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The Grandfathers (2011) (V)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Film!, 17 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Over 50 years ago, a group of young American missionaries flew to Ecuador to share the Gospel with an indigenous tribe, the Auca Indians. Tragically, these young men were ultimately speared to death by the very people they came to serve. Among them was Nate Saint, father of Steve Saint and grandfather to Jesse Saint. "The Grandfathers", from EthnoGraphic Media is a film that shares Jesse's experience as the grandson of Nate Saint, now somewhat of a martyred celebrity in Christian circles.

Growing up in the shadow of Nate was not the easiest thing for Jesse. He was frequently introduced as "Nate Saint's grandson—you know, the missionary who was killed by the Aucas?" His father Steve had inherited his father's love for missionary work and was known for being somewhat demanding of Jesse as they took trips to serve in the jungle. There were times when Jesse wanted nothing to do with the life that his father was leading.

"The Grandfathers" chronicles Jesse's journey from a somewhat rebellious youth to a committed Christian family man, following in the footsteps of his heritage. At less than an hour in length, this autobiographical documentary tells its story briskly and with flair. Jesse and the producers of the program have done an excellent job in telling this story in an entertaining, respectful and artistic way. The look of the film is fresh and modern; I didn't want to take my eyes off it. The story of the Saint family and the Aucas is compelling, tragic and even sometimes humorous. My only complaint comes in my desire for this production to be longer.

The film did not receive a "G" rating for its "thematic material and violent content". A couple of quick shots of a spearing victim are seen, although no acts of violence are blatantly shown. The subject matter of this murderous tribe may not be suitable for very young children, but it's handled very tastefully. There is also a brief recounting of some girls skinny-dipping in the water, but nothing other than some discarded shirts and jeans are shown.

"The Grandfathers" is the concluding film in the trilogy begun by Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002) and End of the Spear (2005). The transforming power of the Gospel is clearly seen in the lives of not only the Auca Indians, but in Jesse's life as well. I absolutely loved this film and hope that word of mouth allows it to gain a wide audience. Any church group preparing for a mission trip should watch this, but those struggling with forgiving others would also be touched by the movie's powerful message. The love and grace of Christ is wide and deep, changing lives and hearts in miraculous ways. I applaud EthnoGraphic Media and all involved in the creation of "The Grandfathers". They have presented a gift that will touch lives around the world.

Great DVD for the whole family - my kids loved it!, 20 November 2010

From VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer comes the fourth volume in the What's in the Bible? series of DVDs from Tyndale Kids, "Battle for the Promised Land". Each volume presents different segments of the Bible, making the history and wisdom within God's word easier to understand for children and their families.

While Phil's VeggieTales (VT) relied primarily on animation to share their stories and lessons, What's in the Bible? uses several mediums in which to engage children. There is some animation, but there are also live actors, and most prominently, hand puppets. There is more of a variety show feel than one individualized story. VT fans will recognize many of the voices and accents from years before, and they are once again very funny and entertaining.

I must admit, when first exposed to this series, I was very skeptical about the use of hand puppets. I just didn't think they could be as witty as VT. But like the other volumes in this series, "Battle for the Promised Land" pulls it off. While they're dealing with important spiritual lessons, they're still a lot of fun and bring plenty of laughs. There are several in-jokes that some may miss, but adults and VT fans will catch them. My personal favorite is a wall clock with a unique time zone location.

This particular DVD in the series deals with issues surrounding Israel's Promised Land. We learn about the Old Testament books Joshua, Judges and Ruth. It would be an impossible task to cover all of the material in these books within the confines of the DVD. Phil Vischer (who makes frequent appearances on camera) and his team chose some important topics and characters to introduce to the viewer, allowing us to learn the general theme of the scriptures. Some of the material isn't as riveting as a Larry Boy episode, but it covers Biblical events that children typically aren't exposed to until later in life. Questions such as "Why is there so much fighting in the Old Testament?" and "Did God want people to die?" are addressed. Vischer and his team make it understandable for their audience.

The disc also comes with some fun extras. There's a bonus animated short with Quacky the Duck that addresses loving others, especially our enemies. This short will especially appeal to younger viewers. The Show Outtakes track is hysterical, and there's a "deleted scene" from the minivan-riding boy Michael that has a bit of Monty Python-esquire humor.

I watched this DVD with my two boys, ages 10 and 5. Both of them loved it, asking to repeat certain scenes because they enjoyed them so much. This is not only an entertaining program, but it really would be a great series to watch as a whole family. As an adult, I didn't find the childish humor annoying--rather, I found myself laughing along with the kids. And I personally learned a few things about God's word, which of course was beneficial to me as well. This is a wonderful series, and I look forward to the upcoming Volumes 5 - 13.

Flywheel (2003)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Now I'm REALLY A Fan, 6 June 2007

I really enjoyed "Facing the Giants", so I thought I'd check out "Flywheel", produced before "Giants". The production value is lower and it does go on a bit long, but I really loved this movie. Great message, realistic writing and tear-jerking moments without being sappy. As a Christian I know that stories like this can and DO happen. The Lord works in some amazing ways, and I'm so glad He's working through the folks at Sherwood. They truly seem to understand the impact of movies and are seeking to make a real difference in this area. And be sure to check out the making-of featurette on the second disc. That tells quite a tale in itself. I can't wait for the next Sherwood movie!

27 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
What a treat! What a history!, 14 June 2006

Originally broadcast on the A&E network, this excellent documentary covers the entire history of Superman. From the early 20th century comics to the modern-day television shows and movies, this Kevin Spacey-narrated piece covers much of the Superman mythos. Woven into this story was how all of this was affected by and reflected the culture around it, from World Wars to 9/11.

As a Superman fan, this is a must-see. The A&E (and later program is 90 minutes. A full 2-hour DVD will be released on June 20, 2006. This viewer is looking forward to not only "Superman Returns", but also the release of A&E's documentary.

Anna Karenina (1985) (TV)
11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Disappointed, 14 June 2004

As a Christopher Reeve fan and one who is in the middle of reading the Leo Tolstoy novel, I was excited to see this rendition of "Anna". Although it was good to see Chris in his pre-accident years, the movie was fairly weak. The soundtrack doesn't hold up well almost 20 years later, and the writing isn't great. They virtually ignore the storyline involving Levin and Kitty, and I didn't find Bissette's performance to be very riveting. However, Paul Scofield did an excellent job as Karenin-- I actually felt some empathy for him.

A better version of this story was done in 1997 with Sophie Marceau ("The World Is Not Enough") and Sean Bean ("Lord of the Rings"). There is far more chemistry between those two actors, and the quality of the movie should hold up better over time.

Joshua (2002/I)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Touching, 14 June 2004

There are a few holes in this movie, both theologically and cinematically, but I must say I was touched by it. For a moment I felt Christ's love for us. And while we cannot forget that His love is also a part of His holiness, it was nice to get a brief glimpse of that perfect love. Kudos also to Michael W. Smith, who took on the task of writing a decent score for the film. Fans of the Christian group Third Day will also be pleased to see a nice cameo as well. And on the DVD there's a nice documentary that exhibits the filmmakers' desires to share God's love with the viewer. And if you enjoyed the movie, there's a whole series of Joshua books out there to continue the exploration of "what if Jesus came as the Joshua character"...

This isn't a great film, but I did go to bed last night feeling grateful to be a Christian, and grateful to feel His love for me in a simple movie.