The Stranger [2007] (Series Review)

Seriously?

Plot Summary

You never know where Jefferson Moore is going to pop up and solve all of your problems.  Whether you’re looking for hope, having trouble with a professor, need some interpersonal assistance, need a boost of faith, or any other issues, Jefferson Moore is there to fix the conflict in less than thirty minutes.  If you look close, you might be able to see his robed cameos.  In short, this is basically a series for the sake of having a series.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

For the first of The Stranger, production quality is extremely poor, so much so that it barely warrants its creation.  The typical soft light obsession is present and lighting is very poor throughout, especially in the indoor sets.  Video quality is quite grainy, and audio quality is terrible, include a loud and clunky soundtrack.  There are strange and awkward zooms throughout as well.  Though the production improves in the middle of the series, it’s far too little far too late that does nothing remedy the past offenses.  Finally, there is no editing as all content is included.  As we will see next, that’s not saying much.  But essentially, the production of this series is so bad to start with that there is no justification for its existence.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Must like its copycat series The Encounter, The Stranger follows a formulaic and predictable model for each of its episodes.  Each one is full of meandering boring conversations and is based around a shallow story concept.  Not much happens as Jefferson Moore shows up to fix stuff, so you know exactly what’s going to happen just by reading the episode description.  The characters are empty and stereotypical—the dialogue carries an annoying Christian message and is full of platitudes and trite sayings.  As expected, there are also a lot of quick fixes to problems.   It makes it all the more childish that things are fixed in less than thirty minutes apiece.  In the end, there is little to no reason to write these juvenile and disconnected stories just for the sake of having a series in which everybody already knows what happens.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Much of this cast demonstrates forceful and annoying acting.  They exhibit unrealistic emotions and lazy line delivery.  While there is some good here, it is still overshadowed by unprofessionalism.  Also, as we have mentioned before, Jefferson Moore is basically Bruce Marchiano’s predecessor, and all that that entails.  Basically, this is just another lazy effort.

Continuity Quality (0 points)

When the same thing happens over and over again in a series of episodes, there is no hope for continuity.  With such a long list of disjointed characters, there are no story arcs or character arcs present.  This type of series may be easy to replicate, but it’s certainly forgettable.

Conclusion

After The Perfect Stranger and Another Perfect Stranger, was there really a need for a series about Jefferson Moore doing the same things that are in these movies?  As if the first two films were even interesting at all, now we get bonuses.  Of all the movies that could have been made into series, this was the one that broke through and got the funding.  For heaven’s sake people, please demonstrate some originality.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 14 points

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Nikki and the Perfect Stranger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

One night, while Nikki is on her way to Chicago, she has a second encounter with Jesus.  She knows she desperately needs Him again, but isn’t sure what to do.  She’s at a crossroads in her faith and needs Jesus to help her understand what to do.  However, as usual, Jesus does so in a way that even she could have never expected.  So the real question to ask here is can you sit through another film of Jefferson Moore sitting in a cheap set while monologuing?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

One again, video quality is the only redeeming element of this very low-effort production.  Camera work is also fine, but there’s really nothing to it as the main sets are an SUV and a diner (lol).  Besides there being awful lighting in these sets, Nikki and the Perfect Stranger includes the Kelly’s Filmworks specialty of overdone soft lighting.  In addition, there is a cheesy use of special effects throughout.  Finally, even though this film is less than an hour long, there is tons of wasted time that is designed to make it longer.  This movie barely had justification as a short film, much less a fifty-minute one.  In short, this is just another pile of utterly wasted funding.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Again seriously?  Why do we need a third installment in this already boring and barely justifiable series?  And why name it such a stupid title?  Didn’t we do this already?  Yes, we did, as we are reminded through heavy-handed narration and rehashing of The Perfect Stranger and Another Perfect Stranger.  This third film is full of more silly, meandering dialogue designed to kill time.  The ideas therein are quite simplistic and only exist because this film was forced to happen.   Any issues raised seem very trite and manufactured.  Though we now have a second movie of Jefferson Moore talking to this character for more than 30 minutes, we still don’t get to know Nikki all that well—she is a distant and vague idea that never materializes into a real character.  In the end, there is very little to note here since there is very little content to review.  It’s very easy to spit out fifty minute films about Jefferson Moore talking to people in close quarters, but what does it accomplish?

Acting Quality (0 points)

At this point in the saga, the acting has greatly digressed to where it seems like none of them are trying or they are trying too hard.  Jefferson Moore is slowly morphing into Bruce Marchiano.  The other cast members are very robotic and overly practiced.  No emotions can be felt.  This is really just another disappointing mess.

Conclusion

As it turns out, Nikki’s Second Encounter (this movie’s new title lol) is the worst one of them all.  With hardly anything going for it, there was never any justification for its creation.  Creating another saga installment for the sake of creating it is just the sort of thing Christian entertainment does not need.  The ideas behind this saga are noble and interesting, but execution is everything.  Even the best idea can be ruined by poor presentation and untapped potential.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Another Perfect Stranger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Nikki’s original encounter with Jesus Christ, her daughter Sarah grew to resent her mother’s new faith commitment.  Now, over ten years later, Sarah plans to rebel against the faith of her parents by going to make her own life at a far off art school.  As Sarah takes a trip to visit the school, she is ‘coincidentally’ sat beside a mysterious stranger on the plane (multiple times).  The more she talks to Him, the more she begins to feel her heart soften.  What will she learn before she reaches her destination?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Though the production of Another Perfect Stranger has improved from The Perfect Stranger, that’s not really saying much.  Video quality and camera work are the most marked improvements; audio quality also shows steps in the right direction.  However, the soundtrack is quite stock.  Sets are still severely limited, but the most is made of them.  The Kelly’s Filmworks team still has a weird obsession with soft lighting that becomes annoying.  As for the editing, there are too many filler scenes and too much wasted time.  Essentially, while things are progressing in the right direction, it’s still difficult to see why productions this simplistic are so hard to nail.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

For starters, this title is stupid.  Naming a sequel movie ‘another something’ is so cheesy, but in this case, it’s not even true, because it depicts the same Stranger from the first installment, not a different one.  Anyways, Another Perfect Stranger begins with a useless recap of its predecessor, as if we missed something.  Once again, this second installment is full of uninspiring dialogue that speaks of lots of off-screen content and creates convenient plot turns.  Though this movie is again about two characters talking on a wide range of topics, we still don’t really get to know them very well.  With so few characters, these should be deep characters, but they only seem vague in the end.  However, their conversations do improve throughout the film and there are some good points raised, even though there are a number of odd comments and asides that seem out of place.  But what this plot really comes down to is the fact that there is simply not enough plot content to sustain it, as it is basically a stuck-on-a-plane plot that doesn’t involved the Rapture.  We want to like it, but just can’t find many reasons to.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Jefferson Moore, like Bruce Marchiano, has a Jesus complex; however, Moore might be a better actor than Marchiano when all is said and done.  Other cast members in Another Perfect Stranger are okay.  There is some over-acting, but emotions are overall believable.  Line delivery is mostly average.  Overall, this is an average effort with a small cast.

