Soul Surfer

User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 73 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 73
  2. Negative: 13 out of 73
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  1. 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 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 justSoul 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. Expand
  2. Apr 22, 2011
    4
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Maggie Fitzgerald(Hilary Swank) wins by TKO. From her seat on the canvas, Billie the Blue Bear(Lucia Rijker) looks temporarily confounded by the boxing match's dramatic turnaround. Once again, the underdog overcomes impossible odds to become a champion when nobody had given the perennial loser a shot. This moment of triumph usually signals, on cue, the fierce competitor's sudden transition into humbleness, congratulating the lesser opponent on a hard-fought victory, like when Apollo Creed seeks out The Italian Stallion at the end of John G. Avildsen's "Rocky". But filmmaker Clint Eastwood, in "Million Dollar Baby", an adaptation of the F.X. O'Toole novel "Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner" diverges from the norm. The slightly unconventional inspirational sports movie demonstrates that not all antagonists possess hearts of gold. The German ex-prostitute retaliates by blindsiding Maggie when her back is turned, landing the newly-minted world-beater in a hospital room for good, and is never seen or heard from again. The obligatory scene the moviegoer expects, where the Bear shows up at the paraplegic's bedside, at no time materializes. The heavy remains a heavy to the end. "Soul Surfer", with its relentlessly optimistic cast of well-meaning, but boring characters, is thankfully counterbalanced, saved really, from their overbearing promotion of a Christian rhetoric by the equally unlikable Malina Birch(Sonya Balmores), the rival surfer, who doesn't seem to care one bit that Bethany Hamilton(AnnaSophia Robb) survived a shark attack which left the then-thirteen-year-old girl one arm down. If a movie ever was sorely in need of a rancorous presence, it's certainly this one. Malina is more cold-blooded than the great white, but Bethany, obviously a glass half-full kind of girl, misreads the surfer's pitiless dealings with her as tough love, in which at one point, she tells her best friend Alana(Lorraine Nicholson) that "she's treating me like real competition," as if a method exists to the austere enchanter's unsportsmanship. The antics that Malina pulls during the surf meets looks more like a concerted effort on her part to humiliate Bethany. She calls attention towards the young girl's handicap by stealing waves the recovering athlete is too slow to catch, and in one instance, nearly grazes Hamilton during a ride which is analogous to dunking in your foremost rival's face. Unspoken in "Soul Surfer", but duly noted by those in the know, is the probability that the basis of Malina's animosity toward Bethany is a racial one. Although the blond clearly identifies herself as "kama'aina", a local, the more Hawaiian-looking girl obviously views Bethany as an outsider. The inauthentic dialogue obscures this fact. Apart from a few yeahs tossed in sporadically at the end of sentences(just like the Minnesotans in Joel & Ethan Coen's "Fargo"), "Soul Surfer" largely avoids the potential pitfalls of recreating the idiosyncratic dialect which identifies the speaker as native, a subculturist wary of perceived intruders on their home turf. Owning a ukulele doesn't give you local cred. In most cases, local cred is predetermined through skin color. In all likelihood, Malina hates Bethany unconditionally because she's "haole"(the Hawaiian word for "foreigner"). Even a catastrophic injury to the Caucasian aquatist can't remedy the indigenous girl's long-standing repulsion for her one-time colonizer. The slur can be inferred through the glee Malina projects each time she bests the one-armed surfer. But that's okay. God only knows this aggressively faith-based film could use a devil to muck up the calibration in its ecclesiastical design. At times, "Soul Surfer", with its stringent fundamentalist teachings, can be downright Calvinistic, hinting ever so slightly that Bethany is being punished for her alleged selfishness, when she puts her budding surfing career ahead of the church. Vanity, it is suggested, costs Bethany her arm, because had she gone to Mexico with the other missionaries as planned, rather than train for an important surf meet, the tragedy could have been averted. As if to overstate this point, at her first professional event following the attack, Bethany stops to glance at a TV monitor filled with natural disaster imagery from the third world. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, she puts away her gameface, replacing it with a shameface, a visage better suited for reflecting upon all those homeless children, just how her church sponsor Sarah(Carrie Underwood) would want it. With the internet image of the Venus de Milo still fresh on her mind(thanks, Helen Hunt), Bethany helps with the tsunami relief in Thailand, before returning back home to continue what would become the start of her banner career. Malina wins, due to a technicality, and improbably, invites Bethany to stand beside her on the winner's podium. "Soul Surfer" forgets who Malina is. Expand
  3. Sep 1, 2012
    6
    The story of Bethany Hamilton is a good one, and makes for a good movie, and it also helps that the cast is fantastic and has fantastic acting. While it is good there is one big flaw throughout the entire film, predictability, turns out if you've seen one faith-based movie about someone into competitive sports recovering from horrible accident, learning a valuable lesson, returning to theThe story of Bethany Hamilton is a good one, and makes for a good movie, and it also helps that the cast is fantastic and has fantastic acting. While it is good there is one big flaw throughout the entire film, predictability, turns out if you've seen one faith-based movie about someone into competitive sports recovering from horrible accident, learning a valuable lesson, returning to the sport to be only better, and becoming a huge inspiration you've seen them all. Despite that flaw Soul Surfer manages to be a sweet, emotional, and inspirational film, but if your like me and have seen so many of these films you lost count ages ago this might be one you can pass on, as for the other people enjoy it for it's heart. Expand
  4. JBM
    Dec 20, 2011
    5
    I was interested in this movie because I think Annasophia Robb has a lot of potential as an actress. This movie does not confirm that but I blame the material and her agent. For the amount of pouting in the movie, maybe Miley Cyrus would have been a better choice. The special effects to block out Robbs arm were so so. At times, they failed and you saw her arm even though it was supposedI was interested in this movie because I think Annasophia Robb has a lot of potential as an actress. This movie does not confirm that but I blame the material and her agent. For the amount of pouting in the movie, maybe Miley Cyrus would have been a better choice. The special effects to block out Robbs arm were so so. At times, they failed and you saw her arm even though it was supposed to be gone. Overall, a dismal effort but I give it credit for great scenary and having appealing lead characters on display. Expand
  5. Oct 1, 2012
    6
    First of all, I would like to say that the true story behind the film is really sensational.The movie started very slow, but it gradually became better and more interesting. The ending (finally) is absolutely spectacular and inspirational. Although the film didn't get me my first impression, it was, overall, a solid movie....
  6. Oct 7, 2011
    5
    Given the source material this movie had so much potential but it was squandered here. This could have been such a powerful and inspirational movie but it wasn't. It felt like some Lifetime TV movie. The performances were pretty bland and Carrie Underwood should just stick to singing, she gave the worst performance out of everyone. The dialogue wasn't really that good, I didn't findGiven the source material this movie had so much potential but it was squandered here. This could have been such a powerful and inspirational movie but it wasn't. It felt like some Lifetime TV movie. The performances were pretty bland and Carrie Underwood should just stick to singing, she gave the worst performance out of everyone. The dialogue wasn't really that good, I didn't find anything they said to be inspirational or insightful. The shark attack was hilariously awful, it was so poorly done. There were some nice things that I did admire about the movie however. The surfing sequences were great and well shot, I was happy to see the camera not shaking all over the place. The soundtrack was great and went really well with the whole Hawaiian feel. Also, this movie did have some nice and sweet moments. Overall the surfing sequences are great, the soundtrack was great and this movie did have some nice moments but this movie just felt so cheesy. The bland performances and dialogue really brought this movie down and that's a shame because this movie had so much potential. It could have been a moving and inspiring film, but instead is a cheesy lifetime movie. Expand
  7. Apr 16, 2013
    6
    "Soul Surfer" is a based-on-fact film about the life of Bethany Hamilton, an optimistic, blissful young girl who rode lots of waves, lost an arm, and rode lots of waves some more. Back in 2003, when she was just thirteen years old, Bethany's left arm was bitten off by a shark. Now she is a champion surfer, renowned in her field of sport and admired by people worldwide who share similar"Soul Surfer" is a based-on-fact film about the life of Bethany Hamilton, an optimistic, blissful young girl who rode lots of waves, lost an arm, and rode lots of waves some more. Back in 2003, when she was just thirteen years old, Bethany's left arm was bitten off by a shark. Now she is a champion surfer, renowned in her field of sport and admired by people worldwide who share similar disabilities.

