I'm a senior in college who loves Jesus! I'm blessed with amazing parents and four awesome siblings. I have a passion for people who have special needs, and am currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, as I believe that this is how God would have me serve Him through a career. It is my personal belief that people with special needs do not have a disability, rather, they view world and people through a unique lens. I also love reading stories, writing my own, and critiquing books and movies. As such, I decided to start blogging and pursue my favorite hobbies full time!
Coming soon from Liberty University Film School and Reelworks; currently in pre-production
Writer(s): Ken Blanchard, Wally Armstrong, more TBA
Director(s): Stephan Schultze?
Producer(s): Rick Eldridge
Plot summary: This film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Ken Blanchard and Wally Armstrong. It tells the story of a father with a passion for golf who is offered the opportunity to have a “do-over” with his son.
Airing on the Hallmark Channel Channel February 23, 2020
Writer(s): Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr., Kevan Smith, Jack Wagner
Director(s): Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr.
Producer(s): Brad Krevoy, Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr., Alfonso H. Moreno, Neill Fearnley, Eric Jarboe, Susie Belzberg, Michael Shepard, Jimmy Townsend, Annie Brunner, Derek Thompson, Elizabeth Stewart, Lori Loughlin, Erin Krakow, Amanda Phillips Atkins, Vicki Sotheran, Greg Malcolm
Starring: Erin Krakow, Lori Loughlin, Lori Loughlin’s replacement/memory (Kellie Martin?), Pascale Hutton, Jack Wagner, Kavan Smith, Mark Humphrey, Erica Carroll, Carter Ryan Evancic, Eva Bourne, Chris McNally, Kevin McGarry, Rob Estes, Jocelyn Hudon, Morgan Kohan, Aren Bucholz, Martin Cummins
Plot Synopsis: From the ashes of Jack’s death and Lori Loughlin’s Abigail’s departure comes new blossoms of romance – for literally every character. Elizabeth struggles to choose a new husband from the two lookalike bachelors in town…oops, three, I forgot about Gowan. Gowan is pursuing his on-again off-again relationship with his alter ego Mr. Nice Guy. Abigail’s daughter-in-law will likely be planning her wedding to that generic doofus whose name escapes me. Doctor White and Nurse Blonde are finally ‘secretly’ engaged and planning their ‘secret’ wedding. Rosemary and Elizabeth’s friendship is on tenterhooks as Elizabeth juggles being a MOM, a TEACHER, and the heart of the show. Lllllllllleeeee is trying his hardest to fill Jack’s large shoes by having important conversations with Bill, but he struggles with being everyone’s confidant. Will petty fantasy love and friendship survive all these first-world problems? Most importantly, will Elizabeth get married again, and who is the new Abigail?
Plot summary: In the wake of the war, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met. But she arrives to find that her longtime friend Eve Dawson has been impersonating her for the past four years. Unraveling this deception will force Audrey and Eve’s secrets―and the complicated history of their friendship―to the surface.
Byler-Younts latest novel is a real doozy. From the confusing storyline that can’t pick an identity to the spastic character arcs, this novel is all bad and no good. The opening chapters of the book introduce the reader to Brighton, the daughter of a longtime patient living at Riverside, a mental asylum. Brighton was born at the facility and is used to hearing the cries of the insane as they undergo ‘treatments’ that are questionable at best. The things she has seen and heard there will never be far from her mind. Her days are spent caring for her mother’s needs, talking to her best friend – a boy named Angel who is called an albino because of his bleached skin tone and features – and finding reassurance in Nursey, a nurse who is a mother figure of sorts for her. When Brighton finds out that one of her friends has built their life on lies and deceit, her life will never be the same. Unlike most of the other titles on this site, I do not recommend that you read this book. At best, it’s a waste of your time, in reality, it’s like a fever dream. As for the specific flaws…oh, where to begin. Earlier I mentioned that the storyline can’t pick an identity – this is a major error for many reasons. Is this an expose of the cruel practices used in historical mental asylums? Is it an honest look at how circus employees were/are manipulated for profit? Is this a coming of age tale in a bizarre setting? What is it? An author should always answer this question before writing a story. In comparison, it almost goes without saying that the plot is extremely discombobulated. As the reader is pulled from one climactic and sensational moment to another, the author forgets to include pertinent information about exactly how key events in the story were accomplished (and do we really need so many scenes of people being dragged kicking and screaming to solitary confinement??). Finally, the dialogue swings back and forth between a melodramatic view on life and an unusual narrative tone that sometimes makes inappropriate, crude remarks about the private aspects of a person’s life. This is not only distracting to the reader, but something that should never be found in a Christian novel. In summation, Byler-Younts receives no points in this section for the reasons listed above.
Character Development(0 points)
Similarly, Byler-Younts’ character development is just good enough to keep this section from receiving negative points, but that’s not saying much. Brighton has the most potential to be a good character because her dialogue gives the reader a first-person perspective on what’s happening. However, her character arc is inconsistent. One minute she’s fighting tooth and nail against everyone, then she’s depressed and crawling back to dysfunctional relationships for comfort. Angel isn’t a bad character concept, but that’s all he is – his character never moves beyond an idea to gain a personality and tendencies. Unfortunately, it seems like Grace only exists so the author has a reason to mention how biracial asylum patients were sterilized at one point in time. Most of minor characters are either forgettable or incomplete concepts because of their short lifespan. It is never a good idea to steadily introduce new minor or secondary characters all the way through the end of a storyline as a way of filling in plot holes – this is nothing more than a lazy method of writing. In short, there’s really nothing good to say here. As such, Byler-Younts earns zero points in this section as well.
Creativity & Originality(-1 points)
Finally, because there is no creativity or originality to speak of here, numerous writing errors, and no spiritually uplifting moments, Byler-Younts earns a negative point in this section. Please know that we tried our best to find something positive about this novel and are always willing to give authors the benefit of the doubt, there just wasn’t anything good here. It is truly disheartening to see how some Christian authors will abandon any talent they had in exchange for a sensational story that will make some fast cash or gain them social recognition. The lesson that the fictional Jo March learned long ago is still true for today’s authors – “aim at the highest, and never mind the money.” If Jesus has placed a story on your heart and compelled you to share it with others, this will be obvious to all who read it, and money will be of no consequence.
Plot summary: Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store. The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum. Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad. This novel begins Green’s new series, Windy City Saga.
Cast: Brooklyn Wittmer, Cory Kays, Anita Cordell, Joel C. Hunter, Samuel Morales, Josh Morales, Luis Morales, Jenny Porrata, Rasheda Issac, Ariana Ruckle, Dominick LaBlanca, Jason Barbeck, Ariel Kelly, Melissa Pagan, Creisson Soni, Raymond Pozo, Tony Russilo, Halyn Rose, Courtney Dawn
Plot summary: This film follow Adriana, a human trafficking survivor, as she escapes her captors and begins a harrowing journey of survival as she navigates the road to recovery and healing.
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (3 points)
Wright’s latest novel is an excellent example of how to weave life lessons into an intriguing story that would make a great Christian suspense series. The first few chapters of Echoes Among the Stones make it seem like a typical murder mystery, but as the story unfolds it becomes clear that there is much more to this book than meets the eye. When Aggie Dunkirk loses her realty job and is left floundering, she receives a letter from her grandmother, Mumsie, saying that she has broken her hip and needs help. As thoughts of her mother’s recent death crowd her mind, Aggie reluctantly makes the journey back to her hometown of Mill Creek, only to find upon her arrival that Mumsie has neither broken her hip, nor does she appear to be in poor health. Aggie is angry with her at first, but her anger turns to concern when she discovers a skeleton lying in Mumsie’s back yard. The local police brush off the incident as ‘kids’ pulling a prank, but she isn’t so sure. At her new job restoring Mill Creek’s flooded cemetery, Aggie observes more unusual occurrences and begins to wonder if something or someone is targeting Mumsie. Imogene Grayson is a young woman living during the aftermath of World War 2 who has just experienced the violent, completely unexpected murder of her younger sister Hazel. With the war barely over and her brothers just home from the same, Imogene is left grasping for sanity. She vows that she will bring Hazel’s killer to justice, and begins to take great lengths to fulfill this mental declaration – but resolving the same will prove to be nigh on impossible. To find out what happens to these women, read the book! Echoes Among the Stones has a very detailed plotline that holds the attention from cover to cover. There are no lull periods as even the slower-paced scenes are full of meaningful dialogue – one of the novel’s biggest strengths. (spoiler) Another big strength is the fact that the killer is a surprise, and they are not the only one at fault. In comparison, the novel contains a few weaknesses. First, the ending feels a bit rushed as the climactic question asked throughout the novel is answered in an old video on someone’s cellphone, and there are a few moments of sensual thought processes on Aggie’s behalf that we could do without. Lastly, Imogene’s mental murder reenactments are extremely raw and may not sit well with younger readers. In spite of this, this storyline has plenty of potential to be a Christian series, thus earning it an above average score.
Character Development (3.5 points)
Similarly, the character development in this novel is very well done. Aggie and Mumsie’s character arcs make a great parallel because they have very similar, if not the same personalities and tendencies, and have made similar choices throughout their lives. The comparison between an older and younger woman who have similar struggles is a much needed message for our times – neither older nor younger people are better than one another. Furthermore, the minor characters add humor and vitality to the story – which is much needed because of the rather morbid subject matter. The twist with the antagonist adds a lot to the conclusion as well. In comparison, there are a two weaknesses in this section as well. First, although Collin’s character is saved from being entirely stereotypical by his above average dialogue, he continually leans towards the fairy-tale hero/good guy role (he’s a British guy named Colin Collin, I mean, come on). Any-who, the other weakness is the fact that Glen’s character is somewhat shoehorned into the plot – we needed to know more about him as a person outside of his father’s looming shadow. In summary, the weaknesses here do not have a major impact on the story as a whole, therefore, Wright earns a nearly perfect score in this section.
