This is the second movie review that I have done on this blog. The first was of the new Christian film, “Providence”, which releases in 2016. You can read that review by clicking here.
I was wary of this film when I discovered it was the Varvel’s first feature film. Actually, the very first time I heard about it I was excited; because when they said Varvel, I heard Marvel and instantly my expectations for this Christian film shot up. It’s always interesting to see the beginning of a group’s career, to see the potential for greatness and the attention to detail which often gets lost in the films from larger companies. A first or second film always has a brilliant story, and that’s the big appeal of “The War Within”.
The idea for the film came from a sermon that the director’s pastor preached on the different functions of the human soul. He spoke on how the mind, emotions, will, heart, conscience, and memory interact with one another to bring about the decisions and choices we make. So, in reality, this movie was an, “Inside Out”, for adults, though it came out before “Inside Out” and actually had a point.
For this review I’m going to break down the 4 major areas of film, rating each area between 1 and 10 stars. A total summary and rating will be given at the end of this post. Note: any and all views expressed in this post are opinions from a highly critical analyst.
The first area of a film, especially a Christian film that anyone notices is the acting. This is an area where Independent films from both Christian and secular worldviews struggle. The acting in, “The War Within”, was very specific. Those Characters which existed in the soul of the main character Michael Sinclair, (Brett Varvel), had a specific function, that function was also their personality and they dwelt exclusively in that area. For example: the character of Will, (Gary Varvel), acted as the will of a person would: only acting upon what the mind, heart, memory, emotions, and conscience wanted for the body. Thus, those members of the soul were portrayed very accurately and the acting was very good, considering the nature of the roles they had to play. Throughout the rest of the movie the acting quality ranges from moderately good, to very good. The actor/writer double play of Brett Varvel shows his versatility as he not only played the main character, Michael Sinclair, but also the character of Heart.
The acting was never superb, but bear in mind that this is the Varvel’s first feature film. I give the acting 6 out of 10 stars.
The special effects were well done, in many cases the scenes looked like something out of the old Star Wars films or the Skyrim games. There were no car chases, no gunman scenes, but there was quite a bit of wizard-type lightning wars, as seen above. The effects did not distract or detract from the scenes or the story, and I enjoyed the fact that the visual effects broke up some of the drama of the story. There were some action sequences and a few mildly intense themes throughout the film, but taken into context of what the actions meant and how they apply to what happens in our own spiritual lives, there is nothing in this movie that would not make it appropriate for the whole family. Though in the case of very young children, I leave that to the discretion of the parents.
For the caliber of the visual effects, and the usage of them to build a scene without making it looking cheesy or unprofessional, I give them a solid 7.
Just as in writing, many movies will be watched, and repeatedly watched just for their stories; “The War Within” is no exception to this universal fact. The concept of the film is its real draw; the story is unique in its explanation of the soul. What was a neat thing for me was that I saw so many of the scriptures being played out before my eyes, many were likely even unintentional on the part of the screenwriters. The perfection with which the film portrayed the human decisions making process was so accurate that it nailed every Bible verse on the subject.
If for no other reason, buy the movie and watch it just for the story. Excellent job on the part of the writers, the story earns a 9.
That’s a funny word, but it basically means, that the movie is worth watching multiple times. For all its charms and flaws, “The War Within”, is a great movie and an inspiring movie. It leaves its viewers thinking and examining their lives. It is no worse in quality than the Kendrick Brother’s first film, “Flywheel”, and is just as classic. Because of the type of film that it was, however, it does not have a huge draw for multiple watches. Does this movie have rewatchability? Yes. But, the question is, how much?
Well, there are several things that could have been done better, but there are also things that were spot on. In terms of rewatchability, I give this film a 5.
In each of the four areas I hit on, “The War Within”, scored the average or above, which is 5. It is a Christian film, which means automatically that it had a small budget. It is also a beginning film for the Varvels, meaning that it will not be perfect. Lastly, it is challenging story to do correctly, meaning that it will take experience in filmmaking that the Varvels do not yet have. Overall, I give this film 7 out of 10 stars, and look forward to what comes next from the Varvels.
The film was entered into film festivals in 2014 and has been showered with awards by many prominent Christian Film critics. Even though it was not perfect, I very much enjoyed it. Several of the character roles were masterfully played, but again, the story is the real draw. The film was inspiring, and I encourage you to pick up a copy today. Click here to watch the trailer for the film.
As always, thanks for reading. Like, comment, follow, and check me out on social.
—the anonymous novelist