Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 27
  2. Negative: 3 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Apr 6, 2011
    88
    The best faith-based film ever made, an uplifting, entertaining and wonderfully-acted account of surfer Bethany Hamilton's life before and after a shark bit her arm off in the waters off her favorite Hawaiian beach.
  2. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 11, 2011
    70
    Thus ends one of the most understated shark-attack sequences, ever; it's almost Bressonian, except it's not boring.
  3. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Apr 10, 2011
    75
    It's a good, solid family film.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 10, 2011
    50
    Hamilton is played, blandly, by Anna Sophia Robb, and her devoted parents, less bland, are played by Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt. The surfing footage, much of it shot off the coast of Kauai, is not bland at all.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Apr 8, 2011
    50
    McNamara's relentlessly shiny, happy outlook crosses the line between believable and artificial by about the 10-minute mark.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 8, 2011
    63
    It's a compelling tale of surf and survival.
  7. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Apr 8, 2011
    38
    You'd think it would be hard to make an uninteresting movie based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton... But the terminally bland Soul Surfer comes perilously close.
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 8, 2011
    40
    Dennis Quaid lends some needed saltiness as Hamilton's supportive dad.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Apr 7, 2011
    38
    The swells of inspirational storytelling sometimes threaten to swamp the underlying inspirational story.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Apr 7, 2011
    63
    I feel something is missing. There had to be dark nights of the soul. Times of grief and rage. The temptation of nihilism. The lure of despair. Can a 13-year-old girl lose an arm and keep right on smiling?
  11. 50
    Soul Surfer is a true story that plays like bad fiction.
  12. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Apr 7, 2011
    50
    The script is weak, but everyone on the technical side of "Soul Surfer" is a pro. The scenes in the water flow together nicely, and the action is always coherent. Robb's scenes without an arm look seamless throughout the movie.
  13. Reviewed by: Andy Webster
    Apr 7, 2011
    80
    As a portrait of a spirited, resilient athlete, the movie succeeds best, unafraid to face its heroine's daunting challenges directly.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Apr 7, 2011
    50
    The inspiring story of surfer and shark attack victim Bethany Hamilton deserves a better dramatization.
  15. Reviewed by: Glenn Whipp
    Apr 7, 2011
    60
    That Soul Surfer rates as a giant leap for this team speaks well about the conviction the movie's actors bring to the material as well as the respect afforded the Hamiltons and their faith.
  16. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Apr 7, 2011
    75
    Soul Surfer, while formulaic in design, is an authentic and heartfelt movie.
  17. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Apr 7, 2011
    63
    The best moments come when Robb's all-purpose toughness experiences vulnerable doubt. These moments are flickers, but they're bright and human.
  18. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    Apr 7, 2011
    38
    The aquatic and surf scenes are spectacular. The story, a clichéed climb to inspiration. Soul Surfer is more parable than plot.
  19. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Apr 7, 2011
    58
    Unique as an inspirational personal-achievement film in the way it focuses on the protagonist not merely as a bastion of strength, but as part of a supportive community and family.
  20. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Apr 7, 2011
    40
    Comes across as a particularly unspecial "Very Special Episode" of a television series that never made it past the pilot stage.
  21. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    Apr 7, 2011
    50
    AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is too subdued as the teenage heroine; one might expect more affect from a young woman fighting to overcome disability and return to competitive surfing.
  22. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 6, 2011
    67
    The sermons are subtle, raising the film's chances of crossing over to secular audiences. Soul Surfer is so clean that it squeaks, but sometimes that's a nice change of pace.
  23. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Apr 6, 2011
    60
    Superb limb-erasing effects and lush cinematography are bonuses, though not so much the cloying presence of American Idol's Carrie Underwood.
  24. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    Apr 5, 2011
    40
    Soul Surfer offers a ghastlier sight than your wildest "127 Hours"–meets-"Jaws" nightmare: barefaced Christian pandering that pretends it isn't.
  25. Reviewed by: Steve Ramos
    Apr 5, 2011
    40
    Sappy melodrama, clumsy dialogue and heavy-handed proselytizing derail the inspirational story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton.
  26. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Mar 30, 2011
    60
    A true story of courage, determination and guts that deserves a more exciting approach.
  27. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Mar 30, 2011
    70
    Distinguished by splashy cinematography, engaging performances from Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as the girl's go-get-'em parents.
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 69 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 35
  2. Negative: 6 out of 35
  1. Jul 22, 2012
    3
    Great true story it is a totally inspiring story, oh this movie may just be wonderful. It isn't, this movie has uninspiring dialogue, badGreat true story it is a totally inspiring story, oh this movie may just be wonderful. It isn't, this movie has uninspiring dialogue, bad acting surprising from AnnaSophia Robb and no chemistry between its stars. I give this movie 27%. Full Review »
  2. Apr 9, 2011
    10
    I'm not a christian or a country fan. But that doesn't prevent me from from enjoying this film. I'm not a professional movie reviwer either,I'm not a christian or a country fan. But that doesn't prevent me from from enjoying this film. I'm not a professional movie reviwer either, but I don't understand the critics dislike. I've seen much, much worse films shoehorning religion and "feel good" messages into some real life plot. This film told a good story without being preachy or boring. I'm a huge fan of the ocean, so perhaps I'm biased but, this film is worth a watch. I've seen it twice at two seperate screenings and loved it each time. Anytime I felt it might start being to message heavy, the scene would change before it was lost due to overexposure. Plus there is a lot of great surfing scenes, competition and recreation. Full Review »
  3. Jul 18, 2011
    5
    Soul Surfer is the story of a young surfer girl that was bitten by a shark and lost her harm. The most exciting part of this film was watchingSoul Surfer is the story of a young surfer girl that was bitten by a shark and lost her harm. The most exciting part of this film was watching and waiting for that scene to happen. After her arm was gone this film turned into one of those mellow drama stories of faith and prayer. Sometimes I felt like this movie was trying to be what it is not; A motivational disney sports story. Lets just say this story is great but when you don't have the right script or people behind it (Disney) then even a story like this can fail on many levels. Full Review »