Soul Surfer is the true story of a teenage girl from Hawaii, Bethany Hamilton, who is destined to become a professional surfer. She’s winning contests and sponsors are ready to sign her up. Unfortunately, while surfing with a group of friends, waiting for a wave with her arm dangling in the water, a shark attacks and bites off Bethany’s left arm. Some quick action from the father of her best friend who is surfing with the girls saves Bethany’s life; however, she is now left with her dream to be a professional surfer crushed. Not one to give up, Bethany gets back in the water as soon as she’s allowed and she has to relearn how to surf with one arm. When paddling with one arm proves too difficult, her father devises a way to add a strap to Bethany’s surfboard to help her gain control. This new device quickly has Bethany surfing like she did before her injury. When she returns to competition she is again frustrated by her inability to paddle as quickly as her competitors. Bethany can surf better than all of them but it’s difficult for her to catch as many waves with only one arm. In the end, Bethany does well in the competition but not well enough to win. Nevertheless, Bethany is reborn with a new spirit knowing she has the power to overcome her injury and ready to continue her life embracing this new challenge.
This is truly an incredible story of a remarkable recovery from a traumatic injury followed by the will and determination to overcome a major disability. If you’re a surfer you’ll enjoy some good surfing footage in this film, but you may cringe at the over-use of cliché surf lingo most of which is no longer used. Those who are not into surfing will still find this story intriguing because it’s not a story about surfing as much as it is a story about overcoming tragedy. The shark attack is not graphic and is fairly easy to watch. You may want to turn your head for a few seconds if this kind of trauma troubles you. The faith element in this film is fairly superficial and plays a minor role in the storytelling. This is clearly a Christian family who work through their problems with God in mind but that is not the main focus of this story. Overall, this is an enjoyable film to watch with the family. There’s something for everybody in this movie.