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Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Free State of Jones (9/20/2016)


Rated R for brutal battle scenes and disturbing graphic images.

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Jessica Collins and Jacob Lofland

Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit and Pleasantville)


Todd's Rating: Rental

Dynamic ImageOscar-nominated filmmaker Gary Ross tells the real-life story of Confederate army deserter- Newton Knight.

Set during the Civil War, Free State of Jones tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a "Free State of Jones." Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

Equality, slavery and civil rights are difficult subjects to explore on the big screen. Free State of Jones takes them all head on but doesn’t pack the emotional punch you would expect. I think the film tries to try to do too much and actually loses the impact it could and should have had. Director and screenwriter Ross tries to juggle too many characters and tells too many stories. It’s just too much…especially when he begins a second story 85 years in the future.

If you are a reader of our reviews, you know what Jonathan and I have a long standing “debate” over Matthew McConaughey and specifically his film, Reign of Fire. I will admit that his last few films have caused me to adjust my opinion and say that he is in fact a good actor. This film helps continue to make that case… I thought this was a great performance. The supporting cast are equally as impressive in their portrayals.

Free State of Jones' visuals are just as notable as its cast. From overcast skies to the Mississippi swamps to the gritty battlefields, there is so much to take in.

That being said this was a new story to me and I appreciated the historical nature of the film. It wasn’t the best film of the year but worth renting for sure.

SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
Images of strong war violence and the aftermath of battles. There is a direct explosion to a man's face, showing most of the face gone. We also see Civil war era medical triage, including: crude amputations, gaping wounds, bloody dressings, etc...

CONVERSATION STARTER:
  1. What is the real battle Newt Knight fights?

  2. What injustices have you witnessed?

  3. Read Micah 6:8

      No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

  4. What does it mean to “do what is right”?

  5. How can we love mercy?

  6. What are some ways we see people waling humbly?





Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.



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