Saturday, August 29, 2015

War Room Review

I'm going to preface this review by saying that I consider myself an active, faithful Christian. I believe in God. I believe that he plays a big role in our life. I believe that prayer is a powerful tool. So I should love a movie that is all about the power of prayer in our life, right? Wrong. There's a lot of faith-based movies that I really enjoy. I can even excuse some bad acting and lesser-quality production skills if the movie itself presents a good positive message that believers and non-believers can both appreciate and learn from. But at the same time, there are a lot of really bad faith-based movies that just make me cringe when I watch them or facepalm afterwards. Honestly, all of the movies put out by the Kendrick brothers fall into that latter category. We have five of them now. Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, and now War Room. When I first saw Flywheel, I wasn't impressed. Facing the Giants was kinda fun because it's football, but it still had a lot of the same problems. Fireproof was atrocious and Courageous was almost as bad. Now we their worst one yet in War Room. I know a lot of people will be shocked at these statements, but I'd like you to hear me out and let me explain why I think these movies are flawed and actually harmful to non-believers.

The story line in ever single one of these movies is exactly the same, which is a problem in and of itself. You have someone or a group of someones who is going through a really hard time. Someone else tells them to believe in God and read the Bible and everything will work out. They do so and miraculously everything works out perfectly and they go on with their lives having perfect faith in God. That's it. Every movie. War Room is no different. In fact, War Room also deals with a marriage that is falling apart, which is exactly the same plot in Fireproof. They're like the same movie, just with different actors and a slightly modified story. Tony and Elizabeth Jordan are a couple that have been married for 16 years and have a 10-year-old daughter. Both of them have jobs, but Tony's job as a salesman pays him a whole lot of money and causes him to be away a lot. The communication in their marriage isn't good and Tony is always yelling at Elizabeth for things big and small and doesn't spend much time with her or their daughter. Elizabeth doesn't want her marriage to fail, but she sees it falling apart. One day while she is working her job as a realtor (I believe) and she meets this hilarious old black lady who tells her that she needs to pray and believe in God and that will save her marriage. Can you guess how it turns out? Yup, you're right.

What really frustrates me about these movies is that these are good principles that they are trying to portray. In order to make a marriage work, there needs to be communication. Both parties need to focus on figuring out what they need to do better to help their marriage. You need to spend time with your spouse and children instead of focusing on your effort on your career. So this has potential to be a great message. But the movie portrays everything as black and white with no gray area. If your marriage is struggling, it's because you are only lukewarm at best when it comes to God. If your business is failing, it's because you don't have faith in God. If your football team is losing, then it is because you don't have faith in God. However, when you turn your life over to God, immediately everything will change. Your business will succeed. Your football team will win. Your marriage will succeed. And all this will happen immediately. NO! Not true. I know this may sound like blasphemy, but I don't think God really cares about the outcome of a football game. I think he will allow you to fail in your career or at school even if you are super faithful. A family built on the foundation of God will definitely help a marriage, but it's not going to change over night the second you turn to God. It takes time to fix a marriage and sometimes a relationship just doesn't work out, even when both parties are putting their trust in God. Moral of the story, sometimes life still sucks like crap when you put your faith in God and I think that's a very important thing to learn that none of these movies even touches on.

Shall we get into specifics with this particular movie? That last paragraph was pulling examples from all their other movies. Technically I will be divulging spoilers from the some parts of the movie, but I need to prove a point here and like I said, they make the same movie over and over, so spoiling the movie isn't really possible, is it? Anywho, if you don't want to know anything from the plot, then feel free to skip this paragraph. Otherwise continue. First off, there is a point in the movie where Elizabeth is getting ice cream with her daughter and the old lady. A crazy man comes to them, pulls out a knife, and demands money from them. Elizabeth is about to give in and give him money (smart move), but the old lady refuses and instead tells him in the name of Jesus to go away. He does and they aren't harmed. I'm sorry, in the real world that would be a dumb thing to do and the old lady might end up dead. Next, we learn that the husband is cheating on his wife and is about to go home with a different girl. Well, the wife had found this out and prays that he doesn't go through with it. The second she prays, the husband gets sick and decides not to go through with it. I laughed. Towards the end of the movie, we find out that the husband had been doing stuff that was very illegal and he should've been sent to prison. Well, because he made right with God and was honest about the situation, he was completely pardoned. Ha! That wouldn't happen.

Get my vibe? I won't divulge any spoilers anymore, but stuff like this happened the entire movie where life just worked out perfectly because this couple decided to turn their lives over to God and it got frustrating because of how unrealistic the situation seemed. It was also frustrating because this was their fifth straight movie full of B.S. like this. Like I said, I'm a Christian and I think these are good principles, but situations like this in real life are a lot more complex and want to see more of that complexity. I want their next movie to end with a relationship failing or the business collapsing or the football team losing all of their games and have the movie show what a good Christian would do despite these continued hardships. But I know that will never happen with the Kendricks. Honestly I think that is a bad message to send to non-believers. I can honestly see someone watching movies like this and trying it out for themselves and coming to the conclusion that God actually doesn't exist because their situation didn't improve overnight. In fact, that's a very common complaint. If God exists, why are all these bad things happening? Why do we have such a crappy world? Why is it that people pray to God and it seems like he ignores them? I want a faith-based movie that satisfies these questions and none of the movies by the Kendricks do that at all, especially not War Room. Their message is that if you turn your life over to God, everything will immediately improve and all your problems will be solved right away and that's just not true.

On top of this, there is some dialogue and preaching in this movie that is simply bad. When Elizabeth first decides to turn her life over to God, she starts out by praying out loud in her closet. Why she decided to completely empty everything out of her closet didn't make sense to me, but whatever. I'm fine with her praying out loud in her closet. But then as a part of that prayer, she leaves her closet and is yelling and crying at the top of her lungs in the middle of her front room for Satan to leave this house and never return. This yelling prayer goes on for quite some time and by the end of it I had completely lost it. I was laughing hysterically. I felt bad that I was laughing at a prayer, but it was so over the top and ridiculous that I just couldn't help myself. Then we had our preaching by the old lady. Boy did she preach. Think of what it's like when you go to some Baptist or Protestant church and the preacher is straight up yelling at the congregation. Yup. That's what this old lady does on multiple occasions. I wasn't in the mood to get preached at. I just wanted to watch a faith-based movie. Let's tone it down movie. Please? Pretty please? No? Ok.

After being officially done with the movie, I did look up some of the reviews and apparently there's a lot of people that are disagreeing with me on this. The movie won the box office on Friday and will challenge Straight Outta Compton for the top spot this weekend with over $10 million, which will be the highest opening yet for the Kendrick brothers. The movie also was awarded an A+ cinemascore and is at 88% on Flixter. So if you've liked the previous movies by these guys, you'll most likely love this one. I'm sorry, I just can't get into them. Yes, the technical aspects of this movie are very well done and some of the acting is decent, but that's it for me. This was also way too long. It's the type of faith-based movie that only needs to be 70 or 80 minutes, but it clocks in at 120 minutes. So yes, this is almost an hour too long. At the very least, they could've kept this to 90 minutes because it was at that point where I was begging this movie to end, but it kept going and going and going and going. Moral of the story is that I am not going to recommend this to anyone and I personally would keep it far, far away from any non-Christians. My grade for War Room is a 4/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment