It’s banal in all the right ways, from the voice over narration in which Bethany explains how she was “born” to do this and the surfer’s beliefs that kept her goingafter that fateful day. Co-writer/director Sean McNamara, recreates Hamilton’s seaside Hawaiian life, complete with surfing siblings and surfing parents. A success; landing Oscar winner Helen Hunt toplay the mom and the always athletic Dennis Quaid as the dad.
Bethany and her best friend Alana are top rankers on the local surf scene, friendly competitors with endorsements lined up. They’re likesisters, going to the same open air church, both members of the same youth group led by Sarah, played by singer Carrie Underwood.
But the girls are all about time on the water, and that isaccompanied by foreshadowing. Fascinating, menacing underwater shots show how vulnerable one is while paddling out to sea on a surfboard.
And sure enough, 22 minutes into “Soul Surfer,” there’s the sharkattack that changed Bethany Hamilton’s life. In a moving, alarming and electric long sequence, we see the bite. The viewer is able to appreciate and almost live through the quick reaction of thosewith Bethany, the nerve-wracking race to the hospital and the panic in her parents. Her mom weeping and praying, “Please don’t take her” as she races to the hospital, will probably make you cry.Craig T. Nelson offers solid support as the doctor who treats Bethany and reassures the always-calm kid when she wakes up, “Those things you’re not going to be able to do? So small.”
She’s a tough...