Faith geeks haven’t always been thrilled by film makers’ offerings of “religious” movies. Biblical epics are often packed with action, special effects, and even romance, but many of them have wandered far from the facts and inherent meaning of the stories they were based on. Then there are the embarrassingly low quality, overly sentimental movies with a “faith message,” often made by independent film companies.
Yet there have been some treasures among the trash, such as Babette’s Feast, Chariots of Fire, and Of Gods and Men. This year and next, there will be a number of new entries in the religious movie category, although it’s yet to be determined if any of them will prove to be winners with the faith geek crowd.
The recently released Noah, starring Russell Crowe and Emma Watson, has received generally good reviews, although it has been a source of controversy with both Christian and Muslim groups. Conservative Christians were upset that it didn’t adhere to Scripture but were somewhat mollified when a note was added to the marketing materials explaining that the movie used “artistic license” to tell its story. Muslims objected to the portrayal of a holy figure and the movie has been banned in a number of Islamic countries.
The popular book, Heaven Is for Real, has been made into a movie opening April 16. It tells the story of Colton Burpo who claims to have visited heaven during a near death experience when he was 3 years old.
Left Behind is set to open October 3 and is based on the popular Christian fiction book series about the Rapture and the end times. Starring Nicholas Cage, the film makers hope this remake of the 2001 version will be more successful than the original.
December 12 is the release date for the biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. Stars of the film include Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver. Mary will be released in 2015 and focuses on the story of the mother of Jesus when she was 13, 15, 19, and 27 years old.