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|Genre||Drama, Family, Sports|
|Format||Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Closed-captioned|
|Contributor||Sean McNamara, AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid|
|Runtime||1 hour and 46 minutes|
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The Story of Bethany Hamilton
A teenage surfer girl summons the courage to go back into the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack. Based on book: Soul Surfer: A true story of faith, family and fighting to get back on the board; and life story of Bethany Hamilton.
Soul Surfer is the inspiring true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, through her sheer determination and unwavering faith. The film features an all-star cast, including Anna Sophia Robb and Helen Hunt, with Carrie Underwood in her film debut, and Dennis Quaid. In the wake of this life-changing event that took her arm and nearly her life, Bethany’s feisty determination and steadfast beliefs spur her toward an adventurous comeback that gives her the grit to turn her loss into a gift for others.
The life of Bethany Hamilton, a promising amateur Hawaiian surfer who overcame a crippling shark attack at age 13 to succeed on the pro circuit, would likely make for a compelling, inspirational cinematic experience even if it consisted of a voice-over recounting her story on a blank screen. The actual film may stay firmly within the standard safe sports underdog movie guidelines (complete with a sneering nemesis clad in a black wetsuit), but Hamilton's incredible strength and spirit still manage to shine through, aided by a terrifically appealing lead performance by AnnaSophia Robb. Beginning with a montage establishing Hamilton's lifetime love of the water, the film quickly focuses on the strong ties with both her family (including her parents, here played by Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt) and community (personified in Carrie Underwood's youth minister) that aided in her recovery from tragedy. Director-cowriter Sean McNamara, a television veteran, gives the images an appealing, natural sheen, but unfortunately proves less successful at illustrating the depths of his main character. Throughout, Hamilton comes across as more of an idealized, selfless saint than a real person learning how to cope with such horrendous trauma, which is a particular shame, considering how good Robb is during the few moments when she's allowed to show frustration. She does her real-life inspiration proud, even if the film surrounding her sometimes feels overly scrubbed. --Andrew Wright
- Aspect Ratio : 2.40:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
- Product Dimensions : 0.5 x 5.3 x 7.5 inches; 2.4 Ounces
- Item model number : 40900852098
- Director : Sean McNamara
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Closed-captioned
- Run time : 1 hour and 46 minutes
- Release date : August 2, 2011
- Actors : AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid
- Dubbed: : French
- Subtitles: : French, English, Spanish
- Studio : Sony Pictures Entertainment
- ASIN : B004EPYZZ8
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,192 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2016
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It is a well-made, well-acted movie that has some notable talent such as Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, and AnnaSophia Robb. With plenty of surfing shots, you'll find yourself drawn into the world of surfing in a way you may not have ever seen on the screen if surfing's not typically your thing. Since most of us don't live on the beach in Hawaii and have a family that constantly goes surfing, it may seem like this might be a hard film to relate to. But, it actually does quite a good job of drawing you into "their story". It was also a joy to see that enough Christianity was left in the movie that you will not be left wondering where Bethany and her family stand - it is clear that they are Christians and that they live out of that worldview.
I only have 1 real concern with this movie, and I'm just going to be blunt and honest here. I know many other Christian reviews have kind of skirted around this issue (the elephant in the room), but I'm just going to lay it out. Much of the screen time goes to Bethany and her close surfing friend. Both are beautiful, blonde-haired, teen girls wearing what you'd expect such girls that are surfing to be wearing. In other words, there's a lot of skin. I don't particularly find this a problem in-and-of-itself, but this combined with some of the scenes in the movie, I do feel could very much send messages to other girls watching this film that might not be the best for them. For example, there's a scene with Bethany and her friend where her friend wants to buy a real skimpy bathing suit that barely covers her breasts because it's "hot" - they even joke about how she's going to have to be careful or it might come off in the water. Then there's the scene with the same friend later on doing a photo shoot which honestly vaguely reminded me of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition type shoot. The photographer was telling her "that's gorgeous" etc. as she does all her different poses, etc. The message that I worry that gets sent to young impressionable girls is just plain concerning to me as it reinforces the cultural messages that for girls it's all about showing skin & looking "hot". I know that part of it is just a byproduct of the fact that if you're going to make a movie about teen surfer girls surfing, there's pretty much going to be a certain hard-to-escape "tone" along these lines. But it just seems like it got accentuated in a way that I wish it didn't. If this is being shown to any girls (I'd say any age under 18), I'd say some good follow-up discussion might be in order. On the flip-side, I can fully understand why there might be some guys where lust is a real battle for whom this might not be the best film to watch simply because of the amount of skin/beach scenes, etc. (although there is definitely nothing sexual in the film). So there you go. That's the elephant in the room with this movie and I've just pointed it out.
