Waveriders

Critics Consensus

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56%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 16

59%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 101
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Movie Info

With this unusual, way-offbeat documentary, Joel Conroy offers an unique take on a familiar subject: the film examines the Irish origins of the west coast surfing culture. Conroy filters this history through the tragic life of George Freeth - an Irish transplant who turned early 20th century Hawaiian kings onto surfing, and thus resurrected a long-buried pastime that eventually spread to the masses. The film immediately delves into Freeth's tale, then travels around the world charting his influences across numerous cultural boundaries - from Hawaii, to sunny Southern California, to the "mother country" of Ireland. The film culminates with the makers' decision to take on-camera rides on colossal, 50-foot waves just off of the Irish coast.

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Critic Reviews for Waveriders

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (7)

  • It's an entertaining and thought-provoking take on a sport, and a lifestyle, whose identity and history is increasingly under threat from commercial interests.

    Apr 3, 2009 | Rating: 3/5
  • Although the action footage is impressive, it becomes repetitive, exposing the rest of the movie as something of a ragbag. Surfing fans may be more enthused.

    Apr 3, 2009 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…
  • The sensational footage of surfers barrelling through 50ft waves provides most of the appeal. But Joel Conroy's documentary is full of scrapbook curios.

    Apr 3, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Some awe-inspiring big-wave action.

    Apr 3, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Slightly waffly paean to Irish surfing, rescued by the always awesome sight of waves as high as the screen, and consummately skilled, tanned blokes turning them into a canvas.

    Apr 9, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Strictly for wave fans.

    Apr 9, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Waveriders

  • Apr 14, 2011
    This is a movie a Documentary about the History of the Sport and the adventure of it. But I actually find unlikely the story of the Irish roots of the worldwide surfing phenomenon because it actually goes against everything that was mentioned in regards of the experience and the internationallity of it. It's a experience that can be felt and done throught the world and I'm happy to see that in Ireland is as good and as influential as any other good tropical site to surf. I'm happy that they found their inspirational Root story but to me is more about the bonding that surfing creates through the world be it for competitive or as they call it Soul Surfing it should be the same. BY TERRY KEEFE (VENICE) "Surfing and Ireland" doesn't feel quite as incongruous a sportscountry pairing as "Jamaica and bobsledding," although the Emerald Isle still isn't the first place you'd immediately think of for great waves, or even the 20th. However, it turns out that the coasts of Ireland are, in fact, an undiscovered mecca for surfing, or as American surfing champion Kelly Slater puts it, "a green gem." Irish filmmaker Joel Conroy, whose documentary, Waveriders, partially covers the surfing world of Ireland, grew up around the water back home. Still, Conroy wouldn't actually learn to surf until he was working for MTV in Australia, which is what got him to thinking that his homeland also had some great, largely untouched spots to ride the waves. Conroy later learned that a man of Irish descent, George Freeth, is considered by many surfing historians as the link from the surfing Hawaiian kings of lore to the California surfing scene that boomed in the 20th Century. From there, Waveriders was born. The structure of Waveriders centers first around the story of Freeth, then covers the birth of modern surfing culture, and concludes with a trip by some of the best surfers in the world, including Slater and the Malloy Brothers, to hit the breaks in Ireland. George Freeth's family moved to Hawaii in the later part of the 1800s, and then Freeth came to southern California where he would become the first modern surf star, doing surfing demonstrations for crowds of thousands. Just as influentially, Freeth would be the father of much of the modern lifeguard profession, inventing tools still used today by lifeguards, such as the torpedo buoy. Recalls Conroy of how the shore was regarded at the turn of the century in California, "The beach was traditionally a very unsafe place. People didn't want to live there. It was uncool." However, a number of factors came together to change that. Conroy continues, "It was a combination of things: the invention of the bathing suit, and the car, and the railroad had just been introduced from L.A. to Venice, and down to Redondo. And what some of these property developers (including Harry E. Huntington) did was say, 'Let's get some of these Hawaiians over here, get lifeguards, and make the beach a safe place for people to enjoy.'" The most prominent of those surfing Hawaiians/lifeguards was Freeth, who would make international headlines when he rescued nine Japanese fisherman who had capsized in boats off of the Venice Pier, during a huge storm on December 16th, 1908. Says Conroy about the central historical figure of Waveriders, "I found in the George Freeth story a way to tell what California was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A fledgling industry was just happening [on the beach]. It was being seeded. It was also very much like the Irish-American story, and to be able to spin it from Ireland all the way to Hawaii, to California, and back to Ireland again ... that narrative was key." The film does end in Ireland, spectacularly, where surfers Gabriel Davies, Richard Fitzgerald, Alistair Mennie, and Duncan Scott are captured riding some of the biggest waves in recorded Irish history. Recalls Conroy, "I'd almost finished cutting the film, but we were holding out, because we needed a donkey punch, killer sequence at the end of the film. It kind of eluded us during the two years of filming, and then pretty much on the last day, the phone rang. 'Hey Joel, it's huge!' We rounded up all the crew (including surfing filmmaker and Venice resident, Jason Baffa) and nailed it. It ended up being the biggest storm for decades that hit the west coast of Ireland. We discussed getting some big waves, although I never thought it would be that big." The filmmakers had the help of the local coast guard during the shooting, and some of the officials were very surprised by what they witnessed. Recalls Conroy with a laugh, "They're used to people getting in trouble with waves like that, not riding them like the kings." WAVERIDERS tracks the previously untold story of surfing pioneers all linked to Ireland and incorporates an unexpected twist that spins the story across the globe to Hawaii, California and back again. WAVERIDERS is the critically-acclaimed story of Irelands roots in modern day surfing and its most surprising legacy the emergence of big wave surfing along its forbidding coastline. Paying homage to George Freeth, the father of modern surfing, the story follows the wave of surfing culture from west coast America to Irelands unforgiving waters. With stunning coastline, thumped year round by unmatched North Atlantic swells, Ireland is the pre-eminent destination for big-wave surfers. Featuring pro surfers Kelly Slater, Gabe Davies and the Malloy brothers, and narrated by actor Cillian Murphy, Waveriders culminates in aweinspiring and nail-biting footage of surfers conquering the largest waves ever surfed around Ireland. WAVERIDERS is the previously untold story of the unlikely Irish roots of the worldwide surfing phenomenon and today's pioneers of Irish big wave surfing. The story unfolds via the inspirational and ul... read more timately tragic history of Irish/Hawaiian legendary waterman, George Freeth. Freeth, son of an Irishman, was responsible for the rebirth of this sport of Hawaiian kings in the early twentieth century. With its distinguished cast of world-renowned Irish, British and Irish/American surfers WAVERIDERS then journeys full-circle from Hawaii to California and back to Irish shores following Freeth's wave of influence. This journey reaches a spectacular climax when the surfers conquer the biggest swell ever to have been ridden in Ireland catching monster waves of over fifty feet.
    Sergio E Super Reviewer
  • Nov 15, 2009
    Surprisingly tedious
    Lesley N Super Reviewer

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