I Can Only Imagine

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It’s time to look at a recent movie about the iconic song “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s definitely a pretty good song so I was up for having a film about how it was created. As you might expect it is also a bit of a tragic tale with a happy ending since it’s based on true events. It’s a good movie with quite a few songs which is good although I would have liked to have seen a few more tunes thrown in.

The movie follows Bart as he grows up in a rough household. He manages to get by, but the situation forces him to try and grow into the image his father wants him to be. He joins the Football team and it goes well for a while until he injures his leg and is forced to retire. I guess extra curricular activities are a necessity in this school so he is transferred to the music class where the teacher forces him to become a singer. Bart enjoys singing but the problem is that he knows Arthur (his father) won’t approve. His suspicions are correct and things boil over until Bart decides to run away from home and join a traveling band. In the process he breaks up with Shannon and prepares for his new life.

This life is tougher than Bart thought it would be though and he starts to have doubts. He tries to run back to Shannon, but that isn’t happening and his vocal skills are being doubted by the professionals. When all hope is lost he finally heads back to his home to confront Arthur who has seemingly been redeemed after becoming a Christian. Bart has to confront this fact by wondering if this is true and also if he will forgive Arthur regardless.

It’s a pretty emotional movie for sure. I think you’ll end up being a lot more invested in the musical scenes then the plot though. Partially this is because Bart just isn’t a very likable main character for the most part. It’s hard to blame him for all of the family stuff since that was pretty traumatic for him, but I’m talking about everything aside from that. First off is his relationship with Shannon. He had absolutely no reason to break up with her in that scene. It just didn’t really make any sense and I feel like it just happened to increase the dramatic tension. Of course it’s hard to say if that’s how it played out in real life as well. Then his attempt at getting back together with her was painful. He went to her house at midnight while pretending to be the police? That’s a prank that went way too far and she shouldn’t have even gone to the front door if you ask me. It’s no surprise that she didn’t go with him.

Then we have the scenes where the critics come to hear his band play. Their agent tells Bart that he’ll handle this and for the crew to wait in the back. They all listen except for Bart who runs to the stage and makes a mess out of everything. The film goes a little too far in making him super head strong and naive as far as the critics process goes. Surely he knows how these things go and that you can’t just yell at the critics to make them change their minds right? He just makes so many mistakes and then just saying that he’ll quit wasn’t very responsible either. Things could have really gone badly for his band mates at that point. Of course that’s when he chooses to take a long leave of absence from the band…great.

Still, if that’s exactly how it played out in real life then it’s good that the film played it straight there. Meanwhile Arthur is one of those characters who is so bad that it’s hard to buy into the redemption arc which is why you can understand Bart’s skepticism even if he doesn’t handle the situation well at all. (Why even show up at the house if you’re just going to guilt trip Arthur the whole time?) It’s definitely good that Arthur saw the light and ultimately found Christ. At the end of the day even if nobody believes that you have been truly redeemed it doesn’t matter. You know if you’ve become a Christian and that’s what counts.

Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a good film. While it can’t really be called a fun film for the most part as it can be pretty dark and dramatic, the songs are fun. It’s a quality movie and one that you’ll definitely want to see if you’re curious about the song’s origins. It’s not quite on the same level as God is Not Dead which is still quite excellent, but this movie doesn’t really make any big mistakes. It does manage to be a pretty realistic film without over embellishing the events.

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The Ten Commandments

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I don’t watch 3 hour+ films often, but when I do I usually watch quality ones. The Ten Commandments is a legendary film and the poster is quite iconic at this point. The Bible is huge and as a result, most of it has not yet been adapted to the big screen. This film did a great job of essentially adapting the full story of Moses and adding in as many details as it can. Throwing in extra backstory is always a tricky process since you want to be careful not to deviate from what happened, but the film does a good job of it. It certainly is very long, but it’s an informative movie and a must watch for all viewers.

In case you aren’t familiar with this part of the Bible, here’s the situation. The Pharaoh decreed that all male Hebrew babies were to be slaughtered in an effort to prevent the deliverer from arising and freeing them from slavery. Fortunately for Moses, his mother sent him away in a basket to the Egyptians where he was raised up as a prince. Nobody knew about his true origin and he slowly grew to power. However, before he could become King, Moses found out the truth and decided he’d rather live as a slave with his people then rule under a false pretense. As a result, he lost everything and nearly died, but God was not finished with him. Moses was going to be the deliverer of the Hebrews after all.

