The Gospel is the first mainstream film to come out in quite sometime that deals with the role of the African-American church. Reading the title of the film, one must think The Gospel is an overly heavy religious filled film right? Well, I am very happy to say that the film is not particularly a religious film, but what a film that has the type of characters that can make a viewer become a believer. Not necessarily the type of believer of the church, but the type of believer in the music that is sung in…The Gospel. The film deals with the economic and social function of the whole church mainly how the church operates as a stabilizing force, a stage for random personalities, an area for various power battles and a business that must find a way to make a profit otherwise it will find itself going out of business.
The films features such well-known singers as Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, Martha Munizzi and ‘American Idol’ finalist Tamyra Gray. Even though the film does have a plot, the film never spends too long on one area only to return to the musical performances, which is where the film become so enjoyable.
Giving a brief synopsis of the plot. The film opens with Pastor Fred Taylor (Clifton Powell) who presides over a church in Atlanta. His son David and his friend Frank are both in a youth ministry. We advance 15 years in time and David (Boris Kodjoe) is a rising hip-hop star. Frank is an associate minister. Enter the bad problems. The church, for the first time, is having financial problems and will close in 30 days unless funds $40,000) can be found.
David needs to decide if he will continue on tour promoting his music or continue in father’s footsteps and keep the church. David is your typical hip-hop star. He feels he is a sinner and has forsaken his father. After seeing a billboard outside of the church with the statement “A new church, a new man, a new vision!”, David comes to realize his spiritual life belongs in that church. Enter the revival to raise the money. We know how the movie turns out now don’t we?
The acting in this film, especially the performance by Omar Gooding portraying David’s manager Wesley, are pretty good. Boris Kodjoe does what he can with David, but a few scenes, mostly the scenes where he struggles to decide what to do, don’t really come off as convincing. Maybe that is because we already really know what is going to happen based on the theatrical poster to the film. The actual plot is very familiar and, at times, boring when there is no music being sung.
Yes, the film does not have an all star plot, but the plot is not what makes this movie good. It is simply the musical performances, some of which are astounding and really lifting. The Gospel features excellent, authentic, hand-clapping, foot-stomping and energy lifting Gospel music. The Gospel, simply put, is full of high-energy and lovely music that makes this movie an extreme joy to watch.
The Gospel is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio. From some research, I discovered that this transfer is also mastered in High Definition. This would mean that this should be a top notch presentation. Unfortunately, that is not full the case. The overall picture looks very sharp, especially some of the vivid colors, at times but also pretty funny and odd at other times, especially when looking at the exteriors in each scene. Luckily for the exteriors, the interiors are very sharp so we don’t tend to always notice the exterior’s poor look. For a transfer in High Definition, I was highly disappointed here.
The Gospel is presented in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Mix. The audio, unlike the picture, is very crisp and sounds good. We hear a low level of bass and the dialogue sounds very clear. Since the film features a lot of songs, the 5.1 Mix comes off in a delightful manner.
We are given a sparse amount of features here…
The Gospel is not a great film. But it is not a bad film either. It is a film that could have been terrible if it had no live music in the film. The acting is sometimes really good, yet sometimes a snore. But the music performances, again, are excellent and really save this film. The DVD boasts average picture, but enthralling audio with a few interesting features. I recommend this film for a rental just to see the great performances.
Special Features List
- Extended Musical Performance
- Deleted Scenes
- Director’s Commentary
- Making of Featurette