Saturday, July 01, 2006

END OF THE SPEAR

Chase Ellison End Of The Spear movie Directed by Jim Hanon
Starring Chase Ellison
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

HESITANT THUMBS UP!

A HESITANT THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!


I’m not a fan of religiously based films. I’ll watch them if they’re told well—THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA is a recent example, too—and will give them positive reviews (as indicated here) if they don’t hammer me over the head with symbolism or an overly-righteous message. I’m also not a supporter of missionaries who take it upon themselves to "save the souls of savages" by inflicting their values of right and wrong on a culture that’s survived and thrived for longer than any of us could imagine. Even so, END OF THE SPEAR is a moral message that speaks succinctly to the viewer without going overboard (with one exception that I’ll point out in a minute).

The story is of Christian missionaries who try and stop the warring Waodani tribe that’ve been killing themselves for millennia. Family feuds and the need for well-bred women are usually the causes of these deadly incursions. The missionaries believe that the Waodani may be on the brink of extinction (something I have a bit of trouble believing but swallowed nonetheless).

Nate Saint (Chad Allen) is one of these missionaries and he and three other men find a Waodani tribe and decide to make contact with them by landing a plane on a small beach outcropping. Once the meeting takes place, a fast-forward set of circumstances results in the death of all the missionary men. Left behind is young Steve Saint (Chase Ellison), Nate’s preteen son, who years later finds the tribesman (Louie Leonardo as Mincayani) who killed his father. A battle of self-will, justice, and Godly wisdom soon presents itself and young Steve (now grown) has to decide what his father would’ve wanted.

This is what appealed to me. Not the religious connotations, but the growing understanding of a young man that killing the man who killed his father would not only solve nothing, but instead would go against everything his father stood for (not necessarily what God stood for).

My biggest beefs with the story are the aforementioned "saving the souls of savages" (Did Christianity do anything for Native Americans?) and a scene involving what happened to Steve’s father after he was speared. This scene was the only "forced" one that tried too hard to shove God down the viewer’s throat. It wasn’t needed. Those who believe in God would’ve gotten the message regardless, and those who don’t still would’ve benefitted from the morality being focused on.

The positives, though, far outweigh anything negative I could say. The cinematography of the Amazon rainforest is fairly breathtaking and a message of "no war" is definitely something we all need to be cognizant of, especially with what’s going on in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Palestine, Kosovo, and many other locations.

This is a good film. Not great, but certainly entertaining enough to hold even the Atheists among us in thrall ...if just for a little while.

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