God is working through these films.
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God is working through these films.
In the 40 or so years I have been a regular movie goer, I've seen pretty much everything one can put into a film, from explosions to nudity to every possible combination of four letter words. And I am happy to say we didn't get any of it in this movie. So, if you yearn for a Hollywood blockbuster....pass on this one.
No, I'm no Pollyanna. I like some action and adventure. But I've gotten to where a movie with "less" is better to me in many ways. Yes, in full disclosure, I am proud to say I am a Christian. A Christian dad, too. I'm happy to report that this movie is what every father should see, be they "in the Faith" or not. It's nice to see a movie where there's a strong message of family unity. Even Disney movies have taken to trying to tell us that your average family is a broken one. That may be factual, but why can't we have some entertainment that focuses on people trying to be strong fathers? And that leads to strong mothers, and then stronger children. And in the end, a stronger community.
There's just enough humor to keep the movie moving along. It's not a short film by any means, so you do get your ticket price in viewing. There were a few scenes that might cause a jump or two, but they are part of setting the story. The movie is a nice surprise in a season of movies that will probably be forgotten a few weeks after viewing.
If you have a hard time hearing a lot about GOD and such, pass on this at the local Googleplex and wander into another film. I hope it makes you happy. But, I would gently suggest you try this movie out. Be you a man (or woman) of Faith or not. You just might be surprised. And, you just might wish to spend a little more time with your family.
The story centers on a group of law enforcement officers and is filled with action, outstanding humor and at times, some tough emotional moments. At the show I attended, everyone cried. They cried at some tragic moments and at some moments of great relief. At my side was a good buddy who is a successful business pro and strong family man. He & I both walked away with some deeper awareness of how we could be better fathers to our kids and to our brides.
So there are also some distinct learning moments that makes this film much more than just an escape from reality. How often do you have an opportunity to take someone to a movie that has trailing impact on your life? I'll suggest you get some Dads together to watch Courageous and sit down for a meal afterward to talk about what it showed you were doing well, or right - and what you could be working on to better build into your family and their future. Powerfully-told story with an outstanding cast.
The film does have some action scenes involving gang violence, arrests and shootouts. As such it is appropriately rated at PG-13 and I would not have brought my 7 year old daughter to it, but think it would be okay for most teenagers. The action scenes are not the bulk of the movie and happen early on to introduce the characters and then more toward the end, by which time I was at the edge of my seat to see who would live or die.
However, as I alluded to before, the action scenes are not the bulk of the movie and take a back seat often to the character interactions. The acting is generally good and the characters believable, with some only slightly over the top humor at times. The humor actually is used nicely to lighten things up a bit as some of the characters are forced to deal with a tragedy in their family.
The storyline is relatively linear, but not totally predictable as the actions of some characters came as quite a surprise to me. As part of this the story was made more believable by some revelations mid-way through the movie about some of the characters that showed their less than perfect lives and values.
I often do not see movies like this, since I am a somewhat typical man who prefers big blockbuster SF or other action oriented films. However, I went to see this movie at my local multiplex yesterday on a date with my wife and found myself really enjoying the movie. The people attending were a mix of adults and teenagers, with about an equal mix of men and women. I met a couple of people I knew there and they seemed to have enjoyed the film.
By the end of the movie I had cheered on the heroes, laughed at the humor, enjoyed the action scenes and even gotten somewhat teary eyed at parts (during which my wife did some solid crying). Overall I would say that this film was well done, with an engaging story, characters you could believe in and with a storyline that really makes you think hard even when it is over. I had fun with the movie, but also find it challenging as perhaps you will also if you choose to see it.
Courageous seemed less preachy to me than Fireproof was before it. Most of the acting was much better than I expected (Ken Bevel, in particular, really stepped it up this time). The film was very gritty, very true to life. There were times when I felt like I was watching my family in days past on the screen. Nothing about the reality of job or family was sugarcoated.
My main complaint would be with the plot structure; the story didn't have a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. There were enough subplots, I thought, to fill two movies, though they all tied together nicely in the end.
