The Perfect Wave — The Movie!
Christian Movie Review
The Christian film The Perfect Wave tells the true story of Ian McCormack (played by Scott Eastwood — Fury, Flags of Our Fathers, son of Clint Eastwood), a surfer who leaves his home in New Zealand to travel the world with his best friend in pursuit of the perfect wave. Their quest takes them to some of the most stunning locations on earth: Australia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Along the way, Ian encounters amazing adventures and even romance when he meets a girl named Anabel (Rachel Hendrix, October Baby). However, his dream trip suddenly becomes a horror story when the dreaded box jellyfish — some of the most venomous jellyfish in the world — sting him five times during a night dive. It only takes one box jellyfish sting to kill a man in minutes, and Ian is stung five times. Death comes quickly, yet nothing would prepare him for what he would experience next. (And this is not a plot spoiler. The film’s marketing materials are very open about the fact that he dies).
The miracle that happens from the point after his death will take your breath away — both in the film and in the true story as told by Ian McCormack, who is very much alive now. (And I know that because I’ve been granted the chance to interview him!)
This is a family-friendly, Christ-honoring movie. To send Hollywood a clear message, please, please consider going to see it this weekend beginning Friday, July 11th when it opens in select theaters around the country. Opening weekend numbers have a big impact, so if you pay to see the movie on opening weekend it’s like casting a vote on election day. Please click here to see if it’s playing near you, and then go cast your vote for high-quality, God-honoring entertainment!
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content/Nudity: A couple makes out. In the morning, a girl is seen coming out of a house to the beach garbed only in a towel. Sex the night before is implied. This portrayal of implied sex, however, is necessary for the story because it shows the lifestyle that Ian and his friend were living before he met Christ. There is nothing explicit shown. Characters are seen in swim suits (bikinis and board shorts).
Violence/Gore: A man is punched in the face. Ian is stung by jellyfish and is seen stumbling, gasping, and dying. We also see the cuts, burns, and streaks of poison running through his veins in his arm. It is not particularly graphic though.
Language: None that I remember.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: Drinking and smoking is portrayed in the context of a surfer’s party lifestyle before he experiences a transformation in his life.
Frightening/Intense Content: The jellyfish scene and everything that happens after it is quite intense because we witness a man die; however, it is not needlessly graphic or gory, and it makes it just frightening enough so that you’re on the edge of your seat the whole time without assaulting you with needless gore or over-the-top terror.
(Review continues below — find out why The Perfect Wave is life-changing!)
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
Scott Eastwood, the son of Clint Eastwood, has been in quite a few films already, and in The Perfect Wave he shines. He demonstrates an impressively calm mastery over his acting chops. He’s doing the Eastwood name proud and building his own style at the same time. I’m especially eager to see how he does in the upcoming Brad Pitt WWII movie Fury, which looks superb. Eastwood, Rachel Hendrix, Charyl Ladd (Charlie’s Angels), and the cast do a wonderful job. Hendrix has some serious charm in her acting style and Ladd stole the show with some of the most powerful moments of the film in her role as Ian McCormack’s mother. She worked alongside the likeable Patrick Lyster, who played Ian’s father and who injected a good dose of fatherly concern into the film. In general, the actors were poised and effective, and Eastwood and Hendrix had noticeable chemistry.
Besides the good acting and gripping true story, the film’s most enthralling moments came as we traveled with Ian and his best friend Mark to stunning locations: South Africa, the Outback, Bali, and Mauritius. The scenery alone is worth the price of admission, and the surf photography is gorgeous. The surfing safari actually fills up the majority of the film to the point where you’re so engrossed in their surf adventures — and the love story that develops between Ian and Anabel — that you almost forget where the plot is heading.
The marketing decision to be very open about the fact that Ian dies and goes to Heaven is brilliant because it hangs that possibility over the viewer’s head like a Sword of Damocles, and you keep thinking, “Is it going to happen in this scene?” It weaves a bittersweet tone throughout even the happiest moments of their surfing adventures, and this, in my opinion, gives the film a hefty emotional weight that builds and builds until you finally get to the jellyfish.
Ian’s Trip to Heaven
It is very true that Ian died. There were witnesses, he was pronounced dead by a medical staff, and after being dead for 15-20 minutes in the morgue, Jesus returned life to his body. During those 15-20 minutes, he encountered Jesus in Heaven. All of this is portrayed in the film, and it is done with taste. I got the sense that the filmmakers knew what they could and couldn’t do with their budget — as far as the special effects — so they wisely chose subtlety and restraint, and I think it saved the film from veering off into a distracting overload of visuals or unintentional cheesiness. This helped it focus keenly on Ian’s exchange with Christ, which was absolutely astounding.
As I already mentioned, I’ve been granted an interview with Ian to learn more about his amazing story. That interview will publish soon in the near future, and it will be a fantastic read that you won’t want to miss!
I can say without hesitation that this movie has changed the course of my life. After digesting all of the earth-shattering things that happened to Ian, a deep hunger suddenly welled up in my heart to draw nearer to Christ and abide in His love. Spiritual fruit — and lots of it — has poured into my heart since watching the movie. I also went to his site and found a sermon video where he gives the full account of his trip to Heaven: every little detail with a very precise timeline of events. I was in tears through most of it.
The love of Christ truly exceeds our wildest imaginations.