Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phil sees SOUL SURFER at the Camera 12-April 21, 2011

I was pretty devastated when I couldn't attend the Cinequest Film Festival this past March. However, I was very excited to see that the closing night film of the festival was being shown at my favorite theater, the Camera 12, but tonight was the last night to see it there. So I traveled back to my home away from home to see the film SOUL SURFER.

Young Bethany is just your average, typical teenage girl living on the coast of Kauai, who just happens to be a naturally gifted surfer. But her whole world is turned upside down when on Halloween morning, she loses her left arm during a shark attack. Shaken but determined, she finds the courage to mount back on her board and ride the waves once more, leading her to compete in the National Surfing Championship.

The film is based on the true story of surfing superstar Bethany Hamilton, and the unbelievable obstacles that she had to overcome. Portraying Bethany in the film is actress AnnaSophia Robb, who does an amazing job of bringing Bethany's story to the big screen. Also both Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt do a great job portraying Bethany's parents in the film. Even country singer Carrie Underwood has a small part, as Bethany's youth instructor Sarah Hill. Her performance in the film was actually very good. Also worth noting is Sean McNamara's directing, which was really impressive. For a man known mostly for directing Disney and Nickelodeon TV shows (along with several TV movies), he was able to get some fine performances out of his cast, as well as with some outstanding surfing footage. However, there were some scenes where you could definitely tell that they CGIed Robb's face onto Hamilton's body. But all nit picking aside, I thought that this was some of the best surfing footage that I've seen in a long time.

During the Cinequest screening, both Hamilton and Robb were in attendance, where they received their Cinequest awards in front of a sold out crowd. From what I read, they were both amazed by the standing ovation that they, and the film, received. After reviewing the film, I can see why, but let's clarify something first that moviegoers will no doubt notice.

To end speculations of any kind, yes this is a faith-based film. And the use of the word God and all forms of Christianity is repeated throughout the film. So if you're not a big fan of religion, or having it hitting you over the head over and over again turns you off, then you may not want to see this film. But if you're interested in seeing an amazing film about overcoming devastating circumstances, the will of the human spirit, and making all your dreams come true despite personal losses, then this a film that you must see then.

While some will see this film as another true story that was packaged, homogenized, and mass market by Hollywood, this film isn't like all the rest. What this film has is integrity, intelligence, and spirit. Need I say, it has a lot of soul within the frames. Bethany's story has touched many people from all over the world. And her story is translated faithfully to the screen, which is always one of my pet peeves. Sometimes the message gets lost in the translation. Not with this film. Bethany's story is a reminder to us all that no matter what happens to us, there is nothing that can't be overcome. If you don't believe that, well then, just look at what Bethany has accomplished.

SOUL SURFER is now playing nationwide. To see showtimes and to purchase tickets visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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