Creativity & Originality(1point)
In conclusion, Wright earns a half point in creativity for writing a suspense story with many meaningful and humorous moments, and a half point in originality for her effort to focus the reader’s attention on Who holds our lives together in the midst of life’s most difficult and dark moments – an aspect that can be seen all throughout the story. As such, BOSs (Box Office Sass) thinks that this would make a great Christian suspense series. Some aspects of the novel would need to be toned down a bit to be palatable on-screen, and Wright would have to be a part of the writing process to ensure that the integrity of her story is upheld, but it can be done. We here at BOR long for the day when Christian movie-makers will start looking for movie ideas in the right place – exceptional Christian novels.
Plot summary: When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither dreams they’ll eventually become the most influential couple in the early church. And no sooner are Priscilla and Aquila married than they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor! Joining forces with Paul, they’re catapulted into the heart of history.
Plot summary: Zac Wilson doesn’t age—and knows others just like him. But then he meets two more of his kind who say others in their circle have died. Are their lives finally ending naturally? Or is somebody targeting them? It would be a good time to ask for help from God—if facing Him wasn’t Zac’s greatest fear. This novel is the second installment in Stevens’ No Less Days series.
Plot summary: Lady Selene Ravenwood has come into her full power as a dreamwalker just as the war with the Dominia Empire begins. Working with the other Great Houses, Selene and Damien use their gifts to secure the borders and save those devastated by the war. But conflict, betrayal, and hatred begin to spread between the Great Houses, destroying their unity as the empire burns a path across their lands. At the same time, Damien Maris starts to lose his ability to raise the waters, leaving the lands vulnerable to the empire’s attacks. The only one who can unite the houses and restore her husband’s power is Selene Ravenwood. But it will require that she open her heart to those who have hurt her and let go of her past, despite the one who hunts her and will do anything to stop her power. Will Selene survive? Or is she destined to fall like the dream-walkers before her?
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality(2 points)
When Silence Sings is a very creative novel that displays a refreshing Biblical worldview and an openness to diversity that is rarely seen in Christian fiction; however, the novel is a mixed bag that had the potential to be much better than it is. Colman Harpe is a young man caught in the middle of a clan battle between two prominent mountain families – the McLeans and Harpes. He feels called by God to be a preacher, but isn’t quite sure what to do with that calling…until God tells him exactly what, Tell the McLeans about Me. Colman resists this message because he believes the McLeans don’t deserve forgiveness and love, and when he does, one disaster leads to another until he’s lost in the mountain caves with no hope of escape. On the outside, Serepta McLean is a hardened, bitter middle-aged woman who enjoys establishing control and dominance over everyone and anyone she comes in contact with by any means necessary. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to see. On the inside, Serepta is a hurting, vulnerable young girl who has never been able to escape her past. When Colman and Serepta find their carefully constructed lives shaken by the One who loves them most, will they choose to withdraw or look up? This novel is an interesting mix of excellent characters and a creative storyline and too great of an emphasis on physical attraction paired with some unusual elements. It was a creative idea to parallel Colman’s character arc with the prophet Jonah’s, but while the author seems committed to making this an allegory in the beginning, the Jonah themes fade away and she turns to other Biblical illustrations as the pages go by. Thus, plot inconsistency is the first major error here. The second major error is harder to explain, but is in existence. The author writes in a whimsical, mysterious tone that is not inherently bad, but leans towards sensuality during conversations between characters and their love interests. In contrast, the plot contains several strengths. First, her messaging is very good. The way she illustrates the absurdity of treating so-called different people as such through her dialogue and mental imaging is excellent. Finally, her unique take on both the Gospel message and God’s grace is very meaningful. In culmination, Thomas earns an average score for a plot that had roots but no blooms.
Character Development(2.5 points)
In comparison, Thomas’ characters are her biggest writing strength. Colman is a very human prophet who has just as many strengths and weaknesses as the next person. Serepta is an excellent antagonist whose backstory – while incomplete – gives clear reasons for her behavior. (spoiler) Additionally, the fact that everything in her life isn’t fixed at the conclusion of the tale is much appreciated by us here at BOR (which now stands for Box Office Razzmatazz😎). The minor characters are also slightly above average because their character arcs are unpredictable and each one has at least a partial backstory. However, there are a few flaws here as well. First, the romances between characters are portrayed as being based mostly on physical attributes, and some of the same relationships display some unusual behavior. Lastly, while each character displays consistent themes, it is hard to get to know them because of how many there are. This novel would have been better if the content in the same was broken up in a series – we could get to know the characters better if they had an individual voice. Likewise, the third-person narrative style of writing makes all the characters seem a bit impersonal. In spite of these flaws, Thomas shows much potential for future novels and or screenplays because her spiritual foundation is strong. Therefore, she earns a slightly above average score here for making an effort to include substance alongside whimsy.
Creativity & Originality(1 point)
Finally, Thomas earns a full point in originality for her obvious grasp on good character foundations, and for her effort to portray diversity as being multifaceted – as not only involving race inclusion, but acceptance of behavioral, cultural, and other factors that make all people unique. For this reason, we here at BOR feel that Thomas has the potential to be a great screenwriter and recommend that she collab with other good authors like Francine Rivers and Susie Finkebeiner to create scripts based on her novels and creative ideas.
Well its that time of year again. Every time I turn around someone seems to be caught up in the ‘Christmas spirit’ – buying presents for people
Not to mention the fact that most of those gifts will show back up at their original locations when the returns line at Walmart stretches all the way out the door and down the sidewalk. Anyway, I couldn’t let Kirk Cameron and BORe have all the Christmas fun. I just had to get my two cents in!:) So let’s take a closer look at what appears to be Christmas-themed fluff.
Christmas Floats/Christmas Parades in General
Picture it. You’re standing or sitting in/on a lawn chair outside in the dark by a roped off stretch of the road. It’s very cold and windy, and you think that might be snow that’s starting to fall. Nope. It’s sleet. Anyway, you’ve been waiting over an hour for your city’s local Christmas parade to start, and you’re getting a little antsy, and cold. In fact, you can’t even feel your face anymore. But that’s ok! Because you’re not just here for you. That’s right! Waiting for the Christmas parade to start symbolizes how the world was waiting for the Messiah to come! When the parade finally does start, remember – as huge trailers covered in inflatable lawn ornaments pulled by trucks wrapped in Christmas lights go by, and the suspicious characters on the ‘floats’ throw useless plastic necklaces and confetti in your face – the joy you feel when the parade finally started (or maybe it was relief) is the same joy all humanity felt when our Savior came down to earth as an infant to save us all. If you don’t see anything that resembles the true meaning of Christmas in Christmas parades, don’t worry! ‘Cause
The Elf on the Shelf
I know what you’re thinking, this has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. Well, put on your Kirk Cameron Worldview Glasses for a minute, and let’s look a little deeper. Picture it. You’re a parent who has jumped on the forming-new-traditions bandwagon. This year, despite your misgivings, you decided to hide ‘that little elf thing’ in various places around your house so your kids can go on a scavenger hunt everyday. Yet every time you do so, you wonder if there isn’t more to Christmas than hiding and seeking a little bendable figure who always
Ah, that old Christmas classic. What was once just a mediocre nut has become world famous all thanks to a Christmas song. First of all, who here has ever actually roasted a chestnut? Be honest. Alternatively, who here has ever seen a chestnut in it’s original form? Leave a comment below. I for one actually live on a property that is home to several chestnut trees. Because of this, I know that a chestnut is not a cuddly little friend. How do I know this? Well, just take a look at this picture…..
Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh? Yes, it’s true. A chestnut falls off the tree imprisoned in a creepy sea-urchin like casing. Did I mention that when a chestnut tree sheds its ‘fruit’, it sheds every last nut…in a thirty-foot radius. This wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for the searing pain that pierces your foot should you happen to step on one accidentally. Not to mention the swelling and stinging that occurs for days afterward. Anyway, let’s just say I won’t be singing any songs about chestnuts, because stepping on one is just as bad as stepping on a Lego.
Now, I think it’s about time someone reminded us what Christmas is really all about.
That sums it up folks. Christmas doesn’t need saving because Jesus already came and saved us all. I can’t save Christmas, and neither can any of you (or Kirk Cameron). What we can do is donate all those inflatable lawn ornaments to Goodwill and celebrate the real reason for the season with those we love.
This Christmas season, despite my pride in thinking I wouldn’t get caught up in all the madness I just criticized…I did. I got so focused on buying gifts, finishing college finals, and trying to do good works that I forgot Jesus already saved Christmas. This weekend, at a church service in a small local church Jesus has has placed us in currently, He reminded me of three things we all must do if we really want to experience peace at Christmas and all year. We have to (1) respond to His gentle nudging, i.e. slow down, (2) receive the gift of His love, which is all we need, and (3) remain in Him.
As the pastor at said church put it, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is there room in your inn for Jesus this Christmas?
Coming to select theaters streaming services in March 2020
Writer(s): Jason Campbell
Director(s): Jason Campbell
Producer(s): Jason Campbell
Cast: POTUS? more TBA
Plot summary: President Donald Trump’s Space Force program has quickly become a reality and when the first mission to MARS is introduced our President insists on being the first man to walk the red planet. However, the framers of our constitution never imagined a sitting President leaving the planet and if so, would Trump really need to transfer his powers…or could he just find a look-a-like to fill in for a few days? This political comedy unveils the truth and mystery about Donald Trump’s politics and policies. Go beyond the seal, the fanfare and all the propaganda to see the real Donald Trump and the policies and politics guiding America.
