Princess Cut 3 (Movie Review)

As I have mentioned several times, Princess Cut is one of my very favorite movies. On my first day of summer break, I had the opportunity to screen this film, with the purpose of reviewing it. (Disclosure: Thanks to the producer, Paul Munger, for providing me a temporary viewing link so that I could review the movie.)

I was excited to see the third part of the film, because I had heard that it was about Tessa’s love story. After seeing Tessa as a recurring character in the first two movies, I was looking forward to a plot that focused more on her.

  • Full Title: Princess Cut 3: Beauty for Ashes
  • Written by: D. B. Hansen, Elizabeth E. Hansen, Sheilah Munger, Paul Munger, Kim P. Wells
  • Produced by Paul Munger
  • Directed by Sheilah Munger
  • Starring Kate MacCallum, Ben Davies, Chandler Macocha, Giselle Torres, Brett Varvel, Kendra Carelli
  • Synopsis: This time, it’s Tessa’s turn to read the love story that God has written for her!

Scripture Connection

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair…

Isaiah 61:3b

Spiritual Themes

The third Princess Cut installment showcases themes of justice and integrity, through the character of Mike. We also see God’s redemptive work in bringing about beauty in Tessa’s story, after she has encountered so much pain and hardship. (I think you really need to see all three installments of Princess Cut to fully appreciate this message.)

We see the characters praying and there are also overt references to the importance of putting Jesus Christ first, in every relationship. Woo! It is such a delight to hear the name of Jesus in movies. I also really appreciate this continuing hallmark of emphasizing Jesus’ lordship in relationships. While the movie differed from the first two in some respects, we do still get to witness an inspiring moment or two that points directly to Jesus.

What I Liked

Tessa

While in some ways, the film felt like it could have been a standalone, the recurring characters lent some cohesion between the first/second and third films. Tessa was my favorite character in the movie, and it was so heartwarming to watch her development throughout the trilogy’s arc.

We meet Tessa in the first movie. She’s Grace’s best friend, although their friendship is a bit puzzling, as the two come from very different backgrounds — and Tessa isn’t very kind to Grace. She doesn’t seem to value their friendship (she ditches Grace on a coffee date, throws the friendship over a cute guy and downplays Grace’s concerns).

In the second film, Tessa and Grace grow apart as Tessa decides to move in with a guy and Grace is unable to support this decision. Throughout this film, Tessa forges a strong friendship with Lauren, Grace’s sister-in-law, and also finds a welcoming family in the Andersons.

Beauty for Ashes finds Tessa a single mom, struggling to provide for herself and her son. Unlike in the first two films, Tessa is now seeking God, herself. She turns to Him in crisis, rather than pretending to have all of the answers, herself. While she’s still the same sarcastic person, her spirit has softened, especially in her relationship with the Lord. Unlike the young woman from the first movie who casually dabbled in relationships, Tessa now seeks to be intentional in her relationships, which I see as a reflection on her understanding of identity. And, knowing where Tessa started out, that is such a beautiful thing.

The Andersons

Mimi Sagadin portrayed Katherine Anderson for the third time. Honestly, it was such a good feeling just seeing her on-screen again, after all the turmoil of the second movie. Her presence feels reassuring to me. I also appreciate that the creators make a very clear generational distinction, portraying Katherine as the voice of wisdom to her children (and those who are like children to her). It is so refreshing to watch a movie that points to the wisdom that parents have, since our culture is so obsessed with youth.

Kendra Carelli, Brett Varvel and Chandler Macocha reprise their roles from Princess Cut 2: Hearts on Fire. In terms of plot, I really enjoyed seeing how these characters continued to treat Tessa as a family member, and how there was more reciprocity on Tessa’s part, this time around. I also just enjoyed watching the Andersons’ family dynamics, in general. It’s so heartwarming to see how they continue to work together as a family, with both sons working the farm– a tradition Jim and Katherine established in the first film of the series.

I also liked seeing Drew’s slightly bigger role in this film. Interestingly, grown-up Drew is quite similar to child Drew. Without giving any spoilers away, I’ll just say that I really liked what they did with Drew’s story in this film.

Casting

The first time I recall seeing Ben Davies in a film was around the time I first saw Princess Cut (during my senior year of college). I originally saw him in I’m Not Ashamed, but have seen him in multiple other movies, the past few years. I’ve enjoyed his acting, and was pleasantly surprised to see him on the poster for this film.

I recently watched the movie A Matter of Faith (and enjoyed it so much that I reviewed it), which also stars Chandler Macocha. In truth, I didn’t make the connection until I was looking at IMDb. Nonetheless, having seen him in three movies, now, I can safely say that I like his acting.

Mimi Sagadin, as mentioned above, was a reassuring returning face (and it looks like she was recently in a Corrie ten Boom biopic, which I think is very cool) as were Kate MacCallum as Tessa and Joseph Gray as Clint. Giselle Torres did a great job, again, as Ariana, this time with some singing parts, and Kendra Carelli and Brett Varvel did a solid job reprising their respective roles as Lauren and Robert.

Respectful Critique

Compared to the first two films, Beauty for Ashes feels a bit more like a standard Christian romance, to me, unlike the first movie, which really stood out to me because of its message about dating and relationships. On one hand, that absolutely makes sense to me, because Tessa and Grace are two very different characters, with very different backgrounds. Realistically, it wouldn’t make sense for Tessa to have the same type of courting eperience as Grace, and in this sense, I like that Tessa’s story is very much her own. I appreciate the message that you don’t have to grow up in a family like Grace’s to have a Christ-honoring marriage. This is such an important message, and one that really points to God’s work of redemption, and the fact that He is the One to bring “beauty from ashes.” In this sense, I would say the film is consistent with the first two and has a message that brings glory to God.

