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When soldiers go off to war and come face-to-face with life and death situations on a daily basis, their lives are changed forever. What often gets overlooked is the emotional toll their service takes on the lives of family members left behind. The film Indivisible is the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner. Fresh out of seminary, Turner is sent off to the war in Iraq, leaving his wife Heather and three young kids behind. Turner is assigned a 15 month deployment that will test his ability to adapt to the tragedies of war while trying to remain close to his family thousands of miles away.
As an Army Chaplain, Turner has to regularly confront death and the fragile emotions left behind in the hearts of the soldiers he is assigned to serve. At the same time, his wife Heather has volunteered to take on the task of ministering to the needs of the wives of soldiers left behind. The distance and difficult emotions they both endure begin to wedge apart their relationship. When Turner comes home, he is a different man, suffering from PTSD that makes it almost impossible for him to reconnect with Heather.
âIndivisibleâ? weaves the story of the Turnerâ(TM)s struggle together with the stories of other soldiers and wives who they come into contact with. Together, these stories paint a powerful image of the tragedy of war and how it plays out in the lives of those who serve on the battle field and those who wait for them to return home after the war.
This is a well-produced film with great acting, directing, and a good musical score. There are many inspiring moments of faith played out in the lives of the men and women serving in Iraq, as well as the lives of the family members left behind. Indivisible is a sobering look at the cost of war and the awesome sacrifice made by those who choose to serve.
Movies made from true life stories often are nothing more than dramatized history. Not so with Captive. This is an honest depiction of two lives traveling in different directions that collide into one night of unexpected transformation. Captive is not dramatized history, itâ(TM)s a well-executed character study that makes no overt conclusions. The story is developed in such a way that the audience is allowed to see inside both of the main characters and make their own analysis of how and why they are the way they are.
Brian Nichols is on his way to court accused of rape. He believes he is being accused of a crime he didnâ(TM)t commit and has no more patience for what he views is an oppressed life. In an explosion of rage, he takes advantage of a trusting jailer, beats her to the ground and grabs her gun; he then murders three people before escaping in a hijacked car.
Brian eventually makes his way to an apartment complex late at night and encounters Ashley Smith, a recovering meth addict. Brian follows Ashley back to her apartment where he takes her hostage for the next seven hours. During this time, Ashley, who desperately wants to end her drug addiction to regain custody of her young daughter, begins reading Rick Warrenâ(TM)s book, âThe Purpose Driven Life,â? more as a nervous impulse than anything else. When Brian notices she is reading, he demands she read out loud to him. God has not been a driving force in either of these lives, but now he is present and working inside both.
Captive is structured more as an experience than it is a movie. The script, the camera work, the direction, the acting all work together to place the audience directly in the apartment with Brian and Ashley. How did Ashley let drugs get in between her and the deep love she has for her daughter? How did Brian allow his life to tumble into total darkness? What role will God play as Rick Warren preaches from the pages of his book? This is a fascinating story beautifully developed into a mesmerizing film.
God is weaving us all together in complex ways that often go unnoticed. Every event in our life has the potential to impact another life which can in turn impact another. Sometimes these connections are seen and other times they go by lost in the mix. The Unmiracle is one such tale of God working in a small community to weave His love through the hearts of several different individuals.
Kayla Stevenson is the local party girl, well-known for her promiscuous ways. Kayla has recently attached herself to Danny who believes she is his girlfriend but in truth she is using him to score drugs. Danny's former Marine brother, Mike, is back from war and is lost in a PTSD laced stupor of alcohol and pills. It's easy for Danny to pocket a few pills for Kayla when he visits his often incoherent brother. At a local party, Danny supplies Kayla with pills, a drug pusher at the party supplies her with cocaine, and one of Danny's friends, Dean, supplies her with heroine. This combination ends up leaving Kayla in a coma and all those involved in supplying her with drugs are exposed to murder charges if she doesn't pull through.
Danny's friend, Arin, is the one who saves Kayla from dying at the party by calling 911. He's the only one willing to make the call because he's the only one who doesn't get high - he's a devoted Christian. Arin serves as the thread of God that weaves its way through the hearts of all of these characters. In the end, it's Arin's work that sends Danny to a local pastor for help, and helps Kayla's estranged father reconnect with his daughter.