Conclusion

The Perfect Stranger saga is the definition of untapped potential.  The saga is based on a very simple idea that needs to be taken farther in order to have full effectiveness.  As they are, these films are just cute little Christian movies that people might smile about and then completely forget about.  Christian film makers need to strive to be dynamic and groundbreaking; we need to get out of our little bubble and go make a different with our movies.  An encounter with Jesus should be a difference maker, not another pedestrian effort.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

The Perfect Stranger [2005] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Nikki, a lawyer living a fast-paced life, gets a strange invitation to go to dinner with a man who claims to be Jesus Christ, she decides to take him up on the offer, if only to prove him wrong.  Throughout the course of the evening, as their conversation ranges on a wide variety of topics, including world religions and the nature God, Nikki begins to see this man for Who He really is, but will she let Him into her heart?  By the time the last course comes around, who will she surrender to?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

For 2005, this is a very poor production effort.  Though the sets are very limited and the budget seems adequate for this small scale of a production, the Kelly’s Filmworks team did not deliver.  Video quality is grainy and there is a lot of poor lighting throughout, including some cheesy-looking soft light.  Though most of the props are okay and audio quality is decent, the soundtrack is very cheap sounding.  The editing is very basic, but there is not that much content to work with here anyway.  In the end, this is a disappointing effort that should have been easy to execute.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As the original proprietor of the Encounter-style movie, Jefferson Moore was definitely on to something interesting in The Perfect Strange.  This was an original idea that had a lot of potential, yet we feel like it did not reach its full potential.  Though there are very few characters that have long monologuing dialogue, we don’t really get to know them all that well.  The portrayal of Jesus is pretty good, but Nikki just seems like a cardboard cutout.  She talks a lot without every really saying anything substantial to build her character.  There are some interesting issues raised in this plot, but the plotline is fairly linear and lacking in deep content.  It’s all very surface where it should be deep and concludes predictably.  Basically, where The Perfect Stranger could have been truly dynamic, it only scratched the surface.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This small cast is mostly average, yet they are the brightest spot of this film.  There are no real embarrassments or glaring errors, but they also seem like they’re holding back.  Jefferson Moore is fine as Jesus, but other cast members seem inhibited for some reason.  Emotion doesn’t really come through properly.  But in the end, this section is just average.

Conclusion

The Perfect Stranger is a good concept that needs deepening and more creativity.  Having two people talk over dinner about pertinent issues is not really the best way to present this otherwise good idea.  Monologuing becomes old and wearing, thus boring the audience.  Unfortunately, the entirety of this film doesn’t hold the attention very well, so important points will be lost.  Christian film makers need to make sure they are packaging their good ideas properly so that their messages can be properly conveyed.  This is the biggest movie lesson one can learn from this film.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

So Help Us God [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Eddy gets laid off from Fazzle Glue, whom he has worked for over twenty years, his self-parody gothic daughter decides that the only logical thing to do is to take Grandpa Will to the magical tree where he used to go with Eddy’s mother so Grandpa Will can bury her ashes under it.  Yeah, he carries her ashes around in an urn all the time.  So they decide to take Eddy’s wife, who somehow has Parkinson’s disease, and both annoying daughters along for an RV trip into the middle of nowhere.  And the youngest daughter brought her pet goat along, naturally.  Come along for a goofy ride you’ll never forget!

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Surprisingly, So Help Us God is an improvement from past Faith House productions, but that’s not really saying much.  At least video quality is clear and camera work is somewhat improved.  Audio quality is still a problem, however, and this film has the goofiest soundtrack ever.  Sets and locations are on the rise, if you count having a few buildings besides the RV.  Also, the flashbacks have an unusually different quality about them for some reason.  But as usual for Faith House, there is no editing present—all content is included, which isn’t much to begin with.  In the end, this is Faith House’s best production to date, which really shows how much of a mess they are.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Similarly, this is the most complex plot Faith House has to offer, but once again, this is not saying much, as it still makes no sense.  The entirety of the plot can be found in the trailer.  Most of the comedy is very corny and forced, and thus, it falls flat.  This story is funny for all the wrong reasons.  The premise and the characters therein are highly eccentric, seemingly on purpose.  It wastes tons of time on silly asides and typical activities of daily living, not to mention long and confusing flashbacks that only convolute things.  Finally, everything is easily and juvenilely fixed in the end, leaving the audience feeling like they just wasted their time.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Besides some typical Faith House cast members, we see a few additions in So Help Us God, even though they are all overall wacky and self-parody.  Though they can sometimes be funny and entertaining, there is too much shouting and mumbling.  Emotions seem childish.  Basically, another standard Faith House acting job.

Conclusion

This title is highly apropos as we conclude our Faith House binge.  Faith House certainly needs help from a divine source if they are going to continue to roll out silly and nonsensical films.  For that matter, the whole of Christian entertainment needs divine intervention if these are things that are being made and are being marketed as accessible Christian film.  What are non-Christians and sensible Christians supposed to think of this childishness?  There is such a thing as a good comedy, and there’s also unfortunately such a thing as an unintentional comedy.  Unfortunately, So Help Us God is more of the latter.  But at least we’re done with Faith House…for now…

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

Angela Elwell Hunt: The Silver Sword

Image result for the silver sword angela elwell hunt

It has been established that Angela Elwell Hunt is one of the most influential and brilliant writers in the world of Christian fiction. When one examines her widely read and esteemed selection of novels, they have no choice but to conclude that she is a talented author who is using her gift to spread the Gospel worldwide. One of her best and probably one of her most obscure series is titled the Heirs of Cahira O’Connor This four-part series has an epic beginning and a strong, while somewhat nostalgic ending. These features alone would make it an amazing candidate for either a four part movie series or a Christian themed miniseries. Interestingly enough the namesake of the series does not make an appearance until the final novel. The first book is titled The Silver Sword, a simple title, yet with so much intrigue. This book deals with subjects such as the forbidden education of women, the Catholic church, Protestantism, secrecy, disguise, conflict, combat, courage, love, and sacrifice. The Silver Sword opens by introducing the reader to a young woman named Kathleen O’Connor. Kathleen has recently learned that she could be related to the fabled O’Connor women who made an impact on the world with their lives. The distinguishing mark of this clan is a white streak through the hair of those most closely related to the original O’Connors. Kathleen herself bears this mark, and has long wondered why, and how it came to be. She decides, at the request of her professor friend, to do further research on the subject of her roots. She discovers three O’Connor women who were famous in history for their feats, one of them was a young woman named Anika who lived in medieval Prague, and longed for something more than what was expected of women in this era. Kathleen is able to put aside her skepticism and becomes interested in this woman who impacted her country in a huge way. Anika O’Connor and her father live in and run a local book shop. Anika’s father has illegally educated her far beyond the allotment for women in the era. This fact has remained successfully hidden from the iron-fisted Catholic church in their village. However, this is not the only secret that Anika and her father are hiding, they are illegally translating the Bible for a local Protestant pastor. Anika’s father is eventually discovered and killed for his treason. Spurred on by this tragic occurrence, Anika decides to disguise herself as a man and take a position as the understudy of a legendary knight who lives in the King’s castle. This disguise, for various reasons, proves to be difficult to uphold, and many times she risks being discovered and killed for her impersonation. Will Anika be discovered? What is her destiny? Will she live to share her faith with others? To discover the answers to these questions, read the book!:) We here at Box Office Revolution believe that there should be a new era of Christian movies that include miniseries, as many prominent Christian authors have whole book series that need to be brought to attention on the big screen. In short, Christian movie makers looking for variety should look no further than Christian novels for inspiration!

Before All Others (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When a woman is struck with a rare and unexplainable disease that is sure to temporarily paralyze her, she is left with no choice but to go live under the care of her elderly grandmother who barely gets out and can hardly walk around.  As the two of them hobble around and try to talk about family secrets, the grandmother finds her advice from her dead husband, whom she frequently talks to in the garden shed.  That is, until some random guy starts hanging around all the time fixing stuff and the grandmother decides to grab the first guy she found to marry her granddaughter off to.  What could go wrong?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Despite clear video quality, Before All Others is another poor Faith House production.  Camera work is very shaky and amateurish, even though easily 75% of the film takes place in one cabin set.  It should be easy to film in this environment, but not for Faith House.  For that matter, the audio quality shouldn’t be this bad, but it is.  The soundtrack also blares constantly and sometimes covers up dialogue.  Finally, as is commonplace in Faith House films, there is really no editing as long sequences of random footage are included.  Seriously, this is a 2016 film and they still can’t get production right.  Does anyone else see anything wrong with this?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Once again, there is literally no purpose to this story as two pathetic characters limp and hobble around a primitive cabin and talk to dead people.  Despite having so few characters, they are so empty and lifeless due to utterly inept dialogue.  There is very little actual content as viewers are forced to watch awkward activities of daily living over and over again.  The mysterious illness’ progression is extremely convenient, depending on whether the plot needs the character to be well or unwell at the moment.  There is also a very awkwardly forced and juvenile romantic subplot that only serves to waste time.  All drama is completely manufactured and the shoehorned Christian message is completely mindless.  Basically, Before All Others is just more of the same.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Despite having different cast members than usual, this cast is still very small and very wooden.  One cast member is laughably eccentric while another is embarrassingly lifeless.  There is zero coaching present and no believable emotions.  As a side note, makeup is also terrible.  But this is apparently business as usual for Faith House.

Conclusion

As previously mentioned, this film was made in 2016, yet fundamental movie making elements are still not grasped by this team.  A film of this low caliber has no place in Christian entertainment anymore as the bar is being set higher, especially when it comes to production quality.  But yet, here it is, available for all to see.  After this long stretch of reviewing their films, we have to wonder what is really going on at Faith House.  Is it just one big scam or do they really have no idea what they’re doing?  We honestly have no clue and wonder if they do either.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Desert Redemption (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

A family that no longer spends very much time together decides to go on a long-planned desert hike to try to mend what is broken.  The father doesn’t take things seriously at first, but as things begin to go from bad to worse, he sees the cost of his actions.  His wife falls unconscious after falling off of a cliff face, his daughter sustains a leg injury, and he sustains multiple life-threatening injuries.  As they limp around the desert in search of food, water, and help, will they ever be saved?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

In an attempt to shoot and outdoor adventure, some elements of the production of Desert Redemption are not half bad, such as the video quality and the realistic sets.  Lighting is improved outside, but there are still a myriad of issues that detract from these small positives.  Camera work is very shaky and audio quality is often so bad that the characters cannot be understood.  While the soundtrack is interesting, it is often too loud and out of place.  There are also a lot of loud outdoor noises.  The runtime is dominated by scenery footage, and thus, no editing is present.  Essentially, this is more of an effort than usual for Faith House, but still not good enough.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Once again, there is barely any plot to speak of in this film.  Three characters go into the desert and start getting tons of injuries.  From there, it’s just one manufactured drama after another with a dose of juvenile Christianity.  Everything bad happens at once and in a laughable fashion.  It really just boils down to a predictable survival plot, just done very poorly.  Though there are only three main characters in this film, they do not develop into realistic people but instead remain wooden due to lack of substantial dialogue.  Instead, there are too many sequences of characters laying around grunting and breathing hard.  Then, when the time runs out, everything gets fixed through narration.  As if it couldn’t get any worse, this is probably Faith House’s thinnest plot to date.  So why are they still writing plots?

Acting Quality (0 points)

In perhaps the smallest cast ever, the three main cast members are very juvenile and amateurish.  They have no clear direction in their acting as they awkwardly force emotions and lines.  They also demonstrate some of the most laughable injury acting we have ever witnessed.  If they mean well, which we are sure they do, it’s unfortunate that they are portrayed in this fashion.

Conclusion

We ask ourselves time and again: how can a studio this juvenile and unprofessional continually fund feature-length films?  How were A Calling of Courage, A Box of Faith, and this one not forced to be short films?  They barely have enough plot content to be thirty minutes long without all the wasted footage and activities of daily living.  What has happened in the world of Christian film to allow films such as these to exist?  Somebody has some serious soul searching to do.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 point

 

A Box of Faith (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Dior’s father is framed and arrested for something he did not do, she has no choice but to abandon the motel room they were living in so that she can hide from the social worker who wants to help her.  Because otherwise, this movie wouldn’t have a plot.  As Dior walks from one park bench to another and one street to another, her social worker does crossword puzzles and randomly drives around hoping to find her.  Dior must live in a storage unit during all of this and wait for the plot to come to an end so everything can be fixed.  The question is not will things for resolved, but will you stick around for them to be resolved?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

The one thing we can say for this half-baked production is that it has clear video quality.  Otherwise, there are no positive aspects.  Camera work is very shaky and lighting is very inconsistent.  Audio quality is very poor, including loud outside sounds and an annoying soundtrack.  Sets and locations are very limited, as usual for Faith House.  Once again, there is no editing present as every possible amount of content is squeezed out of this non-film.  Essentially, A Box of Faith is another lame excuse for a production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With barely any plot content to work with whatsoever and a completely aimless story, what is anyone supposed to learn from this.  Due to the silly dialogue and a shallow and trumped-up premise, it’s very hard for the audience to connect with the struggles of the characters.  They just wander around the whole time and do absolutely nothing of note.  With so few characters, we should know a lot more about them as they stand around and talk, but we don’t.  The plot overall is too trite and unserious and there is thus no real justification for its creation.  The Faith House team needs to take a serious look at the content they are spitting out.  Constantly generating half-wit ideas just for the sake of creating more movies is a blight on Christian film.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

While there is some good here, A Box of Faith provides yet another empty and robotic cast.  We’re sure these people mean well, but they have absolutely no coaching.  Just stiffly sitting there or standing there saying lines doesn’t cut it.  There is no emotion exhibited at all.  But this is just another day at Faith House.

Conclusion

Complex story ideas are hard to come by, but extremely limited yet forced plots like this one should be a thing of the past.  There is very little potential and\or purpose to movies like A Box of Faith.  Faith House movies are a total embarrassment to Christian film, and we hope the day comes that movies like it are no longer so common place.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

A Calling of Courage (Movie Review)

Fauston’s brain machine

Plot Summary

Sergeant Major Kurt Roberts is called home from his duty when his teenage daughter, Zoey, is in a car accident that leaves her in a coma.  Since her prognosis is unknown, Zoey is allowed to go back home to stay until she comes out of her coma.  Under the care of her parents and an in-home nurse, Zoey lays in a coma for months.  Then her nurse decides to bring in an old friend to experiment with his new brain machine that can communicate with people who are in comas.  What could go wrong?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

It’s unbelievable that so-called productions like this are even funded.  Even so, what did they spend the money on, because there is no quality whatsoever here.  Camera work is very shaky, video quality is underwhelming, and lighting is poor in most scenes.  The sets are limited to basically one house and some outside scenes.  Audio quality is also inconsistent and the soundtrack is generic.  There is no editing as pretty much all of their empty ideas are included.  Essentially, this is not a production that needed any funding, especially since they wasted it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

What is happening here?  The story starts as a half-baked idea about a girl laying around in a coma and three other characters caring about what happens to her and then suddenly transforms into an off-the-wall sci-fi concept, complete with Fauston’s special brain machine that can communicate with someone who’s in a coma.  Before this point, hardly anything happens and there is a lot of off-screen content.  The medical premise is strange and has a lot of plot holes.  Despite the fact that there are basically five characters in this plot, they are extremely empty and wooden.  Dialogue does nothing to develop them, even though they sit around talking all the time.  Basically, besides being bizarre and childish in an attempt to be creative, A Calling of Courage was barely justified as a plot as there is really no content to speak of here.  Thus, there is no point in any of this.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With basically five to seven cast members, one of which lays in a bed a majority of the film, there is not much to work with here.  The cast members are robotic and empty in their line delivery and in their emotions.  We can’t relate to them as real people.  Also, there is an odd portrayal of military service members.  In short, like the rest of this horrific mess, the acting has nothing to offer.

Conclusion

As we will see this week, the theme of Faith House Pictures is having the bare minimum resources required to slap together a half-baked movie just for the sake of making it.  Their model seems to be to acquire the funds necessary to have basically one set, less than ten cast members, and the cheapest possible production equipment, and combine this with a tiny plot idea that includes some eccentric element(s).  There is no justification for Faith House Pictures to exist, and yet they do.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Unlimited [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When an old friend of his reaches out to him to give him a second chance, Simon takes the opportunity to cross the south border into Mexico, but soon finds himself on the run from a drug cartel.  With his passport stolen, Simon is forced to take refuge in a local orphanage, where he learns of his friend’s untimely death.  Strange things are happening around him and the only way he can solve the mystery is to face dark past he is running from.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s clear that a lot of thought and time was put into making the production of Unlimited.  Shot on an authentic location with realistic sets, this film is very quality.  Video quality is crisp, and audio quality is flawless, including an excellent culturally relevant soundtrack.  However, there is some out-of-place shaky camera work that makes no sense, considering the quality of the rest of the production.  The editing is error-free, thus making this a top-notch production that should be commonplace in Christian film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Though Unlimited is based on creative ideas and concepts, the plot itself is a fairly typical and formulaic suspense storyline.  The characters are fairly realistic, but they tend to fit too easily into predictable predetermined molds.  However, though the progression is predictable, the story is still crafted well and is very engaging.  There is a lot of professionalism here and with this much positive, we really wish the plot scope wasn’t so limited by mediocrity.  There is so much to offer here, yet we feel that full potential was unfortunately not reached.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Unlimited is cast very well with highly professional cast members.  However, just because they have ‘big names’ like Robert Amaya and Fred Thompson, they do not neglect acting coaching, which has a clear presence.  Line delivery and emotional delivery are on point.  The cast is also culturally authentic.  There are no errors here.

