Indivisible (October 2018)

In Theaters October 26, 2018

 

Writer(s): David G. Evans, Cheryl McKay, Peter White

Director(s): David G. Evans

Producer(s): Sarah Drew, David G. Evans, Darren Moorman, Justin Tolley

Starring: Justin Bruening, Sarah Drew, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Jason George, Skye P. Marshall, Tanner Stine, Madeline Carroll, Michael O’Neill, Eric Close, Eddie Kaulukukui, Samara Lee, Carlin James, HannahFranchesca Samuel, NaomiNoel Samuel, Lucas Shane

 

Plot Synopsis:

Upon returning from serving in the U.S. Army, Chaplain Darren Turner faces a crisis that shatters his family and faith in God but through the help of former soldiers, they help him return to his faith and family.

With great anticipation, Darren and Heather Turner are ready to follow their calling: serving God, family and country. But when war etches deep battle scars, the Turners’ once-solid marriage lies in peril. Shaken and forever changed by what they’ve experienced, the couple now faces their toughest battle: the fight to save their marriage.

“God was at work in my life and in my marriage even as I did everything I could to walk out on him and everyone else,” said Chaplain Turner. “He accomplished a miracle in our family. It’s encouraging to us that it matters to people, that it wasn’t in vain, that there is purpose even in our heartbreak.”

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Confessions of a Prodigal Son (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Sean Matthews couldn’t wait to strike out on his own and get out from under the confines of being a pastor’s son.  When given half of his inheritance with the stipulation of staying in school, Sean heads off to USC to live the party lifestyle.  He feels like he can do whatever he wants—that is, until he meets Ali, a girl who seems immune to his usual manipulation.  Thus, he pursues her in the hopes of winning her over, even though she is not interested in having a relationship.  They become friends and she changes Sean’s outlook on life.  When Sean comes to a crossroads, he will have to decide which path he wants to take.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Confessions of a Prodigal Son starts out fairly rough, like many freshman productions.  There is a lot of shaky camera work at first, including odd artistic angles, such as filming through crowds and from behind objects, as well as a lot of close-up shots.  However, this seems to improve as the movie goes.  Video quality is relatively stable throughout, but audio quality is another inconsistent factor, as it goes from cheap to quality over the span of ninety minutes.  The soundtrack is too loud at first and some audio is overdubbed, but these issues seem to work themselves out later.  Unfortunately, sets and locations are slightly cheap throughout the movie.  The editing is actually somewhat creative as the story is presented in a semi-out-of-order fashion that enhances interest.  Overall, this production seems to be a learning experience for the Lighting Dark team, which is perfectly reasonable, considering this is their first film.  The good news is that they will likely improve down the road.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The one thing we can say for Confessions of a Prodigal Son is that while the story is somewhat overused and predictable, at least it is presented in a creative and unique fashion.  This rendition of the famous parable will stand out from others because effort was made to be artistic and different.  At first, the narration seems too heavy-handed, but it becomes more justifiable later.  The portrayal of addicts is spot-on in this film, even if the solutions are little shallow.  There seems to be a lot of edgy content simply for the sake of having it and some important issues are treated too simply, probably to fit the story into the designated runtime.  Some characters are cheesy and have character arcs that are too steep, yet there are times when they are surprisingly well-crafted.  Though the messaging is somewhat obvious, it is still at least partially meaningful and is packaged in an artistic fashion that shows potential for the future.  In short, this movie is not all bad and stands out among others like it, which is all we ask for of new film makers.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Like other elements in this film, the acting begins fairly rough and inexperienced.  There are some mumbled and slurred lines, yet there are also some overly-enunciated lines.  However, these issues work themselves out over time, like the other issues that were previously pointed out.  Emotions are mostly realistic throughout the film and line delivery certainly improves in the second half.  Overall, it is encouraging to see improvement throughout a movie rather than consistent negativity.

Conclusion

Confessions of a Prodigal Son is a mixed bag that carries with it the potential for greatness.  This is normal for a first-time film, as are the early production struggles.  If production and acting had been consistently professional and if the characters had been a little deeper through better dialogue, this film would have likely been Hall of Fame.  We are always encouraged to see new film makers that are trying to do the right things, so we anticipate greater things from the Lighting Dark team in the future.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

Angela Elwell Hunt: The Fairlawn Series Book 2

She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt

In the same vein as the first novel in Angela Hunt’s Fairlawn Trilogy, the second book, titled She Always Wore Red, continues the story of Jennifer Graham, and expands on her new life in Mt. Dora, Florida. This novel deals with subjects such as change, life choices, surprises, relatives, decisions, ignorance, redemption, trusting in God, personal choices, growth, death, and learning to live in the center of God’s will. The opening chapters of this novel tell the reader that Jennifer has decided to make the mortuary she inherited her permanent business. However, Jennifer is constantly overwhelmed by the duties of mothering her two boys, running a business, and attending mortuary school. She longs for a friend with which to share her joys and struggles, but little does she know that one is right around the corner, and it will not be the friendship she expected. Jennifer meets a young woman named McLane Larson, who has recently moved to Mt. Dora while her husband is overseas. McLane is young, pregnant, and facing difficult choices ahead. Little does Jennifer know that God will use McLane to teach her compassion, forgiveness, and to realize her own underlying racism. Jennifer will learn that she has had a closed view of the world up until now, she has only been seeing things through the eyes of her own race, and had been too focused on her own struggles. Will Jennifer learn to see the world through the eyes of Christ? Will she trust Him with her future? To answer these questions, read the book!;) As previously mentioned in my post regarding the first novel in this series, I believe that the best course of action for a Christian filmmaker would be to combine all three of these novels into one film. The short, simple plots could be easily combined to create one movie, however, Hunt’s trilogy could also be made into a Christian miniseries. Regardless of what a Christian filmmaker decides to make out of this trilogy, we here at Box Office Revolution will be happy if they decide to make it at all!

Catastasis {Crisis Call} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Pastor Robert Peterson tells his congregation to do one thing, but does a different thing at home.  Everyone thinks he has it all together, but when a desperate man he once counseled comes back to haunt him, Robert is forced to look at his life in a very uncomfortable way.  The man has taken Robert’s son hostage and thus forces Robert to do a series of actions in order to get his son back.  Will anyone come out of this dangerous game alive?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

In a first-time production, it’s probably not a good idea to begin with the suspense genre.  It is difficult to pull off suspenseful scenes without taking production shortcuts, like the ones taken in this film.  Shaky camera work is one of these shortcuts, as are tight shots and poor lighting throughout.  While video quality is fine, the sets and locations are quite limited, probably on purpose.  Audio quality is mostly average and the soundtrack is a slight attempt to be interesting, but it falls short.  Finally, there is really not much editing to speak of as all content created appears to be included in the final cut.  In the end, we could almost pass this production off as a rookie attempt, but the shortcuts taken cannot be ignored.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

The mind of Anthony Hackett is difficult to comprehend.  Similar to his later work, Love Different, Crisis Call carries an unusual brand or flavor that cannot be replicated.  Yet rather than a comedy, this dark thriller is full of bizarre insinuations and asides, as well as strange characters and rambling dialogue.  The premise is slightly interesting, yet it is also off-putting and somewhat offensive.  There are a lot of dark and brooding elements that offer a lot of hopelessness but not near enough redemption.  Though the ending tries to bring some redemption into the picture, it is too little too late.  We are not saying that Christian films should not deal with gritty and difficult topics—this is not the case at all.  The problem with Crisis Call is that it deals with them in a very incorrect manner, almost as if it is obsessed with being purposely dark.  While we definitely need different genre films in Christian entertainment, this is certainly not the way to go about this.  The offensive nature of this plot warrants negative points.

Acting Quality (0 points)

In a small cast such as this one, every little errors is amplified.  There are not enough positive elements to overcome to negative ones, which include overdone emotions and yelling, as well as many forced and overly practiced lines.  The villain actor is far too maniacal and seems to enjoy being creepy.  Unfortunately, we cannot award any points here.

Conclusion

Anthony Hackett is certainly not afraid of trying different things.  Both of his films are memorable—for all the wrong reasons.  If his goal was to get attention and leave a mark, he succeeded.  Now he needs to move past his first two efforts and seek to harness his creatively in more constructive ways.  Believe it or not, he really does have potential as a film maker, if he has the proper direction and a good team behind him.  It should be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

25 Hill (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Trey Caldwell’s father is tragically killed overseas while serving in the military, Trey feels like he will never fulfill the dream his father gave him—the dream of racing their soapbox car in the derby.  But then, Trey’s kind school principal introduces him to Roy Gibbs, a troubled fireman who would like to forget the death of his son.  The two of them find that they have something in common: a passion for soapbox derby racing.  As Roy trains Trey, they develop a unique bond and inadvertently find healing from their wounds.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As Corbin Bernsen’s first foray into the inspirational market, 25 Hill demonstrates his typical high production quality that he likely learned in the mainstream sector and is unfortunately not commonplace in the Christian field.  Beginning with an effective opening sequence that tells the story without narration, this film checks all the necessary boxes for production quality.  Video quality, camera work, audio quality, and soundtrack are all professional and effective.  Sets, locations, and props are also above standard.  The only complaint to raise here is the high number of sports montages, which are too typical of this genre.  Otherwise, this is a very respectable production that many Christian film makers can model after.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Before Bersen decided to develop his own zany brand of satire, he decided to create a grief plot that has a commitment to taking jabs are stereotypical plot elements.  His take on this predictable plot structure is enjoyable, yet like Bernsen’s other films, 25 Hill still includes too many formulaic elements that are commonly found in sports\grief plots.  Yet his continual pointing out and exposing of typical movie clichés is a fun experience nonetheless, as is his satire on product placements.  With good dialogue and character development, this story demonstrates a better version of the Bernsen brand, which later devolved into silliness and insanity in Christian Mingle, 3 Day Test, and In-lawfully Yours.  The biggest thing that holds 25 Hill back is its predictability, as Bernsen does his typical flirting with creativity but doesn’t really follow through.  Yet in the end, this will be an enjoyable story for most and is certainly worth a watch.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Bernsen and his team completely nailed their casting work.  Each actor and actress fits their characters comfortably as they deliver their lines and inflections flawlessly.  Emotional performances are highly effective, thus making this a perfect score.

Conclusion

We definitely understand where Bernsen is coming from—sometimes.  He wants to make quality inspirational films while at the same time exposing where many films in the genre go wrong.  He always thinks about doing something different with his storylines, but in the end goes back to the typical, safe ending.  Nonetheless, 25 Hill will be liked by most audiences, and it is certainly worth a watch.  Perhaps eventually, Bernsen will finally hit the home run he has been searching for all these years.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

 

Chris Fabry: Junebug

Image result for chris fabry junebug

Chris Fabry has written many excellent Christian novels, and is renowned by this blog as one of the greatest authors of Christian fiction on the market today. While Junebug may not be his best novel, it is still worth reading, as it tackles an issue that many people do not often think about. Yet another novel set in Fabry’s fictional town of Dogwood, West Virginia, Junebug deals with subjects such as kidnapping, abandonment, lies, secrets, truth, broken trust, family, hope, home, and how God works everything together for good, even the most dire circumstances. The opening chapters of Junebug introduce us to a young girl and her father who live on the road, in an old RV. Junebug has never questioned her circumstances, no matter how unusual they become, even to the point of living in a Walmart parking lot. However, one day her whole world comes crashing down when she sees her name and picture on a list of missing children. She discovers that her father is not actually her biological father, in fact, he is a kidnapper and a criminal. She receives no conclusive answers from her kidnapper, and decides to strike out on her own. Junebug begins the search for her real family, and discovers many secrets along the way. Will Junebug ever find her real family? Will she escape the hands of her kidnapper? Most importantly, will she run into the arms of her Heavenly Father? To answer these questions, read the book! Junebug is a modern-day depiction of the classic novel Les Miserables, and uses many of the same plot devices and concepts. This would make an interesting Christian drama film, if done in the right way. Even though the plot is somewhat pedestrian, it could be expanded and improved in the hands of the right writer/director/producer. A Christian filmmaker could use this novel as a base for making a Christian version of the classic Les Miserables, or, they could stay true to original content. I think an artistic filmmaker like Jefferson Moore would be good at making a film based on this book, as he has basically done this kind of plot before in his films (i.e. Clancy). Moore is at least average in the production and acting areas, he just needs a plot, so this novel would provide perfect fodder for him to make an above average Christian movie. We here at Box Office Revolution look forward to the day when Christian filmmakers will recognize the potential found in Christian novels.

He Sends Rain (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When David Conrad and his newlywed wife receive word that David’s father is close to dying, they are forced to return to David’s hometown to put things in order, even though David and his father are not on speaking terms.  David refuses to see his father as he tries to get the house ready to sell and figure out what to do with the adopted brother he never knew he had.  While David wallows in his anger and drinking, his wife decides to get to the bottom of the family secrets and begins her own investigation into the matter.  What she finds is pain and hurt, yet she believes that God’s forgiveness and grace can mend the brokenness.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

As Silverwave Entertainment’s first major production, He Sends Rain starts off a little bit rough with some poor lighting and other shortcuts.  Editing is also choppy at first and the soundtrack too loud at times, yet as the movie goes on, the production gradually improves and becomes quite respectable.  While there are still a lot of drawn out scenes, video quality and camera work are totally nailed.  Sets, locations, and props are realistic and appropriate.  Audio quality improves as it goes.  By the end of the film, there are not many errors to speak of, thus making this production above average.  In the end, it is understandable to wrestle with some production elements early on, so the good thing is that improvement is shown over time.  This shows great potential for the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Though on its face He Sends Rain looks like a stereotypical return-to-small-town plot, it is not what you might think.  It takes a good, honest look at unfortunately realistically broken family systems and why they are broken.  Though things are slow to develop at first, the story improves as it goes.  The characters are realistic and accessible, but we feel like they could have been developed a little further.  A little more complexity and plot and character deepening, as well as some flashbacks, would have really made this film soar.  The happenings therein are realistic, even though the ending is a bit too rushed and easily patched up.  This storyline really shows a lot of potential for the future, especially since it demonstrates insight into the lives of real people, which is one of the biggest things we look for in films.  Once this creativity is fully harnessed, this creative team will be going places.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Like other elements to this film, though the acting starts out somewhat half-hearted, it definitely improves as the movie progresses.  Emotions become more realistic as cast members appear to become more comfortable in their characters.  Line delivery is almost always on point.  Even though this is a slightly ‘unknown’ cast, it is refreshing to see a job well done.

Conclusion

It’s possible that He Sends Rain would have worked better as a series that allowed for deeper character and story development, but we realize the budgetary constraints of independent Christian entertainment.  The good news is that freshman and sophomore films from Christian film makers are overall improving, which is raising the market standards.  Once the Silverwave Entertainment team works out some of the minor production kinks and deepens their plots, they are really going to leave their mark on the industry.  We can’t wait to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

 

Where is Good? (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Hannah Bailey has always wanted a child.  She and her husband, who is a pastor, have prayed and always supported pro-life causes, but they can never have one of their own.  Carla Owens is a detective determined to bring an elusive yet serial rapist to justice, all while battling unforeseen medical problems.  Then, the unthinkable happens that brings these two women together with a common goal.  Yet in the midst of it all, where is God when He says all things will work together for good?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the production of Where is Good? is fairly professional, but there are some issues that keep it average.  Video quality and camera work are on standard.  However, there is too much blank audio quality and dead air, as well as an inconsistent soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are realistic and are utilized well.  However, the editing is somewhat amateurish as scenes either cut back and forth too quickly, chop off at awkward points, or lag too long.  These errors make for a confusing experience and drag down the overall quality.  Thus, this production must be rated as average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

From the beginning on, Where is Good? appears to be trying to push a very clear point, and this is accomplished by using juvenile, obvious, and sometimes grasping dialogue.  Unfortunately, though there is a lot of it, the dialogue does nothing to help the characters feel accessible or realistic.  Some very interesting issues are raised and explored throughout this plot, but they are portrayed in a very simplistic manner that causes the story to seem unrealistic and contrived.  There are too many disjointed subplots that cause the storyline to lack focus, even though the purpose is clear.  Too many flat, dry sequences cause the runtime to extend too far and overstay its welcome.  However, even though things are all over the place for almost two hours of this film and the presentation of these issues is amateurish, for roughly the last ten minutes of the film, an interesting twist materializes that casts the entire story in a new light.  Unfortunately, it’s too little too late and this idea is mostly wasted.  It would be interesting to see this plot rewritten, because there is some potential here that it mostly left on the proverbial field.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While there are some bright spots among this mostly amateur cast, there are quite a few issues that reflect poor acting coaching.  Sometimes line delivery is too forceful and dramatic, while other times it is too breathy.  Emotions are inconsistent, and there is far too much yelling.  In the end, it just comes out as average.

Conclusion

Where is Good? joins the growing list of Christian films that desperately need a remake because of the innovative and creative ideas they carry in damaged packaging.  There are many unique concepts locked inside of seemingly incomplete films that need to be either partially tweaked or completely refurbished so that they can have full impact on the entertainment field.  One day, perhaps some of them will be remade, but at the very least, future film makers can learn from the their mistakes and not repeat them.

 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

 

Badge of Faith (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Bryan Lawrence was a well-respected police officer who was caught in an unfortunately violent situation that ended with him becoming paralyzed.  However, through this very difficult situation, he fought to keep his optimism up as his family came around him and supported him.  Though it was deemed impossible, Bryan sought to walk again with the goal of walking his future daughter-in-law down the aisle.  Times were hard and sometimes he and his family felt like giving up, but his faith in God always kept him grounded.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Badge of Faith is clearly a well-funded production with professional caliber video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  The soundtrack is somewhat generic but is respectable.  Sets, locations, and props are highly realistic and appropriate.  There is little negative to speak about here, except for the fact that the editing seems unfinished in that some scenes seem abruptly cut off before they’re done.  However, despite this issue, this is a nearly perfect production that the creators should be proud of.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This story is a very inspiring real-life story, but one has to question how it is presented in this film.  As it is, the storyline is fairly boring and somewhat flat, even though there is a lot of potentially interesting content here.  For instance, there are too many montages that stunt character development.  Even though there are some good attempts at developing the characters through realistic dialogue, since there are not many characters and since this is a character-driven plot, we would have liked to see further development.  Though there are many pertinent and accessible issues explored in this film, the storyline overall lacks the necessary continuity and driving purpose that would make this movie dynamic.  Though the struggles of the characters can be appreciated, it feels like this is just a string of random sequences.  In the end, Stone Table Films knows how to find a realistic story and make a movie out of, but like Touched by Grace, the plot of Badge of Faith leaves something to be desired.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting is definitely the strongest point of this film.  The cast is highly professional and well-coached.  Each member is case highly appropriately.  Emotions are very realistic and line delivery is on point.  There are no errors to point out here.

