Bethany Hamilton’s Unstoppable as a documentary is hard to grade. I’m going through a ‘shark movie’ phase, and there were no toothy predators here. I expected to see Bethany’s harrowing events, feeling gripped and scared along with viewing her traumatic experience.
As it was, the documentary picks up only after the attack and healing phases. While it was lovely to see her determination to train harder than anyone else and get back to doing what she loves and excels in, I feel…well…tricked into seeing a surfing movie.
Do you love to surf? Do you follow the sport, revel in outstanding cinematography? (Those curls!!! The breaks are crazy and not for the timid.) Have you been following Bethany’s story on the news and online outlets? Then this will be a treat for you.
Bethany even experiences the normal happy life events a lovely young girl can expect (marriage, a baby), and after the attack and the childbearing, she had to work harder than anyone else out there on the waves — to not just compete among the world’s best caliber surfers alongside women like Courtney Conlogue and Nikki Van Dijk — but to show well and take home titles.
This gal is DETERMINED. The Terminator of water, disabled or not.
Remember, this is a Documentary
So, back to grading it. I’m not going to downgrade it as a disappointing outing when I expected, well, you know —> SHARKS. There are no sharks, even though this is released during Shark Week and arrives only a few weeks before the expected crazy chomp-chomp goodness of 47 Meters Down. (Sorry — I am being a total douchebag, but I wanted action sequences).
So I’ll grade this purely on the level of a surfing documentary. And I have to say, it was about average, but on the high end. There’s nothing here you can’t find poking around the internet about Bethany Hamilton. She’s a sweet girl and works Olympic-level hard at her sport.
I know she has great things ahead, and her disability means she has to pioneer new techniques about balance, steadfastness, and belief in one’s self.
It “breaks” down to this (pardon the pun): if you want to surf, or your child does, watch this. If you’re a girl, or someone with a disability, or just terrified of shark attacks, there’s an inspiring takeaway here. Don’t let anyone or anything shut down your dreams. Ever. And that’s why you should see this docu-film.
Go now, while Unstoppable is still in the theaters. (Docs have a short half-life until the awards seasons, coming next in 2020.)
But What About The Sharks?
If you’re looking for voyeuristic escapist shark-esque tales, stick to 47 Meters Down 1 & 2, The Reef, Deep Blue Sea, The Shallows, The Meg, Jurassic World 1 & 2 (the Mosasaurus), Jaws (an A+ film, if there ever was one), Crawl, or even those campy Sharknado films, for some man-eating survival tales.
(Tales/Tails…OMG what is with me and puns today? I am so disrespectful to this tasteful docu-drama, but I don’t mean it, really.)
I’m going to stop here because I really don’t want to be flippant over Hamilton’s real heroic journey. She’s a living legend at a tender age. A real life superhero. And don’t ever let the turkeys, or the sharks, get you down.
“When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.” -Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2.
Movie Grade: C+
About the Peetimes: Since this is a surfing documentary and NOT a shark attack movie – at all – I’ll assume peeps who know of Bethany Hamilton are coming to see the fine surfing action & cinematography. Therefore I focused my 3 Peetimes on the many voice-overs and interviews you can find elsewhere online. The Recommended Peetime comes at 57 minutes, but all are just fine.
There are extra scenes of Bethany’s real life playing all across the credits, so you will want to stay throughout the very short ending. (What we mean by anything extra.)
The credits run for approximately 2 minutes.
Rated PG for some thematic elements. Genres: documentary, drama, true life story, sport.
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)