A few years ago, some of the top surfers in the world banded together and took off on a global search for that "perfect wave." They called their expedition The Billabong Odyssey, and this documentary chronicles both the group's formation and its first major forays into the roiling waters off the coasts of France, Mexico, Australia, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest.
"The Billabong Odyssey" is more than just a series of breathtaking stunts being performed on awe-inspiring waves; it is an informative piece of filmmaking that instructs those of us who wouldn't know a surf board from an emery board on the fine points of the sport. Through voiceover narration by many of the men on the team, we learn about how the sport has changed and evolved over the years, most notably since the advent of towing vehicles which makes it possible for riders to go out to monster waves that previous generations of paddling surfers could only look off into the distance and dream about reaching. We are informed as to how monster waves form, where they are most likely to occur, and what kinds of dangers they pose for those brave (or foolish) enough to venture into them. We also see just how far technology will advance the sport in the years to come as innovative fans come up with more and more sophisticated equipment and accoutrements to make conquering that ultimate wave a viable possibility. In addition, the film reveals a great deal about the psychology of the sport, affording us glimpses into the mindset of people who are willing to risk life and limb in pursuit of that ultimate thrill.
Of course, the main attraction of a film like "The Billabong Odyssey" is its phenomenal, you-are-there views of some of the world's greatest waves and the men who attempt to conquer them. The filmmakers plunge us right into the thick of the action, allowing us to ride along with the members of the team, as they wipe out or fulfill their ultimate challenge - only to head right back into the surf to do it all over again.
The film feels a little disjointed at times, losing some of its focus `round about the midway point. The Odyssey members tend to get lost in the crowd and we miss that sense of camaraderie and group cohesiveness the movie provides us with at the beginning. Still, in terms of its visuals and the insight it offers into the sport, "The Billabong Odyssey" provides a first-rate arm chair adventure for both the water-logged and the landlubbers among us."
Mind-blowing! As inspiring as anything I've ever seen!
Cal Mason | Tacoma, WA | 01/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This came out in theatres last year and the opening sequence, with Mike Parsons riding a 70-foot wall of water, was possibly the most exciting beginning to any film I have ever seen. The film chronicles the ongoing search to find and ride the world's biggest wave by eight hardcore surfers of tremendous courage and discipline. Their expedition takes them from Oregon to Australia, from Tahiti to Hawaii to Mexico, and Europe in between. I found the personal insights revealing-if you've ever wondered why men and women engage in such death-defying activities, you'll be surprised where some find their motivaton-and of course the action is spectacular. The best surf movie, and one of the best action movies I've ever seen. Beatutifully shot. I'd praise the stuntwork to the moon if it wasn't all completely real. To this point I've always used Top Gun or The Matrix to show off the scale of my home theatre and its surround sound. Now I'll simply play this movie. Incredible!"
Amazing footage of the big waves
Karen Potts | Lake Jackson, Texas | 10/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is basically a documentary which shows the outer limits of modern-day surfing. Instead of paddling into the wave in the traditional manner, surfers can be pulled into the surf by waverunners and can take advantage of huge waves which form many miles from the shore. The Billabong Odyssey is a 3-year project in which new technology is used to train surfers and to detect the locations of the "biggest waves on the planet". There is a lot of emphasis on safety in the project, which is understable when people are challenging 50 and 60-foot waves. The first part of the movie shows the assembling of the team for the project and the training that they go through. The culminating scenes show a Big Wave competition in "Jaws", a surfing hot spot off the coast of Maui. The photography is spectacular and the movie is appealing to surfers and non-surfers alike."
Lotsa talk, little surf
zaaktt | Trinidad & Tobago | 03/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I got this flick hoping to extend the high i got off Step Into Liquid and Thicker Than Water. Instead I got a snoozefest of personal interviews and pro surfer bios. Don't get me wrong, the big wave footage featured on the dvd is breathtaking, to say the least - there just isn't enough of it on this disc to get me anywhere near stoked. I watched this once and dumped it in the pile for my next garage sale."
MONSTER WAVE ACTION
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 01/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"BILLABONG ODYSSEY (Warner Home Video) deserves a widescreen version to better capture the jaw-dropping, eye-popping, heart-pounding big wave surfing action. Billabong is Aussie slang for "pond," but the only irony here is the Zen-like comments from the men who ride these monstrous, churning, liquid mountains. Cool locations include Tahiti, Hawaii, France, Spain, the "Cortez Bank" and Australia. Fantastic big wave cinematography. One or two rides alone are worth the price of the disc. Recommended."