When Calls the Heart, Season 5 (December 2017)

New season beginning on Christmas Day 2017

 

Writer(s):

Director(s): Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr.

Producer(s): Brad Krevoy, Robin Bernheim Burger, Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr., Susie Belzberg, Eric Jarboe, Michael Shepard, Jimmy Townsend, Vicki Sotheran, Greg Malcolm

Starring: Erin Krakow, Lori Loughlin, Pascale Hutton, Jack Wagner, Kavan Smith, Mark Humphrey, Daniel Lissing?

 

Plot Synopsis:

Beginning on Christmas again, Lori Loughlin sets up a wishing tree in town so everybody can make a Christmas wish!  Elizabeth really wishes that Jack will come home from fighting the good fight.

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When Calls the Heart, Season 4 (Series Review)

Happy plastic people

Nurse Carter’s still here for some reason
Can’t forget about Rip

Plot Summary

After the marriage of Lllllllee and Rosemary, stuff just sorta keeps happening in Walnut Grove Hope Valley.  Rosemary has a daily ‘funny’ escapade and continues to parody herself until she becomes a perfect character like the others.  The town counselor, Abigail, tries to take over the mayor’s office from the breathy Gowen while she’s still trying to run her café.  That odd fake-looking guy named Bill is still hanging around being mysterious and doing sheriff stuff.  Elizabeth and Jack are still performing their endless and painful will-they-won’t-they dating dance until the writers finally get tired of it and decide to send Jack to the north to fight the good fight.  A railroad subplot is introduced (I wonder where that idea came from) to try to keep this television series on life support.  But who cares what happens anyway—ratings are up and a fifth season is on its way already, so who are we to talk?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Much like Season 3, the production of When Calls the Heart has remained relatively stable since the early, low-budget days passed.  Video quality and camera work are professional as always.  Audio quality is standard, but that same old stupid soundtrack gets really old, especially when you hear it on other Hallmark movies.  Sets and locations are extremely limited as the series further settles into its small town feel.  There’s no branching out here, that’s for sure.  Editing also standard and very phoned in as each episode follows and mindlessly predictable progression.  They stretch out, one after the next, like indistinguishable zombies in Michael Landon Jr.’s makeup jobs.  What more can we say?  The money is clearly spent pretty wisely, but for what?

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

In a change from Season 3, this season’s storylines bring some minor complexity to the screen, especially where the railroad is involved.  However, the writers overplayed their hand with the railroad characters and made them too evil in some kind of weird attempt to make the breathy Gowen a nice guy.  Regardless, the railroad intrigue is resolved far too easily and dispensed with as quickly as it was introduced.  Besides this, Season 4 is full trite subplots and asides: Elizabeth helps a troubled child with something, Rosemary always has a new scheme, the fake-looking Bill is mysterious, Abigail is the town hero, Lllllllee does business stuff, Pastor Hogan does protective stuff, Cody is a middle school boy, Jesse is still hanging around for some reason, and Jack has to ‘fight the good fight’, as we are reminded in nearly every episode.  Too many characters are fixed and too many conflicts are easily resolved.  Random ‘mysterious’ characters are introduced to only be discarded or used as more fodder for manufactured drama.  Overall, with tons of inconsistently used characters and a host of overused ones, Season 4 of this series overall lacks direction and focus, but what else is new?  The writers are clearly either trolling or phoning it in because they don’t have to try.  Why try something risky when safe pays so well?

Acting Quality (1 point)

New season, same old cast full of fake-looking plastic people and Hallmark retreads.  No emotions are believable and everything seems manufactured and childish.  There’s nothing new to talk about here except for the fate of Daniel Lissing.  Is this an elaborate scheme to generate attention or just the loss of a main actor?  Only time will tell.

Continuity Quality (0 points)

As noted in last season, Season 4 has no plot or character arcs that should be commonplace in recurring series’.  Most characters are static or become more perfect.  There are no plot twists or character complexities.  Though the railroad storyline had potential to be complex, it simply did not reach its full potential.

Conclusion

When Calls the Heart has long been a series that has lost its way.  Living off of the old days at the beginning of the series and constantly reminding us through flashbacks what these cast members used to look like before they became #Hallmarked, Landon Jr. and company are just phoning in episode after episode as their sappy series gets mindlessly renewed time and time again.  But what does it matter as long as they have a faithful following who are intent to grab on to anything of remote substance produced by the pharmaceutical-backed mother channel that still tries to pretend like it’s about greeting cards.  It still remains true that When Calls the Heart fills a huge void of wholesome entertainment that no one else seems to be able to fill with anything more substantial than this.  So here we sit, in mediocrity and safeness.

 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 14 points

 

Until Forever {Undying Faith} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Michael Boyum was full of life and joy when Michelle first met him.  They grew to love each other and then the unthinkable happened: Michael began having health problems and was diagnosed with leukemia.  But they vowed to walk the journey together and to pray for God’s healing.  However, the longer it went and as the cancer kept coming back, they began to wonder what God’s real plan was.  Was God really listening or was there something they were missing?  Ultimately, they found that God’s plans were much higher than their own.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s very clear that much thought and care were put into this meaningful film that is based on true events.  This is evident in the wisely-spent production budget that yielded big results.  Camera work and video quality are flawless.  Audio quality is professional and the original soundtrack is creative and engaging.  Sets, locations, and props are extremely realistic.  It’s sad to say, but there are some minor editing issues that keep this production from being all that it could be.  But otherwise, Until Forever is a model production for independent film makers—you can hardly get any better than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Based on true events—you probably already know that we prefer this sort of plot because of realism—Until Forever demonstrates honesty and authenticity.  The struggles of the characters can be appreciated and connected with, yet they are not as deep as they could be.  This is likely due to under-developed dialogue, an overuse of narration, and too much silent dialogue that is covered over with musical montages.  There are also some peripheral characters and subplots that needed more exploration instead of that extra musical montage.  However, this film still demonstrates a great exploration of tough issues, including a fair and balanced philosophical conversation with the opposing point of view.  Even though the storyline follows a vague progression of time, the messaging is highly effective, as is the ending.  This is a touching story and is definitely worth a watch.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Though this cast clearly means well, they begin in a very awkward fashion—we are unsure as to how purposeful this is.  Nonetheless, it doesn’t really come off right, but they are saved by the fact that their performances do improve as the movie goes on, which is possibly due to improved coaching.  Emotions are realistic and easy to connect with.  On the whole, this is an above-average performance.

