DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main
SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Randall Wallace
Cast:
Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, Connor Corum
Writing Credits:
Randall Wallace and Chris Parker

Synopsis:
Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book, Heaven is for Real recounts the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son's extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. Starring Academy Award® nominee Greg Kinnear (Best Supporting Actor, As Good As It Gets, 1997) as Todd Burpo, the real-life father whose son Colton claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Colton shares the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth ... things he couldn't possibly know.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$22,522,221 on 2417 Screens
Domestic Gross
$90,175,141

MPAA:
Rated PG

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Cantonese
Chinese Traditional
Indonesian
Korean
Spanish
Thai
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese
Korean
Spanish
Portuguese

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $40.99
Release Date: 7/22/2014

Bonus:
• Six Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Heaven Is For Real” Featurette
• “Colton Goes to Heaven” Featurette
• “Creating Heaven” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Heaven Is For [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 14, 2014)

Based on real events, Heaven Is For Real looks at Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) and his family. Residents of small town Nebraska, Todd runs a struggling garage door repair company and acts as local minister as well. Todd lives with wife Sonja (Kelly Reilly) and young kids Colton (Connor Corum) and Cassie (Lane Styles).

After Todd experiences a variety of health-related calamities, the family decides to take a getaway to Denver. On the drive home, Colton develops an illness that comes with vomiting and a high fever. It turns out Colton suffered from a ruptured appendix, and he goes through a near-death experience.

Colton survives but comes through as a changed child. He claims he lifted out of his body during surgery and spent time in heaven. The film follows this subject and its ramifications in the family’s life.

When Heaven hit screens in the spring of 2014, I figured it’d offer the sort of sappy, schmaltzy fare one might find on the Hallmark Channel. I like movies that examine spirituality, but this one looked destined to be pure hokum. However, I checked out some reviews that indicated it provided a richer experience than I anticipated, so I decided to give it a look.

Did I find anything more ambitious and challenging than the standard one-dimensional fare? Marginally, but not as much as I would’ve liked.

Yes, Heaven pays lip service to disbelieving viewpoints. However, it depicts them in a less than subtle manner. When Todd goes to a researcher who happens to be an atheist, it depicts her in a cold, smug manner, and it tends to do so for others who mock Colton and family. This appears to intend to symbolize the struggles Todd goes through during his spiritual journey, but it just lends a one-sided feel to the project.

It doesn’t help that Todd’s aforementioned exploration doesn’t become particularly compelling. Director Randall Wallace rubs off all the potential rough edges and makes this a sentimental affair without much real value.

Is it unfair to criticize a faith-based movie for not offering enough intellectual rigor? I don’t think so, at least not in this case given that it focuses so heavily on Todd’s attempts to sort out fact from fiction. While the story pays lip service to the “fantasy” side, it really wants us to accept Colton’s claims without much debate.

I won’t argue whether Colton’s alleged experiences occurred or not, as I’ll leave that subject to others. In terms of a movie, though, Heaven wants us to believe it without much question and the tale doesn’t muster much of an opposing take.

That’s an issue simply because Heaven thinks it’s a more even-handed movie than it is. It wants to avoid those mushy Hallmark Channel tendencies I expected but it doesn’t. Instead, it offers a dreary, simplistic tale with little to no nuance or drama.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Heaven Is For Real appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the most part, the image looked positive.

Sharpness usually seemed fine. Some wide shots displayed mild softness, but those instances remained minor. The majority of the flick offered pretty good clarity. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

In terms of colors, Heaven went with a teal/orange feel. In particular, blues dominated and made this a stylized affair. I think the movie would’ve made more sense with a natural impression, but the hues worked fine within those limitations. Blacks seemed deep enough, and shadows showed good smoothness. This wasn’t a great image but it merited a “B”.

I didn’t anticipate a slambang DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack from Heaven, and the audio followed expectations. For the most part, the soundscape didn’t have much to do, as it tended toward general ambience. The scenes used the side and back speakers in a mildly engaging manner, and the track provided solid music from all the channels. These components didn’t bring a whole lot to the package, so this remained a laid-back mix.

Audio quality was satisfactory. Music sounded peppy and full, while effects were reasonably accurate and concise. Speech sounded natural and easily intelligible. Though nothing here impressed, the track was appropriate for the material.

Three featurettes pop up on the disc, and we begin with The Making of Heaven Is For Real. It runs 13 minutes, eight seconds and includes comments from writer/director Randall Wallace, producers TD Jakes and Joe Roth, Todd and Sonja Burpo, production designer Arv Grewal, Columbia Pictures Senior VP of Production DeVon Franklin, and actors Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Margo Martindale and Thomas Haden Church. “Making” covers the project’s origins and development, the photographic and narrative approach to the material, sets, locations, and production design, cast and performances, and themes. A few minor details emerge but mostly “Making” remains fluffy promotional material.

Colton Goes to Heaven lasts four minutes, 17 seconds and features Todd, Sonja and Colton Burpo. They talk about their experiences that led to the movie. It’s good to hear a bit more from the real people behind the film, but we don’t learn anything insightful.

For the final featurette, we get the four-minute, 24-second Creating Heaven. It includes info from Wallace and visual effects supervisor Dan Levitan as they tell us how the film brought Colton’s vision of heaven to the screen. This becomes a short but informative piece.

Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of eight minutes, 23 seconds. In these, we get some extensions to existing sequences as well as a bit more exposition for supporting roles. These seem decent but don’t add much.

The disc opens with ads for When the Game Stands Tall, Moms’ Night Out, Courageous, Soul Surfer and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. These also appear under Previews. No trailer for Heaven shows up here.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Heaven. It features the deleted scenes and “Colton Goes to Heaven” but loses the other extras.

Despite a good cast, Heaven Is For Real doesn’t become better than TV movie fare. It comes with a one-sided, heavy-handed moral tale that lacks nuance or drama. The Blu-ray brings us fairly positive picture and audio as well as a handful of bonus materials. This ends up as a disappointing spiritual exploration.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 4
15:
04:
0 3:
02:
31:
View Averages for all rated titles.

.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main