I Still Believe


I Still Believe is one of those films where you probably already know about the true story. Due to that you know you’re going to be in for quite the emotional experience. I’m definitely more a fan of happy films from the jump so that puts this one at a disadvantage. Still, it seems to be faithful enough to the actual events which is good, at least as far as I know the real ones. There’s a lot of good music and solid writing here so you should be good, but again if you’re not up for a sad movie then you’ll want to skip this one.

The movie starts with Jeremy heading out to College to begin a new chapter in his life. He’s very interested in music and is quickly able to get backstage at a concert. He meets the lead singer Jean-Luc who quickly becomes Jeremy’s mentor. Jeremy also meets a girl named Melissa and immediately likes her. The issue is that Jean-Luc does as well. Jeremy is determined to win this round though and he’s in luck as Melissa likes him back but doesn’t want Jean-Luc to know about this since it would crush him. They have to try and keep the relationship secret but is this possible at such a small town? Additionally, Melissa may not be as healthy as she appears. Will she really be okay with all of this stress going on?

The romance comes in pretty fast and it’s rare to see a love triangle in a film based on true events. It adds an extra layer of tragedy from the start since you assume Jean-Luc is doomed from the start. I have to say that I didn’t like Jeremy and Melissa really beginning this relationship right in the sound testing room when they knew Jean-Luc was right there. There have to be hundreds of better places to have started that. I blame Jeremy for calling her over but Melissa takes some blame as well for not shutting him down there.

It is a little hard to root for the romance all things considered since someone has to lose out here. Now it’s not like Melissa was actually together with Jean-Luc so I don’t have an issue with Jeremy going after her. It’s all fair game at that point when both are available. The keeping is a secret part was a bad idea on Melissa’s part from the jump though. She never liked him either so it isn’t a rebound but they definitely should have just told him everything right away instead of just dragging this out.

The movie gets a lot darker in the second half as we find out more about Melissa’s condition and what’s going on. There aren’t a lot of points where things are ever happy in this film. Every brief happy moment is immediately met with a setback or something else happening which negatively effects the characters. I would usually pile on the movie by this point for doing this but it all happened os I can’t say the film should have changed events. That said, I would have absolutely cut out the ending. It involves a rebound and because of how quickly the ending has to move, it just feels like its in bad taste. Now that’s a romance that’s really impossible for me to root for at least based on how it appears in the movie.

Jeremy’s a good lead. He can be a bit awkward when interacting and has to deal with a lot here but ultimately he does a good job. Jean-Luc is a good rival and really did try to help Jeremy out a whole lot. He took the betrayal of trust really hard but it’s easy to see why he would. It’s not easy to get over the fact that your best friend just took your love away. Then Melissa rounds out the main cast as a good heroine. There was certainly a lot of trials that she had to go through as well.

The cast is good here and the writing is on point. The film is able to get across that this is going to be a tough challenge for everyone. I would have liked to have had some happy scenes to grab onto for the second half but I guess it wasn’t in the cards. We do get some solid music during the film though. The famous “I Still Believe” song is here of course and a few other really good Christian worship songs. The film shows that you can’t always have everything your way and not every prayer will be answered the way that you want it too. Many have become shaken in their path when their prayers aren’t answered but it’s why prayer isn’t a simple wish list to Santa. The answer won’t always appear the way that you want it.

After all, you have billions of people praying and so naturally there are countless instances of two people praying for the exact opposite things. Naturally that means one person will get their wish and one won’t. You have to accept that everything happens for a reason and everything has a good purpose. Even if it is negative for you, the outcome may help a bunch of others in some way. Just keep up the faith and the ultimate reward of Heaven is worth any measure of strife.

Overall, I Still Believe reminds you that adversity will always appear no matter how calm your life may appear to be. In those times you need to pray and seek God’s help so that you aren’t crushed beneath all of your issues. This is certainly not a feel good movie so don’t expect to have a good time here but if you need a film to help teach someone about always getting up after a tough moment and never losing faith, then this will at least help you to show an example of true loss. It’s a good way to prepare someone for the future.

Breakthrough


It’s time to take a look at a movie based on true events. Such films always have to straddle the line of keeping everything accurate and true to its origin while also throwing in enough extra details to ensure that there is enough content for a full film. I’d say that this one did a good job, it doesn’t drag on and it doesn’t feel like they added too many dramatic moments. It’s a quality watch and a movie that will definitely age well.

