Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Movie Review: I Am Gabriel

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to review a movie that is coming out called I Am Gabriel.  After I viewed the trailer (below) and decided to review the DVD.  Warning:  Lots of Spoilers.

The description on the back of the DVD reads: Promise, Texas is no place to raise a family; the fields are dry, businesses are failing, and kids can't wait to grow up and move away.  Some folks say the town is cursed.  Just when things are at their darkest, a mysterious boy wanders out of the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his back and a strange mat tucked under his arm.  He has a message of hope for the people of Promise, but it's hard for some to receive.  The slow death of this small town reflects the condition of their own parched souls.  When the boy demonstrates the love of God through signs and wonders, they begin to discover the power of prayer.  Still, not everyone in town sees his presence as a gift and the Sheriff is on a mission to expose who the boy really is.  In the end, with his back against the wall -- surrounded by skeptics -- the boy is forced to reveal his true identity.

I watched the movie twice.  The first time was rather difficult because my daughter kept climbing all over me throughout the movie.  The second time I waited until after everyone went to bed so that I could refresh my memory to write this review.

Overall, it's not a bad movie.  If you like movies dealing with the spirit realm (and I hope you know that most if not all are going to be very fictionalized and not Bible-based), then you'll probably enjoy this movie.  If I had not been reviewing the movie, I may not have stuck it out through the whole movie (and certainly wouldn't have watched it twice).  My husband watched part of it, said he'd seen enough and went on to bed.

The movie begins with the reference of II Chronicles 7:14 on the screen (no verse, just the reference).  This is a great verse ("If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  The movie primarily focuses on praying to God and seeking His face.  Many forget, or will ignore, the phrase tucked into the verse that says to "turn from their wicked ways."  People like to throw this verse around in a redneck theology kind of way about praying on Sunday and expecting God to fix our country while living for self Monday through Saturday.  This could have been developed in one particular sub-story (and would've made for a great part of the movie) and would've helped to flesh out the movie some more, but it wasn't part of the main message.

In the opening sequence, there is a childbirth scene where a doctor is delivering a baby in the couple's home.  This is rather graphic (for children), showing blood on the sheets.  You will have to decide for your own family, but if my daughter had been much older (old enough to sit down and watch a non-animated film), I wouldn't have played it with her in the room.  The mother conks out all of a sudden, leaving you to think she died; instead, the baby boy dies.  [Offtopic, I find it amusing that the doctor looked more wrung out than the mother!]

John Schneider (of Dukes of Hazard fame) plays the doctor.  When the attending nurse asks him "Why do bad things happen to good people?" He answers, "Who am I to question God?" and then continues with a seemingly prophetic statement that this is only the beginning of bad times.  He also seems to know, from the beginning, who Gabriel is.

While looking at the IMDb description of the movie, I noticed that the director, Mike Norris, (son of Chuck), actually played a part in the movie, and one of the young girls may even be his daughter.  I thought that was very interesting.

The story itself is far-fetched and unbelievable.  Nowhere in the Bible is an angel portrayed like this young boy.  In the Bible, angels provoke a reverential fear, not confusion and sympathy.  The Bible says that we sometimes entertain angels unaware of who they are, so Gabe's very different clothing is unrealistic.  The boy is a passable actor, but he almost never smiled.  He was always very solemn and serious and a little bit monotone.  He says at the beginning that he will be a boy to them and later on, "Don't worry about explaining me.  I'm just a kid," but he does not even remotely portray a "normal" boy.  (What boy doesn't know what PB&J is?)

Gabe suggested to Ellen, the woman he stays with, that she should make prayer mats for the world because "His Word should be spread throughout."  It's ironic because there is no Bible mentioned in the movie until close to the end when the pastor speaks to the people.  There is only one mention of Jesus (see quote in next paragraph). 

One thing I kept looking for while watching the movie is a presentation of the Gospel.  It finally came (somewhat) towards the end of the movie when Gabe says to the doctor, "You are worthy [of going home to Heaven].  The blood of Christ made sure of that for all that accept Him.  You did." A little later when the pastor is speaking to the people, he quotes the verse, "...verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life..." (John 5:24)  I feel like they definitely could have done a better job with presenting the Gospel.

There were other rather odd things about the movie.  On the Sunday morning after a town fellowship, the pastor, his wife, and their granddaughter walk into the church down the aisle to the front of the church.  The people stand up as they enter, the pastor begins speaking, the wife and granddaughter remain at the front to the side, there is no choir, no ushers, and no pianist.  It was just a very odd church service.

The couple who take Gabe in have a lovely home (I really like their little bridge in their front yard), but put him in a very plain guest bedroom with no decorations.  Even if it had been a nursery for their baby 10 years before, I would think that they would've done something to the room especially since the wife teaches art at the local community center.  The rest of the house is decorated very nicely.

I don't even know what to say about the revealing of Gabe as the angel Gabriel (who, by the way, the Bible describes as a man -- see Daniel 9:21).  The wings sprouting, the lights and the adoration of the people.  Maybe I'm being very cynical and skeptical, but I just can't see it happening that way.

I did like most of the instrumental music.  I didn't like the vocalized music so much, but that's because I don't listen to contemporary Christian music.  I also liked the positive ending.  It was evident that not only were good times coming back to the town, but people were going back to God.  I thought that the very end where the couple who had lost their baby boy 10 years before suddenly had a new baby was not surprising and a rather predictable happy ending.

All in all, it's not a terrible movie, just not exactly my kind of movie.  I am appreciative of being asked to review the movie.  I regret that I can't give it a more positive review.

A Larry Ross Communications, representing Echolight Studios, provided me with the DVD in exchange for an honest review.
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