I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about the new film Soul Surfer, with its strong Christian message. Here’s an opinion you’ll want to hear.
Let me back up just a bit.
Having missed the screening myself, I sent one of our writer/reviewers Matt Furby to see it a few weeks back. He liked it, but was critical of it’s film making (a little cheesy to some) in his review. This brought in varied responses from our readers (some angry).
Meanwhile, Todd, our other movie reviewer, told me, “Jonathan, I’m bringing some kids to go see the film. Do you want me to send you my two cents when I’m done?” I told him I’d be happy to share a second opinion.
Here’s Todd’s Candid take on SOUL SURFER, from the perspective of a youth pastor and a dad:
I think it’s fair to say that the majority of “Christian films” fall way short when compared to the big budget Hollywood blockbusters. Most of them are straight-to-DVD releases and get little to no exposure. Of course there are always exceptions… The Passion of the Christ, Facing the Giants and Fireproof have given many of us hope that “Christian films” can make an impact in the world and at the box office (forgive me but Facing the Giants and Fireproof still score pretty high on the Cheese Meter).
So when my friend and author of Soul Surfer told me that Hollywood was making a film about Bethany’s story, I had mixed emotions. I wrestled with thoughts like, “Would they do it right?” and “I hope they don’t ruin it.” And then while I was in Nashville at the Youth Specialties conference, Interlinc showed an advance screening. I only got to see the last 15-20 minutes of the rough cut, and I have to be honest…I was not impressed.
Despite mixed reviews, I decided to take a group of my students to see the movie on opening night. I’m still pretty new at my church so I was nervous. I kept thinking if the film was cheesy or worse…if it was just plain bad, how big of a hit would it be to my creditability? As the theater went dark, I actually whispered, “Please don’t suck”.
Over the next 106 minutes, I was blown away. Yeah the movie was great, but what really resonated with me was how my students responded to the film. There were a few laughs and of course they all jumped at the shark attack scene, but there’s something else, something very unexpected…tears. Bethany’s story is so powerful; from dealing with difficulties and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles to gaining perspective and showing compassion to others in the midst of suffering. As we walked out of the theater I was quick to ask them what they thought. Overwhelmingly…they loved it!! It’s been a few days now since we watched the movie and we are still talking about it…and my gut tells me we will talk about this one for a long time to come.
I can’t make you go and make you take your group, but I will say this…I’m going back this weekend and I’m taking some more students.
So… what’s your opinion of the film? (only those who have seen it, please)