DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Miracles from Heaven: Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Miracles from Heaven (2016) movie poster Miracles from Heaven

Theatrical Release: March 16, 2016 / Running Time: 109 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Patricia Riggen / Writers: Christy Beam (book); Randy Brown (screenplay)

Cast: Jennifer Garner (Christy Beam), Kylie Rogers (Anna Beam), Martin Henderson (Kevin Beam), John Carrol Lynch (Pastor Scott), Eugenio Derbez (Dr. Samuel Nurko), Queen Latifah (Angela Bradford), Brighton Sharbino (Abbie Beam), Courtney Fansler (Adelynn Beam), Wayne Péré (Ben Wexler), Rhoda Griffis (Church Lady), Erica Allen McGee (Church Lady), Bruce Altman (Dr. Peter Burgi), Kenny Alfonso (Dr. Richard Dorsi)

Buy Miracles from Heaven from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital • DVD • Instant Video

For a number of years, Middle America and churchgoing Christians seemed insignificant to Hollywood. Even the enormous success of faith-friendly films like The Passion of the Christ and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
seemed to register as isolated flukes. But following the substantial profits generated by the low-budget productions of Sherwood Pictures like Fireproof and War Room, and the similarly lucrative grassroots drama God's Not Dead, we are starting to see movies for Christians made by Hollywood itself.

The producers of 2014's hit Heaven Is for Real -- 40-year Hollywood veteran Joe Roth and less industry-seasoned preachers T.D. Jakes and DeVon Franklin -- team up on another inspiring true faith-based drama in Miracles from Heaven. The two films have much more in common than a titular word. Both sunny PG-rated tales depict life of real Great Plains families who experience hardship and then hope. Miracles introduces us to the Beams, a clan comprised of a mother (Jennifer Garner), a father (Martin Henderson), and three blonde girls ranging in age from 8 to mid-teens.

Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) desperately wants her daughter Annabel (Kylie Rogers) to get better in "Miracles from Heaven."

Dad runs the largest mixed animal clinic in Texas. One daughter plays soccer, and the other one loves Taylor Swift enough to want to change her name. But our attention is turned to middle child Annabel (Kylie Rogers), who begins experiencing inexplicable and severe pain one day. She gets a diagnosis of lactose intolerance and, on another emergency room visit, acid reflux. Mom Christy is not convinced. After getting properly diagnosed with an intestinal disorder and administered emergency surgery to tackle a life-threatening abdominal obstruction, Anna is referred to a specialist in Boston, but he has a nine-month wait list and won't return calls. So Christy, determined to get her daughter the care she needs, flies Anna to Boston and tries to get in without an appointment. Turns out the rules do apply to parents of sick children who are waiting in a long list of parents of sick children.

Nonetheless, mother and daughter make a friend in friendly waitress Angela (Queen Latifah), who gives them a personal tour of her city in her dented junker of a car. This is a brief diversion from the Beams' health struggles, but Christy soon gets a call and Anna gets to visit Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez), the warm Elmo tie-wearing expert. He prescribes a medicine that might help the girl, though it isn't cheap and requires flights back to Boston every six weeks for check-ups.

It's the best treatment humans can offer Anna, but there is a higher power that can do even better than that and in the film's final half-hour, He does, supplying one of the titular miracles and completely freeing Anna of her medical woes.

"Miracles from Heaven" takes an unusually light turn when Angela (Queen Latifah) leads Christy (Jennifer Garner) and Anna (Kylie Rogers) on a tour of Boston, including the art museum.

Adapted from the real Christy Beam's book, Miracles tells a remarkable story that seems to be even more quantitatively verifiable than the experience depicted in Heaven Is for Real. The film probably won't convert many nonbelievers, though its narrative instills faith into an atheist Boston journalist (Wayne Péré) with a sick daughter (a character invented for the film). What it will do is fill the hearts of Christians with hope and joy. Bad things happen to good people all the time, and this starts as that, but turns around in a way that is hard to believe.

Like others of this ilk, Miracles seems more determined to sing God's praises and testify to His existence than to impress as a piece of cinema. Still, the film does benefit from drawing star power and seasoned craftspeople from the world of secular full-time filmmakers. Whereas the Sherwood movies always play amateurishly with their practically volunteer casts and the ungraceful direction of Alex Kendrick, this is more on the order of Heaven Is for Real, with actors who for the most part are fully experienced and comfortable in front of the camera.
It's an interesting turn for Garner, who just four years earlier starred in the wretched butter-carving satire Butter that played like a feature-length middle finger to the Midwest. It probably helps having Roth onboard here, whose producing credits include such legitimate big-budget blockbusters as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Snow White and the Huntsman. Meanwhile, the director's chair is capably filled by Mexico's Patricia Riggen (The 33, Under the Same Moon), one of the few female filmmakers Hollywood entrusts with wide theatrical releases.

