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Month

August 2017

2012: Doomsday (Movie Review)

Only Dale Midkiff can save us now

Plot Summary

When a volcano is about to explode in Mexico, Dr. Frank Richards knows that the only conclusion can be that the end of the world is near.  The American government’s best scientists agree and begin to make an action plan as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis rack the planet.  The only hope for saving humanity is Frank Richards’ plan to return a secret Mayan artifact to its rightful resting place so that the disaster will reverse and mankind will be able to rebuild from the ashes.

 

Production Quality (-1 points)

The Asylum’s side project Faith Films was once determined to purposely make cheap parodies of Christian films, and they mostly succeeded in masquerading as real Christian movies because they were often indistinguishable from other cut-rate productions.  2012: Doomsday is no exception.  There are multiple purposeful production errors in this film, including clear audio overdubs and a stupid soundtrack.  Ridiculous special effects riddle the landscape of this natural disaster, as well as shaky camera work and other expected errors.  Basically, these films are someone trying to be like Cross Shadow or Faithhouse.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

Though the satire of this absurd disaster story is actually funny at times, it’s still not really any good.  It’s only funny because it’s so ridiculous and because it’s so easy to parody clichés from Christian and inspirational movies, not mention general disaster films.  With the level of absurdity displayed here, especially in the characters and the dialogue, not even to mention the laughable premise, you either have to laugh or cry.  There is no sense of understanding what’s happening in this story, and this is entirely by design.  As we’ve mentioned before, it’s too easy to disguise your parody film as a serious one and sell it in Christian bookstores because the so-called serious Christian films have set such a low standard.

Acting Quality (-1 points)

No parody cast is complete without Dale Midkiff, who found the pinnacle of his career with his unforgettable performance in this film.  He probably has a future in more parody films.  Elsewhere, this cast is just as ridiculous and absurd as the rest of the movie.

Conclusion

Hopefully new Christian film makers are building a market where these sorts of films can no longer be made due to rising standards.  Parodies and satires definitely have their place, but they need to have a point and not just be outright nonsense fests.  Maybe someday that elusive future parody Christian Movie will come out with an epic cast that will actually be remembered for being a true satire.

 

Final Rating: -3 out of 10 points

 

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Message of Hope (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

A group of six kids grows up together in the same neighborhood for over ten years and they always have want they want.  However, their parents do not always give them what they really need.  As they encounter various life struggles, each one of them has a different way of dealing with what life throws at them.  Unfortunately, these families do not begin to look at life in a different way until tragedy strikes.  Will they be able to see what really matters in life?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

As a relatively amateurish production, Message of Hope has its good points, but it also has quite a few errors.  Video quality and camera work are okay, except for some weird close-ups and some random shaky cam.  Audio quality is also quite random, including loud outside sounds.  However, the soundtrack is fine.  Sets, locations, and props are somewhat limited, yet they have some bright spots.  Furthermore, there is really no editing to speak of in this film as it’s just a conglomerate blob of random content.  When making a new movie, it’s best to know where you are going from the beginning and to communicate that well.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

There is basically no way to know what this movie is actually about.  Basically nothing happens for about an hour of runtime as character just wander around and random things happen to them.  It’s hard to keep up with all the characters, especially since they’re so one-dimensional due to empty dialogue.  The Christian characters in particular are overly perfect.  Though there is a lot of message pushing in this film, it’s still aimless and lacks overall purpose until it just comes down to a random end.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing really good to say here, even if they do mean well.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Surprisingly, the acting is actually the strongest area of this film, even if it’s still an average performance.  Some emotions are overdone, but line delivery is mostly okay, even though they didn’t have much to work with.  Some performances in general are overplayed, but overall, this cast shows more potential than the rest of this film.

