As I said this is the first film in the eleven and it kicks off quite quickly with a tragic event happening in the beginning. All about the present narrative, it does not let you know any past events except the characters talking about it in required parts which somehow allows the viewers to get it. I bet in the follow-ups we are going to know more about those, so I did not bother about the character developments in this pilot episode. Engaging story, but very-very simple and too short. A perfect television movie with some great acts and with the well blended background scores.
The story is set in the middle of the 1800s. A young woman begins to narrate her story in the background. A journey of her life in a wagon wheel with her husband. All they have dreamt together is about to happen, but unexpectedly it all shatters like a tree struck by a lightning. Leaves misery behind to carry with clueless about what’s coming up. It is about the time to face the nature’s challenge, so the decision must be made quickly to avoid the threat. All these happen within the first ten minutes, the actual story constructive unfolds in the following hour. That lets you know the meaning of the title.
Having Katherine Heigl on-board was the advantage for the movie to grab the attention of the television audience. In fact, it was one of her earlier movies in her career before she was getting very famous. I was interesting only after seeing her name in the cast. But everyone performed well in their roles. The whole story was told in the span of one rotation of the yearly season. As the seasons change how the characters are well refined and find life’s pleasure from a new beginning.
There might be no large cast, but with that it’s managed well to tell a beautiful tale that covers themes like faith, hope, dream and love. This kind of story suits for reading, and might look short for a movie, but surprisingly a better movie than I anticipated. There’s no second thought, it was a fine adaptation. I enjoyed it and I can’t wait for the rest of the installments.
This is the Missie Davis story. The movie talks about her life as a young woman who encounters her love for the first time. What she expects from it and her experience in the style of between mid and late 1800s. It was not all about the romance, but some drama centers around an accident that happen at the beginning. In the other parallel string there’s a story of another family, connected with the past events and also introduced a few characters of its own.
Kind of depressing from the story narration to music, but in a good way. Rising from the tragedy and sorrow is the main theme. The story moved on to the next generation, the young cast as well performed very well. As the film concentrates around Missie, the involvement of other characters are very compressed. Thus, it looks like a minimal cast movie and the other reason is the most of the scenes were shot in isolated places like having only two characters around.
I saw the loop, a circle, combining the first two films in the series. I mean this second movie’s ending was similar to how the first movie began. That gave me some idea of what might have happened before the first film’s commencement. It is only my guessing, who knows, in the next parts more truths could be revealed. As for looking at the style of narration, there aren’t any flashbacks, not in the pictures, maybe by the remembering the past.
A very good follow-up, cleverly switched to another phase of the storytelling and by expanding, opens more windows for the next parts. It is slow paced and I’m not complaining about that because I was expecting it. Being a television movie, it’s given the overall best product. Now I can’t wait for the third movie.
Love’s Long Journey (2005) -The story of Missie LaHaye: Going after the Dream
The third one in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series that followed after Love’s Enduring Promise. Like the other the stories the characters continued, but the cast have changed because most of the characters have become adults now. This time the narration follows Missie Davis turning to Missie LaHaye. Of course now Missie is almost a different woman by appearance as she’s all grown up.
This film focused only on her and her surrounded ones. Still, she’s passionate about reading and teaching, but things are going to change when she meets a little boy under an unexpected circumstance. On the other side, the neighbors are dragged into the narration to make a perfect American film, because they are not just ordinary neighbors.
The story was based upon a couple of things, like making dreams come true and facing thieves in the backdrop of celebration of Christmas and expecting their first child. In a new place, the newly married LaHaye couple set to begin their life. As Willie’s dream come true to own a ranch and his wife Missie is pregnant, they comfortably settle down with a bunch of fine men who are hired to work with them. The threats are always a surprise, with one knocking at their door, how this couple going to face it and the conclusion of the story is the remaining portion.
“For everything, there is a season…
And a time for every matter under heaven.”
Sharing life by helping each other, love was the main theme like the whole movie series is supposed to be. Success won’t be reached without a struggle, so those were well blended in the beautiful story. It was effortless performances by everyone, other than riding horses. But anyway, making a movie, even one for television, is not that simple. The quality was maintained, but there are some minor flaws and technical errors, but they are not distracting ones.
Besides their new beginning, the festival season brings the employee and employer much closer. Followed by the most anticipated moment of their lives where the story concludes. This is not like a big screen movie, as a television flick and being a second sequel, the movie really justifies. As usual the slow narration was the key to be a satisfactory product. I liked this part as well, so next is the fourth film, let’s wait and see where it takes us to.
