By Jessica Sawyer
Want to be inspired this summer? Then check out “Soul Surfer,” the true story of a teenage surfer whose faith helps her return to her sport after she loses her left arm in a shark attack. The movie, coming out on DVD and Blu Ray on Aug. 2, stars Anna Sophia Robb as 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton; Dennis Quaid as her father, Tom Hamilton; Helen Hunt as her mother, Cheri Hamilton; and country singer Carrie Underwood as Sarah Hill, Bethany’s church youth ministry leader.
The film opens with Bethany preparing for a big surfing competition in Hawaii, where she and her family live and surf. Both her parents are surfers, as are her two brothers, Noah and Timmy. Noah always films Bethany surfing and they all review her tapes to help her get better for the competitions. Bethany and her best friend and fellow surfer, Alana Blanchard (played by Lorraine Nicholson) are home-schooled and spend most of their time surfing and preparing for competitions.
On the morning of Halloween 2003, Bethany goes out with Alana, Alana’s brother and Alana’s father for an early surf; this is when the 14-foot tiger shark attacks Bethany, taking her left arm. Alana’s father (played by Kevin Sorbo), takes care of Bethany until they meet up with an ambulance on a main road. Bethany’s father just happens to be in the hospital that day for knee surgery, which is put off when the news of his daughter’s injury comes in.
The rest of the movie details Bethany’s amazing recovery as she learns to do everything from making a sandwich to putting her hair in a ponytail with only one arm.
Bethany gets back into professional surfing, too. Her journey back starts on a mission trip with her youth group to Thailand, after the earthquake and tsunami hit. She gets a small boy to come and play in the water and eventually inspires the whole terrified community to go back into the water. When she returns home, she realizes that with hard work, she can get back into competition.
Make sure to stay until the end of the movie, and you will see actual footage of the real Bethany Hamilton from when she was young all the way through the shark attack, her amazing recovery, and what she is currently doing.
The overall theme of the film is just an inspiring story. It makes you feel like you can do anything after seeing the amount of strength this young girl has. She gives you hope that there are truly amazing people in the world and that even though bad things happen to good people, it makes them even stronger and makes them even better people overall.
The actors all do a really great job of portraying that as well. When the shark scene came, it felt real. I really felt Cheri Hamilton’s pain when I saw her get the phone call and drop the phone. When Bethany was surfing, I really felt her passion through Anna Sophia’s portrayal. The acting was really top-notch.
The theater was full at the screening I attended, and all gave a standing ovation by the end of the film, 106 minutes later. I also was giving a standing ovation and thought that the movie was truly amazing. The story of Bethany Hamilton is amazing, and writer/director Sean McNamara really did a wonderful job bringing it to the silver screen. This film is rated PG and is currently playing at the West Boylston Cinema. I would recommend it to anyone.