Conclusion

It’s very hard to understand what this creative team was really going for with this film.  It’s likely that they meant well because there is a good message in here somewhere, but the delivery and presentation is all wrong.  Perhaps it would have been better to go over this film again before it went to production to make sure it came across clearer.  But maybe they will learn from their mistakes and do differently in the future.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

Image result for bridge to haven francine rivers

Bridge to Haven is one of Francine Rivers’ newest novels, and while it had mixed reviews among Christian bloggers, I think that it is up to her usual standards. Some berated Rivers for the rather graphic content she included in this novel, saying that it did not deserve the Christian genre, while others praised her for bringing a difficult topic into the light and exposing the raw pain that is involved. The topic that I am speaking of is sexual abuse and sin. I do think that Rivers could have been more cautious with some of the content that she included, but, on the other hand, if Christians continue to be silent on this issue, nothing will change. I have always appreciated the raw honesty that Rivers reflects in her writing, and this is perhaps her most edgy novel yet. So, if you do not wish to read a novel on this topic, don’t. If, however, you wish to be exposed to an interesting side of the argument, read the novel with an open mind. Set in the 1950’s, the opening chapters of Bridge to Haven introduce the reader to a young woman named Abra who has a scarred past. Abra was found as an abandoned newborn by a pastor named Ezekiel Freeman. Ezekiel took Abra into his home and raised her as his own daughter. Abra had it all, a church home, the love of a family, and a bright future. Yet, she chose her career over these gifts and acted on her dream to be an actress by going to Hollywood. However, she learns that the price she must pay to make it big is her innocence. Abra listens to and trusts a man whose only desire is to take everything she has to give. He claims that he loves her and will never leave her, yet, she soon discovers that he has told many girls the same lie. With his “help”, she is successful, to a point. However, the “payment” that he requires is not worth the benefits of a successful acting career. Abra learns this lesson too late, and begins to willingly fall prey to men’s lustful desires. One thing leads to another, and Abra soon finds herself broken, wounded, and at the end of her rope. Will she discover that the love and forgiveness she has been searching for all her life can be found in God alone? Will Abra escape the clutches of the world and run into the arms of Jesus? To answer these questions, read the book!;) I would definitely recommend this novel to no one younger than sixteen, as the subject matter is quite heavy and the content gritty. However, this would make a landmark Christian film, if done in the right way. The novel would definitely need some editing before hitting the big screen, but I believe that it has a lot of potential that a filmmaker could build on. If you are an aspiring filmmaker looking to take on a difficult subject that will make or break your career, look no further than this novel.

Remember the Goal (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Courtney Smith-Donnelly, an inexperienced coach, is given the job as the new cross country coach at Orange Hills Christian Girls Private School, many parents are skeptical of her ‘unusual’ training methods.  She insists on not wearing the girls out, but the parents want a winning team.  Under the threat of being fired, Courtney pushes forward and encourages her girls to remember the goal no matter what.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

At least since they have been making films for nearly two decades, the Christiano brothers have learned how to craft a professional production.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all what they should be.  The soundtrack is a bit silly at times, but outdoor locations and indoor sets are on market standard.  The only real issue to point out here is the slightly poor editing job, which manifests in too many sports montages.  But in the end, at least the production quality of this film is fine.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, after all these years, the Christiano brothers have not been able to figure out how to craft a plot that relates the real people and real circumstances.  They still demonstrate a trite and sometimes childish outlook on life, which includes a silly and plastic handling of otherwise important issues.  The characters are also extremely thin and one-dimensional due to mindless dialogue.  There is hardly any content in this plot except for sports sequences and lingo and there are a lot of disjointed subplots.  But perhaps the most memorable part of this plot—for all the wrong reasons—is the forced and confusing parallels between Christianity and cross-country, as well as the ridiculous persecution the main character undergoes for training her team in a supposedly controversial fashion.  This component dominates the film and is downright laughable, not to mention all of the quick fixes in this film.  Basically, there is still nothing good to say here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though the Christianos mostly departed from their usual cast in his film, there are still issues here.  The lead actress is often overly practiced yet unsure of herself at the same time.  Other cast members are fine, but emotions often seem forced.  Overall, this is an average performance.

Conclusion

Remember the Goal is a departure for the Christianos in that they have finally allowed a female character to take a lead role in a plot that does not involve them being confined to the house.  Yet it still contains a lot of their typical shallow elements and their limited outlook on life and faith.  Unfortunately, they’re not going to improve until they learn how to relate to real people and stop thinking that everything is a persecution ploy.  But after all this time, why would they change?

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

We Are Stronger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Victor Raphael returns home from his final deployment, he is not the same as he was.  Though he insists nothing is wrong, his wife knows that he has been profoundly affected by the traumatic experience he had while in the service, especially the recent vehicle explosion that has left him temporarily paralyzed.  Yet their relationship is strained as Victor refuses to get help and as his wife reaches out for comfort in the wrong places.  Will they be able to reconcile before God and let Him heal them and their relationship?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

As a first-time production, We Are Stronger has a handful of minor errors, yet it is overall a very impressive effort, considering the limited resources.  Video quality is great, as is camera work.  There are some minor audio errors pertaining to some background noises picked up, but the soundtrack is appropriate and interesting.  Sets, locations, and props, though slightly limited, are utilized quite well and are realistic.  Finally, there are a few small editing errors pertaining to some lagging scenes and dead sequences, but otherwise, this is a very good production to begin with.  This production team definitely put a lot of work into this film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Since We Are Stronger is based on the true stories of real people, it gives a very realistic and honest look at life and the struggles people go through.  Though there is some expositional dialogue, it is mostly good and serves the build believable characters that the viewers can relate with.  This story has a very strong and meaningful message—yet sometimes it is a little flat and linear.  The plot presentation is at times a bit too straightforward and simplistic, yet nonetheless, refining screenwriting always comes with time.  In the end, this creative team shows a lot of potential and hope for the future.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Though this cast consists entirely of ‘amateurs’, they all post very good performances, especially since they are each playing a character that reflects their true-life story.  Though there are some minor emotional errors, these performances are nearly flawless as each cast member plays out their real-life story on the big screen.  Casting inexperienced people is often a challenge for new independent films, but this one is a slam dunk.

Conclusion

With the constant flow of Christian films being created, one has to stand out in the market by producing quality content.  This has been done with We Are Stronger has real-life stories have been brought to the movie, along with great production quality and a nearly perfect casting job.  This film is definitely worth a watch and is a great start to a movie career.  You can never go wrong by adapting true stories along with the quality presented here.  It will be interesting see what this creative team has planned next.

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

 

The Perfect Race (April 2019)

Coming April 2019 from the Christiano Brothers

 

Writer(s): Dave Christiano

Director(s): Dave Christiano

Producer(s):

Starring: Allee Sutton HethcoatGoria Cunningham

 

Plot Synopsis:

A female athlete at a small Christian college works hard to overcome long odds and try to win a national title in the 800 meter run. “The Perfect Race” is a follow up movie to “Remember The Goal”.

Play the Flute (2019)

Coming 2018 from the Christiano Brothers

 

Writer(s): Rich Christiano

Director(s): Rich Christiano

Producer(s): Rich Christiano

Starring: Fred Grandy, Terri Conn, Brett Varvel, Kennedy Tucker, Sean Ormond

 

Plot Synopsis:

A new Youth Director takes over an indifferent, lukewarm youth group in hopes of getting them serious about the Bible and their relationship with the Lord.

Dying to Be Heard [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Rachel Angelo is a high-powered executive who has put in the hard work and hours to get a big promotion, and when she gets it, she goes out to party and makes a lapse in judgment regarding a man at the bar.  Thus, she ends up pregnant and her boss threatens her to get rid of the child.  However, she accidentally goes to a crisis pregnancy center and becomes conflicted about her decision.  When she watches a random music video, she also thinks back to her family’s Jewish heritage and how they endured the Holocaust.  Thus, she begins to change her mind about the life growing inside of her.