The Unmiracle has a complex storyline with a haunting dose of reality. The problems and attitudes presented are all too common. What's uncommon about this film is the deeper thoughts exposed by these characters that drives a narrative of connectedness. One little misstep can turn your whole life around. One little positive or negative nudge from a friend or acquaintance can turn your whole life around. It is when the thread that's holding us all together is revealed and God is allowed to take control, that everything changes.
The Masked Saint was adapted from a book of the same name that is loosely based on the life of a pro wrestler who left a ten year career to become a pastor. I have not read the book, nor do I know how much of the story is true and how much is fictionalized. What I do know is this is a unique twist on the faith-based movie genre that taps into a desire many have to fight the bad guys and come out victorious.
In this film version, successful wrestler Chris Samuels, who fights under the title The Saint, leaves his wrestling career behind to become a pastor at a small town church with lots of problems. The neighborhood is on the other side of the tracks and many unsaintly characters are hanging out on the streets. The church congregation has diminished down to a handful and most of the finances are being donated by one man, Judd Lumpkin, who believes that gives him the right to control everything. And to top it all off, Pastor Chris has a hard time delivering a good sermon and the church choir is tone deaf.
This story has a subtle sense of humor that pushes the characterization over the top creating a light-hearted look at otherwise difficult situations. Pastor Chris first has to do battle with the pompous and controlling big donor, Judd Lumpkin. Then, in a case of being in the right place at the right time, Pastor Chris rescues a prostitute from a beating being delivered by her pimp. Later, Pastor Chris comes to the rescue at a robbery in a diner.
When it comes to fighting for the survival of his church, Pastor Chris is coached by an elderly church member they call Ms. Edna, played by veteran actress Diahann Carroll. Ms. Edna convinces Pastor Chris to get back in the wrestling ring to earn the money needed to keep the church alive. What we end up with is a pastor who is a wrestler on the side and a vigilante being investigated by the police in his spare time.
The Masked Saint is a well-made film, with good cinematography, quality directing, and some top-notch acting. The wrestling scenes, like much of this film, are a little over the top, but nicely designed and photographed. This is a fanciful story about a pastor becoming a part-time crime fighter. Rather than trying to pass this off as a plausible true life story, a decision was made to develop this concept as a fantasy with a thin line of truth. Much of the exaggerated circumstances that drive this story have enough realism in them to create a spark of possibility. In the end, what really comes to life is the idea that complaining accomplishes nothing. Problems are solved by those who take action.
It's not easy to make an upbeat film about tragedy. It's not easy to drive home a positive faith message in the face of difficult life challenges; Until Forever accomplishes both. Faith-based films are at their best when they are willing to confront the hard questions of faith head-on. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? While the answer to this question isn't expressly provided in this film, it is considered and dealt with in an honest way.
This is the true story of Michael and Michelle who are devoted high school sweethearts. Their relationship is full of fun and honest emotion. This looks like a romance that will last forever. Then without warning, Michael develops a rare form of leukemia and begins living his life in the hospital. Michelle stays by his side along with his whole family. A Bible believing Christian, Michael hears a voice from God calling him to minister to others in the hospital. He begins using his upbeat personality to bring some moments of cheer to his fellow patients. One patient, an older man named Fenton, rejects Michael's devotion to God but still becomes his friend with the understanding that he wants nothing to do with the Bible.
In time, Michael's cancer goes into remission and he is released from the hospital. Michael's slightly younger brother, Matt, has been recruited as a bone marrow donor should Michael's cancer return. Matt loves his brother and is more than willing to make this sacrifice; however, he is suffering depression issues of his own and the thought of him supplying bone marrow without positive results haunts him. In the end, Michael's cancer does come back and Matt's bone marrow donation is not able to save him. Coupled with his growing depression, Matt becomes suicidal and it is Michael who has to help him gain control over his despair.
