Review of Soul Surfer directed by Sean McNamara and written by Sean McNamara, Matt Allen, and Brad Gann
I’ve never surfed, though I would jump at the opportunity if it presented itself. Since starting this blog I’ve covered a number of stories revolving around surfing. One was a documentary I highly recommend called Riding Giants. This film has some of the best surfing footage you’ll find anywhere. Some other films involving surfing include Surfwise: The Amazing True Odyssey of the Paskowitz Family and Crazy for the Storm. I would certainly add Soul Surfer to my list of recommended films based on surfing.
Soul Surfer is the story of Bethany Hamilton, who lost most of her left arm in a shark attack. While that event is at the center of this story, the real story is how Bethany, despite the loss of her arm, decides to continue in her pursuit to become a professional surfer. The story is also about her family and how the accident affected all of them.
In some respects this film has a made for TV feel about it. Something you might catch on the Lifetime channel. But I think the end product is good enough to deserve a feature film treatment.
AnnaSophia Robb plays Bethany with the help of some CGI effects similar to what was used in Forrest Gump. The result is totally convincing. Since Bethany and her family all surfed, so do all of the actors in the film, except for Carrie Underwood who plays a youth leader.
The goal of the film is to tell an inspiring story, and in this they succeed. Bethany has a very strong religious conviction, and she believes that in telling her story she can help inspire other people. She uses her platform to help spread her message. It’s a similar message told in the story 127 Hours, and that film was an Oscar contender.
The DVD had a number of excellent extras and plenty of footage of the real Bethany. The only thing missing was an audio commentary. So the bottom line is go ahead and rent this. You won’t be disappointed.