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

September 2012 – 25 Hill: Saving the Soap Box Derby
Actor Corbin Bernsen was startled when he read a USA Today article announcing that the All-American Soap Box Derby was in financial trouble that threatened to end the 75-year tradition. Subsequently, he decided to do something about it. So he wrote 25 Hill, filmed it in Akron, Ohio (site of the derby's annual big event), and helped raise funding to get the family-friendly derby back on its feet.

The movie focuses on 12-year-old Trey Caldwell, who has just begun working on his soap box car with his dad when Dad is deployed to Afghanistan, where he dies on duty. An unlikely friendship develops between Trey and Roy Gibbs, a crusty old alcoholic who doesn't really want to be friends, but who somehow can't resist Trey's youthful enthusiasm for the derby.

Bernsen, best known for his television role in L.A. Law, plays Gibbs, and Trey is played by Nathan Gamble (Dolphin Tale). A Christian himself, Bernsen told AFA Journal that several years ago, he began to wrestle with how he could use his life to make a difference in entertainment. He said he understands why AFA found much content on L.A. Law objectionable, but that season of fame is what eventually afforded him the platform he enjoys today - writing, producing and starring in faith-based and family-friendly films.

25 Hill is a family-friendly story tackling the themes of grief, addiction, integrity, hard work, faith and family values.

The only cautions AFA notes are a few uses of the word butt and occasional immodest dress (revealing cleavage).
Review by Randall Murphree

The Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith
Christian History Institute and Voice of the Martyrs are producing an animated DVD series recounting the stories of real people with real courage. The series includes Jim Elliot, William Tyndale, John Bunyan, Eric Liddell, Gladys Aylward, Richard Wurmbrand, Amy Carmichael, William Booth and others.

The Richard Wurmbrand Story begins in Romania in 1955. Communism has taken the country and churches are forced to obey the government. Those who defy the government and preach the gospel are arrested and often tortured, as is Wurmbrand. He and his family eventually come to the U.S. where they begin Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry to help people understand how Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith in Christ.

The Story of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, begins in 1861 with William and his wife, Catherine, answering the call of God to preach to the poor in the east end of London. Poverty, corruption and violence are great in this area, and the Booths encounter intense anger and resistance. They begin holding their meetings in a tent, and the number of people seeking the peace and hope of the gospel soon becomes so large that pub owners try to chase him out of town. William and his followers refuse to fight, and many are injured. But some in the opposition are converted due to the love of Christ they witnessed when they expected retaliation.

This series is available at
Review by Debbie Fischer

Sons of Lwala
If growing up isn't already hard enough, try throwing in a Third World country, AIDS, the death of both of your parents and medical school. That's what brothers Milton and Fred face in the documentary Honoring a Father's Dream: Sons of Lwala. Both men come to the U.S. to study medicine at Vanderbilt University, with plans to open a medical clinic in their native Lwala, Kenya. They hit a few bumps in the road along the way, both of their parents die of AIDS, and the medical clinic is running out of funds. However, with the help of a senator, a rock band, a friend and the people of America, they might possibly keep their father's dream alive. Parental discretion is advised due to the scenes of coffins, dead bodies and open talk of AIDS and death. (Available at
Review by Hollie Finch

Journey to Everest
For six Americans from Nashville, Tennessee, in search of great adventure, the Himalayan base camp of Mount Everest becomes their goal. Epiphany Pictures' Journey to Everest follows their adventure.

The documentary opens with the group arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal. They board a small plane that takes them to Lukla, where the dangerous trek to base camp begins. Through perseverance and determination, four of the six reach their goal.

In Kathmandu, the team meets a missionary, Bishwa Karmacharya, who, with his wife, has a ministry serving and evangelizing the poor throughout the region. Members of the team are touched by Karmacharya's heart for meeting the needs of these disadvantaged, and the adventure ends up giving them a greater purpose and meaning to their lives.

Journey to Everest is a striking film with scenes of spectacular mountains, waterfalls and rivers displaying the creativity of God. Expedition leader Ed Smith sums up the lesson learned by the team when he said we are to "live every day and allow God to use us in a way that will benefit Him and His kingdom work." (Available at
Review by Debbie Fischer

An aid for sharing the gospel
A new 15-minute film produced by Creative Youth Resources and Bill Muir is titled Beyond the Sky Walk Over, It's That Easy. It is a story of an afternoon in the life of a young boy named Avery and his friend Thomas.

The film begins with Avery and Thomas on a museum field trip with classmates. The two boys sneak away from the group and end up in the basement, playing and running around until late in the afternoon. In fact, by the time they go upstairs, everyone has gone. The janitor finds them and escorts them to a room filled with wonder and a new exhibit, "Beyond the Sky." The janitor tells them the story of creation, the fall of man and the plan of salvation using beautiful visuals.

This short film is a simple and creative way to explain the gospel to children. Included with the DVD are five questions to stimulate discussion after showing the film, an accompanying tract to help guide someone through the gospel and nine principles to keep in mind in sharing the Good News. (Available at
Review by Debbie Fischer