Conclusion

It’s a shame that Unlimited couldn’t take that next small step forward onto the Hall of Fame, but this is still an enjoyable movie nonetheless.  While the plot is not super creative, it’s in a different genre than usual and shows just how much we need a breath of fresh air like this in Christian film.  We can’t wait to see more from Gundersen Entertainment and others that have unique ideas like this.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

 

End of the Harvest (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Matt, Scott, and Jess are college buddies just trying to work for the Lord in the oppressive world around them.  The atheists seem to have all the fun—they even have their own philosophy club (not God’s Club).  Scott decides to challenge them to a debate when he discovers a groundbreaking paper written by a former student decades before that could upend everyone’s worldview.  It tells of how the end of the world will come and though no one believes him at first, that’s about to change somehow.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

As a late 90’s production, End of the Harvest is very underwhelming.  While camera work is okay, the video quality is very grainy and audio quality is less than inspiring, including weird sound effects.  The soundtrack is loud and annoying.  The sets are severely limited and cheap-looking.  There is also no editing present as the entire story is presented at face value, with useless panning and zooming sequences.  Essentially, with such low quality, there is little justification for this film being made, except for the fact that the Christianos needed an outlet to push their odd agenda.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The first half of this film depicts characters sitting around talking about what’s going to happen in the second half of the film—thus, nothing much happens except for the same old rehashed conversations over and over again.  The entire movie is less than sixty minutes long, so there’s not really much of an idea at all here.  The second half of the film externalizes the bizarre worldview of the Christiano brothers that is mostly ripped off from Hal Lindsey and focuses on trying to predict the end of the world based on stupid Bible ‘codes’ and loose associations.  They pick random verses here and there to use to their advantage but then passive-aggressively say they don’t really know if that could be true or not.  Besides the fact that these stupid ‘scare people into Christianity’ arguments and absurd Biblical insinuations will convert no one, the characters are juvenile and the portrayal of atheists is embarrassing.  This is the kind of garbage that makes people (including professing Christians) roll their eyes about the term ‘Christian movies’.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As this film utilizes the typical lineup of David A. R. White, Kevin Downes, Brad Heller, and Lance Zitron, the acting quality is as good as can be expected.  They seem like they are barely trying as their line delivery is rambled, slurred, and generally incoherent.  Emotions are inconsistent and random.  With such a small cast, there’s really nothing good to say here.

Conclusion

As previously mentioned, there is no point in this film except pushing an agenda that is basically propaganda.  This view of the end of the world is ridiculous and indefensible.  It adds nothing to what should be the mission of Christian entertainment and only further detracts from it.  The problem is that movies like this one are not from just some random, fly-by-night movie creators.  The Christiano brothers are regarded as pillars in the field, for some reason.  It won’t be easy to change this image of Christian film, but hopefully it is happening sooner than later.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

I Am Gabriel (Movie Review)

Yes, this happens in this movie

Plot Summary

Promise, Texas is a sad town with little hope for the future.  That’s why an angel boy named Gabriel is sent there to fix everything up.  There are several townspeople who wish miracles would happen, and there are others who believe miracles are impossible.  So Gabriel has to show off what he can do in order to convince them are turn them back to God (?).  Will he be able to convince everyone before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

For some reason, this production was invested in.  While the camera work and video quality are fine, there is not much else to redeem this film.  The original soundtrack is okay, but sometimes the music is far too loud.  In an attempt to be dramatic and spiritual, the special effects used are cheesy and childish.  Sets and locations look very cheap and there is generally a lot of wasted time in this film as the story jumps all over the place and demonstrates horrid editing work.  In the end, this is a big disappointment compared to the work EchoLight usually produces.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Since this story is filled with heavy-handed melodrama about how hard everything is in the small town, the viewer cannot appreciate the struggles of the characters since they seem so manufactured.  Despite attempts to be ‘interesting’, this plot is very slow and flat and full of wooden dialogue that forces the plot along.  Though there may be some good messages somewhere in this mess, they are made juvenile and silly by the stupid ‘magical’ miracle elements and the child angel premise.  Finally, after jumping from thing to the next and fixing most of the problem subplots, this plot culminates in the dumbest ending ever.  In short, I Am Gabriel started in the horrible position of having no potential and became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Similarly, this cast starts off already skewed by throwing John Schneider, Dean Cain, and Carey Scott into one movie together.  Thus, the cast lives up to its expectations by being very amateurish and robotic, with quick and forced line delivery.  As a side note, makeup is as ridiculous as the childish angel costuming.

Conclusion

What is the point of even making a movie like this?  A child angel plot is doomed from the start, as is any story including juvenile miracles and quick fixes.  EchoLight should be ashamed of distributing this type of movie because it only makes them look silly.  Movies like this contribute nothing to Christian entertainment and only further create a laughable image of Christian film.  But hopefully that image is changing, slowly but surely.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

My Refuge [2013] (Movie Review)

Yeah, this picture pretty much explains this movie

Plot Summary

A whole bunch of Americans were minding their own business when BOOOOM!  New York City blew up in an atomic holocaust!  The lives of who knows how many random people are all impacted in various ways as they watch their televisions and listen to their blaring radios in the midst of having other conversations and posting stuff online (and dusting).  Through split screens, you can see multiple subplots happening at once to save time!  Will all these virtually unknowable characters be able to find the meaning in life after the off-screen explosion threatens to destroy their very lives (and Israel)?

 

Production Quality (-3 points)

What. In. The. World. Did. We. Just. Watch.  Seriously, there is nothing since Final: The Rapture or Saving Christmas that is remotely comparable to the disaster that is My Refuge.  There are so many things going on at once in this movie that I have no idea where to start and I doubt I’ll be able to cover it all.  Besides the fact that it looks like it was made on Windows Movie Maker and recorded a flip phone camera, what’s with all the split screens?!?  Why do we need multiple views of the same scene at once?  We can’t handle watching three subplots all play out at the same time, combined with the loud, clunky soundtrack and news reports!  We can’t hear what people are saying when a news report is blaring in the background.  Also, the cuts and transitions of this film rival that of Mercy Rule.  Sets and locations are severely limited to people’s houses and cars.  In the end, there is too much bad here to fit into one review, but the bottom line is that this disaster should have never been made.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-3 points)

Why are we expected to keep up with so many characters?  At minimum, there are the characters we have identified: a newscaster trying to come to grips with the nuclear event (radiation levels are very high), a generic family whose father went to New York City for business and was never heard from again (we’re not sure if the family is ever seen again either), a young couple who is expecting their first child, a woman who works at a nondescript office who wants to spend more time with her daughter and more time writing, a retired police officer with a troubled past who wants to marry a single mother, a random family who wants to build a shelter and who takes in the father’s daughter from a previous marriage since her mother is incompetent (this daughter has lots of social media posts), a couple having marriage trouble (she dusts all the time and they have no real connection to the nuclear blast), a random guy who tries to OD on meds (again, no real connection to nuclear holocaust), two old lady neighbors who discuss the nuclear blast, a random pastor and some church people, and probably several others we missed.  There are some loose connections between all of these, but there is absolutely no way to follow what is even happening.  Continuity is in the negative range and dialogue is schizophrenic.  There is literally nothing to be learned from this train wreck and it should have never even been made, not in someone’s wildest dreams.

