Saturday, June 7, 2008

Passage to Zarahemla

Many years ago I read the first in the Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites series. I enjoyed it a lot. It was pretty darn Mormon and kind of geared toward teenagers. But I liked it.

That being said, one of the first things I learned about my husband was that he had done the cover to the latest in the series. I was intrigued.

But when I saw the billboard on I-15 advertising the coming of the movie, I was skeptical. It didn't look all that professional and I can get kind of picky about things like that.

What did I think of Passage to Zarahemla?

The parts I didn't like: The main guy isn't all that good-looking (yes, very shallow of me, but it actually distracted - the main hunk has to actually be a hunk!). The actors had varying degrees of commitment to their roles and some were a lot more believable than others (the aunt was fantastic, the grandpa was groan-worthy). It was slightly preachy in parts.

The parts I did like: The actors were all appropriate in their roles. The danger felt like real danger. The situations didn't feel contrived. The mixing of the different types of people (the Gadiantons, the Utahns, the gang-bangers) actually worked. I liked that there was more than one thing going on because it made everything feel more real (life is usually more complicated than one danger or one difficult situation).

The dialogue wasn't perfect, but it didn't distract, so that doesn't go in either category. Overall, I liked the movie. It's not my new favorite movie, but I will comfortably recommend it to, um, people who are Mormon and aren't super anti all Mormon movies.

The reason I would recommend it to Mormons is that you either understand everything they talk about with Nephite history or it might feel a bit awkward and preachy ("Have faith!" or "Learn of me! Learn of my people!"). Brent and I watched the movie with two of my nieces (they had seen it before, and they actually requested that we watch it this morning). All four of us agreed that the movie was lots of fun.

Now, maybe it was my reduced expectations, but I really enjoyed the movie. It was a fun ride. I will warn anyone that wants to show it to little kids that the danger is actual danger. People get hurt and there is implied killing and there is crime. But any family without some dysfunction and trouble (at least when teens are involved) isn't a real family. Things aren't magically solved just because the story is over, and I liked that a lot.

One note on the DVD. There are two versions of the movie - "theatrical release" and "less intense version". We watched the theatrical version, so I'm not sure how the other one compares. But it could be that the less intense version would then be appriopriate for all ages. I just thought it was cool that it would be available. You know?

So there you have it. If you're going by Hollywood standards, I might only give it 3 out of 5 stars. It is too Mormon to be really appealing to outsiders and it's imperfect, but it is a fun movie. I think Chris Heimerdinger did a good job.


Chris Heimerdinger said...

Thanks for your positive and uplifting review. It's interesting that I get more positive reviews on the casting of Kiddoni and Grandpa than any other actors in the film, except for the wonderful
Summer Naomi Smart, who played Kerra. I deeply appreciated Brent's cover from so long ago. He was only artist of several that I tried to hire who "got it" when I described the image that I was looking for. Thanks for the sincere post and thanks to your family for the long-term support!

Chris Heimerdinger

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

Hi Heather,

You did a great job of being real yet positive (a complicated skill I have not yet mastered). I just posted a review Tom did of PtoZ. It was fun to read that Brent did the artwork for one of the books.

I hope your pregnancy is going okay, and that you're not too tired, etc, etc. Hope to see you soon!

Anonymous said...

Dear blogger,
Thank you for your positive review of Passage to Zarahemla. You have been wonderful! I just wanted to let you know that there is a Passage to Zarahemla widget, and we would love for you to host it on your blog if you are interested. The widget contains the trailer, the making of the movie (great behind the scenes info), a link to the blog, a little about the movie, music that is downloadable, and a buy now option. A widget is a portable web application that you can very easily install on your blog. Do you think you would be interested in having this widget on your blog? Let me know and I will send you the link so that you can easily embed it. Thanks again for your review and hope to hear from you soon.

Alayna Ferrin
Public Relations
Cobalt Communications Group