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

April 2013 – “Eighteen foster homes, 11 misdemeanors, 9 felonies, 4 convictions.” That’s the voice over from 18-year-old Brendan King, just released from three years in juvenile lock-up. He’s riding in the car with Mike Stubbs, his new foster dad. Brendan is white, Mike black.

Of all the family-friendly and Christian films that come to AFA asking for promotion, reviews or other help, maybe 1 out of every 12-15 makes this reviewer say, “We’ve got to let folks know about this one!” This is the one.

King’s Faith is a superb example of how a riveting story, good writing, biblical principles and good acting can paint an accurate picture of Christian faith. The story follows the challenging days and months as Brendan re-enters high school, tries to please Mike and his wife Vanessa, tries to make friends, and attempts to be free of his old gang, thugs who beat up Brendan and do a hit-and-run job on his new friend, putting both of them in the hospital.

Brendan’s anchor through these troubled waters is his new-found faith in Christ, a decision he made while incarcerated. Reinforcing his faith, is the strong faith of his foster parents. Issues and themes of salvation, rebellion against God, race relations, foster care, peer pressure, forgiveness and grief intertwine to make every scene gripping, start-to-finish. 

Filmmaker Nicholas DiBella and other principals want to help audiences address all of these issues. Of special concern for them is the message that foster kids, even those close to aging out of the system, can still turn their lives around – with the right help.

Cautions? Almost none at all. There’s one kiss between two teens, and the gang-related story line leads to some violence, though it’s not gratuitous. Still, it may not be advisable for young children.

“No matter where you’ve been, or how lost you feel, you should never give up hope or faith,” DiBella said. King’s Faith is scheduled to release in theaters April 26. 
Review by Randall Murphree

Crossroad CAUTION
The theme of forgiveness is prominent in Crossroad, a new DVD release from Spot On Media. It features an ensemble cast whose lives come together at a diner when masked gunmen enter to rob the business.

The goal is admirable, but the delivery creates a challenge for viewers. Too many characters are introduced too quickly in too many scenes at the beginning of the film. It’s hard to follow the many storylines that are being developed. High levels of intensity and suspense serve the narrative well.

However, near the film’s end, a bizarre flashback shows a Bible teacher delivering this quote from John Muir: “God does not appear and flow out, only from narrow chinks and round bored wells here and there in favored races and places, but He flows in grand undivided currents, shoreless and boundless over creeds and forms and all kinds of civilizations and peoples and beasts, saturating all and fountanizing all.” Not only is it unorthodox, but it is also totally out of place, not connected to the narrative at all.

Graphically, the only offensive scene is the immodest dress of one minor character, a woman displaying cleavage.
Review by Randall Murphree

Worldwide, more than 10 million children need a home, but they are denied that opportunity to thrive and grow because they are stuck. The new documentary Stuck, which will be released in theaters in April, describes the difficulties of international adoption and the often negative results for children who are waiting to be adopted.

Studies have shown that affection and touch help a child’s brain grow. If a child is under two years old when he is adopted, he shows dramatic gains, as in the case of two children who were adopted from Haiti and featured in Stuck.

Stuck follows several couples and one single parent seeking to adopt children from foreign countries. They face obstacles, both from the U.S. State Department and from the foreign governments, mounds of paperwork, financial drains and sometimes corruption.

AFA adoptive parents who have viewed the film fear that it may be too critical of the Hague Convention, which has regulatory oversight of international adoptions. And while it can be the source of “red tape” situations, Hague’s purpose is to “prevent the abduction, sale of or traffic in children, and it works to ensure that inter-country adoptions are in the best interests of children.”
Review by Debbie Fischer

The Hobbit
Bilbo Baggins of Bag End lives contentedly in his hobbit hole home until he receives a surprise visit from 13 boisterous dwarves and learns that without his permission, he has been volunteered to enlist in their company as they set out across the fantasy world of Middle-earth to seek stolen treasure, their rightful homeland – and revenge. Bilbo abandons caution and rushes to join in on the Unexpected Journey.

Along the way, Bilbo sometimes regrets his hasty decision and longs for the security of his home as he faces death, danger and savage enemies. Nonetheless, Bilbo learns that he has a larger purpose and potential, which cannot be fulfilled by staying forever in the safety of home, but relies on humility, mercy and self-sacrifice.

Bilbo profits from the adventure as he is transformed into a more worthy hobbit who has learned the value of loyalty, friendship and selflessness.

Although there is no swearing or sexuality in the movie, there are a few instances of crude humor. Parents should consider the PG-13 rating, earned by sequences of battle-related violence and frightening portrayals of the evil creatures Bilbo and his friends meet. While material in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey may be of concern for some families, and parental discretion should be exercised, the classic J.R.R. Tolkien story communicates a message of courage, hope and faith. The DVD release was scheduled March 19.
Review by Stacy Long