Acting Quality (-3 points)

Need we go on?  The acting is as horrible as the rest of this movie.  Random outbursts, screaming, mumbled lines, forced emotions, general insanity—what else is there to say?  If I were a part of this chaos, I would be embarrassed and do everything I could to keep it off of my resume.

Conclusion

When your budget is limited to $50,000, it’s never a good idea to try to portray a massive nuclear holocaust, since it mostly has to happen off-screen.  Nobody wants to see a film with at least twelve subplots that is shot in people’s houses with the cheapest equipment possible and with the most annoying soundtrack possible and that is edited by a schizophrenic.  There’s no winning here and no possible hope for improvement.  Basically, if you want to see how bad this one is, you have to see it for yourself.

 

Final Rating: -9 out of 10 points

 

Apocalypse 4: Judgment (Movie Review)

Everything else has happened in this series, so let’s throw Mr. T in here too

Plot Summary

As the ONE has tightened its grip on the world, Christianity is outlawed and everyone must take the Mark of world leader Franco Macalousso, or they will be arrested and possibly executed.  The world must worship Macalousso or be doomed.  But when the world leader feels that excitement about hating Christians is wearing thin, he decides to stage a televised trial for infamous Christian Helen Hannah to get people interested again.  Enigmatic defense lawyer Mitch Kendrick is recruited to ‘defend’ her, even though it’s all staged.  But no one knows that Mitch is searching for the truth himself—will he be able to find it?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

As this stupid series finally grinds to a halt, we can say affirmatively that production quality barely changed throughout it.  While camera work and video quality have improved in this final installment, nothing else has.  The audio quality is inconsistent and the soundtrack is quite loud at times.  Sets, locations, and props, in an attempt to look ‘futuristic’, only come off as cheesy.  Finally, like the rest of the series, editing is quite poor.  On the bright side, there’s no more product placements, but it’s unacceptable to have a series this long with such bad production quality.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Was there really a justification for a fourth installment in this series that doesn’t include anything about the subplots that were supposedly continued at the end of Tribulation?  Helen Hannah remains to be the central Christian character of the series for some reason, but otherwise we are introduced to even more characters we’ve never seen before, including Mr. T.  The same ridiculous concepts this series has always pushed are present in this final film as well, but this time transposed on top of a staged legal battle.  Dialogue does nothing for character development as a lot of time the is filled exploring vague and isolating concepts.  It seems like the writers are constantly inventing ways to kill time without actually helping us to get to know all these characters they shove at us.  Finally, though the end is slightly interesting and has some potential, it cuts off with an abrupt transition to the nonexistent fifth film they obviously wanted to make.  Thankfully, their funding was finally cut.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

As Corbin Bernsen and Mr. T join this crowded cast, things really do not improve.  There are too many over the top emotions and shouting sequences.  There is some potential with line delivery, and this cast seems professional on the surface, but it’s just not good enough.  This is another disappointing effort.

Conclusion

Well, it’s finally over.  What did we learn?  When you can’t even create an average production, don’t make four movies.  When you don’t have any plot or character development to speak of, don’t make four movies.  When you can’t focus on a central story or character arc in your series and instead constantly come up with new characters and subplots with each installment, don’t make four movies.  When you cast all kinds of ‘big names’ but don’t bother to coach them, don’t make four movies.  Are you seeing a theme here?  The Apocalypse series is just another blight on Christian film and will hopefully be forgotten one day, but at least we can learn something from it…I hope…

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

Apocalypse 3: Tribulation (Movie Review)

Creepers…

Plot Summary

Tom Canboro doesn’t believe in God or the supernatural, but his sister does and insists that he should before it’s too late.  However, one day, his brother-in-law begins to go insane, along with other people around the world.  Then Tom falls into a coma and wakes up to an entirely different world.  Everyone is following a world leader and receiving his required mark.  Will Tom turn to God before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Not much about production changes throughout this agonizing series.  Though video quality has finally improved, the film is filled with unwatchable and dizzying action scenes.  Audio quality is fine, but the soundtrack is cheesy.  Sets and locations are somewhat limited and there is some poor lighting in certain scenes.  In keeping with the theme of this series, Tribulation is full of more product placements from Jack Van Impe, John Hagee, and even T. D. Jakes for some reason.  Finally, the editing is all over the place and causes a confusing plot development.  In short, though tiny improvements are being made, it’s just not enough.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This installment is perhaps the most bizarre and sensational as it includes a lot of horror and creepy spiritual elements.  There are a lot of strange and bizarre sequences of violence, including sensationalized demonic activity.  The occult is portrayed in a childish manner yet there is still an obsession with the satanic.  All of this is combined with the forceful and ridiculous apocalyptic worldview that is being propagated in the midst of this madness.  The storyline is very incoherent as it jumps all over the place and fills time with information dump dialogue.  Most of the characters, especially the antichrist, are extreme strawmen and really have no potential.  In short, it feels like this movie was only made for the sensational appeal rather than anything meaningful, and it’s still horrible.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

In keeping with the theme of sensationalism, emotions are over the top and obnoxious.  Line delivery is mostly forced.  While there are some good factors, this cast seems overall disingenuous, especially when one finds out that a handful of these cast members didn’t even know they were in a Christian movie when they agreed to this lunacy.  I guess they should have known that a movie this bad would be labeled as Christian.

Conclusion

Besides everything else, how does this installment fit into the series?  There are some connecting elements, but this ridiculous series as a whole really has no continuity or sense whatsoever.  If PureFlix had been named as a contributor to this mess, I would have believed it.  Constantly pushing TV preacher talking points and products transposed on top of a C-grade horror film is only a recipe for disaster.  Once again, scaring people into Christianity is a failing strategy and only serves to feed someone’s obsession with the sensational.  But don’t worry, there’s only one more of these…

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

Apocalypse 2: Revelation (Movie Review)

Bluriness…

Plot Summary

After the Rapture rocks the world and leaves millions of people searching for answers as to what happened, agent Thorold Stone is left searching for his family and wondering why the entire world has suddenly turned against Christians.  The world is also following the bidding of a rising world leader who promises peace to all if the Christians are eliminated.  With chaos ensuing around him, will Stone be able to find the truth he needs?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

