BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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There aren’t anywhere near enough movies about sporty thrill-seeking girls and women, which makes this new documentary about professional surfer Bethany Hamilton very welcome. Aggressive, competitive, and driven, Hamilton has been a powerful role model for little girls and women — and for little boys and grown men, too — not least because she bounced back from a horrific injury that should have ended her career before it even started. In October 2003, when she was 13 and a serious amateur, she lost her left arm to a tiger shark in the waters off her home of Hawaii.

“Nobody thought it was possible,” Hamilton says here, to be “a one-armed surfer,” but she was winning trophies again soon after… until her detour into a side gig as global teen media sensation distracted her and derailed her game for a while. (Her story was previously told in the 2011 “faith-based” film Soul Surfer, starring AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton; the athlete is a devout Christian. That’s not a focus of this film, which couldn’t be fairly tagged as “faith-based.”) Continue reading…

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).