The film starts off by introducing us to John and his adoptive parents. He’s going through a rebellious phase as he tries to find his place in the world. It doesn’t help that at school they’re supposed to do a presentation on their family tree and of course he doesn’t know his. Joyce does her best to connect with her son, but John is still being distant. He goes out with his friends to play in the ice and ends up falling in. While the rescuers were able to grab him, he went into a coma. Now Joyce must hold strong in her faith that John will get out of this in one piece.

Breakthrough has quality writing throughout that really keeps every piece of the movie operating at a high level. We’ve got a good cast which is important from the main characters to the supporting figures. John is one of the least likable characters almost by default because of the whole rebellion thing. He does come across as a little rude for the first half and while the guy is dealing with a lot of issues at the moment, it does feel pretty unwarranted. Not passing the ball at the end of the Basketball game was definitely an iffy moment, but by the end of the film he’s certainly learned his lesson and is more of a team player.

Joyce is the real star of the film and the only one who believed 100% from start to finish that John would get better. That level of devotion is always important in the healing process and she put her faith in God right from the start. I don’t blame some of the other characters for having doubts because it’s not as if it’s easy to do what Joyce did. Still, she deserves extra praise for being able to stand strong. She defends John whenever the Debbie Downers and never lets up on the intensity. I don’t really feel like she ever crosses the line with her outbursts except for one remark where she does put blame on Brian. She made a mistake on that moment, but quickly acknowledged it later.

Brian doesn’t take the situation as well as Joyce but is still supportive in his own way. While he can’t bring himself to go in the room for most of the film, he doesn’t leave the hospital either. He does his best so support Joyce and John from the sidelines. Then you’ve got Tommy who was instrumental in helping John out. He’s a good character to have around. Finally there’s Jason who is a bit of a mixed bag. I was actually expecting him to be more of an antagonist to an extent based on his first scene. He was surprisingly rude and obnoxious so when they said he was the pastor I was pretty surprised. After that we have the interesting rap intro to the sermon and a whole segment about the Bachelor.

I think the whole rap thing is an interesting gimmick. I don’t think I’d want to have that as a usual routine for Church, but since the guy was a guest I don’t have a problem with it. It was his contribution to the Church and a way to pay respect so I think the intent is good. The actual Bachelor sermon was a bit iffy. On it’s own I don’t think it would have been that bad either, but couple it with Jason’s other early scenes and that’s not the best first impression he could have had. He quickly shows that his heart is in the right place by the end of the film though. He was a great ally for Joyce.

Breakthrough is suitably emotional considering the serious plot it’s got. It’s a very traumatic experience for the family as well as everyone else in the neighborhood who knows John. I definitely don’t think anyone will be playing on the ice after this. I do think that the ending starts to get a little too mean spirited with people blaming John for surviving. That’s a quick way to make sure John gets hit with survivor guilt. At most I can see the kids acting like that, but the teacher? It definitely might be a good idea for the family to move away if things continue like that.

The soundtrack is definitely quite good here. There are quite a few Christian songs that play during the movie and they’re very catchy. You’ll likely recognize them if you listen to Christian music as these tunes are pretty popular. They help enhance the scenes that they play in and it’s always great to have some music in. I feel like music just makes a film feel more special and brings it to the next level. It’s also used well with the scenes so you won’t have happy music during a somber scene or sad music during a happy one. Context is always important.

Overall, Breakthrough is a solid movie and one that I definitely recommend checking out. It’s got a good message and a solid cast. The pacing is quick and the movie is able to go through a lot of events. There’s never a dull moment and since for films based on true events you already know the ending, the journey there is even more important than ever. As long as you continue to have faith there can always be miracles. Events like this are a great reminder that through God anything is possible. Sometimes it’s easy to say that without actually believing it, but know that this is one statement that you can take quite literally. We’ve been getting more Christian movies lately which is great, but don’t take that as a sign to stop checking them all out. The more we support these titles the more high quality experiences the companies will keep churning out. There’s no end to inspirational events like this one and the more that get adapted the better.

