Thursday, May 12, 2011

Soul Surfer (Rhoades)

“Soul Surfer” Catches a Wave at the Tropic
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Living here in Key West, we have the occasional barracuda attack or collisions with errant manta rays. Even the rare croc bite. But few shark attacks.
“Soul Surfer” tells the true story of a Hawaiian girl who loses her left arm to a shark while surfing.
     Like “127 hours,” the chronicle of how Aron Ralston lost his arm while hiking, “Soul Surfer” shows you the horrific details of a 13-year-old girl getting maimed, but it goes one better – showing you how she dealt with the problem afterwards.
     Based on the book by Bethany Hamilton, we meet her family, Tom and Cheri (Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt) and two brothers. And her best friend Alana (Lorraine Nicholson) and surfing rival Malina (Sonya Balmores). Seems everybody surfs in Hawaii and Bethany (played by AnnaSophia Robb) is no different. In fact, she’s better than most, winning the big competition as well as an advertising contract with the Rip Curl surfwear company.
Later on, when Bethany and Alana go night surfing a big shark chomps off her left arm near the shoulder. She’s rushed to the hospital, where the doctor who’s about to operate on her dad’s knee is called over to ER to save Bethany. Dr. Rovinsky (Craig T. Nelson) pronounces her survival a miracle for she’d lost more than 60% of her blood.
Now I don’t want to draw attention to the fact that she had blown off attending a youth ministry mission trip in order to enter that competition. I think sharks operate on their own. But plucky Bethany volunteers to go to Thailand during the 2004 tsunami disaster as atonement. There, she discovers that her handicap can be an inspiration to others, and she resumes surfing again, only to be narrowly beaten by her nemesis Malina in another competition.
But even Malina is inspired by the one-armed surfer girl.
Ahem. Pardon me while I wipe a tear from my eye.
There – we can now talk about the clever special effects (AnnaSophia had to wear a green sleeve over her arm so it could be digitally removed by the film’s post production magic) and how the title “Soul Surfer” has a double meaning.
But go see this inspiring tale for yourself. Even if you’d a jaded filmgoer like me you’ll enjoy the spectacular surfing scenes. Takes me back to those glorious days of pursuing an “Endless Summer.”
 [from Solares Hill]

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