Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
AFA Staff
AFA Staff
AFA Journal staff reviews movies, books and other resources

January 2006 – Prodigal comes to big screen (Includes mild obscenities and profanities)
The Gospel, a modern-day retelling of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, hit the big screen October 7, grossing a domestic total of nearly $16 million during its theatrical run. Scheduled to release on DVD sometime after the beginning of the year, The Gospel is a moral breath of fresh air compared to the majority of projects released by Hollywood.

It also brings some familiar faces to the screen including Tamyra Gray (American Idol, Boston Public) and Keshia Knight Pulliam (The Cosby Show) as well as the musical talent of urban gospel music performer/producer Kirk Franklin.

The story is centered around David “D.T.” Taylor, a young man who once aspired to be a minister but decided to disconnect himself from the church and his family after the death of his mother and the absence of his busy father. Now, Taylor is a hot R&B recording artist at the top of his career and is forced to face the struggles of his past decisions after returning home to check on his sick father. The “quick” trip home turns out to be an unexpected journey in which Taylor seeks peace with his family, himself and God.  

As described by MovieGuide, the film contains a “strong redemptive Christian worldview with very strong moral elements that mimic the story of the prodigal son and is filled with praise music, preaching and positive references to God.” There are also messages of sexual purity before marriage as well as the danger in turning the church into a celebrity pulpit of fame.

While the film has a redeeming message, MovieGuide also notes that there is very little direct mention of Jesus and salvation. There are several mild obscenities and profanities, including the Lord’s name in vain, and a club scene where scantily clad women are seen dancing suggestively around Taylor to imply that he is at the pinnacle of his music career. There is some drinking and smoking throughout the film as well as secular music with sexually oriented lyrics.

While this is not a must-see film for the family, it may appeal to adults who are encouraged by any type of Biblical portrayal from Hollywood, especially those who are fans of gospel music. The film is rated PG for thematic elements including suggestive material and mild language.
Review by Rebecca Grace

Spiritual warfare is theme of Peretti film
Frank Peretti’s The Visitation is not one of those “great-for-the-whole-family” movies, but the new film is a gripping, suspense/thriller. It is based on Peretti’s novel of the same title. On the printed page or on screen, the gifted writer’s vivid pictures paint new images of the concept of spiritual warfare, and thus raise awareness of its reality. 

With his 1986 best-selling novel, This Present Darkness, Peretti hit a nerve with his imaginative portrayals of demonic and heavenly forces battling it out for the souls of mankind. Now, 20 years later, Peretti is still producing masterful narratives that make us take seriously the presence of good and evil embodied in real beings.

The Visitation tells the compelling story of Brandon Nichols, a mysterious stranger who wreaks spiritual havoc in the little town of Antioch. Nichols begins performing miracles and is quickly hailed by many as the Messiah returned to earth.

The movie is also the story of Travis Jordan, a former minister whose wife had been murdered three years earlier. The case had never been solved and his wife’s murder drove Jordan from the ministry. He and other Antioch residents are suspect of Nichols, and their investigation provides the perfect context to deal with themes of spiritual warfare, truth and redemption.

Stars include Randy Travis of country music fame, Kelly Lynch (Charlie’s Angels) and Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, Judgment Day). Award-winning producer Ralph Winter (Fantastic Four, X-Men) is on the creative team. The DVD release is scheduled for February 28 following a limited theatrical release in January.

The R-rated version reviewed by AFA has already been edited to delete graphic violence and make it conform to a PG-13 rating. There is no objectionable language. While it doesn’t fit the mold of Hollywood’s true horror film genre, its intensity makes it a questionable choice for young children. Fans of the supernatural in fiction will find The Visitation intense, scary and exciting, yet insightful, satisfying and entertaining.
Review by Randall Murphree