Conclusion

Until Forever should be a standard film in Christian entertainment, not an exception to the rule.  The market should be flooded with films like this, not the usual Christian-labeled garbage you stumble upon on video streaming services.  This film tells a real story in the most honest and meaningful way possible and spends time, effort, and money in doing so.  All we can ever ask from film makers is that they do the best they can with what God has given them, and the Linn family did this with Until Forever.  We can’t wait to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

Uncommon [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Aaron Chase’s brother dies in a school shooting, his family moves to a new area in the hopes of starting over.  He ends up going to Rosewood High School, whose arts department budgets have been slashed due to overall budget cuts.  The students in those departments are disappointed and seek to put on their own show.  Aaron gets involved and decides to stand up for the faith he has been hiding, even though an evil atheist teacher is trying to stop him at every turn.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

For what it’s worth, Liberty Counsel and JC Films made sure Uncommon looked good on the surface.  Video quality is clear and camera work is professional.  Audio quality also meets industry standards, although the soundtrack is bloated and full of cheesy songs.  Sets, locations, and props demonstrate that time was put into them.  Yet editing is quite poor, as there are far too many musical montages and filler scenes that appear to just be filling up the runtime rather than imparting real content.  Essentially, care was put into making this production look good, which is fine, but it’s just not enough when it comes to substance.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As is to be expected, Liberty Counsel and JC Films construct a false reality where religious persecution is rampant in public schools—to a degree that is unrealistic and requires half-truths to be told—and which is full of heavy-handed propaganda messaging and narration to drive their points home.  Atheists are extremely offensive strawmen, while Christians are downtrodden and overly perfect.  Dialogue only forces the plot along, which is actually quite boring and melancholy when all is said and done.  There is an attempt to be complex and different with some of the plot elements, but it’s not enough to make up for the outright twisting of reality that has to be done to make this movie’s message work.  Basically, when all is said and done, Uncommon simply boils down to a sophisticated version of God’s Club.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Another interesting element to Uncommon is that time and care were also put into the casting and acting.  This is a semi-professional cast, yet they appear to be coached fairly well.  There are some awkward moments and unrealistic emotions, but on the whole, this is actually not that bad of a performance by this cast.  If only this truth could translate to other films.

Conclusion

Uncommon is an anomaly.  Usually movies that have small-minded plots like this one are terrible in all areas, yet time and care were spent on production and acting.  It proves that anything can be done if you put your mind to it.  Just think if this type of effort was put toward other movies that have better plots than this.  But in the end, Christians overall need to steer clear from these types of plots for like forever, unless they’re going to portray real persecution that happens anywhere except the Western world.  We need to change the mentality that ‘the atheists’ are always around the corner trying to snipe us and just live out our faith the way God wants us to.  Jesus didn’t constantly gripe at or sue the Pharisees or Romans for religious persecution, and He had plenty of His ‘rights’ violated.  God’s work can proceed whether or not you have your Bible club in a public school.  People need to know that Christians care, and with stuff like this being put out there, it’s really hard to see that Christian leaders care about anything except ‘getting back’ at atheists.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

Running Inside Out (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Since Kim does not live the way her strict and legalistic parents want her to live, she jumps at the chance to get out from under their thumb and takes her dream business job as soon as she graduates from college.  She thinks she has it made in life, especially when she meets her dream boyfriend.  She decides to take up running as a hobby.  However, all is not well as she becomes pregnant and her job is threatened by this.  Her family turns on her, except for her New Age-obsessed Aunt Sally.  She will have to decide what she is going to do with her unborn child before it’s too late.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

When you watch a horrible production like Running Inside Out, you wonder what standards PureFlix has for carrying a film.  This film has terrible camera work, with constant cuts and transitions that make for a dizzying experience.  Video quality is also grainy, and audio quality does not meet standard.  The soundtrack is sub-par.  Sets and locations are also quite poor, including several poorly filmed outside scenes.  As previously mentioned, the editing is horrific and confusing.  We understand the constraints of a limited budget, but we have seen more done with the amount of money allotted to this film.  Also, if the budget isn’t there, maybe you should reconsider if you’re supposed to make the film yet or not.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Similar to other social issue films, Running Inside Out carries an important pro-life message packed in a ridiculous fashion.  Though the situations characters find themselves in are realistic, it is difficult to connect with them as real people since they come off as empty and wooden due to poorly written dialogue.  Some characters, most notably Aunt Sally, are extremely bizarre and eccentric for no particular reason.  Also, as previously mentioned, the story is hard to follow as it jumps from one thing to the next.  While there are some attempts at good here, there is just too much bad that detracts from it.  It’s disappointing to see this type of idea go to waste.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, this cast reflects the eccentrically-crafted characters therein.  Some cast members act off-the-wall most of the time, and all of them are one-dimensional in their deliveries.  Sometimes it seems like they are putting forth a half-effort.  It’s possible that coaching could have improved this group, as there is some potential here.  But as it is, it’s simply not enough.

Conclusion

We have seen a lot of low-budget efforts in our times as reviewers, yet some film makers seem to be able to do better with less than some do with more.  We maintain that if you have a solid plot idea, the money will be there and will be enough to put you on the map—just look at the Kendrick brothers as an example.  If God wants you to make a film, all will be provided for.  We wonder sometimes if movies like Running Inside Out have been forced to happen just because.  Thus, the end result is not good.  Hopefully this team and others will learn from the mistakes of this film.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Deceived [2002] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When a secret space observatory in Nevada picks up a mysterious and erratic signal from outer space, a powerful billionaire who owns the observatory forms a team made up of his spiritual guide, two investigative reporters, and his company’s computer technician to fly out to the observatory to find out what happened.  Some of them believe they have been contacted by intelligent beings from outer space, while others believe something more sinister is going on.  The signal also draws the attention of a specialized squadron of troops, some of whom have questionable abilities.  As they all meet up at the observatory, who will prevail?  Will they ever discover the truth of what is really out there?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As an early 2000s Cloud Ten production, Deceived is mostly average in its production quality.  the biggest detractors are the grainy video quality and poor lighting in most scenes.  There are also too many cheesy special effects that are used in an attempt to be different and sci-fi.  However, the sets, locations, and props seem realistic enough.  Audio quality is also fine and the soundtrack is intriguing.  Finally, the editing job is decent and overall rounds out an average production.  It certainly could have been better, but it could have also been worse.  However, there is not much we can say for the plot.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With a cheesy sci-fi premise that’s full of technological mumbo-jumbo and empty dialogue, Deceived tries to be creative and different, yet misses the mark badly.  There is far too much time wasted on petty conflicts and not enough time spent on character development.  While some of the characters could be interesting, we barely get to know them in the midst information dump dialogue and monologuing.  The Christian characters are too perfect while the non-Christian characters are too flawed.  There are also too many spiritual elements that come off as a bizarre in an attempt to bridge the horror genre.  The ending is quite confusing and seems like the writers just ran out of ideas.  In the end, this is a very disappointing story that could have been interesting.

Acting Quality (1 point)

With a cast made up of semi-professionals, these cast members have their good moments, but unfortunately, the bad moments outweigh the good.  There are too many overly dramatic and theatrical performances.  Emotions are hard to connect with.  In the end, they do not live up to their full potential.