As Michael's cancer gets worse, Michelle doesn't want to see her one true love go away. She makes a suggestion to Michael that they should get married. At first Michael is reluctant, not knowing if he will live or die; regardless, he follows through with a formal marriage proposal and the two are married even though it is clear he will die soon after.
Until Forever is the story of a man who will not allow his circumstance to shake his faith in God. He will not allow a bitter old man named Fenton to destroy his faith with his difficult questions. And he will not give up on ministering to others in the face of his own fatal destiny. This is also the story of a young woman, Michelle, who never lets go of her love, even when all hope is lost. It may be difficult to see how this film can deliver anything but tears, but I can tell you sincerely, you will find joy in your tears in the celebration of a life well lived.
It's always refreshing when you find a faith-based film that travels in a unique direction. "The Fight Within" mixes the tough and gritty world of MMA fighting with the everyday struggle we all face, overcoming our demons. Some of us are more in a fight with ourselves than anyone else, and those who have not yet found God are often in a fight with God.
Logan Chandler, a young college student, works as a trainer at an MMA gym that he and his brother inherited from his now deceased father. Before his father's death, Logan trained with his father who was once a champion. Because his father believed Logan had that same talent, he pushed him hard to become a champion himself. Tragically, Logan's father died during a training session with Logan. Faced with always wondering if he was somehow to blame for his father's death, Logan battles inner voices of doubt.
After a good deal of success in the octagon, winning all of his fights, Logan makes a decision not to fight anymore and stick to training other fighters. This becomes a problem when the current champion, Hayden Dressler, who happens to train with Logan's brother at their gym, is offered big money if he can get a fight with the previous champion, Logan. The gym is not a large money maker and the prize money from the fight can help his brother pay the bills, but Logan is adamant about not fighting. This disappoints his brother who needs the money, and only serves to encourage Hayden to constantly taunt Logan at every opportunity.
The story becomes more complicated and interesting when Logan meets an energetic young girl at his college, Emma Jones. There is instant chemistry between the two that quickly turns to confusion for Logan when he learns Emma is a devoted Christian with a determination to become a missionary in Africa. Logan is an unbeliever and now has to wrestle with God to understand why he has been sent down this road. Emma patiently walks Logan in the direction of Christ and over time he gives his life to the Lord in an alter call at Emma's church.
This budding romance seems to be pushing Logan in a completely new direction, until Hayden shows up again, this time taunting Emma to try to force Logan to fight for the big money prize. Going after Emma is the last straw for Logan and he finally agrees to the fight. Logan's brother goes to work training him for the big fight and the inevitable victory. Logan has conquered his battle with God and with himself, punctuating the transformation with a decisive victory over his worldly nemesis Hayden.
The Fight Within is an innovative bit of storytelling that looks at faith from a totally new perspective. I could quibble with some of the story elements that tended to abbreviate deeper character development, often with a music montage. Nevertheless, the overall narrative held my attention and triggered honest emotions. Some of the best scenes were the well-choreographed fight segments. That bit of realism served as a conduit to pull me deeper into the story. This film has a nice mix of faith, romance, and action.
"The Case for Christ" is adapted from the book of the same name published in 1998, which has since gone on to sell more than 14 million copies worldwide. This is the true story of newspaper reporter Lee Strobel's journey from atheist to Christian. I was a big fan of the book and frankly worried it would not make a good movie because most of the book is based on Lee's research of the resurrection which I thought could make for a long and boring second act. The screenwriter, Brian Bird, did a masterful job of weaving three stories together which helped to dilute the tedium of Lee's research. The screenwriter also made Lee's interviews with experts into interesting scenes further mitigating the boring nature of a search for facts. I found the writing overall to be quite good. The dialogue between Lee and his wife was especially compelling for me. In addition, the actors playing Lee and his wife did an outstanding job; and combined with the good writing, this made the whole story a moving experience.
I will admit the early scenes contain some fairly heavy handed preaching, something I would find contrived and overdone if I did not know this is in fact, a true story. It is possible those scenes could have been done better, but I'm not sure how. I can tell you that the other 90% of the film is very balanced and far less dogmatic even though it has a clear point of view.
