Friday, August 19, 2011


Soul Surfer

AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt


April 8, 2011

Sean McNamara

TriStar Pictures (Sony)

1 hour 46 minutes



Aw just what we need: another true story/inspiration story brought to the big screen.  I have nothing against the old inspiration story, but they've been popping them out of Hollywood ever since 'The Blind Side' exploded onto the scene.  Even next month we're getting the story of Winter the Dolphin in the 3D feature 'Dolphin Tale.'  We're not here to talk about a tale-less dolphin, though.  We're here to talk about Bethany Hamilton, who's story of recovering after losing her arm in a shark attack has been made into a movie starring child star AnnaSophia Robb and Dennis Quaid.  While I did like 'Soul Surfer,' I felt that it should've been more heartwarming, showing more of Hamilton's training for her surfing competition before the big 20 minute finale.  It's not a movie for everyone, but 'Soul Surfer' is a sweet movie that will inspire many little girls out there to keep following their dreams.  I will keep the production team some recognition, since Hamilton's stump in the movie looks remarkably real, expect for one small sequence towards the end of the film.

The best thing to compliment is the acting in this movie.  AnnaSophia Robb, best known for her child roles in such films as 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'Bridge to Terabithia' (a personal favorite of mine) is great as the young Hamilton.  You see her motivation and confidence after she loses her arm, and even if you know what to expect in the end, Hamilton is still someone to root for throughout the picture.  I also praise Robb for being able to use one arm for 85% of the movie, as that is something very hard for an actor to do.  I'm not including Gary Sinise's performance in 'Forrest Gump' in the context though, because anyone can sit in a chair and act pissed all of the time.  The supporting cast includes a strong first performance from award winning singer Carrie Underwood, Academy Award winning Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid, who gives one of his better performances in recent years.  The acting is good, not great.  Nothing award winning, but acceptable for the inspiration bipoic that this is.

This movie was trying to be 'The Blind Side' for surfing.  In some ways, it is, with a female lead, a tragic story, and a family with a deep christian background.  However the difference between the two films is that 'The Blind Side' was a better film.  It had pure comedic moments, a sublime cast, and some tear-jerking moments.  This movie wants you to feel bad and root for Hamilton, which you do in some parts.  I found the film to be too typical for what it was.  It seems that aside from sequels and remakes, today's audiences are getting inspiration stories.  Some for adults, like 'The Fighter,' and some for families, like 'The Blind Side.'  This movie is nothing outstanding or remarkable, but it's an acceptable drama that will inspire little girls to follow their dreams.  Plus the added effect of Robb with one arm looked quite real.  There is some soul in this surfing film, but less than what I expected.  Overall, just an okay-slightly good film.