Conclusion

The early 2000s era of Christian film had some noble attempts to bridge different genres Christian film had never bridged before, and John Patus and Cloud Ten Pictures were on the forefront of this attempt.  However, for the most part, these attempts did not fulfill their fullest potential and settled for half-measures, probably because the market was so thin then.  Much has happened since these films came out, but they can certainly serve as an example of how and how not to expand Christian film into unique genres.  Yesterday’s disappointments can certainly be remedied in the future.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Skid [2017] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Danny McSweeney never asked to co-pilot a plane full of eccentric characters so soon after his girlfriend broke up with him, especially when he has to co-pilot with a difficult female captain who seems to have no mercy for anyone, especially not for their high maintenance flight crew.  The stakes are raised when an airline investigator joins the flight to watch their performance.  Little do they know that besides carrying a Dutch prisoner, a man smuggling diamonds, a woman with her potbellied pig, a jilted ex-girlfriend, and a woman and her elderly mother, an airline spy has been assigned to audit the flight’s customer service.  But when push comes to shove and it comes to life or death situations, the real heroes will be seen.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Skid is truly an ambitious independent effort.  Though production elements are a little shaky at first, likely due to low budgeting in the early stages.  This includes some shaky camera work and odd camera angles, as well as a touch of low video quality and poor lighting.  However, all of this improves as the movie goes on.  Audio quality also improves throughout, and sports an interesting and creative soundtrack.  Though the sets are mostly limited to one airplane, they are used effectively and give off a realistic feel.  By the time the climax is reached, Skid feels like a full-fledged suspense film, despite its limited budget.  This production team should be proud of what they were able to accomplish.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Adapted from the genius of Rene Gutteridge, Skid brings a fresh genre perspective to Christian film.  Though it tends to jump all over the place at first due to the myriad of characters, things settle down as the movie goes on.  There are many characters, yet the plot is deeply dialogue-driven and creative.  This story is an example of why we desperately want to see more Christian novels brought to the big screen, especially novels from authors who put great effort into developing characters like Gutteridge does.  Plenty of genuine and somewhat eccentric comedy ensues in Skid and is captured effectively by the writers of this film.  The longer you stick with it, the better it gets, until it culminates in an extremely well-executed ending sequence.  Though the end is a little predictable, it’s still worth watching and brings fresh air to Christian film.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Though this cast is a little awkward at times, they really pull off a show-stopping performance to be so ‘little known’.  Each cast member assumes their character flawlessly, thus reflecting on excellent casting, especially with so many people to cast.  Like the rest of this film, the acting quality overall improves as the movie progresses, showing an ability to learn on the job.  Overall, this is the film’s strongest suit.

Conclusion

Skid is exactly the way a first-time project should be: making the best of a limited budget and demonstrating true creativity.  Using a book plot is always a great jump start to your career.  This film is your textbook raw beginning that lives up to its fullest potential and demonstrates greater abilities for the future.  We would love to see Tim and Vicki Brown and team do an action-adventure film in the future, although doing more Rene Gutteridge books is certainly a great idea too.  No matter where they go next, we have high hopes for them and wish them well.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

 

Angela Elwell Hunt: The Velvet Shadow

Image result for the velvet shadow angela elwell hunt

The Velvet Shadow is the third installment in Angela E. Hunt’s four-part book series, The Heirs of Cahira O’Connor. In the two previous novels Kathleen O’Connor learned about two women in her famous lineage who broke free from the molds that society had placed them in, Anika and Aidan O’Connor. This time, Kathleen discovers the most recent woman in her lineage that made her mark on history; Flanna O’Connor. The Velvet Shadow deals with subjects such as war, racial tensions, rash decisions, grief, sacrifice, and love. Flanna O’Connor and her family lived in the Civil War Era, a time of great turmoil and confusion. Flanna was born into a wealthy family who had a prominent position in society. The tiresome and petty demands of this lifestyle have driven Flanna to her wits’ end, as she has never enjoyed catering to society’s expectation of how she is supposed to live. All this is regardless of the fact that there is an impending war between the Northern and Southern states. In the midst of it all, she has her own dreams and goals in life, the most important one being her long-held dream to become a doctor. However, both her gender and her position in society have made that goal virtually impossible to achieve. Flanna’s parents would like nothing more than for her to marry a man that she does not love, in whom they see all of the impeccable qualities of a matrimonial prospect. In a moment of desperation, a confused Flanna reluctantly agrees to become engaged to said man, however, she almost instantly regrets this decision. Seeing no way out of the path she has chosen for her life, Flanna decides to disguise herself as a man and join the Union Army, with the purpose of using her position as a soldier to care for the wounded, rather than kill others. As she journeys to battle with the Southern states, Flanna will discover that war is not what she expected, and neither is love. Will Flanna survive the perils of the Civil War? Will she find the one whom her soul loves? To answer these questions, read the book!:) This novel would make a great third installment in a four-part Christian/Inspirational miniseries. However, it would also be an excellent action-adventure/romance standalone film. There is really no way for Christian filmmakers to go wrong, if they choose to make movies out of timeless novels such as these!

Summer of ’67 (June 2018)

Summer of '67 Poster

In Theaters June 29, 2018

 

Writer(s): Sharon Wilharm

Director(s): Sharon Wilharm

Producer(s): Fred Wilharm

Starring: Rachel Schrey, Bethany Davenport, Sharonne Lanier, Cameron Gilliam, Christopher Dalton, Jerrold Edwards, Mimi Sagadin, Jesica Womack, Eleanor Brown, Jeff Lester

 

Plot Synopsis:

Two sisters live in the shadow of their mother’s suicide, struggling to live their lives and protect their loved ones in the face of the Vietnam war.

Project Dinosaur [2000] (Movie Review)

The information room? Correct!

Plot Summary

When Mikey crashes his unusual (haha) remote controlled airplane that probably shouldn’t have worked anyway, he sends one of his female friends to retrieve it, since that’s a woman’s job or something.  But she falls into a hole and accidentally finds a so-called dinosaur bone that was clearly planted in the dirt as it was hardly buried at all.  The only conclusion is that it’s a dinosaur bone, so Mikey swipes it for his new ‘science project’.  Now all they have to do is research some creationism versus evolution talking points, use an archaic computer program to look up types of dinosaurs, and avoid the evil bully Simon, who is bent on destroying the science project for some reason.  Just another day in the life of a Bob Jones kid.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Another day, another poor production spewed from the minds of white patriarchal Christians.  So much for making Christian things quality.  Video quality is grainy and camera work is pedestrian.  Audio quality is quite low, including a stupid childish soundtrack.  Sets and locations are limited to that same old ‘bed and breakfast’ from Treasure Map and a few others.  Special effects are horrid, including a stupid little beeping computer program that was clearly made for children.  Finally, editing is thrown out the window as a good portion of the beginning of Project Dinosaur rehashes things nobody cares about from Treasure Map.  In short, there is little to no point in making movies like this except to push an agenda, as we will see next.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

There is zero purpose in an unwanted remake of one of the world’s most horrid films of all time except to push the agenda of creating an extremely rigid dichotomy between creationism and evolution by making a strawman out of everything the writers disagree with.  This propaganda piece is barely an hour long, including rehashing from this movie’s predecessor, as if we care where these characters came from.  These perfect little white robots are programmed with childish dialogue and talking points that expose the ridiculous patriarchal fundamentalist worldview of the creators.  Essentially, with no real conflict or substance, the only reason to waste your time on this mess if you need a good laugh.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Who ever thought it was a good idea to copy over a majority of the Treasure Map cast?  The only ones missing are Edward White Eyes and his grandfather.  But this doesn’t alleviate the fact that not a single one of these cast members should have ever been cast ever again, period.  Yet when you have such a limited pool of perfect little white people who agree with your worldview, what’s a film maker to do?

Conclusion

Sadly, the saga of these white kids ended with Project Dinosaur and we have no more chances to know what happened to them!  As if we cared about what they were doing in the first place.  In all seriousness, it should be noted that the creators of Box Office Revolution were all homeschooled yet we wholeheartedly disagree with the worldviews propagated by fundamentalist Christina groups like Bob Jones.  We have nothing against this model of education, but we do take issue with Christians who purposely isolate themselves in bubbles and refuse to listen to people on ‘the other side’.  This is the real problem with this type of movie, as it further sinks Christian film to new lows.  But hopefully we are past this sort of thing in Christian entertainment.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Between the Walls [2006] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Peter King’s parents die, he is tasked with going through their possessions before the house is foreclosed on.  However, in the midst of sorting through things that remind him of his strained relationship with his father, Peter stumbles upon a secret room he was never allowed to enter as a child.  Inside he finds a myriad of audio recordings his father secretly recorded in this childhood.  As Peter wrestles with anger and bitterness towards his father, he will have to come to grips with the faith he was always taught.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, this production begins very rough, with a dizzying opening sequence and shaky camera work.  There are also some odd camera angles and poor lighting at first.  Audio quality also has a tough start, with loud sound effects and a very random soundtrack that is sometimes good and sometimes not.  There is basically only one set, but it is used to its fullest potential.  Yet despite this raw beginning, the production overall improves as the movie goes on, as if the first part was just a demo reel they forgot to fix in post.  The improvement begs the question why they couldn’t go back over the first part, but there is improvement nonetheless in all production areas.  In the end, it would have been nice to see the entire movie look like the second half, but the production becomes average when all is said and done.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Despite the odd comments and asides and typical remembrance dialogue that is something wooden and empty, the story of Between the Walls highlights some interesting and unfortunately not too unrealistic family issues unfortunately too many can relate to.  Though there are a lot of nothing scenes and unnecessary attempts to be creepy, there are some interesting plot twists that make this story worthwhile.  Since there are few characters, we would have liked to see them developed a little bit deeper, but they are adequate as they are due to the unique and creative use of flashbacks and psychological elements.  Sometimes the messaging can be a bit heavy-handed, but the plot overall carries an effective Christian message that is actually meaningful and accessible.  This is an above average plot, but imagine how much better it could have been with better funding.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though this ‘amateur’ cast is sometimes overly practiced and robotic, their performances improve as the movie goes on.  Emotions tend to be immature at first but improve throughout the runtime.  They are a small cast, but demonstrate a lot of potential.  They executed the multi-level flashbacks where some casts would have failed.  In the end, this is another average section.

Conclusion

We can’t help but feel that Between the Walls left a lot of untapped potential on the proverbial field, even though there were plenty of intriguing elements included.  We really wish it could have been Hall of Fame, yet it needed better funding and plot refining in order to achieve this.  Nonetheless, this film is an example of what a raw, underfunded Christian project should look like: demonstrable creativity that makes the most of what is available.  We hope that the Staron brothers have plans in the future to continue their film making careers, because they definitely have something to offer.

 

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

 

The Adventures of Chris Fable {The Wylds} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Chris Fable is a thief and feels like he can’t be anything else.  He lives in a junkyard and is enslaved by a con artist, but one day, he stumbles onto an opportunity to lead a new life.  Though he is reluctant at first, he decides to take a chance and try something new.  Thus, he and his friend embark on a journey that changes their life forever.  On their way to freedom, the companions encounter weird looking bugs, loud noises, shaking trees, a freaky CGI city, and a giant stomping robot.  The question is not will they make it, but will we ever make it to end of this movie?

 

Production Quality (-1 points)

Although this film has clear video quality, this good production element is drowned out by all the utterly terrible elements that accompany it.  Camera work is awful as the screen shakes all around like someone is literally running with a camcorder.  The soundtrack is ridiculously loud and annoying, making for a nearly unbearable experience.  Sets, locations, and props are extremely cheap and special effects are positively medieval, including horrid CGI.  There are also overpowering sound effects throughout.  Finally, editing is as bad as can be expected.  Essentially, this is one of the worst productions since Final: The Rapture and warrants negative points for the horrible experience the audience is forced to endure.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The Adventures of Chris Fable is very loosely based on the concept of Pilgrim’s Progress, mostly ripping off the quest idea and some of the character names.  Yet there is basically no plot as empty, cardboard-cutout, and stereotypical characters wander from one thing to the next.  While this type of fantasy story could have been interesting, the entire storyline was written for an idea that never materialized.  Many elements, especially dialogue, are very childish and empty.  Chris Fable gives the impression that this is a kids’ movie, but it never really commits to this concept.  This indecision only makes matters worse.  In short, this film has no idea what it’s trying to go for as it pursues an obscure idea of a remake that never really comes to fruition.  Somebody needed to step back during the storyboarding (if they had any) of this film and really think about what they were doing.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This is overall an extremely poor casting job.  These cast members are mostly very juvenile and childish with no coaching.  Others are very over the top and obnoxious.  Emotions are very difficult to connect with and line delivery is stunted and awkward.  Unfortunately, there is nothing good to say here.

Conclusion

With such a low, limited budget, what exactly was the justification for attempting to create a fantasy movie that requires so many special effects?  If you don’t have the budget to make it quality, don’t try to make it halfway.  Also, if you don’t have a real story to accompany your fantasy idea and are only trying to rip off an old idea, please do not do through with it.  The biggest problem with Christian films in different genres like this one is that they stand out and get attention due to their rarity.  People watching them who do not normally watch Christian films, and this is what they’re stuck with.  How embarrassing and disheartening it must be.  We implore future film makers to learn from the mistakes seen here and never repeat them.