The second installment of this unfortunate series is much like the first.  There is barely any difference in the production quality of Caught in the Eye of the Storm and Revelation.  Camera work is still shaky and video quality is still blurry.  Special effects are very cheap and out of place.  Audio quality is average, but the soundtrack is loud and annoying.  There is some improvement with the sets, locations, and props, however.  But this film is still replete with Jack Van Impe product placements.  The editing is also poor.  In short, while there is some slight improvement here, it’s not significant.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The Apocalypse series is very thin on plot content and heavy on agenda-pushing.  Much of this film is dedicated to sequences of cheesy and stereotypical sitting around talking with robotic dialogue that is designed to force the plot along.  There’s also a lot of technological mumbo jumbo lingo and a weird obsession with virtual reality devices.  The plot has a predictable apocalyptic\suspense progression and is based on lots of coincidences.  Also, it’s worth nothing that it’s extremely hard to follow the cast of characters that is supposed to be portrayed in this so-called series.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s still difficult to find a justification for this series.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Made in 1999, this cast is far too theatrical.  Jeff Fahey is always a head-scratching cast, since he basically whispers all the time.  Emotions are either flat or overblown and line delivery is stiff.  Unfortunately, nothing good to say here.

Conclusion

Once again I ask, who’s going to watch this movie?  It has nothing going for it whatsoever.  There is no plot and certainly no notable production quality.  The casting is horrible.  Most Christians are and should be offended by this nonsense.  Once again, the world is laughing.  This kind of junk reaches no one and only adds to the caricature of Christian film.  But wait…there’s still more of these…

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Angela Elwell Hunt: The Fine Art of Insincerity

Image result for the fine art of insincerity angela hunt

Angela E. Hunt is one of the greatest writers of Christian fiction on the market today. There is  no denying that she brings one the most unique, and humorous perspectives to the world of Christian fiction. Hunt has written a wide variety of books on nearly every topic you can imagine, and has something for every reader, no matter what style of writing they enjoy. I have always appreciated that she is not afraid to let her personality shine through her novels. It adds an unexplainable amount of depth to a book when the author is not afraid to add his or her own opinions and flavors. One of Hunt’s most well loved novels is titled The Fine Art of Insincerity; if this title does not give you a glimpse of her rather sarcastic humor, I don’t know what will. The Fine Art of Insincerity is a landmark novel that combines both humor and the reality of human weaknesses to create an amazing read that you will never forget. I would love to see this novel hit the big screen as a Christian movie, as I believe it would be an unforgettable real life drama that would impact the lives of many. This novel deals with subjects such as family tension, generational traits, worldly pleasures, suicide attempts, abortion, pain, loss, secrets, suffering, sisterly interaction, forgiveness, and God’s mercy and love. The opening chapter introduces the reader to the three main characters; three estranged sisters who have been forced to meet, as their deceased grandmother’s house has finally sold. They decide to make it a long weekend and clean out all of the clutter in preparation for the new owners. While they are there they find many nostalgic items that remind them of their grandmother’s life….and secrets that they never knew existed. Ginger, the eldest sister, takes pride in the fact that she, unlike her two younger sisters, has kept the same husband over the years. Yet, little does Ginger know that her pride will turn to devastation in the very near future…. Annoyed at the lackadaisical attitude on behalf of her two younger sisters, Ginger steps in a dictates her plans for the weekend. However, these plans only cause turmoil, as it is not long before Ginger and Penny are arguing over keepsakes. Rose, on the other hand, seems depressed and distant, not interested in any of the activities, and seemingly content to expend the least effort possible. Ginger and Penny will be shocked to learn of their younger sister’s plans for the following day. The weekend as a whole will cause the sisters to learn many shocking truths about themselves, and their grandmother’s life. As a result, their outlook on the world will forever be changed. What dark secret is Rose hiding? What storm is Ginger about to face? Will Penny ever settle down and take responsibility for her decisions? To answer these questions, read the book! I would love to see this movie hit the big screen as an inspirational/Christian drama film, as I believe it would revolutionize the Christian drama genre. You can look forward to more book reviews on Angela E. Hunt’s novels in the future, as she is one of my favorite authors.;)

Apocalypse 1: Caught in the Eye of the Storm (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Helen Hannah and Bronson Pearl are two of the world’s top new reporters, but they are about to experience a breaking story like never before—the Rapture has come to the world and everyone left behind is left wondering what happened.  As the world descends into violence and chaos, everyone looks to a new world leader to answer their problems.  But at the same time, this leader turns everyone against those who hold the true hope for humanity—namely, the Christians.  Will Pearl and Hannah find the truth before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

As a production created in 1998, there really isn’t a lot good to say here.  Yet the fact that it was made in this year doesn’t mean it has to be this bad.  Video quality is cheap and camera work is maddening with constant zooming.  Sets, locations, and props are limited and cheesy.  Audio quality is poor with a loud and annoying soundtrack.  Many scenes have poor lighting and look like they were recorded in a closet.  Besides all this, the film is just one giant advertisement for Jack Van Impe, but it’s not even presented well.  With production this bad, nobody’s going to watch this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

I’m sure there is a good message in here somewhere, but with Van Impe propaganda constantly being shoved down your throat and with this plot being so bad, it’s hard to find.  All typical apocalyptic concepts are conveniently inserted and forced into the story in obvious ways as Van Impe finds a way to shove every single one of his beliefs into the plot.  With this going on, there is no real plot as a majority of the story is told through childish news reports.  Character development is non-existent, since dialogue is stunted as the pot rushes along quickly to hit the apocalyptic high points.  Unfortunately, there is really nothing good to say here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

To fit with the rest of the film, this acting is very awkward and amateurish.  Line delivery is very measured and forced, while emotions are wooden.  This cast seemed like it had potential, but it was never found.

Conclusion

One can understand a ministry leader’s motivation to get their message and beliefs out there through means of entertainment, but this is just unacceptable.  Combining extremely low quality with propaganda is one of the worst combinations you can make.  While there is somewhat of a gospel presentation at the end of this film, who’s watching it?  Who wants a gospel packaged in this way?  As Christians, we need to move past the whole ‘scaring people with the apocalypse’ convention because it’s not working and people who need to hear the gospel are laughing at this.  But wait, there’s three more of these films…

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

The Encounter, Season 1 [2016] (Series Review)

With this creepy look, who doesn’t want an encounter?

