Sunday, September 16, 2018

Movie Review of God Bless the Broken Road

Another faith based film hit theaters this September.

God Bless the Broken Road is directed by Harold Cronk who brought us God's Not Dead and God's Not Dead 2.

It tells the story of a young mother who loses her husband in Afghanistan and struggles to raise their young daughter in his absence.

The film combines elements of faith, country music, and stock car racing while paying tribute to those who serve in the United States Military.

If you are looking for a clean, family friendly movie this is an excellent choice for you.

Visit your local theater listings for times.

For the main character, Amber Hill, life changes drastically when she receives the news that her husband, a soldier stationed in Afghanistan had been killed. When she receives this news she is leading the church choir practice, which until that moment seems to be the delight of her life.

As often happens when tragedy hits, our lives shift and joy gets buried in the pain. The movie jumps to two years later where we find Amber struggling financially as a single working mom, disconnected from her church roots and completely uninterested in singing. Even her young daughter, Bree, can't convince her to sing "just once more".

Then enters Cody, a race card driver in a slump. His reputation appears to be that of a bad-boy and he is sent to the equivalent of 'the Minors' to sharpen him. He arrives in the small town to be mentored by a man named Joe Carter who runs a mechanics shop, ministers to young kids and apparently is a whiz at car racing.

The first thing Joe does when Cody arrives in town is take him to church where Cody sees a beautiful woman across the parking lot dropping off her daughter. His interest is sparked and shall we say the rest is history?

Well, there is a romantic element to this film but it takes a far back seat to the rest of the story and by the end of the film there is still just a "hint" of something brewing. A very clean and un-rushed aspect of the film.

The main focus of the story is on Amber's choked out faith as the financial obstacles mount higher and higher against her.

Some things I loved about the film: the music! It was a beautiful arrangement of hymns, current radio plays and of course the title track God Bless the Broken Road. Even has a cameo appearance by Micah Tyler as a cafe singer. As well as Jordin Sparks portraying one of Amber's friends.

Another thing I enjoyed about the movie was the intertwining plots of Amber and Cody. They both had a journey to fulfill and they weren't there simply to enhance each other. However, I would have liked to see more depth to Cody's story line.

This story is very moving and I went through several tissues. As the story climaxes where it seems Amber has truly lost everything in her world, she surrenders in exhaustion before God that she can't 'do this alone'. And as believers we know and understand that this is the actual moment where things change. Sometimes in movies this means everything is restored, the sun comes out and everyone lives happily ever after.

Not so in real life, often.

And God Bless the Broken Road tries to steer away from the Story-book ending. Instead of all her dreams coming true, Amber finds peace. And ultimately that is what we all want, isn't it.

"No matter where life takes you ... faith takes you further"

One note on age appropriateness, be aware there is a small amount of war scenes involving explosions and guns, injuries and death. There is no blood shown, which for some will seem very fake but makes it accessible for younger ages. I would still recommend caution for younger children.

Overall, this is a great story and a well made movie. I would recommend it to  those searching for good, clean entertainment. Will be worth the $$$ you spend at the box office doors.


Check out the trailer.
Also, a discussion guide.

"Film has been provided courtesy of Pacific Northwest Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Movie Review of Hillsong: Let Hope Rise.

If you didn't get a chance to see Hillsong in the theaters, you can watch it in your own home now. Blu-ray and DVD are available now!

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

This inspiring film chronicles the spectacular rise of the Christian band, Hillsong UNITED, to a worldwide recording and concert sensation. Capturing the on-stage energy and off-stage hearts of the Australia-based band Hillsong UNITED, HILLSONG–LET HOPE RISE is a new motion-picture genre—the theatrical worship experience. The film explores Hillsong’s humble beginnings and astonishing rise to prominence as an international church whose songs are sung every Sunday by more than 50 million people worldwide.
Additional Details
The runtime for the film is 103 mins. There are 38 minutes of the following Special Features, included on both the DVD and Blu-ray:
  • Bonus Performances: “Scandal of Grace”, “Captain”, “Wake”, “The Stand”
  • Behind the Scenes Footage: LA Record and San Clemente Writing

This was a great film to watch. Seeing inside the heart of the individuals in the band, as well as their collective hope to use music to "connect the human heart with heaven" was very encouraging. The documentary style of story-telling takes the viewer behind the lights and awe for back stage footage, personal interviews and even scenes within the member's home lives.

My favorite part was the concert footage. In most cases the words to the songs they are performing are on your screen, as they encourage the viewer's interaction and involvement right from your living room.

The movie walks through the history of the band, starting out small as a youth band in the eighties, and moving up to the international phenomenon they are today -- "the biggest band you've never heard of.". Yet a lot of church people are familiar with the Hillsong United band, either by recognition of their songs on the radio or by singing their lyrics in one's home church. However I doubt anyone could list the band members by name. I couldn't - until I watched this movie.

