Last night I saw John John’s View From A Blue Moon at Big Newport and it left me replete with je ne sais quoi. Like seeing Avatar for the first time, it sent me into a controlled tailspin of visual effects. It was amazing, here’s why:
I arrived to 30 people scattered around check in tables outside. I didn’t know about any RSVP or VIP, I thought John John had my back. My only shot of seeing this opus was sneaking in. I saw that the usher at the front door wasn’t checking shit, so I walked past him. Next were the two Hawaiian bouncers at the theatre door, and they weren’t checking either and I slithered by easily. I strolled into a giant room stocked with lazyboys, found my spot, hit the recline button, and locked in.
The lights dimmed to John C. Reilly talking about John J. Florence. Beautiful Sonny Miller super 16mm shots of the young Florence kids set to Jack Johnson open the round-the-world audience to early life with John. Underwater footage shows a boy duckdive only to surface a man. “Dream on John,” Reilly ends as the opening credits drop. Its Blue Planet meets Kelly Slater in Black and White. Cinematic excellence meets unparalleled performance.
I look around after the intro and everyone is clutching their recliners with IMAX syndrome. You know, when a piece of cinema becomes so real that it steals your imagination and becomes intoxicating. It was promised to be the best surf movie experience of all our lives. And the intro had proved that.
Complex sound direction and tireless frame rate distribution give the film a cinematic quality from start to finish. Slow motion helicopter pans of Rio’s favelas transition into catamaran island paradise and jungle clamors, which blends seamlessly into bursts of high speed tight action shots, feeding our brains 4000 pixels of John John and his technical airs. The editing made my feet move like I was a passenger in a car trying to control the speed; helplessly involved.
Africa opens with an inspiring Kennedy quote letting us exhale from the first half of the experience. The speecch is layered with the best scenic shots of the film giving that awe-inspiring touch we’ve learned to crave in surf movies. Not only have I never seen any of the spots John surfs but I have also never seen surfing of this caliber shot at this caliber. Everything fits perfect. It’s a moment where you realize how dialed this production is. 6 helicopters and 3 million dollars later and here I was in my puffy movie theatre recliner, tripping.
In the last section we head back to Hawaii to see what John is up to now that he rules the world. Think about what two Hawaii winters of JJF clips would look like and then smash that into a five minute edit. At one point he does an alley oop 540, probably the best one he’s ever done, and not even a whimper escapes from the audience. It wasn’t that they didn’t see it, but that the clip was in the middle of the best montage of bangers the world has ever seen. No joke.
Banger. Banger. Scenic. Sound bite. Banger. Scenic. Puffy chairs. Banger. John C. Reilly. Bruce Irons secret section on blank mayhems. Everything about last night’s film ruled. As I walked towards the exit I saw a familiar face and asked the classic post-movie “How was that?!” To which he replied, “I was just geeking out the whole time.” I then realized VFABM is surfing’s Star Wars. Blake Kueny is George Lucas. JJF is Han Solo. And we are all just super-fans dressed as storm troopers. —Nate Zoller