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Box Office Revolution

Christian Movie News and Reviews

Month

January 2016

The Remaining (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jack, Dan, and Allison are excited to be a part of the special day for their friends Tommy and Skylar, who are marrying each other.  Dan looks forward to capturing the day with his camera.  However, the wedding reception is interrupted by an unexplainable cataclysmic event—thousands around the world are turning up suddenly dead.  As if this was not enough, natural disasters begin occurring one after another, driving the five friends to seek shelter along with millions of others as darkness descends on the planet.  They must come to grips with the Christian beliefs they have long been ignoring in order to survive the chaos.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

This is intended to be a found footage production, but the movie does not stick with found footage for the entire duration, even though multiple characters are shown filming with various devices.  In conjunction with this, the camera work is expectedly shaky, probably to add some kind of sensational feel.  Since this is supposed to be a horror movie, there are also obligatory cheesy jump scares, cheap dark action, and poor special effects.  Multiple scenes have constant flashing lights or piercing noises, making for a cringing watch.  In addition, there are multiple scenes that repeat over again due to characters watching the footage they have already recorded.  In summary, the production is C-grade; do not watch if you have epilepsy or dizziness problems, because this movie will not be kind to you.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

What is the plot?  The Remaining falls in line with many apocalyptic action and horror movies that discard the plot and exchange it for sensationalism.  There is no driving purpose except for trumped up drama.  There too many characters, and they are all empty, neglected in a quest to attempt to entertain young audiences, we are guessing.  The dialogue is stock and forced, like it was added just because the characters had to say something.  The Biblical elements of the movie are juxtaposed on top of an overdone horror concept.  No matter where you stand on end-times prophecy, the succession of the judgments is sped up to suit this movie’s runtime.  Furthermore, the end of the movie is extremely perplexing, like they just ran out of ideas.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The acting is cheesy and amateurish.  Most of the time, the actors are either trying too hard or not trying at all.  Horror acting is already bad enough, and this cast took it to a whole new level.  We feel that even coaching would not have helped because of this movie’s clear lack of direction.

Conclusion

The Remaining feels like a group of college students got together and wanted to make a horror movie.  When they were rejected by mainstream producers, they decided to slap a Christian message on it and hope it stuck.  Why this movie was distributed is beyond Box Office Revolution.  It should have been stripped of its funding early in the production process.  It will forever be remembered as one of those cheesy Christian apocalypse films that never made any real impact.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

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A Long Way Off [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jake Abraham feels stifled in his life.  Even though he has a guaranteed job working for his father’s successful farming business, he never has enough.  His conflicts with his brother and desire to experience the world drive him to quit his job and ask his father for his inheritance.  His father gives him what he wants, thus sending Jake on a quest to acquire all the pleasure he can get and to use his money to make a name for himself in ‘important’ circles.  But no matter how many perks he buys for himself and how many rich people he hangs out with, nothing ever satisfies the hole in his soul.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

For starters, the most positive element of this movie’s production is the clear video quality.  This make the movie look good on the surface.  However, the beauty is only skin deep, so to speak.  The camera angles are confusing at times and the editing is isolating.  There are many unnecessary scenes of characters walking around and staring.  Some scenes seem like they were not properly cut for the final draft.  The sound quality is inconsistent; some scenes are substantially quieter than others.  In addition, there is an unprecedented number of eccentric product placements that are no doubt funding this low quality production.  In short, it’s just the same song, different verse for an independent Christian film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

There are interesting nuggets of quality mired in this cheap plot.  The integration of a famous parable into a semi-believable real world situation is noble.  However, it gets washed away in a river of wasted time.  In an attempt to be realistic, there are too many suggestive elements that could have been presented in a more tasteful manner without tarnishing the movie.  The characters are very shallow and wooden, prodded by cheap and cheesy dialogue that was obviously not edited or proofread.  The end is very rushed, leaving some characters and subplots in awkward positions.