Love’s Abiding Joy (2006) – The Stories of Missie and Jeff: The Struggles and First Love
The fourth movie in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series. It continued a few years after where the previous one ended. LaHaye family are comfortably settled down running a ranch in the Wild West and Missie is now a full time teacher in a local school. This story appraises the struggles and introduces a proper villain for the first time in this series. Unlike the title, the story travels in the opposite direction. Time to test your faith in this series. If you manage to get through, you will continue or feel tediousness.
Hold on, I did not say the movie was good as the previous ones. Until now I had not seen a substandard in the series. Maybe the word ‘substandard’ is very rude. It can be explained in another way as well as the story considerably focuses on the misery side of the LaHaye family. Missie’s father came a long way to spend time with her and his grandchildren. But then the visit comes at the wrong time, especially since the entire region is suffering from drought. The troubles continues to extend without a sign of ending. Some of the LaHaye’s family friends living in their worst nightmare.
“The only thing we both want…
We won’t ever see again.”
In a parallel layered narration, Jeff is near 20 or something and he tastes his first love. Not without obstacles though as the girl who is associated with him is from a highly influential family in the town. It was a pretty good romance track, deserved to be told as one side his family is grieving and on the other hand he has his own struggle. Sad faces are seen everywhere and I’m happy it is not all about the happiness, though there are sad narrations as well in the series.
So, it was the story composition intensely created in the way that was displayed. But the viewers are not thinking about the possibilities of what a family could go through in such situations. Rather, they are pointing out the movie as a downfall, not the story that talks about the downfall. That is why the whole film looks grim and depressing only if you didn’t get it. Anyway, it is a long movie series and all kinds of moods, genre and themes of the tales are expected in each film. I believe the next one would get better.
Love’s Unending Legacy (2007) – The Stories of Missie and the Orphan Siblings: Uniting Again with a New Family
The fifth one in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series. Once again the story skips to a couple of years forward. I remembered last time I said the movie it was better than what others thought about it, but this time it was not the same case. I was a little letdown, especially in the first half.
After losing her husband, Willie, in the line of duty, Missie and her son Mattie move back to be near with her parents and to start afresh life. It’s a changed town now, less opportunities and more competitive for everything. Missie declines her parents offer to help her financially. The mother and son rent a small house and settle down with enough earnings to support themselves. Until one day an orphan girl joins them and changes the course of the narration in a new direction.
“I couldn’t save Jenny… And you couldn’t save Kathy.
But we can save Jacob.”
The first three films were so good in the series, but I kind of feeling it beginning to decline as the rest of the movies followed, especially since the previous one. It was so wonderful to introduce some interesting characters, but it did not capitalize on them with any fetchable scenes. In this, the second half was so much better than the first. The movie regained its strength because of what comes forth. Otherwise, it would have been the worst in the series, but still it is the least satisfying film by far.
Eliminating the character, Willie, was severely criticized from all quarters, that means the movie is not following the book as it should have been. I think being accurate to the book might have brought it justice. But I won’t come to any conclusion comparing both formats since I have not read the book. They might have thought some changes could give it a new look for those who have read the book, but it seems the idea did not clinch well.
The two new characters and their quest were the highlight. Some of the issues it talked about were inspired by real ones and from the societal perspective that was a good thing. Kind of refreshing from a regular perspective of the storytelling like the ranch, school and especially deaths. Yep, so far, the series had deaths in each film, but none in this one. There was one prior to this story commences, which was kind of told in a flashback or from recollecting memory. Anyway, it was a passable product, like as always I’m hoping it to get better in the next.
Love’s Unfolding Dream (2007) – The Story of Belinda: When Romance Collides with Career
The sixth installment in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series. I can’t believe I have crossed the halfway mark with this series, yet still a long way to go. I really enjoyed so far with many ups and lows. I am happy with this part compared to the previous two where the series hit rock bottom. This film was much better and had a very nice storyline. Yet a few more new characters were introduced as the storytelling expanded to the next timeline.
I am just recalling the whole series very briefly to remind you that it all began with Marty and then moved later to her step-daughter, Missie. From this, the third generation story begins with Missie’s step-daughter, Belinda. So the theme is getting little modern while proceeding in each film in the series. Modern means that contrasts within the period of time when the story is set in. The story remains still in the cowboy culture and explores various subjects.
“The only thing you have to rely
on this world is yourself.”
One of the best movies in the series that perfectly represents the title. Most importantly for the first time the story focuses on something other than family issues. Well, there’s romance as well, which is short and cute. The actual narration is Belinda’s interest in taking up her career very seriously. For a late 19th century woman, even in the New World that was a challenging thing. So how everything goes is the entire movie.
