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Movie Review

Saving God

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material involving drugs and some violence.

Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Christian, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
Direct release to churches for public showings: October 10, 2008
Retail DVD release: October 14, 2008
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures

How can I be and feel forgiven? Answer

If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer

Forgiveness of sin

God

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Is Jesus Christ God? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

Change the world

A single man or woman can help change the world. Read about some who did with faith and God's help…
Jesus Christ, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David

Bible and church

How do we know the Bible is true? Answer

Why should Christians go to church? How important is it? Answer

Anger in the Bible

Christian Answers EffectiveEvangelism™ site—Learn how to be more effective in sharing the Gospel
Stumped about how to share your faith in Christ with others? Our EffectiveEvangelism.com site assists Christians in effectively reaching out to others with love and truth. Learn about the worldview of the people you meet, ways to share the gospel, read stories submitted by site users, and more.
Featuring: Ving Rhames
Dean McDermott
Ricardo Chavira
Dwain Murphy
Genelle Williams
Kate Todd, Kim Roberts, Ted Ludzik, Joanne Boland, K.C. Collins, Richard Leacock, Joe Bostick, Kathy Maloney, Egidio Tari, Marnie Robinson, Balford Gordon, Christopher Marren
Director: Duane Crichton
Producer: Clear Entertainment, Cloud Ten Pictures, Sherri Bennett, Tim Cherry, Emanuel “Manny” Danelon, Philip Mellows, Pazz Neglia, Domenic Serafino, Wayne Thompson, André van Heerden
Distributor: Cloud Ten Pictures

“Who will save God for the souls who have lost Him?”

For information on the production and distribution of this film, see our Christian Film News article (Aug. 5, 2008).

A common problem with Christian movies is they are so predictable—“Saving God” is no different. Cheesy, poorly acted, and boring to the nth degree, this film follows the formula to a tee. The only way it breaks convention is that this film has a predominantly African American cast—a community that is largely ignored by Christian media. Unfortunately, this innovation is incredibly played out. The story line is the same—drug dealers, violence, teen pregnancy, urban blight, a culture of fatherlessness, and the downward spiral of crime and poverty [factors which appear all too often in popular media featuring people of color].

The plot centers around Armstong Cane, played by Ving Rhames (“Mission Impossible 1-3”), who has just been released from federal prison where he spent the last fifteen years for murdering his best friend, in a fit of rage. Cane is the son of a pastor, and he is just beginning to walk in his father’s footsteps. He tries to rebuild the last remnants of his father’s dilapidated congregation. In this rundown neighborhood, everyone remembers Cane’s past and few want to believe his conversion, even less want to forgive him for his failure. That is, until he meets, befriends, and mentors a troubled teen named Norris Johns (Dwain Murphy—“How She Move”), who is peddling drugs outside of the church. Norris wants out of the thug life, but his attempts to change are thwarted by Blaze, the druglord Norris works for. In the end, Cane must make several important decisions that leave lives in the balance.

Fans of Rhames’ body of work will probably find the role of preacher as an odd one for Rhames. He is known mostly for playing roles that require muscle—bouncers, bodyguards, police officers. Equally, if not more troubling, the last time Rhames played a Christian character, he was a choir master and organist by day and a popular homosexual drag queen at the local nightclub in Robert Townsend’s made-for-TV film “Holiday Heart.” Seeing Rhames as a pastor was quite difficult for me, in light of this 2000 melodrama.

The central messages of forgiveness, triumph over personal obstacles, and the power of choice, are all great principles for Christian audiences. Sadly, these messages have been wrapped in the same-old-same-old packaging. The film’s redeeming qualities are the lack of vulgarity and rampant sexuality which would typically be found in films centered in the urban jungle. Of course, one would not expect anything different from a Christian film distributor like Cloud Ten (“Left Behind,” “Waterproof”).