One of the concerns I thought I might have in regards to this movie, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it really wasn't nearly as much of an issue as I thought it might be. That is the issue of whether God CAUSED Bethany to lose her arm by the shark so that He could then do all that's happened subsequent for His glory. That is an implied and somewhat minorly discussed theme in the movie, but it's much toned-down from what I was worried it might be. I know different people have different theology on stuff like this, but I just think that to ascribe any tragedy of any kind to God's doing is quite a bold move. Now, we know that God specializes in taking tragedies and bringing good out of them - Romans 8:28 is indeed a promise that Christians that love Jesus can genuinely hold on to and believe. But knowing that God can work things out for our good and saying that God brought about or "wanted" the initial tragic event are two different things. There is hurt and pain in this world. There are sharks that will eat a human's arm if they see it in the water and they're hungry. It's part of the sin curse seen throughout our world, and sometimes those effects touch us. In other words, to say that it was God's WILL that Bethany lose her arm, I just think is quite the bold thing to say. Just because God allows something to happen to me in the natural course in this world to me doesn't necessarily mean that that's actually what He WANTS - and I think sometimes we make that easy-to-make mistake.
Make sure after you watch this movie that you watch the 30-minute "Heart of a Soul Surfer" documentary that's on the Special Features part of the disc. It really shows more of the heart and Christian aspects to the story beyond what you see in the movie.
All in all, this is an inspiring movie that will likely cause people to really evaluate whether they are really making a difference and using their God-given talents for His glory.
Blu-ray: The quality of the blu-ray I watched was excellent with good detail and vibrant color.
Reviewed by MoviesForChristians
laughandlift dot com/moviesforchristians
"Soul Surfer" features Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as the parents, and AnnaSophia Robb (from "Bridge to Terebithia") does a great job in the role of Bethany. The film starts with some scenes establishing her family's faith and their playful fun together. All of them have surfing background and interest, and their lives on the Hawaiian Islands are portrayed in heartwarming ways that only add to the coming terror. The movie gives us some great surfing scenes, some beautiful photography, and when it reaches the moment of the shark attack, we are fully engaged. Although restrained in its showing of the violence, it captures the horrible feeling of loss, fear, and parental anxiety.
Soon, Bethany is questioning God's plan in all this, since her surfing days could be over. She wonders how she'll ever find a guy who will love her with only one arm. And she watches her best friend be featured in Rip Curl promotions, while she stands on the sidelines and bravely supports her. She also struggles with media attention, not to mention the expected challenges of cutting oranges and putting on her own clothes. The special effects are well done, and we feel the anguish of not only Bethany, but of her parents as well. They are strong in their faith, but they are not perfect, and each member of the family has an issue to deal with, whether its the father's desire to push his daughter back into surfing, or the mother's desire to help her daughter accept her new physical appearance as one of true beauty. We also have Carrie Underwood playing the role of Bethany's youth pastor, there to offer hugs, love, advice, and a life-changing trip to Thailand after the devastating tsunami.
For those who find any of this cheesy or too easy, they are missing the point. This is based on a true story. It's not pie-in-the-sky answers given in a fictitious setting, but the real-life struggles of the Hamiltons, and how God sustained them through some tough times. Bethany's own answers to the reporters are often word-for-word from actual interviews, where she gave impromptu responses. With even Roger Ebert giving this movie a good review, it's hard to imagine why some viewers seem to have an ax to grind with the faith element. While some movies are nothing more than sermons tacked onto a weak story, this is a strong story that would be inspiring even if it weren't Christian-based, but becomes that much more intriguing when rooted in biblical wisdom.