Even my sister (who is not a Christian) agreed that she liked it. In the end, I walked away inspired and uplifted, not just by the film's message, but by it's presentation. Fireproof may have been a film I liked and walked away from, but Courageous is definitely one I'll be buying for my DVD collection. As of this film, I am a definite fan of the Kendrick brother's films, and I can't wait for more.
Positive. 1. No CGI, no fancy special effects. 2. Great filming, the cinematic experience was great. It shows both the best and worst of middle America in a non-bias way. The detail and lighting was done in a warm and clear way without being too arty. I enjoyed watching the movie from a pictorial sense. 3. The story line. 4. The moral of the story.
Negative. 1. Substituted religious messages for actual dialogue. It could have been much more creative in getting the message across (and still be Christian). Instead the movie had an almost cult feel about it. 2. The movie could have been easily 15-20 minutes shorter and still had the same or more impact. The repeated message about God was starting to feel like brainwashing. (see point 1). 3. Most people who are not Christian would have turned the movie off after the incident that brought the fathers together. The message seemed to really drag on after that point. 4. It started to feel very Cliché.
Who should watch this movie? People who are interested in some of the best things that Christianity has to offer. People who have turned their back on the Church or have no faith should probably steer well away from this movie. If you want to watch a good story, with some great filming and don't mind a religious message then this could also be for you.
It started OK, dealing with a small sheriffs dept. Gradually God creeps further and further into the plot until the film descends into some quasi-spiritual evangelistic bible belt rubbish. As soon as I saw the little Mitchel girl and her direction I knew what was in store for her. From that predictable event the film spirals into a sack of religious bullshit.
It then became more and more difficult to watch without retching. Having said that, the action scenes were OK and about the only relief from the mind numbing churchy script.
If you go to church on a regular basis, preferably protestant evangelical, you might like this. As for being a good dad, there are a thousand films that send the same message without talking down to you from a pulpit.
Unless you're bulimic I'd give this one a wide berth.
Courageous focuses on four different families who become connected in one way or another. It presents itself as taking place in the real world, when in reality it takes place in the fictional "Christian film" world, which is why a lot of these movies fail before they begin. In order for their faith-based themes to work, they have to portray it in the real world, but are too frightened by the fact that they would drive away their conservative audience. So, because of that, they write bad dialogue and situations for two-dimensional characters.
There's a scene where one of the characters die and hits one of the families hard. The problem is that this character interacted with one of the main characters twice, and they were very short scenes. The audience has nothing to really invest with this character, so when the tragedy strikes, it feels forced. All of the real emotional scenes feel really forced.
I've seen movies with the same themes of fatherhood a million times over, done in much better films. Watch those, and avoid this at all costs. It has some merit because it feels like the actors are trying and the way they portray how a father should be is good on the face of it. However, there are no risks taken in this film; it's just bland, boring, and very forced.
Christian movies don't have to be bad. The only good one I've seen was "To Save a Life". Even though it suffered from many things this film did, it at least had something in it to try to do things that most movies of this genre refuse to do.
It's no surprise that this film is a particular brand of Christian propaganda. Particularly outside of the US, it's a bit like watching a science-fiction film, in which the everyday world has been replaced with pod people. Or a Madea movie. Entertaining though that idea is, it gets old fast.
Before continuing, I will say that I thought the acting was pretty good, with the sole exception of Renee Jewell, who was not believable in the least. I thought the film itself was put together competently (cinematography, sound, etc.). But really, there's so much more to complain about, and it's really all about the story, so let's just dive in.
Rather than a dramatic story, we're given a lecture in film form. So that's how I'll review it.
Early on, one member of the police force uses a taser on a stationary suspect from above and behind, not as an alternative to other forms of lethal force, but simply as a shortcut to apprehending the suspect. How many more people have to die from this use of a taser before people get the message? It doesn't matter that this character is later punished for something else. He should be punished for this.
Later, a publicly-funded police car is used as a taxi for a cop's friend, while on duty. This is basically theft, one of the big ten. But theft is OK if if you're the "good guy" in the film. And we also learn that abusing and killing animals is funny when the animal is a snake. Most of us recognize youthful mistreatment of animals as an indicator of later abnormal behaviour as an adult.