Since the film is so long, it’s able to give a lot of time to each act. The first act is naturally about Moses growing up and then learning the truth. On one hand, you may think Moses could have helped the Hebrews right away if he had become King and then done away with slavery. On the other hand, living with the deception may not feel just. It’s one of those tough calls where it’s hard to know what you’d do. You have to have a lot of will power to trade fame, power, and a comfortable lifestyle over being a slave to do the right thing. Moses also lose his future wife and made an enemy out of everyone in power. It was certainly not an easy choice to make.

The second act covers when Moses returns to Egypt and God delivers many plagues as the Pharaoh continues to deny his people freedom. Once the final plague occurs and his son is killed, the Moses is finally able to lead his people out. Even then the Pharaoh decided to try one last attempt to slay them, which leads to the famous moment of the river parting and all of the soldiers being annihilated. The scene was handled very well and the film spared no expense on the effects. It would certainly be pretty amazing to see such a sight in person.

Finally, the last segment is about Moses obtaining the Ten Commandments from God. While he is on the mountain the Hebrews begin to worship fallen idols and regress almost entirely to how the Egyptians acted. Moses breaks the Commandments and has to get them a second time as a result. The film ends on a rather sad note though as Moses is not allowed to go on to the Promised Land because of how he hit the rock for water when he wasn’t supposed too. The scene is not in the movie though so if you only know this story through the film you may not understand why he wasn’t allowed inside. The film doesn’t really explain it and part of why the scene is so tragic is because it was such a small mistake. I think scholars have theorized that he struck the rock to show off his own power and had developed hubris over the years or something. There are quite a few theories out there, but sometimes there is no deep reason. Perhaps he just had a bad day and his patience was thin which led to him striking the rock. Whatever the reason, while the ending was tragic, Moses accomplished great things. Through God, Moses saved thousands of lives and brought everyone out of slavery.

The Ten Commandments is certainly an uplifting movie. It’s great to see the story of Moses in movie format and also great to see how well known and legendary it became. It goes to show that if the quality of the story is good then you can certainly have a film over 3 hours. The intermission was appreciated as well since it gave me time to grab a snack and then continue on. The visuals and soundtrack were on point throughout as well.

Overall, The Ten Commandments is a movie that you do not want to miss out on. It’s not everyday that we get a Christian film which gets this mainstream and is handled well. If I had anything I’d change with the film, I’d reduce a large part of the first section where we get a subplot of the carpenter and the servant who can’t be together because of a rich slave owner. That plot was extremely dark and I don’t see how it really contributed. Beyond that, the rest of the adaption was completely on point. While the film can be dark and somewhat brutal at times, it’s still something that you really should see. I avoid sad/tragic tales myself, but since this is real life and stuff that you can’t avoid, it’s worth checking out. The Bible can be rather violent as well, but it’s still something that you’ve got to read at some point. You can appreciate the sacrifices that our predecessors made even more when you understand their tribulations. As the saying goes, Light is always brightest after the darkness. Don’t think that the film is constantly dark either though, there’s a good balance throughout.

The Young Messiah

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There are some movies that had good intentions and just didn’t work so well and others that had poor intentions from the start. This one is the former and the plot just didn’t do it for me. The film had to take a lot of liberties to be a full length feature film, but at the same time I just can’t picture a lot of this happening. Now, I won’t profess to be a super expert on the Bible where I can tell you 100 quotes or have all the families of David memorized, but I do believe that in the Bible it is heavily implied that Jesus lives a very ordinary life as a kid. He didn’t stand out and that’s why we didn’t hear about the great miracles he performed or his status as the Savior until after he had grown up. This film has him performing many miracles and in front of large crowds at the age of 7. (Apparently anyway based on the poster) He even has to run from the authorities because they find out and it becomes a huge debacle. I’m just not sure about this.