Content Notes

Beauty for Ashes takes on a more suspenseful edge, so this is a film I would recommend previewing before watching with children. The movie takes on domestic violence, with a (somewhat fuzzy) depiction of a man beating his wife. There’s also a few intense scenes where Tessa confronts a violent man.

This movie is also a bit different in that there is kissing between some of the characters. This is pretty common in Christian films, but it was really neat that the original Princess Cut didn’t have it.

Recommendation Status

I would recommend Princess Cut 3 in conjunction with the other two. It was beautiful to see how God was writing Tessa’s story, redeeming each event in her life and truly bringing about beauty. I would recommend this more for teenagers and adults.

Happy July!

Happy July!

This month, I am excited to introduce two blog series: Munger Mondays and Tree Street Tuesdays!

Paul and Sheilah Munger are a husband-wife filmmaking duo– and the people the Lord used to bring the Princess Cut movie trilogy to life. The original Princess Cut is one of my very favorite movies, and it has been such an honor and a blessing to interact with the Mungers. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend Princess Cut.

The blog series will start out with a movie review of Princess Cut 3, which is now available for digital viewing (you can find it on PureFlix and Amazon) and is soon to release on DVD. The following Mondays, I will feature a three-part interview story.

On a book-blogging note, I will also be celebrating Tree Street Tuesdays! The Tree Street Kids is a delightful series by Amanda Cleary-Eastep (who’s not related to Beverly Cleary, even if she wishes she were). July 5th is release date for TWO new books in the series, so I’ll be posting reviews for those, as well as a fun giveaway for two books and some freebies. Plus, I plan to share an interview with the author, towards the end of the month!

What are your blogging/reading plans this month?

Storm & Spire (Book Review)

  • Author: Stefanie Lozinski
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: It’s Wes’ job to deliver the seasonal tribute to the draconei, or dragon gods. Celesyria, a dragon with a penchant for history, overturns his calling with some unexpected information.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

1 Chron. 16:26

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Rom. 1:22-23

Spiritual Themes

Storm & Spire is an overtly-Christian novel, with spiritual themes at its core. The central conflict revolves around idol-worship– and the search for truth in an idolatrous society. Wes’ foundation is shaken when Celesyria suggests that everything he has been taught about the gods is wrong. Throughout the book, much of the conflict springs from Wes’ reaction to these new ideas. He grapples with whether or not to forsake the gods of his youth and place his faith in an “unknown God” (Acts 17:23)

I don’t know if this was the author’s intention, but I also found myself thinking about Josiah, the youngest king of Judah, as I read. Although Wes is not in a king, nor is he in any position to be king, I felt that there was a parallel in that Wes is in the position to help draw his people back to God.

What I Liked

The writing was solid and it was refreshing to read a book for teens with spiritual themes at its core!

I liked that the plot was fairly straightforward. Fantasy, I think, can run the risk of going off-course, in the sense of including interesting plotpoints that don’t have an obvious, direct connection to the overall narrative. I feel that, overall, it was pretty clear how the events tied together and drove the story forward.

Although she was a minor character, I liked reading about Kessara. She’s graceful, wise and resilient, and I’m interested to see what will happen to her, next. I also liked Wes. I appreciate the the novel’s protagonist is an unconventional hero who is on the pudgy side and– even apart from his weight– not particularly good-looking. Plus, Wes had some strong moments of discovery and development. a

As far as dragons go, I liked Celesyria, as far as dragons go. It was neat to read Lozinski’s anthropomorphism of this character– one coud almost forget, at points, that she was a dragon. Dragons are not my favorite book characters, generally, but I appreciated Celesyria’s depth, as a character.

I felt that the worldbuilding was solid. From my persepective as a reader, it seemed like the author knows her way around her fantasy world: its geography, ordinances, political allegiances and theology.

There’s a clear parallel between the Bible and the Codex Veritatis, in the story. I liked that the Scriptures were portrayed in a somewhat mysterious way, with different characters drawing different conclusions about the book, without ever reading it. Portrayal of this document felt true to life, to me.

There were some insightful moments that I bookmarked, because they were powerful. For instance, there was one passage about how fear feeds religion. I found this passage particularly interesting, and I know from personal experience that fear-driven faith can be a hallmark, even in the lives of professing Christians. It is something the Lord is delivering me from.

Small note, but there was a HILARIOUS phrase used to describe potentially questionable romantic activities (which didn’t occur): premarital…amorous congress.” I thought that was such a funny euphemism!

Content Notes

Overall, this was a very wholesome book!

MINOR SPOILER WITH CONTENT

There’s one scene involving a male and female character switching clothes. However, their backs are turned, it’s in dire circumstances, and it’s evident that the author is not promoting cross-dressing, as a practice.

Recommendation Status

It is so refreshing to read books that are positive alternatives to the many, wicked mainstream options. This is a book that does NOT contain magic. There’s a very, very slight suggestion of possible romance in future books, but nothing vulgar.

Recommended for YA readers who enjoy fantasy. Based on my reading of The Hobbit, I think fans of Lord of the Rings would like this book. And I’m so happy to recommend it on the basis of its spiritual content 🙂