Though not quite as huge as Heaven, Miracles did perform very well at the box office last spring, grossing $62 million domestic and $74 M worldwide on a modest production budget of just $13 M. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brought the film to DVD and Blu-ray this week.

Miracles from Heaven Blu-ray + Digital cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, Portuguese), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Thai, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish Thai
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($30.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Miracles from Heaven looks truly terrific on Blu-ray and in general. The 1.85:1 presentation shows off the often sun-kissed photography (which occasionally looks like a Texas tourism ad) with a sharp, pristine element and vibrant colors. At times, the colors seem a touch oversaturated, but that may be by design. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack isn't as noticeable, but it likewise prompts no serious complaints.

The real Christy and Kevin Beam don't look terribly different from their Hollywood counterparts. A cute boy backs up Anna's intestine-friendly lunch line selection of Jell-O in this deleted scene.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's bonus features begin with an audio commentary by director Patricia Riggen and screenwriter Randy Brown. The two display clear pride in their work in this upbeat track, which is full of screen-specific observations regarding their filming experiences and the real people whose story is told.
I get the feeling that few will listen to this, but those who do should find it moderately engaging, at least until they run out of things to say in the final half-hour.

On the video side, in which all is encoded in HD, we begin with "Bearing Witness" (9:09), a featurette in which the real Beams show us their farm, discuss their life experiences, and gather around that fateful tree for some prayer.

"Miracles Abound: The Making of Miracles from Heaven" (9:16) lives up to its title as a standard making-of piece, which focuses mostly on the casting, by comparing the actors to the real people they play.

"Accounts from Annabel" (6:17) lets us hear more from the real Annabel about her trying hospital stays.

Next up, we find a section of five deleted scenes (13:33). They include the Beam girls enduring pregnancy murmurs due to Anna's distended stomach while shopping, Anna's difficulties at school, and more of the aftermath of her miracle.

Third Day rocks out in their "Your Words" music video, er, montage. You can't visualize Heaven these days without first making a creepy computer-animated child.

"Your Words" music montage (3:47) is basically a music video which plays clips from the movie (with snippets of dialogue) and clips of the band Third Day (featuring Harvest) performing the prominently featured original theme. It's got that Christian rock sound that would instantly prompt me to keep tuning on the radio dial.

Finally, "Creating Anna's Heaven" (3:48) looks at animated painterly concept art storyboards mapping out the sequence of Anna's visit to the afterlife with some commentary
by Riggen leading to footage of the layers of effects applied to the actual filming.

Apparently, "Accounts from Annabel" and the deleted scenes are exclusive to the Blu-ray, while all the other extras should also be found on the DVD edition.

"Previews" repeats the disc-opening trailers for Risen, War Room, Moms' Night Out, When the Game Stands Tall, and Heaven Is for Real. Miracles from Heaven's own far too revealing trailer is excluded here.

The simple main menu attaches a tender score excerpt to a reworking of the poster art. The disc supports bookmarks and allows you to resume playback as well.

An insert promoting the book and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and another supplying codes for Digital HD with UltraViolet/Sony Rewards and for getting another Sony movie for $4.99 shipped accompany the full-color disc in a side-snapped keepcase whose artwork (complete with a ringing endorsement from "The View" alumnus Debbie Matenopoulos) is reproduced in a basic slipcover.

Watch out, Patch Adams. You've got some competition in the Elmo tie-wearing Dr. Samuel Nurko (Eugenio Derbez).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Miracles from Heaven will be best appreciated by people of faith who are willing to be moved by a remarkable true story. As a film, it's pretty routine and sentimental, the kind with a montage that feels like a mid-movie music video. At least it's different from most of what else is out there and a rare entry into the ever-shrinking class of live-action family films.

Sony's Blu-ray sports a terrific looking feature presentation plus substantial extras that delve into the real experiences that inspired the film. This is probably a disc that fans of Christian films will check out, but I'm not convinced that anyone outside that demographic would enjoy this enough to make it worth their while unless they're gaga for Garner.

Buy Miracles from Heaven from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New to Disc: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 • The Family Fang • Adventures in Babysitting (2016) • A Home of Our Own • The Mermaid
Directed by Patricia Riggen: The 33 • Lemonade Mouth | Written by Randy Brown: Trouble with the Curve
Jennifer Garner: Danny Collins • Dallas Buyers Club • Arthur (2011) • Butter • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Jennifer Garner (continued): Draft Day • The Odd Life of Timothy Green • Juno
Martin Henderson: The Ring • The Red Road: The Complete First Season • Devil's Knot
Heaven Is For Real • War Room • Fireproof • Max • Left Behind (2014) • Soul Surfer

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed July 16, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Sony, Columbia Pictures, Affirm Films, Roth Films, T.D. Jakes, Franklin Entertainment Productions,
and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.