Plot summary: Just because Beatrice Agnew finds out she’s dying doesn’t mean she can’t keep her mouth shut about the truth. Her granddaughter, Evelyn Lester, shows up on Beatrice’s doorstep anyway, burdened with her own secret baggage. Determined to help her Granny B mend fences with her far-flung brood, Evelyn turns her grandmother’s heart and home inside out. Evelyn’s meddling uncovers a tucked-away box of old letters, forcing the two women to wrestle with their past and present pain as they confront the truth Beatrice has worked a lifetime to hide.
Writer(s): Michael Petroni, Bruce Marshall Romans, Michael Bond, Brandon Guercio, Amy Louise Johnson, Kelly Wiles
Director(s): James McTeigue, Kate Woods
Producer(s); Brandon Guercio, David Nicksay, Bruce Marshall Romans Irene Sommerfeldt, Mark Burnett, Andrew Deane, Roma Downey, James McTeigue, Michael Petroni
Cast: Mehdi Dehbi, Michelle Monaghan, Jane Adams, Mahdi Chalkhaoui, Sayyid El Alami, Melinda Page Hamilton, Fares Landoulsi, Stefania LaVie Owen, Tomer Sisley
Plot summary: When a CIA officer investigates a man attracting international attention and followers through acts of public disruption, she embarks on a global, high-stakes mission to uncover whether he is a divine entity or a deceptive con artist.
Plot summary: Strong-willed Tirzah wants to join her people in driving the enemy from the land of Israel and undergoes training for a secret mission inside the stronghold of Shechem. But soon after she has infiltrated the ruthless Aramean commander’s kitchen, she makes a reckless decision that puts her and her allies in grave danger. Fresh off the battlefield, Liyam returns home to discover his beloved daughter is dead. After his vow to hunt down her killer leads to months of fruitless pursuit, his last hope is in a family connection that comes with strings attached. Strings that force him to pose as a mercenary and rescue an infuriating woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted. When an opportunity to pave a path to a Hebrew victory arises, can Tirzah convince Liyam to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will Liyam’s thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, his God, and the woman he’s come to love?
Around 4 B.C., a miniature mill donkey is tired of walking in an endless circle as he and his partner grind grain. With the help of a bird who can’t stop dancing and waving his behind at the camera (more on this later), the donkey manages to escape. While he’s running away from his owner he accidentally stumbles onto the aftermath of Mary and Joseph’s wedding feast. Mary adopts him and names him Bo. Joseph doesn’t like Bo because he steals Mary’s attention away from him. As time goes forward, Bo soon finds himself caught up in a very unusual depiction of the Nativity story with no way of escape.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
All things considered, the production in this film is a mixed bag with the animation quality being it’s strongest point. This being said, the animation is fine and has no major errors, and outdoor scenes look mostly realistic; however, the transitions between scenes are either very abrupt and choppy or follow no logical train of thought. The soundtrack is a hodge-podge of several songs by big-name Christian artists, and the said songs don’t usually match the mood of the scene in which they are played. For instance, in one scene where the donkey is depressed, we hear a Casting Crowns song about happiness (?). It’s as if the filmmakers were trying to squeeze as many pseudo-Christmas songs as they could into the run-time with no regard for proper editing. Moreover, the film could have used some instrumental music instead of only songs with lyrics because the viewer is confused as to whether they’re supposed to be listening to the radio or watching a movie. In short, there are more continuity errors than successes. Finally, audio quality contains no notable errors, but editing continues to be a problem here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
What exactly is the plot of this film? Is it a donkey coming-of-age tale? Is it an unusual interpretation of Mary and Joseph’s relationship? Is it about a donkey and a bird who long to join the ‘royal caravan’? Anyway, the plot and storyline are absolute madness, so hold on to your hats. First, it is highly unlikely that Mary was six months pregnant before ever telling Joseph about the angel’s appearance and her new future. Furthermore, the Bible says that Joseph went through a period of indecision before deciding to remain engaged to Mary. In this depiction he says a very brief prayer and hears a one-word answer, then he’s hunky dory. Second, what’s with all the references to animal’s rear ends? From the old donkey in the mill to that obnoxious dove who won’t stop waving his at the camera (sometimes at very close range) and making frequent jokes about pooping on people, we were left slightly repulsed and scratching our heads. Moreover, why are there so many characters in this plot, and why are some minor characters focused on while others have like two scenes? Third, we have no explanation for the weird singular Roman wannabe super soldier who hulks around with a mask on for the entirety of the film, while grunting and leading two ‘evil’ henchman dogs around on chains. Apparently King Herod sent him on a very evil mission to kill Mary, or Jesus, or something. Because said soldier never speaks we are frequently tortured with dialogue from the uber-serious wolf and his unfunny bulldog sidekick. The main question here is why has this soldier singled out Mary and Joseph to follow around??? Finally, no one knows why Elizabeth and Zechariah are only in one scene – Zechariah is apparently a dim-witted guy who loves to gorge himself on free food – or why Joseph hates Bo so much. This maddening tale comes to a screeching halt with a Band-aid style ending that doesn’t make up for everything else.
Acting Quality (1 point)
The acting quality is fine in this movie, but no voice actor portrays much depth beyond reading their lines in varying tones of voice. As is typical for movies by this filmmaker, a whole bunch of celebrities and Christian celebs are thrown together in a mish-mash cast. On a side note, its really too bad Christopher Plummer was wasted on this film because he would have made a great King Herod in a live-action Christmas film. Any-who, there’s nothing particularly remarkable to speak of here. Yes, there’s no glaring errors, but there’s also nothing that makes this film stand out from it’s counterparts. Overall, acting quality is fine, but the performances – with the exception of Zachary Levi, who actually tries – are pretty much phoned in.
In summary, there is no reason to even try to make a kids animated film unless you’re going to commit to making it high-quality in all respects – the world has enough B-grade Christian kids movies. We don’t really know why this movie was made or how it possibly got back into theaters this year. I guess the Christian kids entertainment genre is really that starved for content. One of the most offensive things from this movie (out of many) is the fact that they felt the need to include the statement “We tried not to stray too far from the original story”. Not too far?!?! They went way off the road! Needless to say, we don’t recommend that you watch this film, for it may cause your kids to become confused about how the Nativity story actually happened and expose them to inappropriate ‘humor’.
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality(3.5 points)
Patrick Carr is back and is trying out a new genre – Biblical fantasy. Biblical fiction is a literary genre that desperately needs creativity and new kinds of writers. Thankfully, Carr does both. His story, set around the time that Jesus Christ was born, is a revolutionary idea that paints the traditional, but historically and Biblcally inaccurate “three wise men” in a whole new light. Myrad is the adopted son of Gershom, a secret member of the king’s magi. The magi are an elite group who are advise the king and approve his decisions. However, this is only part of their job. As we all know, they’re keeping track of time to see when the Messiah will come. Myrad has suffered from a clubfoot all his life, and it has kept him one step behind (literally) everyone else. When he has a dream about the future, Gershom sees his gift and takes him to the palace to become a magus. But on the very day when he is to become such, Gershom and the majority of the other magi make a decision King Phaartes and his wannabe queen Musa don’t like. As punishment, the king orders the mass slaughter of all the magi, save for Myrad and a handful of others. Myrad escapes (mostly) and runs into a merchant named Walagash. The two join forces, and Myrad soon learns that life on the road is unpredictable, and the course of his life has been forever changed. After all, he’s following the star. To find out what happens to Myrad and the other characters, read the book!:) No really, read it, it’s actually worth your time.😃 The End of the Magi wades through this section with few errors. The plot is excellent, per usual for this author, and the storyline holds the attention from cover to cover. There are no continuity errors, and the story takes several unexpected turns up to the very end of the story. Additionally, there are several reveals throughout the plot that make for an exciting read, and the startling attention given to historical detail is impressive. The main error to speak of is minor – the eventual romance feels a bit tacked on, but the dialogue between the two characters in question is so good that there’s not much else to say. Other than that, there is a sequence that it is hard to believe the character lives through – but this is fantasy, after all – and a few dialogue sequences that are just a hair long. In spite of this, there is not space here to list the remaining positive aspects. Suffice it to say, Carr earns just short of a perfect score here.
Character Development(4 points)
In comparison, Carr’s character development is excellent. Myrad is an imperfect protagonist who learns from his good and bad decisions and – realistically – changes as a person throughout the story. Walgash is a great minor character and father figure who adds a lot to the plot, but in my opinion we could use fewer references to his hugeness and strength. However, as this is not an error, but an opinion, Carr isn’t marked off for it. Rashan is a surprisingly good character who gets better as the story continues. Additionally, the antagonist(s) are believable and the secondary characters make meaningful contributions to the plot. In short, there are no errors to speak of here.
Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)
Finally, Carr earns a half an x-factor point in originality for actually having the magi visit Jesus when he was a young child instead of an infant, because nobody does this. He also earns a full point in creativity for his unique depiction of the magi and his commitment to historical accuracy. As such, we believe this novel would make an excellent Christian series. The storyline would need very little alteration, and Carr must be involved in the screenwriting process if the characters are to be interpreted properly. Excellent novels such as these leave no excuses for filmmakers to continue to ignore this valuable moviemaking resource.
Coming May 1, 2020 from 5×5 Productionsand Purple Crayon Pictures
Writer(s): Lesley Ann McDaniel
Director(s): Juan Mas
Producer(s): J.D. DeWitt, Robin McLain, Suzanne Niles
Cast: Natasha Bure, Ben Elliott, Krista Kalmus, Saint Lorenzo, Sarah Kim, Chauncy Jones, John Reddy, Gabriel Cortez Jr., Josphine Keefe,
Plot summary: Bored with her social butterfly lifestyle, Victoria Tremont longs to find that special someone. Naturally, when a handsome stranger walks into the coffee shop where she works, she turns on the charm. But when he fails to respond to her flirting the way men usually do, she’s perplexed. She finds out that he runs a ministry that builds affordable housing, and sees that if she wants to get his attention, all she has to do is volunteer. So what if it’s a faith-based ministry. Pretending to be a “church person” isn’t any different than pretending to like sports or a guy’s friends, right?
