Alexander Campbell was a religious radical in a day when man was seeking to corrupt the true theology of Jesus Christ, so he left Catholic Ireland for religious freedom in America. However, he finds the same doctrinal problems when he enters the New World, but at the same time, he also meets like-minded people who want to follow the true Gospel and worship God freely without man’s intervention. Alexander eventually settles down to raise a family, and he faces many new challenges along the way. Ultimately, he will have to discover God beyond theology and doctrine and meet Him for himself.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
As a 1990s production, Wrestling With God is understandably archaic, which is evidenced by one too many dark scenes and grainy video quality. However, camera work is okay, and there is obviously a lot of attention to detail in this production as its sets, locations, and props reflect a commitment to historical and cultural authenticity. The soundtrack is somewhat generic, however, and the editing is quite choppy, including too many long, lagging scenes and too many leaps in time. Overall, due to the issues that add up and the attempts at authenticity, this production is just average.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
While this obscure true story is a bit out of left field to choose for the film, the historical account is slightly interesting, even if it is mostly based on niche theological debates that will likely isolate and bore most audiences. It is difficult to see the wide appeal of this concept, especially since it doesn’t hold the attention very well at all. While there is potential here for real historical characters to come to life, this storyline is a bit too long to cram into less than two hours, and the large time jumps short-circuit any ability to get to know these characters as people. The inconsistent story presentation, the expository dialogue, and the boring conversations about theological eccentricities also hurt the opportunity to develop authentic and relatable characters. As a whole, historical accounts are typically better than your run-of-the-mill inspirational fodder, but Wrestling With God is just a bit too boring to work out.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
Accompanying this 1990s production is 1990s-style acting, which tends to be too theatrical and overly practiced. While the costuming and accents are historically authentic, the emotional performances are not entirely convincing, and this amateur cast could use a bit more coaching. However, this area is not all bad, which make this section basically average.
The creators of this older film probably meant well in making it, but they might should have considered using a more recognizable and engaging historical account to make into a movie. The theological debates encapsulated in this tale might be consequential and important to some people, but it will be lost on most audiences because it is more important to depict real people experiencing a real God Who is truly beyond theology and man-crafted doctrines. This would be a worthwhile message to share in movie form and one that would have a larger impact.
Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points