Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ephraim's Rescue Review (May 2013)

So what exactly is Ephraim's Rescue about? Is it a sequel? Prequel? Is it 17 Miracles part 2? These are all very good questions. You may or may not have had a question like this when watching the trailer to Ephraim's Rescue.  First off I loved the film. I want to buy the DVD I loved it so much. (And we hardly buy any DVD's) I would go as far to say that it was a life changing event. Seriously. But the movie was plenty funny too. After the initial jokes passed and the movie found it's groove, there was plenty to laugh about and think about when it was all said and done. Especially the joke about multiple wives.

  New Trailer for Ephraim's Rescue

The director of this film says that the first image on the screen is one of the most important. He shows an old man with a white beard ride up on a horse, comes to a cabin where they are in mourning. A man's wife has just died and they have given up all hope of a priesthood blessing healing her. The old man washes his hands, makes everyone else leave and then administers to her a blessing. Two hours later he leaves turns to the grieving husband and tells him that his wife wants to speak to him. He looks over in surprise as his wife is alive and at the door. The man with the white beard rides off like a cowboy hero of old. But this man is a real hero. (As shown in this clever banner from the movie's Facebook page)

Ephraim Hanks was a REAL hero

Ephraim's Rescue is essentially the story of 17 Miracles but from the side of the rescuers. We see some familiar faces from the previous film, on the trail as we track the story of the Martin and Willie handcart company  as they journey across the United States to 'Zion''. Most of the story, however, follows the amazing conversion story of Ephraim as well as the preparation he received along the way to help rescue the handcart companies. He was a remarkable individual and Darin Southam brings him to life in a convincing way. Even when cracking jokes it feels like part of the character. He brings off enough grit, charm, comedic timing and humility to make you love the character. It's his first title role and I hope we'll see him as the lead in more LDS films. I know he has a Book of Mormon film in the works.

There are some  touching moments in the film during priesthood blessings shown (based on true stories like the first film) but it also feels lighter and funnier at the same time even with this more sacred element.  We see enough of the handcarts to fill in the gaps in the story, but if you want the full story, you'll want to see Miracles first. This time, although many of the extras are played by the same people, the supporting roles are played by LDS actors that we have seen in films such as The Testaments, Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration  and Charly. Jeremy Hoop plays Captain Martin, Katherine Nelson as Alice Dobson and a few others that I know you will recognize. I hate to say it, but the cast seemed to be even better than the last, and I loved the first one. Read my review about it. 

Handcart pioneers crossing a river 
 There are some story elements that are missing and that brought suspense to the first film, but I think that makes this film more friendly to younger audiences. There is no swearing, violence and of course no nudity. (It's a film about Mormon pioneers for goodness sake.)

The Cast and Director of Ephraim's Rescue at the 2013 premier in Centerville, Ut.
From left to right: Darin Southam, James Gaisford, Christina Torriente, Daniel Sappenfield  and director T.C. Christensen

The action is more played down in this film (although there are a few good scenes the menfolk will enjoy)  it's more of a historical drama, but there are many touching moments of people being healed, prayers being answered and lives being changed, as well as enough man vs nature to make it interesting to people that don't know much about the Mormon pioneers. This is really another milestone in LDS cinema. Good for most ages. I think teens will especially like James Gaisford's performance and Albert returns from 17 Miracles, his performace is truely a delight for all ages. I just want to say  thank you to T.C. Christensen and the rest of the cast and crew for making this film. It is a great movie. It was very touching and I cried more than I care to admit here in this blog. My ancestors were in one of the handcart companies and so I always find it hard to keep my composure in a theater full of people I don't know when they talk about it.

Here is one of the scenes in the first film about my ancestors (just so you know why I get so teary-eyed):

I hope you enjoy this film! It was a truly wonderful experience. I will be having a free giveaway over on my facebook page www.facebook.com/ldscinema where you can enter for a chance to win a full sized theater movie poster with the signatures from most of the cast. Please leave your comments below about your reaction to 17 Miracles or to Ephraim's Rescue. 

Message from TC Christensen

I asked T.C. Christensen why I thought you should come see the film this weekend. This is his candid response.

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