National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

DVD Picks and Passes 09.07.08

BY Steven D. Greydanus

September 7-13, 2008 Issue | Posted 9/2/08 at 1:19 PM


New this week on DVD, The Case for Faith is a documentary based on the book of the same name by journalist Lee Strobel, and the follow-up to book and DVD versions of Strobel’s earlier The Case for Christ.

Like other recent apologetical documentaries, such as Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead? and Lost Gospels or False Gospels? from Ignatius Press, The Case for Faith surveys an array of experts and apologists to address objections and make the case for the faith. In this doc, Strobel sets out to confront the most nagging objections to Christian belief: Why is only one religion the right way to God, and why would an all-powerful, all-loving God allow evil to exist?

Strobel effectively dramatizes the issues by focusing on the career of Charles Templeton, a Christian evangelist and peer of Billy Graham’s who lost his faith and became an atheist. Strobel, himself a former atheist, interviewed Templeton in the early 1990s, and candidly discusses his own struggles of faith since becoming a Christian.

Most of the experts, including Ben Witherington, Gary Habermas and others, are evangelical Protestants, though Strobel interviews Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft on the problem of evil and Anglican scholar N.T. Wright on the uniqueness of Christ.

Evangelical artist and activist Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic following a 1967 accident, offers one of a number of personal reflections on the experience of suffering and grace.

Also new this week in a fresh DVD edition is the Harrison Ford-Michelle Pfeiffer ghost story What Lies Beneath, directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future).

If the filmmakers’ names look tempting to you on the DVD shelf this fall as you look for spooky fare, resist the temptation.

Zemeckis is probably too talented to make a really unwatchable movie; and Ford and Pfeiffer don’t hurt. But the seams are showing. Characters wander through the film without advancing the story or even accounting for their presence, let alone their actions. And the “boo” moments are obvious a mile off.

Remember jumping in The Sixth Sense when the first ghost whisked past the bathroom door? Here, watching a character looking one way while walking another way that you can’t see, or bending in front of an open refrigerator door that blocks the view of the kitchen doorway, you know what’s coming.

A New Age milieu pervades the film, mostly in connection with a friend of Pfeiffer’s character who consults a psychic and holds the Ouija-board séance (which doesn’t work). That the ghost takes possession of Pfeiffer’s body may be felt to blur a line between fantasy ghost behavior and the kind of influence more properly associated with demons.

Content advisory: The Case for Faith: Candid discussion of religious doubts and loss of faith. Teens and up. What Lies Beneath: Occult paraphernalia and references; menace and violence, including repeated murderous attacks upon a woman by a man; sexual situations and language; adultery and murder in back story; profanity and crude language. Meant for mature audiences.