Saturday, May 7, 2011

Soul Surfer (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Soul Surfer

     "Soul Surfer" is the story of professional surfer Bethany Hamilton and her powerful story of survival, being bitten by a shark at just thirteen years old. AnnaSophia Robb stars as Bethany who is cheerful and goodnatured. She is a wholesome and smiling idealistic girl, who spends three quarters of her time in the paradisical waters of Kauai and the other quarter in a florid missionary  church, situated amongst such verdant greens that its as if The Fall never happened. Indeed it seems as if Bethany is in Eden.
     Ominously, after some "700 Club" mischief on Halloween Night  (a bit of suggestive talk on a surfboard, no skinny-dipping, unfortunately.) Bethany goes out on her board. When talking with her best friend about the natural beauty of the ocean, along comes an abrupt and carnal CHOMP!
     Omg!, A Lucifer of the sea. Evil Incarnate. Perhaps. But a creature of nature nonetheless. Ribbons of blood pour  in the ocean. Bethany is brought to shore by the sheer will of a family friend, Holt Blanchard (Kevin Sorbo) 
     Bethany goes into shock and she loses 60% of her blood volume.  Her bravery is honestly incredible. Her arm was severed. As it was lost or eaten by the shark, it could not be saved. 
Bethany deals with her lost arm in a very matter of fact way which is by no means an easy feat. Her only concern is surfing. The most interesting part of the film, in my opinion, is in showing Bethany's adaptation to her new condition. Opening bottles, preparing food, dressing in the morning or just the simple act of balance is not to be underestimated. It is what most ambulatory people take for granted.
    The only time Bethany loses her cool is when she sees her scar. And, in the most provocative scene in the movie, she takes the arm off of her Barbie. Rather than experiencing a Frankensteinian self disgust, it is a mirrored moment of acceptance. Bethany is a new Christian crusader of water and Will. 
     She takes leave of the ocean and decides to join her missionary group helping Thailand during the aftermath of the  2004 tsunami. She sees with new eyes.  
     After an existential crises that is part Kierkegaard, part Disney cartoon, she decides to surf again. Amen!
    Dennis Quaid as Bethany's father, gives an odd performance. He seems drunk and waterlogged by life even though he never is seen drinking. He looks disheveled, always on the edge of tears. Did he just get out of bed?. Sometimes he is like Gilligan, or he becomes menacing towards the reporters like Mel Gibson. Yikes.
    Helen Hunt is bland and pleasant as the Mom. 
    The cinematography is bright and crisp.
    The surfing action is derivative of the Karate Kid. The snide and scheming arch-rival surfer, Malena, even wears a black swimsuit, but dude, sometimes you gotta just let go. The Apple of Family Values doesn't fall far: the director, Sean McNamara, is known for steering Disney Channel vehicles.
    It is AnnaSophia Robb alone, who gives an earnest portrayal of Bethany,  as a teenaged mariner cresting the blue seas.  This is the Gospel of Girlpower. Whoa! Righteous, babe!

Write Ian at

No comments: