Bethany Hamilton was a healthy young girl in love with surfing. A surprise shark attack puts her plans asunder as she is now missing her arm. It will take all her faith to see how this tragedy is part of God’s plan and take all her courage to get back on her surfboard again.
Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) and her best friend Alana Blanchard (Lorraine Nicholson) have been raised in the Hawaiian waters and both have a passion for surfing. The two have just qualified for a big surfing contest, beating out their rival Malina Burch (Sonya Balmores) and picking up a sponsor.
All is seemingly well with the world until Bethany, Alana, and her father (Kevin Sorbo) go on an afternoon surf adventure and Bethany is attacked by a shark.
She loses her arm and is rushed to the hospital. Her father Tom (Dennis Quaid) is about to have a knee operation by Dr. Rovinsky (Craig T. Nelson) but he is given the news that Bethany is being rushed to the hospital. Her mother Cheri (Helen Hunt) also gets the harrowing news and rushes to the hospital with her sons Noah (Ross Thomas) and Timmy (Chris Brochu).
Bethany remained calm during the horrific ordeal and even offered support to her rescuers. However now she has to adjust to only having one arm and try and regain her surfing ability. The media, who are eager for her story, is also pursuing her.
Bethany does ride the waves again, but not at the capacity she could manage with both arms. A disheartened Bethany gives away her surfboards and vows not to compete again.
She decides to go with her youth pastor Sarah (Carrie Underwood) to help out the victims of the Thailand tsunami, Bethany had previously blown off a Mexico mission trip in favor of the surf contest, and discovers that teaching an orphan to surf rekindles her courage.
On her return she also discovers that other young amputees view her as a role model. Now she has to face Alana again and this time use that reinvigorated courage and skill to win the contest.
The story of Bethany Hamilton is one of both faith and inspiration. Her life goes from one of tropical bliss (the Hawaiian scenery is gorgeous) to one of horror. The shark attack is both quick and terrifying. Hamilton seems to be in enough shock as not to even know that she has lost an arm, but still alert enough to offer encouraging words to her best friend who is in hysterics.
What keeps Bethany from completely losing it is her courage, but it is her faith that sustains her thought the times when she comes to realize that her new armless life is going to take some getting used to. She does have a crisis of faith when she under performs in the surf contest, but she eventually comes to realize that he “who works in mysterious ways” has other plans for her.
The film is strongly acted, from Robb on down. However, the whole show falls on her shoulders and she is excellent. She’s given able support from Quaid and Hunt as well as the rest of the cast. It’s a really uplifting picture against a beautiful Hawaiian backdrop.
Soul Surfer is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.40:1). High definition special features include 4 minutes of deleted scenes, the 12 minute “Making of Soul Surfer,” the 5 minute “Surfing for the Screen” about the surfing stunts, the 3 minute “Becoming Bethany” in which Robb discusses her role, and the 5 minute “Bethany Hamilton on Professional Surfing” in which the real survivor discusses hanging ten.
In standard definition is the 30-minute “Heart of a Soul Surfer” in which Hamilton tells her life story. The disc is also BD-Live enhanced and you get a second disc that is a DVD copy.
Soul Surfer should inspire just on the merits of Bethany conquering her disability. It may be given an extra boost of you’re of the same faith, but everyone should be rooting for her not matter what they’re religion.
It’s also easy to root for the fine cast and their excellent performances.
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