Conclusion

It is certainly enjoyable and refreshing to watch the movies produced by the Stone Table team, but it is also frustrating to see the potential they left behind.  If Touched by Grace and Badge of Faith had slightly better plot improvement, each of these films would be on the Hall of Fame.  Yet the Stone Table team is continually improving, so there is great hope for their future.  We firmly believe they will keep trying until they finally get that blockbuster release.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

Angela Elwell Hunt: The Fairlawn Trilogy, Book 1

Image result for doesn't she look natural angela hunt

The Fairlawn Trilogy is one of Angela E. Hunt’s lesser known book series, and was not quite as popular as some of her standalone novels, however, I have always had a soft spot for this series. This trilogy has an eccentric charm and many unique qualities that make it all that it is. The first novel in the series is titled Doesn’t She Look Natural? The opening chapters of this novel introduce the reader to a woman named Jennifer Graham. Jennifer has recently gone through a nasty divorce from her husband, which is further complicated by the fact that they both work in close company for the government. In light of various conflicting circumstances, Jennifer decides to quit her job and move herself and her two sons to her mother’s home while she looks for a new job….far away from her ex-husband. She is confused and dissapointed in how things have turned out, and worried that she will not be able to provide for her sons on her own. However, a twist of fate brings the answer to Jennifer’s worries. She is informed that she has inherited a funeral home in the historic Mt. Dora, Florida. Unsure as to how to take this news, Jennifer makes the decision to travel to Florida with her sons and mother to see what it is like. Once there, she falls in love with the old funeral home, and learns that there are many lessons to be learned from serving the families of loved ones who have passed on. What lessons does Jennifer learn? Will she be able to make a living out of running a funeral home? To answer these questions, read the book!;) While the plot-lines of these three novels are somewhat simple, they draw in readers of all ages in only a way that a good novel can. This trilogy would make a good beginner project for a Christian filmmaker looking to make their mark on the Christian movie world. In light of the simple plots, one could combine all three books into one Christian film, or divide the content to create a short inspirational miniseries. Once again we can see that even with simple novels, there is ample content with which to create films.

Reading Kate (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Michael O’Neil is down on his luck and all alone, except for this daughter.  But when he receives word that his estranged separated wife, Kate, is dying of a chronic disease, he jumps at the chance to discover how much money she has.  Yet in meeting her again and reconnecting with her, he begins fulfilling her final wishes and discovers that the two of them still have something in common.  As Michael reads Kate books to honor her, their conversations turn to eternal things and nature of the afterlife.  They must both make significant decisions that will impact their lives forever.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

After several years of struggling productions, the Kelly’s Filmworks team has finally discovered a winning formula.  Though this film is entirely black and white, it definitely adds to the experience and makes it a unique standout.  Video quality and audio quality are majorly improved from past films.  Camera work is still artistic at times, but Jefferson and Kelly Moore have finally embraced their true artistry.  The original soundtrack is very interesting and creative.  Sets and locations are somewhat limited in this film, but that is justified given the story.  The biggest issue here is the editing, as there are one too many montages.  Yet in the end, the production of Reading Kate demonstrates real improvement and gives great hope for the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

After several years of dead-end plots, Jefferson and Kelly Moore have finally discovered who they truly are as film makers, and this is reflected in the characters they play.  They have embraced their personalities and have let them flow into the dialogue of these characters.  This dialogue builds them into realistic people that we can connect with and relate to.  However, the overuse of montages keeps us from getting to know these characters at a deeper level, which is sometimes we would have liked to see happen in this film.  Yet nonetheless, Reading Kate is an honest, character-driven story that draws on the true talents of Jefferson and Kelly Moore.  There is some dry comedy throughout, yet some of it is funny.  It offers a unique Christian message and intriguing psychological elements that make the viewer think.  Though the ending is somewhat abrupt, yet also thought-provoking.  In the end, while there is still a little work to do, we are excited about the direction the Moores have chosen to go with their plots.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Though this film utilizes many of the typical Kelly’s Filmworks actors and actresses, there demonstrate significant improvement in their performances.  This is actually the most improved category, as Jefferson Moore sheds his old personas and trades them for an embracing of his true self.  Kelly Moore also finally demonstrates her acting talents that we never had a good chance to see before.  Two-character conversation films are hard to effectively act in, but the two of them work well together.  Though there are some minor line delivery issues that keep this section form being perfect, this is still something to be excited about.

Conclusion

Sometimes it takes film companies a little longer than others to find themselves and to find where they fit in the industry.  Though we have been critical of the work of the Moores in the past, the good thing is that they did not give up and kept trying.  The progression of 1 Message, Pieces of Easter, and now Reading Kate demonstrates concerted improvement, which is all we ask of film makers.  Now that the older days of low-quality films are behind them, we can’t wait to see what the Moores have in store next.

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

 

Pieces of Easter {Backroads and Lillies} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

While high-power executive Alza Bennet is on her way to see her parents, her sister, and her niece and nephew for Easter, who car breaks down, which leads to a serious of disastrous events, including her being stuck with a reclusive country farmer as her only option for transport.  Since she has not seen her family in over a year, Alza is desperate to get there on time, but things keep happening that delay their trip, not to mention the fact that she and her driver cannot get along at all.  But slowly, Alza begins to see the joy of simplicity away from her fast-paced life, even though she hates to be inconvenienced.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Over the years, Kelly’s Filmworks has certainly improved their production quality.  In Pieces of Easter, video quality and audio quality are what they should be.  There are still some trademark Jefferson Moore artistic camera angles, but that’s his brand at this point.  The soundtrack is also random and cheesy and is seemingly made up of free music.  However, sets, locations, and props, are authentic and more diverse than usual.  Finally, the poor editing mostly holds this production back from being better.  Thus, it must be rated as average.  Though this is an improvement from the past, we still feel that they can do better.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Pieces of Easter is a better version of the typical Jefferson Moore two-character conversation plot because things actually happen outside of the drawn-out conversations, and they are actually less drawn out than usual and are broken up by some attempts at comedy.  However, not all of the comedy is funny and some of it is quite forced.  Though this storyline is a stereotypical fish-out-of-water plot, it is presented better and is likely as good as this type of limited story is going to get.  This is likely because attempts were made to develop the characters through dialogue, although they could be deeper.  The biggest drawbacks to this plot are the overly-plentiful dead scenes and goofy montages.  There are too many slow parts that don’t hold the attention and too many references to off-screen content.  Overall, though this is a nice try, it really doesn’t make it far enough.

Acting Quality (2 points)

With some slightly different than usual cast members, the acting is the strongest portion of this film.  However, some lines are still mumbled and some emotions are still over the top.  However, most cast members are placed in appropriate roles.  This overall rounds off a decent performance.

Conclusion

The Moores and the Kelly’s Filmworks team certainly never gives up.  They have been on a steady upward trend throughout their career.  Pieces of Easter is a far cry from low-quality productions like The Perfect Stranger saga and Clancy.  It demonstrates real effort to improve, which is encouraging.  With just a little but more work done on production, some continued casting quality, and more creative plots, this team will finally make their mark on Christian entertainment.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

1 Message (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Becca Norris had it all—money, success, and a boyfriend—until her doctor discovers that she has breast cancer and requires a major operation to save her life.  However, the operation leaves her changed forever, thus causing her boyfriend to become uninterested in her.  His departure sends Becca into a reclusive depression that no one, not even her family, can shake her out of.  Yet when her brother gets interested in internet research, Becca meets a man online who is interested in her as a person and who makes her think twice about shutting herself off from the world.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

1 Message falls into the typical mold of a Kelly’s Filmworks production.  With good video quality and overly artistic camera shots, this film is classic Jefferson Moore.  Audio quality is fine, but the soundtrack is a bit off.  There is basically only one set in this film, but the props are good.  Though this production tends to improve as it goes on, there is little to no justification for it being two and a half hours long.  There is a serious lack of editing in this movie that will cause many audiences to give up by the first hour.  In the end, this is an average production that needs some more fleshing out and cutting down in order to make it more professional.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As previously mentioned, it is mind-boggling that this film is two and a half hours long when there is certainly not enough interesting content to sustain this runtime.  The first hour or so of the film is incredibly boring and melodramatic as it confusingly conceals parts of the story for the second hour.  The first half includes a fixation on breast cancer and ‘genie-ologies’, as well as weird attempts at humor.  A majority of the ‘dialogue’ is people verbatim typing and reading stuff on the computer over and over again, which is incredibly boring and does nothing to build the characters, even though there are few of them.  Time is also wasted and filled with activities of daily living, including the characters lying around and sulking, which further stunts character development.  However, if you have the time and stamina, the story comes down to an interesting point if you can slog through two hours of useless content.  Basically, this film needs a serious redo, because as it is, nobody is going to give a care.

Acting Quality (1 point)

With such a small cast, most errors stand out, unfortunately.  Though there is some good to be found here, there is also a lot of bad, including some very boring and dry emotions, ridiculously over the top attempts to be dramatic, and very measure line delivery.  Unfortunately, Kelly’s Filmworks films seem to consistently struggle in this department.

