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Christian Movie News and Reviews

Month

December 2016

The Sound of the Spirit (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Rivka and her father are Messianic Jews, but when her father dies, she must go live with her aunt and uncle, who still follow Orthodox Judaism and do not believe Jesus is the Messiah.  As the time approaches for Rivka’s Bat Mitzvah, she becomes increasingly divided as to which path she is supposed to follow.  As she meets different people and tries to keep ties to her father’s friends, she will have to decide if she will try to please her aunt and uncle or follow Jesus.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

The only two positive qualities in The Sound of the Spirit pertain to production, and they are the clear video quality and the pretty good camera work.  However, there is literally nothing else good to say about this movie.  The audio quality is deplorable, including a blaring soundtrack and loud background noises.  The sets and locations are very limited and cheap.  Finally, the editing is nonexistent as this two-hour film is filled with wasted time and the same things happening over and over again.  Unfortunately, the negativity doesn’t stop there.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As previously mentioned, it feels like the one-dimensional characters of The Sound of the Spirit continually have the same meandering conversations over and over again as literally nothing is accomplished for two hours.  Even so, the dialogue therein is disjointed and the subplots are very confusing.  Things happen because they need to as the viewer is forced to constantly witness obscure Jewish concepts and conflicts as the non-Messianic\Messianic Jew split is forced down your throat over and over again.  This could have been an interesting idea if the isolating ideas were explained better, but as it is, it’s very hard to follow or understand.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast is full of tons of offbeat cast members and unfortunate Jewish stereotypes.  Their emotions are incongruent and they constantly talk over each other.  Line delivery is either forceful or robotic to the point that it sounds like someone is dragging the words out of them.  Needless to say, this was a total fail.

Conclusion

The Sound of the Spirit had the opportunity to showcase a unique and intriguing topic in Christian film—Messianic Judaism.  But audiences will only come away from this film frustrated and some Jews may find it offensive.  We have no idea who these characters are except flat stereotypes and their conflicts are isolating.  We needed to be able to understand and appreciate their struggles, but we never got the chance.  It’s just another disappointing day in Christian film.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

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Unidentified [2006] (Movie Review)

Strange invaders…

Plot Summary

Keith and Brad work for a magazine that is more prominent its own mind and when they are sent by their supervisor to investigate some UFO claims in some obscure small town in Texas, they can’t believe it.  They think it’s all pointless, especially when the locals refuse to talk about the sightings.  But when their friend Darren invites them to take a different look at the UFO phenomena, their whole world is turned upside down.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Sometimes the Christiano brothers put together a respectable production, but not in Unidentified.  The okay camera work is the only positive quality to speak of.  The video quality is quite cheap and there are too many cheesy special effects littering the film.  Though the plot goes all over the country, the sets and locations are fairly limited and mostly focus on the office set.  Finally, the editing is extremely choppy in a failed attempt to be dramatic.  In short, there are not enough redeeming qualities to make up for the rest of the nonsense in this movie.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

The Christiano brothers might as well have not even tried to make this a fiction plot, because it’s mainly a docu-drama filled with regurgitated UFO documentary talking points.  There are tons of disjointed subplots that are nearly impossible to follow and that are based entirely on coincidences.  Things happen because they need to as the dialogue is filled with information dumps and consists of long and drawn out conversations.  There is also tons of off-screen content.  A clear agenda is being pushed here, placing this plot in the propaganda category.  Even though there may be some truth to what is being said here, it comes off as disingenuous and is mostly clouded with legalism.  As usual, opposing worldviews are treated offensively, thus warranting negative points.  Finally, this film has the weirdest end since Decision that you have to see to believe.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Except for a few small positive elements, this cast is very unprofessional.  It’s not only a very awkward cast, but they are not coached very well at all.  Their line delivery and emotional delivery are overly practiced and robotic.  Some cast members come off as lofty.  In short, this rounds out a very embarrassing effort.

