This is an EXCELLENT film, with BRILLIANT actors, telling an EXCEPTIONALLY moving real story! Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.
PRECISION: this is a Region 1 NTSC DVD - it will NOT play on Region 2 PAL European equipment.
As you probably already know, this film tells the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a very promising young American surfer, who suffered a bad accident in October 2003, as the result of which she was very seriously and permanently injured. This is mostly the story of her struggle to overcome the results of the accident, return to a normal life and especially go back to her great passion - professional surfing.
This is a rather low key film, made with a rather modest (by US standards) budget, but nevertheless it packs an enormous punch, with some scenes being simply breathtaking. It was made possible by skilfull filming, good scenario, strong dialogs and a little bit of very discreet but extremely well made CGI.
All actors did their best in this film and for such a little production quite an ensemble cast was gathered:
- AnnaSophia Robb, who plays Bethany Hamilton, is of course the main star and she is AMAZING, as excellent as she was in her big break "Bridge to Terabithia" (and gosh, did this girl grow well since then!). I sincerely believe that she has the potential to become another Natalie Portman in the future!
- Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt play Bethany's parents and they are both GREAT
- singer Carrie Underwood, winner of "American Idol", makes here one of her rare appearances in cinema - and she is excellent!
- Craig T. Nelson, a Hollywood veteran specialist of second roles, plays here the surgeon who treats Bethany after the accident, and his calm and low key performance is an asset to this film
- Kevin Sorbo, mostly known for portraying Hercules in the 90s, plays here a role rather unusual for him - and he does it very well
- Branscombe Richard, an actor of Hawaiian ancestry known for his huge size and unique facial features and haircut, appears here as a Hawaian ex-surfing champion
- Lorraine Nicholson, young daughter of Jack Nicholson, appears here in the role of Alana Blanchard, Bethany's best friend - and also a great surfer herself
- Jeremy Sumpter, who in 2003 was an impressive Peter Pan, appears here as one of Bethany's brothers
- smoking hot model and surfer Sonia Balmores Chung, Miss Hawaii Teen 2004, plays here Malina Birch, Bethany's nemesis in surf competitons...
- last but not least, REAL Bethany Hamilton (filmed from some distance) appears in some scenes showing her impressive surfing
This film is deeply immersed in Christian teachings, as in real life Hamilton family was (and still is) very religious. However, there is no heavy hammering of Bible on the viewers - the message is discreet and softly spoken. This film tries to tackle one of the hardest questions a Christian can be asked: "Why does bad things happen to good people?". It is hardly a spoiler to say here that there will be no fully satisfying solution given to solve this riddle - but some elements of answer, quite important, will be provided. Those answers will not satisfy everybody - but those who so wish can find more elements in the Bible, and especially in the Book of Job.
Bottom line, this is an excellent, wonderful film, which should please adults and young teenaegers alike. I recommend it with whole my heart! And to end this review, I will give the last word to Bethany Hamilton, who is now 23 and just announced her engagement (UPDATE in June 2014: she married her fiancée in August 2013): "Surfing isn't the most important thing in life. Love is."