Producer(s): Benjamin M. Jones, Margaret B. Jones, Douglas James Vail
Cast: Cazzey Cereghino, Sabastian Neudeck, Virginia Tucker, January Loomis, Trace Carper
Plot summary: Peace River is the story of a young, modern, champion rodeo cowboy and Special Ops soldier who is crushed by war and personal loss and must draw on the cowboy way and a profound faith in Christ to recover the will to live and love of his life.
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (2.5 points)
Musser’s latest novel is an intriguing blend of imperfectly unique characters and a creative suspense-style storyline that communicates an outside-the-box message about humanity’s need for God’s grace. While it has several strengths, perhaps When I CloseMy Eyes‘ biggest strength is how the author humanizes the struggle many people have with depression. Josephine Bourdillon loves to write. For her, writing is more than a hobby, it is how she makes sense of life’s joys and sorrows. Holding onto God’s promises and putting her pain in story form is how she has survived her difficult life. Josephine has a happy existence overall – she has several close friends, a devoted husband, and two loving daughters, Paige and Hannah. Though her troubled older sister is a continual rain-cloud in her otherwise sunny life, she really can’t complain. When Josephine is suddenly shot in the head by a scapegoat named Henry Hughes, her family is horrified and the world wonders if her stories will die with her. Henry is pinned as the key suspect in the case as everyone tries to find out who tried to kill Mrs. Bourdillon, and her family tries to hold onto hope that sue will survive. To find out what happens to the Bourdillon and Hughes families, read the book!:) On the whole, this storyline is a very interesting idea that wasn’t fully carried out. For instance, Josephine and Paige have very well-done stories; the former’s is established with timely and meaningful flashbacks, and the latter has a clearly outlined personality and relatable thought processes. However, Paige’s story is a bit rushed, and the audience needed a bit more information about both her and her love interest as children. In spite of this, the dialogue between characters is exceptional and Henry is a refreshingly original antagonist. In comparison, Josephine’s story tends to be quite morbid at times. (spoiler) Although her flashbacks give ample reason for her struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, the reader is left to assume that this was just a natural tendency for her as a person, rather than a result of her difficult childhood. It is our opinion that the latter plot device needed to be more clearly emphasized for her story to be truly relatable. (spoiler) Lastly, the misdirecting plot twist towards the end of the story is an intriguing idea, but I must say I’m glad the novel ended the way it did for a number of reasons; however, the epilogue is unnecessary. Thus, this combination of strengths and weaknesses earns Musser an above average score in this section.
Character Development (3 points)
In contrast, the character development in this novel is better than that of many, but it still leaves some room for improvement. First, the author employs excellent development of Josephine’s through flashbacks and shows how she weaves pieces of herself into her novels as a way of coping with trauma. This is an excellent plot device that humanizes her character and demonstrates the author’s deep understanding of people’s response mechanisms. Furthermore, Musser’s subtle explanation of how Josephine deals with her past by trying to help others reconcile with theirs helps make this character believable. In addition, Paige is a great alternate lead, and minor characters like her boyfriend and Henry’s wife are above average. In comparison, it is hard to get to know Josephine’s husband as a character in the midst of the fast paced plot, so it is clear that he needed a bit more development or an even smaller role in the story. The same is true for Hannah, for though she is an interesting idea, her character never fully comes to fruition. Therefore, Musser earns just under a perfect score here.
Creativity & Originality (1 point)
Finally, Musser earns a full point in originality for writing a true contemporary novel that is not fully a suspense, romance, or thriller. Instead, it somehow contains aspects from all three of these genres in a very surprising way. While this novel is not great, it is good, and there are many recent novels of which we cannot say the same. Likewise, we feel that this novel would make a great Christian drama/biopic film if the screenwriter took a little time to develop the minor characters further and cemented Josephine’s life as the main focus.
Producer(s): Andrea Logan White, David A. R. White, Bradley Dorsey? Bruce Marchiano?
Starring: Brooke Becker, Gina Simms, Bruce Marchiano, Shari Rigby, Michele Gomez, Ashley Bratcher, Bradley Dorsey, Brooke Becker, Ty Anaya, Josh Tipis, more TBA
Plot Synopsis: What would you do if you had an encounter with Jesus? In the first episode, Lily is devastated when her idea of a perfect wedding doesn’t go so perfect. She and the other characters will discover what happens when Bruce Marchiano Jesus steps in. Currently slated for 8 episodes with the first one airing January 29th, 2020 (maybe) on Pureflix.com.
Coming to the LightWorkers streaming service sometime in 2020
Writers: Karen Kingsbury, Christina De Leon, Marilyn Fu, Olumide Odebunmi
Directors: Rachel Feldman
Producers: Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Will Packer, Christopher Boyd, Brendan Bragg, Rick Christian, Ashlee Cohen, Karen Kingsbury, Kevin Mann, Dominic Ottersbach,
Starring: Trevor Donovan, Ali Cobrin, Brandon Hirsch, Taylour Paige, Roma Downey, Kai Caster, Ted McGinley, Masey McLain, Cassidy Gifford, Damien Leake, Asher Morrissette, Josh Plasse, Sheila Cutchlow, Victor Rodriguez, Jaime Primak Sullivan, Jake Allyn, Orel De La Mota, Emily Peterson
Plot Synopsis: This series is currently slated for 36 episodes that are based on Karen Kingsbury’s famous Baxter family book series that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a large family with six adult children.
Cast: Jason Castro, Heidi Montag, Donny Boaz, Morgan Roberts, Geraldo Davila, Lamar Usher, Ilsa Levine, Cesar D’La Torre, Jacob Hashem, Jonny Rey Diaz
Plot summary: Ram Goldstein and the greatest minds across the world are employed to create a matter transfer machine. But the Institute is really a covert organization funded by Extremists. Ram accidentally stumbles upon the secret agenda, but the same day, he succeeds in transferring matter and accidentally creates the world’s first time machine. Ram refuses to share the code so the extremists kill Ram’s parents and threatens to torture his friends. Ram gives in and agrees to build the time machine. As soon as it is finished, Extremists sends a group of assassins on the ultimate Jihad by killing Jesus and his disciples before his resurrection. Ram along with his genius team; commandeer the time machine and race back in time in an attempt to change time back before it rewrites itself. They fail to change the assassination of Jesus and must return to the future were they are killed, but not before they warn their original selves in the previous timeline. Now the original Ram and his team must transfer to back 33 A.D., to kill the assassins, save Jesus and restore the timeline.
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (1 point)
Lee’s latest novel is a far cry from her usual finesse. A Single Light is a bit of a disaster area in general (pun intended). From the meandering storyline, to the meaningless characters, to the Band-Aid style ending that seals the story’s festering wound, there isn’t much good here. Wynter, Chase, and all the rest pick up where they left off in the last novel. Everyone is underground in Noah’s interactive bunker of sorts, hiding from the prion disease and general mayhem above ground. Everything goes well until one day Noah doesn’t show up on the nightly live video feed that is their only contact with the outside. The residents grow restless and anxious, which leads to suspicion and accusation. When a woman goes crazy and stabs a fellow resident to death, her peers decide to serve up justice by locking her in the freezer (!?!?). Needless to say, her husband joins her, making the death tally read three (so far). When someone recognizes Wynter from news specials about her so called crime, she and Chase are put in custody. Wynter soon learns that Chase is not who he appears to be, and begins to wonder who she can trust. As one accident and catastrophe leads to another, Wynter will have to fight tooth and nail to survive. Needless to say, this novel contains endless violence – innumerable fight scenes, impossible survival sequences, and lots of blood and weaponry. If the reader can disregard the novel’s morbid tone and cold attitude towards the value of human life, they may come down with a case of motion sickness from the chaotic storyline. Additionally, the pointless cursing and edgy content do not fit in the supposed inspirational genre. Moreover, the cheap suspense elements, unusual characters, and corny romance scenes are not inspiring. As if this isn’t enough, we experience numerous rehashings about things that happened in the previous novel in the series. The main positive note here is the ending – typical though it may be – because it gives the reader reason to hope.
The novel also has a fairly complex storyline and a few mildly interesting dialogue sequences. These factors earn Lee a below average score in this section
Character Development(.5 point)
Because our goal on this blog is not to spread negativity, this section will be brief. First, Chase, the corny male, seems exist only to be the character with two-day old stubble and military muscles shining in the moonlight. Second, the protagonist is rash and wishy-washy. Wynter seems to teeter between the edge of sanity and a normal person’s conscience throughout the entire novel. While she is the best character, it us hard to get to know her in between explosions and mortal wounds. Third, the antagonists are numerous, but don’t worry, most of them die quickly. Finally, Otto is a great minor character with a senseless tragic end. Absolutely the very last sentence…
…Lee earns a half point here for her Otto character and for her reasonably good protagonist.
Creativity & Originality(.5 point)
Finally, there is not much creativity to speak of here. Any that does exist comes from the previous novel and is repurposed in this one – thus earning her a half point in creativity. Lee is better than this. We have seen great work from her many times before, and know she can do it again. But in the meantime, we do not recommend that anyone make this novel into a movie. Instead, they should look at her last novel, The Line Between, for content that would make a great Christian movie or series.
Coming in 2020 from Pilot Wave; currently in pre-production
Writer(s): Justine Juel Gillmer, Agatha Dominik, Stuart Hazeldine, Rachel Long, Brian Pittman
Director(s): Stuart Hazeldine
Producer(s): Christopher Lemole, Jeff Most, Ewa Puszczynska, Jeff Rice, Jaron Varsano, Gal Gadot, Gareth Wiley, Tim Zajaros, Marc Platt
Cast: Gal Gadot, more TBA
Plot Summary: This film tells the true story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who also headed the children’s section of Żegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews. Sendler used her role to enter the Warsaw Ghetto — created by Nazi Germany for the city’s Jewish population — and helped children escape.
