally juiced up box in order to see it. Sorry, I've got a decent computer but nothing near the requirements necessary to view the DVD-ROM disc provided in Step Into Liquid. As far as the movie goes, this is NOT, I repeat NOT the best surf film ever made. That title would belong to Singlefin Yellow, as another review mentioned here. Perfect perspective, perfect music and perfect commentary and a unique story line from all other surfing films. Step into Liquid is good but once again the Brown Family can take some great footage and turn it into somewhat of an annoying experience with the drone of corny jokes and cliche writing. Dana Brown, like father Bruce [the Endless Summer Collection of which Dana assisted on some], simply and plainly should not be narrating this thing. The narration comes way too close to the obnoxious and annoying words of Warren Miller and his tedious and bourgeois narration on skiing and snowboarding films. And I swear to God, I hope I never hear the word "stoke" repeated so often in such a short time frame as spoken in Step Into Liquid. I know Dana Brown was attempting to break down many surfing stereotypes, but his repeated and mindboggling use and reuse of the word "stoke" in this film drives me up the wall. Quite honestly, some of the special features were easier to take than the film because they were devoid of the stiff and starchy narration. Still, Step Into Liquid is quality film making here and should be in the quiver of films of all surfers.
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on April 26, 2004
First off I didn't give the movie 5 stars as no movie is worth that.
What a great movie this one was tho, took me back to the 'Endless Summer' days and I felt a bit nostalgic. I watched 'Step Into Liquid' for the photography, as I am an amatuer photographer and trying to break into underwater photography on a part-time basis. The different stories in the movie evoked a range of emotions...the man who has surfed continuously each day for a great length of time. The girls who surf and who continue to be shown disrespect from male surfers. I have seen it first hand, and tho a lot of the guys still snicker and such, it is getting better. The story of the sea mount underwater 100 miles off the coast of San Diego which makes waves the size of skyscrapers, I was jealous of the guys who went to surf, but at the same time I was impressed by the courage and how much they love to surf [what kind of jobs do they have?]. The entire movie kept my interest and I never went to the fridge or the bathroom the entire time. I think the scenes that impressed me the most was the set where the guy windsurfing on the huge waves...Amazing!!! I windsurf more now that I have discovered that sport.
I haven't had time to review the DVD Rom side yet, but I am sure it will keep my interest. Even if you don't surf, check this movie out at the video store and turn off all the distractions.
Enjoy The Ride!!!
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on April 22, 2004
In essence this movie has shown the world what surfing is truly about and I applaud Dana Brown for his masterpiece. Not only did he film the incredible and awe inspiring waves of cortez bank but showed that it doesnt matter where you live in this world to enjoy surfing. The footage of surfing wisconsin really was inspiring. Coming from New England I understand where these surfers get there drive. The addition of showing how the female population rocks as well as, if not better than, most men in the water was incredible. Yet in his vision he also showed that its not a competition and brought it back to the roots of surfing, and that is enjoying the ride. From 60 foot waves to 2 foot ripples. This movie is a step into the new millenium with footage of laird hamilton and his innovations into new board designs and tow in surfing. I think on a down side I wished he had touched upon sail surfing which is starting to get momentum. All in all, this is a fantastic movie to add to anybodys surf movie collection if your a surfer or not. Bravo!
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on March 15, 2004
Step Into Liquid tries too hard to accomplish something spectacular. Like so many surf movies before it, it tries to "capture the essence" of surfing. Dana Brown tries to capture what it means to be a surfer by demonstrating surfers from all walks of life. Other than this, the movie has no cohesiveness; it's just a bunch of random people talking about something they happened to love to do- surfing. Dana Brown's tiring narration sounds like the equivalent of a sports announcer who dropped out of high school. Sadly, the script and production of this movie work against the very thing it sets out to do-- kill the stereotype of the slacker surfer beach bum duuuuuude. Here's an idea, Dana: when you come home after an inspiring session, instead of turning on your TV, pick up your notepad and write down what it feels like to watch the erratic rocks and fish and life underneath you while you glide on a wave with the heat of the mid-august sun crystalizing the salt in your hair.
All grievances aside, this movie does have a few good scenes (the kids in ireland surfing together, jesse billauer surfing, etc.). But despite its moments, most of it really only amounts to big-money production and terrible writing. Lots of expensive helicopter shots, big names, high quality fancy-butt video, big waves, you know the drill. In the realm of art, this movie does nothing to capture what it feels like to ride waves.
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on April 3, 2004
This is a very worthwhile successor to his father's "Endless Summer" series, but with a slightly different goal: to figure out the "stoke," that drives people to surf. His narration is very good, with the same dry humor as his father's. It's a relentlessly optimistic movie that makes you feel like you need to be out on a board RIGHT NOW. Still, it's a bit too big-budget for my tastes, with a lot of that extreme big-wave surfing focus that detracts from the soul of the film although the segments are fun to watch. I enjoyed the segments on the Great Lakes and Texas scenes the most, seeing the extremes people will go to in seriously wave-deprived areas. The "bring peace to Northern Ireland" scene was a bit much. Still, I intend to own the DVD when it comes out.
If you want something more akin to the original "Endless Summer," track down a copy of "Singlefin: Yellow" at your local shop; it's definitely the best surfing film of 2003.
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on April 23, 2004
Beautiful to look at. Interesting stories. I will run this many times at my house, and the the bigger the screen the better.
The only weak point in the film is the last chapter I wasn't that happy with the way it just sort of petered out. I was looking for a big finish I guess.
A few of my favorite chapters included: Thier trip to Ireland, and Viet Nam. The supertanker sufters were cool also.
The film changed my opinion of surfers. I have a better understanding now of why they do what they do. And was pleased to see these are bright young (and old) people who just happen to surf a lot. I found myself wondering why I let myself get caught up in the rat race. And haven't lived life as freshly as these people.
Great camera work, interesting naration mixed with good music that doesn't distract from the beauty.
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