13 September 2015

Movie Review: "Do You Believe?"

Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, an accident sequence and some violence
Starring: Sean Astin, Alexa PenaVega, and Mira Sorvino
Released: 2015
Synopsis: A pregnant teenager. An inner city thug torn between right and wrong. An ex-Marine. A homeless single mother (Mira Sorvino) and her young daughter.  A firefighter caught in an ethical dilemma.  They don’t know it, but, their lives all intersect, and they all discover one thing: the power of Jesus.  As a traveling preacher carrying a cross around asks people, “Do you believe in the cross of Christ? If you do…what are you going to do about it?”
Starring Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids), Madison Pettis (The GamePlan), Andrea Logan White (Revelation Road) and Cybill Shepherd.  From Pure Flix, the studio that brought you God’s Not Dead, Jerusalem Countdown, and What If…?

The Good: A different take than usual for Christian films, this one illustrates very well how to put your faith in Jesus in action.  Concepts such as laying down your life for someone (John 15:13), loving your enemies (Matthew 5:44), and remaining faithful to the point of death (Revelation 2:10) are shown very dramatically here.  You may have seen other Pure Flix films, but this one is on a much grander scale.  The message it brings is rather challenging…which is just the kind of film we need.  As Christian producer David McFadzean (Home Improvement) once said, “Only exposing ourselves to Christian books, music, and movies that coddle us can actually keep us in our own sin.”

The Bad: Though this film was edgier than usual for Christian cinema—hence the “PG-13” label—I thought it would have been a bit more realistic to have the thugs use harsher language; if the troublemakers I knew in school are any indication, real hardened criminals would never talk like that.  Also, I wish they had given Alexa PenaVega’s character a name; the closed captions merely referred to her as “Female 3”, even though the closing credits called her “Lacey”.  (Was that in a deleted scene? One wonders.)

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: A teenage pregnancy; a non-graphic childbirth scene. 4/5
  • Nudity: Occasional slight cleavage. 4/5
  • Language: Euphemisms such as “darn” and “heck” are heard a scant one or two times each. 4/5
  • Violence: A mother dies after childbirth; a man is shot dead; a guy dies as a result of an accident; a man is held at gunpoint, but is not shot at and escapes unscathed; a rather severe accident involving several cars causes injuries; a vehicle is plowed into a house and a man allegedly shot dead (implied, not seen.)  Nothing graphic, but occasionally bloody. 2/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Along with the violence, emotional intensity is seen throughout.  Sensitive viewers may want to be wary. 1/5
Conclusion: When it comes to great Christian entertainment, Pure Flix usually delivers, and they definitely did with this one.  Sure, some film snobs may scoff, but this is definitely well-made and excellently produced.  If you’re a fan of “inspirational” cinema, you should go rent this one right now…and prepare to be challenged!

Score: 4.5/5

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