By: Oberst von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Bethany Hamilton was already a star surfer at the age of 13 when she was attacked by a shark, losing her arm in the incident. The story of her life before and after this is told in Soul Surfer. It stars AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany and costars Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as her parents. Soul Surfer is a tale of family, faith, overcoming insurmountable odds, and truly makes a statement. That statement is apparently, if you decline a chance to go on a religious mission to Mexico in favor of personal fame, God will shark your ass.
Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid have excellent chemistry as surfer-dude parents, and both prove their talents are genuine with solid, emotional performances. For a simple sports drama as this, they are very competent, self-assured roles. Most of the other actors in the film I cannot speak for. For what it is worth, if you like your drama served up with a heaping helping of generic sports clichés and music videos, you’ll like this.
Just don’t expect it to be this badass…
I wish there was much else I could say about this movie on the positive side. But the fact is that Director Sean McNamara seems to have shot the entire film in shaky-vision. I left the movie with the worst headache I’ve had since The Bourne Ultimatum. The overall feel of the cinematography is sub-MTV. Somehow, the director managed to make the beaches of Hawaii uninteresting. What few visual goods this film delivers are during the surfing scenes, and rarely are the shots even in focus. I think he might have been going for a documentary feel to these scenes. This is no excuse. The CGI effects are also terrible for the shark attack scene, though not so bad elsewhere, so it evens out… I guess
This is more convincing
Another flaw to the movie is the weak script, which only becomes obvious when the younger actors have to read. The dialog is terse at best, meaningless banter at worst. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect all surfers to talk like a bad Matthew McConaughey impression. The movie doesn’t follow those typical surfer clichés, but instead it seems like the surfers of Hawaii’s beaches are all sweet little princesses, except for the one girl who is Bethany’s competition. Why do these movies always need an “Ice Man” character? It’s a sad cliché that makes every sports film feel 25 years old.
A fourth and final bottle of beer is in order for the performance by AnnaSophia Robb, who, while having a few emotionally charged moments, in general seems to sleepwalk through the role. Like the other potential cover-girls who were cast to play these surfer girls, she doesn’t so much act as read dialog and cry a lot. I’d have much preferred a documentary about the real Bethany Hamilton’s life than this saccharine mediocrity.
I’ll say this in song…
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: for every poorly delivered line from the youth cast
Take a drink: for every training montage
Drink a shot: for CGI Jaws