Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, B
Rated PG-13, 103 minutes
The behind-the-scenes faith-based documentary "Hillsong: Let Hope Rise" may have limited appeal outside the Christian set, but those who are and who enjoy worship music will be uplifted. Featuring familiar and generous portions of their worship songs from their concert tours, and encourages audiences to become interactive, featuring words on the screen. The 11 members of popular, faith-based Australian band Hillsong United all belong to Hillsong Church, which has over 100,000 parishoners, with large congregations in New York and Los Angeles. A group that started as a small, youth band now sells out concerts worldwide and has sold 16 million albums with songs in 60 languages. Directed by Michael John Warren for Pure Flix films, "Hillsong: Let Hope Rise" comes with little pretense and a much less preachy tone than many of the stale faith-based offerings of late, partly due to the fact the message of this immensely popular group is simple: if you love Jesus and love to worship, come join us and sing along. In between concert footage, band members such as Joel Houston, Jonathon Douglass (JD), Jad Gillies, Matt Crocker, Taya Smith and producer Michael Guy Chislett and their families are all profiled to one degree or another, to give insight as to how the music is written and produced and makes it to final performance, making it slightly different than a secular album. These profiles, while charming and even occasionally inspiring, seem more like filler and tend to undercut the cinematic worship experience of it all, and director Warren would've been just fine with a straight concert film, given that the concert footage is by far the most effective and energetic parts of the movie. One touching moment is when their popular song "Mighty to Save" is sung in clips by people across the globe in various languages, showing the worldwide appeal of the group, which estimates that 50 million globally will sing a Hillsong worship song sometimes over the weekend at church. Until you make it to church, go sing along with the entertaining documentary "Hillsong: Let Hope Rise."