Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
Family Teens Adults
Biography Action Sports Drama
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
April 8, 2011 (wide—2,000 theaters)
DVD: August 2, 2011
Post-traumatic anxiety and depression
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
courage—strength through God
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why does God allow good people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
What about the Psalm 91 promises? (“…no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent…”) Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
Interested in new Christian movies? See our Christian Film News site.
“When you come back from a loss, beat the odds, and never say never, you find a champion. The inspiring true story of Bethany Hamilton.”
This film is based on the book Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get Back on the Board written by Bethany Hamilton, herself, a born-again Christian.
Why do bad things happen to good people? How do people overcome tragedies in their own lives? Is it possible to have faith in God when it seems that your life is crumbling around you? These questions, along with many more, are resoundingly answered in “Soul Surfer”, the new film from Affirm studios. Affirm is a company that belongs to Sony Pictures, and is dedicated to making mainstream faith-based films. “Soul Surfer” tells the amazing true story of professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, and how her loving family and strong faith helped her overcome major tragedy as a teen.
Bethany Hamilton grew up with her mom, dad, and two brothers in the state of Hawaii. She surfed since she was a toddler and had a natural ability that was furthered by her loving and supportive parents. At age 14, Bethany was such a great surfer that she was already sponsored by a national company. Shortly after this sponsorship, she was the victim of a shark attack, losing her left arm in the process. While this attack shook Bethany and her entire family, it eventually gave Bethany a new perspective, as well as an added desire to continue to surf.
“Soul Surfer” takes a while to get going, but when it does, it takes off and becomes a redemptive sports tale similar to “Rudy” or “Miracle”. The story is inspirational and even more amazing because it’s true. The film is also family friendly, containing zero instances of foul language or inappropriate behavior. The only content issues come in the form of a brief shark attack containing blood that could be upsetting for little ones, as well as the fact that girls and women are seen throughout the film in bikinis, which should be expected, considering that the movie is a true story about surfers in Hawaii.
“Soul Surfer” is not a ‘Christian’ film in the same vein of “Facing the Giants” or “Fireproof”, but it nonetheless a Christian film. While those two films are focused squarely on a direct gospel message, this film tells an inspiring story of a Christian family. The desire of the filmmakers was to provide a film that has an authentic Christian message, but is also mainstream so that teenagers can take their friends. After all, Jesus did not always preach specific repentance; sometimes he used parables to teach an important Christian value or character trait. “Soul Surfer” is a true story that’s also a parable, emphasizing the importance of family, faith, church, and the belief that one can do “all things through Him who gives you strength”.
Another difference between “Soul Surfer” and previous faith based films is that this movie has a bigger budget, and the Hollywood production values make a big difference in the quality of the movie. Filmed on location in Hawaii, “Soul Surfer” looks excellent, and the surfing scenes are expertly filmed. AnnaSophia Robb (“Because of Winn Dixie,” “Race to Witch Mountain”) is adequate in the lead role of Bethany Hamilton. There are a few effects issues, and while some of the younger and less experienced actors like Carrie Underwood and Lorraine Nicholson struggle, veterans Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt are true professionals, adding a sense of realism to the picture.
While “Soul Surfer” is far from a perfect movie, it is a step in the right direction for moviemaking quality of faith based films. It is also an attempt by a major movie studio to put money into quality films that encourage Christian values, and that is reason enough to support it. If you’re looking for a inspirational film for the whole family, with no objectionable content and an excellent message, “Soul Surfer” is your movie.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Learn about the real Bethany Hamilton—her official site