Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Worth Dying For

The apostle Paul travelled some 10,000 miles for 30 years, was blinded, shipwrecked, whipped, robbed, stoned; well acquainted with hunger, thirst, cold and nakedness. Assaulted by false witness, pain and infirmity. More than enough to make a compelling film. Would you believe instead this movie revolves around his last days in a dark, dank, desolate prison cell hewn out of rock? Surprised me too. In a powerful way.

Filmed in Malta where Paul was once shipwrecked, starring Jim Caviezel, Oliver Martinez, Joann Whalley, John Lynch, and James Faulkner, and spiked with haunting musical background, the stage is set to create something that will leave you forever changed. No matter where your faith stands. Paul, Apostle of Christ accurately and vividly marries the essence of the ancient past to present relevance, laying out answers to what life was like back then while stirring questions for our time.

Blamed for the great fire, Christians were hunted down, brutally tortured and killed with bloodthirsty relish. Barbaric cruelty reeking of insane inhumanity reigned supreme under Emperor Nero. Rome was a dangerous place for followers of The Way.

That did nothing to deter Luke, the Greek physician from stealthily making his way to visit Paul where he literally immortalized his life-work in what became the biblical book of Acts. The same account that spread throughout the world and magnified across the silver screen for us. Where it’s our turn to grasp Paul’s mission and message. And the story prison could not confine.

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The realistic action in Paul, Apostle of Christ locks your attention and releases a flood of emotions mixed with points to puzzle over. Anger, heartbreak, fear and frustration for the violence, injustice, and persecution contrasting starkly with love, forgiveness, hope, mercy, grace  peace and joy in the midst of hardship. Arrows straight to the heart. Especially for those of us struggling with guilt or forgiveness. Or if you’re battered and bruised from stabs of persecution. If your faith is wavering or non-existent. Or if present-day darkness is casting you under a shadow of gloom-drenched trepidation.

We see Paul transformed from the enemy of Christ to the man beaten, martyred living out the message of the Jesus he once despised. What really happened on the road to Damascus? How did the most zealous persecutor of Christians flip to endure big-time trials defending the faith he sought to annihilate? Surely there is hope, grace, and redemption, no matter what we’ve done.

Condemned for crimes he didn’t commit, alone with the scars of abuse and isolation, he stood for peace and forgiveness. No doubt in his mind – “grace is for everyone”. Even the worst among us. He held nothing against those who abandoned, imprisoned, and whipped him. The love in his eyes prompting us to do the same.

Paul’s testimony made believers out of Romans and Greeks attached to gods of their own. Something convinced them to walk away from worshiping and sacrificing to familiar deities for an invisible God worth risking their lives for. Preferring death to life without Christ. What might that be?

Like Paul, those early Christians were persecuted, tormented in the worst way, yet their lives were filled with hope, joy, and a promised happy ending. For those of us who know rejection and exclusion because you won’t join in the gossip, know what it’s like when someone turns their back on you for refusing to lie for them or standing up for what is right; have been ridiculed for not cheating or waiting to have sex, this movie offers you hope and comfort.

And, oh yes, we find the most powerful man in the world felt the need to restrain a frail, old man and kind, simple people doing good in the name of a convicted, crucified criminal. Rather laughable don’t you think? There must be more to this story.  Confirmation for the convicted Christian. Proof to ponder and hopefully adopt for the unbeliever.

What really made the movie for me was James Faulkner’s portrayal of Paul. He cast the giant of the faith in a different-coloured light. I always pictured the apostle as bigger than life. Strong, powerful, energetic. We see a meek, soft-spoken man; remorseful,  broken and scarred, facing his final hours. Humble. Gentle. But still burning bright and strong with the fire of Christ’s love radiating in his every word. His heart in full display.

Finally, Paul’s words in dialogue and scripture fuse into a charged baton sparked with inspiration and conviction which the film nimbly passes onto the viewer. With task in hand, it’s now up to us to run with it.

Film has been provided courtesy of Sony Entertainment Releasing Canada (Affirm Films) and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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and the verdict is…

Case for Christ MovieNothing like overwhelming evidence overturned by a skeptic. Nothing like a rousing investigation spiked with personal conflict and tension. The Case for Christ delivers both with accuracy to the true story narrative and a thumbs-up, 5-star, gotta see film.

Lee Strobel’s life was sailing high. Beautiful spouse, adorable daughter, baby on the way and a promotion to legal editor to the Chicago Tribune. Then his daughter, Alison, almost choked in a restaurant. The nurse who saved the child’s life was a Christian who claimed to be divinely prompted to dine at that particular establishment.

That changed everything. His wife, Leslie, found Christ. Lee lost himself in the obsession to bring her back to her senses. And his atheistic convictions. He was absorbed in the relentless pursuit to debunk the ‘delusion’ of the resurrection. She was steadfast and resolute to follow Christ and take Lee with her. He came home drunk and miserable. She was at home praying for him.

