Even though tomorrow is Wednesday (The middle of the Week) it is still the beginning of the July 4th movie weekend. This July 4th, fans of Christian films will have an opportunity to go to the theaters and view a film from the makers of God’s Not Dead. The film, Faith of Our Fathers opens tomorrow (July 1st) I still don’t know how I feel about this film. I just feel that the message of Jesus is so strong, that we don’t need to help it along by turning down the volume of a story and turning up the volume of the message. I firmly believe a well done film can tell a well written story and share an uncompromised message. I do look forward to this film but I am a little shy about it after Do You Believe, which I felt was horribly written! However, my point today is not to simply inform you of the movie but I would encourage you to go see it if it looks interesting to you and you would like to support more Christian films I will attach the trailer here.
But the real reason I am writing this blog is because of a Youtube Video I watched today. I am sure many of you are familiar with Youtube, but some of you might not be aware that Youtube actually has weekly, monthly or daily shows on them. Some of them are funded by the adds that you see before the show, some have sponsors, others are actually shows to help a company’s bottom line. AMC Theaters created a show a few years back called AMC Movie Talk. It is a daily show, uploaded five times a week where they discuss all the movie news that was released that day. I watch it almost daily and I love what has been created on that Youtube Channel. Because of the success of AMC Movie Talk they branched out into other shows such as AMC Jedi Council, AMC Heroes, AMC Indie Spotlight, AMC Rewind and AMC Coming Soon. Along with these shows you will find reviews of some of the big event films and interviews with stars and directors. It really is an amazing Youtube Channel for movie fans and from what I hear AMC doesn’t really make money on the channel but the intent is to keep people excited about movies.
This week, on the show AMC Coming Soon they discussed three films that come out this weekend the second of which is Faith of Our Fathers. The three panelists rank the films from 1 to 5. 1 – Not Interested, 2 – Curious, 3 – Seeing it, 4 – Seeing it Opening Weekend, and 5 – Camping Out to see it. This week’s Panel is made up of Kristian Harloff, Mark Ellis, and David Griffin. Kristian and Mark have their own channel and show apart from AMC as well. I was very interested with how they were going to handle this movie and how they would score it. The result was interesting enough for me to write this blog. I will link the video below, I hope it works to link it at the time they begin to talk about the film but if it doesn’t they begin talking about it at 9:19.
Mark Ellis started the discussion out by saying that it was from the producers of God’s Not Dead and that he was surprised he liked that film as much as he did. He continued to say that he didn’t feel it was too preachy… then he said he felt it presented an interesting take on a possible after life… which is when I realized he was thinking about Heaven is for Real, which is a superior movie to God’s not Dead. I wonder what he would have scored it if he was corrected and told which film God’s Not Dead actually was. After finishing his discussion, because he was interested in Vietnam War films he was giving it a 2 which means he is curious. David Griffin then came in, he revealed that he went to seminary which was something I didn’t know and would like to know more about. He felt that the movie looked too saturated in message. A message he was not against but he felt that the story would be crushed under the thickness of the story (my description of what I feel his view was.) He scored it a 1, saying he wasn’t interested. Kristian Harloff said that he agreed with Mark. He felt like the subject was interesting. He said he wasn’t against there being a religious aspect to the film because he knows that many soldiers made it through the war because of their faith and that it was a real aspect of it but he fears it might become a movie about quoting Bible Verses instead of about the story. He said that he doesn’t want a film that is just going to beat him up with a message. Sometimes, when I hear words like this I begin to wonder if they would feel a movie could be preachy if the message being preached was not a Christian one but Kristian continued with a view into his perspective that I could very much appreciate. He said that being hit over the head with the message is what he hasn’t liked about Neil Blomkamp films or even Tomorrowland. I am very glad that he made that last statement, I feel it can be much more helpful to the film makers to hear this kind of criticism from people in or around the film industry if they can be sure it isn’t just an aversion to the message itself. I personally thank the guys on AMC Coming Soon for their honesty. The truth is, a movie carrying any message can become bogged down with the message instead of simply telling a story. Christian films now I have budget to do a Best Picture quality film but they now need to make sure that they are careful with what they put out. Craft the story with care, show how faith impacts life don’t just read the Bible to the audience. Make sure that the story feels more real to life then wish fulfillment. I understand that God works miracles but I think many Christians would agree that watching a man die and then come back to life is not something many of us can relate to. I am not saying God can’t I am just saying that if we want to reach people we need to make sure the story can relate to the people we are trying to reach.
I think the biggest take away from this is that you have two out of three people who deem this movie as “Curious.” That is a great start but don’t betray that curiosity by serving up a plate of cheese! I hope that Faith of our Fathers is a step in the right direction, I would too say that I am “Curious” but there was a time when I would score any Christian film with a budget like this as a #4 – Seeing it Opening Weekend… but I have been served cheese a few too many times… I still try to catch as many of these as I can but they are becoming too many for me to find and pay a babysitter, drive 45 to 50 minutes to the nearest movie theater (that’s right… it is hard for a movie lover to be called to minister in a place 45 to 50 minutes from a theater) and shell out another chunk of cash for a subpar movie. There are movies that raise above the rest and make me want to go and see it opening weekend… but so far… Pure Flix has not given me that reason yet… but I am still rooting for them! I really am! Check out the video below.