One thing that no one can claim about Soul Surfer is that the story is not inspiring. Like most independently-made, faith-based films, this movie can can justly be criticized for a lot of flaws, but here, they do not distract from its important message. Those of the more picky viewers can find arguments within the wooden acting, the sappy dialogue, and the poor direction. However, today’s audiences, less formal in their approach of watching movies, will find Soul Surfer to be a rewarding experience. It contains a considerable amount of captivating water photography and intensifies all action and emotion well enough to prevent boredom.
The film’s only great performance, though, comes from young actress, AnnaSophia Robb. Robb plays Bethany Hamilton, a real-life teen surfer who falls victim to a shark attack and loses her arm. Bethany then determinedly continues to compete while strengthening her relationship with her family and her God. But Soul Surfer does not ask for sympathy for her. It is never somber or depressing but instead it remains a thoroughly enjoyable movie that leaves one inspired, refreshed, and actually does not leave one with a new found fear of surfing.
Above all, Bethany’s enduring optimism carries the film and allows us to have a good time. As much as I hated all the cliches, bad performances, and horrid dialogue, there are not many family movies that seem half as worthwhile as Soul Surfer, a miraculously good Christian film.