Risen

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Risen is a Christian film that takes an interesting approach to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most films look at it from the point of view of one of the Disciples or Mary, but this one looks at it from a roman soldier’s point of view. Clavius has been tasked with finding out who is spreading the rumors of Jesus being alive and putting an end to the problem. Clavius works at this goal for a while, but eventually begins to realize that this may not simply be a baseless rumor, but an incredible truth. This puts him at odds with the government so he quickly finds himself in a dangerous situation.

I can definitely appreciate what the director/writer was thinking here. This fresh take on the event is fun to see and Clavius is a good lead. He’s a reasonable guy who may have started out rather hard, but eventually came around. Paul ended up being one of the greatest Apostles in history and he started out as a murderer. There is always time to become a Christian even if you have a dark past. It can be easy to feel like it’s too late, but it certainly is not. The biggest mistake you can make it putting off your repentance and salvation because you want to wait for a good day. If you wait too long, you may find yourself dead before you have a chance. Prolonging things of such importance is not a good idea and the world continues to be in constant turmoil. It’s really impossible to say whether you will be dead or alive tomorrow so don’t take the risk. It is not worth losing your soul for eternity.

If I have any complaints about Risen, it’s that I would have liked to have seen the Disciples more. They rarely got to appear and didn’t get to look all that great when they did show up. Granted, they certainly would be cautious since Clavius was a Roman and they are only human. They did offer him food to eat and were amiable, but I suppose they still had their guard up. When Clavius was interrogating Mary (I believe it was Mary or it could have been one of the other two women) she didn’t do a great job of talking about her faith. She would just ignore him and stare at a corner, saying only a word or two once in a while. I think that aspect of the film certainly could have been handled better. More screen time for Christian messages to be spread by these characters would have been great.

Risen does a good job of recreating what the landscape would have been like back in the day. It’s not all that pretty to look at, but that’s the general point. It’s better to get an accurate look at the area than a romanticized version of it, at least for a film like this one that is depicting real events. The chase scene we get towards the middle of the film where Clavius tries to locate the Disciple base was fun. It’s certainly hard to catch anyone in those streets since the buildings are everywhere and objects obscure your view from all sides. Being able to see the Disciples and Jesus for the first time after his resurrection was definitely the turning point for Clavius.

When thinking about everything that Jesus did in this era, it’s amazing just how close minded people were. He cured people of various diseases, gave the blind sight, and made the crippled walk again. The miracles that Jesus performed were numerous and in front of many witnesses. As Clavius was converted in this film after witnessing Jesus Christ’s power and being exposed to the message, it’s hard to see how someone wouldn’t be converted after seeing it first hand. It can never be that easy of course and there will always be those who don’t believe, but I like to think that the majority would after such a spectacle. I suppose some people simply refused to believe it, no matter what evidence was presented.

Whether in the old days or in current times, there will always be people who have completely closed off their hearts. Nobody is too far gone for God to change, but free will is a privilege that he gives us so we still have to make that choice. If you’re trying to talk to someone about Christ and that person is completely unwilling, it’s best not to force the issue. It can just make that person all the more resistant to change so waiting it out can be a good approach. Nobody can stop you from praying so you can always pray for that person to have a change of heart. Praying for others is a good habit to do every night and you should also pray for yourself as well. If you talk to God every night, it will certainly help you stay strong as a Christian. It can be tough to find time during the day, so you should always keep some kind of schedule in mind. Whether you read a daily devotional every morning or read the Bible during lunch, try to have some kind of routine. It’s not as if it’s tough to make an appointment with God, you can talk to him instantly at any point in time. Always remember to keep that connection active and it will make a difference in your life. You’ll respond to people differently if you have God in mind while you are acting.

I definitely recommend checking out Risen. I recommend it higher if you are already a Christian as you will enjoy seeing this from a new perspective. If you are not yet a Christian, then I’d sooner recommend other films like God’s Not Dead or the 10 Commandments. I admit that I have not watched the latter yet, but I’ve heard that it’s excellent and faithfully recreates a lot of events from the Bible. This film just didn’t have enough Christian discussions and messages in my opinion which is why it wouldn’t be at the top of my recommendations list, but it is still a very solid film. You certainly won’t be worse off for watching it and perhaps you will be able to identify with Clavius. Christianity looked odd to him at the beginning and he thought that it was all foolish, but after actually learning what it was all about, he saw the truth. It’s why it is important to learn about something before writing it off. That’s something that we can apply to everyday life as well.

