"We're the biggest band you've never heard of," laments a member of Hillsong in their new movie Hillsong Let Hope Rise.
The movie takes a behind the scenes look at the band members that make up Hillsong, how they got started and where they are now.
The movie promotes itself as a worship experience and invites you to sing along. I think I knew one song out of the whole movie so that did not happen for me. Which isn't surprising at all when you consider that Hillsong is a group clearly meant to attract young people and only young people. If you are older than 50 and are a traditionalist you simply won't like it.
In the movie we get to see the band members perform and we learn about their personal lives and struggles on the road. I was surprised that a group with so many albums, and that seemingly tours all the time, makes no money (as they claimed in the movie) to support themselves. A worker is worthy of payment and these young people certainly put their all into their ministry and if they aren't getting paid they should be. And that is one of the most confusing aspects about this documentary. Where does all the money go if they aren't getting paid?
All of the band members seem to be very close to one another and encourage each other in the faith and while it is clear they love the Lord and enjoy leading their audiences to Him in adoration, the movie didn't really speak to me and I found myself wishing it was over when I was about 15 minutes in. It was a so-so documentary about the popularity of a Christian group, but not something I would pay to go and see. I give it 2 stars as it jumped all over the place and was at times very confusing.
Yet she believes the horse is meant for her and she is so dogmatic in her belief that God has called her to ride this horse and to pursue a calling in show-jumping, that she soon finds others who are willing to take a chance on her.
Her dreams of making it to the Olympics become a reality but during a training exhibition she suffers a near-fatal accident and is left in a coma and paralyzed. Her horse is given to another rider and he goes on to win a gold medal at the Olympics. But Debi is not a quitter, with months of rehabilitation she is able to walk again and sets her sights once again on the Olympics. But tragedy seems to stalk this young lady and it is only through her faith in God and her belief that He has called her to ride in the first place, that she is able to keep positive and persevere.
If this weren't a true story you would think this was one of those made up sappy Hollywood movies. But it isn't and that's what makes this movie so remarkable. It's true! A Sunday Horse shows what can happen with faith and a little perseverance.
Unfortunately, while the faith aspect was played up a lot at the beginning of the movie it was not the central focus of the movie, and so I was somewhat disappointed that this was not continued throughout, building to a climax or a crisis of faith in the main character. However, with a stellar cast, (William Shatner, Ving Rhames and Linda Hamilton also star), and the knowledge beforehand that the story was true, I still enjoyed the movie and recommend it with the caution that there is some bad language.
Movie has been provided courtesy of Mongrel Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc
For instance, actor Ray Wise who played Satan in the CW show Reaper, was the lawyer for the ACLU. No matter how hard I tried, every time he smiled I thought he was evil. Perhaps that was intentional on the part of the producers. I don't know, but if this were portrayed realistically it would have been the ACLU representing the Christian teacher and not the other way around. The myth that the ACLU doesn't represent Christians, is unfortunately promoted in this movie and adds to the growing paranoia that evangelical Christians have today. This "us" versus "them" mentality was evident throughout the entire movie. The message therefore came across as, "If you aren't a Christian then you are evil." In fact, all those who were against Christians were portrayed as evil, unless they were searching for God of course.
Then we have three other stories mingled in with the main one, which made no sense to me on why they were there. I didn't find out until after the movie that these were characters from the first movie. Clearly, they were not memorable characters because I saw the first movie and didn't remember any of them accept for Pastor Dave who was only in this movie to set up the third one - yes there will be a God's Not Dead 3 and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
While I deeply appreciate and understand what the producers and writers were trying to get at with this movie - that Christians are being persecuted in this country - it was far too unrealistic for my tastes. The fact that I felt no empathy for the main character at all, convinced me that character development is what this movie really lacked. For example, we find out that Brooke (the girl who asked the "Jesus" question) has lost her brother in some kind of an accident six months prior, but it's never explained. It's never explained why her parents aren't in mourning, or why they never knew their son was a Christian or why they are atheists. FYI - they are the ones involved in the lawsuit against the teacher. Why? Because all non-believers are out to get Christians. There is simply no other explanation given in this movie other than that one. We also have no character development for Grace. Why is she alone with her grandfather? What's her backstory? We are never told. Again, if character development had been considered in this movie I might have been more invested in it.
So, what did I like about this movie? I liked the presentation of having a relationship with Jesus. The character of Grace made it clear that it wasn't just a belief in God, it was a real relationship. Something I don't think many non-Christians understand. I also liked some of the courtroom drama. The well presented arguments that Jesus is an historical figure were very well done, with a guest spot by author Lee Strobel who wrote The Case for Christ. In addition, the subject matter is sure to create discussions in the hopes that Christians will learn to stand up for their faith. Indeed the final scenes involving Pastor Dave (based on an actual event), will leave the Christian pondering what they would do if they ever had to make a choice between obeying the government or obeying God. That was one of the things I did like very much about God's Not Dead 2. The Christians all stood firm when tested and did not waver in their belief that God is not Dead, or that Jesus is real enough that a person can have a relationship with Him. And so the movie in a rather lacklustre way makes its point.