The Work and the Glory: American Zion

Rated PG-13 100 minutes 2005

The second in a series of Mormon melodramas, reeking of TV-miniseries hysteria and sophistry. The "work" appears to consist of making Mormonism look good; Lord knows what the "glory" is. Zion focuses mainly on one pioneering Mormon family, the Steeds, led by patriarch Ben (Sam Hennings, the best thing about the movie). Ben is wary of Mormonism, but most of his family has embraced it, and he must see to their safety. His two sons, the fallen Joshua (Eric Johnson) and upstanding Nathan (Alexander Carroll), are at serious odds, the latter having taken the girlfriend of the former. Most of the film is consumed with the Mormons' attempt to discover their Zion, which seems at first to be in Ohio, then in Missouri, and finally in neither. (You want to yell it: Utah!) This much is clear: If the real-life Joseph Smith (played here by Jonathan Scarfe) was as dull and cheesy as the one pictured here, it's a wonder that he founded anything at all, let alone a religion.

Film Credits

Official Site: www.americanzion.com

Director: Sterling Van Wagenen

Writer: Matt Whitaker and Gerald N. Lund

Producer: Scott Swofford

Cast: Sam Hennings, Brenda Strong, Eric Johnson, Jonathan Scarfe, Alexander Carroll, Emily Podleski, Michael Bowen, Brighton Hertford, Andrew Bowen and Raphael Sbarge

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