 

Final Rating: -1 out of 10 points

 

Real [2011] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When He was struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus looked down through time and saw all of us and the struggles we would endure.  He saw the sins we would commit and still went to the Cross because He knew that we desperately needed Him.  Even with so many broken stories stretching out into the future, Jesus knew them all and gave Himself up for every one of us.  This is truly the best reason in the world to make a movie.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

It pains us to be so hard on this film because it carries such a powerful message.  However, even the most powerful message is covered up by poor packaging.  This is a very cheap production, including grainy video quality, poor lighting, and an overuse of soft lighting that rivals Jefferson Moore.  However, audio quality is acceptable, including a creative soundtrack.  Yet sets and locations are quite limited, as some are reused several times in different stories.  Finally, as multiple different unrelated storylines are employed, the editing is quite choppy and discontinuous.  This is truly a sad half point to award because we want it to be better and believe it can be—just not this time, unfortunately.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Real is based on a highly creative idea, perhaps one of the best in the loosely associated genre of ‘spiritual warfare’ plots on the market.  To depict Jesus and Satan in the Garden of Gethsemane looking forward to random stories in the future is an excellent idea, but attempting to connect a bunch of shallow subplots together in the span of ninety minutes is not a good idea.  This creates very shallow characters that spout dialogue that is designed to force the plot along.  As such, things happen far too fast as too many important issues are forced into one plot.  However, Real has one of the best portrayals of Jesus, Satan, and other spiritual elements to date.  The prologue and the epilogue, though they make the entire movie work, are worth watching and make this plot what it is.  In the end, we desperately wish this movie could have been better because it has such a great story and message that needs to be shown everywhere.

Acting Quality (1 point)

With a limited and amateurish cast, some cast members were reused in these subplots.  They could also use some better coaching, although they demonstrate great potential.  Sometimes they are a little too unsure of themselves, which shows that they would have benefitted from more coaching.  Though they are ahead of the game than some ‘big name’ cast members are, this section once again demonstrates what this group can do if they have the resources to do it.

Conclusion

Real receives half of an x-factor point for the creative idea behind this story.  As previously mentioned, with a better budget and more refining, Stephen Krist and his team can go great places and take Christian film to new frontiers.  We long to see a remake of Real that focuses more on the central concept without so many loosely connected stories.  We wish we could rate this film higher, but it is easily the best 3-point film out there.  In the end, we know the Krist team has good hearts and can’t wait to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

The Wager [2007] (Movie Review)

Creepy……..

Plot Summary

Michael Steele, a major movie star, slowly finds his life changing and being turned upside down as he tries to live the way he feels a Christian should live.  Nothing seems to work out and things only seem to get harder as he tries more to do what Jesus would do.  As his friends and coworkers call him crazy and shake their heads at what he is trying to do, Michael Steele finds himself wavering at times.  Will God really help him endure what he is going through?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

If one good thing can be said for this unusual production, it’s that time and money were definitely spent on the sets, locations, and props.  However, not much else positive can be highlighted.  Camera work is quite shaky and video quality is quite grainy.  The soundtrack is bad enough without forcing us to listen to Randy Travis attempt to sing.  Also, there are a number of annoyingly bizzare special effects throughout, including constant flashing that seems to be unfriendly to the epileptic.  Finally, editing is poorly done, thus leaving the film too choppy and punctuated.  In the end, to be a film of this profile, production should have been far better than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Based on a novel by Bill Myers, this really is not the best book plot that could have been chosen to be placed on the big screen.  The plot structure is quite unusual and includes confusing flashbacks that don’t serve much purpose.  There is not real plot content as the story hops from one thing to the next.  The characters therein are very one-dimensional.  Unfortunately, this includes a strawman portrayal of non-Christian characters and a squeaky clean portrayal of Christian characters.  While there is some semblance of a good message lost in translation, all the problems of this story are fixed far too easily, thus making it all seem very trite and plastic.  In short, this movie was written for a vague idea that never materialized.

Acting Quality (1 point)

After watching The Wager, one has to wonder why Randy Travis is ever cast in a movie.  What exactly good acting qualities does he bring to the table.  But hey, on the bright side, this film contains Candace Cameron Bure’s best role to date, surprisingly enough.  Other cast members, such as Nancy Stafford, are not all that bad, but there is a lot of negative here that detracts from the positive—mostly pertaining to Randy Travis.

Conclusion

What is to be accomplished by these sorts of films?  With half-efforts evident in all three categories, what did the creators expect?  Do people expect that they can just barely try to put a movie together and then it will just be fine since it’s a Christian movie?  Thankfully, we are seeing less and less of these types of films today, so films like The Wager can provide a major lesson to today’s film makers: ‘big name’ cast members and writers do not automatically make for a great movie.  Great Christian movies take true effort and care and are unfortunately hard to come by.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

A Place in the Heart [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Jason Burkey’s heart is broken by a girl he thought he would spend the rest of his life with, he gives up a basketball scholarship (as he is frequently reminded) and does the most natural thing anyone would do: run away to live on a remote island with his reclusive father, Kevin Sorbo.  But seven years later, Kevin Sorbo get tired of the island and decided to buy a sombrero and live the rest of his days on a boat.  So Jason Burkey is forced to go back to the hometown he bitterly left behind and finds everything very similar to the way he left it.  He’s still angry at Ben Davies and won’t talk to him, but he slowly finds that the plans he originally had may not have been the best for him—including that basketball scholarship!

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

On the surface, like many productions, A Place in the Heart seems fine.  Video quality and camera work are on par.  Sets, locations, and props are acceptable.  However, audio quality is inconsistent—sometimes too loud and other times too soft.  The soundtrack is regularly too loud and is at times juvenile.  As for editing, there are too many awkward transitions and there is too much choppy content as the film jumps from one thing to the next.  In the end, this production is just average, but it seems like it could have been much more than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Loosely based on The Great Gatsby, A Place in the Heart has a mild amount of complexity, yet this complexity is detracted from by a lot of amateur elements.  Narration used as a crutch to fill in the missing parts of the plot that are due to unnecessary time jumps, even though it is a stereotypical return-to-hometown style plot.  Parts of the premise are forced, unrealistic, and based too much on coincidences, while there are tons of manufactured dramas and childish sequences.  Dialogue is very stiff and stilted, including very unusual statements and asides, thus creating very awkward and wooden characters.  However, despite all of these issues, the second half of the film is slightly better than the first half, and contains a partially interesting message and point if you make it that far.  But in the end, the only reason for any plot twists is the fact that this plot is borrowed from other sources.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Any small amount of good that is accomplished in this film is totally derailed by this awful casting job.  Any cast that includes Jason Burkey, Kevin Sorbo, and Ben Davies without coaching is sure to be a disaster.  Every character is represented by a very awkward cast member that exhibits mumbled lines, fake emotions, and generally poor line delivery.  Unfortunately, this film shows that good intentions can be greatly hurt by poor casting.

Conclusion

Romance is a very difficult genre to write because it can very easily become a high-school-level of cheesy.  Regrettably, A Place in the Heart commits almost every common romance error all at once.  On top of this, the production isn’t what it should be and the casting is deplorable.  Movies like this are painful to see because they are so prominent in Christian film.  This is not what the face of Christian film should look like, as we have said time and again.  Yet hopefully, slowly, this trend is changing.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

Virtuous [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Simone Burner is attacked by the grandson of a powerful man, she is arrested for the grandson’s murder and mostly everybody in the city turns against her for no particular reason.  Therefore, she has to seek out the help of an estranged attorney who doesn’t really like her as her last resort.  Meanwhile, there are tons of others subplots are all going on at the same time as other random characters are briefly introduced who have very loose connections to the original point.  With so much going on, the question is not what will happen, but will anyone understand what is happening?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Virtuous has a professional and adequate production, as evidenced by clear video quality, good camera work, acceptable audio quality, and an intriguing soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are professionally chosen and presented.  On the surface, it seems like Virtuous checked all the necessary boxes to receive a passing score.  However, the major detractor here is the horrific editing.  Somewhere in post-production, someone needed to sit down and have a serious talk with the JC Films team about whether or not it’s justified to have a 150 minute film that has next to no continuity.  This was the editor’s job; however, this was not done, and thus, it leaves a gaping hole in this film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As previously mentioned, this perhaps the most convoluted and non-continuous plot in all of our viewing days.  With hundreds of subplots that have very little connection to one another, there is no way to make sense of what is going on as the story hops from one random thing to the next.  There’s all kinds of intrigue with this local judicial and law enforcement system and how corrupt businessmen are trying to control stuff, plus some stereotypical down-on-his-luck who takes on a seemingly impossible case that has some ties to a non-profit involving Erin Bethea, and this doesn’t even cover the random guy in the hospital and the nurse who takes care of him who also has a questionable position on the jury of the original trial.  This previous run-on sentence doesn’t even cover all the points Virtuous tries to expand on.  It’s like twelve different people all had ideas and decided to shove them all together into one bloated film.  With so much going on, there is no hope for character development as dialogue is stunted and all over the place.  The only characters that stand out are strawmen villains, unfortunately.  Yet despite all of this massive blending of concepts, there is a really interesting idea somewhere lost in the fray that would be better served in a miniseries format.  It’s disappointing to see good ideas go to such waste, especially when it’s like this.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

With so many cast members, it’s really hard to keep up.  This is an unusually large cast for a Christian film, thus making the performances inconsistent and random.  Sometimes line delivery and emotional delivery are good, while other times they are not.  Overall, it comes out as fairly average.

Conclusion

When you’re in the process of making a film that is over two and a half hours and you actually have the budget to make a film this long, perhaps you need to stop and consider: with so much content, I should make this a series!  People love series: just look at the unexplainable success of When Calls the Heart.  Why not, instead of making a cumbersome film like this one, try something different and create an interesting genre-busting Christian series.  It would be a huge hit.  Yet once again, we are left wondering what could have been.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

Love Different (Movie Review)

Thug life.

Plot Summary

When a dippy white blonde named Jenn Gotzon Lindsay decides to take a job at an African-American marketing firm, she finds herself in the midst of a major culture shock.  So the head of the firm assigns his best marketer, Neque, to help Lindsay integrate into the new culture that she is completely foreign to.  Little do neither of them know that they are both in for a new look at life, not only their own lives, but also the lives of others.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

For the most part, Love Different sports professional production quality.  Camera work, video quality, and audio quality are all on par with what they should be.  The soundtrack is a little quirky, but it seems to work.  Sets and locations are adequate for this story.  There is really little to complain about here, except for some choppy editing as this film tends to jump from one supposedly funny sequence to another.  But otherwise, this is what productions should look like, even if the story is greatly lacking.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

What. Is. Happening.  From one forced comedy scene to the next and from one quirky racial joke to another, there is no sense here and little method to this madness.  A lot of the time, it seems like these cast members were set free to ad-lib with no real direction except to act as juvenile and silly as possible and to make as many racial jokes as they can get away with.  This story feels like it has the zany influence of David A. R. White, Kevin Downes, and Tommy Blaze, but it does not.  As previously mentioned, this story is really just a loose collection of skits about racial differences with a few ‘meaningful’ scenes sprinkled in.  It’s hard to follow the arc of these characters as one is constantly distracted by the outrageous behaviors of Jenn Gotzon that simply have to be seen for yourself.  A lot of the dialogue constantly refers back to racial differences without truly building these characters beyond their skin color.  Yet believe it or not, there is a powerful message hidden somewhere in the midst of the zaniness, if you stick around long enough to find it.  But in the end, any movie that includes Jenn Gotzon trying to act like she’s African-American cannot be taken seriously.  It’s funny for all the wrong reasons and is simply too much to be true comedy.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Sometimes it seems like this cast has potential.  But then it doesn’t.  Jenn Gotzon is a self-parody in this film with all her antics.  Other cast members seem like they have potential and even have good moments, but they short themselves by acting like fools in attempts to be comedic.  They really seem like they are better than this, which makes this performance overall disappointing.

Conclusion

In the opening credits, God is blamed as an executive producer of this train wreck.  Can I just say, please don’t blame God for your disasters.  There is certainly a place for comedy centered around cultural differences and how we tend to isolate ourselves from different people, but whatever good Love Different was trying to accomplish unfortunately falls flat.  There are simply too many outrageous sequences and purposely over-the-top comedy elements for this movie to fully accomplish its goal.  There are so many memorable moments in this movie that are memorable for the wrong reasons.  From a class dedicated to teaching white people about African-Americans to Bon Quisha and Jenn Gotzon’s thug life, Love Different is one for the history books, but we’re not sure if its original intent will be remembered in the midst of the outrageousness.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

Angela Elwell Hunt: The Golden Cross

Image result for the golden cross angela elwell hunt

The Golden Cross is the second installment of Angela E. Hunt’s famous four-part series; The Heirs of Cahira O’Connor. The Golden Cross deals with subjects such as, the consequences of sin, world travel, second chances, secrets, suspicion, love, and sacrifice. Similar to the first novel, this one begins with Kathleen O’Connor, an English major who is curious to discover more about the famous women in her lineage. All of the women Kathleen will discover fulfilled Cahira O’Connor’s prayer that bright stars would break forth from the course to which they were bound. This time, Kathleen looks into the story of Aidan O’Connor, a young Dutch woman who was raised on the tumultuous shoreline of Java, Indonesia. Growing up among prostitutes and criminals has made a difficult life for Aidan, and she has always longed for something more than the lot she has been dealt. Aidan’s secret talent is art; a hobby that she excels in. When a local professional artist happens by her little corner of the world, she takes advantage of his presence to show off her skills. The artist is surprised to find that Aidan is, indeed, talented. He takes her into his home, much to his grown children’s chagrin, and plans to take her on a world voyage with him; as an understudy. However, there is one problem….young women are not allowed on board ship. So, he disguises Aidan as a boy and they embark on a great journey. Along the way Aidan will discover the wonders of God’s creation and find an unconditional love she never knew existed. Will Aidan be discovered? What wonders and or dangers await her in the great unknown? Most importantly, will Aidan recognize that the love she has been searching for can only come from God? To answer these questions, read the book!:) We here at Box Office Revolution believe that The Golden Cross would make for a great second installment in a Christian themed miniseries starring the Cahira O’Connor book series.

