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Box Office Revolution

Christian Movie News and Reviews

Month

June 2017

Indivisible (2018)

In Theaters 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.”

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

 

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