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FIREPROOF
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea, Ken Bevel, Stephen Devan
Director:  Alex Kendrick
Audio:  Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Sony
Features:  See Review
Length:  118 Minutes
Release Date:  September 29, 2009

NEVER LEAVE YOUR PARTNER BEHIND.

Film ****

Fireproof is an amazing and moving experience that isn’t ashamed to wear its faith proudly and proclaim its message with a loud voice.  It brings together three talented and openly Christian artists to deliver an inspiring story about marriage…particularly how a couple can grow wearily apart only to rediscover what love truly means to them both.

Two of those artists are Alex and Stephen Kendrick…the former directs, the latter produces, and both write the scripts.  They have followed their heart and attempted what many might consider impossible, and that is to make mainstream movies with unashamed Christian values that could play in any cineplex alongside the latest action, horror or romantic comedy offering.  They first tasted the mainstream with Facing the Giants, telling a tale of faith through a school sports movie.  With Fireproof, they aim for a little more, and achieve it.

The third artist is Kirk Cameron, an actor who has been outspoken about his faith since his teen idol days on television’s Growing Pains.  His Christian values may have limited his choices as an actor over the years, but he has always been ready to share his testimony or lend his talent and name to a project that reflected his spirit.

In Fireproof, he plays Caleb Holt, a fire captain who is fearless in his job, but frustrated in his marriage to Catherine (Bethea).  Once very much in love, they have grown apart because of their careers, their own needs and weaknesses, and their inability to communicate anything but frustration to each other.  Divorce seems inevitable.

But Caleb’s own parents had gone through this on their own, and discovering a new faith in God led his father to try something he’s now sharing with Caleb:  a 40 day diary called The Love Dare.  Encouraging his son to go through a day by day plan to try and make his marriage work, he promises God can perform miracles even in the most bleak of situations.

As Caleb begins to see his wife through new eyes, the questions of love, marriage and faith and how they relate are all beautifully illustrated.  I don’t see how anyone could not be moved to tears by the finale, even if they aren’t willing to accept the messages of the film.

This is a thoughtful treatise on marriage and what it truly means, and what it can mean again even for couples who have lost the way.  And the film offers a website and other materials on the 40 day plan, for those who want to try and bring the magic back to their own marriages.

It’s rated PG for a couple of more intense sequences involving the heroics of the firemen and for the suggestion that Caleb has a little unhealthy internet addiction taking his attention away from Catherine.  In other words, this is more than a Sunday school offering; it’s a real film, with real entertainment value to go along with the message.

But for the Kendricks and Kirk Cameron, it’s the message that gives their work its meaning.  Fireproof is a movie made by Christians, but it’s the kind of film that anyone with an open heart can embrace and enjoy.  And maybe even find something new to think about after the credits roll.

BONUS TRIVIA:  In honoring his own marriage vows, that’s actually Kirk Cameron’s wife Chelsea who steps in for the couple’s kiss.

Video ***1/2

This is a lovely Blu-ray transfer with a few surprising scenes of action to bring out the 1080p clarity.  The many outdoor scenes render with a natural beauty and color scheme, and the darker scenes (some of which are accented by fire) still ring out with a lot of detail, with only a touch of grain and murkiness here and there.  A solid effort.

Audio ***1/2

You might not expect much from the audio in a movie of this nature, but you’d be wrong; as mentioned, a couple of scenes make this a little more than a mere dialogue-driven experience.  The TrueHD soundtrack delivers a fair amount of dynamic range and some stretches that open up the rear channels and subwoofer a bit for a nice listening experience.

Features ****

This Blu-ray is pretty generous in the extras department, starting with a feature commentary from Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who talk about their ideas, their faith, and their day to day experience with the movie.  There are ten deleted scenes with optional introduction from Alex, four production featurettes including a video blog and a “Marriage Matters” piece, a promo for the Love Dare, and the video for “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns.

But there’s more…for fun, check out the reel of bloopers and jokes.  It’s a pretty standard offering, except the actors don’t yell expletives when they blow a line.  Two short pieces focus on the funny character of Wayne, and one on the amusing next door neighbor Mr. Rudolph.  Funniest of all is a specially created “Fireproof in 60 Seconds”…you know, in case you need your message in a hurry.

Summary:

Fireproof continues to prove that the Kendricks have the magic touch when it comes to making inspirational films mainstream.  This thoughtful, moving look at the reinvention of a marriage is something any couple can feel good about watching.

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