Mike Andrews retired from his law career to follow what he thought was God’s call to be a pastor. However, that all changed when Muriel Miller came to his office to ask her to represent her eccentric husband who has gotten himself in trouble with the law due to his self-proclaimed spiritual gift of prophecy wherein he has visions of the future. Through a set of unusual circumstances, Mike agrees to represent Sam Miller pro bono, which sends the lawyer-pastor on a wild ride that he never expected to experience and that will forever change his life.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
Gary Wheeler and his team are well-known for their professional productions, and Mountain Top is no exception. There are virtually no concerns to note in this instance, which entails the use of effective camera work, high video and audio qualities, and well-utilized sets, locations, and props. The only minor nitpicks to note are the somewhat generic soundtrack and the minuscule editing issues that are mostly due to the expansive plot. However, this is an overall nearly perfect effort.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
The Level Path creative team has always had the right idea of adapting Christian novels into films, and Robert Whitlow has wisely sought dramatizations of his books. However, it’s unclear whether or not Mountain Top was the best choice of source material. While the psychological elements that make up the core basis of the plot are interesting, they are also a bit over the top and far-fetched since one of the main characters claims to have many supernatural visions covering a wide range of topics and issues. There’s never been historical precedent for any Christian being able to receive so many special revelations in their lifetime. Besides this, the character receiving the dreams is basically perfect and inaccessible as a person. Additionally, the sheer number of characters in this storyline is overwhelming for the audience and makes for a choppy presentation. They crowd each other out and cause dialogue to be inadequate at developing who they are. The many interlocking subplots are difficult to effectively follow and are better suited for a series if this idea must be portrayed in entertainment. However, there are simply too many convenient turns and coincidences that push the narrative along as the writers seek to cover as much ground as possible while at the same time including wastefully slow sequences. Due to Whitlow’s legal expertise, this aspect of the plot is mostly realistic, and it’s commendable to explore the existence of miracles in the modern world, but Mountain Top treats God’s power like a magic charm, which causes its premise to be simply too unbelievable. There was some potential here, but it was squandered in pursuit of sensationalism.
Acting Quality (2 points)
It seems like Mountain Top endeavored to include nearly every recognizable Christian cast member in one film, and it’s not a bad thing to have experienced cast members. There are actually only a few acting concerns here and there, such as some bland moments, but the sheer number of actors and actresses may mask potential weaknesses. In the end, emotional and line deliveries are at least average, if not better, with only a handful of small issues. In the end, this rounds out a basically average offering.
Wheeler and his team have always been so close to the Hall of Fame, and they do many things the right way. Adapting Christian novels and being committed to professional productions and experienced casts are a winning model on paper. However, many of their films still lack meaningful connections with their audiences and require deeper and more meaningful purposes in order to be truly successful. Perhaps, in the coming days, the Level Path team will finally make a breakthrough.
Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points
Mountain Top is an interesting film. Pretty unique; no talk here about ‘why do the same plot again.’ I get it; the base plot seems odd. Someone dreaming dreams isn’t what we expect in the 21st century church, but the problem might just be with us. I’m uncomfortable with that too. Yet I’ve had people from other denominations (whom I of course doubted) tell me they had ‘dreams’ or ‘visions’ about me. I basically payed little attention. Perhaps that’s the wrong attitude. Peter quotes Joel in Acts 2:17-18 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:” Isn’t this the ‘last days’? Perhaps we should not be so doubtful. I can only judge another persons gifts by the results, not because what they do seems strange. If God gave me a dream, would I keep silent?… Probably. Ergo, why should He give me dreams?…
Second, I’m tired of films with a tiny cast: I just previewed another film with 6 people showing up at the funeral of an ‘important’ man, which isn’t very realistic. Casting is expensive, and hard. So what if these are a ‘who-who’? The casting of this film was really quite excellent. Lots of acting appropriate to the part people were given; no primadonas. I can’t think of anyone better fitting the parts in this film that are alive today. Great casting. So what if it becomes involved with a little mystery and small-town intrigue. To keep it short, there are pieces without full closure. I’m a big boy; I can survive that. I prefer than to a 130 minute film with full yet boring closure.
Lastly, and the reason I’m writing this: The film’s purpose was not it’s plot. The purpose, the reason it was made, was very good. For 95% of the church, the highest calling would appear to be a pastor. For most of us, that’s the most effective thing that we see. This films purpose was to show that God’s highest calling for you is be exactly what he called you to be. In this case, the protagonist finds his calling was not to be a pastor, despite his best attempts, but to be of all things, a lawyer! That’s the lowest esteemed job in American society according to most polls. He still is called to be a witness of course, but now he has a captive audience 🙂 . We all should be witnesses, sure. But to be what God calls you to be is a lesson the Church needs. This film makes that statement more strongly than any other Christian film in memory. This film was an excellent vehicle for that purpose; do what God calls YOU to do. I hope we all still believe Romans 8:28; “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Find the the purpose God has for YOU.
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Larry! As a side note, we at Box Office Revolution absolutely believe that God can and will still give people dreams and visions in modern times; we reject the doctrine of cessationism. However, we felt that the use of this gift in Mountain Top was portrayed in an irresponsible way because it tended to reduce the Lord to a vending machine 🙂 God bless!
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