Conclusion

With a movie this long, there should have been plenty of positive things to say.  However, rather than making this a deep character exploration plot, time is filled with fluff and fake drama that ruins the good idea that is behind this plot.  We can appreciate the work of Jefferson and Kelly Moore, but they often get too lost in the artistry of film making.  They would do well to collaborate with different story writers so they can more effectively create films.  We believe that they mean well—they just need to take that next step.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Chris Fabry: Dogwood

Image result for dogwood chris fabry

As I looked over the book reviews that I have done thus far, I realized that I have not included any titles from male authors, so, I decided to remedy this situation by making sure to include authors of both genders from now on. Chris Fabry is a very unique Christian novelist who writes with a gritty, compelling style that draws the reader into the suffering and of joy of the character/characters. He has written books for both teens and adults alike, and is loved by readers of all ages. One of my favorite novels by Fabry is the epic titled Dogwood. This novel deals with subjects such as grief, bitterness, small towns, loss, love, sorrow, life, death, redemption, forgiveness, passion, and God’s unfailing love. This story is set in the fictional town of Dogwood, West Virginia, and paints a realistic picture of small-town drama and conflict. The opening chapters introduce the reader to the two main characters, a troubled woman named Karin, and a man named Will who longs to be set free from his dark past. Karin and Will were once in love, but tragic circumstances forced them apart, and they have not seen each other for years…until now. Karin, driven by grief and insecurity, chose to marry a man that she does not love, as she believed that security and routine would heal her scars. They had three children together, and on the surface, they appear to be the average American family. Karin has a self-admitted bitter attitude at God for allowing certain circumstances to occur, however, she is unaware that the bitterness has blossomed into anger. This fact begins creep up on her, and she finds herself increasingly unhappy in her marriage. Meanwhile, Will has just been released from prison, one of the factors that drew he and Karin apart, and is set on finding the only woman he ever loved. He is shocked to discover that she has abandoned her first love for another, yet is not surprised that the people of Dogwood remember his past in what they believe to be perfect detail. Karin finds a fountain of wisdom in an elderly member of the community named Ruthie, and at first finds her to be blunt, but later discovers that she speaks the truth. Ruthie urges Karin to face her anger at God, and determine where the root of the problem lies. What will Karin decide? Does Will ever become liberated from the pain of his past? Will they both choose to run to the One who holds their past, present, and future….and loves them anyway? To answer these questions, read the book!;) Dogwood would make a landmark Christian film in the epic genre, and would do well in the hands of the Erwin brothers, as they have proven themselves to be experts at making gritty, yet poignant and meaningful epics in the past. I am excited to see if Christian filmmakers will discover the potential found in Christian novels such as these!

Sweet Sweet Summertime (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After experiencing the tragic death of his beloved mother, Caleb Burns just wants everything to stay the same.  Everything does stay the same for a time, until Caleb’s father announces that they will be moving from Franklin, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia after the summer is over.  Thus, Caleb and his friend Blake launch a summer master plan to not only do the things they want to do before the move, but to also try to convince Caleb’s father to change his mind.  Caleb and Blake also start a club dedicated to Caleb’s mom that does good deeds all around town.  Over the course of the summer, they learn more about themselves than they anticipated and discover just how much of a difference one summer can make.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

In keeping with their past reputation, Echolight Studios, along with its partners Triple Horse Studios and Abington Ridge Films, is certainly dedicated to building high-quality Christian productions.  Nearly every production element of Sweet Sweet Summertime is flawless.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all highly professional.  The original soundtrack suits this film.  Sets, locations, and props are also very appropriate for this film and demonstrate quality.  The only negative production element to raise is the editing, as there are one too many montages and the advancement of time is a bit too rapid.  Yet, as always, this is a top-notch production that should be commonplace in all Christian films.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Also in keeping with past trends, Echolight and their team tend to leave much to be desired when it comes to their plots.  Sweet Sweet Summertime is a fairly predictable and formulaic coming-of-age film that basically writes itself from beginning to end, yet the writers did the best they could with what they had, which is all we can ask.  There is too much unnecessary and heavy-handed narration that stunts character development, yet there is also dialogue that assists in making the characters realistic and accessible.  While this story has been done before, this rendition of it is certainly not as cheesy as it could have been and many audiences will find it enjoyable.  The ending is very rushed and tidy, yet there are plenty of viewers who will like it.  Overall, while we would have liked to see more creativity, at least this team put their best foot forward.

Acting Quality (3 points)

This is the sort of cast that we should see in every Christian film.  They are highly professional and well-coached.  Line delivery is flawless and emotions are very believable.  It is rare that you see a film with no acting errors in it, but Sweet Sweet Summertime is one of those films.

Conclusion

Echolight has solidified themselves as a reliably professional studio when it comes to production quality.  They also know how to assemble a respectable, error-free cast.  Yet time and again, Echolight plots tend to leave something to be desired by choosing pre-written storylines that lack creativity.  While films like Sweet Sweet Summertime will have some impact on its target audiences, it will unfortunately be easily forgotten in time.  In order to have a lasting impact in film, the plot must be dynamic.  The day that Echolight uses a dynamic plot will be the day that the Christian film world is turned upside down.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

 

https://offers.pureflix.com/sweet-sweet-summertime-trailer

A Path in Time (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Tom is grief-stricken when his father suddenly and mysteriously dies, but he soon discovers a strange artifact his father left behind that opens up a whole new world for him that he never knew existed.  Using the device, Tom travels back in time to find that all he ever knew is not as it seems and he is caught in a battle that spans decades.  Only he can stop the evil that is coming, if he has enough faith and courage.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

It seems like the entire point of A Path in Time was to show off the professional special effects and animation the production team obviously had access to.  There are also other good production elements to be found, such as fine video quality and camera work.  Audio quality is also on standard, though the soundtrack leaves something to be desired.  Unfortunately, sets and locations are fairly cheap and limited.  Finally, there is next to no editing as scenes are dragged out and expounded upon just to make the runtime reach barely sixty minutes.  In the end, it is clear that some thought was put into this production, but this movie is still only half of an idea.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

While we always welcome different genres of Christian film, time travel plots are always going to be problematic, illogical, and unnecessarily mind-bending.  Sci-fi plots are already hard enough to craft without introducing all sorts of isolating concepts through constant information dump dialogue.  As the characters drone on about ideas foreign to the audience and speculative lingo, there is little chance to get to know them as people.  There are too many convenient turns and highly confusing plot ‘twists’ that are associated with the time travel concept.  This is not even to mention the fact that the concepts and premise presented in this barely-one-hour film are far too expansive and complicated to cram into this time frame.  We need more gradual development of these ideas rather than an uninvited dump of ideas.  Also, was this film meant to be continued?  It’s been twelve years and there is no plan for a sequel, even though the story clearly leaves the viewer hanging.  Overall, this story is far too confusing to warrant any points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

All too often, this cast exhibits very lifeless emotions and monotone line delivery.  While the performances are certainly not all bad, they could also use a lot of work.  Some effort was put towards historical costuming at least.  It seems like this cast has potential, but it goes untapped.

Conclusion

It’s very hard to determine exactly what the purpose of A Path in Time was.  The creators had a vague idea and some special effect software, so they charged right ahead to make a beta test.  Perhaps they were just experimenting, but was this really worth releasing to the public?  It seems like they could have built off of the ideas here over time and not rushed through them.  There are certainly many struggles to independent film making, but time and consistency are almost always on your side.  If God wants to make a film, the provision will always be there.  We just need to make sure we aren’t rushing things.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Angela Elwell Hunt: The Face

Image result for the face angela hunt

Previously on this column I have mentioned the brilliance of a certain Christian author; Angela E. Hunt, and today will be no different. Angela Hunt has to be one of the best Christian authors out there, she is definitely the most creative and adventurous in her topics. Before I discovered her work, I had never read anyone who wrote with such a unique, addicting style. This is not to mention the fact that it is a rare Christian author indeed who takes on the subjects that Hunt does. In her famous novel, The Face, Hunt does not disappoint in bringing the audience a thought-provoking topic and a compelling plot. The opening chapters of The Face introduce the reader to a young woman named Sarah Sims. Sarah’s mother died giving birth to her, and her father, who was employed as a CIA agent, was killed in the line of duty shortly thereafter. One of the contributing factors to her mother’s death was the fact that Sarah was born with a potentially life-threatening disease known as Treacher-Collins syndrome. Her case is so severe that her facial features are almost nonexistent. To protect her from exploitation and verbal abuse, the CIA has kept her locked away from the outside world. Sarah lives in a secret CIA facility and is employed as a computer espionage expert. Her only friends are former and current CIA agents who are also hidden from the outside. Sarah is facing a life-altering decision, as her doctors inform her that a surgery is available that could give her the face she has always longed for. However, her decision is put on hold when her aunt suddenly appears. Sarah assumed that she has no other relatives, and was never told otherwise, so the appearance of her aunt is a surprise, to say the least. She and her aunt bond, and Sarah finds companionship, and a longing for something more than her current fate. With the help of her aunt, Sarah seeks to discover how her father died. However, little does she know that this will bring both heartbreak and healing. Will Sarah discover the truth about her father’s death? Will she decide to go through with a life-changing surgery? Most importantly, will Sarah discover the One who loves her unconditionally? To answer these questions, read the book!;) The Face would make an excellent action adventure/thriller/drama Christian film. There are multiple different ways that one could make a movie about this novel. A Christian filmmaker could choose to stay true to original content as a whole, or choose to focus more on certain aspects of the plot more than others. I would be very impressed if someone even attempted to make a film out of a complex novel such as this.