Producer(s): Alan Powell, Steve Barnett, Gabriel Vasquez
Cast: Sherri Shepherd, Bailee Madison, Kevin Quinn, David Koechner, Jahbril Cook, Iain Tucker, Kat Conner Sterling, more TBA
Plot summary: With nowhere left to go, Will Hawkins finds himself at camp for the first time. His instinct is to run, but he finds a friend, a father figure and even a girl who awakens his heart. Most of all, he finally finds a home.
Currently in pre-production, coming to select theaters October 17, 2020
Writer(s): Timothy Chey
Director(s): Timothy Chey
Producer(s): Timothy Chey
Starring: Dennis Quaid?
Plot Synopsis: During Noah’s time, the Bible speaks of a time of great violence and Godless behavior on the earth. The Lord destroyed the entire earth through the flood, but spared Noah and his family due to Noah’s righteousness. This film will focus on the total devastation from the worldwide flood.
Rachelle Dekker’s first standalone novel is a bittersweet adventure with brilliant underlying themes that hides life lessons in unlikely places. While the story discusses some very gritty topics, it does so with taste and class. Alicen is prosperous by the world’s standards, but spiritually, she is suffering. On the outside, she is a wealthy socialite who doesn’t have a care int he world, but on the inside, she is very unhappy. Alicen married a man she does not love, had a daughter with him she doesn’t have time for, and lives constantly under the fear of what her mother thinks. When her young daughter Jane dies in a sudden drowning accident when Alicen is not watching her, Alicen goes over the edge and tries to take her own life. When this doesn’t work, her best friend from childhood invites her to come stay in their hometown and consider checking herself into a mental health program. Alicen refuses at first, but when she begins seeing Jane and other children that no one else can see, having severe emotional breakdowns, and becoming so lost in her own mind that she loses track of her whereabouts, she reluctantly agrees out of fear. (spoiler) Unfortunately, the mental facility is not entirely reputable, and the path to healing is not as simple as Alicen may think. She will find that she must face her deepest fears and darkest moments to experience the healing light of God’s love. To find out what happens to Alicen, read the book!:) On the whole this storyline is very well constructed – from the intricate plot details to the excellent flashbacks Alicen experiences, Dekker spares no expense when it comes to quality over quantity. Her extremely realistic portrayal of strained and or unhealthy relationships across generations adds depth and relatability to the story, and the time she spent on giving each character a unique personality makes the novel very meaningful. I could continue to praise the novel’s strengths, but it would be best for you to read it yourself. In comparison, the weaknesses here are very minor. First, Victoria (the antagonist) is somewhat unrelatable until her backstory is explained, so Dekker probably needed to give us a few more hints about her past earlier on in the novel. Lastly, some of the fantastical elements are hard to believe, (spoiler) but thankfully these are balanced out by the ending, which depicts Alicen as not being able to enter an alternate reality after being healed. In summary, this is an excellent Christian thriller that I would recommend to a non-Christian – and that’s saying a lot.
Character Development (3.5 points)
In contrast, Alicen is a nearly perfect protagonist because she has realistic perceptions of herself, others, and the world, and her past experiences are inseparably intertwined with her present. Additionally, it is highly realistic that Alicen must face her past in order to move on with her life. Louise is an excellent minor character who has a clear role in the story that goes beyond being simply a best friend to Alicen. It is clearly established that she is someone God uses to help Alicen through her life storm. Furthermore, Alicen’s grandmother is a excellent minor character. Even though she is only in the flashbacks, her personality and role in the story are clearly defined as important by the author. In comparison, although the antagonist is not perfect, her character is rounded out with an unfortunately realistic backstory. It is my opinion that there could have been a greater emphasis on Victoria than her uncle, for her character has a rather hasty development and conclusion. In spite of this, character development is Dekker’s strongest suit. Therefore, she earns just shy of a perfect score in this section as well.
Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)
Finally, Dekker earns a full point in originality for writing an excellent psychological thriller that stands apart from it’s genre and communicates a unique Christian message. Moreover, she earns a half an x-factor point for her excellent characters and movie-worthy storyline. As such, we here at BOR think that this novel would make an excellent Christian series as it is. Some of the gritty factors, like Victoria’s past, would need to be subtle on screen, but it should be included in the film. Additionally, the screenwriter would need to be experienced with creating excellent flashback scenes, as this is vital to the plot continuity and depth. This would be a great project for a filmmaker who has made a few things before and is looking for something that will get them on the map.
Plot summary: Betty Sweet is still recovering from the loss of her husband when she becomes the temporary guardian of a five-year-old nephew she never knew she had. As they struggle to move forward, they build a relationship upon the foundation of storytelling and its special kind of magic.
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality(1 point)
Bunn’s latest fictional work has a few good ideas but is mostly uninspiring. It was an interesting idea to write a novel about what happens behind-the-scenes while films are being made, but the plot and storyline are hard to decipher at times and the characters are not very easy to relate to. Danny Byrd is a budding movie producer who has already been involved in several successful projects; however, everything goes awry when he’s betrayed by his partner and best friend, JT. When JT makes off with most of the production funds, Danny is ‘left holding the bag’ and thrown in jail under false accusations. Megan Pierce is a lawyer with more than a little experience under her belt and a longing to do something lasting. Frankly, she’s tired of working with the big business goons playing the big city lawyer game. Megan wants to help someone who cares about the everyday person – oh, and if that person also ended up being her boyfriend it would really seal the deal. When she gets involved in Danny’s case, she recognizes that he isn’t just in the movie-making business for himself, but wants to use his talent to help others realize theirs. It doesn’t take long for Megan to fall in love with Danny, and it takes an even shorter amount of time for him to fall in love with her. Danny and Megan soon realize that many of the puzzle pieces surrounding his case have yet to be discovered, and that getting out of his predicament may be easier than they previously thought. Will their love survive the trials ahead? (pun intended) First off, the plot of this novel is very hard to follow. One minute Danny is in jail, and the next minute he’s making a movie with a recently discovered starlet. Additionally, the list of characters keeps growing as the story continues, which makes it hard for the reader to keep up with who is who. (spoiler) Why, even on the last few pages two characters we’ve never heard of before appear. Another reviewer observed that this story began in the wrong place, but we here at BOR think that it continued in the wrong direction. It wasn’t a bad idea to start out with Danny in jail, but why not switch to how he got in their and come back to him in jail later in the novel? The jury’s still out (pun intended) on whether or not that’s what actually happens in this storyline. Anyway, positive aspects of the novel include the creative idea behind the storyline and the author’s detailed descriptions of scenes as they play out. Besides what we’ve already mentioned, other weaknesses include some too-detailed descriptions of female characters appearances and the author’s tendency to make the reader feel like they’re on the outside looking in. Therefore, for these reasons and others, Bunn earns less than an average score in this section.
Character Development(.5 point)
Next, among the long list of characters the good ones are hard to find. The protagonist, Danny, has the most potential because he has an interesting backstory; however, his backstory needed further development. As it is we only get a few snippets of his past that are explained in a heavily narrated style. If Danny and Megan had had fully developed backstories, the novel could have been much better than it is. Megan is a bit of a wooden character who seems to fall very easily for her male counterpart. It is hard to get to know her because of her sudden appearance in the story, and hard to understand her purpose in the story – she is basically just an observer. Furthermore, there are some odd undertones in this area of the novel. For instance, the male lead seems to perceive females and males as only good at certain things – women are good at portraying emotions well on screen, and men are good at being intimidating and or playing the hero (or the no-account). Lastly, the dialogue is very uninteresting. Readers, please know that we really tried to find the good here, but there wasn’t much good to find. Therefore, Bunn earns just short of zero points in this section.
Creativity & Originality (.5 point)
Finally, Bunn earns a half point in creativity for his attempt to craft an interesting story, but no point in originality because of the errors listed above. Likewise, we here at BOR do not think a screenwriter should adapt this novel for the big screen because there is really nothing here that will point people to Christ. We encourage Christian filmmakers to look to novels on our Wish List that are scored at six points and above for content that would make a great film.
Coming to select theaters and streaming services in 2020 from Collective Development Incorporated
Writer(s): DJ Perry
Director(s): Jesse Low
Producer(s): Melissa Anschutz, Debbie Thomey Bennett, David Gries Shane Hagedorn, Anthony Hornus, Rebecca Lawlor, Jesse Low, John Mashni DJ Perry, Nathan K. Robertson, Dean Teaster
Starring: Melissa Anschutz, Shane Hagedorn, Victoria Jackson, DJ Perry, Josh Perry, Don Most, Christine Marie, Dean Teaster, Anthony Hornus, Melissa Anschutz, Lauren LaStrada, Michael Rene Walton, Abigail Mason, Greg Mason, Tonya Hawkins, David Gries
Plot summary: Hannah, a burnt out, mega-music star, returns to her small Northern Michigan hometown of Lost Heart, for her estranged father’s funeral. There she will confront the ghosts of her past and perhaps find her peace and balance once again.
Derral Eves, executive producer of The Chosen, announced this week that the much-loved series is slated for seven seasons! The subsequent episodes will be filmed in Parker County, TX – Capernaum Village, etc. – and will portray the entire life of Jesus. Click this link to watch, share, and support the show! https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen
Starring: Roma Downey, hologram of Della Reese, more TBA
Plot Synopsis: This series will adapt Debbie Macomber’s book series of the same name for the big screen. According to Roma, Fans of Touched by an Angel will love seeing Surely Shirley, Goodness and Mercy come to life on screen. The real question is, will Della Reese’s angel make a surprise appearance on set?