Conclusion

It is clear that the Christiano brothers have a legalistic agenda to push both in this film and in others like Time Changer and A Matter of Faith.  The sad thing is that spiritual issues like the ones alluded to in Unidentified need to be discussed on Christian film, yet people like the Christianos are the only ones who seem to do this, and always in the wrong way.  There is some truth to the UFO phenomena, but no one is going to learn it from this film.  Unidentified only serves to further solidify a Pharisaical and sometimes bizarre image in Christian film, especially Christian sci-fi, which is a needed genre.  Who will stand up to reverse this trend?

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Final: The Rapture (Movie Review)

Making international calls on a deserted island

Plot Summary

In an instant, millions disappear in what Christians call the Rapture.  This leaves the planet in total chaos and unrest.  The lives of four people are followed as they experience the fallout from this cataclysmic event.  A rich football player in America wrestles with the fact that his wife has disappeared.  An atheist professor finds himself stranded on a deserted island after his plane crashes.  A girl from Argentina cannot remember what happened to her as she tries to piece the events of her life back together.  A businessman from Tokyo wonders if his Christian friends were right about the end of the world.  They will all have to struggle to survive in this new world.

 

Production Quality (-1 points)

It’s hard to remember the last time we saw a production this annoyingly horrible.  For starters, the camera work and video quality are medieval, like the whole thing was recorded on a flip phone.  The audio quality is perhaps the worst we have ever heard, from a loud soundtrack, to audio constantly cutting in and out, to distorted screeching dialogue, and to incessant background noises and cheap sound effects.  The sets, locations, and props are very amateurish and cheap-looking.  Finally, whoever edited this disaster should have quit to save their reputation since they had virtually nothing to work with.  The film is very choppy and jumps all over the place, sometimes recycled old footage and sometimes using black and white footage randomly.  The viewer is constantly reminded of the location and time through subtitles since there is no other way to understand what’s going on.  In short, this is likely one of the worst productions in the all-time history of film making.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The plot can do nothing to redeem this trainwreck, since there is very little real content to speak of.  Filled with obvious dialogue and stiff, robotic characters, the storyline has zero continuity as random subplots jump all over the place and meander aimlessly.  The characters are either obnoxious strawmen or cultural stereotypes.  There are many bizarre asides, moments of unintentional comedy, and random things that just happen.  Also, as expected, Final copies the typical apocalyptic plot progression but makes it their own by zooming through it at breakneck speed before crashing with a nonsensical end that is somehow supposed to be continued.  In other words, this is Left Behind 2014 on steroids (or is it actually the other way around?).

Acting Quality (-1 points)

As these amateur cast members screech, squeal, and scream their way through this disarray, they either come off as lackluster or singsong.  They are generally very obnoxious and over the top, obviously lacking coaching as they forcefully deliver their lines and emotions.  We are unsure who is to blame for their ear-piercing delivery—the audio quality or the cast members themselves.  Any way you cut it, it’s a mess.

Conclusion

With such low quality everything, what possessed the creators to make this garbage?  Did they really think that they were going to make more of these, as this is presumably the first in an obligatory unfinished apocalyptic series?  This is hands-down one of the most absurdly low quality films of all time, to the point that it should have been made it through post-production.  The entirety of this wreckage should have been scrapped and never used again.  It’s things like this film that drive us crazy.

 

Final Rating: -2 out of 10 points

The Young Messiah (Movie Review)

I’m British!

Plot Summary

According to some fake historical accounts written down in pseudepigraphical infancy gospels, while the British boy Jesus lived in British Egypt, he supposedly had no idea that He was God in the flesh as His family ‘concealed’ His true identity from Him.  Stalked by Satan, British Jesus accidentally raised people from the dead and healed them.  But when British Herod sent a British Centurion to kill the little British Messiah, young British Jesus must discover who He is before it’s too late.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Despite its glaring flaws, The Young Messiah does have good production merits, which is becoming the new baseline of Christian film.  Camera work and video quality are obviously professional, except for a few strange moments of weird camera angles.  The audio quality is fine but the soundtrack leaves something to be desired.  The sets and locations are mostly realistic.  However, there are some editing issues pertaining to useless scenes and generally confusing plot development.  Overall, this is a respectable effort and lends to the new normal of Christian film, which is quality productions.  However, it gets worse from here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

