Live Action Movies

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.

Live Action Movies

War Room


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.

Live Action Movies

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise


As Hillsong is my main Church, I definitely had to go and watch the Hillsong movie. I saw it in theaters a while back so this post is rather late, but better late than never right? When you’re given lemons, you make lemonade and that was my logic as I grabbed my backlog and turned it into a pile of future reviews. The movie is essentially a biographical film about how the Church started up and their expansion since then. It’s pretty interesting and while you may already know a lot of the bullet points from a quick online search, it’s fun to see.

The main selling point of the film was the music. Hillsong’s always been known for its solid array of music during service and many other Churches use their songs as well. On that note, I do think that the movie could have had some more songs. There were a decent amount of them I suppose, but not nearly as many as I had expected when I went into the film. It’s not as if the history part was boring or anything, it was just a little unexpected.

The biographical parts play out like your old family movies. We see recordings of the Hillsong founders going to the original location of the Church and talking about the good ole days. We also have some footage of those days that are played, like when the gang was stopped in a traffic jam. The way that the film plays out does make it a little hard for this post to not be short though since it’s easy to run out of things to say. At this point, you’ve already got the gist of the film. Obviously, you’ll enjoy the film even more if you’re a Hillsong Church-goer and want to learn more about the Church or if you just want to see a nice success story about a Church that continues to help people out far and wide. It doesn’t really do anything provocative to warrant discussion (That’s a good thing by the way) and since there isn’t really a plot since this is a documentary, there aren’t characters to discuss.

It’s just a pleasant history film to watch. I may be a little biased, but I’d say that the NYC branch of Hillsong actually has the others beat in the song department though. The songs here were great as always, but NYC just has that extra kick in its voice as we have such talented singers at the ready. NYC’s Hillsong has always set the bar super high after all and that won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Overall, I won’t stall too much here. Let Hope Rise is a very solid film and it’s neat that the Church got the film to go into theaters. It had a short, but lively run and I’d recommend checking it out on DVD. I don’t watch too many biographical pics so it was a nice change of pace. The music is definitely solid and everything about the movie is on point. It’s the kind of film that will leave you in a good mood and that’s the kind of flick that’s always in season.

Live Action Movies

God’s Not Dead 2


I got to watch this film in theaters a while back, but it took a while to get around to it. I really enjoyed God’s Not Dead so I was looking forward to the sequel. Debates with non believers on the validity of Christ is always very entertaining and I certainly recommend looking up some of the professional debates that are on Youtube. There are even Christian vs Christian debates online as they tackle the deeper topics like predetermination, and on whether parts of the Old Testament were parables. (I definitely disagree with the latter. At least on the Jonah and the Whale part. I think that definitely did in fact happen and it was not simply a story) God’s Not Dead 2 ups the stakes as the debate is in an official court room this time.

Grace is a history teacher and one day she gets asked a question about whether King Jr., Ghandi, and Jesus Christ had similar messages of peace. Grace responds with a sound yes, but one kid in the back quickly sends a text to his parents. They quickly take it up to the Principal and they are ready to take Grace down if she does not retract her statement. Grace definitely does not and she quickly gets assigned one of the worst lawyers that they could find. Little do they know that Tom is very enthusiastic and doesn’t like to lose. He may not be at a high rank yet, but he’ll still give this his all. The two of them prepare for the big day in court as they fight to protect the right to use the Bible in historical context while at school.

The one iffy thing about the first film was that it tried to juggle about 10 or more subplots. This one cuts down on that considerably so we can now focus on Grace’s subplot. The pastors from the first film also get a small role here as they show up every now and again, but don’t ultimately do much. It’s more for cameo purposes and to acknowledge the continuity of it all. The villains of this film are likable as antagonists. We have the principal who is very excited for this case since it is apparently something that he has been waiting for. He really gets into the battle as he even goes to the home of the student who asked the question and convinces her parents to stand against Grace. They quickly do since they don’t talk to Brooke as much as they should and don’t really understand that this is completely against her wishes.

Brooke is a good character as well. She is struggling with death in her family and this is how she ends up becoming a Christian. The society makes this task very difficult for her though as peer pressure tries to get her to think that this may not be a good thing. After all, her teacher was brought to court and could lose everything just for mentioning the Bible in class and quoting a line or two. That’s a pretty steep price and it will only get steeper as time goes on. Brooke stands strong though and tries to provide Grace with support as best as she can. It doesn’t always pay off, but she does her best. Tom’s a solid character as well. His final plan was definitely super risky, but it shows what a good guy he is. He may not be a Christian, but he did still want to genuinely help Grace. His plan’s risk was mostly all directed at himself so even if it failed, Grace would be okay.

Naturally, Grace is an excellent character. She is given many reasons to quickly take back what she has said and then everything would go away. Everyone advises her to do this, but Grace is courageous and managed to stay strong. It’s certainly a lot tougher than it looks to stand up to adversity without bending to the whims of the world, but it is what you have to do. Your faith will definitely be tested in one way or another during your life. Everyone faces trials and tribulations at some point and if you’ve never experienced one before, then you likely have one coming up. Even for those of us who have already gone through many struggles, there will always be new ones over the horizon. Life wasn’t meant to be easy, but it is all worth it for the final prize of Heaven in the end.

One important thing to take away from debates is that you must be completely confident in yourself. You certainly do want to convince your opponent to become a Christian or to at least consider the possibility that God is real. However, another aspect is just as important and that is to not let your opponent shake you. They will try every tactic possible to convince you that Christianity is false as they point out moments that they deem hypocritical or implausible. The Devil would like nothing more than for you to enter a lot of Christian debates and slowly start to lose your faith in the Word’s infallible truths. It’s why debates aren’t always for everyone and I certainly don’t recommend looking into them any deeper than you are comfortable with. Give yourself time to read the Bible cover to cover on your own and listen to some sermons. Once you have a very clear understanding of it, then you can enjoy the debates. Otherwise, it’s possible that they will try to confuse you and twist the meanings of the Bible. It’s very easy to change the entire context of a passage by starting in the middle or ending a quote before it was really over.

In the end, you don’t want anything to shake your faith. There are many things about the Bible that I don’t understand and many things that I probably can’t even if I were to focus on them forever. You can run yourself through logical loops forever and ever without getting any closer to the true meaning. The Bible isn’t meant to be comprehended in a quick sitting like an average novel. It’s known as the Living Word and that’s because you can always get something else out of it. You may interpret a passage one way the first time you read it and another way the next. You are constantly changing as a Christian and your capacity to understand will always be growing. It’s still hard to actually picture Heaven in all of its splendor and I do think that it is beyond comprehension. It’s something that you will simply have to look forward to experiencing and I can’t wait.

“I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God.” A solid quote to remember from Grace in this film. This world has a lot of joys and wonders in it as well to counteract all of the evil deeds around the world, but the thought of a perfect world of only joy is incredible. This one won’t last and the people who try to get you to renounce your faith won’t get the last laugh. Not only does God provide an end goal to look forward too, but he gives meaning to life. What would the whole point of our daily struggles be if we simply died in the end? With nothing to look forward too, then we would simply be living for day to day pleasures and that just doesn’t seem right. You always get the feeling that there has to be something more to life and Christianity gives you that something. It’s been great to see more and more Christian films arriving in theaters and I’m proud to support them. Hopefully these films will reach a lot of people and turn their hearts to Christ. Every soul saved is worthy of our celebration because it means that we will have saved another person from Hell. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I completely recommend it, along with its predecessor.