Monday, December 3, 2012

Heaven's Door

Heaven’s Door

As of recent there seems to be a plethora of faith based and spiritually themed films, some have been better than expected and others fall into the same ol same ol, mundane embarrassing films. When a movie is released and one of its primary tag lines on the packaging is that it is only available at Walmart it should have one wondering. While starring some memorable actors Heaven’s Door unfortunately falls closer to the same ol category than it does the exceptional category. There are times the feel good tear jerkers are appreciated; there are other times they seem to be overdone. Not only did I have some problems with the theology of this film, I had issues with its quality. That isn’t to say this is a worthless movie, it is to say you get what you pay for and this low priced feature at Walmart is mediocre at best.

Heaven’s Door starts with a young girl, Riley spending some quality time with her grandfather. In the opening scene the grandfather suddenly dies from a heart attack. From there we see the turmoil her family is going through, especially her mother, Julie and father Leo, played by Dean Cain. There is also the bitter separation and divorce procedure where ugliness raises its head at the grandfather’s funeral. The grandmother seems to have her own issues but is a person of faith and after a near death experience where Riley discovers the doorway to heaven she begins to share a hope in God, in faith and in the reality of angels, Heaven and the like. As is the norm in films like this there is the doubt, questions, and conflict that is challenged by adults, in this case, Riley’s mother Julie.

Unfortunately the story is old; the plot is predictable, complete with all of the heart tugging score and music throughout; even the acting as a whole is a let down. We see Riley asking questions, searching for truth and all of the predictable circumstances we have seen in films like this before. While there are moments of fantasy in the story, it is still predictable and formulated.

Throughout the film we see Riley take on Christ like concepts, being able to see and dabble into heavenly things as well as have the power to heal others, even raising some things from the dead. While we do see character development we see it primarily in the life of Riley’s mother, Julie. Julie has questions and there are times where the performance of Charisma Carpenter who plays Julie is effective. It is just that her character at times is so unreasonable, and so unlikeable that it distracts from the enjoyment of the film. Frankly, she and most of the supporting cast do as much with the script and direction as they can.

While I didn’t like this film, I do find it somewhat fascinating. As mentioned in the opening of this review I find it fascinating that so much film focuses on spiritual themes. The theme and discussion of Heaven is certainly a fascinating subject, and one worthy of discussion. The question I have though is what version of Heaven is being promoted? As a person of faith I take a traditional Biblical view of Heaven. The presentation presented in the film here is one that takes a feel good, happy in the sky, and everything is going to be wonderful approach. I would much more appreciate a program offering questions as to how to get there, varying views, the possibility that some other existence besides heaven is possible, and as a person of faith specific to Christianity, for me, the role of Jesus, or other religious leaders for that matter in their role or perspective of Heaven. Unfortunately not only does Heaven’s Door present a differing view of Heaven other than traditional Christian belief, it is also presents an interpretation that is more fantasy than reality.

In the attempt to present Heaven and spirituality in the way this film does I find issue. In such an important area as the afterlife, if the reality of Heaven is true, then a more serious discussion is needed. That isn’t to say it has to be all serious, a light hearted attempt, using family themes would certainly be fine and appreciated. But I wanted, expected something other than fantasy here. I also have issues with films like this that are just below normal broadcast standards, not just in the acting, but lighting, sound, special features and score. Can a family watch this? Yes, if they can get through it, I can’t imagine a child or even a teen being able to endure this movie, and it seems as if much of it is pointed towards children and youth. That is unfortunate, the topic is certainly deserving, the cast does about as well as they can with the script. I just didn’t find it entertaining and with the myriads of film out there, including quality family film, I can honestly say there are more quality family films, even in the discount bin at Walmart that one would be better served by purchasing. Of course there are likely those who will disagree, feel free to, but as for me, I could have spent my time in better way than this movie.

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