Review: Soul Surfer

Some things are better left for the news.
No one can take away what really happened to Bethany Hamilton. This girl has guts. You may remember back in 2003 a then 13 year old Hamilton got her arm bitten off by a tiger shark in Hawaii. It was all over the news, she lost a lot of blood and still somehow managed not to completely panic as her quick thinking friends made her a tourniquet and drove her to the hospital. Eventually she got back on her board and went on competing. She deserves a lot of praise, what she doesn't deserve is a poorly made, badly acted, lifetime movie to show for it. She deserves better than that.

Beach blonde Bethany is played by AnnaSophia Robb, who certainly looks the part, but unfortunately still hasn't grasped the whole "acting" part of her job. Her parents are played by the equally bland Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt. Carrie Underwood is thrown in there as her youth group leader who does nothing but smile and show zero depth. The film adds a bit more drama, such as Bethany contemplating quitting (which she apparently never did in real life) and also adds a stereotypical mean girl surfer who has a change of heart towards the end. Bethany did all her own surfing stunts, which would've been convincing if Bethany wasn't a good 9 inches taller than AnnaSophia Robb. The CGI shark attack, though only there for a split second made the mechanical shark in Jaws look superior. Apparently no one told the film makers that "less is more." Instead of having a SciFi (oh wait...SyFy) worthy scene of special effects they could've had it happen underwater and perhaps only showed the fin or nothing at all. Everyone going into the movie knows that Bethany was going to be attacked by a shark. Another thing that got to be was how incredibly easy they made her recovery look. If you've read Bethany's book, or seen the documentary she did a few years back, it wasn't easy for her. Sure she got back in the water fairly quickly, but she had a lot of work to do. The movie made her recovery very secondary, and I think that's one of the things that's the most inspiring about her.

Perhaps my negativity stems from the fact that I had no desire to see this in the first place. I don't think so. I think this is, flat out, a poorly made film. A great story falls short to bad acting and bad effects.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "I can embrace more people with one arm than I ever could with two." - Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb)


  1. i'm thinking this should have probbaly been a made-for-tv movie, you think? but that would still be no excuse for the problems you pointed out.

  2. I think you're completely wrong. I totally enjoyed the movie. Your review is not objective at all because you did not want to see the movie in the first place. Next time, please review films you actually want to see rather than bashing movies that a lot of people actually enjoyed. I watched an interview with Bethany and AnnaSophia on Tavis Smiley and Bethany was fully supportive of the movie. Sure, they added parts in the movie that didn't happen in real life... but that's because it is a movie. I thought it did an awesome job as a biopic and it definately wasn't as depressing as The Last Song with Miley Cyrus, which was a movie that centered around a tragedy. Soul Surfer took Bethany's story and demonstrated that it could be inspirational. I thought the pace of the movie was good and so was the acting.

  3. Critics review every movie they see, whether they wanted to see them or not. It's part of the hobby. Also I review whatever I please since this blog. I've reviewed plenty of films I didn't want to see and have been surprised by them. Nothing about this movie surprised me. It took a great story and made it too melodramatic.

    I'm sorry you saw this as "bashing a movie that a lot of people actually liked." That's what being a film critic is all about. You're not going to agree with everyone.

    Nonetheless, I appreciate the feedback. Thanks for reading.


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