    What we have here is an incredible, inspirational story that's overshadowed by lazy, uninspired movie-making. In "Soul Surfer", Bethany's life has been reduced to formula, filtered through a lens of familiarization. The raw power of her story becomes covered with so much bland, Hollywood melodrama that very little of it makes is retained in the final product. Aaron Ralston should be pleased with what Danny Boyle did with his story; "127 Hours" was one of the best movies of 2010. However, if I was Bethany Hamilton, I'm not so sure if I would be pleased with what Sean McNamara did to my story.

    There is the distraction of another surfer named Malina. She appears in the same competitions that Bethany participates in. She is that character who is selfish, and mean, and willing to play dirty if that's what it takes to win. Malina is only here to fill the role of a villain in a movie that doesn't need one. Is there really room for a character like her in a film dedicated to Bethany Hamilton? Another problem is the dialogue. Because the movie's aim is to inspire, we understand it for engaging in its epiphanies and being vocal about them. The mistake is in the decision to prolong them. It extends simple insights into lecture's length, as if we need extra space to get its point.

    Read more here: http://localmoviereview.com/soul-surfer-movie-review/
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  8. Jun 17, 2015
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Soul Surfer has a lot of faith, which is something that I really lack. So you could say that the whole story wasn't really my cup of tea and be pretty accurate. I empathize with Bethany's struggles, I really do, and props to her for everything that she's accomplished because it's extraordinary. But the movie isn't. Bethany has a loving family and believes in God and with that everything's going to be ok. I just feel like we're missing out on her part of the story, on her struggles. There's no way it was as easy as the movie showed.

    Surfing is who Bethany is, and certainly no time was wasted in establishing this fact. A true story, yes, but there was no suspense because even without outside knowledge – we knew without a shadow of a doubt that Bethany was gonna be out on those waves again. It was just a matter of how many family hugs we would have to endure first. Soul Surfer seemed very try-hard to me. It wasn't easy, it wasn't carefree, which are both things that I kind of expected Bethany to be. She's kind and caring and resilient, but there was a missed opportunity here.

    Bethany's journey made me remember that she does more with one arm than I do with two. And that's ok. We all have to live our own lives, but Bethany's just got changed by the (horribly portrayed) shark attack. I didn't hate the movie, but I found it dull and uninspired. There was so much potential that just kinda drifted away, like the waves on the ocean.
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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: 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Apr 10, 2011
    75
    It's a good, solid family film.
  3. 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.