AccessReel Reviews: Soul Surfer

AccessReel Reviews: Soul Surfer

The true story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfing enthusiast who, during a casual surf tragically lost her arm in a shark attack. This is the story of her courageous strength in returning to her dream of being a professional surfer.

This movie was not what I expected. I was not fully prepared for the religious nature of the film and that was a surprise, but it only slightly took away from the movie in parts. I understand that the real Bethany Hamilton is deeply religious and sought her strength from not only her faith but also her determination, I respect that the film put this in regardless of it’s stigma. Annasophia Robb played a very likeable character, and performed naturally through the traumatic experiences she sought to emulate. Although she may not have been acting as a typical teenager would, she did seem to stick to the same character and held it through the film.

The main gripe I have with Soul Surfer is that it appears to be set in Disney Land, where everyone is perfect and perfectly innocent. All the actors on the movie (including Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid) have incredible bodies and unwavering morals; any realism depicted in the movie quickly slides away with every whitened tooth smile. However, there are some very talented youngsters in Soul Surfer, some of the surfing montages are incredible to watch and you get the feeling that people were cast simply or their ability to surf (Kevin Sorbo). When the attack happens, by golly it is shockingly sudden, I liked this, although that was the first and last thing that surprised me. There were significantly cliché plot devices thrown in, from the gorgeous young man who is interested in her to the “evil” competitor who is horrible to her regardless of the fact she just lost an arm to a shark. You get the feeling that the character of Malena (evil) was developed for the movie as a representation of the adversity she feels.

This was the feature film debut of American Idol star Carrie Underwood. Nicely, I’m sure she will get better, but she didn’t really do well in this. The other actors were fine and fit well within the confines of the script. The best parts of the movie were an expedition to the tsunami ridden Thailand she visits to help out the locals, which shows how much of a wonderful person Bethany Hamilton is, and the second is the collection of real footage shown at the end during the credits. The real footage is what inspired me, and showed how talented she is. Watch the documentary.

I give Soul Surfer 2 out of 5 stars.