Is the Movie Unbroken Broken?

Unbroken-posterA few months ago I was sitting in the theater waiting for the featured film to start. As with any movie these days, there is an onslaught of trailers before the feature actually starts to roll on the screen.  One of the trailers that caught my attention was for a new film called “Unbroken” ( in theaters Christmas Day). The trailer caught my attention, most of all because of the book that chronicles the journey of WWII American Hero Louis Zamperini and how faith in Christ transformed his life.  I will say that after seeing the trailer, “Unbroken” looks like an entertaining and inspirational movie, but is this film worthy of my $12 dollars at the box office?

In order to answer the question, I did a little research and discovered there seems to be some concern about the content in the movie and the absence of key elements to the story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini. According to an article in the Christian Post, Pastor Greg Laurie states that he is disappointed that Director Angelina Jolie chose to leave out the WWII hero’s Christian faith in the upcoming movie. If you have read the book or viewed any of Zamperini’s  interviews, his faith is an important part of the story. Pastor Greg Laurie interviewed Louis Zamperini at the November 10, 2011 Harvest Crusade at Dodger Stadium. In the interview you hear about his amazing life story how he reflects on the importance of faith in Christ in his life.

Click here to view the interview;

I also discovered a few comments from Christian Media critic Ted Baehr.  Here is what Ted stated regarding the film.

“It could be a great movie, but not without the story of his “spiritual release.” Ted Baehr

It sure seems that his conversion is just as important as his physical release from imprisonment.  It’s like saying, which wing of the airplane is more important, the right or the left wing? It’s obvious that both wings are of vital importance. So it seems with this story, the faith elements are vital to the overall story.

So, is the film broken because of the deletion of Zamperini’s faith in Christ and his conversion at a Billy Graham Crusade in San Fransisco?  I also have to ask the question, why did the director leave out this part of the story? Is Hollywood pulling a “Noah” with  “Unbroken” and leaving us to believe that they are staying true to the original storyline? According to the “Unbroken” movie web site, Unbroken is the most inspirational and faith-revitalizing film you’ll see all year.  Is this just Hollywood’s spin to convince the faith audience that they should show up and support this movie regardless of the missing elements that is said to be deleted in the film?  Although Zampareini’s conversion story seems to be left out, there are some references to faith highlighted in the movie trailer, such as a pastor preaching to a young Zamperini: “However dark the light, however dim our hopes, the light will always follow darkness,” the pastor says. But is this enough to cover the bigger faith elements that are said to be missing from the film?

In the end, is Unbroken, broken?  If you are going to see the movie as purely entertainment, then I would say that it is not. If you are going to see the movie that is based upon the book and Zamperini’s complete life story, than I think the movie is broken. You will have to decide if seeing the film is worth your time and money.

At the end of the day, I really want to support this film and I am disappointed that the faith elements seem to have been deleted from the story. Do I feel the movie is worthy of my $12 dollars?   Well, yes I do. Having read the book, I will use it to fill in the complete back story as I watch the movie. Also, understanding that the film is not a conversional story, it will indeed be conversational with multiple lessons to learn about the survival and resilience of a true American hero.


Movie Synopsis;
Academy Award® winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces UNBROKEN, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII – only to be caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s (“Seabiscuit: An American Legend”) enormously popular book UNBROKEN brings to the big screen Zamperini’s unbelievable and inspiring true story about the resilient power of the human spirit.Starring alongside O’Connell are Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock as Phil and Mac – the airmen with whom Zamperini endured perilous weeks adrift in the open Pacific – Garrett Hedlund and John Magaro as fellow POWs who find an unexpected camaraderie during their internment, Alex Russell as Zamperini’s brother, Pete, and in his English-language feature debut, Japanese actor Miyavi as the brutal camp.

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Heaven is For Real In Theaters April 16 2014

 photoTriStar Pictures, Affirm and Provident Films presents a new film called Heaven Is For Real. It’s based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, written by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. It tells the true story of a small-town Pastor who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience. Heaven Is For Real is directed by Randall Wallace (Bravehart, Pearl Harbor, We Were Soldiers, Secretariat). The screenplay is by Christopher Parker and Randall Wallace. It stars Greg Kinnear (“As Good As It Gets,” “Little Miss Sunshine”) as Todd Burpo and co-stars Kelly Reilly (“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” “Flight”) as Sonja Burpo, the real-life couple whose son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum) experiences Heaven during emergency surgery. Colton recounts the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence. He describes Heaven in vivid detail, and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth … things he couldn’t possibly know.  Todd is called upon by his congregation to explain the meaning of Colton’s revelations, and he and his family are challenged to examine their faith and draw meaning from this remarkable event.

