Published on April 7th, 2011 | by Courtney Hartmann2
Soul Surfer Review
“Soul Surfer” never tries to be more than it is; a sweet, feel good movie that shows us the importance of friends, family and faith. Set in the beautiful scenery of the Hawaiian Islands and played to a soundtrack that makes you want to literally soak up the sun, “Soul Surfer” embraces the surfing community and creates a positive message to its audience about the power of perspective and recognizing strengths during the most fragile of times.
Based on the true story of teenage surfer, Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), the movie chronicles her life surrounding the weeks up to and following her life changing loss when a shark attack takes her left arm. Although the audience is able to sense when the shark is about ready to appear, the attack itself is still a bit of surprise. Bethany’s positive, strong and eerily unnerving reaction to what has happened is truly inspiring.
Having the love of surfing passed on to her from her parents played by Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt, Bethany doesn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself. Her only concern seems to be getting back into the water and back to surfing. With the help of her parents, as well as her two older brothers, she works back the strength to enter her first major competition just weeks following her attack. A disappointing showing at the competition and the overwhelming struggles from what has happened begins to wear on her spirits and Bethany faces the reality that surfing may not be in her future.
Movie newcomer, Carrie Underwood makes her debut playing the role of Bethany’s youth group leader; offering spiritual guidance to help Bethany through her difficult time. Underwood’s natural charisma shines on screen; however, her first major transition from music to acting feels a little generic, especially since her scenes are some of the most emotional ones of the film.
Throughout the movie, faith is a constant theme, making a case for the power of prayer in a strong way. However, it flows naturally within the story without overwhelming the audience or taking away from the tale of triumph that is ultimately what the movie intends to showcase. Aside from the strange, “in the zone” surfing shots of Bethany, it’s a movie the whole family can enjoy. There are genuine, heart tugging moments, a few laughs and times when the story borderlines cheesy and all but oozes sunshine and rainbows. But, the spirit matches the beauty of Hawaii; the movie captures the defining moments in the life of a young hero who took her tragedy and turned it into something worth believing in, which makes it a story worth getting to know.