Streams in the Desert, Part 2: Words of Life (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Lettie and Charles Cowman answered God’s call to missions, He called them to Japan to minister.  However, they faced many obstacles in their ministry, including health struggles.  Though they were forced to leave and come back to the United States, their hearts were always set on missions in Asia as they gave their lives to the calling of God.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Words of Life at least looks better on the surface than Discovering God’s Call.  Video quality is still fine, and camera work has improved in the second installment.  However, audio quality is still quite poor, including the same old loud soundtrack.  Care is still given to historical authenticity, for the most part, but sets and locations are still limited, which makes this attempted epic look cheesy.  Editing is also an issue in this part as there is still a lot of unnecessary content to boost the runtime, yet there is also a great amount of off-screen content that is neglected.  In short, the Streams in the Desert experiment totally failed production standards, especially since it was recently made.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As if we missed anything in the first part, the first ten to fifteen minutes of Words of Life rehashes what you might have missed in Discovering God’s Call.  Actually, this little recap renders the entire first part useless because it gives you the boring highlights.  Much like the first part, Words of Life relies heavily on narration and long, extended sequences that could put an audience to sleep.  Once again, there are no meaningful attempts to help the viewer to connect with the characters by making them even the slightest bit realistic.  The dialogue is still very archaic, empty, and stilted.  As previously mentioned, there is a great deal of off-screen content that is talked about but not shown, likely due to budget constraints.  There are too many scenes that depict characters doing things that don’t really look like that’s what they’re actually doing.  In short, despite over two hours of plot content, there is nothing to help us believe this is a realistic story, thus making it a failed epic.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This is same song, different verse once again.  Acting is very unsure, with the same unnatural and measure line delivery, and the same flat, nonexistent emotions.  A new feature of Words of Life, however, is the cultural shortcuts taken.  What is the point of making a film about Asian missions when you have no intention to cast a single Asian cast member?  This is beyond tacky and further begs the question as to why this two-part disaster was even allowed to be made.

Conclusion

Though this true story is long, it is presented in such a way that two and a half hours of content are completely unnecessary.  What puzzles me is that there was enough funding to produce this much film but not enough funding to make it a quality project.  What if they reduced the runtime and put more money towards actually making the production respectable?  What if they tried to write a better story with more realistic dialogue?  What if the cast was coached to be more natural?  There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in the Christian film world that are never really answered, and Streams in the Desert is just another example of a well-intentioned effort with nothing to back it up.  Thus, we must return to the rule of thumb in Christian film making: if the budget is not there to make a quality film, don’t make it.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Streams in the Desert, Part 1: Discovering God’s Call (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

While on a train ride to Chicago, a Christian movie actress ends up sitting across from Lettie Cowman, the author of her favorite Christian devotional, Streams in the Desert.  While in route to their destination, Lettie relays the story of her early life and how she came to know her husband.  After they married, Lettie and her husband felt the Lord’s call to the mission field, so they answered the call and found many great things in store for them.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

For such a new production, the low quality demonstrated by this film is unacceptable.  The only good thing about this production is its video quality.  Otherwise, camera work is unusual, including odd zooms.  Audio quality is deplorable and very echoed.  The soundtrack is stock and is sometimes too loud.  Sets and locations are severely limited, although most of the props are historically accurate.  There are far too many long and empty scenes that demonstrate a lack of adequate editing.  It seems like a lot of content is included just to pad the runtime and make it possible for two of these films to be produced.  In short, when compared with the rising standard of production in Christian film, Discovering God’s Call is very much below par and is very disappointing.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

To make this story into two films, Discovering God’s Call is literally one long conversation between two characters with nothing to break it up except for extremely drab and dry flashback scenes, which are also quite lengthy.  Though it is based on a true story that could have been interesting, the plot is incredibly boring and in no way holds the attention.  The dialogue is very archaic, awkward, and cumbersome, which causes the characters to be extremely cardboard and stiff.  The way this story is presented makes us even wonder why we care about the mundane activities of daily living these people did.  Even though this idea could be meaningful and interesting, it is not presented that way in this film, which shows a lot of wasted potential here.  In the end, this is just another embarrassing disappointment.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Not that they were given much help or that their lines were easy to say, but this incredibly tiny cast falls short of standards.  Without coaching, they are extremely robotic and wooden, using overly practiced and downright unnatural line delivery.  Emotions are nonexistent and flat—everything seems monotone.  The only redeeming quality here is the good historical costuming.  Otherwise, this section tops off a big waste of time.

Conclusion

Since a lot of this historical account takes place off screen from this film, what was the point of making two parts to this?  It would be one thing if the two parts actually formed a real historical epic, but this is just an extended and awkward local news interview.  It might as well be a docu-drama.  This is certainly not the way to make a modern film, especially one that is supposed to be an epic.  Streams in the Desert is nothing short of a disappointment…but wait…we still have another one of these to review…

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Turbulent (in progress)

Currently in progress from Rossetti Productions and Mark Edward Films

Website

 

Writer(s): Chip Rossetti

Director(s): Chip Rossetti, Mark Edward

Producer(s): Chip Rossetti, Mark Edward

Starring: Jeremy London, Juliet London

 

Plot Synopsis:

“Turbulent” is the story of husband and wife, Richard and Rachel Kline, who find themselves deep in the wooded wilderness, after their small plane crashes into the forest. The pilot is killed on impact, leaving Richard and Rachel injured and alone. Richard and Rachel will try to survive their plight, while at the same time coming to terms with the issues that they face with one another. Rachel’s Faith has her in a place where she is finding comfort in God, despite their situation, but Richard can’t see that.

Remember [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Carl Onoway is a captain in the new world army and is constantly tasked with making sure the new laws are enforced.  Children are not allowed to be raised by their parents and can only be raised by qualified professionals.  Everyone is required to take weekly medication to make them forget about their pasts and what has happened.  Propaganda, such as religious materials, is not allowed.  But what happens when these rules begin to be disobeyed?  What happens when Carl and his wife begin to remember the past?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Here’s a good rule of thumb for production: if you don’t have the budget to make it good, don’t make it at all.  This is especially true for sci-fi\speculative dystopian productions.  These types of projects require a lot of funding to create proper special effects, props, sets, and locations.  Unfortunately, Remember does not have what it takes in this department.  Audio quality is especially horrific, with lots of echoes and background noises.  Lighting is very inconsistent, with a lot of the outside scenes inordinately bright.  Camera work is very shaky and video quality is inconsistent.  Sets, locations, and props are very cheap-looking, with obvious low-quality special effects and animation riding on top of them.  The editing is lazy as it includes constant useless time subtitles and repeated sequences.  In the end, this is one of those nightmare productions that should have never been released to the public.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like the propaganda pushed in the plot of this film, the writers obviously had their own agenda in making this movie.  Otherwise, there’s no reason for its creation.  The dystopian premise constructed here is extremely absurd and juvenile as the viewer is constantly reminded that kids cannot be raised by their parents in this world but is given no realistic explanation as to why.  This is combined with constant obvious references to how the natural family structure is attacked in this dystopian world.  Rather than create meaningful characters, time is filled with message-pushing and repeating the same activities over and over again.  The villains are laughable and the protagonists are plastic.  As the story meanders and repeats itself, it still follows a predictable progression with a typical suspense climax scene.  Basically, what appears to be a convoluted idea just boils down to a typical plot structure with no real surprises.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Another grave error of a poorly-funded dystopian thriller is terrible costuming, and Remember sports this quality.  In an attempt to be futuristic, the costuming is very cheap and rushed.  As for the acting, line delivery is very half-hearted while emotional delivery is very forced and sometimes over the top.  Once again, this is another swing and a miss.

Conclusion

We desperately need new genre-breaking films in the Christian market, but this is just not the way.  What could be better than a well-funded, well-constructed dystopian thriller with a Christian worldview that’s not too pushy?  Unfortunately, Remember’s attempt to do this totally failed.  Maybe the creative team should have saved their money a bit more or made a dystopian short film just to get the ball rolling.  We know that funding an independent Christian film is very difficult, especially starting out, but that doesn’t mean you need to bite off more than you can chew.  There is no shame in doing the best you can with what you have.  Unfortunately, Remember is not the best.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Paper Dream [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Christy has always had a dream, since she was a little girl, of growing up, getting married, and having beautiful children.  But her dream is shattered time and again when she cannot get pregnant and she is told that she will never have children.  Thus, her and her husband look into adoption, even though they want to have a child of their own.  But as they journey together on the path God is taking them on, they find out that God has something in store for them that they could have never anticipated.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

American Family Studios has always demonstrated a commitment to high quality productions.  In Paper Dream, nearly every production element is great, including video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  The soundtrack could be a little more creative, but it’s fine as it is.  Sets, locations, and props are also professional.  The only negative factor to bring up is the editing and the runtime of this film, as it is far too short while at the same time includes too much wasted content.  But overall, this is an example of what Christian productions should look like.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As usual, Jeremy and Kendra White present a realistic story that is accessible and heartwarming.  However, they don’t go near as far as they could with the story and leave a lot of subplots underdeveloped.  With only 45 minutes of time, as previously mentioned, there is still time wasted on pointless montages and dead-end conversations.  Due to time constraints and these conversations, the characters are quite shallow.  There is too much reliance on narration, yet this film makes an interesting point that really hits home.  The ending is unexpected and refreshing, but there is little to no build up.  Basically, we need more from this film—more character development, more realistic dialogue, more explored subplots.  We can see the merit in making a short film to begin a career, but they were so close to something great.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For a mostly amateur cast, their performances are good, but they are still average due to some errors that hold them back.  For example, some cast members are overly practiced in their acting and awkward in their delivery.  However, they are sometimes fine and demonstrate great potential.  With better coaching, they could be dynamic.