The Trail {Let God} [2013] (Movie Review)

What am I doing in this movie?

Plot Summary

When Amelia and Levi decide to head West to score a fortune in gold, they never anticipated the hardships they would have to face.  After Levi dies, Amelia is forced to survive in the wild alone.  Watch with bated breath as she tries to light fires, searches for food, arranges rocks to call for help, rummages around empty covered wagons, stumbles around the terrain, and breathes heavily in an attempt to fight for her very life.  You will be left in suspense as you are forced to endure long sequences without dialogue and wonder if there is really any talking in this film.  The drama builds as Amelia thinks back to days gone by and wonders why this is even a movie.  Who will outlast the other: Amelia or her bored audience?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

So it’s clear that whatever this film is called is an attempt to be a creative and artsy Christian survival movie thingy.  But it just totally fails.  First off, production is very cheap-looking, including poor lighting, cheap audio quality, and a nonexistent soundtrack.  Camera work is shaky in an attempt to be dramatic.  Video quality is okay, and at least the sets, props, and locations are realistic-looking, but there is really not much going on here.  This was a very limited idea that required no editing—this film simply exists.  Since there’s not much else going for it, this production needed to be flawless, yet it fell short.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Believe it or not, if you last until the ending, there is actually an interesting idea somewhere here, but it’s not likely to be discovered by most viewers.  The trailer for this movie is better than the actual movie itself and sets up the viewer for huge disappointment.  The true bulk of this story of a woman performing activities of daily living in the wilderness—like, literally everything she does.  Aside from some pathetic flashbacks that do nothing to build the few characters there are, there is zero dialogue for a full hour of runtime.  Even when there is dialogue, it’s a one-sided conversation.  There is truly zero storyline here as the viewer is forced to endure fake drama and sequences of the main character staring and breathing hard.  This story was clearly written for the end, but this cripples any good idea that was had since no one will ever know what it is.  Creating movies for one tiny idea should always be a no-no, but apparently people keep getting funding for this sort of nonsense.

Acting Quality (0 points)

In a movie with so few characters, the few people that are cast are highly crucial to the film’s success.  Unfortunately, in this one, the cast members do not come through.  Their performances are amateurish and forceful, and have far too much heavy breathing.  Emotions are not felt or believable.  In short, this rounds out a pathetic effort.

Conclusion

As a rule, one-character survival plots should be greatly avoided.  Half-baked ideas that have no surrounding elements such as professional production and well-developed characters are always going to fail.  Even if your idea is small and limited in scope, you can still develop your characters.  But alas, this is another failed movie that represents more money flushed down the toilet.  2013 sure was a landmark year for Christian film, but not in a good way.  Let’s hope we can move past those dark days.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Part 5 (MTASBTNEWOT 5)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  Someday we might post more, if we’re fortunate enough to find more.

 

Strange….

For Such a Time

Why do we need so many Esther films?  This one looks like it was recorded with a handheld camera for a church play.  They obviously purchased all of their costumes and props at Walmart and decided to film a historical story in a modern house full of white people with too much makeup.  Production is terrible in all aspects and nothing these people are doing resembles acting.  This is so low quality that it doesn’t even warrant creation.

 

Just taking some pictures of flowers

The Bouquet

One of the wonders produced by Nasser Film Group, this one portrays Kristy Swanson and a whole bunch of other awkward cast members in a knockoff Hallmark movie about a group of people all hanging around the same property together trying to rehabilitate a dying flower business.  With laughable references to the internet and technology and the most juvenile forced romances ever, only watch this one if you need a good laugh.

 

Enough said

Midnight Stallion

In another face-palmer from Nasser, Kris Kristofferson attempts to portray a fifty-year-old man with a teenage daughter, although he was close to eighty years old at the time of this movie’s filming.  Hardly anything can be focused on at all in this formulaic, stereotypical, and predictable horse-saves-the-farm story except for Kristofferson’s terrible plastic surgery, constant grunting, and scenes of him pretending to ride a horse.  Whoever keeps casting old coots like Kristofferson needs to quit film making.

 

Well that’s all for now!  Maybe we’ll post another one someday…maybe not…

The Watchers: Revelation (Movie Review)

Yup.

Plot Summary

Creatures claiming to be extraterrestrials are controlling the world’s leaders by revealing information on weapons to some.  The humans who know about this are either controlled by the beings or are ordered to be killed.  It seems that no one stands a chance against these alien forces, but a small group of Christians claims to have to tools necessary to fight these creatures.  Thus, it comes down to a battle between good and evil inside a warehouse (where else?), where all will be revealed, including some end times stuff.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

So another random company sets out to create a Christian sci-fi\horror film with a very limited budget.  These are the most difficult genres to craft, so doing so with a limited budget makes it nearly impossible to do properly.  Sets, locations, and props in this film are very cheap and limited.  There is poor lighting in some of the scenes, although camera work, video quality, and audio quality are mostly okay.  One of the biggest detractors in this production is the existence of ridiculous and over the top special effects that come off as very juvenile.  Finally, the editing is horrible as scenes cut from one thing to the next, leaving the audience very confused as to what is happening.  In short, no care was given to this production as it was just slapped together for the purpose of pushing an agenda.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Filled with heavy-handed propaganda messaging and isolating information dump dialogue, Watchers: Revelation is a real doozy.  The characters are very empty and only exist to robotically download ideas and theories the writers have, which are actually quite absurd and childish.  There are also a lot of conversations about things that happen off-screen as the storyline jumps all over the place with no continuity.  Things just randomly happen that leaving the viewer scratching their head.  On a lighter note, this plot has an interesting spiritual concept that is of course wasted and used improperly.  However, this fact is not enough to overcome all of the other glaring errors here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This film contains the most robotic acting I have ever witnessed.  The overly practiced line delivery sounds like a computer is talking instead of a person.  Thus, there are zero emotions and many cast members do not have a future in acting.  There are also some amateurish makeup errors.  Basically, this entire film is a wash.

Conclusion

It never pays to use a cheap film to push your personal propaganda.  It also is a bad idea to try to make your first movie a complex idea that requires special effects and explanation of foreign ideas to the audience.  Also, if you’re going to write a sci-fi plot, please make sure it’s actually a good idea and not some half-baked theory that invites unintentional comedy and mockery.  Writing a story because of a theory never pays off, so please don’t continually clutter up Christian entertainment with it.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Paul the Apostle {St. Paul} [2000] (Movie Review)

Creepy Paul…….

