Stephen Low’s Imax feature “The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D” is equal parts short surf pic, immersive educational film, and shameless plug for the Tahitian board of tourism. The briskly paced docu should mostly provide school-aged children with a particularly engaging science class field trip, yet the superb camera and stereoscopic work on display here makes one anxious to someday see a fully fledged 3D surf film.
Nominally an exploration of the famously savage surf spot Teahupo’o (memorably labeled “a freak of hydrodynamics” by docu “Riding Giants”), the film follows surf legend Kelly Slater and Tahitian guru Raimana Van Bastolaer as they prepare to tackle it — although just as much time is spent exploring the natural history of Tahiti, the scientific properties of big waves, and the psychology of surfing. Yet any attempted narrative is merely window-dressing for the stunning photography of edenic Tahitian rainforests, crashing blue waves and the impossibly fit and tanned people who ride them. (Mounting a 3D camera on the front of a surfboard while bikini-clad surfers paddle out seems, in retrospect, an obvious move.) Technical contributions are stellar.
— Andrew Barker