I am often intrigued by Mormon cinema. I try to stay caught up on the latest films of this newish genre and often find myself pleasantly surprised. Richard Dutcher's incredible, so far unsurpassed work (God's Army and Brigham City) and even Kurt Hale's comedic parodies (The Singles Ward and The R.M.) have been among the most noteworthy. Handcart, quite on the contrary, was rather unpleasant. I admire the makers of the film for what I'm sure they thought was a valiant and noble work, but as far as a story about the Mormon pioneers, this film missed the entire point.
Besides poor acting (overlookable, as many of them were rookies), hardly believable "British" accents, and blatant errors as far as setting (still overlookable, but mountains in Iowa City??), I could not get past the script and inconsistency of character. Abigail and Sam switched personalities so much, neither of their characters were very believable at all, and their relationship development left much to be desired.
This film exhibited a conversion to the LDS faith for a reason that, while seemingly appropriate, falls short of honorable. Conversion to any faith should require some kind of change of heart, some kind of desire to know and feel some truth in this world, to know who we are and where we came from. Sam Hunter, in the film, joined to be with Abigail, and while it was apparent that he had been converted to the Church, not even by the end did I feel he had been converted to the Gospel in any way (I mean, did he ever even read the Book of Mormon?).
While it was interesting to see a new take on the Mormon pioneer story, I was disappointed with how they decided to represent them. With films like this, you just have to ask what they were trying to say. I still find I don't really know their message. If you want to see a more accurate and entertaining film depicting the trek to Zion, find a copy of Legacy. Better yet, to get a real feeling of what the Gospel is about, look up any of Dutcher's work, but particularly Brigham City.
1.7/5 (for some good music, moments of good communication, and questionably good intentions).
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