...shining light on the media, one review at a time
One doesn’t have to live long to learn that suffering is inevitable in this world. Questions about tragedy and suffering have kept or driven many people away from God. Why does God allow tragedies? Why do bad things happen to “good” people? Why do the “innocent” often seem to suffer the most?
Kirk Cameron’s Unstoppable strives to answer such questions in dramatic documentary form. Taking the issues and objections head-on, Cameron explores the reality of all types of suffering, whether human-inflicted or caused by nature. In the style of a “visual journal,” punctuated by dramatized scenes, Cameron returns to the beginning of all time where viewers discover the answer to the ultimate question: Where is God in the midst of suffering?
Sometimes suffering seems to be unstoppable. But is God not in control of the universe and our lives? And if He is, how can He be loving yet still allow people to suffer?
Cameron shows he understands these types of questions firsthand as he takes viewers through his own personal sadness at the death of a young boy who was a dear friend. This boy was a Christian, the son of Christian parents, none of whom seemed to deserve such sadness. If this family was composed of followers of Christ, why would God allow them to go through such pain?
To answer this question and the more general ones that can be asked about all suffering in this world, Cameron makes an unexpected move. He goes back to the beginning. Genesis, to be specific.
In order to understand evil like tragedies and suffering, as well as God, Cameron concludes that one has to know how good and evil got started in this world. The Genesis account of creation and man’s subsequent fall in the Garden of Eden provides that history in detail. Cameron follows the continuation of the battle between good and evil with the first murder (Cain and Abel) and the judgment of evil mankind in the worldwide flood.
What Cameron finds in these stories is a greater understanding of God and His role in suffering, as well as greater insight into present and eternal realities. What he finds is an unstoppable God.
From a production standpoint, Unstoppable lives up to the cinematographic quality viewers have come to expect from a Kirk Cameron documentary. With clear lighting choices and a mix of filming techniques, the cinematography gives much of this film a level of visual interest that the intermittently tedious content would not have been able to provide.
The script does suffer, since the bulk of it is filled with Cameron merely retelling biblical accounts of history. The filmmakers attempt to spice up some of these retellings by accompanying them with voiceless dramatizations. These moments, however, fall far from helping and instead provide the film with its only substantial flaws.
The dramatized portions of Adam and Eve, as well as of Cain and Abel, are riddled with errors and implausibilities. For example, the “serpent” who tempts Eve is instead shown as a man crawling in the dirt and Adam has a shaved head when he is created, while the Garden of Eden looks more like a Hunger Games forest than paradise.
In addition, the filmmakers try their best to be artistic in these scenes, but their efforts instead result in dark and even bizarre interpretations of the biblical account (think the Bible as the movie, 300). Such mistakes could have easily been avoided had the filmmakers not tried to reenact what Scripture already tells in infallibly written, not dramatized, form.
The artistry and quality of the documentary fare much better in the coverage of the funeral for Cameron’s friend. These sequences are creatively shot and skillfully edited, providing the film with some of its best and most captivating moments.
The other high points of the movie come with Cameron’s engaging and open style of addressing the viewers. Showing continual improvement with experience, Cameron has found a natural authenticity and the courage to let the audience see his real emotions. As a result, he draws viewers in and does an admirable job of keeping them engaged throughout.
For some viewers, this documentary may not offer enough of a conclusive answer to their questions about suffering. But the approach that Cameron takes to addressing those questions will benefit many. For everyone who watches, particularly those who are new to trying to address the “problem of pain,” Unstoppable is a helpful starting point, a stepping stone in the right direction to understanding how to face tragedy and the unstoppable love of God.
Check out these similar titles:
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries, 2013)
Dealing with Difficult Problems (Sproul, Ligonier Ministries, 1999)
End of the Spear (Drama, Twentieth Century Fox, 2006)
Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure (Cameron, Pyro Pictures, 2012)
For more ideas, visit our What to Watch page!