You have to see "Soul Surfer." Period.
Sure, I could leave it at that, but then where is the motivation to get you to understand that you MUST see this movie? First of all, by "see," I mean a some point in your life - in the theater, on DVD, as a digital download, whatever. The point is that this movie was that good.
Of course, it's based on a true story, so that has a lot to do with it (though I have seen films based on true stories that weren't worth watching). But, "Soul Surfer" is very well executed even if it weren't true. Since the viewer knows she loses her arm in a shark attack, the film has to build the suspense as to WHEN the attack happens. Until then, several scenes lull the viewer into that place that exists somewhere between being safe and being scared. It is that place where the best thrillers thrive. And when the attack DID happen, it gave the whole audience a jolt. It was funny in a way. I mean the reaction, not the scene. As things unfold, it is far from funny. And even though we know the outcome from knowing the story, I could not help but sit on the edge of my seat through the intense action.
There's a "bad guy" as in any good story, and this time, it is a rival surfer. That's another thing that makes this such a great film. It shows the struggles that Bethany goes through adapting to her new way of life and how she handles the complete lack of compassion from her rival. The viewer is taken on a roller coaster of emotions from some of the lowest pits to the heights of soaring beyond anyone's expectations. You cry because of the pain and you cry because of the joy. Yes, I cried. There, I said it. It was that good.
I don't know about other people who see it, but I actually forgot it was a true story. What I mean is that the "truth" of it didn't matter - I was being entertained. And, THAT did matter.
Whether you are Christian or not, a sports fan or not, a "true life" movie fan or not, I believe you are going to LOVE this movie. Having said that, I have to wonder how anyone watching it (especially the credits at the end) can walk away saying, "There is no God." What happened to Bethany was nothing short of a miracle - not just surviving the attack but also her transformation from seeing only herself and her surfing to someone who sees much, much more in the world (especially in her trip to Phuket after the disaster). It was her faith that kept her alive, kept her going - even when there seemed to be no answers to her questions.
I am not exaggerating when I say that "Soul Surfer" has moved into my Top Ten list. Yes, it was that good.