Acting Quality (0 points)

A majority of the actors are very awkward.  Their lines seem very forced and intended comedy falls flat.  Some lines are downright perplexing and seem impromptu.  Jason Burkey has been better in other movies, which reflects the lack of acting coaching in A Long Way Off.  Robert Amaya is a fine actor, but he only has two scenes.  Some alleged fight scenes have a Three Stooges feel to them.  Unfortunately, there is nothing good to say here.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, this type of movie is becoming the norm in Christian movie circles.  Creators have seeming good ideas and intentions and decide to rush a direct-to-DVD release, funded by quasi-Christian product placements.  No time or thought are given to developing a quality plot with realistic characters, and no care is taken to coach the actors.  The production is sloppy en route to forcing another Christian movie into the market.  These ill-advised actions only further hurt the cause of Christian movies, lowering overall quality and causing people to laugh at whatever Christians make.  It’s time for someone to stand up and end this assembly line production and replace it with truly quality Christian movies that can be upheld rather than shunned.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Camp Harlow (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Alex likes being a bully because of the status it brings her in her circle of friends.  What her victims never see is the broken home she lives in and how miserable she is on the inside.  Restless because of the approaching summer, Alex takes up the offer of a boy she likes to go to a high-end summer camp, not knowing that it is Christian based.  When she arrives, she is resistant to the love of the counselors there, but she soon feels her walls cracking as she comes to grips with the person she really is.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

The production quality of Camp Harlow is basically inconsistent.  The video quality is mostly clear, but the camera angles are all over the place.  There are several long segments of musical montages, which seem to cover up a low budget production, such as poor microphone work and lack of dialogue.  The editing is straightforward, likely because there is just not much content here.  There are a lot of wasted scenes involving characters that are rarely focused on; some seem to be overt advertisements for the actual Camp Harlow.  In other words, though the video is clear, there is not much else to say.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The idea behind the plot is intriguing and noteworthy, but there is simply not enough content to sustain the movie.  Thus, there is a lot of filler content, such as procedural camp activities and forced dialogue.  Because most of the dialogue is very wooden and awkward, the characters are mostly not developed well.  The only positive elements here is the character arc of Alex.  It is realistic that bullies often have broken home lives and therefore project their pain on other people.  This truth was at least portrayed in Camp Harlow.  Unfortunately, the surrounding negative factors drown this out.

Acting Quality (1 point)

AJ Olson is good in her debut, but she may be the only good actor in this cast.  The other actors appear to be either forcing their lines or just going through the motions.  It seems like some of them could be better if they were coached differently.  At this point, Box Office Revolution wonders if PureFlix ever has acting coaches.

Conclusion

In an attempt to be meaningful, Camp Harlow comes off as preachy without anything to back it up.  No one respects a low quality movie unless it shows a lot of promise and had a very small budget.  The important intended message of Camp Harlow is lost, in keeping with the themes of most PureFlix movies.  There is more to making a great movie than just upgrading camera quality, even though this is a good start.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Alone Yet Not Alone (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Recent immigrants from Germany to colonial America in order to find religious freedom, Barbara Leninger, her parents, and her siblings did not expect to come face to face with the violence between the Native Americans and the settlers.  In a shocking raid, Barbara and her sister Regina are separated from their mother after witnessing the deaths of their brother and father.  Barbara and Regina are forced to become Native American girls in every way, including attire and behavior.  They band together with other captive children, keeping each other morally afloat by singing the Leninger family hymn, Alone Yet Not Alone.  But when Barbara and Regina are separated, their true faith in God is tested to the limits as they risk their lives by attempting to escape in order to find each other again.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

For a first time filmmaker, Alone Yet Not Alone has above average production quality.  The camera work is good, as multiple complex action scenes are filmed relatively well.  The editing is okay, considering the large amount of content and the passage of time in this movie.  One drawback is that some of the makeup work and costuming show indie qualities, but this does not cause irreparable harm.  In short, this is a good start for production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

This movie is based off of true events, so realism in the plot cannot be argued with.  There are realistic twists, turns, and disappointments throughout.  As previously mentioned, a lot of time is covered, and this is pulled off fairly well.  However, the characters are not developed as well as they should be as the dialogue is just average.  Regardless, inaugural film projects should tend to be based on real events, and this criteria is met.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For a cast of allegedly inexperienced actors, there are not too many glaring errors.  Some movie-makers commit grave errors with casts of allegedly professional actors.  Sometimes it is difficult to cast multiple actors for the same character in a plot that requires age differences, but Alone Yet Not Alone does not make this a problem.  Some negative elements should be examined however, such as the poor acting of some of the supporting actors and the fact that not all of the Native American characters were played by true Native Americans.  Box Office Revolution realizes that it is difficult to acquire so many Native Americans for a movie, so this may be a moot point.  In summary, more is made out of this little-know cast than is made out of casts that are supposedly star-studded.