Conclusion

The good thing about Paper Dream is that it is a freshman effort and we can see that Jeremy and Kendra White went on to do greater things with Summer Snow.  Still, it’s frustrating to see so much potential left lying on the proverbial playing field.  But nonetheless, we know that Jeremy and Kendra know how to make a good film and will likely make another memorable project like Summer Snow in the future.  Hopefully they have been able to build off of Paper Dream to make a greater difference in the Christian entertainment world.  We anticipate what they have to offer next.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

94 Feet (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The coal town of St. Michaels is falling apart.  The mill has already closed and now the coal mine is downsizing.  The town is shrinking and people are leaving to find better times elsewhere.  But one tragic day, the mine collapses and traps all of the miners beneath the surface of the earth.  The entire town comes together to pray and rescue the miners from certain death before time runs out.  Will they all lose the men they love and their faith at same time?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

In the past, Chip Rossetti has had many rough moments when it comes to movie making, especially production elements (see Right to Believe and Fathers).  However, 94 Feet demonstrates a definite improvement in this department, including professional video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  The soundtrack is also intriguing.  Sets, locations, and props are very appropriate and realistic.  There are some minor issues in the special effects department, but this and some confusing editing are the only errors to highlight.  Overall, this film demonstrates that no matter how small you start, you can always improve in your movie career if you put your mind to it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Though the plot of 94 Feet is a definite improvement over past efforts, it still leaves something to be desired.  It’s great to use a real life story to base your movie on, but the premise if this film is still somewhat shallow as the characters and their dialogue need better development.  There are too many very dry attempts at comedy and too much wasted time.  The beginning of the plot is too slow and not engaging enough and does not use time wisely to develop characters.  While we can appreciate their struggles, they still need more realism to deepen the experience.  As it is, this story is fine and will many audiences will enjoy it, we just can’t help but feel it could have gone a step further.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

This section is also a major improvement over swing-and-miss casts of previous Rossetti films.  These cast members appear to actually know what they are doing and demonstrate honesty and realism.  Each cast member is cast appropriately.  Emotions and live delivery are on point; this cast only demonstrates minor errors, thus making it this film’s strongest portion.

Conclusion

Though improvement is sometimes slow and meager, any improvement is always good regardless.  Sometimes it takes time to hone film making skills, and it appears that Chip Rossetti and his team are on the right road.  Production and casting have greatly improved, so the final frontier for them will be plots.  With better characters and a more engaging storyline, the Rossetti team will be looking at a Hall of Fame film in no time, if they stay the course and don’t give up.

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

 

Karen Kingsbury: Just Beyond The Clouds

Image result for just beyond the clouds

Karen Kingsbury’s book A Thousand Tomorrows was so well received that she made the decision to create Just Beyond the Clouds, the final book in her widely read The Cody Gunner Series. It is my opinion that this is the best book in the series, as it expands beyond the typical Christian romance novel to focus on how life challenges and broken family life can affect relationships. Just Beyond the Clouds deals with subjects such as adults with Down Syndrome, broken families, relationships, love, God’s forgiveness, healing, redemption, life challenges, and hope. The novel opens by introducing a new character in the series; Elle Dalton. Elle is a young woman who has obeyed God’s call on her life to train and teach young adults with Down Syndrome to live independent lives, an idea that seems radical to many of her peers. One of her students is her sister, Daisy. Elle is very protective of Daisy and at times does not want her sister to be independent, even though this is what she teaches others to do. Elle has recently gone through the difficult experience of having a serious relationship end in heartbreak, on the day that her wedding was supposed to occur. This experience has left her insecure and confused as to why God would allow such a thing to happen. Cody Gunner has just returned home from the bull riding circuit to discover that his parents have been allowing his brother, Carl Joseph, to attend Elle’s independence classes. Infuriated at his parents, he volunteers to take his brother to class one day….and meets Elle. In spite of himself he has to admit that Elle’s work with Carl Joseph has produced considerable improvement. Drawn together by Providence, and shared heartbreak, Elle and Cody find solace in one another’s company. However, they must learn that there is more to a relationship than romance, and that their siblings are not the most important part of their lives; God is. Will Elle and Cody move beyond attraction to commitment? Will they put aside their bitterness towards God and ask His forgiveness? To answer these questions, read the book!;) Just Beyond the Clouds would make a good standalone film. In the hands of the right writer/director/producer, it could be great. The secret to bringing Karen Kingsbury’s novels to the big screen is to take her ideas and bring out their full potential. In fact, I believe that someone could discover the full potential of many of her novels by making them into movies.

Ace Wonder: Message from a Dead Man (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ace Wonder, aka Gator Moore, always loves a good mystery and seeks to solve whichever ones come in front of him so that justice may be served.  While traveling with his family on vacation, when their camper breaks down in a small Tennessee town, Gator accidentally stumbles upon a family with a mystery that needs solving.  Derek Morton’s grandfather died unexpectedly and left behind a cryptic message that cause many to suspect he was crazy.  However, Gator believes there is something bigger afoot and enlists his siblings to assist him in solving the case.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

After The Widow’s Might, it was difficult to see what the future of HeuMoore Productions was.  However, with Ace Wonder: Message from a Dead Man, the HeuMoore team has demonstrated adequate improvement.  Video quality is professional, and camera work is fine except for some weird camera angles that attempt to be suspenseful.  Audio quality is great and the original soundtrack is creative without SINGING.  Sets, locations, and props are good but somewhat limited.  There are some cheesy special effects utilized, but animation is actually used effectively and enhances the film.  Finally, editing is quite good, thus rounding out an overall average production.  This is definitely a great effort for an underfunded project, and it is great to see this team continually improving.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though there is some potential to this Ace Wonder plot, it is still a mostly formulaic suspense\mystery storyline.  The story is based on too many coincidences, mystery clichés, and clues being found at opportune times.  Though there is way too much narration, the dialogue and characters are actually good, which shows that this team is trying to make a good film.  This story would be way better with a little more creativity and real plot twists, as well as a less fundamentalist portrayal of women.  Mysteries are certainly a hard genre to write, since it’s easy to fall into cheesy coincidences, so they might consider trying a different genre next time.  Overall, it is great to have a different genre in Christian film for once, and this team certainly has the potential and wherewithal to go further in their careers to do something great.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Though Ace Wonder uses a lot of the same cast members from The Widow’s Might, there are others that make for a greatly improved acting experience.  It seems like all of the cast members from the previous film have honed their skills better.  This category is actually the most improved as there are really no glaring errors except for a few minor missteps.  Once again, this gives great hope for the future.

Conclusion

Coming back from the horrific Widow’s Might couldn’t have been easy for HeuMoore Productions, but on the whole, despite their unusual worldview that needs broadening, the Moore team really seems like they are trying this time.  They definitely put forth more effort in the production and acting departments and it is encouraging that they are showing improvements, especially since they are committed to breaching different genres in Christian film.  The biggest blessing of Ace Wonder was the lack of cast members singing.  Now if they can continue to hone their plot creativity and shed some of the odd components of their worldview, they will really be on the track to greatness.  After The Widow’s Might, I never thought I would be saying this, but the HeuMoore team has great potential for the future.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

A Horse Called Bear (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Ethan’s mother dies in a car wreck, he inherits everything she owned, especially her horse, called Bear!  Therefore, he decides to forsake all of his other possessions and his college scholarship to learn ‘computers’ and go to live with his aunt and uncle so he can be near his new horse.  As he wrestles with his life’s purpose and meets new friends, Bear is always there to bring them all together.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

This is likely one of Crystal Creek Media’s best productions, as it has good video quality and professional camera work, although some of the camera work tends to be too artistic.  Audio quality is fine, though the soundtrack is incredibly boring.  The same old sets and locations from all the Crystal Creek films, with some exceptions, are used again.  Finally, there are a lot of editing problems, including too many lagging scenes and not enough fluff being edited out.  There are too many repeated and useless sequences, as well as scenery sequences, that just fill time.  Basically, though they have made some strides, they still have some work to do.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It’s extremely difficult to grasp the purpose of this film.  The plot summary above is basically it, sans a few extra rabbit trail subplots that never seem to come to anything.  There are too many meandering and disconnected elements, thus causing the story to overall lack focus and direction.  From one scene to the next, it is hard to tell what is really happening or what the viewer is supposed to focus on.  Dialogue is extremely formal and empty at the time, thus creating cardboard characters.  There are too many trite and plastic Christian platitudes with no substance or meaning behind them.  Next time, the Crystal Creek team needs to give better scrutiny to their plots before letting the movie go to production.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Utilizing the same cast members over and over again can be cheap and easy, but it doesn’t pay off unless you have some serious acting coaching.  With this many films under the belts of these cast members, they should be getting better with experience, but they’re not.  There is a severe lack of emotion among this cast and too many lazy performances.  Unfortunately, this is another disappointing effort.

