Dana Brown's ambitious surfing project `Step Into Liquid' is a great surfing film covering the passion of surfing. Young and old, short wave to massive big waves, man, women, children and various countries... Dana Brown follows his father's footsteps in creating a wonderful film on the positivity of surfing in many levels. The Blu-ray transfer is pretty good and it's great to see and hear the film in HD but for those who owned the original DVD, you may not want to give/throw it away since the Blu-ray version has half of the features that were included in the DVD release.
The Brown's...a surfing family known for classic surfing films. From Bruce Brown's early 1958 film "Slipper When Wet" and the most popular surfing film of all time, the 1966 "Endless Summer" to the sequel in 1994 with "Endless Summer II", "Step Into Liquid" is the second surfing film from Bruce's son, Dana who started his career writing "Endless Summer II" and went on to direct his first film "Endless Summer Revisited" in 2000.
And as ambitious Bruce Brown was with "Endless Summer", Dana Brown was in his 2003 film "Step Into Liquid".
In "Step Into Liquid", Dana Brown covers surfing in various ways. Not just the competitive surfing that people may see on television but pretty much passion of surfing. May it be father and son surfing together, shortboarders, longboarders, big wave, small wave surfing and more. From Robert August who starred in "Endless Summer" who continues to surf today to Kelly Slater who at the time was a 6-time surfing world champion (and now currently 9-time champ), those who surf in a lake when wind conditions are good, women who surf, to those who surf when big freighters create a wave, to Dale Webster - a man who surfed every day consecutively for over 30 years, the Malloy family visiting Ireland to surf, a father and son who went back to surf in Vietnam and of course, big wave surfing in Hawaii to Mavericks in California.
"Step Into Liquid" is literally a film about the passion of surfing. None of the negativity, just people who enjoy surfing and willing to help those in different countries learn how to surf and fathers and mothers who passed down their passion to a new generation and more.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
I first purchased "Step Into Liquid" when it was first released on DVD and I felt it looked fantastic. Now, "Step Into Liquid" receives its 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) treatment. There is fine layer of grain but virtually no Digital Noise Reduction. But the film features awesome cinematography. Risky cinematography. I was very impressed when I first saw this film. You get good detail on the water, sand, skies, scenery and for the most part, picture quality is quite vibrant. It's not exactly reference quality but for the most part, this is one of the first surfing films that received a High Definition transfer.
As for audio, the audio is presented in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is understandable and both dialogue and music come out clear through the front and center channels. There is some usage of surround channels when the waves crash but for a 7.1 track, I was expecting a bit more of an immersive soundtrack through the rear surrounds. But for the most part, nice use of LFE during the crashing of the waves and definitely a pretty solid lossless soundtrack.
Subtitles are featured in English and Spanish.
"Step Into Liquid" on Blu-ray comes with the following special features:
* Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Dana Brown -
* Let's Go Surfing - (13:12) Featuring Robert "Wingnut" Weaver and Maureen Drummy discussing some basics about surfing and good advice for those who are wanting to start surfing.
* Capturing the Wave - (13:19) Featuring water cinematographers and photographers discussing how they got involved in that career and the challenges and passion they have for it.
* Making a Surfboard - (8:29) Featuring Robert and Sam August introducing the process of the making of a surfboard and Robert August Surfboards.
* Deleted/Alternate Footage - (15:19) Featuring the following scenes not in the film and alternate scenes: Dana's Angels, Dirtboarding, Surfing Rabbi, Scenics.
* Passion for Liquid - (14:22) Interview with Director Dana Brown and surfers who took part in the film and their impression of the film and also discussing surfing.
* Interviews - (42:39) Featuring interviews with Dana Brown, Bruce Brown, Robert "Wingnut" Weaver, Robert August, Sam August, Jim and Alex Knost, Maureen Drummy and Peter Townend.
* Music Montages - (8:42) Featuring music montages for "Only One" by Jeremy Kay, "Windshield Wipers" by Jackpot.
* Dale Webster - (7:53) A featurette about the man who has surfed for over 30 years, everyday consecutively.
* Disc Production Credits - Production credits
"Step Into Liquid" is definitely one of the best modern surf films to come out post-2000 and capturing surfing in variety of different situations, different countries and most of all, different surfers of different ages, ethnicities, etc. This film captures the passion of surfing. May you be living in Hawaii, California or the North Central part of the United States, people find ways to get stoked on surfing their way. May it be short or massive waves, people are enjoying surfing and I feel that Dana Brown did a great job of covering that in this film.
Seeing it and hearing it on Blu-ray in High Definition is definitely a plus but one question that those who own the original DVD version may want to know is "if the Blu-ray is worth the double dip?". If you are wanting the film in 1080p High Definition and lossless audio, then yes. Personally, I love watching films in Blu-ray and on High Definition and wouldn't mind seeing a lot of my favorite films with the best picture and audio quality. But it's important to note that the original DVD from Artisan Home Entertainment has way more special features than the Lionsgate Blu-ray disc. So, you don't want to give or throw away your original DVD.
Missing from the Blu-ray include the outtakes/behind-the scenes footage, Red Carpet Highlights from Fuel, Surfline features "The Bill of Rights and Lefts...the Final Word on Surfing Etiquette" and "Surfing Glossary A to Z", Robert August Surfboard Outfitter and the PC version of the Kelly Slater Pro Surfer video game. The DVD also came with a High-Definition DVD-Rom version for the PC at the time as well.
And because that footage is missing from the Blu-ray, it's a bummer because one of my favorite featurettes on the original DVD was the Fuel TV Red Carpet Highlights. I can understand why the Kelly Slater Pro Surfer video game was not included and the Robert August Surfboard Outfitter is more or less a stand-alone DVD software to show what kind of board is for you and how you can purchase it from Robert August Surfboards. But to say the least, those special features that are not on the Blu-ray disc were fun and what made "Step Into Liquid" (along with the special features on the Blu-ray Disc), a super-solid DVD release at the time. You were definitely getting your money's worth.
But despite the Blu-ray disc having less special features, those who want it on Blu-ray are looking forward to the 1080p HD picture quality and lossless audio quality and this is where "Step Into Liquid" shines.
In 2009, years after the release of the DVD and a year after the Blu-ray was released, you can definitely find both pretty cheap these days. But if you are a surfer or a fan of well-done surfing films/documentaries, "Step Into Liquid" is definitely a title worth having in your surfing collection.
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