This is a great film to watch with someone who is on the fence about moving closer to God; it's a good conversation starter. At the very least, anyone watching this film will come away with a clear understanding of why Christians have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
"Heaven is for Real" is the true story of a rural church pastor, Todd Burpo, who also has a garage door business and serves on the local volunteer fire department. When his three year old son Colton undergoes surgery for a ruptured appendix, he has an out of body experience which he interprets in later months as a trip to heaven. Todd finds the boy's story hard to ignore because of the difficult-to-explain details Colton describes. Others, including Todd's wife and members of his church congregation, are clearly skeptical and are more inclined to believe Colton's experience was merely a dream. Todd's support of Colton's visit to heaven experience becomes a distraction and threatens to end Todd's leadership as the local pastor; however, a radio interview brings in a large crowd to hear the details of Colton's trip to heaven, and Todd's explanation that we all experience heaven through acts of love brings a renewal of faith in his community.
I have to admit I'm one of the skeptics that are more inclined to believe Colton's experience was in fact a dream based on images and events from his own life manipulated by the drugs he was on and his own imagination. I have not read the book so I can't comment on how well this material was adapted for the screen. In spite of my skepticism, the story of these events and how this family dealt with the situation was an interesting one. I found Todd's sermon at the end of the film to be a satisfying conclusion - essentially setting Colton's experience aside and confirming heaven is for real based of the love we experience on a daily basis.
Unexplained events like this happen all the time and I don't think we should ignore them. This is a well told story of one such seemingly miraculous experience and I'm glad I spent the time learning how this family dealt with the circumstance.
"Miracles from Heaven" is the true story of a young family in Texas who have a 10 year old daughter, Annabel, who contracts an incurable bowel disease, making it difficult for her to eat, constantly bloated, and in pain most of the time. The young girl's mother fights hard to get the best medical care for her daughter and through sheer determination obtains an appointment with the leading specialist. Unfortunately, the treatment from this renowned authority is unable to help Annabel. The best he can do is make her life more comfortable. The chances of an early death are high. There seems to be no hope for Annabel. One day, when Annabel is playing with her two sisters she decides to climb a tree, something she loves to do but hasn't done for a long time because of her illness. Thirty feet up in this tree, along with her older sister, a branch gives way and Annabel falls inside the large hollowed out trunk all the way to the bottom. After a rescue that takes several hours, Annabel is flown to the hospital in a helicopter breathing but unconscious. The emergency doctor who treats Annabel is shocked to discover no bruising, no broken bones and no concussion from the thirty foot fall. In the days that follow the accident, Annabel's bowel disease goes into remission - she miraculously gets better. After being examined by the leading specialist she is pronounced cured of her incurable disease.
Seeing children in pain is hard for me and this movie is essentially two hours of a sweet young girl in agony. Personally I would have rather seen the illness and recovery dealt with early in the story leaving the rest of the film to develop the reasons why some will believe this is a miracle and some will not. For me, that's the more interesting story - and less painful to watch.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy the movie. The payoff is worth the trip for the most part. This is a well-made film with quality acting, directing, and overall production. For those inclined to discount the miracle of Annabel's recovery as nothing more than an unexplained remission of symptoms; the film offers a final speech by Annabel's mother, who makes the case that whenever we experience acts of love from strangers we are experiencing a miracle from God.
"Risen" is the story of a Roman Tribune, essentially the captain of the guard, an officer in the Roman army, who is tasked with making sure Jesus is dead after his crucifixion. After making sure the dead body is sealed in its tomb, the Tribune walks away leaving two guards posted over- night to make sure no one tampers with the tomb and steals the body. When the tomb is found empty the next day, the Tribune is of course in deep trouble. His life now depends on finding the missing body and those who somehow carried it away. The Tribune's investigation uncovers the story of the resurrection of Yeshua, and in his effort to discredit this tale and uncover the truth, he comes face-to-face with the living Messiah. Now a changed man, the Tribune helps the disciples make their way to Galilee where they are once again to meet with Yeshua. The Tribune again encounters Yeshua in Galilee and witnesses him performing miracles as well as his ascension into Heaven. In the end, the Tribune does not stay with the disciples as they go on to preach the Gospel, instead he goes his own way, in the opposite direction of Rome, seemingly in a search to find his new self after his amazing experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing this story told from this completely new perspective. There are a few things I could quibble with in this interpretation, but for the most part I found it to be a very well-told story that did not intrude on my own understanding of the Gospel. Here and there some of the dialogue was frankly a little silly, however, not often enough to spoil the rest of the film. Overall this is a well-made movie - superb acting, beautiful camerawork, great directing, costumes, sets, special effects, and music.
