The Star [2018] (Movie Review)

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Our reaction to this movie

Plot Summary

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.

Conclusion

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’.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Christian Animated Movies/Series That Are So Bad They Aren’t Worth Your Time or Ours! (CAMSTASBTAWYTOU)

Remember all those hours you spent laboring over play dough masterpieces as a child? Only to have them turn out like this?

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How about all those hours you spent coloring two-dimensional, jointless figures in Christian kids coloring books, like these?

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Those sheep haven’t been eating their vegetables! (who can spot the hidden sheep in the picture)

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.”

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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

SERIOUS INJURY? DEATH? | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

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).

#Our Reaction!

You have got to be kidding me. What are kids even supposed to assume from this movie?

Lead Monkey: Hey guys do you have any idea what is happening? Response: Not a clue!

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.

#Writers be like: We’ll teach this atheist child a thing or two!

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…!?!?!?

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ikr

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!?

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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.)

Just for fun see how many duplicate people you can find in the crowd.

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.

And their heads went…Pop…Pop…Pop!

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.

Put your seat belts on!

#3 Bible Bees (2019)

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(insert creepy laugh here)

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.

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Hello everyone! I’m a BIBLE BEE! Wanna see me smile? Huh? Here I go, ready…..
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(smiles)
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Ha, if you think that’s a scary face, wait ’till you see his smile close up!
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(covers eyes in fear)
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Probably your thoughts at this point

#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.

Kids: uuuuuhhhhh…….HELP!!!!!

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).

Steve: “I knew it! The earth is round!” Nancy: “Yeah but they got the part wrong about us not being able to breath up here!”

Here they encounter tons of random animals and a weird looking interactive enigma called….you guessed it the “Music Machine”.

This machine apparently eats kids!?!?!?!

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:).

Caution, too much use of this machine may result in this kind of behavior!

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.

World domination is within my grasp! AhHAHaHaHaaaa!
Must be a spin off version.

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.

#Trying to think of reasons for why this movie exists.

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)

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HIYYYEEE! I’m a HAPPY CHILD whose ready to learn!
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HEY KIDS CAN YOU GUESS WHAT THIS LESSON IS ABOUT?
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Uhhhhhhh, love?

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.

We weren’t kidding.

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:

Hey kids! I know your are just feeling awful about a situation in your life. Let’s sing about it! That always helps!

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.

Well, at least my eyes aren’t co-joined together like the kid’s in that other series!

Not to mention a long creepy sequence of animal-like looking creatures staring deeply into each other’s eyes!

Sheep #1: “I have the bluest eyes” Sheep #Duplicate: “Well since I’m your duplicate that fact is true”

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.

The Pilgrim’s Progress: The Journey Begins

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Plot Summary

The famous tale by John Bunyan now comes to life in animated form for the first time. Join Christian as he embarks on a daring quest to the Celestial City that will ultimately test his faith and endurance as he fights through each new challenge the enemy brings him in attempt to dissuade him from the path of righteousness.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The overall production of this movie is unique and fairly well done – minus a few imperfections. One main imperfection is that most scenes are overall quite choppy and transitions are awkward. Not to mention that some scenes (especially close up staring scenes) go on for a little too long. For the most part though, as already mentioned, the animation quality is actually quite good, especially scenes involving nature. As for music quality, it’s not bad but it seems a little inconsistent. For example, it’s either too overpowering or too drowned out by extra background noises. However, these are all fairly minor issues because there is always room for improvement in nearly every film. This being said, Pilgrims Progress The Journey Begins certainly has a lot more to offer (production wise) than most Christian animated movies with just a few things that could be improved upon in a production sense.

Plot & Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

The film started out with a creative outlook on the town where the main character resides, which made one think that they were going to modify the plot in a more creative/modern way. However, they sort of overlooked this idea and continued with an edited version of the original storyline. This being said, even though they did cut out a lot of the story (obviously for the sake of time) it still seems like they tried to cram too much in a film with a medium-length run-time. This goes back to the choppy production work – not to say that the plot and storyline quality is not good, it just would have been more interesting if they had restructured the plot a little bit more. The writers didn’t need too completely change the original plot, but create a few different outlooks on things like they did with some scenes already. For example, the beginning, as mentioned, and one other very interesting outlook on the story was the Legality hill scene. This scene in particular was probably the most creative scene in the movie. Another main imperfection in the storyline was that each scene seemed very different from each other, as if they were all written at different times or by different people. These factors cause the storyline to not flow very well. All of these issues and positive qualities are why it receives said points.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

The acting quality in this movie is somewhat mediocre at best. The beginning of the film is especially rough in this area. The mayor/superior’s assistant is quite cringe worthy, even during his very short appearance in the film. The acting seems to get slightly better as the movie progresses, and it is also quite apparent throughout the film that most of the characters are played by the same voice actors (meaning John Rhys-Davies in particular). This is not really a problem though because it does workout in the end considering John Rhys-Davies is good at what he does and this method will always save space on the budget. The one main drawback of the casting is that the main character (Christian) is a bit annoying at times – it is mostly tolerable but could be better. Overall, the acting quality is one of the the main drawbacks to the film. We should certainly like to see these filmmakers spend more time on this aspect in future films.

