90 Minutes in Heaven Blu-ray Review
Based on the inspiring true story of Don Piper, a Christian Minister who was in a horrific car accident. Determined dead at the scene for 90 minutes, Don miraculously comes back to life after a passerby prays over him. 90 MINUTES follows Don’s long and painful recovery process as he struggles to understand why God decided to bring him back to life. While Don (Hayden Christensen) wants nothing more than to return to heaven, his wife Eva (Kate Bosworth) works diligently through the trials by caring for her husband, maintaining the finances and raising their three children.
90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN is a Christian drama and the first film by Giving Films production who is giving all the profits to a variety of charities. So it is somewhat difficult to criticize a film that agrees with my beliefs, has a powerful message and is then giving back to those in need. Unfortunately the powerful message isn’t delivered in the most capable manner.
90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN should have taken a cue from its title. Clocking in at just over two hours, the film would have been better served leaving about 30 minutes (or more) on the cutting room floor. It’s disappointing when a film with such motivational and inspiring potential squanders it by being too self indulgent. I believe director Michael Polish had good intentions and everyone involved with film had their hearts in the right place. However, I think there may have been a lack of experience or too much support without enough critical thinking when making the film.
It may sound like nitpicking when complaining about the lack of authenticity in hair and makeup, but when your film revolves around someone in a hospital bed for half a year, those elements have a large impact. Don’s hair was always neatly combed and parted, his facial hair never produced any stubble, nor did his his mustache ever become unkept or disheveled. His swollen eye and scrapes never took on believability when every other unwounded area was cleanly undamaged. This sentiment works equally for Don’s wife Eva who is battling sleep, work and the care of her husband with perfect makeup and gorgeous hair. She hardly looked like a woman who struggles to keep things together. This type of detail extends further when the characters are speaking. The dialogue and prayers are thoughtful and even encouragingly poignant at times, but it is far too unnatural for the way a family going through trials might speak. This blame might be on the screenplay but also might be attribute to the actors who sometimes looked as those they were reciting the lines from paper rather than comfortably speaking through their character.
The miracle for which the film is based plays out to emotional success. It’s a strong lead in that grabs the viewer’s attention whether they be Christian or not. But the film slows way down with excessively long and unnecessary shots of people being sad or concerned while Don lays in his bed without the will to live for the next couple of hours. There are moments that are relatable and inspiring because they shows the human struggle being overcome by the help of others, but they are mostly drawn out visually searching for the emotion rather than letting it find its place naturally. Nonetheless, I was moved in a few places but I believe that is mostly due to my faith rather than the success of the film.
I desperately want faith based films to succeed and hopefully 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN inspires and touches lives. But I’m guessing those who are blessed by the film, are those who are already Christ believers. It would be wonderful if these films could reach out and bring non believers to the Lord as well. If the film does happen to do that, then Praise God, but I think to achieve the goal in this type of entertainment medium, the film must be up to a higher quality standard.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p 2.38:1) The picture was clean and clear.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Mostly quiet and dialogue driven the sound was fine.
Meet the Real Pipers (10:01): An interview with the real Piper family explaining how their story became a movie and how it is a ministry to others.
The Making of 90 Minutes in Heaven (9:32): This once again feature the Piper family but also the producer, director, and cast chime in on making the film and how it came to be. The story was important to all of them and they explain what it meant to them.
Giving Films (2:23): A brief look at what charities the proceeds for this film will go to and the production company’s mission to give.