I don’t care what your theology is—if you believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man from birth, then there’s no way you can believe that the young Jesus had zero clue what He was supposed to do on earth or that Mary could conceal anything from Him.  What is the actual point of constructing an entire plot around keeping a ‘secret’ from God Himself?  Even without this issue, this plot is meandering, useless, and without focus as it jumps from one sensational scene to the next.  With tons of extra-Biblical, questionable, and even borderline explicit content, The Young Messiah has an overall dark feel to it and an unhealthy addiction to sadistic violence.  Bizarre spiritual elements are also present as this film has a typical obsession with Satan, who is mostly portrayed as smarter than Jesus.  Perhaps the entire motivation for making this mess should be reexamined.  With no truly redemptive qualities to speak of and an offensive portrayal of Christ, this plot warrants negative points.

Acting Quality (-1 points)

Obviously the standard for slapping together a Bible film is to put out a casting call for people who sound like they stepped out of a Charles Dickens novel.  There’s nothing wrong with cockney British accents, mind you, as long as they are kept in their proper place, like Jane Austen movies and such.  But why, can anyone tell me, do movie creators feel the need to endlessly cast Roman and Middle Eastern figures as WHITE BRITISH PEOPLE?!  It effects everything—not just the accents—but even the out-of-place culture-specific references like ‘hubbub’.  Besides this, costuming and makeup is generally weird and line delivery is overly dramatic.  Any good hidden here is totally overshadowed by all things BRITISH.

Conclusion

If you’re going to make a Biblical movie, first why do you feel the need to cast an entirely and extremely BRITISH cast?  Second, why not portray a clearly written story from Scripture rather than some made up garbage from a false historical source (see pseudepigrapha and Infancy Gospels)?  It’s not like we’re running out of Bible stories to choose from for movies.  And we’re certainly not at an international shortage for Middle Eastern cast members as some have shown.  Even if you’re not going to cast totally Middle Eastern people, can’t you at least have them learn different accents?  Some actors conceal their accents for some roles because that’s their job.  Can’t we respect the Bible enough, at least as a historical document, and attempt some authenticity?  Finally, if you don’t care to portray Jesus and Satan properly, don’t make a movie about them, KTHXBYE.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

The Mark of the Lion Miniseries: A Summary

vcewind

A Voice in the Wind is the epic first novel in Francine River’s The Mark of the Lion Trilogy, this book covers topics such as starvation, slavery, captivity, persecution, a forbidden romance, family relationships, arranged marriages, secrets, sinful lifestyles, and deception. The beginning scene features a young girl and her starving family who are hiding in their home from the siege overtaking their homeland. One by one they die from starvation or cruelty, all except for Hadassah, who is captured and taken to Rome as a slave. She is purchased by a rich and influential family as a personal maid for their spoiled teenage daughter Julia, who cares for nothing but amusing herself. Hadassah begins to fall in love with Julia’s older brother Marcus, however, she is ashamed of her feelings for him, as he is not a Christian. The story begins to weave together the lives of the Valerians with Hadassah’s, creating a strong foundation for future installments in the series. The plot also introduces us to the third main character, Atretes, a young German chieftan who is captured by the Romans and put into service as a gladiator. Atretes hates his circumstances and makes sure that everyone around him is as miserable as he is. Eventually he decides that the only way out of the arena is to try to earn his freedom. A Voice in the Wind closes on a note of suspense, leaving Hadassah lying near death in the same arena where much of the novel occurs. How did she get there? You’ll have to read the book to find out.:) A Voice in the Wind gives a gritty and correct portrayal of Roman life, which featured all the pleasures the world could offer, and seemingly none of the consequences. This novel would serve as the perfect beginning for an epic Bible miniseries, if done correctly.