Conclusion

In conclusion, all said menial problems noted about this film don’t really matter that much in the end as long as the main point is established and that point is the gospel message. Although a higher production, acting and storyline quality would definitely help to get this point along more effectively, as long as it reaches individuals and families for Christ that is all that matters. This being said, Pilgrims Progress: The Journey Begins is a great movie for children and families to watch because it doesn’t treat children like they are dumb – like so many animated christian films do – and doesn’t completely lose the interest of adults.

final rating 5.5 points out of 10 points

Joseph: King of Dreams (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

This movie tells the story of Joseph in the Bible. When Joseph receives more attention and a special gift from his parents. His ten brothers hate him even more than they already did and after the dreams that Joseph told his brothers about them. They decide to sell him to desert merchants, who take him to Egypt. There he is made the servant of the wealthy Egyptian (Potiphar). Who eventually has Joseph thrown into prison because he mistakes him for insulting his wife. Joseph then shows his God-given gift by interpreting the dreams of two other prisoners. Eventually, the Pharaoh begins to be plagued by dreams, and sends for Joseph, who interprets them and saves Egypt in the process. He is made second in command to Pharaoh. Eventually his brothers arrive in Egypt and Joseph must decide if he is going to forgive them.

Production Quality (3 points)

This movie has very good production quality being that it is very similar to its predecessor The Prince of Egypt, in music quality and animation quality. It is yet another rare well done animated Bible based film from Dreamworks back in the early two-thousands. It does a good job of portraying this great Bible story through well constructed scenes and musical numbers. One especially creative aspect is how it creatively portrays Joseph’s dreams and flashbacks with artistic flare. Therefore this is yet another rare animated Bible film where it is actually good quality. While also not treating kids or whoever is watching like they are stupid. Hence it receives the above rating.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

Surprisingly enough Dreamworks was actually able to stay spot on to genuine story of Joseph in Genesis. They do move through the story quickly so some minor parts are skipped. However, this is only due to how much time they have to work with in the film. They do add a few scenes here and there concerning what Joseph’s activities as a slave could have entailed. However, this is no great issue concerning the plot. For the most part though the plot and storyline is very good except for a few historical discrepancies. Which is why it receives the above rating.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting quality in this film is yet again very well done, considering that the actors do a very good job of portraying emotion and skill. This is because this film has a very distinguished cast. If only most live action christian films had this quality of acting the christian film industry would be in a very different place than it is currently. Therefore there are no problems to mention in this area of the film.

Conclusion

In conclusion Joseph: King of Dreams is a must see for the whole family of all ages. Which is definitely what we here at BoxOfficeRevolution hope to accomplish with this page. To seek out Christian animated films that can be watched by all ages and actually teach people something while not treating it like their are dumb. For their are certainly a lot of those sort of films out there.

Final Rating 8.5 out of 10 points

The Prince of Egypt (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In this animated retelling of the Book of Exodus, upon discovering his roots as a Jewish slave and upon promptings from God. Egyptian Prince Moses embarks on a quest to free his people from bondage. When his plea is denied by his brother Ramses, the new pharaoh, a series of horrific plagues strike Egypt. However, upon following Gods instructions, Moses finally leads the Israelite’s to freedom by parting the Red Sea and drowning the Egyptian army. God then gives Moses the Ten Commandments, a list of rules for his people to live by.

Production Quality (3 points)

The Prince of Egypt is still today the best animated christian film to date. Dreamworks surprised everyone back in the late 90’s with the idea of making a musical/biblical rendition of the story of Moses (The Prince of Egypt), in his early life. The production quality of this movie is superb especially considering the age. Not only is it a well done Biblical epic it is also a wonderfully orchestrated musical. It is very rare to have not only a well done animated christian production but also one that manages to add an original soundtrack on top of it all. The music as mentioned already, is excellent one main reason for this is that it really adds to and tells the story very effectively. It’s not like other animated productions where there are mindless sing along sessions where the characters randomly burst out into shallow (not to mention really annoying) singing for a “montage” or a “funny moment”. This brings us to the other main point for why the music is top notch. The characters can actually sing! Not to forget of course that the music is composed by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz, so you know you can’t get much better than that. Anyway to sum it up you won’t be able to find a much better quality production in an animated christian film than this one.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

The plot of The Prince of Egypt is overall excellent like the rest of the movie, they slightly altered and added to the original Bible story only slightly. Although we are not sure what actually occurred in the real story as far as moments with Ramses and Moses or the scenes with Egyptian Priest’s Hotep and Huy (which are not their real names by the way). Another aspect of the plot versus the events in the Bible, is that of Moses’s age when he confronted Pharaoh. As stated in Exodus 7, Moses was eighty years old as well as was Aaron when confronting Pharaoh. Which we are not clear of in the movie as far as how old Moses is, however, it is pretty obvious he is not eighty years old in said moments. This is not to even mention the total absence of Aaron alongside Moses in the movie. Compared to what the Bible says concerning that God sent Aaron alongside Moses to confront Pharaoh because Moses was worried about having to speak. Nevertheless this is not the case in the film, they basically combined Moses and Aaron into one character and the Aaron in the movie is for the most part absent from the film. In the end these are just nit picky complaints, however, just so it’s made known that it is not entirely accurate to what the Bible states. For the most part though the plot is very well done and authentic in that they tried to stick to the true story for the most part. Nonetheless, we cannot overlook inaccuracies of the Bible that is why it has received a lower rating in this area.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The cast of The Prince of Egypt is also of course excellent. All the characters are very well cast and their quality of acting is superb. It certainly makes a massive difference in the quality of a film especially an animated film to have a capable cast. It would be very easy to say that The Prince of Egypt also steals the prize for the best acting quality for a Bible based animated film. There are really no complaints here at all for acting quality, characters do not put on an overbearing or glass half empty performance.

Conclusion

This film is one of the best ideas Dreamworks has ever had, what better way to make a movie than one based off of a Bible story. Even better still one that manages to pull of a wonderful musical (yes I’ve mentioned this a lot already:) that manages to add to the plot of the film. In conclusion this film is a must see for all ages and all demographics.

Final Rating 8 out of 10 points