Soul Surfer

Rated 4.0

Director Sean McNamara tells the story of teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), who overcame a shark attack and the loss of one arm to return to the waves and achieve her lifelong goal of being a professional surfer. The movie overcomes some awkwardness in the early scenes and sketchy minor characters (a result, perhaps, of no less than seven credited writers, including McNamara) to become a winning sports biopic, highlighted by fine performances (not only Robb, but also Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as Hamilton’s loving parents) and excellent surfing scenes, not to mention makeup and digital effects that convincingly erase Robb’s left arm. The movie’s religious underpinnings, an integral part of Hamilton’s story, are handled without preaching. It’s an inspiring tale, extremely well told.