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality(2.5 points)
Angela Hunt’s latest novel, the last installment in The Silent Years series, has a pretty good storyline and average characters, but does not reflect the usual pathos demonstrated by this author. Hunt set a high bar for herself with novels like Uncharted and The Offering, a standard that has not been reached by this or her other most recent novels. The Silent Years series as a whole has been a mixed bag; some novels have been better than others, but none have demonstrated the author’s true potential. Egypt’s Sister was a very slow-paced novel, Judah’s Wife was the best of the series but had a predictable ending, Jerusalem’s Queen was wordy, and this novel is average. Salome is the sister of King Herod and the wife of her uncle, Joseph. She navigates tumultuous palace politics by knowing everything about everyone in order to ensure her own survival. Salome is a hard, selfish woman who rationalizes other’s deaths when her life is on the line. Her world is rocked when her longtime servant and friend dies suddenly, but she finds consolation in the young girl who takes her friend’s place. Zara is a young Jewess who has just been betrothed to a shoemaker in her village. She has suffered the loss of her father in the recent war, which also left her mother paralyzed. Though her aunt helps out here and there, Zara shoulders most of the responsibility around the house; however, when the opportunity to leave her mundane life presents itself, she takes it. Zara has always found solace in working with her hands, a talent that serves her well as Salome’s new hairdresser. Together these two women from completely opposite social spheres must carefully navigate the dangerous waters of Herod’s court if they expect to come out alive and sane on the other side. On the whole, this story holds the attention and contains only minor plot errors. Additionally, the unique depiction of Herod as a human, not a tyrant, is much appreciated. Similarly, Hunt makes an effort throughout the novel to portray people as neither all good or bad, a choice that demonstrates her grasp on crafting excellent characters. In comparison, the novel’s pace is inconsistent at times, likely due to the vast amount of time covered in the same. Moreover, there are no ‘wow’ moments here – just a good bordering on average story. Nothing that happens to the characters is unexpected, and nothing that occurs in the plot especially groundbreaking – there is no particular climax. Therefore, Hunt rounds out with just above an average score in this section.
Character Development(2 points)
In contrast, Salome is a very interesting character with a clearly defined personality and consistent tendencies. Zara is also a good character, but she seems a bit too good at times. It would have been nice if Hunt had made her a little more imperfect like she did with the other characters. Hunt’s portrayal of Herod is one of the best I have seen, but without a first-person perspective from him the novel feels unfinished. It is my opinion that the novel would have been great if it revolved around first-person perspectives from Herod and Salome. The main errors to point out here are few, but they do affect the quality in this section. First, Alexandra is a weak villian who needed further development, and Mariamne needed a bigger role in the story – she has little involvement in the plot overall. Lastly, these characters do not stand out from the others Hunt has crafted in their genre – they are good but not great. Thus, Hunt earns an average score here because we know she can do better.
Creativity & Originality(1 point)
Finally, Hunt earns a half point in creativity for her portrayal of little known pieces of Biblical history, and a half point in originality for her well-balanced characters. Despite the fact that this is not the best novel in the series, we still think The Silent Years book series would make a great Christian series or show. Some of the books would need to be heavily edited and all the characters given greater depth and emphasis. Additionally, the filmmaker would have to give Hunt a place on the screenwriting team to ensure quality is upheld, but such a project is possible. Even when Christian novels aren’t perfect, we continue to hope Christian filmmakers will realize the film potential in the same.
Cast: Stephen A. Elkins, Ashley Bratcher, Alex Ryan Brown, Nick Caldwell, David Dittmeier, Amanda Joy Erickson, Andrew Flagg, Jeremy Gauna, Eddie T. Gomez, Jourin Hannah, Micah Lynn Hanson, Ryan T. Johnson, Wayne Matychuk, Willie Mellina, Nathan D. Myers, Jeff Pearson, Darrell Philip, Sophie Proctor, William Row, Nicolas Shook, Todd Terry, Kevin Toy, Colton Vaughn, Kimberly Gail Williams, Tim Ross
Plot summary: Follows the trajectory of George Washington as a boy and a young man as he develops his relationships and ideals.
Starring: Corbin Bernsen, Ashley Bratcher, Joel DeVisser, John Smoltz, Isabella Zentkovitch, more TBA
Plot Synopsis: Game Changer follows the best, richest, and possibly most self-centered quarterback in the pro’s as he’s forced to coach an inner-city little league baseball team. A hilarious comedy for all ages that showcases how our lives are better if we live to help people around us.
Author’s note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
Jane Kirkpatrick’s latest novel, One More River to Cross, has an okay storyline, a very choppy plot and partially developed characters. It was a good idea to base a historical fiction novel off of real events and people, but this was not the way to do it. The Steven’s Murphy company had one goal – go down in history as the first wagon train to reach California via the Sierra Nevada mountains. The company contains people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds who all want the chance at a better life in California. The trip goes well at first, but weather conditions soon take a turn for the worse. When an unexpected snowstorm forces the party to make a desparate decision to split the larger party up into three smaller ones, it truly becomes every man for himself. Will the group of men and women on horseback, the men left behind to guard the wagons, and the women and children in a thrown-together shelter by the Yuba riverside live to tell their tales? To answer this question, read the book! While there are both positives and negatives in this novel, unfortunately the negatives are predominant. First, some parts of the novel hold the attention while others do not. Additionally, Kirkpatrick employs an inconsistent storytelling style in the form of randomly jumping between the stories of the three groups with no apparent pattern. Second, an attempt at identifying the negative effects of patriarchy is overshadowed by forced romances and overlong starvation sequences. Finally, the greatest weakness here is that the reader feels like they’re being told a story rather than being free to discover it as it comes and make their own decisions. This could have been remedied with first person storytelling from the perspective of the characters, not the author. In comparison, the historical aspects of the novel are intriguing and some of the character’s stories are engaging; however, these are swept away, so to speak, by the negative elements. Therefore, Kirkpatrick earns a below average score in this section.
Character Development (.5 point)
In contrast, One More River to Cross contains so many characters that their respective roles in the story are hard to decipher at times. Moreover, it could be argued that there is no discernible protagonist or antagonist as most characters seem to have equal page time. Additionally, the minor characters are barely in the novel, and on the whole, the characters are very simplistic because their actions and speech are heavily narrated by the author. Lastly, third person did not work here because it enhances the boredom of the story rather than engaging the reader in what’s going on. Overall, it was a good idea to bring real historical figures to life, but none of these characters are relatable or memorable. This being said, Kirkpatrick earns significantly less than an average score in this section.
Creativity and Originality (1 point)
Finally, it was a creative idea to make a historical fiction novel that is based on real events – a fact which earns Kirkpatrick a point in creativity. In fact, this is arguably Kirkpatrick’s strongest area. In spite of this, the novel should not become a film or series because the storyline is weak and the characters are one-dimensional. Weak characters are a critical error in any novel, but error is even more apparent in the historical genre because stories with a lot of information depend on strong characters for life and vitality. In conclusion, it would be an interesting idea for a Christian filmmaker to make a movie or series based on the real stories of American settlers, but we do not recommend that they use this novel.
Remember all those hours you spent laboring over play dough masterpieces as a child? Only to have them turn out like this?
How about all those hours you spent coloring two-dimensional, jointless figures in Christian kids coloring books, like these?
Well get ready to see your childhood sculptures, artwork, and failed Sunday school projects come to life in the five of the absolute worst Christian kids films and series, ranked from creepy to funny for all the wrong reasons.
#1 Jacob on the Road(2011?)
Oh boy. Where to begin. Jacob on the Road is by far the creepiest children’s film we have ever seen. It beats out other disturbing titles on this list for whitewashing dangerous situations and shamelessly indoctrinating a NON-CHRISTIAN child who stated his belief (obnoxiously) that he originated from monkeys. You guessed it, he believes in evolution, NOT young-earth creationism. This child is portrayed as whiny and sinful (as best that can be done by the adult voice that plays most of the roles) throughout the film, and even though his CHRISTIAN schoolmates are equally obnoxious and militant, the film portrays their behavior as perfectly normal. The plot, if you can call it that, is best summed up in this quote from the Dove Foundation’s website: “When a night guardsman falls along with dinosaur bones toward Jacob standing at the bottom of the animal museum suddenly Jacob has a dream about monkeys worshipping money and the god of Mammon. Only when a young boy named Jay comes to his rescue and Jacob has the dream does he realize that God indeed created His children.”
We have several issues with this film. First, a boy is shown blacking out as a full-scale dinosaur skeleton falls on him, and ignoring the obvious implications of this situation
we proceed to a mystical world where evil monkeys worship the god of mammon (money for those of you who haven’t read the Puritan doctrine Paradise Lost).
You have got to be kidding me. What are kids even supposed to assume from this movie?
What are we supposed to get out of it? Second, if we completely ignore the sinister undertones and general weirdness, basically the writers’ worldview in a nutshell is that Christians can be militant about their beliefs and judgmental of non-Christians.
Third, they also clearly communicate their belief that non-Christians who don’t believe in young-earth creationism need to be re-educated by experiencing a perilous journey where they will be taught all the ins and outs of Christian science…!?!?!?
Finally, besides all the other issues we haven’t even discussed, do some Christians really believe that Jesus would knock a non-believer out, force them to be saved, and isolate them to holding only one kind of scientific view!?
Apparently the answer is yes.
Overall we here at BoxOfficeRevolution were most disturbed by this movie and encourage people to avoid it all together.
#2 Jesus Wonder Series (there’s 4 seasons! Yes we watched them all.)
This series is only second in line because some moments are truly funny (even though they aren’t supposed to be) and help to round out the general weirdness. If you don’t have time to skim through this nonsense, imagine what would happen if your Sunday school flannel-graph characters came to life on the big screen filmed in stock motion with scene loops, and you have this series in a nutshell.
