Film Review: ‘The Other Side of Heaven II: Fire of Faith’

Variety | 6/28/2019 | Joe Leydon
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Despite such melodramatic flourishes as a near-disaster on a storm-tossed sea, a violent attack on an apostate by a group of religious zealots, and a startling (albeit not entirely convincing) death by lightning bolt, Mitch Davis’ “The Other Side of Heaven II: Fire of Faith” is as tedious as rush-hour traffic and as bland as a communion wafer. It’s conceivable that this sincere but overextended tale of a dedicated Mormon missionary on assignment in the South Pacific might appeal to many of the faithful who flocked to its 2001 predecessor, “The Other Side of Heaven,” another adaptation (also written and directed by Davis) of an autobiographical book by John H. Groberg. But even members of that target audience probably will prefer home-screen viewing to a theatrical experience, since frequent usage of the pause and fast-forward controls can work wonders when it comes to making something this sluggishly paced more bearable.

In the 2001 film, Christopher Gorham played John H. Groberg as a recent Brigham Young University graduate who encounters and transcends challenges while spreading the good word as an LDS Church missionary in 1950s Tonga. Jean, his faithful fiancée played by then up-and-comer Anne Hathaway, stayed home in Idaho Falls, frequently writing letters and patiently awaiting his return.

Heaven - II - Story - Decade - John

“Heaven II” picks up the story a decade or so later, with John (Gorham again) now married to Jean (Natalie Medlock, taking over for Hathaway), and eager to return to his old stomping grounds — or, if you prefer, preaching grounds — as president of the entire Tonga-Fiji mission, a position that makes him responsible for 200 missionaries and 10,000 church members spread out over 40 different islands in three different countries.

Jean gets to go along this time, along with their five young daughters, and she conveys impressive amounts of serenity and support as...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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