Plot Summary

When someone is going about their everyday activities, they never know what is about to happen or who they are about to meet.  They all have struggles and secrets that they don’t want anyone to know, but they would be free if they just knew someone they could trust them with.  But people never know when they are about to meet Someone Who will change their life forever.  They never know until they have their own Encounter with Jesus.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

The Encounter series follows a typical production formula that PureFlix has been using for years.  They check the boxes for making the production look good on the surface, including video quality, audio quality, sets, props, and locations.  The soundtrack is sometimes engaging but mostly standard.  Sometimes there is too much shaky camera work, especially in the poorly shot actions scenes.  The biggest issue here is that large amount of wasted time throughout the series.  Most episodes are 25-28 minutes long, but the plots are usually so thin that this is too much time.  The exception to this is of episodes one and four, which will be discussed later.  But in the end, this series demonstrates an overall typical and average production effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

For eight episodes, The Encounter rehashes the same types of ideas, concepts, and conversations over and over again, just with different characters.  Outside of episodes one and four, there is no creativity here, as the opening sequence tells you what’s going to happen in each episode.  Besides being predictable, these stories are also very quick and punctuated, like they’ve been made in a quick plot factory.  While there are some good issues raised in the series, there are too many quick fixes and easy solutions based on creepy and plastic Jesus dialogue.  Thus, the messaging is quite shallow.  However, there is some potential here, as the first episode is very interesting and should have been the focus of the whole series so we could have gotten to know these characters better.  Also, the fourth episode would have made an interesting movie, if done properly.  But overall, this series just hops from high point to high point and discards substance and realism along the way.  It’s a good idea done very poorly.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While there are bright spots in this large scale cast, there are also plenty of issues.  For one, it seems like Bruce Marchiano, who has done well portraying Jesus in the past, has lost his touch. Other cast members are typical PureFlix standbys and rejects who seem to be lazy and phoning in their performances.  But as it is, it just comes out as average.

Continuity Quality (0 points)

When the same ideas repeat over and over again in each episode and new characters are constantly being introduced, there is no chance or hope for continuity in this season.  There are no story arcs or character arcs.  We need to see what happens to these characters after their initial encounters, which is why it would have been great to have the characters from the first episode be the main focus of this series.  Yet the way it has been done is shallow and lazy, thus warranting no points here.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with having Jesus intervene in everyday situations, but spitting out a whole bunch of episodes that are all basically the same doesn’t accomplish anything.  It’s easy to create a bunch of surface characters and then leave them; it takes true skill to craft meaningful characters that we can connect with.  It’s also a great idea to create a Christian series, but we need something better than this.  We need sustainable ideas that make people want to follow a set of characters across an arc.  PureFlix has the resources to do this, but will they?

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 14 points

 

Ashes of Eden (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Red is the troubled son of a local police officer, Dana, who doesn’t want to be associated with him anymore.  She is trying to raise her other son to stay out of trouble, unlike Red, who deals drugs and hangs out with gangs.  However, Dana’s own life is coming unglued as she tries to rediscover the faith she left behind.  As Red shifts from one high to the next in search of true purpose, will he ever find the Creator Who is calling out to him?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

To be billed as a high quality production, Ashes of Eden fails miserably.  It looks good on the surface with okay video quality, but other elements are highly unprofessional, such as the overdriven audio quality, the shaky camera work, and the inconsistent lighting.  However, the soundtrack is very intriguing and seems out of place in this train wreck.  Furthermore, the editing is very choppy as some scenes are cut very short and transitions are overall awkward and confusing.  In short, it seems like LightWorx Entertainment often gives themselves too much credit when it comes to production quality.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Ashes of Eden is an unusual attempt to portray overly-realistic ‘street’ situations and focuses far too much on the down and dirty without offering much hope.  The storyline is very depressing and seemingly pointless as characters go from bad to worse, spew random and unnecessary profanity, and constantly shoot each other.  There is little redemption for these unfortunately realistic characters as the audience is left lost as to what they are supposed to learn.  Also, there are too many head-scratching scenes that have little point or purpose.  But despite all of this, the ending is interesting and shows a little bit of potential, even though it is too little too late and does not redeem the mess the viewer is forced to sit through to get to it.  Basically, Shane Hagedorn needs to learn how to be edgy without being just like your average trashy film.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

This cast is trying to be something, but it just doesn’t work.  They post underwhelming performances when they seem like they could do better as they do not reach their full potential.  Emotions are very inconsistent and there is far too much yelling.  In the end, this section reflects the rest of the film.

Conclusion

We aren’t really sure what DJ Perry, Shane Hagedorn, and LightWorx are trying to do.  They have interesting ideas that are executed very poorly.  In their attempts to be artistic, they either lost the purpose or come off as very dark.  If you’re going to venture into edgy content, you have to do it tastefully and you have to provide real and meaningful redemption.  Otherwise, you’re not any better than some random PG-13 or R-rated film on video streaming services.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

 

Full disclosure: We were provided by the creator with a copy of this film in exchange for a fair and honest review

 

God’s Country [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Meghan Dohery loves making and spending lots of money.  She is on the verge of another multi-million dollar business deal and all she has to do is fly out to the middle of the desert and convince the owners of the land she is trying to buy that they need to take her deal before the bank forecloses.  But little does she know that it’s not going to be as simple as she thinks when the land owners decide she needs to see what life is really like outside of the fast lane for a change.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

God’s Country is a production that is pretending to be better than it is.  This is evident in the use of fake sets and locations.  The video quality and camera work are fine, but the audio quality is inconsistent and the soundtrack is juvenile.  The editing is choppy and there is a lot of reused footage to pump the runtime.  Basically, this is a half-rate effort that takes a lot of shortcuts.  In the grand scheme of things, was it really worth it?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

God’s Country is an extremely formulaic and childish storyline.  Filled with tons of information dump dialogue, the premise is a ridiculously cheesy and worn out plot about a stereotypical city character being forced to live outside of their element, not to mention a save the camp plot.  All of the characters fit into silly stereotypical molds.  The plot progresses predictably and sometimes even seems to be unintentionally making a joke out of Christians.  The Christian message is plastic and forced and the ending leaves the audience wondering why they just watched this movie.  There is nothing that sets it apart from your average stupid film with a Christian label.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Jenn Gotzon plays herself in this movie, which is what she does best.  Elsewhere, line delivery is very quick and forced and emotions are sappy.  Makeup and costuming are also absurd for certain characters.  This is basically a phoned-in performance.

Conclusion

What is the point of movies like this?  Ripping off a predictable and overused plot idea in a lazy fashion is one of the worst things you can do in Christian entertainment.  Movies like God’s Country only further hurt the reputation of Christian film and make it a laughingstock.  Unless you want to laugh at nonsense, don’t waste your time on this one.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points