This movie is well-acted, full of excitement, humor, and a number of emotionally stirring moments, when inspiration can be found in the human will to live and move on, and even more so in the solid faith that can sustain even the hardest of blows when a life, even a teenage girl's life, is surrendered to God. My own teen daughters loved this story, as did my wife. It's not only the best Christian movie I've seen, but one of the best sports movies I've seen. This is one wave I'm glad I caught early on.
Surprisingly (to me), the movie was really good. It was still a surfing movie, and lots of screen time to surfing but what impressed me was the real life story of a young woman who lost her arm and had a remarkable view on deep personal tragedy. The acting was great - Dennis & Helen were excellent as the parents while the best friend, the brothers, all had very believable performances. The main actress was equally excellent and her character's emotions rang true. The arm stub looked so authentic I had to look up after the movie whether the actress was single armed or not.
We all have a story and can choose to trust when life does not make sense as well. I've never seen anyone whose made the choice to trust (like Bethany) turn out worse for it. I appreciate the retelling of her story and the efforts to stay true to the actual events.
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PRECISION: this is a Region 1 NTSC DVD - it will NOT play on Region 2 PAL European equipment.
As you probably already know, this film tells the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a very promising young American surfer, who suffered a bad accident in October 2003, as the result of which she was very seriously and permanently injured. This is mostly the story of her struggle to overcome the results of the accident, return to a normal life and especially go back to her great passion - professional surfing.
This is a rather low key film, made with a rather modest (by US standards) budget, but nevertheless it packs an enormous punch, with some scenes being simply breathtaking. It was made possible by skilfull filming, good scenario, strong dialogs and a little bit of very discreet but extremely well made CGI.
All actors did their best in this film and for such a little production quite an ensemble cast was gathered:
- AnnaSophia Robb, who plays Bethany Hamilton, is of course the main star and she is AMAZING, as excellent as she was in her big break "Bridge to Terabithia" (and gosh, did this girl grow well since then!). I sincerely believe that she has the potential to become another Natalie Portman in the future!
- Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt play Bethany's parents and they are both GREAT
- singer Carrie Underwood, winner of "American Idol", makes here one of her rare appearances in cinema - and she is excellent!
- Craig T. Nelson, a Hollywood veteran specialist of second roles, plays here the surgeon who treats Bethany after the accident, and his calm and low key performance is an asset to this film
- Kevin Sorbo, mostly known for portraying Hercules in the 90s, plays here a role rather unusual for him - and he does it very well
- Branscombe Richard, an actor of Hawaiian ancestry known for his huge size and unique facial features and haircut, appears here as a Hawaian ex-surfing champion
- Lorraine Nicholson, young daughter of Jack Nicholson, appears here in the role of Alana Blanchard, Bethany's best friend - and also a great surfer herself
- Jeremy Sumpter, who in 2003 was an impressive Peter Pan, appears here as one of Bethany's brothers
- smoking hot model and surfer Sonia Balmores Chung, Miss Hawaii Teen 2004, plays here Malina Birch, Bethany's nemesis in surf competitons...
- last but not least, REAL Bethany Hamilton (filmed from some distance) appears in some scenes showing her impressive surfing
This film is deeply immersed in Christian teachings, as in real life Hamilton family was (and still is) very religious. However, there is no heavy hammering of Bible on the viewers - the message is discreet and softly spoken. This film tries to tackle one of the hardest questions a Christian can be asked: "Why does bad things happen to good people?". It is hardly a spoiler to say here that there will be no fully satisfying solution given to solve this riddle - but some elements of answer, quite important, will be provided. Those answers will not satisfy everybody - but those who so wish can find more elements in the Bible, and especially in the Book of Job.
Bottom line, this is an excellent, wonderful film, which should please adults and young teenaegers alike. I recommend it with whole my heart! And to end this review, I will give the last word to Bethany Hamilton, who is now 23 and just announced her engagement (UPDATE in June 2014: she married her fiancée in August 2013): "Surfing isn't the most important thing in life. Love is."
The film is great. I previously watched it on Netflix but it has since disappeared. I had been looking to buy the DVD for ages, the only ones available were from the US, until I found this one. True story, emotional at times, would and have recommended.