Chris Heimerdinger (that last name is almost as funny as my first name!) is a staple at our house. Or, I should say, his books are. I grew up reading the first half of the Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites series (I’m only 30) and now have my older girls hooked on them. My oldest even has the books we don’t own yet on her wish list at PaperbackSwap. So when the opportunity presented itself for us to review the newly released DVD Passage to Zarahemla, written, directed, and produced by Heimerdinger, I couldn’t pass it up. My daughters would have killed me or severely disabled me at least.
Passage to Zarahemla stays true to Mr. Heimerdinger’s signature style of suspenseful plots where modern characters collide with ancient scriptural people. Recently orphaned siblings, Kerra and Brock, steal a car and flee L.A. to stay with long lost relatives, the McConnells, in the small rural town of Leeds, UT. Kerra discovers a portal in the woods behind the McConnell farmhouse that links modern day Utah with the inhabitants of ancient America. She meets a Nephite warrior, Kiddoni, who is preparing along with his people to fight the evilly sinister Gadianton Robbers. Kerra and Brock encounter their own modern day Gadianton Robbers when gang members from their former neighborhood in L.A. come looking for them.
We watched the movie for family home evening on Monday night with all of our children ages 12 to 18 months. I was a little worried because the rating is PG-13 but found there was no profanity, vulgarity, or sexuality. The rating is because of the frightening appearance of the ancient Gadianton Robbers who I think were true to the description given in the Book of Mormon “great and terrible was the appearance of the armies of Giddianhi, because of their armor, and because of their being dyed in blood.” (3 Nephi 7:4) The 3 and 5 year old were somewhat frightened of their appearance but quickly got over that. (Too much watching of the Harry Potter films :P) I could have opted to watch the less intense version of the film which is included on the DVD. I really like that it is an option for those with younger or more sensitive children.
Compared to other recent LDS based films this fantasy/action/adventure is a nice change of pace. The special effects were pretty good, especially considering the budget they had to work with. The music was great! My daughters have already asked for the soundtrack. There were a few cheesy parts like the kissing scene at the end (Cookie made the comment that they couldn’t kiss because Kerra was wearing lip gloss and it would take it off. Ha, three year olds!), but all in all a great film that the whole family can enjoy together.
We give it four out five chocolate kisses.