Conclusion

We still believe that the Crystal Creek team has good intentions—they just need a lot of direction and deepening.  They certainly persevere as they continue to put out film after film.  Since they have this drive, we ask that they use each film as a learning opportunity to get better and better.  Their production skills have slightly improved over time, but other areas are still suffering.  Perhaps as they continue to truck along, they will keep learning how to get better.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Alison’s Choice (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Alison is young and pregnant and she has no idea what to do.  Her boyfriend Rick is pressuring her to ‘take care of it’, so she drives herself to the abortion clinic and tries to go through with it, even though she is not sure.  As she continues to go back and forth in her decision, she meets a mysterious janitor who seems to know everything about her.  He tries to convince her not to end her baby’s life, but Alison is still torn.  As the clock ticks down, will she be able to make the right decision before time runs out?

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The good thing about Alison’s Choice is that the production quality is nearly flawless.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all very professional.  However, the soundtrack is somewhat typical.  Though the film is limited to basically one set and location, it is utilized well and the props therein are realistic and appropriate.  Really the only production problems to point out pertain to editing, as there are too many wasted scenes and sequences included and too many long scenes.  But despite this fact, it is very clear that great care was taken to make this production excellent.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of this film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

We went into Alison’s Choice with an open mind—we really did.  We still really love the idea behind this film, which keeps this portion from being zero or worse.  Yet this is one of the most horribly wasted ideas on the face of the earth.  Much like David A. R. White and Kirk Cameron, Bruce Marchiano’s movie making style has no respect for subtlety, as everything must be plainly spelled out in black and white without trusting the audience to figure things out on their own.  The Jesus character must be obviously highlighted through dialogue, and other dialogue elements are also extremely forceful.  There is nothing to do in this story except have characters talk (there’s nothing inherently wrong with this if it’s done correctly), but the conversations in this film contain some of the most bizarre insinuations and comments that make for an extremely unusual experience.  There are overt racial stereotypes and borderline racist jokes, not to mention weird comments about biology.  The portrayal of pro-abortion characters is largely strawman and downright embarrassing.  As the conversations meander on and weird things continue happening, Alison’s Choice really just boils down to a cringeworthy portrayal of the pro-life argument combined with a wasted idea.  It’s such a disappointment.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Some of these cast members could be good actors and actresses if they had coaching.  As it is, most of the cast members act like they have been instructed to ad-lib and ramble on in order to fill time.  It’s very hard to believe that some of the sequences of dialogue were actually written as the actors and actresses appear to strain for something to say.  Most of them are either extremely awkward or very over the top, including some laughable racial stereotypes.  In short, there is nothing in this film done subtly or tastefully.

Conclusion

It feels like Alison’s Choice is the Twilight Zone.  There are so many out of place and unnecessary commentaries, besides the ramblings of Bruce Marchiano and other cast members.  This film is essentially another version of The Encounter, just more disappointing.  Marchiano and his team get high marks for production effort, but they completely lost out on the rest of the movie.  This story needed a total rewrite before it was allowed to film, to ensure that this idea was not wasted.  The cast members also needed coaching and refinement.  Though we have been accused of personal attacks in the past and though some lives have been changed as a result of this film, we cannot help but feel that Marchiano’s ego is the thing that keeps Alison’s Choice from being all that it can be.  This is unfortunate, for there was an opportunity for a blockbuster film here.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Redemption of the Heart [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Alex Montoya has backslidden from his Christian faith, and now he finds himself under the weight of financial debt.  Desperate for money, he agrees to help his friend scam church members for money using a false charity front.  However, a kind man named Jacob soon sees through their scheme, yet wants to offer Alex a second chance.  Will Alex turn away from his double life and back to the faith he was raised in?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Though the video quality of this production is okay, it is really the only good element to it.  Camera work is fairly shaky and audio quality is relatively poor.  The soundtrack is loud and amateurish.  Sets and locations are mostly limited and need a little bit more work done on them.  Furthermore, the editing leaves something to be desired as there are too many montages and extended flat scenes.  Overall, there just seems like there’s a lot of corners being cut in this production, which is unacceptable in a film this new.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Redemption of the Heart follows a very predictable and stereotypical plot line.  Things happen because the pre-determined plot mold determined that they needed to happen; thus, the characters are swept along in inevitability.  Yet sometimes the premise is too vague, making it hard for the audience to understand what is happening some of the time.  There is a lot of off screen content mentioned, along with a lot of confusing dialogue that creates cardboard characters.  There is an attempt at a plot twist at the end, but it is introduced so late that it only leaves the viewers scratching their heads.  In the end, this story is so formulaic that it is unlikely to be easily remembered.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, many of these cast members look very fake and unnatural.  A majority of the line delivery is very stilted and awkward, with some of the lines being very indiscernible.  Any emotions seem very forced and empty.  Alas, this section rounds out another disappointing effort.

Conclusion

Redemption of the Heart is one of those films that will be forgotten shortly after it is watched.  It is a prime example of why it’s never a good idea to slap together a project just for the sake of releasing another Christian film.  The market doesn’t need to be flooded with more and more half-hearted attempts at Christian movies.  We say this all the time, but it still remains true: taking your time on a movie to make it quality, making sure you have the proper funding, writing a complex plot with good characters, and coaching your cast members well always, always, always pays off in the end.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

In Gramps’ Shoes (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ty is a 65-year-old retired grandfather, and he is passionate about running.  He is also passionate about praying for his estranged daughter, whom he has not heard from in nearly twenty years.  Therefore, when he suddenly hears from her one day, he is overjoyed.  She reaches out to him for financial help, so he agrees to move in with her and her teenage children to help be a father figure for them.  However, they are skeptical of Ty at first; will they be able to come around and trust God?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Its small budget aside, In Gramps’ Shoes has an unacceptably poor production.  While video quality is fine, the camera work is too stationary, and audio quality is very static and low quality, especially with the terrible outside sounds.  The soundtrack is very generic and almost non-existent.  Further, the indoor sets are fairly cheap and limited, even though the outdoor locations are okay.  Finally, there is basically no editing present in this production.  Essentially, though this production was relatively simple, it’s still low quality for no good reason.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Basing a movie around an annoyingly perfect Christian protagonist who fixes everything he touches is never a winning formula for a movie, but that’s what In Gramps’ Shoes has done.  This is done through very obvious and forceful dialogue that shoves cheesy messaging down your throat, even though the storyline is very vague and meandering without any clear purpose or direction except to force good-ole-days fundamentalism on you.  The non-Christian characters are total strawmen, and the Christian message is very trite.  Too many sequences of this film are just characters sitting around talking about what their characters are supposed to represent rather than using the dialogue to develop the characters.  At that, this film is far too long to have no substantial content or ideas contained within it.  Thus, it’s basically a complete waste of time.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Full of typical Rossetti cast members, this group acts very robotic and overly practiced a majority of the time.  Some cast members are downright annoying, and there is a lot of poor teen acting throughout.  There are some slightly positive moments that keep this section from being zero, but on the whole, like the rest of this film, it’s all very low quality.

Conclusion

It seems like the only purpose of awful films like this one is to push an unpopular message or personal agenda.  We apparently needed another movie like this, so here it is.  In the more modern era of Christian entertainment, low-quality films like this one are unacceptable and mostly unwelcome, unless they have a really good plot to share, which is certainly not the case with this film.  Thus, In Gramps’ Shoes should be forgotten.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

Walk By Faith [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Corey Montgomery must live every day with sickle cell anemia and even face stigma for it.  But he feels like he has a chance to live a normal life when he receives word of a possible but risky cure to his disease.  As he continues to hide his disease from some, he tries to convince his mother to try to cure, even though her friends are skeptical of it.  In the end, they will all have to learn to walk by faith.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

From start the finish, the production of Walk By Faith is generally horrible.  Video quality is underwhelming and camera work is very shaky.  A lot of the shots are very tight to hide a lack of extras and resources.  The audio is most often overdubbed due to lack of proper equipment—the scenes that due have live audio recording are full of outside sounds.  The soundtrack is also very loud and annoying.  Many of the scenes look like they only contain one character talking to the air, and the sets and locations therein are extremely limited.  As for the editing, the transitions are very choppy and there are quite a few continuity errors.  In summary, due to lack of funding, resources, and general expertise, this production contains so many errors that its creation must be questioned.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It’s very difficult to determine what message the writers of this film are trying to convey.  Sometimes they attempt to create a bizarre dichotomy of persecution between Christians who are for and against technology and medical advances.  They also sometimes advocate for ‘faith healing’ but other times they do not.  Thus, the story constantly sends mixed messages of what they actually believe and what they think other people should do in this situation.  The plot is almost non-existent as this is just a random collection of useless scenes that are constantly obsessed with talking about sickle-cell anemia without even trying to develop any of the characters.  Literally nothing happens throughout except for a bunch of unusual and hard-to-follow conversations that do nothing to build up the characters or the subplots.  Also, the ending makes no sense.  Basically, it’s very hard to grasp what the motivation behind making this film was.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As a small and inexperienced cast, these cast members were in severe need of coaching.  However, this was not present, thus causing line delivery to be very stilted and measured.  The overdubbed lines wreak havoc on everything.  Also, emotions are very awkward and ingenuine.  Unfortunately, from start to finish, this film is an absolute train wreck.