echodrknss

The second epic novel in this miniseries is titled An Echo in the Darkness, this book deals with subjects such as sickness, near-death experiences, sacrifice, bitterness, the consequences of sin, love, salvation, and the healing power of God. The opening scene of An Echo in the Darkness features a young physician named Alexander who has been assigned to preform examinations on the dead and dying captives who come through the arena. His first subject happens to be Hadassah, who has been torn nearly to pieces by the lions. He debates whether or not to let her die or try to save her, in the end, compassion wins out, and God uses him to save her life.  They become friends, and she decides to remain in his home/treatment center as his personal assistant/nurse. Alexander soon discovers that God has given Hadassah the power to heal others through prayer. This fact not only brings him more business, but notoriety. Meanwhile, Marcus, who witnessed Hadassah’s apparent death in the arena, tries to comfort himself by traveling to her homeland and learning of her God. There is only one problem, he finds that this brings him no comfort or closure, only more grief. Julia, Hadassah’s former mistress, is reaping the consequences of living an immoral lifestyle. Eventually she and Hadassah’s paths cross again, and Hadassah becomes her servant for the second time, however, Julia does not recognize her identity, as Hadassah wears veils to conceal her scars. Atretes is more of a background character in this novel, as only one thing changes in his life. An Echo in the Darkness ends on a bittersweet note. What happens? You’ll have to read the book to find out.:)

suredawn

The third and final novel, As Sure as the Dawn, focuses entirely on Atretes. This book deals with subjects such as spiritual warfare, family relationships, sacrificial love, war, peace, suffering, salvation, turmoil, reconciliation, and the mercy of God. The content of this novel is best left for the reader to decipher for themselves, as it deals with many topics that some may not feel comfortable with. In my opinion, As Sure is the Dawn is a powerful book, and probably one of the best novels on spiritual warfare that I have ever read. The biggest difficulty that someone would have while making this miniseries would be finding exceptional cast members to play the various main characters and background roles. If someone does decide to undertake this challenging project, and we certainly hope that they do, they would have to be prepared to dedicate at least a year to each installment of the series. This is the only way to ensure that quality, rather than quantity, is achieved. God has given Francine Rivers an amazing gift, and we here at Box Office Revolutionary believe that it is a gift that needs to be shared with the world.

 

Me and You, Us Forever (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Dave is left behind and divorced by his wife, he begins to think about what could have been.  As he begins to pine after an old high school girlfriend of his, one of his friends advises Dave to go to a church support group for divorced people.  There he meets a creepy woman who takes it upon herself to vicariously live Dave’s life and to help him in going back to meet the old girlfriend he’s pining after.  As Dave finally plans to go meet her, the suspense builds as he drives back and forth outside her house and borderline stalks her.  Will he ever get to talk to her again?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

This awkwardly-titled film has one good merit, and this is some production quality.  While the video quality and camera work are good, as well as some of the sets, it’s beyond us why anyone would spend money on such a useless piece of entertainment.  Audio quality is also okay, but the soundtrack is snore-inducing.  There was clearly no editing in this film as tons of useless and empty footage was included, probably in an effort to make this painful slog longer than it was.  Besides a few production high marks (which should be standard), this movie is all downhill from here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

In perhaps the most useless and pathetic plot we have ever seen, immature conflicts dominate the silly dialogue as a bunch of middle aged people whine about what could have been in high school.  As the scenes progress from melancholy to melodramatic to boring, nothing really happens as we are forced to witness Dave drive around, go to work, talk on the phone, go to support group, and hang out with a creepy and desperate woman.  Sometimes there are huge gaps without a single spoken word as characters just stare at things while the piano music plays.  Besides all this, there is no way to make this sort of plot interesting or palatable, so why make it at all?

Acting Quality (0 points)

As usual for Christiano casts, the cast members are overly practiced in their line delivery.  The emotions are empty and they generally leave much to be desired.  Unfortunately, the cast is so small, there is really no potential here.

