In "Ephraim's Rescue," Utah filmmaker T.C. Christensen returns to territory he explored in last year's survival tale "17 Miracles," but the results this time are less dramatic and more like an illustrated Sunday school lesson.
Both films trace the path of the Willie-Martin Handcart Company, 400 Mormon settlers who got a late start and got caught in October snowstorms in 1856. In "17 Miracles," Christensen followed the settlers through their hardships, but in "Ephraim's Rescue" the focus is on Ephraim Hanks (Darin Southam), the loyal lieutenant of Brigham Young (Joseph Paur) who was dispatched from Salt Lake City to save the stranded party.
Christensen's cinematography captures the gorgeous frontier landscapes (all filmed in Utah), but Hanks' backstory which details episodes of him finding his faith and a parallel story of a young settler (James Gaisford) serve more homilies than dramatic tension.
Opens Friday, May 31, at area theaters; rated PG for thematic elements and some disturbing images; 93 minutes.