Conclusion

Alone Yet Not Alone is a good start for the team behind it; it is definitely something to build off of.  It contains a believable plot that can relate to most audiences, highlighting a little known historical period well.  In short, if more Christian movies were of this caliber instead of so many unwatchable movies in the Christian genre, the movement as a whole would have a greater reputation than it currently does.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Redeemed [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Paul Tyson’s internet security business is successful, but his colleagues are calling for more.  A larger company wants to use his business’ skills and talents for their own purposes through a buyout deal.  In charge of the transition process is Julia, a seemingly desperate woman with a questionable agenda.  Distracted by Julia and the business deal, Paul continues to put off preparing for his pending vow renewal ceremony with Beth, his wife of many years.  In the end, Paul must grapple with what is really important in his life—business convenience or his marriage.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

In the past two years, PureFlix has improved somewhat in their production quality; some movies are better than others.  The camera work of Redeemed is fine, but the sets aren’t very diverse.  The editing is very poor, which is not something that should occur in a plot that is out of order like the plot of Redeemed is.  Scenes cut back and forth too fast, isolating the audience.  Overall, the final cut of Redeemed seems like a rough draft rather than a finished product.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Building a strong marriage is a very important topic to depict in a Christian movie, but Redeemed only further confuses and almost ruins it.  Along with the inappropriate and suggestive content throughout, all of the wrong elements are focused on.  Besides this, all of the characters are caricatures, built on cringe-worthy dialogue.  Julia is a ridiculous unintentional parody, as is Beth.  So much of the plot is full of wasted time, and some of the characters seem un-genuine.  None of them are believable.  In short, the only good thing here is the idea that was ruined.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This is perhaps one of the worst cast movies of all time.  Ted McGinley and Teri Copley are awkward in their roles as supposed parents of young children.  Kevin Downes’ character and acting are both grating.  Some of the characters that are intended to be Brazilian do not seem to fit the bill.  In other words, there are no positive elements here.

Conclusion

Tommy Blaze’s self-proclaimed expertise is comedy, so Redeemed is a departure for him.  Therefore, what unintentionally happened is that he ended up making a mockery of an otherwise important topic.  The idea behind this plot has potential, but this plot and this cast should have been thrown out in the early stages of production.  Box Office Revolution knows that PureFlix is no longer lacking in the funding department, but they are still not using money wisely.  Better luck next time.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

How the Kendrick Brothers Revolutionized Christian Moviemaking

Everyone has meager beginnings and first impressions can be deceiving.  At face value, Flywheel came onto the Christian movie scene with little national momentum.  However, Stephen and Alex Kendrick found some local success by having their movie shown around their home state of Georgia.  Box Office Revolution (BOR) did not exist at the time of Flywheel’s inception, but we would have given it a poor review for multiple reasons.  Even today, BOR suspects that the Kendricks know how low quality Flywheel actually was, but they were not deterred.  All they had to do was start somewhere.

Following Flywheel, Stephen and Alex continued the process of movie trial and error by learning from their mistakes, unlike many Christian movie-makers.  They increased their production budget and invested in better technology, such as better cameras.  As they created Facing the Giants, they continued to show inherent talent in coaching actors to be believable and realistic in their acting.  Facing the Giants burst onto the scene as a national momentum changer in Christian movies, partly due to an improved marketing push.  The movie was filmed with entirely ‘amateur’ actors, departing from a typical Christian movie model.  Giants brought more success than Flywheel, and the Kendricks could have stopped there and coasted the rest of their career.  Yet they did just the opposite.

There is no doubt that Stephen and Alex Kendrick are grounded in the Christian faith they profess and that they care about portraying real people in real life on the big screen.  There is nothing flashy about the Georgia natives, just authenticity and real Christianity.  These factors no doubt contribute to their cinematic success.

Fireproof was a slight departure for the Kendricks, as Christian celebrity actor Kirk Cameron was brought in to star in the movie about troubled marriages.  The Kendricks took on a topic that is unfortunately unpopular in many Christian circles and hit another home run.  Time has proven the actor coaching genius of the Kendrick brothers as Cameron and his co-star Erin Bethea have put on less than quality performances in non-Kendrick movies.  At the time of Fireproof, BOR wondered if the Kendricks would begin to coast through the remainder of their career, but we were wrong again.

Courageous had the largest budget of all Kendrick films, and it paid off.  Popular Christian actors Kevin Downes and Ben Davies were added to the cast list, alongside the typical ‘amateur’ Sherwood actors.  Thanks to Kendrick coaching, BOR saw no difference between experienced and inexperienced actors.  Courageous was the most complex Kendrick plot to date and had the deepest character development at the time.  The film tackled the serious topic of true fatherhood from multiple angles and expounded on the Kendricks’ silent commitment to diversity in actors.  In short, BOR calls Courageous a blockbuster success and the moment when the Kendricks truly ‘arrived’ in film-making.  Once again, at this point, the Kendricks could have sat back and coasted.  Yet, once again, they chose the higher road.

