I enjoyed this movie and was drawn in by it. I have watched it a couple of times now and I find that each time I do I come back to the same points. Points I hope to explain as I go through this review.
Writing this review was harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t have high expectations. I have seen “Facing the Giants”, “Fireproof” and “Courageous” and for the most part I have found the story lines positive, biblical and linear. To a certain extent I find myself thinking about this story in the same way. It has a great positive message. It is full of biblical value. And unfortunately it is very linear. With too many of these moves I find that all the conflict is at the beginning and its associated resolution takes up the majority of the movie.
Looking at it from a pure storyteller perspective I love the first half of the movie and then spend the last 30-50 minutes waiting for limited character development, or limited conflict and resolution. I find it hard to resolve, mentally, that the most contentious part of the movie is about 30 minutes from the credits and some may argue that this was not even the high point of the movie. From here the resolution drags out over 30 minutes. For me it is a drag. Others may find solace in the resurrection of family and restitution of people. I am left feeling conflicted by this and would have liked a more concise ending.
For story, pacing and scenes – 2.5 stars
When it comes to casting I have seen a number of articles talking about the decision to change to a majority black cast and how that changes the movie. I think all the articles that talk to this say it was a positive move particularly as the move came out during so of the American race protests. I don’t think that this is a profitable line of review. Whilst it is important to look at context for movies and their impacts, I am of the opinion that race discussions remove quality from the equation and substitute it with affirmative action. I can’t really comment as to the race situation in the US but as I do business in Africa I can say that affirmative action never is as positive as it’s proponents assure us. And ability, on all sides, is oppressed in favour of those with connections. The result is corruption.
All that being said, as far as I understand there was none of that thought in the minds of the directors nor in the part of the actors themselves. The story is not race and so the actors have no pressure in that regard. I find it hard to judge the performance of children in general and Alena Pitts as the daughter is no exception. Emotion is the key to quality acting and there is a tendency for youth to over dramatise or play things as dead. On both accounts Alena’s performance is good and the scenes she is in progress well. T.C. Stallings who plays the father is a different kettle of fish. He comes across as cocky and self assured when he needs to and contrite when needed. His scenes aren’t over acted and he is a genuine compliment to the main character Elizabeth Jordan.
Priscilla Shirer plays the main character and I found her performance less nuanced than that of Stallings. Her performance was positive but on re-watching the move I was waiting for her scenes to be over. Not usually a good thing but I have to say that is because the character and presentation of Miss Clara stole the show. Karen Abercrombie, who plays Miss Clara, has brought to life one of the characters I will enjoy for a long time to come. Having grown up with a praying Granny (You will have to forgive the English title) myself, I can say Karen got it very right. Whilst I don’t denigrate any of the other performances, in my mind it will not be those, the story line nor the biblical lessons learned that bring me back to this movie. I will come to see Miss Clara serve up cold coffee and remember mine who actually made my friends put a bar of soap in their mouth “to wash that filth out”.
For acting, casting and portrayal – 4 stars
When it comes to biblical content there was little doubt that the movie is a high morals type of movie and should score well. Consequently in the expectations vs realisation stakes War Room surprisingly looses points. The straight forward resolution of the spiritual conflict I found disappointing. Not because I can’t believe that God can resolve issues that easily but rather because for a movie predicated on the war aspect of Spirituality there was little actual war. Don’t misunderstand I liked the premise and the prayer lessons were fantastic. But the resolution came so easily that it feels like opportunity lost.
That being said, the Kendrick brothers always have very strong biblical stances in their films. Where things are shown that are of poor morals or questionable content it is always shown as reprehensible. This movie is no exception and I would not have any problems showing it to young audiences. Though the content may not be of sufficient interest to younger views there would be no issues with content.
For biblical relevance, ethics and suitability for children – 4 stars
All in all the averaging of scores is pulled down by a story line that promises much but seems to spend too much time presenting the results of a God given victory and not enough time in the building of conflict and it’s associated resolution. To me I don’t handle movies very well where the ending is +30% of the movie. That being said it is by far the Kendrick brothers best work and I really enjoyed Miss Clara. I forgive them much for her creation. Having seen this movie three times would I watch it again. I’m not sure. Would I recommend it to others. It depends. I am not sure how a non christian would appreciate this movie but for saved people it is a must see. For these reasons I am willing to allocate a few extra points.
Movie rating – 4 stars
Best line of the movie
Someone’s been praying in this closet
How do you know it is her prayer closet?
It’s almost like it’s baked in.