This isn’t even beginning to mention the soundtrack, where do we start, basically imagine three to four sound effects that don’t go together, like odd booming noises, strings, piano noises and ENDLESS BELL TOLLING and that pretty much sums up the soundtrack of this madness. But wait, there’s more! For your viewing pleasure we decided to include a special clip from the series. We challenge you to make it through the video below without literal ROFL-ing or sitting open-mouthed at the lunacy of what is happening.
#3 Bible Bees (2019)
Yes, you read that right. This frightening animated title came out earlier this year. It will soon become apparent that this title is third in line because it is weird in an ignorant sort of way and inspires a few moments of nervous laughter. Additionally, there are so many problems here that there was really no reason to give it a full review. First, the creators seem to be completely ignorant of modern animation techniques, a fact that is evidenced in the two-dimensional play-dough (or modeling clay) like figurines that float creepily across the TV screen. Second, all the characters speak in a weird tone of voice that is somewhere between sing-song and demented; this is both creepy and a complete distraction from whatever Bible lesson the creators were trying to teach. Third, the worldview in this mystical place is a bit off-putting. Bible Bees is basically teaching children that there’s a platitude behind every rock and tree (quite literally in this case) that will solve life’s problems (if you could call the first-world struggles documented here problems). Finally, it goes without saying that the storyline is indiscernible. But enough seriousness! Let’s take a look at some still shots from the film.:)
Disclaimer: The following images are actual still shots from the film and are somewhat disturbing. Proceed with caution.
#4 Music Machine (1991)
Ok, what’s happening here? This short is extremely unusual and seems more like a drug trip than a Christian kids film. The Music Machine is fourth in line because there’s really not much memorable content to speak of. Other than one force-fed behavioral lesson that is aimed against ‘wild’ young people and lots of bumbling cartoonish behavior, its just meh overall. If you don’t have time or don’t care about watching this (just don’t;) (watch veggietales instead;), let me give you a quick summary just for fun. The short starts out with two kids (who apparently have some kind of genetic mutation that causes co-joined eyeballs) wandering around outside with a kite. They briefly argue about who can fly the kite…blah blah…and are suddenly swept up in a strong wind and lightning storm while holding onto the kite string.
After their apparent death (!?!?!) they travel through space and arrive in a mystical place called Agapeland (yes, the girl mispronounces it and has to be corrected by a wise rabbit).
Here they encounter tons of random animals and a weird looking interactive enigma called….you guessed it the “Music Machine”.
This machine’s function is explained many times throughout the plot, and I quote “just put something in it and music comes out”. Well sort of, this feat is only accomplished after several honks, burps, bellows and colored-smoke-filled-snorts. Then if you’re lucky you will be graced with a honky tonk 1990s christian track (if you know you know:).
After an obligatory song, a random guy in a conductor’s outfit (are those heart buttons cheesy or what?) wanders into the plot and has many wise yet distantly mysterious things to say. Shortly after this we encounter the most unconvincing villian ever who has three Flintstone-like henchmen.
You guessed it, they’re trying to steal the Music Machine. No, they don’t succeed, and yes, the conclusion of this plot makes no sense. There’s not much else to say here except WHY.
In summary, this title weakly advocates for outdated Sunday school topics and assumes children are ignorant of all matters moral. Let’s move on to something else.
#5 Character Builders (2008)
We couldn’t bring this post to an end without mentioning The Music Machine’s spin-off, Character Builders. While there are many unusual aspects in this series, it is mostly forgettable; however, you’ll never be able to forget the memorable parts. First, all the voices are played by the creepy old man narrator. It would seem that his voice talents know no bounds as he plays the boys and girls, men and women. Second, as per usual, the good children are angelic and the bad children are evil bullies who don’t wear shoes.
Third, there’s always some corny child-is-bad set-up that leads to a “character-building” moment. The supposed spiritual lessons are made up of nails-on-the- chalkboard quality songs (that are usually sung by some unusual critter) and Full House style fatherly wisdom from a wise and perfect adult who never behaves badly. The show’s philosophy for solving situations and teaching lessons is much like The Donut Man’s:
Finally, in this riveting series of sixteen episodes (yes you heard right sixteen!) there are many different levels of insanity and madness like an endless dark sequence where you can only see Steve’s (and a few others) eyeballs.
Not to mention a long creepy sequence of animal-like looking creatures staring deeply into each other’s eyes!
How fitting that our post began and ended with sheep. We could keep going, but will restrain ourselves. In short, don’t show these movies/series to your kids unless you want to give them nightmares, and don’t watch it yourself unless you want a laugh. So what have we learned today? 1. Before making a kids Christian film or series, take a page out of a VeggieTales book and figure out why they were so successful. 2. Don’t make something just because, make something that will first not treat kids like they’re stupid. More importantly something that will point kids to Jesus and make a positive difference in the world.
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (3.5 points)
Rachelle and Ted Dekker’s latest novel is a very creative take on a simple truth that many Christians never live out. The detailed allegory-like storyline, the relatable characters, and the extreme creativity culminate in an enjoyable, unpredictable read that illustrates key spiritual truths. Grace, her mother, and brother Jamie live in Haven Valley, a place whose borders are closed in by a red rope. The residents of Haven Valley live under the protection of a mysterious being who claims to protect them from the Fury – frightening beings who are always looking for someone to attack – in exchange for unconditional obedience. Among other things, there are strict rules for how men and women can dress, look, behave, and interact with others – and above all there can be no lies or secret sin. Jamie has always questioned the validity of the community’s core beliefs, and one day he acts on this impulse by convincing Grace to journey with him beyond the red rope. What the two see and experience beyond Haven Valley’s borders send them hurrying back to safety and leave them with more questions than before. When Grace returns from her brief venture into the unknown she brings back a friend no one else can see who claims to be a source of wisdom and protection. Against this friend’s advice, Grace keeps breaking rules in her search for truth. When her decisions lead to consequences that she never desired, Grace will have to decide what she believes and who can be trusted. To find out what happens to Grace, Jamie, (and everyone else I didn’t mention ’cause spoilers), read the book!:) On the whole, the plot and storyline in this novel demonstrate excellent continuity and a level of depth not usually seen in this genre. The dialogue between characters contains many thought-provoking dilemmas that we are all faced with at some point in our lives. (spoiler) Additionally, the underlying contrast of legalism as death and grace as life and freedom beyond our wildest imagination gives the plot meaning and will be attractive to non-Christians. On a side note, this is a rare Christian novel that I would recommend to a unbeliever, especially one who was turned off to Christianity by a legalistic church or person. In contrast, there are two errors that keep this novel from a perfect score. First, there are a few too many sensational villian sequences between Rose and said being. Lastly, it is my opinion that Ben’s story was somewhat glossed over compared to the other characters’ stories. In spite of this, the well-placed flashbacks, intelligent characters, and creative undertones round this section out to just short of a perfect score.
Character Development (3.5 points)
In comparison, this novel is a great example of what happens when two good authors collaborate on characters. First, Grace is a nearly perfect protagonist who demonstrates (rarely seen) refreshing intelligence, realistic emotional responses, and relatable thought processes. Second, Jamie is a great secondary character who adds much to the plot because his story takes a realistic turn. Rose is a unique antagonist who is neither a strawman nor a typical villian. This being said, her backstory, current responses to past familial tension and abuse, and dependence on something other than God is a great illustration of someone who feels like they have to earn their salvation. Additionally, the minor characters are above average and have a clear role in the story. Furthermore, the representations of Jesus, his sacrifice on the cross, and live-giving resurrection are well-placed and make the story all that it is. In contrast, the errors here are minor and could be fixed if the novel was adapted to be a screenplay. As previously mentioned, Ben’s story needs more depth and a bigger place in the story because of how his role ends. Finally, some of the characters’ stories are wrapped up rather quickly; however, because the pros outweigh the cons here, the Dekkers earn an above average score in this section.
Creativity and Originality (1.5 points)
Finally, the Dekkers earn a full point in creativity for their great storyline and a half an x-factor point for their original, deep dialogue sequences and for their unique characters. This novel turns over a new leaf for it’s genre by proving that meaning, depth, and spiritual encouragement is possible in a thriller. Because of this, we here at BOR think this book would make a great Christian series. The book would need very little alteration to be converted to screenplay form, and most of the dialogue is good as is. As always, it is our continual hope that someone will recognize exceptional novels such as these and adapt them for the big screen.
Coming to theaters in Spring 2020 from Steadfast Pictures
Writer(s): Morgan Giesbrecht
Director(s): David Holston, Elijah Holston
Producer(s): David Holston, Elijah Holston
Starring: Cal Jennings, Richard Swingle, Ethan Drier, Abigail Hovey, more TBA
Plot Synopsis: A family tragedy three years ago left Cameron Taylor a hardened teenage with a chip on his shoulder. In trying to escape home pressures and past nightmares, a single mistake shatters his world, leading him on a desperate search for answers.When his mother suggests a change of scenery for the summer, Cameron reluctantly agrees, but country life holds more in store than he could have imagined. New friends—Alan and Elise—help to ease the pain of the past, but a freak accident one morning brings Cameron face-to-face with his biggest nightmare once more. Will Cameron succumb to the tragedies of the past or have the courage to trust God and face the future?
Coming to theaters in early 2020 from Manns/Mackie studios
Writer(s): Ty Manns
Director(s): Kevan Otto
Producer(s): Robert C. Bigelow, Troy Duhon, Joel M. Gonzales, Robert Katz, Bishop Charles Mackie, Ty Manns, Pat Mathews, Brandon Riley
Starring: Joey Lawrence, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Robert Ri’chard, Gregory Alan Williams, T. C. Stallings, Shannen Fields, Blue Kimble, Karen Valero, Jeff Rose, Ty Manns, Derrick Gilliam, Stephanie Katz, Delone Manns, Nate Jones, Justin Clark, Roz Williams, Amberiell Hudson, Jermal Martin
Plot Synopsis: Travis Fox is a returning veteran struggling with PTSD and his faith in God.
