End of the Spear

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1

Content: +2 1/2

Cast: Louie Leonardo, Chad Allen, Christina Souza, Chase Ellison, Jack Guzman. Every Tribe Entertainment. Adventure/drama. Written by Jim Hanon, Bart Gavigan, Bill Ewing. Directed by Jim Hanon.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A true story, it recounts the chronicle of five missionaries who lost their lives while reaching a tribe of Ecuadorian Indians in the 1950s. The wives then took their children into this lost world to find the very same tribesmen who had killed their husbands and witnessed Gods love to them. Note: January 8th is the 50th anniversary of the five missionaries killings. Half the profits of this film are going to charities to help indigenous peoples like the Waodani.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I keep looking for an affirmative direction to go with this critique, but cant seem to find a satisfactory element to the production. Writer/director Jim Hanon, a one-time head of an advertising agency, who has also had success with commercials and short films, did a wonderful job with Beyond the Gates of Splendor, the documentary version of this incredible story. Here, however, he and fellow writers Bart Gavigan and Bill Ewing have decided to take much of the story from the viewpoint of Waodani tribe members. That could have been an interesting perspective, but, sadly, the portrayals of the tribesman lacked much charisma, causing the storys execution to be stilted and, well, blah.

Some production values seem restrained by financial budgets, while others are misused. Case in point, the soundtrack. Evidently trying to capture the feel of the life and makeup of the Ecuadorian Indians, the composer has an endless drum beat accompanied by a chorus who chant and awww to the point of tedium. The music is a major component to this production, and is woefully distracting.

But most disappointing is the lack of emotional tug. Theres a lot of yelling, lots of anguish, a lot of arguing and a lot of savagery, but sadly, little spiritual impetus. By films end, we arent much moved.

I feel a bit guilty for giving a negative review to one of the few films in recent history to portray Christians in a good light, so allow me to close with a positive message from the film. Toward the end, the Amazonian native who had killed the narrators father feels an overwhelming remorse and wants the young man to take his life. But the young man says, No one took my fathers life. He gave it. This affects the warrior profoundly. Its an effective scene.

DVD Alternative: Beyond the Gates of Splendor. Based on a best-selling novel, Beyond the Gates of Splendor premiered on DVD October 4, 2005 from Fox Home Entertainment. It also recounts the chronicle of the five missionaries and their families, but this documentary is more successful at capturing the faith, forgiveness and cultural boundaries. Narrated by the son of one of the couples, it uses historical footage and personal insight to reveal how the two groups came to understand then embrace each other.

The documentary catches the spirit of people who trust so much in God that they are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to follow His will. Beyond the Gates of Splendor is a moving testament to those who have taken Christs teachings to heart and given all in order to save the soul of man. It is an emotional journey that will give you new insight concerning foreign missions and a deepening respect for missionaries. Youll be entertained and challenged. PG-13 (occasional topless native nudity, but nothing is done with an exploitive intent; the subject matter of people facing death is unsuitable for little ones).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: There are several battles, one in the very beginning where one tribe attacks another. However, this brutality is shown in an effort to reveal the Waodanis fear and mistrust of strangers. Kids in peril. One child is killed by a boa constrictor. The filming of this incident is not excessively gory and it is there to suggest the dangers of the wild. Guns, explosives, other weapons: Many people die by spears. Blood: Some, but the battles are not meant as exploitive, nor excessive or gory. The action reveals life in the wild.

Sex: It is implied that a tribesman impregnated a woman. This action brings swift judgment.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: The aggressive nature of the warriors may be disturbing for little ones, but the story has a potent message concerning loving your enemies.

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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