Conclusion

What was even the point of making this plot?  The idea literally has no potential and is so absurd that we have to question whether going after (married!) old flames should even be encouraged among Christians.  Was this really all the Christiano brothers could come up with?  We would expect something much more sanctimonious and pious than this.  Where is the potential in watching a middle aged man pine after his old girlfriend, who’s now married?  Don’t even get me started about using divorce support groups as a dating service.  We can’t even comprehend the motive behind this film and must just leave it as a useless movie you shouldn’t waste your time on.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

Divination [2011] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jason and Jessica are a young married couple excited to be having their first child.  But soon after they discover the good news, they begin being tormented by strange people and beings.  Jason cannot stop seeing evil spirits in his mind.  A spiritual battle based on ‘intel’ ensues as angels and demons battle over the minds of this young couple.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Though the cheesy opening credits sequence suggests that Divination was meant to be the first in a series, that was thankfully not the case.  On the whole, this production is a mess, starting with strange video quality and shaky camera work that looks like it’s from a camcorder.  The audio quality is inconsistent and full of echoes, including weird sound effects.  Lighting is poor in many of the limited sets.  To top things off, there are tons of terrible special effects and CGI used throughout the film.  Basically, this is a horrid effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

Besides the fact that there are too many things going on in this so-called storyline, it’s filled with purposely creepy spiritual elements.  There are many bizarre elements and twists and turns that defy logic and sense.  The plot is very in-your-face and obvious when it comes to the demonic and spends far too much time focusing on demons.  In other areas, the dialogue is very forced, thus creating wooden characters, and the ending makes no sense.  Overall, this alleged plot is so annoying that it warrants negative points.

Acting Quality (0 points)

It seems like some effort was taken to coach this cast, but it was done all wrong.  The actors and actresses are far too theatrical and come off as over-practiced.  Emotions aren’t very believable and line delivery is wooden.  In short, this rounds out a very weird and disappointing creation.

Conclusion

Someone needs to address spiritual warfare in the context of Christian film, but at this point, we have yet to find anyone who has done so properly.  Films like this are always far too focused on the demonic and the Satanic and generally expose the fact that their creators have no idea what they’re doing.  Attempts to be sensational and to get attention are evident in movies like Divination, and this is clearly not the message that needs to be communicated.  It’s disappointing when interesting concepts like spiritual warfare are wasted, but hopefully someone can learn something from this mess.

 

Final Rating: -1 out of 10 points

Nativity Story [2006] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The timeless tale of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of the world, has been told time and again, but rarely told from the correct historical perspective.  Mary, Joseph, and their families were real people with real struggles as they lived as poor people under the cruel dictatorship of Rome.  Elizabeth and Zechariah were a real couple who struggled with a real problem of not being able to have children.  The shepherds were also real people, living on the outskirts of society and shunned by the importantly religious.  Herod Agrippa was paranoid power mongrel who held his small locus of control in a firm grasp.  Yet his perceived power was no match for the divine plan of Yahweh.  The Magi were real truth-seekers who wanted to know the true meaning of the celestial anomaly they followed.  The lives of these characters all intersected in an epic moment in history when God stepped into the world He created in the form of an infant at the unlikeliest time and revealed Himself to the unlikeliest of people.  This story is not just for the holidays, but for every day, to remind us not only of God’s redemptive plan for humanity, but also to remind us that God works in ways we cannot even comprehend.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

Just as Jesus was born into obscurity, this film was created in obscurity and unfortunately still remains largely obscure in Christian circles.  But there is no reason for this.  Starting off, the camera work is superb in Nativity Story, as is the video quality.  The sound quality is above par, and the musical score enhances the viewing experience.  There is CGI used, but it is used properly.  The editing is excellent.  The surroundings and locations are authentic to first-century Judea, making for a realistically gritty experience.  This film joins an elite group of Biblical films as the only ones to capture the gritty reality of ‘Bible times’.  In short, there is nothing negative about this film’s production—it has every element needed to be perfect.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