Well, Love Comes Softly and the deaths in all the films are not coincidences, but customary, that’s how I felt it so far. Some of the deaths were very emotional and connected deeply with the main characters, those had a strong hold in the storytelling. But some were simply unnecessary, like in this one perhaps. Maybe it was a lesson, a turning point, or medicines were not advanced to save people from the deaths or ‘to make realize its value/worth’ kind of stuff. So I accept it in this, because it was not that bad, but the way it happened was so silly.
Besides the ‘deaths’, the lover boy is the other thing who comes from nowhere and steals the woman of the movie. I mean in a good way, but I don’t know, maybe that is the way it was happening in those times. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s flourishing towards the 20th century. Maybe the next movie would take place in the city, but have to wait and see. Because that is an exciting thing to see a city for the first time. I had a very good time with this, and believe the forthcoming films would be even better.
Love Takes Wing (2009) – The Story of Dr. Belinda: Saving the Town and the Orphanage
The seventh part in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series. Yet another satisfying movie with the convincing performances. I expected this part to take place in a city, but it deliberately avoiding those things from happening. One thing from this series is crystal clear, that it’s about the women and their struggles in the countryside.
The story continues, but as usual once again the cast has been changed as timeline did. After her medical graduation and her husband’s death, and mourning him Belinda returns to the rural life. In a town where everybody panicked because of the sudden deaths and blames for the orphanage for them so Belinda’s arrival brings a new hope and her stand and delivery and what people are expecting is the remaining story.
The movie series has reached a different level now. Comparing this to the first, not only the cast and characters are changed, but the plot as well. So far the story was narrated moving forward to the next generation and their struggles now with this new view about the society and its causes. Well, there is a romance, but less focused on it to it give a chance to explore on the fresh subject.
“I wouldn’t be who I was today
if I hadn’t grow-up the way I did.”
Of all the films, the cast was the best thing about it. The women are beautiful by appearance and excellent in their character display. Particularly in this, Haylie Duff filled that part, but she’s only a sidekick and I hope she will return in the next movie as well. Because the character Belinda becomes more serious and professional she refuses to blend in with the other characters, I mean in the human emotional way, in other words the chemistry is missing.
That’s not how we remember the women of this film series. They are gentle, caring and liked by the other characters around them. So it feels the change has come, but does it go on like this in the following films is the question. The old lady who runs the orphanage was the main attraction in the performance. That is also my weakness, I always fall for when I see the older people struggling in their lives. The role was small, maybe won’t return in the next movie, but one of the best in the entire series.
We have already talked about the deaths, especially the husbands, but a movie without a little girl is also impossible. It’s a kind of routine now, without it the narration won’t proceed, because they are the ones who are going to lead in the follow-up films. In this the new girl, Lillian was introduced and she is the girl from one of my all-time favorite children’s films Standing Up. It was a wonderful role, but I have already began to analyze her character’s field of interest, because that’s what the next narration going to be.
Love Finds a Home (2009) – The Story of Belinda & Annie: All About the Pregnancy
The eighth installment Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series based on the book of the same name by Jannete Oke. In a sense it is the final movie, because the story won’t move further towards the future in the next film. Everything halts here, only the timeline shifts prior to the first film in the remaining series. That’s what I have heard, the rest of the films in the series are the prequels. Kind of interesting, but now let us talk about this film.
Now the Lillian is a teenager who is helping her mother in the clinic, though she’s not the center of the story. Like in all the previous films, an admirer for her comes in from nowhere. So there is a young romance after all, but on the other side of the narration a moral fight is set between the mother-in-law of Annie and Belinda. Yes, Haylie Duff has returned as Annie as I was wanted and she’s pregnant. As usual how the story takes up shape and ends is the remaining part.
“I learned something today
that they did not teach me in medical school.”
There’s a line ‘our children grow up, start spreading wings’. That should have been in the previous film, but makes sense in a way for this story. That concerns the father’s over protectiveness in Lillian’s case which leads to a small quarrel. Surprisingly, there are no deaths for the first time ever, instead ready to welcome a new member in the family. But a little saddens about Belinda’s side of the narration, whether her wish is granted or not remains a mystery. It should have been puzzled out here in this film or in one more film for that would have been nice, and also where Lillian takes full control in the series.
That means it’s never going to end, but keeps going. So I’m happy that one way or another they finished it off. And another reason is the author hasn’t written anymore book in the series. I have heard from people who have read the books said the movie versions are different and it was shrunk to half of what the book are but still worth it to have a peek. But you know there’s always some people who don’t like comparing the book they have loved with the movie adaption. I haven’t read a single Love Comes Softly book, but watched all the films and enjoyed them.