There's a misleading emphasis on the necessity of fathers, when in fact lesbian homes are more successful at raising children than single father homes are. Moving from orientation to consider gender, there are women on the force (don't blink or you'll miss them) but we aren't told if any are raising children with anyone. Regardless, if they are parents then they too have a responsibility to their children, particularly as they have the extra burden of a job outside the home. Talking only about fathers, to that mixed audience, is sexist. Also, you might notice that fathers are blamed for fatherlessness -- even if they are dead, mentally ill, imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit, involved in an overseas war, or otherwise legitimately unavailable.
The behaviour of the adults toward their children is pretty creepy. Instead of a genuine adult concern for their child's welfare, there's more of an ownership feeling, as though the children are robotic property to bend to parents' will. There's a difference between discipline and inappropriate control, but these characters (and writers, obviously) don't know the boundaries. The purity ring scene is particularly cringe-inducing. Nothing in the Saw series could be as disturbing as this.
When a coincidence happens between two of the characters, it's attributed to God, and belief in God. But when a family tragedy happens (or indeed even the simple fact of being unemployed) God is let off the hook. In fact, the tragedy is turned into something great that "most people never experience". It's a very good deal for God, but not so good for the audience.
The thing with Christian propaganda is that it says whatever you want it to say at the time. In this film, God judges you based on any wrong you have done (e.g. not raising your unwanted children) and whether you've repented. But that's not what the Bible says. It says God has already judged, and you're on (or most likely not on) a short predetermined list of those who are going to heaven (Romans 9:11-22, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-13, Revelation 7:4).
As for fathers... this is what Biblical fathers do (excluding God the Father, whose brutality is too lengthy to include here): Genesis 19:8, Genesis 22:10, Exodus 21:17, Joshua 15:16-17, Judges 11:29-39. And Jesus wasn't too big on fatherhood himself: Matthew 15:4, Matthew 19:29, Luke 14:26 (and elsewhere).
It is so sad to see the approach taken in this film, in response to family tragedy, which is to become even more authoritarian, taking "full responsibility ... for my wife", teaching children the terrible lesson "honor authority", and without any concern for the child's own constitutionally protected beliefs to the contrary, "teach my son to love God with all of his heart". All this as "the spiritual leader of my home". "We will serve the Lord". In reality, this is a way to create a runaway teen. Just ask a few of them.
Nevertheless, the idea of a public resolution of parenthood is a good one (see, you read this far, so I throw in something positive). But there's no need to wrap it up in toxic religious concepts. Much of the content of the resolution (you can pause it and read the text) reflects common values that don't come from religion. Learning from mistakes -- that's science. Reconcile with those I've wronged -- that's good human relations. Live responsibly -- it's a bit vague, but yeah, sounds good. Of course, these things have nothing to do with fatherhood, except as leading by example. How about resolving to respect your kid as an individual human being? How about resolving to make your child know they are loved, unconditionally? How about resolving to pay attention, rather than demand attention? It's not all about you.
The film has a sound message (men should step up to the plate and be good fathers) but overrides this with the usual Jesus is the answer message. This comes from a dogmatic point of view which would also hold that men who do step up to the plate and are outstanding fathers, but who do not accept Jesus, are going to hell. That is, it is a dishonest film in this respect. Christianity is better advanced by a film which asks the hard questions, not just the apple pie and fatherhood easy questions.
You will see a lot of rave reviews here from people who like sermonizing and want to induce others to see a film of this sort. I just think that if it were marketed honestly, then people who see the film would not feel manipulated and tricked.
It was obvious that all of us had been not only been thoroughly entertained, but uplifted and motivated.
I also loved that it was openly Christian, in our usually bland world of political correctness.
I'd go to the movies a lot more often if I could see more movies like this.
Just FYI: I created an account because of how much I disliked this horrible movie.
Let me just start off by stating that I mistakenly rented this not knowing that I was going to be bashed over the head with religious messages. Add to the fact, that the director should be totally ashamed of himself for blatantly stereotyping Latin Americans. After all, we all know that Mexicans are the only poor people in this country that work construction jobs, right? I stopped watching after the daughter was killed by the drunk driver because I just could not digest one more minute of this drivel.
Save your money on this one.