Wednesday, April 17, 2024

[Review] — "THE HOPEFUL" is a Mixed-Bag Religious Drama

In select theaters for two days only - April 17th and 18th - THE HOPEFUL is a 90-minute movie that tells the true story of a community in 19th-century New England whose lives were transformed as they learned what it means to truly wait for Jesus. This religious drama invites audiences of all ages to imagine how hope can change the world. Tickets can be purchased at

Produced by Hope Studios, directed by Kyle Portbury, and written by Aaron Hartzler and H.G. Sloan, the film is the cinematic arm of Hope Channel International, which shares stories across the globe through its footprint in over one hundred countries. With content rooted in faith and values, Hope Studios strives to inspire positive change through the universal language of storytelling. 

Learn more about THE HOPEFUL at

The movie is about William Miller, a man who miraculously survived a fierce battle in the War of 1812. He questions why God spared him, and his search for wisdom leads to an astonishing prophecy - the world is going to end. Miller's message resonates with some, even as it is scorned by others. When a young woman named Ellen Harmon listens to one of his sermons, she is transformed. And through her witness, the message begins to take flight. The preaching grows beyond prophecy and develops into a more holistic vision of how Christians should live and worship. We see blossoming the seeds of a new global movement of faith - the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

While the filmmakers had good intentions, the movie may not appeal to all audiences, even religious ones. The script is rough, the acting is amateurish, the directing is misguided, and the editing is questionable. According to IMDB, the director, Kyle Portbury, has received nominations and awards for television and movies in Australia, and as far as we can tell, this is his first "movie," which could explain some of the film's shortcomings. The movie has a lot of historical inaccuracies, including the wrong type of steamboat in the opening shot, which doesn't fit the timeline correctly. The film briefly flashes back, where we get a glimpse of William Miller at the end of the 1812 war, which leads him to search for why God spared his life.

William Miller, a Freemason, claimed, according to his calculation, the exact date of the Second Advent of Jesus, which the date came, passed and was subject to ridicule by his peers. Thanks to a national campaign, William had many devoted followers, including Ellen G. Harmon, who later married James White. The latter half of the movie centers around Ellen and her "visions."

Overall, THE HOPEFUL is a mixed bag. The film is not particularly well-made, with pacing issues and bad acting, which is not entirely the fault of the actors. However, if you're interested in religious history, or more specifically, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, then you might want to check this film out. ╌★★½✰✰

Disclosure: Many thanks to Hope Studios for providing a screener for this review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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