“Chasing Mavericks” is technically a good movie. The movie has a good story, well-defined setting, characters, conflict, plot and themes. Furthermore, effective cinematography, sound design, editing and presentation show professionalism and skill. But something is missing.
The movie is based on the true story of teenage superstar surfer Jay Moriarity (played by newcomer Jonny Weston) from Santa Cruz, California. In the movie, 8-year-old Jay is swept away by a strong wave only to be saved by veteran surfer “Frosty” Hesson (played by Gerard Butler). This begins a meaningful father-son type relationship between the two. Jay, whose own father left the family, idolizes Frosty and becomes one of the best young surfers in the area as a 15-year-old. Eventually, Jay learns that Frosty has discovered that legendary waves crash onto the shore only miles from his home. Jay begs Frosty to train him to ride a so-called Maverick, and Frosty reluctantly agrees.
The best parts of the movie are the beautiful shots of the ominous waves. Awe-inspiring aerial shots and imposing sound design remind the viewer just how deadly these waves are. The surfing sequences are also very tastefully executed.
Unfortunately, the written material is not of the same caliber as the actors. Despite solid acting execution, the characters in the story simply do not have much depth. Cookie-cutter characters and a cliché script plague this otherwise inspirational family sports film.
There’s the perfect protagonist who always serves with a smile despite his terrible circumstances, the hesitant teacher, the childhood bully, the protagonist’s long-time crush and more. These tried and true characters may be effective at telling a story and conveying emotions, but their lack of originality nullifies many potentially moving moments.
But it’s important to remember the intended audience. “Chasing Mavericks” is a family film, and its main theme is that of overcoming obstacles. However, unless the surfing element is the big draw, many other similar sports movies like “Rocky” can achieve the same things with much more style.