Western is the least watched by me from all the genres as western-dramas are very rare for me. Refreshing from the guns and horses, cops versus thieves, trains, heist, bounty hunters and the Indians. Here it ended with a good message in a calm and simple way. Especially the pregnancy and childbirth which was the core topic, how those were handled at those times was demonstrated somewhat incredibly for a television movie. I think that’s it from this space for now, so then let us meet with the prequels.
Love Begins (2011) – The story of Ellen & Cassie: An Unexpected Meeting with Clark Davis
The ninth episode in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series, but not based on any of Jannete Oke’s books. Like I mentioned in the previous installment’s review the book ends there, but the story continued with this film. Because I think the movie makers wanted to keep it going after getting a good response from the television audience. So instead of proceeding forward, they have decided for a couple of prequels. Yep, this is the first of the two prequels. Disappointment for Love Comes Softly book series fans, but treat for the movie fans.
When I came to know about the prequels, I was excited only for one reason, i.e., to see Marty again. Precisely to say I was hoping for the return of Katherine Heigl. At that angle it is very disappointing, because this prior event is based on Clark Davis. Yes, the one who offered his hand for Marty in the very first movie when she was lost in the unknown territory. But if you remember the original story (first film),it began by introducing Marty and I was desperate for this story to be narrated from her side, but sadly it didn’t.
So this movie narrates by unfolding about who is Clark, where did he come from and how he’s going earn his place in a small town. A movie that captured only the soft side of the story, like ‘all’s well that ends well’ kind of mindset which is one hundred and one per cent a family movie (when I say family, that means gown ups only; excluding teens and below). Except the opening where it had some fights like a real western movie which quickly ceased.
My thinking was if it is watched by the today’s teenagers, they would attack it from all the angles, because they’re living in the era ruled by CGI and superheroes. To them it is an outdated theme, so that might be one of the reasons this series was turned into a television product where the target goes straight to the women and families.
“We gotta hang on to the good ones…
Let the bad ones go. Never let ’em haunt us.”
We got plenty of things to point it out why this film is so dull, but for the television standards it is easily passable. I had no issue with the movie, it was a good one filled with moral messages and I enjoyed it. Everything was well arranged, a feel good movie, which looked very much like another book adaptation. So it’s not a bad idea to turn it into a book, but Jannete Oke has to agree to that. I’m saying that because of the book people who have read all the eight Love Saga books they can get a chance to read it if they’re not interested in the film version.
The story was very easy to follow. In fact, if you have not seen any movie in this series, you could start with this and the next one followed by the original order. But I won’t suggest that, whatever the order the storytelling is we must go through with the ‘released’ order. Because sometimes the hard work they have made to attach them by filling the gaps between the prequels and the original films differs when we watch it in the chronological order.
The cast selection was great, they gave their best shot. This kind of movie is very rare to come by. Maybe that is the reason I liked this series, so can’t wait for the next two films. I’m not going to give full marks for it, I know the movie is not overwhelmingly awesome. Interestingly, striking with the genre that is usually associated with action, adventure, crime and thriller is what attracted me towards it. So another wonderful movie was included in the series, I think we should credit the writers and director for that. Two more films to go!
Love’s Everlasting Courage (2011) – The Story of Missy After Ellen: A struggle to Save the Land
The tenth volume in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series that is not based on Jannete Oke’s book for the second time. The other one was the previous installment, with both, this and that one are the prequels. So this story is very crucial as it is going to connect with the original story where it all began. If you have seen all the previous nine films, then you would know what to expect from it and easily grants your wish whenever you predict the segments. That is a sad perspective, but there are other things that also takes place which keeps us occupied.
Well, we know someone has to die here, that means the first death in the Love Saga, which is replicated in almost every ones of these movies. Due to that reason, for the first time in the series a male character is put in the driver’s seat. Also, it marks the beginning of Missy’s strong presence. She was just a child in this and we know what comes in the movie that we saw in the very first film.
Struggling is the basic plot in this Love Saga. The series of lessons about love, life, faith and honesty that is set in the late 19th century society was the sub-plots. Newly married couple, Ellen and Davis with a beautiful young daughter, Missy, are set to face nature’s abrupt pose. It is a drought year, like all the farmers around, this family is too coping with the difficulty. But things only get worse when they learn the price will be big if they fail to meet their usual target to clear their debt. It is beyond their reach, but they never lose their hope and fight hard against the odds. Only the end says what way the destiny drives them.