One big plot point in the film is that Jesus is initially a seemingly ordinary child and he doesn’t even know about his abilities. Gradually, he starts to gain knowledge of them and at times he personifies his role as the son of God and then he’ll turn back to normal. It’s almost like his body is slowly being taken over or his mind is being awoken from a long sleep and I’m not sure about that either. Granted, there aren’t really any easy answers for this. Did Jesus just take up one day when he was an adult with his full knowledge or had he always known ever since he was a kid? I actually like to think it was the latter personally. I believe that Jesus was essentially a perfect child and that he simply lived a very quiet life. He wouldn’t lie, steal, or make any moral mistakes that many kids make, but at the same time he would learn how to read and write the same as any other person.

After all, God chose to come to Earth as a man in order to live among us and save as many people as possible. I think it’s definitely feasible that as a result, he wouldn’t have immediately brought about his all knowing mind and other abilities that would make him stand out from the start. That’s why I can picture him knowing that he is Jesus Christ and just gradually growing up normally until it was time for him to act in the public sphere. Furthermore, I imagine that he waited to act until it was the perfect time for him to have an influence on as many people as possible. As a child maybe he knew that less people would be more convinced or that it would hurt in the long run. God knows all eventualities so he would ultimately choose the best route.

As I mentioned, I do think it was a nice effort in concept though. Biblical scholars have made a profession out of reading the Bible and trying to find more details that are hard to catch or can only be noticed by cross checking various books in the Bible and even other sources. You can find out a lot of fascinating things online and I’m sure that they would love to learn more about Jesus as a child. I just think that there isn’t much to find because he just wasn’t standing out at the time. Did Jesus have to content with bullies when he was a kid? Maybe. Did he have to revive a boy who was killed by the Devil in an attempt to frame him? That one’s a far greater stretch, but you never know. The point is, the film had to take a lot of liberties to make this a film, but as long as it doesn’t directly contradict the Bible or attempt subtly make Jesus or other individuals look bad, then it’s fine.

Overall, This can still be a good film to check out if you find the premise interesting. I personally prefer to relive parts of the Bible or listen to scholars speculate what may have happened back in the day based on their findings. I just find those more interesting than a film like this one, but it’ll really depend on the individual. At the very least, you can be sure that the writers probably did their homework on how the scenery and surroundings may have looked so that can be fun to see. It is good to see so many Christian films coming out nowadays and hopefully that trend will continue. The God is Not Dead series is certainly still my favorite, but we have had a nice array of titles that span many different genres. Hillsong, Risen, The Young Messiah, God is Not Dead, and many more. There is something for every Christian to check out. Some of the films didn’t go very well at all like Noah, which changes so many things that I even wonder about the intentions. I certainly would not be surprised in the least to see some “Christian” based films that exist only to discredit and confuse Christians rather than spread awareness. Always be prepared for every trick in the book in this day and age. I’m not sure which film is coming next, but I shall be awaiting the next Christian adventure.

War Room

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It’s time for another Christian film that I got to see a while back. This one plays out more like God Is Not Dead. It has a full plot and everything where Elizabeth must turn to the Lord to save her marriage before it falls apart. It can get a little too extreme and silly at times for it to come close to matching up with God Is Not Dead, but it’s still a solid film with a good overall message.

Things have been rough for Elizabeth. Her husband refuses to let her send money to help her relative who married someone that can’t find a job and she also noticed that Tony has been getting a little colder. He strays so far away from the faith that he pockets money from his job. As a result, Tony goes from being a very wealthy guy to losing his job and facing potential jail time. His bond with their daughter has also grown strained since he is never around for her and also insults her favorite past time. (Jumping rope) With the family’s back against the wall and Tony getting more and more defensive, Elizabeth visits an old lady who tells her that she should let God fight round 2 in her place.

The main message is about fighting fire with peace. Tony’s portrayed as a really bad guy the whole time, but Elizabeth tries to roll with it as she hopes that he’ll have a change of heart. It’s a good message since you can’t go around fighting people all the time. Divorce also shouldn’t be the first option since it’ll just lead to Tony being turned away from God forever and Elizabeth’s life will also be in shambles. That being said, being too timid and “nice” will also just result in you being walked all over. You need to achieve a nice balance. Tony doesn’t make it easy though as he even attempts to cheat on Elizabeth, but he developed food poisoning right before he could breach the point of no return.

