The Transpac is one of the most prestigious races in
competitive sailing. Compared to the
Indy 500 at the beginning of the movie, the race goes from the shores of California to a buoy off the coast
Hawaiian island. The ten-day race is a
test of not only speed, but endurance and stamina.
Roy Disney won the race twice and held the
record time for nearly a decade. In 2007
he decided to sponsor another boat in the race.
He wouldn't be on this one however; he was going to populate it
crew of young amateurs who had never competed in a race of this
before. The training of the crew and the
race itself was recorded and the result is Morning Light, a sort of reality TV
show for the big screen.
The film starts out with a brief introduction to the race
and meeting the 15 finalist who were going to train for the race. That was the first let down.
Since they didn't want to start from zero,
all of the finalist had a good amount of sailing experience which meant
they were all rich, white, college kids (going to Stanford, Harvard,
etc.) and predominantly male. There were
two women in the final group, and one black man who had "the least
experience" according to the narrator and who admitted later "I don't
grasp the concept of sailing across the ocean."
Oh yeah, and he can't swim. The
rest of the group were kind enough not to give him the nickname "token".
These fifteen were to train for six months in Hawaii at the end of
which time they themselves would choose the eleven people who would
"Morning Light" on the race itself. (The
other four were alternates.) The
half of the movie shows the rigorous and unprecedented training that
they all went
through. Not only did they have a myriad
of coaches (all past Transpac champions) working with them, but the
even flew a helicopter out over the water so they could see what it was
get rescued at sea. (I guess if Disney
if footing the bill, the Coast Guard will do that sort of thing.)
The second half of the movie is the race itself, a long,
tiring journey that really tested the endurance of the kids. This part was filmed by the crew themselves,
and gives viewers some sort of idea what it's like to compete in such a
But how is it as a movie?
Not that great really. It has the
flaws of a reality show but do to the short length of the film (as
a year-long TV season) none of the advantages.
It was hard to get to know any of the sailors and see what their
personalities were like. There just wasn't that much time.
At the end of the movie I still couldn't
identify the people who sailed the ship, much less decide who I liked
Because of the lack of time viewers get to spend with the
crew, many of their decisions don't make sense, especially when it
pick the 11 people who will be sailing the ship. (Minor
spoiler for the rest of this
paragraph.) One of the candidates has
been seriously injured and missed weeks of training, yet inexplicably
person is chosen, still not fully healed.
Another member is one with the least experience.
Everyone goes on and on about how competent everyone is, and
on the least likely candidates? If they
was more time, maybe it would have made more sense.
There wasn't much of a documentary aspect to the film
either. I was expecting to learn
something about sailing, but I really didn't.
Aside from a couple of terms they didn't describe what goes into
professional competitive sailing. With
each team using the same computer software and following the same wind
patterns, what makes one team better than another aside from the design
boat? I've watch the America's Cup race
on ESPN (I was trapped at the time and had no choice) and the color
commentators for that event explained what was going on much better
While the disc undoubtedly reproduces the original footage
well, the movie doesn't look that impressive do to the source material. Filmed with HD cameras on the sailboat and
adjoining vessels, the 1.85:1 AVC encoded image is uneven.
Night scenes are in black and white and very
grainy, and the daytime shots were sometimes soft.
Water drops on the lens were common and a lot
of the movie looked flat. The colors
were generally fine and the disc doesn't look bad, just not exceptional.
The DTS-HD audio also suffered in the on-board segments,
which admittedly is most of the film.
There's a lot of background noise, waves, the ship creaking, and
being pulled, but the dialog is never hard to understand and while it's
crisp as I would have liked it was fine for a documentary.
There is a pair of featurettes included with this
movie. The first is Stories
from the Sea, a 28-minute documentary on the race and the
making of the film. Next up is Making
the Cut an ESPN special that runs about 48 minutes and looks at the
finalists for the race were chosen.
These two were nice additions to the disc.
While there wasn't much information to be gleaned from this
movie, there still were some interesting and exciting moments. Seeing their main rival pull up behind them
in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
amazing, and the energy and enthusiasm these kid's posses is infectious. If you're interested in ocean sailboat
racing, this would be a good disc to check out, but because of the
make it a rental.
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
represent the image quality on the disc.