As previously mentioned, this is not your children’s Bible nativity story.  Life was hard for Joseph and Mary, and the political climate was tumultuous.  Violence was a weekly occurrence and finances were very scarce.  Nativity Story correctly depicts all of these historical elements.  Joseph, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, their families, Herod, the Magi, the shepherds, and everyone else are all very authentic characters that are accessible.  Too many times, Biblical films depict characters as lofty and otherworldly, but this group of characters is your everyday working poor or political elite.  The dialogue is outside the norm of Bible movies, but it pays off.  There are unique psychological\spiritual elements throughout that make this movie stand apart from other Christmas stories.  The one tiny complaint that keeps this film from being perfect is the fact that it slightly bends historical fact to make certain plot elements fit together.  However, this is still a masterful piece of screenwriting.  It captures the epic feel that this story needs to have and translates it in a way that all audiences will enjoy.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Nativity Story, in keeping with its usual themes, also schools Bible filmmakers in how to cast a film that is supposed to depict Middle Eastern characters.  Not a single British accent is heard among this cast, as each actor and actress is exquisitely placed into a superbly appropriate role.  The costuming is extremely realistic, thankfully forsaking those horrid church play robes.  Emotions are felt and lines are delivered excellently.  We really cannot stop saying good things about every part of this film: it is a force to be reckoned with.

Conclusion

Nativity Story earns an x-factor point for being generally awesome and for portraying an important concept in a great way.  It stands apart in a dismal holiday genre and owns the Biblical genre like a boss.  It shows not only what a Bible film should look like but also what the world Jesus was born into looked like.  It brings the real historical nature of the Nativity into your living room and presents it in a way that makes you want more rather than to reach for the remote.  Instead of watching those ridiculous ‘traditional’ films every holiday season, watch this one.

 

Final Rating: 9.5 out of 10 points

 

The Christmas Candle (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The people of Gladbury have always looked forward the Christmas when an angel comes and blesses a candle at Haddington Candlery.  The tradition of the Haddington family has always been to give the blessed candle to someone in need, since the candle has special powers to give that person what they needed.  This Christmas, with a skeptical new pastor in town and more requests than ever for the fabled Christmas Candle, the Haddingtons feel like they’re in over their head.  This only gets worse when Edward Haddington trips the night the angel blesses a candle and causes all of his candles to scramble in a mess on the floor.  Now, with no way of knowing which candle is the blessed one, Edward and his wife Bea decide to give a candle to everyone on the request list and hope for the best.  But little do they know that there is far more in store for them this Christmas than they could have ever imagined.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

Echolight Studios has always put together top-notch productions, and The Christmas Candle is no exception.  The video quality is very clean and the camera work is extremely professional.  Audio quality is excellent, including an epic original soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and historical props are very realistic and appropriate.  The editing is flawless and presents the plot seamlessly.  In short, Echolight has always thrived with productions, but this is perhaps their crowning achievement.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

Adapted from a beloved Max Lucado novel, this plot is far better than one might expect from a Christmas storyline involving angels touching candles.  It is extremely character based and driven by excellent dialogue.  Though there are numerous characters and subplots, they are handled extremely well and are threaded together wonderfully.  There are some excellent points raised throughout, including a balanced view of miracles versus good works.  The issue of the angel blessing the candle is actually presented in a palatable and even believable way.  The only problems to highlight here are some convenient plot coincidences and one too many silly magical elements.  Otherwise, this is a masterpiece storyline and stands as an example of how non-Biblical Christmas plots should be written.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The Christmas Candle utilizes a very professional cast, yet their ‘big names’ do not give excuse for lackluster acting.  There are virtually no acting errors here, as each member of this very well-rounded cast is coached well and delivers their lines and emotions superbly and effectively.  As a side note, each actor and actress is also cast appropriately for their characters, which is a rare feat to accomplish.  In summary, this rounds out a job well done.

Conclusion

With The Christmas Candle, Echolight has finally found their way home.  For years they have searched for a great plot to combine with their excellent production quality, and they have finally achieved this.  Max Lucado has also taken his career to a new level, as this film actually improves upon his original work of fiction.  It’s refreshing to know that there are quality Christmas movies in the Christian field instead of all the usual garbage that is forced upon us.  As we come around to Christmas Day, let’s just enjoy the fact that there is still hope for Christmas films.

 

Final Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points

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