Film Review: “Soul Surfer”

Film Review: “Soul Surfer”

Tristar Pictures, FilmDistrict and Enticing Entertainment present In Association with Island Film Group and Affirm Films A Brookwell McNamara Entertainment, Life’s A Beach Entertainment and Mandalay Vision Production. “Soul Surfer” Starring Annasophia Robb, Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid Soul Surfer is an inspiring film, great for family viewing.


Early in the film, its protagonist, Bethany Hamilton (Annasophia Robb) declares how her passion in life, surfing, gives her great joy. Obviously, this is an essential message for viewers of all ages. In case you missed Hamilton’s story when it was a major national television news item … she was a teenage champion surfer living in Hawaii with her champion surfing family. One day, a shark bit off her left arm. Fortunately, she was rescued quickly and survived. The remainder of the film details her efforts to regain her competitive surfing status, with a brief side-trip to Thailand as a member of the World Vision mission assisting survivors of the Phuket tsunami. It’s all uplifting triumph over adversity stuff. The real question from the GATE perspective is – is triumph over adversity necessarily transformational? I don’t think so, but that’s up for discussion. What is transformation? What does it take for a film to be truly transformational? I believe there’s more to transformation than triumph over adversity. Of course, transformation can certainly include that kind of triumph, but that triumph doesn’t always denote transformation. In the film, Bethany led an idyllic life on the beach in “”paradise,” surrounded by physically beautiful, wonderfully good brothers, friends, and parents (Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid). Mom and dad didn’t work, presumably because they lived on their winnings as surfing champions, but this was never addressed. Reared as a competitor, to be a champion, in a competitive, championship family, Bethany met her traumatic challenge as a champion would. But was there really a transformation in her life? Or was it simply a serious challenge, successfully met? There’s very little complexity or nuance in the film, almost no inner struggle. Very basic, straightforward emotional content; nothing challenging for the viewer. As close as we get to transformation is Bethany’s discovery, while volunteering in Thailand, that love is more important than winning, serving more meaningful than surfing. Still, if the choice for film fare is between destruction and devastation, or inspiration and transformation, we opt for the latter. David Langer is President of GATE.


  1. gold account  September 6, 2012

    After the shark attack, Bethany could easily have succumbed to fear, despair or anger — but instead the complete opposite happened. It only motivated her to push harder than ever before. She came to believe that the loss of her arm would, as she says, lead her “to something really beautiful.” Of course, she couldn’t have predicted then that she would make a triumphant return to surfing, become an international role model, write a best-selling book, and then be approached for a film about her life. But she knew that, no matter what, she still had a vast amount to experience and give to the world. She set out to prove that dedication, family teamwork and an unyielding spirit could turn an inconceivable event into an incredible source of inspiration.

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  5. company offshore  November 6, 2012

    While the film highlights the joint accomplishments of Billy and Peter in their effort to change the game, it actually tries to highlight their struggles behind the scenes. Peter’s transformation as an educated but shy analyst may not be significant, but he was managing being a young man in an old man’s world. Billy was trying to manage a similar problem, as he was not being taken seriously as the GM. Where the film does a great job with managing the progression of the season, it is a little weaker with the backstory for Billy Beane. There are periodic cutscenes that show small portions of the Billy’s progression from high school star to young rookie to washed up veteran, all to highlight that the personal reasons scouts choose to pursue players do not always translate into actual success. Talent does not predict confidence or performance when the pressure changes.


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