Following the success of Courageous, Alex and Stephen Kendrick chose to leave their seemingly comfortable staff positions at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, and decided to strike out on their own with faith in God that their new venture would work.  They developed Kendrick Brothers Films and seemed to lay dormant for several years.  Alex appeared in a few movies as an actor only, including The Lost Medallion and the blockbuster Mom’s Night Out.  BOR wondered if their film-making days were behind them.  We were completely wrong.

The rumblings of War Room began late in 2014 and continued throughout the spring and summer of 2015.  The early advertisements promised a talented cast, a commitment to diversity, and a solid topic designed to change the church culture in America.  The movie delivered on all three and packaged them all into an exquisite plot centered around well-developed, believable characters.  Complete with a realistic ending, believable life events, a non-linear plot, excellent acting and production, and personal Easter eggs, War Room proved that the Kendricks were not finished making high quality movies.

In addition to perfecting a model for writing and producing high quality Christian movies, the Kendricks are also credited as helping the groundbreaking Erwin brothers begin their movie success.  Along with Sherwood executive producer Jim McBride, the Kendricks are quietly thanked for their help with October Baby, the Erwins’ inaugural film that received meager attention compared to their blockbusters Mom’s Night Out and Woodlawn.  Therefore, the Kendrick brothers have also shown that they think beyond their own movie-making ventures and seek to improve and discover quality Christian films everywhere.  If there ever was a time that quality Christian films were desperately needed, it is now.

The Kendricks have not only found success in grossing high dollar amounts through independent films, but their strong faith and mission clearly drive their film-making.  They mobilize the church not only to advertise but also to make a difference in American Christian culture.  As far as BOR can tell, the Kendricks have no ulterior motives except for strengthening Christians through movies.  Movies are powerful, and the Kendricks have proven this.  Yet there is nothing more powerful than righteous prayer, as was demonstrated in War Room, perhaps the most powerful Christian film to date.  BOR only expects great things from Christian movies in the future, and the Kendrick brothers are partially responsible for ushering in this new era.

Left Behind [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

All Rayford Steele really cares about is his job as a pilot.  He’s disillusioned with his family due to his wife’s Christian faith and due to his daughter’s growing absence.  That’s why he’s buried himself in his work, overlooking the fact that both his wife and his daughter desperately want to see him again, as does his son.  After briefly reuniting with his daughter, Ray’s job once again takes in a different direction.  Chloe Steele returns home only to conflict with her mother over Christianity.  But before any of them can reconcile, a global tragedy rocks their worlds.  Before long, they realize that their lives will never be the same and they must grapple with the bigger questions they have been ignoring all along.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

The production of this Left Behind redo is the only remotely positive element.  However, the only good aspect of the production is the semi-decent camera work, including average angles and video quality.  However, the movie is also replete with cheap action sequences and poor special effects.  The soundtrack is a stock suspense score.  The editing is confusing, cutting in and out of scenes for no particular reason.  There are also a number of stupid jump scares that give the movie a very odd feel.  Unfortunately, the weirdness doesn’t end there.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Where to start?  The dialogue is among the worst, ranging from Christian clichés to action-adventure clichés to isolating technical lingo.  Thus, the characters are either bland or unbearable.  Also, there are a number of unnecessary characters that only seem to fill time in the already too-long story.  Besides all of this, there is unsolicited profanity and suggestive content throughout.  Overall, the plot line is aimless as it jumps from one trumped up action scene to the next and fills the rest in with wasted time, just trying to set up for a sequel.  There is no driving point as the movie drags on, making the viewer want to get to the end as quickly as possible.

Addendum: With John Patus involved in both movies, this new version of Left Behind is basically the same plot as The Mark.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

A word of advice: never cast Nicolas Cage for an action movie.  Some of the other actors are not awful, but overall, the delivery of lines is vanilla and unconvincing.  Jordin Sparks is a decent actor and deserves a second chance.  Moreover, there wasn’t much to work with, but the acting just gives the movie an overall B-grade feel.