Tony turns over a new leaf after he sees Elizabeth’s prayer well and finds out that she knew about him getting ready to cheat, but didn’t say anything. The film ends with the family finally being united and stronger than ever. Even if the execution wasn’t the strongest, it’s always good to watch a film with happy endings and to remind yourself that miracles can and still do happen. Bringing a family back together like that is something that only God can do. We can’t simply mend broken relationships like that and without him, we are sorely limited in what we can do.

Another point of discussion that the film brings up is about not letting your relationship with God get too routine or “lukewarm.” It’s easy for things to get automatic when you do them the same way every day to the point where you don’t think about it much. If you read a chapter of the Bible every morning or a daily devotional, but don’t actually remember what you read a few hours later, then you need some kind of change. You don’t need to stop reading in the morning of course, but maybe add something else in or change things up every few weeks. I’d say that we all have automatic modes at some points so you have to watch out for them.

For example, I have automatic responses myself. “Cool” is my main one. If I don’t know what you said, I’ll just respond with this since it is the safest word ever. It should correctly answer just about 90% of what people are saying in case you missed something. I try not to be automatic too often, but my hearing’s always been about a second or two behind when I’m taken by surprise. I won’t actually understand what someone said unless I wait an extra second or two and who wants to do that? I prefer to just talk right away even if I have to play the old bluffing game. You can do just about anything automatically, but you won’t remember the details quite as much and it ultimately won’t help you develop.

So just keep that in mind at all times. I’d say that talking to God informally during the day is the best way to make sure that you’re active even if you’re not next to a Bible for a while. (Not a great excuse anymore since Smartphones exist, but talking 1 on 1 is still a great thing to do) I’m still working on finishing my run through of the Bible from start to finish. It’s taken an extremely long time, but part of the problem is that sometimes I’ll forget where I’m up too and have to re read some chapters. (Bookmarks? Ha! I don’t use those…….) Once in a blue moon, I also won’t be able to find the Bible when a big cleaning was done. I think of it as a desperate last ditch effort by Satan to not let me read the next chapter, but I chuckle at the attempt since we have like 20 different Bibles at home. The versions may be a little different, but I can live with that. My bad back, permanently disfigured knee, allergies to just about every single tasty food in the world, short term memory loss, fading eyesight, laggy hearing, and my body just breaking down bit by bit in general are other attempts that I’ll laugh off between coughs and colds. (Power Smoothies are something that I recommend for this by the way) I also subscribe to Bible Gateway and Up Words from Max Lucado. Then there’s also the Daily Devotionals when my memory is working and I do it straight away. Sometimes it’s easier to wrap up at night and it’s a good thing to do before bed. Regardless of when you make time for God, ensure that you do. If you can make time for a quick round of Super Smash or an extra helping of dinner, then you can certainly make time for your creator. It may not get you the next high score at your local, (It could though since you’ll have a more disciplined mind and a healthier outset on life which will give you a good work ethic) but it’ll save your eternal soul from damnation so that’s a good consolation. In the end, nobody can actually see your relationship with Christ except for yourself so don’t put too much stock into what others think of how you’re developing it. What works for one person may not work for another and they won’t be the ones judging you at the end of days. What interests me a lot are debates and quizzes. I’m bad at memorizing stuff since my memory is shot, but I do like winning things so watching Christian debates and entering quizzes are a good way to help me learn new things. I’ll probably be challenging my cousin in one of those quizzes very soon. Don’t worry readers, I aim to win. For others, they’ll develop better through Christian songs as the words leap into their mind and help them appreciate the messages and finally, others develop best through formal sermons where Bible teachings can be unwrapped and explained. A nice dose of all these options is another really solid way to go about it.

Overall, War Room is a good film. I may have not actually talked about it all that much in this post, but talking about the points that it brings up is a little more important. The film would be even better if it eliminated some unnecessary plots like the foot one (Which added nothing but crude humor to the film and was a little gross) and toned down some of the comedy and Tony so that his 180 turnaround didn’t feel too forced. This isn’t a formal review though and the intent is more important than the execution this time. It’s good to get more films out there that expose the mainstream media to God and the principles that Christians follow. With how degrading the world gets every day, it’s good to have some kind of positive media to counteract it. It’s worth checking it out and supporting the company is a good thing so that they can continue to churn out more movies like this one.