Reviewing Christian Film

Liam Neeson in Pilgrim's Progress

I’m not going to comment on the quality of “Christian” films, I very rarely watch them. I thought Facing the Giants was decent in that Rudy or Remember the Titans sorta way, but I’ve yet to see The Blind Side or Fireproof. Generally I cringe at these types of movies, wincing through some of the sappier “Christian” moments. You may think, Didn’t he see Amazing Grace or Luther? For whatever reason, I don’t consider them a part of the “Christian” genre. I’m rather arbitrary, I know.

Anyways, this new movie Soul Surfer seems to be this year’s Fireproof, and I likewise doubt I’ll see it. I read a review at Salon.com a month ago and felt justified in my dismissal. But then I read Timothy Dalrymple’s post: “Are Christian Movies Really So Bad?” where he notes the trend amongst film critics to be particularly scathing to the Christian genre. He offers three reasons why:

1) Reviewers want to maintain their reputations, and giving a positive review to a movie like Soul Surfer would be a good reason to lose all cred.

2) The lack of faith themes in Hollywood movies makes their appearance jarring.

3) Cynical reviewers don’t get the Christian worldview, so these movies are just plain strange.

Read the rest here.

***UPDATE*** I got to thinking, Why am I so arbitrary in my tastes for this type of film? There must be something that makes me not mind Narnia or Luther (although I thought Narnia was kind’ve cheezy, especially the kid’s hair). I’m thinking maybe it has to do with the purpose behind the films. Fireproof and those kind of movies are more evangelistically oriented; call it the “evangelism genre.” A large part of their purpose is to get the message out. Amazing Grace, it seems to me, is more intended as a story about a historically important figure who happened to be a Christian. Maybe we can call it the plain ole “Christian genre.” I know I’m splitting hairs and any sane person could push me to the wall on this. But it’s the only way I can account for my thinking.

As they say, for what it’s worth…

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4 Comments

Filed under film, reviews

4 responses to “Reviewing Christian Film

  1. Jon Pietrowski

    I’m with you, Ian. I’m kind of a film buff/snob and demand quality in terms of acting and writing. I will say that Fireproof was pretty well done. The low budget is evident at some points, but overall I liked it very much.

  2. yea – for Christian movies fireproof is up there. I think the Christian/evangel movie production team might do better if they sought to do more Christian bios. Like Luther was pretty sick. Then again I think Soul Surfer was biographical… Maybe they could stick with historical figures from past centuries? hmmm – this is a hard one to pin down. There’s good and bad all over the place.

  3. Ken Davis

    I refused to watch Fireproof because it was made by the same group that did Facing the Giants, which was absolutely horrible. I tend to avoid Christian films simply because of story line and talent. That and the fact that I simply resist the apoplectic excitement that some movies generate in the Christian community. I know it’s amazing that the Christian faith survived for two thousand years without this movie, but I will try to live out my seventy years without it anyway.
    And then of course there are the promos like this:

    “Churches across the country purchased entire show times to help strengthen marriages in their congregations and to reach out to their communities. And those churches reported increased attendance in response! That makes a FIREPROOF Movie Event a natural ministry tool to inspire and challenge the people of your church…and beyond.”
    Ah —- no thanks.

    Rudy, however was a great movie and your comparison of it to Giants really hurts. Rudy quite possibly has one of the greatest quotes ever. In replying to Rudy’s question regarding why he can’t get into Notre Dame his priest says “I have been a priest for twenty five years and I have learned two indisputable truths – there is a God and I am not Him.” (The quote is probably not exact.)

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