“She will need someone to show her that love doesn’t
leave the world with the passing of just one person.”
Most probably this is the shortest film in the series. Well, none of the movies ever reached the 90 minute mark, but this one barely touches 80 minutes. Despite being a short tale, it covered lots of stories. In a couple of places it shifts the phase that quite changes the scenario, with some twists. Everyone is convincing with their performances, at least for television standards and for a small budget film. I was curious to know what happened to Cassandra, but as we know in this storytelling, it chooses one character and focuses it on them moving forward and never looks back. So she’s history now.
Like I said, it does what has to be done to bridge between the first prequel and the first movie in the series. So we can’t blame for any game changing twists in the tale which is just a procedure to follow. I have to remind people that it’s nothing to do with any particular religion. Of course, these stories focused on Christian families, but it’s all about being a good human being. I don’t belong to any religion, when a movie differentiates the good and bad, delivers messages and focuses on the social issues, I always encourage it. So I won’t spare this film series as well.
I can’t believe it’s almost near the end, just one more to go and then it all ends. I have no idea about what will be the focus of the next film and where it’s going to connect its plug in the series of 8 movies and 2 prequels. The prequels are done and dusted with this part, so we can expect the continuation after where it originally ended in the eighth film. I’m curious and have high anticipation for it to conclude on a high note. Whether it delivers or not we have to wait and see. Hope I’m going to watch it very soon and give one final review.
Love’s Christmas Journey (2011) – The story of Ellie & Aaron Davis: Getting Ready For the Festival
The eleventh and the final one in Hallmark’s Love Comes Softly movie series. Inspired by the characters from Jannete Oke’s original book. Only eight titles were adapted and the remaining two were originals, but prequels. So all ten films had connections but they were not in the chronological order. Prior to this watch, I was wondering where this one would fit in the series. Technically, it is neither a sequel nor a prequel, but my guess is it sets in a parallel timeline to the fifth movie with the characters those derived from the previous films.
Patiently, I was eager for this but at the same time it was very sad that there would be no more movies after this one in the series. These were the beautiful family drama episodes, obviously had ups and downs, but it maintained the quality and context as it promised. This was a two part movie and each 90 minutes long. It looks natural these days to spit final movie in a series into two parts. The silver-screen films are done for commercial purpose, but I don’t know the reason behind this television film. Probably because it was not a small story and it stretched to nearly 3 hours long. It had quite well developed characters and plot under the original theme to match on par.
We know Aaron, the little boy from Love’s Enduring Promise, whose parents were Marty and Clark Davis. Missie is his half-sister, but the question remains who’s Ellie? Actually Ellie was not introduced so far in the series who was born after Aaron, but the story proceeded with Missie who got married to Willie and moved away. Thus, it had no time to launch Ellie, in fact, she was unnecessary until now. But the thing is the filmmakers failed to make sure the viewers get the proper clarification. This series’ so called cliché are the deaths that continued here as well. Almost all the films open with a similar fashion, except I think in one or two movies.
“I didn’t grow old by making mistakes.”
In the first part, it was a bit slow to start, but strongly ended with some suspense to carry on going to the next part. I went with so much curiosity, then I ended with a little disappointment. The story was neat in order and clearly explored all the corners, though the theme was slightly overused or maybe jumps off the line. Felt like I was watching some kind of Christmas carol movie. Whether you are religious or not, that doesn’t matter here because of the praiseworthy subject about human life. To me it was one of the best in the series, except that Christmas miracle thingy which turned it from realistic to a fantasy.
We can learn so many things from these films. Like today we easily contact with our dear ones from halfway across the world through texts and video calls. But this story is set in the latter half of the 19th century and is more concerned with earning money, food, getting shelter, long journeys and even lets us know the struggles in life in the un-advanced medical world. I admit like I said I have usually seen plenty of western films that associated with action, adventure, crime and thriller, but it is very rare to get a pure family enjoyable western drama. I think As I Lay Dying was the last time I saw one which was severely underrated.
Like I mentioned the Love Saga ended with the previous film, this one was simply an extra piece attached to the series somewhere in the middle. Especially targeted for the festive season audience to watch with their families who are supposed to be fans of this original series. I had a wonderful time the last few days with this series. I suppose I said it in all the previous reviews and say it again that this is a feel good movie series about love, faith, society, struggles, friends, family and many more good and bad things. Overall, they are fine movies for families, except a few technical flaws (which is common in television movies), but are acceptable to television standards. Finally, the time has come to me to put an end to the Love Saga reviews.