There is a fairly graphic battle scene at the beginning of the movie and some other gruesome stuff at the crucifixion, as well as some graphic scenes of decomposing dead bodies later in the story. These realistic depictions of the time only serve to make the story more believable to me, but I can understand how some might see it as unnecessary - to be fair - it is tasteful graphic violence - not over-done.
I don't know that I'm really interested in seeing more stories conjured up from the peripheral characters in the Bible. It seems to me that runs the risk of fictionalizing what for me is a true story; however, in this instance I found the journey an intriguing "what if" scenario.
"Do You Believe" is the story of twelve people and how their lives intersect. Some of these people are followers of Jesus Christ - they believe - and some do not. Some who do not believe come to believe. Some who do believe have their faith impacted by those who do not believe. The story ends with a dying man miraculously coming back to life and a voice over narration that lets us know God is at work in all our lives and it's up to us to believe or not.
I truly love the concept of this story; however, the complexity of telling twelve different stories at the same time takes its toll on the authenticity of the events depicted. Much of what we see is only a caricature of the real world and fairly unrealistic. As a result, you may be pulled out of the story and left unfulfilled. My suggestion is that you watch this film with the understanding that it is not "real life" but a concept of the intricacies of our world and how God is working in each and every one of our lives on a daily basis. If you watch with that point of view, and with those lowered expectations, I believe this film will have a powerful deep impact that will touch your heart.
There is some good acting in this film from Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, and Delroy Lindo who plays my favorite character in the film - a street preacher. This is a darker story about how difficult life can be; punctuated by the understanding that God is ultimately in control.
"Courageous" is the story of five men who come together to make a commitment to be better fathers. Four of the men are police officers in a small town and one is an immigrant worker who is befriended by the group. Early in the story, the leader of the group, Mitchell, loses his nine year old daughter in a fatal car accident. As a result, Mitchell turns to the Bible for comfort and guidance on how to be a better father to his remaining son. Through his study, Mitchell develops a set of Biblical guidelines for fathers and presents it to the group to ask them to hold him accountable to these standards; instead, they each decide to join Mitchell in his commitment to the Biblical guidelines and hold a formal ceremony to establish the resolution. The film follows these men through their daily lives as they attempt to live out their new focus on fatherhood. In the end, Mitchell is asked to share the details of his resolution with his large church congregation and all of the men in the audience stand in support of the strong Biblical standard for fathers.
The Biblical resolution for fathers presented in the film is a powerful document that all fathers should consider carefully. I get the feeling the resolution was written first and then a story was developed around that concept. The story telling was a bit too simplistic for me, but nevertheless did a good job dramatizing the importance of fathers in the lives of children and as a stabilizing force in a family. Single parent families are also considered in this work and overall I believe it is a great starting point for a deeper discussion about parenting in general. If you watch this film with the understand that nothing terribly unique is going to happen and settle into the deeper message of how important it is for parents to consider God every step of the way, you'll come away satisfied and inspired.
"Woodlawn" is the true story of one of the first high schools in Alabama to become integrated. This initially caused a lot of friction, especially among the football players who did not want black players on their team. In an effort to stop the fighting, a local evangelist makes a request to speak to the Woodlawn football team and the coach reluctantly agrees. After an hour long talk the evangelist, Hank, is able to convert the entire team into followers of Jesus. At this time in the early seventies, what was known as the Jesus Movement was in full swing and this is a grand example of that movement's power. The evangelist, Hank, continues to mentor the team with Bible studies after practice and the black and white players work together to turn in an unexpected winning season. One black player, Tony Nathan, who is an amazing talent, turns out to be the star and is courted by legendary university of Alabama coach Bear Bryant. The following season starts with a summer practice that includes the cross-town rival team and all the members of that team end up being converted to followers of Jesus as well. In the end, the Woodlawn coach is threatened with termination if he continues to pray with his team before games but in the play-off game with the cross-town rivals who are also believers, they recite the Lord's Prayer with the entire stadium in defiance of the school board. Tony Nathan goes on to play for the University of Alabama and the Woodlawn High School coach ends up selling insurance; however, before the credits roll it is revealed he later returns to coaching.
