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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Soul Surfer (Eng Movies) Free Download

Soul Surfer could more aptly be described as "soul sucker," a simpering, insipid wannabe-tearjerker that rings so false it's amazing that its story is actually true. But that's just this hopeless curmudgeon's opinion. In the screening room, to my left sat two equally vicious critics in the form of my wife and daughter. The wife expressed joy at the sight of a positive young female role model in an age where most prominent tween celebs are focused keenly on a combination of ridiculous fashion, caked-on make-up, and a disingenuous obsession with semi-talented, well-manufactured teen boy singers. The daughter walked out of the screening fascinated and enthralled -- she obviously appreciated a respite from the sexualized onslaught as well, even if she didn't consciously realize it. And so, in this example, we have the subjective quandary of film criticism laid bare in a rather simple movie. Soul Surfer is a film with a clear intention and a narrow target audience. That target audience will love it. I could barely stand it -- but maybe that says more about me than the film.

To be fair, it says something about the film, too. Soul Surfer is highly stylized but not highly skilled. Its message is positive but its path to said message is littered with stereotypes and painful melodrama. Its characters are based on real life but are drawn as paper-thin Bible thumpers. And while its story is based on fact, the screenplay shows more allegiance to bubblegum artifice than the compelling real-life elements. "Hammer it home" seems to have been the production's mantra, since every emotional button gets not merely pushed, but jammed. Hard.

And yet, those buttons trigger the desired response from an audience starved for any positive representation of young girls. Is it a more wholesome and edifying experience than watching an episode of Hannah Montana? Yes. And it is a godsend when compared to a Ke$ha music video. So while a sentient film aficionado can poke innumerable holes in this well-meaning, wholly flawed tale of adversity, it does hold undeniable sway for an audience of young girls -- and for once I can say that's not such a bad thing.

AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) takes on the leading role with bright-eyed, all-natural screen presence, and her performance is a highlight that everyone -- even grumpy old me -- can get excited about. She plays Bethany Hamilton, a surfing ace who spends most of her days riding waves with her surfer-dude family on their cozy patch of Hawaiian perfection. Bethany has dreams of turning pro, but just as she is about to realize those dreams, she loses an arm in a shark attack on a nearby island. Her life irrevocably altered and her future plans seemingly dashed, Bethany is forced to confront the aftermath of her tragic attack, from the daily struggles of peeling fruit or opening a bread bag to the immense dificulty of trying to surf without the balance and strength of two arms. The film tells the story of how, through faith, family, and deep personal strength, Bethany finds a way to not only live again, but succeed in ways she never thought possible. And if you think that sentence was corny, just wait until you see the movie.

Diversions abound, from the heinous CG mega-shark that swipes Bethany's arm (it looks like it belongs in a campy SyFy channel movie), to the growing sense that the film is proselytizing its buttoned-up Christianity to an unsuspecting audience that came only for inspirational grrrrl power. The combination of mush and message-peddling verges on becoming downright unbearable for a cynic like me, and yet there are still nuggets of value about the importance of family and the human ability to overcome extraordinary obstacles. And no matter how poorly the film is put together, it still tells a real-life story that deserves our utmost respect and should truly be seen as an inspiration for all children.

Does that make the movie good? No. A much better version of this film could be made, with a sharper-edged screenplay and direction that integrated a humane subtext rather than glossing over the inspirational surface. But there is value in a film that speaks to young girls without slipping them a thinly-veiled message about the importance of sexualized "hotness" (like director Sean McNamara's previous film, Bratz). I didn't like Soul Surfer, but I would stop short of suggesting that all audiences should reject it.

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