From what I can see so far and after reading the book and previewing the film, I believe this movie could start and in some cases reignite a conversation about the subject of “Heaven” and what happens when we die.  The fact is, we all will face death one day and hopefully this movie cause’s us all to explore the question “if there really is a heaven.”   You know we have all asked the question “Is Heaven for Real?”  Maybe not out load – but we all wonder about life after death. I for one find myself thinking and also preparing for heaven much more than I have done so in the recent past. We are all on a journey thru life and my prayer is that this movie will encourage people to help others to reach heaven thru faith in Christ.

I highly encourage families to see Heaven is For Real on opening weekend. The first showings start Wednesday April 16, 2014.

Here is the trailer for the movie Heaven is For Real;

Check out the heart of the movie from Todd Burpo.

Grace Unplugged In Theaters October 4th

GU_FacebookCover2Summer has come to an end and Fall is in the air.  This means new school clothes, a new teacher, new friends and many other elements that are indicators that change is in the air.  With the new season also comes a fresh batch of  movies to theaters for families. Grace Unplugged is one of the releases that is Just around the corner and will hit the big screen on Friday October 4th. Family Films had the privilege to preview the film a few times this summer and we wanted to share our thoughts and encourage families to check out Grace Unplugged on opening weekend.

Here is a brief overview of the story:

image17Just 18, Grace Trey aspires to more than singing at her church. So she runs off to Los Angeles and begins to taste the stardom she’s always dreamed of, including a Top-10 song. Will everything she experiences lead her to reject her faith … or rediscover it?

This summer Family Films had the chance to interview Brad Silverman who is the director and writer of Grace Unplugged. We were able to ask Brad a few questions about Grace Unplugged, how a movie can impact culture and how he landed in the film business.

Check out the official movie trailer to Grace Unplugged:

We continue our interview with the Director and writer Brad Silverman regarding the inspiration for Grace Unplugged.

Grace Unplugged is an inspiring story that will cause you to laugh, cry, rejoice and sing. The cast is superb and features Kevin Pollack, James Denton, Shanwee Smith, Jamie Grace, AJ Michalka and an appearance from Chris Tomlin. The soundtrack is off the hook and you  will find yourself singing along and tapping your foot (featuring Colton Dixon, Jamie Grace, Toby Mac, Shawn MacDonald, Luminate, Nine Lashes, AJ Michalka, Josh Wilson and Chris Tomlin). You can download the CD on Itunes now.

It’s refreshing to have a film that is safe for the whole family and delivers an entertaining story that will leave you still thinking about the movie days after you exit the theater.

So mark your calendars to see Grace Unplugged on opening weekend of October 4th.

We’ll see you at the movies!

Dave Almgren- Faith & Family Films

“Grace Unplugged is a powerful depiction of God extending forgiveness and mercy toward us all.” Chris Tomlin

Home Run The Movie Hits Theaters Today!

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The long awaited release of the new baseball themed movie Home Run hits theaters across the nation today ( check the films web site for theater listings). Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and freedom are apart of America. Well freedom is also the central theme in this new theatrical release from Samuel Goldwyn Films. Home Run takes you on a journey of a man with a bright future, but is haunted by a troubled past. Home Run is a must see film that will entertain and inspire audiences and will also remind us all that there is hope in our  journey of life. There are multitudes who are living life without hope and their addictions have completely overtaken and ruined their lives. My hope is that this movie will not only entertain, but will cause many to look inside and deal with their hurts, habits and hang ups that are keeping many from experiencing FREEDOM!

PLEASE NOTE: The movie is rated PG13 and is for junior high and above. The movie deals with some challenging topics and is not a movie for younger children.

HERE IS A SYNOPSIS OF THE MOVIE FROM THE HOME RUN WEB SITE:

Baseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control.

Hoping to save her client’s career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory’s agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up. Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can’t wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible.

As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future … and win back the love he left behind. With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption.

Based on thousands of true stories, HOME RUN is a powerful reminder that with God, it’s never too late … freedom is possible.

Check out the Home Run Movie trailer and than buy a ticket and go see Home Run this weekend!