As Suzanne Waters is giving her official retirement address from her position as a school principal, something happens that night that alters the path of her life and the path of her family. Her daughter-in-law does into labor while en route back home and is saved by a would-be car thief. Suzanne’s busy son, an ER doctor, has allowed himself to become swamped with work so much that he barely has time to care for his wife. Everything changes for them when their baby is born with a potentially life-threatening condition. As Suzanne tries to support her son and daughter-in-law, she also seeks out the now-arrested criminal who saved the life of her grandson. Through God’s leading, she does the unthinkable and takes a huge step of faith that changes her life forever.
Production Quality (2 points)
Having good quality production elements was obviously a key focus of new filmmakers Stephan Schultze and Scott Curlee. They used their somewhat limited resources wisely and focused on amplifying their strengths. The video quality is fairly good throughout, as is the sound quality. The camera angles are sometimes artistically enhancing and sometimes a bit odd and confusing. There is some obvious CGI throughout, but it is not completely negative. The soundtrack is very frustrating because it is sometimes very good and other times non-existent; it needed to be more consistent. The sets and locations are simple yet realistic. The editing is good considering the small scope of the plot. Overall, this is an average production, but it’s really good for a freshman voyage. Schultze and Curlee stuck to the basics and didn’t get too crazy, which is the most you can ask from new filmmakers.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
As previously mentioned, the plot is small in scope and little bit too simplistic. But there is also a creative element that underlines the story and is revealed through creative flashbacks. Without these flashbacks, the story would be very drab. Psychological elements such as these should be used more in Christian film, since they make the movie more than what it would have been in their absence. The characters are few in number, but they are mostly well developed. We would have liked to see a little more development since there aren’t very many, but they are adequate as they are. The dialogue is simple yet believable. There is only one minor twist in the plot, but everything that happens to the characters is very down to earth and accessible by all audiences. The purpose behind the plot is clearly communicated without being too obvious—the same goes for the Christian message. In the end, going with a simple plot to begin with is a good idea so you don’t get too far ahead of yourself. We realize that complexity comes with time and experience, and we also know that God’s Compass will still be popular as it is in many Christian circles.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
Having a solid cast in a rookie film is key. Schultze and Curlee accomplished this. Though it is small in size, they carry the movie on their shoulders. Karen Abercrombie and T. C. Stallings remain to be solid cast members. Jazelle Foster and Joey Ibanez show a lot of potential for the future. Line delivery and emotional delivery are professional throughout. The major drawback to this cast is Erin Bethea, as she is awkwardly inserted into the cast for no particular reason or function. Also, Robert Amaya seems downplayed; it seems like he could have had a larger role. Otherwise, this is a great casting job.
God’s Compass is a solid beginning to a promising film career. ‘Solid’ is a word that can easily define this film. It takes time and experience to make a groundbreaking film, especially when the budget is limited. Schultze and Curlee did the right thing with a direct to DVD release and they made the right waves in the right places with Compass. With more creativity coming down the pipe from Liberty University’s film department, we heartily expect even greater things in the future.
Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points
This movie was not what I expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It was very well advertised and the cast couldn’t have been better (except for the awkward and generally unusual Erin Bethea). I can see these filmmakers one day, with the right cast and funding, inventing a plot similar to Woodlawn or War Room. However, God’s Compass has a strong artistic side that most audiences do not understand, therefore, most people would lose interest halfway through. Another odd part of this film is the whole compass subplot, it’s like they tried to do something with it and then forgot it completely. Yet, overall it was good for a first time movie, I especially liked how they tied in Eli’s family with Suzanne’s, but I do think that as a whole the film could have been better.