Conclusion

It’s one thing to want to create a movie depicting the struggles of people with chronic illnesses, but this is absolutely not the way.  No attempts were made to make these people seem remotely realistic or accessible.  What is the point to giving screen time to obscure and bizarre worldviews or toying with their ideas without actually advocating for them?  In the end, the funding for this film should have been saved for another effort because it was certainly wasted here.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Clancy [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Nick Best is a down on his luck veteran of the military who has chosen to live on the streets due to his drinking habits and his emotional issues.  But he is given a so-called second chance when the corrupt mayor of the city he hangs around tells the chief of police to offer a substantial amount of money to Nick for him to keep, Clancy, a runaway abused girl for a week so that the mayor, who is losing his reelection campaign, can have a media field day.  Skeptical of this elaborate scheme, Nick decides to take the girl under his wing to protect her, but he soon finds that she is changing his outlook on life.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Why do Kelly’s Filmworks productions always look so drab?  It’s like they were all filmed in cloudy weather.  Though the video quality of Clancy is fine, the camera work is atrocious, including very tight shots and shaky camera work that looks like it was literally filmed in an alley with a camcorder.  Thus, the lighting is very inconsistent and there are constant loud outside sounds.  There is no soundtrack to speak of—just background silence.  Sets and locations are very cheap—no thought was given to making them look interesting.  Finally, there is absolutely no editing as all content is included—and we mean all content.  Every Jefferson Moore silent staring scene is here.  In short, the continual creation of Kelly’s Filmworks productions is baffling to us.  They obviously aren’t spending much money on these, but what is the real point if it’s going to look this bad?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Clancy includes perhaps the most trumped up scheme possible.  Who really believes that a corrupt mayor (aka the most cheesy villain available besides Goliath from Timothy Chey’s David and Goliath) would pay off a random homeless guy to keep an abused girl ‘safe’ for a week in order to boost reelection chances?  In what universe would that work?  Most importantly, why do we need a movie about this?  Why do we need to be forced to see long sequences of characters (mostly Jefferson Moore) wandering around and staring into the distance?  There is no way this is going to hold anyone’s attention, especially when the dialogue is extremely void and lackadaisical.  The story is based on far too many coincidences to keep it going and there is so little content here that we can hardly believe the runtime lasted as long as it did.  All we can say is that we were glad when it was over.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Recycling the same old cast members from Kelly’s Filmworks (they weren’t that good in the first place), Clancy is much like the others from this company.  Makeup is bad, costuming is laughable.  The only emotions present are either deadpan or over the top.  The line delivery is beyond lazy.  One would think these cast members would get better with experience.

Conclusion

Jefferson Moore and company are experts at thinking up the most mundane movie ideas and then following through with them.  How have they made so many feature length films?  One thing you can say for them is that they save money—in all the wrong ways.  These movies are definitely easy and cheap to make, but why do we need them?  They are utterly pointless and contribute nothing.  Maybe they won’t make as many in the future.  But wait…there’s a sequel to this film????

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

The Widow’s Might (Movie Review)

Please stop singing

Plot Summary

The widow Grace Jackson is being persecuted by a small Texas town local government—her property has been valued too high, thus causing her taxes to skyrocket.  To make matters worse, the incumbent mayor will have nothing to do with it.  Will the injustice in America ever end?  Thus, two aspiring filmmakers take it upon themselves to create a western musical about Grace’s plight, which is the most natural thing you would do in this situation.  But the mayor’s nephew, a corrupt media figure, is trying to undermine them at every turn.  Will their film be able to make the case to free Grace from her persecution, or will the liberal media win out?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For starters, at least the HeuMoore team put some thought into how their movie looked, whatever you may think about it.  Video quality is fine and camera work is professional.  Sets and locations are decent enough, but some of the props are slightly cheesy.  Audio quality is fine, but the original soundtrack, which includes characters literally singing, is atrocious.  Not only is the singing bad, the lyrics are absurd.  One of the songs is actually five minutes long and is extremely painful.  Elsewhere, the editing isn’t really that impressive as scenes cut off awkwardly and transitions are hard to follow.  In the end, though this production looks good on the outside, the beauty is only skin deep.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It is very difficult to take this plot seriously because of its musical elements and because of its basically patriarchal fundamentalist Christian worldview.  While the issue discussed therein has some basis in reality, its presentation is very poor and its messaging is too in-your-face.  The dialogue that isn’t sung comes off as manufactured, thus creating very cardboard characters.  The ‘villains’ are extremely cheesy strawmen.  There is too much fake outrage that attempts to fuel this half-baked nearly-propaganda piece.  Whatever point is trying to be driven home here is too easily lost and generally contributes to a further negative view of Christian entertainment.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Consisting of a mostly amateur cast, there are some talented performances here, but a lot of the emotions are seemingly ingenuine and overly practiced.  Line delivery is very measured and stilted.  Costuming and makeup is not the best.  Also, did we mention the singing?  Overall, this is neither the worst nor the best performance.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, you can tell without asking what this film group is trying to push.  While they are not as extreme as some, they tend to push fundamentalism in its usual unpalatable forms.  Women are cast in a silently offensive light and opposing viewpoints are made a mockery of.  Even though The Widow’s Might is not even as blatant as some fundamentalist propaganda (see Last Ounce of Courage), it still has its undeniable elements and its fixation on subjective traditionalism.  However, it seems like the makers of this film have moved on from this worldview, which is a breath of fresh air.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Edit: The review was edited to reflect accuracy, as brought to light by the film maker.

Standing Firm [2010] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Dave Corwin’s wife died, he was confused and lost in life.  He did not know where to turn as he tried to hold his job together while not neglecting his son.  But his son’s newfound faith intrigues him, even though Dave does not understand why a loving God would take his wife away.  In the end, Dave’s journey to faith will be tested by life’s circumstances.  Which path will he ultimately choose?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For a freshman production, Standing Firm is decent.  Most of its aspects are professional, including video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  Yet the soundtrack is a bit stock at times and sets and locations are somewhat limited.  Also, the editing is somewhat passive as it seems like a majority of the recorded content was included at face value.  Overall, on the whole, this is a very generic and base production, which is good for a new production company to start out with.  With a limited budget and resources, this is likely the best Praise Pictures could have done with what they had.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the plot of Standing Firm is very underwhelming and low-key.  Its theme is slow and melancholy, thus causing the story to be slow to develop.  Dialogue is quite pedestrian as the same conversations tend to repeat and rehash over and over again.  Thus, the character development is null—this creates one-dimensional characters where this character-driven plot should have complex ones.  Unfortunately, this story is a fairly limited idea that needs more complexity than it has.  Though it is simple, it does have a meaningful message; however, it doesn’t hold the attention very well, so the message is not conveyed well.  But in the end, this is still a beginner’s plot, and the good thing is Praise Pictures improved later.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though this is a slightly ‘rookie’ cast, they post at least average performances.  They are not terribly dynamic in what they do, but they are not highly negative either.  There is definitely some room for improvement, especially in emotional delivery, but this is a good start that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Conclusion

Overall, though this is a modest beginning for Praise Pictures, it is definitely something to build off of.  There is a lot of potential here, especially since production and casting are off on the right start early on.  The plot does suffer for creativity, but this is something that can be easily fixed down the road.  In the end, it seems like the Praise Pictures team really does mean well, which means they will be able to go far in the future.  It will be interesting to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Karen Kingsbury: A Thousand Tomorrows

Image result for a thousand tomorrows

Karen Kingsbury is perhaps one of the most intriguing Christian authors of all time. Kingsbury is a very widely-read Christian author who has written many popular novels. In fact, some of her books have even hit the big screen. Kingsbury has the talent to write meaningful novels that make a difference in the world of Christian fiction, and at times, she has come through with novels that take on challenging subjects and portray them in a positive light. However, at other times she tends to be a bit melodramatic. While most of her books lead up to important, poignant life lessons, some of them take a long time to get there, or get lost along the way. The Cody Gunner Series has always been my favorite series by Kingsbury, as its gives the reader a first-hand perspective on subjects that many writers are afraid to take on. The first book in the series, A Thousand Tomorrows, deals with subjects such as broken families, love, anger, life challenges, faith, friendship, disease, prayer, and God’s redeeming love. The opening chapter introduces the reader to the main characters; Cody Gunner and Ali Daniels. Cody is a fearless young man who channels his energy through the famous sport of bull riding. Every time he gets on a bull he does not feel fear, rather anger at his father for leaving their family. The audience sees a legend in bull riding, but reality is a broken young man who is angry at the world. Cody’s self-centered world is suddenly shattered with the entrance of a beautiful, mysterious young woman, Ali Daniels. Ali, like Cody, appears to have it all together on the surface, but in reality, she is just as broken as he is. Ali may be beautiful, but her beauty hides a well-kept secret that is becoming increasingly difficult to keep under wraps. Drawn together through pain and heartbreak, and a deep inner desire for unconditional love and freedom, Cody and Ali hold on to each other and dream of a better future. Ultimately, they dream of a cure for both of their problems. Will Cody and Ali discover that God is the only One who loves us unconditionally? Will their love survive in the face of adversity? To answer these questions, read the book!;) A Thousand Tomorrows would make a great Christian film or miniseries, as there is ample content found both in this book and the sequel to supply a plot for a film or films. However, the writer/director/producer would have to build on what Kingsbury has supplied, and make this book more than just another Christian romance movie.