This is a story well told. For believers, this is a joyous celebration of what God can do: The whole team is converted, they then have a winning season, a star player is born, the bitter cross town rivalry is dissolved into respectful sportsman-like play - all because of Jesus. If I didn't know it to be a true story I would say it's too contrived - but it's apparently all true. Keep in mind this is a story about football; so if you're not a football fan it might not be for you. Ultimately, this is a story about God working in the lives of a group of young people and how that empowerment changes a community. Overall, I think most followers of Jesus Christ will find this story inspiring.
"War Room" is the story of a troubled marriage rescued by prayer. Tony and Elizabeth are very successful, living in a beautiful home, enjoying all the comforts of a healthy income. The only problem they have is the turmoil in their marriage. Tony is growing more demanding and Elizabeth is unyielding and always ready to fight his selfish nature. These are not happy people and their discord is starting to damage the well-being of their young daughter. Elizabeth is a real estate agent and she takes on a new elderly client, Miss Clara, who teaches her how to pray for her marriage. Miss Clara makes the point that Elizabeth needs to be fighting the devil not her husband. Miss Clara has cleared out a closet that she uses as her prayer war room and Elizabeth follows in her footsteps. Over time, Elizabeth's prayers are answered as God begins working on Tony and pushing him toward being a better person. In the end, Tony and Elizabeth have reconciled and have recommitted themselves to being better parents to their daughter.
I honestly appreciate the message being delivered in this film and can see it inspiring many to turn to prayer and consider God first when making decisions about their personal relationships. This is a well-made film and the characters are enjoyable to watch; however, I wish the backstory had been better developed. I'm not really sure how this marriage deteriorated or why the problems were not addressed sooner. Of course, I'm sure that's how a lot of couples feel when they get to a difficult place in their relationship. Leaving that aside, if you simply accept that marriages fall apart, and that we often look elsewhere other than God for assistance, you will be locked into the problem this story attempts to resolve. Prayer can most assuredly be answered by God's miraculous power and prayer can also change us by forcing us to focus on the principles God has taught us through His Word. For me, this is the larger concept presented in this film and one well worth considering.
This story is about a young college student, Josh, who has a philosophy professor who challenges his students to sign a declaration that "God is dead" in order to pass his class. Josh is the only student who refuses to sign the declaration. As a result, the professor tells Josh the only way he can pass the class is to win a debate with him on the existence of God. The professor tells Josh he will allow the class to determine the winner of the debate. The debate takes place at the end of class in three different sessions. Josh and the professor each make strong points in the first two debates, but in the third and final debate Josh is able to touch a nerve in the professor and get him to admit he hates God because of the death of his mother. Josh is then able to present his winning argument - you can't hate someone who does not exist. The class pronounces Josh the winner of the debate - God's not dead.
Many of us who believe in God are delighted to see the liberal professor defeated. This central storyline is satisfying and makes the film worth watching; however, most of the peripheral characters, including the professor, are rather stereotypical. While the debate between Josh and the professor is fairly well balanced with opposing points of view, this film overall is a stacked deck in the favor of an evangelical Christian point of view. I would prefer to see a little more subtlety in the depiction of unbelievers, as opposed to the demonization this story leans toward. In the end, these negative aspects of the film are washed away by a great performance by the contemporary Christian band Newsboys playing "God's Not Dead."