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—Your reviewer said it was “…predictable… Cheesy, poorly acted, and boring to the nth degree.” I disagree. There were numerous times when the plot surprised me. Good guys weren't always good, and bad guys weren't always bad. And in no way was it boring. I felt the spiritual dialog was real and not always predictable. I've seen Christian “cheese,” and “Saving God” is not one of them. I wouldn't give it an A+, but it definitely deserves to be watched. It will challenge us all—no matter what are background might be—to love in risky ways.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Fred Miller, age 60 (USA)
Positive—Hard hitting action packed drama that speaks to the audience about living out real christianity in the urban streets in which the film was shot. This film has much merit and worthy of viewing. In fact, I plan to show it at our debut of “Friday night at the movies ministry.” Gets you to think about how you can personally make an impact in your local community and beyond. Superb acting and a very relevant theme make this film great. Not about a watered down faith, this film shows a reality many believers ignore today. Enjoyed it muchly !!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Paul Wojo, age 49 (USA)
Positive—When I sat down to watch this film, I thought it was going to be boring and poorly acted, but wow was I wrong. Great story line, great cast of actors, and yes, I was suprised at the ending. Highly recommended for teens and adults.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Christine, age 42 (USA)
Positive—This is an incredible movie! Great acting! Could the movie be improved… yes. But every movie can. I was able to view this entire film with my two children and not have to worry about some horrible scenes being imposed on their minds.

The beauty of the cross and the fact that there is One that we all must answer to in the end was well depicted. The cross is beautiful and an honor to uphold, but there is a not so pretty side of it to uphold, such as what we must face when we turn down the seductions of the world. I am glad the makers of this film didn’t candy coat it. People are real need of the truth.

I would suggest adding more light next time. But I praise God and say to those involved in this project… you’ve just contributed to one of the most powerful witnessing tools for the kingdom of God. Maybe you can add a little more iformation about sin next time.

Other Christians should also understand the film is a learning aid. We are the ones who are to use tools like this film to point them in the right direction. Let’s stop expecting others to do our part.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Shawntel, age 34
Positive—Why is a great movie like this not advertised for our kids? It kept me in suspense most of the time, moved at the right pace, and gave several “heroes”—in their quiet or even surprising ways—to follow. Great acting, and (wipes away a tear) I still miss, as I write this, the (spoiler alert) one who dies in the film. But hey, that’s life. Great job, directors! Bring us more!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—B.T., age 39 (Canada)
Positive—The film “Saving God” was a breath of fresh air from the Hollywood blockbusters whose theme revolve mostly along sexual and violent lines.I was particularly impressed by the script and strong acting skills of most of the minor acts. It is highly recommended. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Olukayode, age 45 (Nigeria)
Neutral
Neutral—POSITIVES:

1. It was good to see the portrayal of a minister who was not evil/perverted/ or perfect. He was not an effeminate emasculated girly man either. As is the case in the portrayal of Christians/Christian ministers in secular movies.

2. It is refreshing and relieving to watch a movie that has no sexual content where the Lord Jesus Christ is clearly mentioned.

3. The fact there is a genre of Christian faith based movies out there is a good thing. I hope that as time goes on they improve in quality (direction, script, cinematography, score, budget) just as Christian music has improved over time.

4. The acting of Ving Rhames was strong.

THINGS TO IMPROVE—1. There is a lot of assumed knowledge. Cane tells the young man to give his life to Christ—but there is no explanation of sin, the cross is not really unpacked, (it is there in the film, but it is assumed). For those who have totally no exposure to Christianity and are Biblically illiterate I am not sure if this movie would be helpful in this regard

2. I think the film went very close to falling into “Therapeutic Moral Deism”—the message that people need to turn to God so that he can solve all their problems, rather than turn to God because we are sinners who have rebelled against God's rule.

3. Thus the issue of repentance I thought was not presented clearly.

4. It seemed at times to try to hard that some themes seemed rather cliched. (Black Americans = drug dealers, teen pregnancies).

5. Some of the acting from those in minor/support roles seemed to be over the top.

6. Some parts seemed unrealistic—for a murderer to come out of gaol [jail], have no Seminary degree (unless the gaols have these in the states) and become a minister I thought was rather funny.

7. The Title—It is based on a line in the movie where Cane says to the TV evangelist words to the effect: “you are on about selling God, I am on about saving God.” I don't think this worked. And it is a confusing and misleading statement. Replace the word with “proclaiming” would have been better.

CONCLUSION—Morally I would have no hassle with Christian youth watching this movie, in fact I would use this as a teaching tool, (not so much about the issues of pregnancy and drugs, but more in the context of critiquing the film theologically in light of Scripture). I found some of the cultural aspects of the type of Christianity behind the movie distracting—I am a Reformed Confessing Anglican Australian. Since this is the first faith based movie I have seen, I have no basis of comparison. But if parents came to me asking me if I would recommend this movie for their teens to watch, I would say yes. It is a whole lot better than much of the other garbage that is on the Blockbuster shelves.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Joshua Bovis, age 35 (Australia)
Negative

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