What Makes a Movie a Success?

There’s never been a movie that appealed to everyone, a motion picture without a single critic. Take two films awarded Best Picture, Chariots of Fire and Braveheart. One Chariots critic went so far as to state that the movie was “an affirmation of clouded and second-hand values—and, as a result, it becomes vulgar.” With Braveheart, a reviewer wrote: The first hour is a snoozer. Again, both of these films were chosen by industry insiders as the best of the best.

So it’s no surprise that the faith-based movie War Room has its naysayers. Despite the fact that a whopping 91% of moviegoers (currently) liked it, at least among those who voted on Rotten Tomatoes, critics aren’t as jazzed. A Los Angeles Times review opened with: “Preachy doesn’t begin to describe War Room, a mighty long-winded and wincingly overwrought domestic drama.” Interestingly (and understandably), this same review ended with the thought that it “might be asking a lot from those outside the flock” to think of having their own personal prayer closet.

Indeed! But does that make it a bad movie? Certainly not. Essentially there are three types of Christian films: evangelistic, pre-evangelistic (or seed-planting) and faith-building. War Room falls into the latter category. So it’s no surprise that with its strong emphasis on prayer, people who don’t believe in its power will instinctively want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I totally get that.

If this film is about building up believers and calling them to pray, then, is it accomplishing what it set out to do?

It did for me! Now, I’m not your average moviegoer, of course. I’ve seen War Room four times already. I’ve met with the men who made the movie. I flew to Georgia for its red-carpet premiere.

But I’m clearly not alone in how I’ve reacted to it. Here are a few Facebook posts to show you what I mean:

Ta’Mara: This movie literally is an answer to my prayer. I had been praying over the last few weeks for God to restore my passion for prayer. Over the last few years I felt my passion wane and didn’t really know how to get back to that posture of worship. Then, along came War Room. Thank you Lord. I will never be the same.

Sharon: Went straight to my prayer room, started writing out prayers, interceding for others. Taped it on the wall with scriptures. Praying to another level believing God will fight every battle. The movie is life changing. I went expecting a move of God, and the Holy Spirit showed up….Definitely has taken my prayers to another level!

Blondy: I will be working on my war room, war wall, war corner, war SOMETHING to encourage my prayer life. Thank you for the motivation!

God Himself once promised (in 2 Chronicles 7:14) that if His people would humble themselves and pray and seek His face, He would heal their land. In other words, he would orchestrate a spiritual revival. And I can only hope—and pray!—that War Room might serve to help get us closer to that occurring in our time. But even if revival doesn’t break out on a national scale, there is still significant spiritual revival already taking place in individuals. In me.

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

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