Soul Surfer is the true story of a teenage girl from Hawaii, Bethany Hamilton, who is destined to become a professional surfer. She's winning contests and sponsors are ready to sign her up. Unfortunately, while surfing with a group of friends, waiting for a wave with her arm dangling in the water, a shark attacks and bites off Bethany's left arm. Some quick action from the father of her best friend who is surfing with the girls saves Bethany's life; however, she is now left with her dream to be a professional surfer crushed. Not one to give up, Bethany gets back in the water as soon as she's allowed and she has to relearn how to surf with one arm. When paddling with one arm proves too difficult, her father devises a way to add a strap to Bethany's surfboard to help her gain control. This new device quickly has Bethany surfing like she did before her injury. When she returns to competition she is again frustrated by her inability to paddle as quickly as her competitors. Bethany can surf better than all of them but it's difficult for her to catch as many waves with only one arm. In the end, Bethany does well in the competition but not well enough to win. Nevertheless, Bethany is reborn with a new spirit knowing she has the power to overcome her injury and ready to continue her life embracing this new challenge.
This is truly an incredible story of a remarkable recovery from a traumatic injury followed by the will and determination to overcome a major disability. If you're a surfer you'll enjoy some good surfing footage in this film, but you may cringe at the over-use of cliché surf lingo most of which is no longer used. Those who are not into surfing will still find this story intriguing because it's not a story about surfing as much as it is a story about overcoming tragedy. The shark attack is not graphic and is fairly easy to watch. You may want to turn your head for a few seconds if this kind of trauma troubles you. The faith element in this film is fairly superficial and plays a minor role in the storytelling. This is clearly a Christian family who work through their problems with God in mind but that is not the main focus of this story. Overall, this is an enjoyable film to watch with the family. There's something for everybody in this movie.
This is the true story of Bart Millard, the lead singer for the Christian band Mercy Me. At the age of 10, Bart's mom leaves to get away from his physically abusive father, leaving Bart alone with a monster. Bart tries to please his father by following in his footsteps and becoming a football player but an injury ends his athletic career. Struggling to find a new direction, Bart ends up in the drama department at school where he discovers he has a talent for singing. When Bart lands the lead in a production of Oklahoma he doesn't tell his father because he believes his father won't be interested. This leads to a physical confrontation with his father that is the last straw for Bart. Bart ends up leaving home not knowing that his father has been diagnosed with cancer. He not only walks away from his father, but he also leaves behind his long-time girlfriend Shannon.
Bart ends up singing in a band called Mercy Me and struggles to find his voice as a singer-songwriter. His manager Scott Brickell ends up pushing Bart toward confronting his relationship with his father, and Bart travels back home to tie up the loose ends. In so doing, Bart discovers his father has found God and is dying of cancer. Bart and his father work their way through an emotional reconnection and in the end find a loving relationship. It is this experience that inspires Bart to write one of the most popular Christian songs of all time, "I Can Only Imagine."
I have to start by calling out Randy Quaid's performance as the abusive, emotionally disturbed, jerk father as an absolutely academy award performance. He is the evil villain that drives this story and he does a suburb job. I have to admit I didn't believe it was possible to build a whole story around one song, but I was wrong. In the film, Bart reveals it only took him about ten minutes to write the lyrics, and Amy Grant corrects him by suggesting that song took a lifetime to write - and of course she's right. This is a story about what it takes to conjure up a song that touches the heart of millions. This is a story about how the creative process is married to the struggle of life. It's an inspiring tale the delivers the emotional satisfaction needed to make the finale performance of "I Can Only Image" as powerful as the first time I heard it. Awesome!
"Not Easily Broken," is a story based on a novel written by the well-known Pastor T.D. Jakes. It tells the story of Clarice and Dave who are struggling through a marriage that has lost its foundation of love and its connection to God. After a traffic accident that leaves Clarice struggling to regain her ability to walk, Dave has to take a backseat to Clarice's mother who moves into the house and pushes Clarice in all the wrong directions. Feeling pushed aside, Dave begins to consider exploring the feelings he is having for another woman, but when the opportunity presents itself he decides not to follow thorough. Once Clarice has fully recovered from her accident, and after some nudging from her church pastor, Clarice realizes how she has mistreated Dave and makes an effort to bring their relationship back to where it should be. In the end, Dave and Clarice realize God wants to hold their marriage together and they recommit to each other on the announcement that Clarice is finally pregnant and ready to start a family.