Do You Believe

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God Is Not Dead was a terrific film and it’s good to see more and more Christian films make it to theaters. As more and more people hear about the Word, hopefully we will see them accept Christ into their lives. When I saw the title of this film, I immediately thought of a song that has been sung in Church fairly often as of late. It’s a great song based on the Apostle’s Creed where you reaffirm your faith in God. This film shows us many different characters who will have to deal with their faith in different ways as hardship comes in many forms.

There are a number of plots here and they are all rather separate until a highway situation forces all of them to meet up and help each other out. A pastor is asked if he believes in the Cross and is unable to really answer at first. It is certainly a powerful symbol which has been interpreted in many ways. Sacrifice and kindness would be the first two words that I would use for it and other Christians would possibly have different views. We all know that Jesus died for us and how we respond to that is all different. The pastor asks everyone what the cross means to them. He is then faced with other tough choices like whether he should accept stolen money from a gang member or not. Naturally, accepting such an offer is certainly not something that a Christian wants to do, but not accepting it would possibly put the criminal in even more danger as the guy wants to walk away from crime. The best thing that the Pastor could have done in my opinion, would have been to hand the cops the money immediately. I suppose that they may have forced him to identify the guy who gave the package to him, but it still seems like the best case scenario for the guy.

Not all of the plots end up perfectly happy for the characters, but most of them end up seeing the light and becoming a Christian before it’s too late. I think that the gangster plot was probably a little out of place here, but it did add some action to the whole ordeal, which is probably what the writers were going for here. One of the plots saw an emergency worker get sued for supposedly trying to convert someone to being a Christian and letting the guy die as a result. Naturally, this was not the case as the man tried his best to save the victim before converting him, but the wife would not hear of it. The man refused to lie about this even though it meant that he would lose all of his money in court as well as his job. Certainly a tough decision for anyone to make considering that your life would effectively be over as it would be very tough to bounce back from that. He certainly gave us a good example of standing by the belief that God will ensure that everything turns out okay. You have to believe and have faith.

Some of the plots were certainly more enjoyable than others, but in a film with so many storylines, it makes sense that this would happen. None of the plots were bad though. For example, I didn’t care too much for the Pastor’s subplot where he took in a girl who was pregnant and having a tough time so he took her in. It’s not my kind of plot, but it definitely shows how selfless the Pastor was here. An old couple also took in a girl and her mother, who didn’t have a home before then. They were fortunate to meet up with these Christians and one also gave them a place to stay before that. Seeing such generosity is always inspiring.

Do You Believe is a more somber than God’s Not Dead and shows you a lot of real trials that Christians deal with all the time. As such, the other film is naturally a lot more fun for me, but both titles are good to check out. As Christians, it’s good to give these films support provided that they do a good job of presenting God’s truths and aren’t simply trying to capitalize on them. This film has a number of good messages and I definitely recommend checking it out. At 2 hours, the movie is certainly able to fit a whole lot of themes in.

If I had pick which trial was the toughest, it would probably be taking in the pregnant lady. You have to be really selfless to do such an act since letting someone into your home is no small feat. It will also be expensive since you will have to provide for another person. The easiest one would probably be the court case. Not saying that it is easy by any means, but at that point in the game, your honor as a person would also help you to stick to your story of what happened. Pride and honor wouldn’t let you back down and since you know that telling the truth is the right thing to do here, it’s a double incentive for you. The gangster one depends on if you’ve made your peace with the world or not. At the very least, the end should be fairly quick in that scenario. I was glad that the film didn’t go over the top with the sadness angle though as a certain individual staying in the car at the end would have been unfortunate.

I look forward to seeing which Christian film I check out next. I know that several more will be coming out in the near future and that’s a really good thing. Despite society drifting further and further away from the Bible, these films give people a chance to retink Christianity and every person that ultimately converts into Christian is a big battle that has been won by the people behind the film. As in the film, there will always be those who will refuse to accept God even if a miracle occurs right in front of them, but we must still pray for as many people as possible to see the truth. Miracles do occur each and every day after all and until the Lord comes again, our mission to bring more and more people to Christ is not over!