‘Soul Surfer’ (2011)



Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Unconventional, but Inspirational

I’m not a fan of coming-of-age stories, true stories, or Christian films. Typically, these are the highest on the list of movies I avoid, apart from foreign films, short films, and documentaries. I just have a hard time watching them, and often can’t think of any words to describe them, but even though “Soul Surfer” tends to have all three qualities mentioned above, I truly thought it was done tastefully, so I ended up actually liking the movie for what it was.

AnnaSophia Robb stars in this movie as Bethany Hamilton, a thirteen year-old surfer. For those of you that watch the news, you may already know the name of Bethany Hamilton, as the real Bethany has made “waves” on the media, spreading her story of hope and confidence.  Bethany was set to go into a surfing contest, and had to turn down her church’s mission trip in order to honor her commitment to train before the big contest. While training, Bethany loses her arm to a brutal shark attack. After her accident, she learns the true test of faith comes with coping with her lost arm and learning to pick herself up again, and continue to compete in the competition with one less arm.

One of the first things you notice in the movie is that it feels like a Christian film. There’s nothing terribly wrong with that, but it does set a large number of people off when watching the movie. After you see the film in its entirety, you realize that the movie isn’t technically a Christian film. Christians can choose to view it like that, and non-Christians can choose to see it another way. The only thing that is really certain is that Christianity and faith play a vital role in the movie, and it defines who Bethany is. What I am trying to say is that it is not overbearing or down your throat, but it is there if you decide to listen to it.

AnnaSophia did a fantastic job portraying Bethany, and it was so great to see so many recognizable faces in the movie as well, such as Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood, and Kevin Sorbo. Each character played their part well, and they helped to make it feel more like a genuine Hollywood production, and not a weak and stereotypical Christian film. Most of the shots were also very well done, looked great, and made the viewer interested in the world of surfing if they previously couldn’t care less.

The visual effects were actually incredibly impressive. As you probably know, AnnaSophia Robb has both of her arms, so they had to digitally erase her arm from the entire movie, and you couldn’t tell…at all! It’s not only that, but in order to get what’s behind her arms while moving the camera around during filming…that takes a whole lot of behind-the-scenes magic that many viewers won’t be able to even catch, but these editors worked very hard in order to make it look right, and it did.

The movie really is inspirational, regardless if it showed her religion or not, the movie did everything right to convey the hardships Bethany went through and the things she realized in order to pick herself back up again. For the right crowd, this movie may in fact give them hope, for others maybe not so much. It isn’t the best movie in the world, and in the end, many people will only be saying that “Soul Surfer” is a nice movie, but not much more. It just isn’t that important of a movie. It is interesting, and you do feel for the characters, even connect with the characters, but is it a movie that you’ll really need to see more than once? No, probably not.


3 thoughts on “‘Soul Surfer’ (2011)

  1. The special effects are even more impressive when you realize the “background” they’re filling in is often rushing water, INCREDIBLY complex to try to recreate realistically.

    Also, I don’t think the religion aspect felt forced into any way. This is a true story about a person, and this person just happened to be involved in their church a lot. I don’t feel like they try to use that religion to convince the viewers of anything at all, so for me the religion aspect felt natural and didn’t distract from the movie in any way. In fact I think it helped with aspects.


    1. No, I totally agree, I just feel that IN GENERAL, a movie just feels a little off with christian elements, especially for those that don’t want to see it, they limit their target audience. Most movies don’t have it, but instead have a generic moral to the story. So this was just a generic statement.

      Also, I remember specifically thinking…that rushing water had to be nearly impossible to make that arm look cut off


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