For a number of Christian moviegoers, this weekend might be much tougher than most to decide which film to watch.
But at the same time, it might not be as this weekend’s new movies are clearly distinct in their flavors and likely to each draw different brands of believers within the general Christian community.
It’ll be interesting to see how box office figures turn out by the weekend’s end.
Perhaps the most obvious Christian-targeted flick among three wide-releases is “Legion,” which presents moviegoers with the question “What if God lost faith in mankind?”
The movie, starring Paul Bettany (“The Da Vinci Code”), pits mankind against a horde of the devil’s minions – fallen angels, whom God allows to have their way with humanity after having lost faith in it.
Also thrown in the mix is Bettany’s character, the archangel Michael, who apparently decides to break the chains that bind him to God and take a stand with mankind while protecting one woman’s unborn child – “the only hope humanity has of surviving.”
Though theologically off and presenting a highly unlikely scenario, “Legion” may appeal to the Christian segment that made books and movies like the “Left Behind” series popular. Director Scott Stewart has called the movie a mixture of “Terminator” and “Exorcist.”
"The movie is angels with machine guns, really,” he says.
"Legion" is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Now, for those who’d rather watch a movie that inspires and pulls on the heart strings, “Extraordinary Measures” could be just what the doctor ordered.
As the first film to go into production for CBS Films, “Extraordinary Measures” tells the story of a biotechnology executive whose two youngest children are afflicted with a neuromuscular disease that threatens their lives.
Rather than sitting by helplessly, watching his children move closer to the brink of death, the executive (played by Brendan Fraser) decides to form a company to develop a drug to save his children’s lives, teaming up with a research scientist (played by Harrison Ford) who he believes to be closest to making a breakthrough.
Engaging and well-scripted, “Extraordinary Measures” will get moviegoers asking themselves how far they would go save the ones they love.
For those going to the theaters with children, “Tooth Fairy” will likely be the go-ahead.
Aside from being a fun and witty family movie, “Tooth Fairy” presents a positive moral message as it tells the story of an aging hockey player who is sentenced to one week’s hard labor as a tooth fairy after dashing one young fan's dream.
Though Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson's character, Derek Thompson, "can't handle the tooth" at first, he slowly adapts to his new position and begins to rediscover his own forgotten dream.
The movie has an all-star cast including Johnson, Julie Andrews, Ashley Judd, and Billy Crystal, among others.
The comedy/fantasy film is rated PG.
”To Save a Life”
Now, depending on which city you’re in, also on the list of choices this weekend could be “To Save a Life.” And if it is, there should be no hesitation to check out the highly-anticipated, faith-based movie.
The independent film has already drawn a large fan base and sparked a grassroots movement of reaching out to hurting teens and saving lives.
And like popular Christian flicks “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants,” “To Save a Life” is proving that today’s faith-based films can go toe-to-toe with the multi-million dollar movies of Hollywood.
The screenplay follows high school star athlete and all-around popular guy Jake Taylor, who crumbles under pressure after the suicide death of his childhood friend, who he ditched three years ago for popularity.
His heart wrenched over his friend's death, Jake begins wrestling with life questions and searches for answers in places he never expected, including church.
As the film follows Jakes on his search, it addresses a host of issues, including suicide, peer pressure, divorce, teen pregnancy, abortion and the authenticity of Christians. Youth organizations are already buzzing about the potential of the film's impact - in society as well as the Christian film industry.
"Maybe 'To Save a Life' will mark the death of cheesy Christian movies by raising the bar when it comes to quality movie making," commented Dare 2 Share Ministries founder and president Greg Stier.
Each character in the film and many of the scenes are based off of students youth pastor Jim Britts has had in his youth group at Newsong Church in Oceanside, Calif., and their experiences.
Lastly, if you’re among the 36 percent of Americans who believe in God-guided evolution and also in or around New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, or Boston, “Creation” might be worth considering.
The movie, which stars Paul Bettany in the leading role, makes its limited U.S. debut this weekend after releasing four months ago overseas.
Based on the book "Annie's Box," written by Darwin's great-grandson Randal Keynes, “Creation” tells the “true story” of 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin and how the world-renowned scientist’s landmark work, “The Origin of Species,” came to light.
Though Darwin’s theory of evolution plays a big role in the movie, actor Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays the role of Darwin's closest friend, British botanist Joseph Hooker) said the story presented in “Creation” is “a very universal story.”
According to its synopsis, the movie reveals Darwin as a dedicated family man struggling to accept his daughter’s death and torn between his love for his deeply religious wife and his own “growing belief in a world where God has no place.”
Might not sound like a film that Christians would want to invest in given this weekend’s selection, but might be worth giving a thought.
In any case, it’ll be interesting to see how the figures turn out at this weekend’s box office - especially with CGI fantasy “Avatar” and the post-apocalyptic “Book of Eli” still fresh in theaters.
Hollywood would do well to keep a close eye this weekend, considering that 76 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian.