Title: The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
HTS Overall Score:
Who would have seen WWE studios partnering with faith based Vertical Church Films to produce a faith based dramedy for the religiously inclined? My first reaction was wondering who was going to start shooting up the place first, and what wrestler would be taking on the bad guys, but this has to the be the tamest WWE productions film I’ve ever seen (and all jokes aside, I’m honestly surprised they went this direction). Now I have to say upfront that I am probably the second harshest critic of faith based films besides only one other person. That man being my pastor. I am a person of faith and like most people who take what they do seriously, it grinds my gears when I see these faith based films catering directly to the proverbial choir (and quite literally sometimes too) and having HORRIBLE production values and poor acting to make up for the message. I guess you can say that the message is hard to take seriously when the presentation of said message is so poorly done. So needless to say, I was sitting down and DREADING watching “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” and more than expecting to rip it to shreds. And honestly, I was surprised to find out that it wasn’t that bad. Sure, the movie is filled with every cliché under the book, and more than a few platitudes that may tick off some of the more conventional or hardline denominations, but it is a fairly innocuous film that is meant for a Christian family audience and makes no bones about that goal.
Predictable is basically the mantra of “Gavin Stone”, starring guess who, Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fame), a washed-up child star who has pretty much made a mess of his life. The once famous child actor has fallen off the public radar and fallen into the trap that so many of them do. Drugs, alcohol, partying, loose women and getting into trouble with the police. After one too many rowdy nights with his drugs of choice, Gavin ends up in hot water with the police and is forced to do 200 hours of community service in his home town of Chicago. Decided that he might as well do it at a local church, Gavin is forced to come home and confront his demons. One of those demons comes in the form of his estranged father Waylon (played by veteran Neil Flynn) as well as his own ego.
You can almost PREDICT every step of this movie as soon as Gavin is introduced to Pastor Allan Richardson (D.B. Sweeney) and notices that they are putting on a church play. Yup, Gavin is drawn to the world of acting, even if it’s within a medium that he knows nothing about, especially when the cute pastor’s daughter named Kelly (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes) is the one directing it. Faking being a slightly “backslidden” Christian, Gavin wheedles his way into the show and lands the part of Jesus thanks to being the ONLY person in the room who can act his way out of a paper bag. Naturally Gavin starts to make friends, he’s tempted to return to big bad Hollywood, a controversy pops up, he and Kelly start getting cozy and then “poop”, you’re at the resurrection of Gavin Stone’s spirit.
“The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” is so predictable it’s almost comical. The first portion of the movie sets you up for the obvious path to salvation or Gavin, and the movie doesn’t deviate from that well-trodden path at all. Despite being almost ridiculously low budget and trite in many ways, “Gavin Stone” is not what I would call a horrible movie if you’re looking for a family friendly religious movie to pass the time. The film caters to an already religious demographic and makes no bones about doing so either. Which isn’t a bad thing as every demographic needs something they can call their own. It doesn’t try to evangelize, it doesn’t try to win over new converts, but rather makes a cute dramedy for those who are already part of the proverbial “flock” and does so with an over enthusiastic grin on its face.
I think what actually makes “Gavin Stone” actually pretty decent is the fact that there are some fairly decent actors involved. Nobody is A-list, but we have D.B. Sweeney, Brett Dalton and quite a few other Hollywood actors who AREN’T just extras from the local church choir (e.g., they can actually act decently well). I had to crack up at Shawn Michaels being part of the cast, but I was really surprised to see that he was one of the better characters in the movie just because he played a down to earth guy. No real need for acting, just being a chill ex biker turned church goer. Much of the movie was still groan inducing, but there were some genuinely sweet moments of the film, most of which were the quitter bits that weren’t hammered into you. Such as a young girl and Gavin signing each other, a selfless act for a young mother who was without a car, or a pizza fellowship group where the “guys” get together and loosen up a bit.
Rated PG for thematic elements including a crucifixion image
The 1.78:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray is from a digital source and while it is fairly flat and smooth (it almost reminds of your average DTV Stephen Seagal movie in the way it looks and feels), there is enough pop and fine detail to be a solid performer. Fine details are excellent throughout, although there is a weird almost yellow tinge to the film that is mixed with some soft blacks. There’s no major artifacting and the color saturation is decent enough, and I really couldn’t find many FLAWS in the encode besides looking a bit cheap looking (which it is, considering the movie was shot in a few short weeks on a $2 million budget).
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix is a talky affair, but it fits in quite well with the film genre. Dialog is the mainstay of the workload and that really is where everything focuses on. There are a few rumbles and mumbles in the LFE department during the play itself, and the surrounds get some mild usage with ambient noises and sounds from the back of the church. Otherwise the film is decidedly front heavy and just does whatever is asked of it, not matter how minimal that asking can be at times.
• Deleted Scenes
• Church Uniform Advice
• Cast Interviews
“The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” is about as predictable as these films get, but it has a big heart and really wears that heart on the sleeve. There’s some solid performances throughout and the writing, while still cliched, is much better than the usual “Dove Film” approved affairs that I’ve viewed. I had a decent time watching and I know quite a few other people who enjoyed the movie from my church, so I believe it hit its target demographic quite nicely. Audio and video are solid performers (although the 1.85:1 aspect ratio listed on the box is wrong, it’s actually 1.78:1) and there are minimal extras, but he cast interviews are actually a worthwhile watch. While I wouldn’t say the movie is a resounding success, it’s certainly targeting the already saved demographic and makes for a decent family watch if you’re so inclined.
Starring: Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Brett Dalton, Shawn Michaels
Directed by: Dallas Jenkins
Written by: Andrea Gyertson Nasfell
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 92 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Buy The Resurrection of Gavin Stone On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Decent Family Watch for the Christian inclined
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