The Movie: 7/10
Soul Surfer has its problems, but the real life story is presented in a nice way here, with nods to religion and the whole idea of never giving up on your dreams. The movie focuses on Bethany Hamilton (Annasophia Robb) as she is on the verge of becoming a professional surfer while in her teens. Bethany lives with her family in Hawaii, and lives to surf. Her ability is immeasurable, but the unthinkable happens while she is surfing with family and friends; a massive shark attacks her while she is on her board. While quick reactions save her life, she loses her arm.
As a result, she quickly is forced to deal with the emotions that come with having to stop surfing, as well as learning to deal with the everyday challenges that obviously follow. Her family is supportive to a fault, but as Bethany realizes that her true love is surfing, a new journey begins as she attempts to revive her love for the sport, and her competitive spirit.
Soul Surfer has its share of top notch stars, including Helen Hunt as Bethany’s mother, and Dennis Quaid as her father. The story does tend to focus on Bethany’s faith, which obivously is responsible for a large part of her recovery and reemergence as a professional tour de force on the women’s surfing circuit, but it can be a bit preachy at times. The movie looks great, but the CGI can also get a bit dicey in parts.
As for the look of the movie, it is simply gorgeous. Filmed in Hawaii, the scenery is amazing, and the blue ocean just looks daunting. How anyone can surf those waves, especially missing an arm, is amazing (granted, I am from the middle of America.) The movie just looks gorgeous, and the surfing looks fun.
Soul Surfer surely is an uplifting story, and a decent movie. It is kind of easy to give this one a pass due to the fact that it is based on a true story, and a true story that is so amazing, but overall I just “liked” the movie. I just didn’t “like like” it, if you know what I mean. I almost felt like a good documentary would be just as powerful and entertaining.
- Deleted Scenes – There are about 8 scenes that are included here, but none are noteworthy.
- 3 Behind The Scenes Featurettes – The behind the scenes extras focus on Annasophia Robb, as she explains her love for the story and movie, and her real life friendship with the real Bethany Hamilton, as well as a 12 minute standard behind the scenes making of feature, and a short feature on the Hamilton family and their love of the ocean and surfing.
- Heart Of A Soul Surfer Documentary – This massive, 30 minute documentary focuses on Bethany and her situation. It is a great watch for fans of the true story here, and really well done.
- Bethany Hamilton On Professional Surfing Featurette – This is a highlight reel of Bethany as she competes. Clocking in at about 5 minutes in length, this is a truly amazing video of Bethany competing at the highest level of professional surfing.
- DVD Version Of The Movie – No digital version of the film is included, but the standard DVD is.
Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
The cover and menu for Soul Surfer are really pretty good actually. Shockingly the main color used here is blue (ok, not shockingly) but it seems to work well. The photo of Annasophia Robb, holding a surfboard with a giant bite out of it, infront of the Hawaiian waves is great. The menu features shots of the movie, and while even the loop seems to show a few issues with the CGI, it is at least stylish and gorgeous.
Audio & Video: 7/10
I will start with the audio here, which was good, but nothing to write home about. There were a few moments when I felt that the dialogue seemed out of sync, but the sound was generally decent. The music was fun (and geared towards the young and young at heart.)
The video was really sharp and the colors of Hawaii are vibrant and dynamic. The AVC encoded 2.35:1 aspect ratio was inpressive, and the only issue that I really had is that the picture is so sharp that it can make the CGI errors seem much more blatant. at times the missing arm and the shots of Bethany surfing can get a bit dicey.
Soul Surfer is a good movie, and a very impressive story. Bethany Hamilton is surely a surf legend at this point, and her story presented here is inspiring. The Blu-ray disc looks and sounds okay, and while the story is impressive, the film does tend to waiver a bit on just what it wants to be. The shark attack scene is pretty scary and traumatic for very young kids, but overall this is a decent family movie, and with the religious overtones, this movie does send a nice message. The religion aspect for me seemed a bit heavy handed at times, but I still enjoyed the story overall. While this is not going to be a disc that gets watched in my house over and over, it is a good movie to at least rent.
Overall Score 7/10