Currently being written, soon to be in pre-productionfrom VidAngel studios
Writer(s): Brock Heasley
Director(s): Brock Heasley
Producer(s): Orlando J. Gomez
Plot summary: This film is an allegory about the book of Job and will be a film about choice. In this case, the choices made by Kevin Garner, a man who is approached by Satan himself and offered fame and wealth in exchange for doing the devil’s bidding.
Susan Meissner’s latest novel is perhaps her best and most creative work to date. The Last Year of the War has a strong storyline, realistic and relatable characters, and a poignant underlying message. Elise Sontag is your average American teenager in the 1940’s. She has a strong and supportive family, good friends, and a positive outlook on life. There’s just one problem – in 1940’s America it is not good to have German ancestry. Elise’s late paternal grandfather was a decorated hero of the first World War, and her paternal grandmother, aunts, and uncles still live in Germany. Her parents immigrated to Iowa before her birth and have only recently applied to become U.S. citizens – a fact they will later come to regret. When the American government comes to a hasty conclusion based on five instances involving Otto Sontag (Elise’s father), Elise’s world is torn apart. Otto is suddenly shipped off to an unknown location out west and the rest of the Sontag family – Elise, her mother, and younger brother Max – are left to fend for themselves. Eventually Elise, Max, and their mother join their father at an internment camp in Texas that is home to Japanese, German, and Irish Americans. Otto and his wife are assigned jobs, Elise and Max are enrolled in a federal school in the camp, and the family is given a small house to live in. In a way, the family’s new daily tasks are not all that different than their old ones, but they are doing them behind a barbed wire fence patrolled by guards and dogs. Elise begins to wonder if her life will ever be normal again – until she makes an unlikely friend named Mariko. Mariko is a second generation Japanese American whose story is similar to Elise’s. She makes a plan for how the two girls will live independent lives going forward and gives Elise hope for a better future. (spoiler) When the war comes to an end, Elise and her family and forced to go back to Germany and Mariko and her family to Japan. As a result, Elise decides that she can no longer rely on her family or Mariko. As one circumstance leads to another, Elise makes a rash decision that will change her life forever. What does Elise decide, and will the two friends ever meet again? To answer both of these questions, read the book! Meissner seems to have hit her stride with this biopic-style novel, a fact that is evident through her use of first-person and her excellent continuity. Likewise, she does a good job of balancing the backstories of multiple characters with the large amount of time covered in the novel. Meissner gives great attention to detail by leaving no plot holes along the way and holds the reader’s attention from cover to cover with her above average dialogue and unexpected twists in the storyline. In contrast, the weaknesses in the storyline are minor. First, the middle of the novel contains a bit too much information, which implies that it needed some more editing. Lastly, the brief language in the latter third of the novel, although realistic in the context it is used, is unnecessary. Thus, Meissner rounds out with slightly less than a perfect score in this section.
Character Development(3 points)
Meissner’s character development is also quite good. Elise is an excellent protagonist who displays realistic emotional responses to traumatic events and has above average dialogue for a female lead. Additionally, the hard lessons Elise learns from her mistakes are very realistic and relatable. (spoiler) Furthermore, Meissner’s creative personification of Elise’s illness gives her and the plot depth. Mariko adds a lot to the novel as well and just as good of a character as Elise – this is a rare sighting in this genre. (spoiler) For instance, when asked whether she is a tomboy, Mariko replies: “I am myself.” This response encompasses the whole of her character and demonstrates the author’s grasp on real, authentic people who do not conform to social norms. Much like the last section, the errors here are minor. First, some of the minor characters get lost in the vast amount of time covered in the storyline, thus making it difficult to keep up with roles of secondary characters. Lastly, characters like Pamela and Teddy are only partially developed and needed a bit more depth; however, as their role in the story is very small, the flaw does not have a grest effect on the plot. Therefore, Meissner earns just short of a perfect score in this area as well.
Creativity & Originality (1 point)
Finally, Meissner earns a half point in creativity for her unique use of plot devices and for the pleasantly unexpected twists in the plot, along with a half point in originality for her exceptional dialogue and outside-the-box characters. We here at BOR think this novel would make a great Christian biopic film or series that depicted the lives of Mariko and Elise. The film would need to pick up the deep yet dubtle themes Meissner weaves through the novel – this could be accomplished through a little editing of the storyline and a great cast. In spite of this, Meissner has set up a great framework for success, so it can be done.
Coming to TBN and DVD release October 22, 2019 from TBN and Big Idea Content Group
Writer(s): Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki,
Director(s): Todd Waterman
Producer(s): Tom Newman
Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer, Dan Anderson, Kristin Blegen, David Mann, more TBA
Plot summary: Bob and Larry are preparing for their first Christmas show in Mr. Nezzer’s theater and the show seems to be headed for disaster. Bob begins to wonder how to celebrate Christmas when everything is going wrong. It’s only when the Veggies go back to the very first Christmas, where times were tough and things didn’t seem to be working out, that they all learn the promise of Christmas – God is with us. It’s a timeless story of hope that every family will enjoy! This is the first in a line of all new and original VeggieTales episodes that will be released on the TBN channel and DVD through 2021. These include a nine-episode series on the fruits of the Spirit, as well as new adventures starring LarryBoy and the League of Incredible Vegetables.
Author’s Note: We received a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Sharon Garlough Brown’s latest novel is a raw look at the everyday life of those who struggle with mental health issues; however, the storyline needed more depth and better continuity. Brown attempts to normalize depression and anxiety by showing how many people struggle with varying degrees of one or both at some point in their lives, but neglects to show the reasons why people struggle with depression, anxiety, and or panic attacks. Wren spends a big part of every day listening to the painful stories of abused women and children who come to find healing at the counseling house where she works. Lately it has been harder and harder for her to see the light amidst all the darkness in the world. When she begins struggling with activities of daily living, she checks herself into a psychiatric hospital with the goal of getting back on track; however, the medications they prescribe don’t help her deal with fellow patients or have good emotional responses. Wren begins to lose hope that she will ever lead a normal life again. When Wren is finally released from the hospital she arrives home to a personal crisis that sends her over the edge. Will she find her way out of the darkness and into God’s glorious light? To answer this question, read the book and decide for yourself.;) On the whole, the novel is an artistic depiction of depression and anxiety that struggles to tie up the fraying edges of the story. The biggest weakness in Shades of Light is the lack of basis for Wren’s condition. According to the professional counselor on our staff, people do not suddenly start having panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and the inability to cope with basic tasks. This type of behavior is usually the result of some sort of trauma in an individual’s past; therefore, a series of flashbacks to a traumatic experience in Wren’s childhood was what was needed here. The implementation of this concept is the only way that her behavior would be believable. Additionally, there are some continuity errors in the form of a scattery beginning and abrupt ending. In comparison, the novel’s greatest strengths are it’s honest look at the flaws in American churches and the outside-the-box spiritual truths that are woven into the fiber of the novel. These strengths give the shaky storyline a boost, but overall it rounds out to a below average score. In summary, were it not for the plot and storyline errors, this novel would have been groundbreaking.
Character Development (2.5 points)
Likewise, Brown’s characters are arguably the strongest part of the novel. Although the storyline does not always give them much to work with, the depth, honesty, and intelligent thinking displayed by Wren, Kit, and Jamie (Wren’s mother) is refreshing. Wren is a true artist because she sees the dark and light parts of life in equal measure (many Christian authors try to craft artistic female leads, but end up with a flighty, ditsy character who searches for substance). Kit is a great example of someone who is letting God use her weakness and past struggles for his glory by helping others in similar states. Jamie is also a good character because her imperfections are equal to her strengths. Furthermore, Jamie’s husband is not the typical pastor character because he has an identity outside of his job. Finally, the minor characters, including Jamie’s other children, are good and have above average dialogue. (spoiler) The main weaknesses to point out here are the ever-changing Casey character whose codependent relationship with Wren is excused, and the fact that arcs of all the characters come to a hasty conclusion. This being said, Brown rounds out with an above average score in this section.
Creativity & Originality (1 point)
Finally, Brown earns a half point in creativity for her unique storyline and a half point in originality for her great dialogue and outside-the-box characters. We here at BOR think that this novel would make a great Christian drama series that focused on weaving together the storylines of Wren, Jamie, and Kit to show that everyone has their own struggles, but everyone can be used by God in amazing ways. The storyline would need some rewriting, and the characters a first-person perspective, but it can be done. We here at BOR hope that authors like these will recognize their potential to be great Christian screenwriters.
Coming to select theaters and streaming services August 23, 2020
Writer(s): Christine Fry, Penny Gibben
Director(s): Tim Lowry
Producer(s): Rachel E. Lowry, Tim Lowry, Joth Riggs, John David Ware, Derrick Warfel,
Starring: Lou Ferrigno Jr., Kirby Bliss Banton, Charles Shaughnessy, Luke Guldan, Richard Burgi, Nikki SooHoo, Mark Krenik, Anne Marie Howard, Thomas Haley, Brenda Lorena Garcia, Josh Murray, Kim Estes, Carmen Moreno, Greg Allan Martin, Abhay Walia, Peter Xifo, Eddie Buraye, Kyra Locke, Calvin Harrison, Nicolas Alexandre, Jon Mohr, Jacqueline Price
Plot Synopsis: A ph.D student investigates unusual seismic activity in Los Angeles, leading to a cabal of elitist scientists, who plan to weaponize Nikola Tesla’s most secret research to manipulate thought patterns and earthquakes.