A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to entertain rather than educate, but offers lessons about the importance of faith, communication, compassion, humility, and teamwork.
Viewers of faith will find the messages incredibly positive -- that God calls individuals to love others as God loves them, that it's our moral and religious duty to care for the poor and the dispossessed, and that your art can be a reflection of your relationship with God. Viewers will also take to heart (and perhaps even experience) the idea that music is transformative and can bring you closer to God. Themes include communication, compassion, humility, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
All of the musicians are humble and earnest about their work, their mission, and their love of what they do. A couple are honest about how hard it is to be away from their families for stretches of time -- but they know it's for the glory of God. The head pastor of Hillsong is depicted as encouraging and supportive of the musical team.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple kisses.
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Products & Purchases
One of the musicians writes his songs on an Apple MacBook, and there is visible recording equipment.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is part documentary, part concert film. It focuses on the 11-member Australian Christian band Hillsong United, which has broken sales records and considers their events more worship experiences than musical performances. The "biggest band no one has heard of" is essentially the touring musical worship team of Hillsong church, an evangelical megachurch headquartered in Australia that has satellite churches around the world. There's nothing questionable in the movie in terms of language, sex, or violence, and it offers positive themes of communication, compassion, humility, and teamwork. Unsurprisingly, the movie will have the most appeal for Christian families and/or those who enjoy the band's faith-based music. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The Australian Christian group's emotional and inspirational music does more to connect audiences of faith with their beliefs than many religiously focused dramas. If you're open to seeing a musical documentary about a Christian band, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is an undeniably fascinating look at the differences between this band and secular artists. You'd assume they'd be rolling in cash, considering their last album debuted in iTunes' overall top 10 and Billboard's top 5 (and, obviously, no. 1 on Christian/gospel lists), but these artists keep modest homes, and their proceeds go mostly to the mission of their church, not their personal fortunes.
The interviews with the group's individual members vary from in-depth to barely there. While the main performers -- Joel Huston, Jonathon "JD" Douglass, Jadwin "Jad" Gillies, Matt Crocker, and Taya Smith, along with music director/lead album producer Michael Guy Chislett -- get more screen time and share personal stories, audiences might wish there was even more behind-the-scenes info. One noticeable flaw in the film is that director Michael John Warren doesn't interview anyone outside of the extended Hillsong family (no Dove Award officials, Nashville-based Christian music experts, or even Christian music critics) to contextualize the band's impact and reach for those who aren't already familiar with the group. That said, one of the movie's most impactful moments is a montage of one of the group's best-known songs being sung around the world in different languages and styles. Hillsong is more than a Christian band, it's a church-based movement, and the group knows how to make audiences feel that sense of revival. But you almost certainly need to believe to enjoy the experience.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.