War Room Blu-ray Review
Director Alex Kendrick and Producer Stephen Kendrick have made a cottage industry out of their faith based films that they write together. Films like FACING THE GIANTS, FIREPROOF and COURAGEOUS have been moderately budgeted, but have great box office returns. They have tapped into a desire for people for movies that entertain, while having a Christian message to them. That is once again what happens with WAR ROOM. It does get its message about the importance of prayer across, but it uses a hammer to drive it home.
WAR ROOM is a strange title for a Christian film. But of course the title is deceiving. It basically describes a place in your home where you pray. You can place bible verses, hymns, prayers or things you would like to accomplish on the wall. You want to put everything out there for God to see and hear. Miss Clara (Karen Abercombie) is our guide on this journey. She’s an elderly woman who lost her husband many yrs ago. Her spiritual life though is much better now than it was in her younger years. She now knows how to fight problems and confront them head on through prayer. Miss Clara is looking to sell her house. This is where she comes into contact with Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer), her real estate agent. Miss Clara can tell that Elizabeth is having difficulties in her life. That is when Miss Clara asks Elizabeth about her spiritual life.
At this time, Elizabeth was living in a nice house with her husband Tony (T.C. Stallings) and their daughter Danielle (Alena Pitts). There is trouble brewing with her marriage however. Tony is increasingly frustrated with Elizabeth giving money to her sister. Elizabeth is growing tired of Tony not paying attention to her and their daughter. The communication is not there at all. Every time they talk to each other it seems it ends up as fight over something. Miss Clara sensed all of this and began teaching her how to fight. She informs her how to fight the right way with the right weapons.
In the beginning of the film we see Tony as this slick sales rep. He has this charm about him and he’s chasing the almighty dollar. He’s getting recognition at work as one of the top sales reps and it is going to his head. But there is a secret that he’s been hiding and it exposes itself midway through the film. Meanwhile Tony is thinking of stepping out on his wife. The fire is missing from his marriage and he wants to recapture it in some way. His friend Michael (Michael Jr.) though is trying to steer him to the right path. He wants him to get more spiritual and more aligned with God before it is too late.
WAR ROOM has a great message that it conveys in the movie. It talks about the power of prayer and it shows what grace looks like. The problem I have is that it pounds it into your head until you can’t breathe. This feels like a two hour Sunday service with no let up. There are numerous musical montages that feature praying. I think you can get a point across more effectively if more subtlety is involved. I also had major issues with a scene featuring Miss Clara and Elizabeth. A mugger approaches them with a knife and asks for their money. Elizabeth is about to give in to this man. But Miss Clara is firm in saying that she won’t give him any money and she invokes the name of Jesus. The mugger walks away without getting any money. I just found this incredibly naïve. Most of the time, this would provoke the mugger and lead to a dire result. Sure a religious utterance could affect a mugger in a positive way, but that is asking a bit too much to be believed. That is a dangerous thing to put out there for people to do when confronted this way.
WAR ROOM was filmed in Charlotte and its surrounding areas. This is a change from the Kendrick brothers’ previous films where they shot in Albany, GA. They have stated they needed a change in scenery and be able to show different things. Charlotte does look fantastic here. It has lightness to it that shows up on the screen.
WAR ROOM progresses how you would expect it. Tony has his comeuppance and seeks to find his way. Elizabeth learns how to pray and use it in her everyday life. At first there are missteps in this journey. She doesn’t commit fully. It is only when she fully commits that great things start to happen. Miss Clara has a person to teach her way to and she wants Elizabeth to find her own person.
WAR ROOM is a film with a great message. There is no denying that. It is just so incredibly earnest and overbearing with its style. After the third musical montage, I had had enough. This movie will certainly play better with folks more religious than I am. I just wished it thought of the audience like me that may not go to church every Sunday. It is a missed opportunity in my book.
Video: North Carolina looks great on film. There is a lushness and brightness that is on full display.
Audio: The sound was mostly solid.
Commentary with Director Alex Kendrick and Producer Stephen Kendrick: The brother team talks about the messaging in the film. They also share their thoughts on the scenes and the back stories involved. They also go over filming in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
Deleted Scenes (10:50): There are ten scenes in all. Three of them involve more arguments between Tony and Elizabeth. Two scenes deal with a self help guru character that didn’t make the cut. Other scenes just fill in the blank. These are answered later in the finished product.
Bloopers and Outtakes (6:00): Most of this is goofy stuff where the actors flub their lines. There are a lot of sorrys said and some dancing involved as well. It is interesting to note that there is no cursing when the actors mess up like in other films that I’ve seen.
War Room in 60 Seconds (1:14): This is an amusing quick recap of the movie using certain scenes in funny fashion.
The Heart of War Room (6:08): The two leads that play the married couple talk about their roles. The power of prayer is gone over. The Kendricks brothers discuss their faith based movies.
The Making of War Room (11:12): The move from Albany, GA to the Charlotte area is touched upon. The power of prayer is featured again. The process of the editing is shown.
From Auditioning to Acting (8:19): The casting of all the main roles are gone over in detail. Some of the actors were making their film debuts including Shirer. Abercombie is younger than her character and her audition is discussed. Some of these roles came down to the last minute.
The Art of Jumping Rope (2:33): This is a short feature about jumping rope and double dutch. The lead actor performed his own stunts including the dunking and back flips.
The Pastor’s Call to Prayer (2:31): This is a feature about prayer and how it is important in life.
Behind the Scenes: Color Grading (4:12): This is a fun feature about color grading. They show the before and after of scenes. They inform that green was put on the trees in the winter and that the sky was colored blue on a cloudy day. Everything was made to show Charlotte in the summer time with its lushness.
The Church on Its Knees (7:52): Two churches are shown and what they have done to make prayer a priority. There are rooms built just for prayer.
Molly Bruno: Modern Day Miss Clara (7:50): This woman was somewhat an inspiration for Miss Clara. She was a 91-year-old woman at the time of the feature. We see her as she goes through her day in prayer and verses. We also see interviews done with her.
Investing in the Next Generation (3:10): The Kendrick brothers use students from various Christian colleges to get experience on movie sets and set them on their way to be the next generation of spiritual filmmakers.
“Warrior” Music Video by Steven Curtis Chapman (4:34)