- The Message is Unclear :: Numerous reviews came out quickly speaking of the movie's strengths, the emotion and personal nature of the theme, how the theme is tied inextricably to the story God is, has, and will continue to tell through human history. One blogger's review was glowing, and strengthened by his personal interaction with Kirk, and conveyed his personal impact from the film. Another blogger shared how he and his wife were moved to tears by the film due to their personal familial connections to the devastating effects of cancer. I have not personally been affected by cancer in my immediate family, but have been close enough to others to disregard thoughts that I'm just not "close enough to events like this" to get it. However, even if that were true, the movie purported to answer the question, "why does suffering exist, and why do bad things happen to good people?" The audience should not need this personal connection to resound with a film's message. In my opinion, the questions were not answered clearly, and so the film failed to accomplish the purpose for which it was advertised. In fact, toward the end of the film, Kirk once again asked the questions, talked about the subjects that came earlier, and said that life, good, and faith ultimately triumph over death, evil, and doubt (respectively), which was from the trailer. If the purpose of the film was centrally to answer the questions the trailer spoke of, there was sadly very little delivery to that end after mainly the set-up of back story to make the reveal possible. I caught the answer, but only because I was very carefully looking for it. I did not walk away from the movie feeling like, had I not seen the trailer and previously known what was going to be addressed, it accomplished what it set out to do.
- The Movie Drags :: Those artistic vignettes others believe lent cinematic excellence to the film were drawn out, sometimes unintentionally comedic, time dragging attempts to be artistic. Let me explain: works of art, books, and movies that set out to "be art" will more likely fall short than those attempts that set out to tell a story. If the aim from the beginning is to tell a story, the point will come. If you endeavor to make a point, sometimes you can miss the point and the story at the same time. The moments of story could have been greatly reduced in length, increased in number, and focused around the theme to more effectively tell the story.
- The Focus on Kirk :: From the beginning Kirk plugged the movie as the most personal film he's ever done, so I should not have been so surprised when the film was basically Kirk talking the whole time. When vignettes broke up the monotony, it should have been a much-needed release but instead added to the disjointed, forced feel of the film. Some bloggers have referred to this film as a documentary, and they may have been more correct there than not. The "in memory" text at the end could have been a sweet cap on this personal project but given the unclear focus and messages, it only served to make the project seem more comfortable in the home movie, personal archive arena.
- The Lack of Resolution :: The movie promised answers to the previously stated questions, the resolution of his friend's death, and the explanation of the historical unfolding of God's work in history through all humanity. To be fair, that's a huge bill to fill, and so there's little reason to fault Kirk for this failure. The solution was only on Kirk's side, to either choose one topic and work from the tension to the resolution, or move deliberately through each topic with focus and provide the answers repeatedly. Again, this did not happen adequately.
These opinions are mine and mine alone, and are not necessarily shared by all people who attended the first viewing. That's fine. I wish no ill will toward the success of the project, Kirk Cameron, or Way of The Master or Living Waters ministries, and will continue to support the last three as having worthwhile ministries. However, I cannot give indiscriminate support of just any Christian entertainment that bears the name of Christ. To do so would go against my conscience and does nothing to bolster the message of the gospel. I offer this review, as difficult as it is to write, and to read, as constructive criticism in hopes that some Christians who pursue careers in the entertainment industry might ever endeavor toward excellence in their field.
I have no doubt that Kirk will continue to do so. So should we all, wherever we serve.