Cinema-Maniac: Fireproof (2008) Movie Review

I’ve never been much of a believer in finding faith…in Christians films that is. For every great Christian film like “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Ten Commandments” that transcends personal beliefs to provide viewers something to enjoy there are dozens that give the wrong impressions. Films such as “C Me Dance”, “To Save A Life”, “Sunday School Musical”, “Last Ounce of Courage”, and “The Lion Judah” (three of which have earned zeroes) make up a majority of Christian films offerings that believe good morals excuses poor filmmaking. Here’s a film that yes doesn’t always successfully hides it’s Christians views and metaphors, but present its beliefs through good protagonist and a story whose message delivery is known without it being forced upon nonbelievers.

Fireproof is about a firefighter using a 40-day experiment known as “The Love Dare” in an attempt to save his marriage. Being a film based around a specific religion it’s impossible to ignore the signatures it’ll have; positive messages, bible verses, characters with strong religious beliefs, and (often) an unrealistic view of how the real world functions. For starter the positive message and bible verses are as clear as day, but not shoehorned in. Characters with Christian views don’t come across as preachy often conversing like regular people. For the most part the characters act realistically even supporting our protagonist who’s a nonbeliever. It’s for this acceptance that makes it Christian elements with corny dialogue forgivable. The protagonist is not condemned for being a nonbeliever rather is simply a man attempting to fix his marriage. By the will of the protagonist and not outside interference his transformation comes across effectively. This conflict helps supports the film as it contains several solid scenes. Including the few instances when we see the protagonist doing some actual firefighting are surprisingly exciting. Humor is also a plus while it doesn’t always click the jokes that do get a laugh prevent the messy potential divorce from becoming tedious to view.

The major pitfall of “Fireproof” is without a doubt it presentation of the world. Words such as realism don’t apply to its depiction of women. Just about all the characters who are women tend to be shallow being less like people and more as a tool to for the plot. Even the protagonist wife gets little to no development nor are we given much on her past and what made her fall in love. Every black women in the film is given stereotypical dialogue with the occasional “mmmhhhmmm” for added effect. One major conflict in the film that’s not addressed well enough is protagonist Caleb Holt porn addiction (also a metaphor for temptation). According to the film the only form Caleb can get his porn is from his computer. If more developed or presented in a form that made his porn addiction evidently problematic the presented weak resolution would have work to a degree. Since it does little in showing Caleb Holt handling his addiction the resolution doesn’t gain leeway since we often don’t see him fall victim to his addiction only scarcely viewing his attempted resistance to it. It should also be mention that the final twenty minutes are in fact very preaching, but by that point the film is merely accomplishing the needs for it genre fans with it already offering nonbelievers a satisfying story.

Production values are decent. It clearly looks like it was made on a small budget with it commercial like lighting and few actual professional actors. Kirk Cameron is easily the best of the bunch, though that’s not saying much. His performance is decent for a leading actor. There is not a noteworthy that showcases his true acting ability, but neither border beyond what he can’t do. Because of this it is easy to accept Cameron as a film character as everything he does fits with his characters. Ken Bevel performance leaves something to be desired. She is not to say bad, but in the most pivotal scenes she clearly comes across as someone reading her lines for the first time. Other actor performances are adequate and sincere. There performances don’t hurt the film significantly detract from a given scene. Direction from Alex Kendrick is decent. In the few instances (like the firefighter scenes) when Kendrick has complete understanding of his film language events can be tense, funny, and even touching. While his cinematography won’t impress it does it job. As for music it’s something that can’t be held against the film. It selection of music is fitting for the film becoming a part of it not a negative distraction.

Fireproof is a solid film that gets across its core moral values with a subtle delivery through its somewhat believable characters and a solid story that is not overly preaching. No doubt it’ll please genre fans as production values and writing is superior to what is occasionally offered to them. On the other hand it’s competent filmmaking that does not force its message down nonbelievers.

7/10

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