It was delightful to see the process it took the band to actually put forth some of those songs that we love to hear and sing. You might be amazed at the price it cost them to write songs that aren't aimed at fame or profitability but are aimed at the heart of worship.

A special favorite part of the documentary for me was a montage of the song "Mighty to Save" as people from around the world in various languages and locations pieced together every line of the song. What a beautiful scene of worship.

It was encouraging to know this movie was not a commercial for the Hillsong church. The members interviewed had a broader definition of "church", encouraging everyone to "find a local church, pour your life into it and you'll never be the same again". (Quote is from Senior Pastor and Founder of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston.)

Some of the band members had the opportunity to talk of the places of pain in their lives that helped bring forth the music and the heart within the lyrics. It was inspiring to hear their stories. Joel Houston, song of Pastor Brian Houston and lead worship leader of the band shared this.
I feel like we are at our best when we are broken. That's the moment when God gets to be made evident. It gives us the opportunity to love and to trust and to operate from a place of His strength.
I recommend this DVD documentary to those who love story, who love worship, and who love to see the hand of God move in people's lives. Very encouraging. The movie is distributed by PureFlix Entertainment with no inappropriate language or scenes. Visit Dove Foundation's review for the specifics.

It is rated PG. There are some scenes of poverty as the band travels to visit a Compassion village. There is mention of a suicide in one of the band member's family. There is also talk by some band members on what the physical and family toll is from the stress and travel. However, having said that, it is important to know I did not feel these comments inappropriate. It is clear from the interviews that these worship leaders and musicians are not in this "gig" for the money. It is a calling, not unlike a Pastor or Missionary family. These are not rich rock stars - they are humble people living a humble existence as they work out their calling and ministry. One worship leader comments on how his neighbors know he works for a church but they have no idea what he actually did last night - play a live concert to a sold out crowd of tens of thousands attendees in an arena somewhere else in the world.

Buy it now.

Not convinced yet, check out these links:

Book Review of Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Becky Wade has been a favorite author of mine since My Stubborn Heart. She instantly won my heart with her rich and honest stories of wounded souls and the enduring hope of the Healer. Her Porter Family series sits on my bookshelf at home - where very few of my review books land - most get donated to a library. So here is the final addition to the Porter Family.

Her One and Only is book 4 in the series. The long awaited wrap up to the family saga and the only girl in the family of rough and tumble boys. But Dru is no princess!

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?
Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.
Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.
I absolutely LOVED the previous books in the series. Yet, this one fell very flat for me. I wholeheartedly recommend her series but cannot offer the same praise for Her One and Only. However there is a plot line in this book that follows up on Meg and Bo from book 1 Undeniably Yours.
Now for my reasons. First of all the characters were stereotypical. I loved the flip of a teeny-tiny woman decked out with killer bodyguard skills protecting a huge, muscled tight end football player. Chapter one page one and two go into detail that the irony isn't lost on Dru either. However beyond that flip and switch, everything falls very predictable after that. Gray, our football hero idolizes himself and all the female attention he receives on a daily basis. And Dru fights tooth and nail to be seen as "more than" her short stature and womanly figure.
I enjoyed the banter between the characters brought on by the way they saw themselves in contrast to each other. Yet Gray was hard to like. He baited her. He taunted her, all to prove he could get a reaction from any girl. So at times the talk between the two was inappropriate with sexual innuendos.
As is with good fiction, the main characters grow and mature as they face their issues and work through them. This is definitely the case with these characters and by the end of the book I could like and appreciate who Gray was. A part of that change for him is how his heart softened to Dru. At one point he made a bet with a fellow football player to see who could win Dru - who could get her to kiss him first. At first it was pure Neanderthal fun as the boys competed but a protective side soon came out of Gray. It redeemed his playboy qualities slightly but the novel definitely takes liberties to show his needs and urges in relation to women. Not unlike his football cohort.
I also struggled with the suspense aspect. The story opens with a prologue three months in the future. In all honesty if that hadn't been there I would not have finished the book. Because it was there I had a glimpse that something powerful was going to happen to peak the story. And I waited a lot of pages to get it. I just did not get pulled into the drama of the search for the stalker.
Yet for me the biggest distraction to the story was the sub plot of Meg and Bo's journey with infertility and loss. It was a great, inspiring story in every way but not here in this book. It needed its own title. 
It pains me to write this review as I have adored all of Becky Wade's previous books. So, suffice it to say this one will not deter me from reading another book of hers in the future. And as always if I must deliver a low rating on a book I remind you that everyone has different likes. Please feel free to visit another blog I came across that had a very different reaction to this particular book.
By the Book Book review of Her One and Only,
And you can always check out my previous review of book 3 A Love Like Ours which I couldn't say enough good about.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."