Plot Summary

Saul of Tarsus was a ruthless man bent on destroying the church of Jesus Christ, until he had an unforgettable encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.  From there, his life was never the same as he became Paul and effectively switched sides and became zealous for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Though many were still skeptical of him, God was with him all of his life and used him to turn the world upside down.  His work as an Apostle of Jesus Christ is still affecting the world today.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

It’s clear that there was money behind this film—you don’t get the opportunity to make a more than two hour film every day.  For the most part, this production is average, with okay camera work and historically authentic sets and locations.  However, some of the video quality is blurry and some of the lighting in outside scenes is poor.  There is also an unusual use of weird special effects throughout, including an annoying use of negative video quality in an attempt to be dramatic.  We also are provided with unnecessary location subtitles as a crutch for bad editing.  With a such a large idea, editing is key, as it is in any epic.  Yet the editing of this film is totally off and allows the plot to focus on all the wrong things.  In short, a lot of wasted money was thrown at this production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Paul the Apostle gets caught up in the all-too-common trap of Bible films: using a movie named after a well-known Biblical character to focus on all kinds of useless side issues and peripheral characters.  It’s fine to make a movie about a character or group of characters who shadowed a well-known Biblical figure, but don’t pretend like the movie is actually about that figure.  Though there is a substantial amount of content in this film about Paul, this movie is not about Paul’s life, but about things that happened around Paul during random parts of his life.  It’s not like Paul has a small story—there is tons of content about him that would make an awesome movie.  Yet we are left with half-measures and allusions to what could have been.  As extra-Biblical events take up the time of this story, pointless time jumps are taken and tons of off-screen content is alluded to.  Dialogue is designed to move the plot along and only crafts characters who seem lofty and inaccessible rather than like real people.  Alas, what could have been with this very important and engaging historical account.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Once again, another Bible movie commits the cardinal sin of casting: British people trying to portray Middle Eastern people.  Thus, there is a lack of cultural authenticity that is not helped by the partially unrealistic costuming, the creepy makeup jobs, and the obviously fake beards.  This is not to mention the overly theatrical, dramatic, and breathy delivery of lines and emotions.  Unfortunately, there is not much good to mention here.

Conclusion

So you have over two hours of runtime and virtually only a third of your content actually pertains to the Biblical historical account of the Apostle Paul.  Very few film makers have the luxury of having this much time on their hands to craft a movie, yet this team decided to waste it on tons of non-Biblical and quasi-historical content, complete with large time jumps and completely unnecessary characters.  Besides this, the characters don’t even feel like realistic or authentic Jewish people, which is not helped by the fact that they are played by British people.  It’s no wonder so many people are weary of films that have the “Bible” stamp on them.  We eagerly await the day when Biblical movies are honest about what they are depicting and create historically realistic and culturally authentic portrayals of people in the Scriptures.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Home Beyond the Sun (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Since Jenna was raised by a missionary, she feels that it is her duty to give back by becoming a missionary herself.  So when an opening presents itself in China, she jumps at the chance.  She travels to Beijing to work as a teacher to children there, but as she works there for a few weeks, she finds an entirely different mission field: orphans whom no one wants, not even the government.  However, the orphanage leader has to keep everything a secret since she is teaching the orphans Christian values.  Who will prevail in the end?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, though this movie means well, it is packaged in a very poor production.  After the long opening sequence that would be interesting if it was produced better, the audience is subjected to grainy video quality and poor audio quality, including a loud and cheap soundtrack.  Camera work is average, especially since most of the scenes are pedestrian shots.  However, the international locations are pretty good and demonstrate an attempt at authenticity.  Finally, editing is okay, but there is not much complex content that requires any rigorous editing.  In the end, it’s clear that this creative team has good intentions, but their delivery is lacking.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Additionally, though some care is revealed through this touching story about Chinese orphans, not enough care is given to making this a palatable plot.  Home Beyond the Sun contains a slightly amateurish portrayal of Chinese people, including some strawman cultural aspects and characters.  Though important social issues are raised, they are sort of forced down the audience’s throats and do not develop naturally through the use of realistic characters.  Instead, the characters use information-packed dialogue to drive the story along.  But at the same time, the story is quite slow and does not hold the attention; any conflict therein is too trite.  There is a better way to depict an otherwise important story about Chinese orphans, and unfortunately, Home Beyond the Sun does not cut it.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Though there is some good here, the acting is overall quite amateurish.  There is some realistic cultural casting, but in all cast members, emotions seem plastic and line delivery is quite forced.  Yet it seems like this case has potential that could have been brought out through proper coaching.  But alas, coaching is not present here, thus creating another disappointing performance.

Conclusion

This really could have been an interesting movie.  It focuses on a different topic that needs to be depicted on the big screen, yet Home Beyond the Sun does so in such a way that makes it all seem so silly.  There are definitely good intentions here, but good intentions are not everything.  There must be follow-through that manifests itself in professional production, an engaging storyline full of realistic and accessible characters, and acting coaching that brings the cast members to life.  Yet when these elements are not present, even if a good idea is present, it makes for a very frustrating and disappointing film.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

New World Order: The End Has Come (Movie Review)

This cover has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual movie

Plot Summary

With the New World Order clamping down on all aspects of life as they know it, a group of people decide to band together against the regime and refuse to take the mark that is required to buy and sell.  The evil world leader is coming down hard on people and sending out his troops to enforce the receiving of the mark even in small towns.  When this small group of people, who now identify as Christians, gets word of this, they start taking in more refugees.  But how long will they be able to hide, especially when the tyrant comes to town?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

If you can make it through the long opening sequence of this production, you’re still in for plenty of nonsense.  For starters, the video quality is fairly grainy, and camera work is quite shaky.  There are also a ton of audio problems, including outside noises, weird sound effects, and an odd soundtrack.  The sets and locations are fine, but they are quite limited considering the fact that this plot is trying to cover international issues.  Finally, there is far too much wasted time in this film, thus demonstrating a lack of sufficient editing.  In short, this is a highly disappointing production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

New World Order: The End Has Come is just another typical apocalyptic plot with a predictable setup and progression.  However, there is hardly any true apocalyptic content as vague concepts are lazily tossed around and toyed with while still being confined to basically one neighborhood.  There are also unnecessary time jumps that are made up for with obvious information dump dialogue that talks about all kinds of off-screen content.  Sometimes things happen with no real explanation, and there is lot of juvenile forced drama and cheesy conflicts.  Finally, the characters seem very fake and exhibit ridiculous dialogue.  In short, there is really no reason for this plot to exist because it has nothing to offer.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As usual for this type of film, which is unfortunately all too common, this cast is very amateurish.  While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using amateur cast members, like all actors and actresses, they need coaching, which is clearly not present in New World Order.  Lines and emotions are very forceful and awkward, while some cast members are overly theatrical and sometimes even bizarre.  Basically, this is just another mess.

Conclusion

With all the horrid apocalyptic films that have already been made, we don’t need another one, yet they are still being made!  It used to be that apocalyptic was the different genre in Christian entertainment, but now it’s become its own caricature.  Until somebody can actually create an engaging and professionally done apocalyptic film, there needs to be a moratorium on this genre.  The biggest reason for this is that some non-Christians may watch these types of movies more than other Christian films, and if they do, what will they see?  More often than not, they’ll see another laughable disaster.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points