Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review of THE CASE FOR CHRIST: Enlightened by Evidence

April 12, 2017

It is Holy Week. Long before, it used to be that there would be Bible-themed movies in the theaters for the faithful to meditate upon. However, with the passing years, these films about Jesus Christ have become really rare. This year, there is only one such film out there in malls, quietly opening  in cinemas with no fanfare just a day before Palm Sunday. Fortunately I still got to catch it today.

It is 1980 in Chicago. Lee Strobel is a celebrated, award-winning journalist who wrote for the Chicago Tribune. He also had a happy family life with his wife Leslie and daughter Alison. However, one day, a tragedy in his family was narrowly averted just in the nick of time. This caused Leslie to seek her own spiritual renewal, defying Lee's staunch atheism. Lee goes on his own in-depth research about the historical and medical accuracy of Jesus' resurrection. Could he prove his wife wrong?

The actors act with earnestness as is usually expected from a religious film. Mike Vogel did very well in the lead role as Lee Strobel. He had the whole 80s look down pat, hair-sprayed mane and all. For the whole film, he was infuriatingly adamant in his atheism as he was overconfident in his skill as an investigative journalist. Despite his apparent love for his family, he was made to say such cruel and hurtful words to his wife as a result of his cynicism. However, he did have one effectively moving and tearful scene going through an album of his old articles. 

Erika Christensen was a loyal and steadfast Leslie Strobel. L. Scott Caldwell played the good Samaritan nurse Alfie Davis, who provided the spark for conversion in the Strobel household. In much smaller but key roles are Oscar-caliber actors Robert Forster as Lee's estranged father Walter and Faye Dunaway (whom I just saw in "The Bye Bye Man" before this) as psychologist Dr. Roberta Walters. I liked the portrayal of Tom Nowicki as medical expert Dr. Metherell for his authoritative discussion of Jesus' mortality.

Directed by Jon Gunn from a script by Brian Bird, "The Case for Christ" presents its story methodically as a lawyer would present his case in court. It was very refreshing to watch a religious film with an intellectual point of view, as a result of various expert interviews that Strobel conducted. This practical, logical approach will probably appeal to male audiences more than the melodramatic, emotional approach seen in "The Shack," which had more feminine sensibilities. However, this also means that "Case" had more verbose dialogue than special effects, which can also define the audience it can attract. 7/10.

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