Your Movie Watch List

In today’s visual media culture, movies based on Christian themes are growing in popularity. And in selected ones, The Salvation Army is showing up in significant scenes.

Some of these movies are premised on actual testimonies from Christians. Other movies are based on Bible stories and attempt to carefully follow Scripture. Still others fall into the realm of biblical fiction. In these films, writers and directors take artistic license in crafting cinematic dramas that “wow” audiences with amazing special effects and unusual and creative plot twists.

This year’s film projects have attracted several of Hollywood’s best writers, actors, directors, special effects artists, and producers.

Some critics have called the films “preachy,” others have withheld judgment while acknowledging the films’ success at the box office. One movie even caught the satirical eye of TV’s “Saturday Night Live.”

As movies based on Christian themes roll into the limelight, they challenge viewers to distinguish fact from fiction and the sacred from sarcasm. And Christians have an opportunity to help non–believers draw these critical distinctions.

Here are just a few films for your “watch list.”

by Warren L. Maye

God’s Not Dead 2
This film, which reprises the successful “God’s Not Dead,” stars Melissa Joan Hart (“Melissa & Joey”). Elizabeth Hatcher–Travis is the producer. Harold Cronk directed it. He also directed “Silver Bells,” which featured The Salvation Army and starred Bruce Boxleitner (“The Huntsman”) and Antonio Fargas (“Starksky and Hutch”).

In “God’s Not Dead 2,” Brooke, a high school student, asks Catherine, her Christian teacher, a question about Jesus. Her response—made while in class—lands her in deep trouble. Outside
of school, Catherine learns more about Brooke’s troubled family life.

In a particular scene, Brooke is distraught over her brother’s death. As she cries in his room, a Salvation Army truck arrives to take his donated belongings. One woman who carries away boxes gives Brooke her brother’s Bible. “Your family probably wants this,” the woman says. Brooke and her parents are surprised to learn that he had a Bible and believed in God.

MovieList_TheYoungMessiah The Young Messiah
Adapted from the book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice (“Vampire Chronicles”), “The Young Messiah” is an account of what might have happened in Jesus’ childhood.

At age 7, He returns from Egypt to His home in Nazareth with His family to discover the truth about His life. He learns that He is the Son of God, sent by God to be the Savior. The story’s controversial premise is based on conjecture, which in essence, contradicts Scripture. Viewers are left wondering, How can Jesus be so knowledgeable about Scripture, yet be so clueless about who He is?  Indeed, Scripture clearly states that when Mary asks Jesus why He is in the temple, He says, “I had to be in my Father’s house.” (Luke 2:49)

MovieList_MiraclesFromHeaven Miracles from Heaven
The book Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing written by Christy Beam (mom of Annabelle) inspired DeVon Franklin and SONY Pictures to produce this film. It stars Jennifer Garner (“Alias”) and Queen Latifah (Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for “Chicago”).

Franklin said, “The Beam family liked the movie. And for me, that is the true test of the production. But to be honest with you, we did a poor job of showing what this family really went through. If you knew that, then you would know what a miracle this story truly is.”

MovieList_BenHur Ben–Hur, coming this summer
Based on the book Ben–Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace, the screenplay by Keith Clarke and John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave,” 2013 Academy Award winner for Best Adapted Screenplay) stars Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman (2–time Oscar nominee). Producer Roma Downey (“The Bible”) said, “We’ve hired the ‘best of the best’ to deliver this story about a man who meets Jesus.”

“Ben–Hur” will be in theaters August 12, 2016.

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