There are a lot of wonderful moments in this film that ring true and give the movie substance. I have to say, this is an unevenly told story that doesn't always pull the audience along as well as it could. The story structure is a little disjointed and tends to jump from place to place. I would urge you to put that aside and simply watch scene-by-scene, because every scene is well played with quality acting and more often than not, deep meaning. In the end, all the pieces will come together into a grand collection of significant moments. Kevin Hart does a great job adding some well-placed comic relief. In fact, the entire cast does an excellent job portraying totally believable characters, including a cameo by T.D. Jakes himself. Overall, this is a great story that maybe could have been better told; nevertheless, it is still filled with genuine emotion.
This is the story of a man, Mac, who becomes angry and bitter after the death of his five year old who is run down in the street by a fleeing criminal. Mac's marriage struggles as a result of his anger and his relationship with his second son, Blake, suffers greatly. Mac joins the police force after the death of his son in an effort to prevent the kind of tragedy he has gone through from happening to others. After seventeen years on the force, he is passed over for a promotion to sergeant by a younger officer who happens to be black. Mac is upset that he was passed over, and he holds a grudge against black men because the man who ran over his son was black.
Things get a little uncomfortable when Mac and the black officer who was promoted ahead of him, Sam, are asked to spend the next two weeks riding together on patrol. Sam is an aspiring pastor who shepherds a start-up church on Sundays and this is another source of tension since Mac has turned his back on God.
As these two men struggle through understanding each other, another tragic accident threatens the life of Mac's second son, Blake. Facing the possibility that Blake may die, Mac has to come to terms with his anger-filled relationship with Blake, with his wife, and with Sam. In the end, it is the black man, Sam, who guides Mac back to the Lord and plays an instrumental role in saving Blake's life.
This story had a powerful impact on me and is filled with difficult issues we should all consider carefully. How we treat our children, and how we treat our spouse, and how we deal with tragedy are all elements that have been addressed before in film; however, the complexity of this story also includes how we deal with our personal prejudice, how we allow our past to influence our present, and how we avoid God. Mac's struggle with his tragic past and with God is well developed and engaging. Sam's struggle with developing his ability to pastor a church while maintaining a job as a police officer is also well told. Overall, there's a lot of depth to this film and for that reason it is well-worth watching. I have to conclude by letting you know the acting in this movie is not as good as it could be. In addition, the dialogue is often not as interesting as it could be. If you can put that aside and simply enjoy this well-rounded and penetrating story, I believe you'll find this to be time well spent.
Johnny left a budding career in the music business after his first hit song to follow Jesus and become a church music director. He now directs a worship band that includes his 18 year old daughter Grace. Like many teenage girls, Grace is enamored by the popular music scene her father left behind. Johnny knows how difficult life can be in the high stakes popular music scene and tries to keep Grace away from pursuing that path. Grace is determined to go her own way. Feeling stifled by her father, Grace takes a chance and moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career in popular music, offered to her by Johnny's old manager.
Grace achieves immediate success by covering her father's old hit song which has become popular again as the result of some Internet buzz. She demonstrates enormous talent and the record company is ready to do everything needed to make her a star. It doesn't take long for this naive teenager to get in over her head. The stress and pressure of becoming a star begins to take its toll as she moves further and further away from God. Fortunately, a Christian intern working at the record company, Quentin, befriends Grace and tries to nudge her back towards her relationship with God and her family.
In the end, Grace walks away from the popular music scene and goes back to singing Christian songs with her father. Meanwhile, her friend Quentin has started a contemporary Christian music division at the record company and becomes the promoter for Grace and her father's new music.
I enjoyed watching this film. The acting was good and the music was good. The familiar tension between teenagers and parents is nothing new, but this story is actually about the tension between the world we live in and the path God wants us to take. Overall, the details of the journey Grace takes in this film are a little too simplistic. Things happen a little too fast and with not much time spent developing the kind of depth that could raise this concept to a higher level. Still all the buttons are pushed and the emotions in these relationships ring true. The likeable characters and quality acting performances makes this movie well-worth watching.