The friction in their marriage was tangible. The drama intense. At one point, I needed to remind myself this happened in real life and not the product of Hollywood scripting. So enveloped in the suspense, I almost forgot I knew how it ended.

Directed by Jon Gunn and featuring Faye Dunaway, Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, and Robert Forster, The Case for Christ, as the title alludes, stacks the clues that substantiate Christianity, one scene after another.  In a fast-paced, heart-stopping production that rivals any top-rated, popular detective show.

The movie makes an unashamed “case for Christ”. It is intended to entice believers and strengthen followers. But what makes it so effective is not so much the evidence it uncovers but the personal element that draws you in, and that many can identify with. The further Lee dug to disprove the resurrection, the higher the odds piled to the contrary. All the historical, scientific and medical facts pointed in the same direction. Lee is left to make a verdict. He takes the stand as a witness to Jesus and leads a convincing argument for the viewer to do the same. Believe and receive.

The cinematographic excellence kept me riveted to the screen.  While the heart-thumps and lessons grabbed my heart, leaving a lasting impression and buckets of inspiration. Lee’s devastating discovery after the death of his father spoke loudly of the cost of carrying a grudge. I saw first-hand the power of prayer, listening to that small voice inside, and never giving up on people. To continue believing, hanging onto faith even when circumstances taunt you to do otherwise.

More than anything, the movie vividly confirmed Christ’s love is the big “why” behind the resurrection truth. That transformation is the best evidence for Christ. Because He lives in your heart.

The Case for Christ can be summed up as a bold apologetics documentary cleverly disguised as a compelling legal thriller. Kinda like a nutritious snack. You don’t have to know it’s good for you to thoroughly enjoy it! This is an exceptional film which keeps you glued to your seat and gripped by the mounting proof that Jesus, Light of the World, Son of God, Lamb of God, Redeemer, King came down from heaven, died on the cross, and rose again. As promised. Because he loves each and every one of us. But you don’t have to take my word for it.  I invite you to watch the movie and see for yourself. It will make a believer out of anyone.

Disclaimer: Movie has been provided with thanks courtesy of Mongrel Media and  Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for this unbiased review.

Courage is all you need to Win

race-to-win-movie-coverThe skeptics weighed in heavily against the likelihood Gentry could make anything of the vast, expansive ranch.  But he had a vision. Took on the impossible, and made it happen. Now that he’s gone, his grieving family has 30 days to come up with $150,000 to clear a business loan or lose it all.

Doesn’t help matters they owe the money to a heartless slime bucket who’s had his greedy eye on the property for a while. Who will stop at nothing to get his way or make a quick, dishonest buck. But the Rhodes family is not without hope or options. There’s still a battle to fight and a race to win their ticket to freedom from his debt-fisted grasp.

The answer was simple and obvious. Victory in the upcoming Hancock County Championship Race would turn things around just like that!…..or so it seemed. That dream dissolved into a puddle of washed-up optimism when the jockey refused to race Sheba, their prized racehorse. “This horse is not a winner!” he insisted and walks away.

That dropped one last, lofty chance for daughter Hannah to come through on to her promise to keep the homestead in the family. Could she find the courage to take on fierce, unbeatable competition and wrestle haunting self-doubt on the shoulders of halting unreadiness? Gather everything her father taught her about riding to chase the ride of her life?

With all the inner strength she could muster, boldly facing the daunting challenge of training with a new horse, she chooses to race. To honour her dad’s legacy. Race to win for the family who believes in her; who quiet her fears with the lovingly assurance, “Your best is enough!”

This is the part where I sighed, expecting to settle in to the classic, rousing, triumphant story unfold. Poetic justice wrapped in a victory lap. I won’t spoil it for you with the result of the race, and don’t mean to tease, but the twist in the plot was worth waiting for.

Race to Win is the perfect movie for anyone who has lost someone dear. It sensitively captures the sting of grief and the brave stepping out it takes to carry on.  The film casts a clear view of what it looks like to find the strength to hold each other up in the mourning. And hold fast to the love-filled memory of the one  who will always be with you, deep in your heart. Always.

If you need to find the faith to believe it’s never too late, even when it seems you’ve exhausted all options, this movie is for you. If you need the inspiration to hang on to hope and keep going, you won’t be disappointed.

If you need to be reminded your best is enough, Race to Win is right up your alley. If you could use a little encouragement or long for a wholesome, uplifting family film, this movie is definitely for you. Especially if you happen to like animals.

Race to Win touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I loved how the true-to-life characters drew me in while precious values such as:

  • perseverance
  • courage to do the right thing and the hard things
  • what it means to be a true champion
  • strength born from family love and commitment
  • there’s always room for redemption

were molded into captivating drama. I enjoyed every minute, from beginning to end.

Movie has been provided courtesy of Mongrel Media and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Releases to DVD March 7

I am a hope writer