Soul Surfer

Soul Surfer ★★½

I find it hard to jump on the bandwagon with those who criticize this film for being a heavy-handed faith-based propaganda tale, suggesting that the producers might have done better to spend more time on the exciting bits: The shark attack, the heroic recovery, the surfing... 

The thing is, that can't really happen, not if the intent is to tell the story honestly... if you've seen the real Bethany, you know that the girl is apparently incapable of uttering three sentences in a row without invoking the name of Jesus Christ or mentioning her dedication to God.  So it's not really fair to ding the film for portraying its main character faithfully, if you'll pardon the pun.

However, I do object to the lack of depth, the clumsy After School Special dialog, the achingly awful (and predictable) way our minor villain Malina Birch comes around in the end, and the monochromatic parental units (Randy Quaid and Helen Hunt, actors we know are capable of much more than they give us here).

A few things to recommend are AnnaSophia Robb's performance and Bethany's surfing in the post-attack long shots. There's also some nice location scenery and some beautiful surfing closeups through the waves (though honestly, if you want to see arty surfing shots in a mediocre movie, you're probably better off with Blue Crush).