 

Production Quality (-1 points)

Tender Shoot Films is unfortunately among the worst at production.  Their productions are consistently below market standards and below even zero-point productions.  In Dying to Be Heard, video quality is poor and camera work is often filmed extremely close to people’s faces, not to mention the fact that it’s very shaky.  Lighting is somewhat poor and sets, locations, and props are severely limited.  Audio quality is also poor, picking up unnecessary background noises, not to mention the fact that the soundtrack is blaring.  But by far the worst element of this production is the terribly disorienting editing that rivals My Refuge for how bad it can be.  In the end, it feels like one has to try to make a production this bad.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

Unfortunately, this theme being terrible only continues in other elements of this film.  It’s extremely disappointing that often pro-life films are so ruined in this way.  As previously mentioned, this so-called story is all over the place and lacks any continuity whatsoever.  The subplots are extremely disjointed and are only very thinly related.  Things are forced to go together as this story tries to cover way too much ground, even by having flashbacks within flashbacks.  Perhaps the worst part of this plot is the fact that the dialogue is so poorly written that the characters are laughable.  The ‘bad’ characters are extreme strawmen and nearly every conversation is either full of message-pushing or elements that make characters extremely black and white.  Problems are fixed for no good reason and the ending is a very rushed and forced conclusion.  Once again, you almost have to try to write a story this bad.

Acting Quality (-2 points)

Probably the worst part of this film is the awful acting.  The lead actress often comes off as drunk or high, and she is awful at delivering her lines, even though there’s not much for her to work with.  Most cast members fumble through their lines from time to time, like every scene was done in one take.  Emotions are among the worst and everything is so awkward and unsure that it’s nearly unwatchable.  It’s very hard to believe that movies like this are made.

Conclusion

Companies like FaithHouse, Cross Shadow, and Tender Shoot are extremely hard to figure.  They churn out film content on a regular basis, yet it’s often very bad in every way.  Production is often awful, plots are nonexistent, and acting is extremely amateurish.  Yet they truck along and keep putting out films.  Do they mean well?  Do they just need more direction?  We can only wonder about these things.  All we can do if offer constructive criticism and hope it matters somehow.

 

Final Rating: -4 out of 10 points

 

A Perfect Chord (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Cadence’s parents have always believed that she has musical talent, especially since they own a record label, but she has never been sure of herself.  However, when she and two of her friends discover that they have an ability to play music together, they decide to pursue this ability secretly.  However, the time comes when they have to reveal their secret if they want to make a difference, so they’ll have to decide what they’re going to do.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a first-time production, A Perfect Chord is mostly average, which is fine for beginners.  Video quality is fine, and camera work is pretty good.  Audio quality is what is should be, but the soundtrack is quite silly.  There is some odd lighting throughout, and sets, locations, and props are slightly limited.  Finally, editing isn’t perfect, but it isn’t horrible either.  Thus, the bottom line is that this is a fine starter production with some definite areas to build off of in the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, this plot is as silly as the description suggests.  It lacks any real focus and is really just a collection silly scenes of activities of daily living and forced comedy.  The conflict therein is also very forced and fake.  There are too many montages that stunt character development.  They need further deepening since they are based on awkward dialogue and a bunch of silly high school conversations.  Basically, this story feels like it belongs in a short film rather than in a feature length one.  This idea is much too thin and really has no purpose behind it.  It’s hard to see how the creation of this film was justified.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast is amateurish, but they don’t really have much support.  They are too awkward and lackadaisical in their performances.  Line delivery is underwhelming and emotions are not believable.  Also, makeup is all wrong.  In the end, this film has a lot of areas for improvement that should have been worked out before it went to distribution.

Conclusion

It’s likely that Kingdom Sight Studios means well, but their work has a lot of refining to do.  Production is off to a good start, but it needs to be developed further.  They need to determine the purpose behind their plot ideas and clearly communicate this purpose.  Finally, they need to employ some acting coaching to draw out the potential in their cast members.  In the end, time will tell how much improvement this studio undergoes.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

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