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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack Review: The Miracle Maker

March 4th, 2011

The Miracle Maker - Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack - Buy from Amazon

The Miracle Maker is the second Christian Blu-ray I'm reviewing this week, the first being Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. I liked that movie because it was able to balance the entertainment and the theology. Will The Miracle Maker be able to do the same? Will it allow for crossover appeal as a result? Or is it strictly for its target audience?

The Movie

The Miracle Maker tells the Easter story, which is arguably the second most famous Bible story after the Christmas story. There are two things that set it apart from most adaptations of this story. Firstly, it's mostly stop-motion animation. The main timeline is such, but whenever there is a flashback, it switches to cell animation. (Also done in cell animation are a few fantasy / dream sequences, like mary Magdalene's hallucinations or Satan showing Jesus what it would be like if they were to rule together.) Secondly, while obviously Jesus is the main focus of the story, it is told in large part from the point of view of a young girl, Tamar, who has come with her father, Jairus, to visit the doctor in town. She is quite ill and without treatment might not live much longer. She's based on an unnamed girl in the Bible, but she plays a much more prominent role here.

So do these aspects help the film work? Not really. The stop-motion animation technique just reminded me of Robot Chicken. Granted, it was higher quality. For instance, the lip-syncing was better and the animation was smoother. But they still looked like action figures being animated and I was half-expecting Skeletor to show up in the background. The voice acting and the animation rarely felt like they were part of the same film, with the actors giving it their all and the characters looking like inanimate objects. The hand drawn animation is much better and the style is a selling point.

The addition of Tamar helped, but this is still a very well known story and it has been done so many times that it doesn't stand out in a crowded field.

The Extras

The extras start with an audio commentary track with the director, Derek Hayes, and the producer, Naomi Jones, as well as a 30-minute making of documentary and a few minutes of storyboard-to-screen comparisons. There are also a couple extras on the DVD that are not found on the Blu-ray. It Is Written includes the Bible versions the scenes and dialogues are based on, while the Learning from Jesus Quiz is exactly what it sounds like. I have no idea why these were not on the Blu-ray.

The video and audio quality are good, but not great. I don't imagine it was a big budget production, despite talking five years to complete. The colors and the detail level is good, but a little soft at times. The audio is clear, but uncomplicated.

The Verdict

While the Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie is good entertainment from a Christian perspective, The Miracle Maker felt more like a Sunday School lesson. The Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack has enough extras to not feel bare, but I think for most a rental will be enough.

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Filed under: Video Review