Conclusion

The creators of this new Left Behind won a court battle with Tim LaHaye over using his concepts in a different way.  Box Office Revolution has to wonder why they couldn’t just create their own characters, but we can affirmatively say that winning the copyright way did not pay off.  This movie was really not worth making in any sense.  The creators now blame everything on ‘Hollywood taking away the Christian message.’  BOR holds that this is not the whole truth.  All that has been proven in this movie is that independent Christian films, except for the few exceptions, continue to contribute to their negative reputation by rolling out more and more unnecessary movies.  A word of advice: if you don’t have the budget for and\or a lot of constructive critical feedback on your movie, then don’t make it.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

When the Game Stands Tall (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The De La Salle High School Spartans football team accomplished the seemingly impossible when they won a record 151 games in a row and won multiple championships during that timespan.  However, everything came crashing down the day they finally lost a game.  The team began to splinter and tragedies hit close to home.  Due to health concerns, Coach Bob Ladouceur takes a leave of absence only to discover how disconnected he has become from his family.  When the dust settles, a second chance emerges for Coach Ladouceur, his family, and his team to redeem themselves and begin a new legacy.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

The production quality is not as bad as some movies this caliber, but it is not the best that it could be.  The camera work is the strongest element, as the scenes are filmed well, especially the football action scenes.  However, the editing is very choppy, probably due to the fact that there is a large amount of content.  Time marches quickly without much warning and important scenes seem to be missing from the final cut.  Finally, the movie is replete with product placements that were evidently needed to fund this movie.  Box Office Revolution realizes that independent Christian films are difficult to fund, but overt product placements give the movie a cheesy feel.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Tracking back to the large amount of content in the movie, it seems like the creators bit off more than they could chew, so to speak.  This is a large scale story that spans multiple football seasons, and in the wake of covering a lot of time, character development is sacrificed.  In an epic, the dialogue is precious and must be used to its full potential.  When the Game Stands Tall does not do this and instead wastes dialogue by making it shallow and\or forced, thus affecting the characters.  A lot of people were affected in this true story, but there are too many characters in the movie, some of which only have a handful of scenes.  It is noble to attempt to make an epic that spans multiple years, and it is possible to be done, but this movie doesn’t stand up to the challenge.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While there is not much meaningful dialogue for the actors to work with, the delivery is vanilla.  Believable emotion seems absent from many of the actors.  Jim Caviezel is pretty good in his role, but that is the extent of the dynamic acting.  Again, the acting is not terrible, but it is just not compelling.

Conclusion

Many poignant issues are dealt with in When the Game Stands Tall, but they are not packaged well.  The audience is alienated and lost in a sea of movie content, which unfortunately could have made for a good movie.  Since a real life story is followed, there was a lot of opportunity for a realistic and believable movie, but this movie was not successful in capturing this.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Faith of Our Fathers [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

John Paul George always wanted to know about his father and his experiences in Vietnam, but he could never learn any detailed information about him.  Now, on the verge of getting married, he stumbles upon a misplaced box of his father’s things and discovers a lone letter that could clue John Paul in on some more information.  He begins to search for the sender of the letter, but is unsuccessful until he accidentally reaches a cryptic character that interests John Paul just enough to make him go and see him in person.  Once he finally meets his new acquaintance, the two decide to embark on a redemptive journey to reconcile both their pasts and their fathers’ memories.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

PureFlix has improved over the years on production quality.  The camera work is decent and the sets seem pretty good.  The war scenes are the strongest parts of the movie, as they are actually not done in a cheesy manner.  The soundtrack is just average. However, the editing tends to be confusing.  Some scenes are wasted and drag on too long.  This is an improvement, but not quite there yet.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

This plot would have been improved with more inclusion of Vietnam War scenes.  The historical characters needed to be better developed and the present-day characters needed to be less-emphasized.  The present day plot is erratic and random; one subplot is introduced and then discarded with no real explanation to its purpose.  Some dialogue and subplots seem to just fill time.  None of the characters are believable, especially Wayne.  Perhaps the worst of all is that one character uses the same actor over a nearly forty year timespan, without aging appropriately.  In short, as far as PureFlix movies go, the plot is business as usual.

Acting Quality (1 point)

PureFlix needs acting coaching, plain and simple.  David A. R. White’s attempt at comedy falls flat.  Kevin Downes is not cast into the appropriate character.  Candace Cameron Bure and Rebecca St. James seem like Christian celebrity tack-ons, with neither one serving any real purpose.  Stephen Baldwin is passable, as are the historical characters, making them the only possible elements here.

Conclusion

In summary, PureFlix has improved a hair from the usual ways.  The production quality has improved, but that’s about it.  A potentially meaningful plot was once again wasted and the acting was once again sub-par.  Fatherhood is an important topic, as is the Vietnam War, but both seem like extra additions rather than the main points.  Maybe next time things will improve.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

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