Secrets in the Mist by Morgan Busse (Book Review)

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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)

Secrets in the Mist has a creative storyline that many readers will love, but because the characters lack depth, the novel’s main points fall a bit flat.

There are three major strengths of the plot and storyline. (spoilers ahead) First, Busse creates a believable reason for the Turned to exist and places limits on their abilities – making this aspect of the plot more realistic. Second, the plot contains enough small twists to keep the story’s progression from becoming overly predictable. Finally, the storyline contains some original themes that are not usually portrayed in Christian fiction.

In comparison, there is one overarching error. The plot focuses heavily on Cass and her perspective, and in doing so, fails to connect other characters to the plot in a memorable way. For instance, it would have been nice for the author to include a parallel storyline about Theo’s grandfather when he was Theo’s age – a present vs. past contrast, so to speak. This would have created an opportunity for her to establish what the world was like before the Mist was widespread, and to deepen Theo’s point of view by crafting a backstory for his family that explained how past decisions led to their present condition. Alternatively, a past-to-present parallel storyline from Luron’s perspective would have been interesting as well – especially if the author did not reveal that character’s identity as an opportunistic villian until later in the series. To sum up, the plot and storyline are lacking this author’s usual depth and attention to detail. Therefore, Secrets in the Mist receives an average score in this section because the plot and storyline are full of good, but unfinished ideas.

Character Development (2 points)

Much like the plot and storyline, this novel’s characters are full of potential. However, improvements can be made in several areas.

There are two main strengths in this part of the novel. One, Cass (the protagonist) has a fully developed personality, tendencies, and consistent behaviors. And two, this character was given both motive and a meaningful backstory that helps establish the setting in an organic way.

In spite of these strengths, this novel needed some work in character development. Theo is an incomplete character who lacks flaws, motive, and a fully developed personality. With what we know about Theo’s background, it would have been very easy to establish some flaws. (spoilers ahead) For instance, Theo grew up in a privileged society and never consistently interacted with people from the lower classes. At the very least, Theo would have developed an unconscious attitude of entitlement, even if he was only copying his family’s behavior patterns. Moreover, what is his motive for wanting to eradicate the Mist? Because no one is born wanting to save the world, something had to have happened that would inspire his drive to fix things. (spoiler) If this motivation is his father’s death, we needed to hear more from the character about how this affected him in the past and present.

The only other error in this section is the underdeveloped minor characters. As readers, we are told what the minor characters do via expository dialogue, but we never really get to know them. Including one or two meaningful scenes each with the minor characters would have helped to cement them as key parts of the storyline. On the whole, this section is lacking some of the elements of a good story, and for that reason, it too receives an average score.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

In closing, Secrets in the Mist is an enjoyable, easy-to-read story that features a well-built fictional world and relevant themes. For this reason, it earns a point in creativity. However, because it lacks depth and has a few plot holes, it is not re-readable. Additionally, this book would need some rewriting before it would be ready for a movie/series adaptation. For that reason, it does not earn an x-factor point. Overall, I enjoyed this novel, but would have liked to see the author go a step further in several areas and take a few risks.

Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Amish Grace (Movie Review)

Watch Amish Grace | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When a mentally ill man tries to exact revenge on a local Amish school for the death of his daughter, the Amish community is rocked with grief. However, as the religious leadership instructs the faithful to forgive, one mother cannot let it go. Thus, she has to come to grips with what it truly means to follow God and do what He says.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

With professional funding behind it, Amish Grace sports a great production with very few errors within it. Video quality, audio quality, and camera are all on par with industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are all well-constructed and well-utilized. There are no lighting or special effects concerns. The only small problems to note relate to editing, but these are not enough to prevent a high score from being awarded to this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It was great that the writers used real-life source material to explore extremely difficult topics in this narrative. As such, some characters are very relatable as they struggle with hard concepts. However, some characters come off as too perfect and angelic, and there are overall too many characters to keep up with. Because of this fact, there is no clear protagonist, and many of the subplots are unfinished or disjointed. It’s unfortunate that a story based on true events lacked focus and organized purpose. Nonetheless, certain sequences of dialogue and some conversations are intriguing even if they fail to effectively move the narrative forward. Sometimes, it feels like the characters are trapped in what the story wants them to do, such as when there are pertinent points raised about the various inconsistencies of legalism in certain religious lifestyles and when these legitimate concerns are never explored again. In the end, this film was not long enough to do justice to the true accounts, and it’s possible that a miniseries format would have been more appropriate. Despite this, however, this aspect of the screenplay does deserve a modest rating for authenticity.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting is the strongest element of Amish Grace. There are virtually no errors with the emotions or line delivery. It’s clear that the cast members were professionally coached, which leads to a perfect score for this section.

Conclusion

There was so much that could have been done in this movie. The true story is extremely compelling and poignant, but the potentially powerful message is not effectively communicated in Amish Grace. Nonetheless, there are still meaningful elements in this film, so it’s likely worthy your time. We just wonder what could have been.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Gimme Shelter [2013] (Movie Review)

Gimme Shelter,' movie review - New York Daily News

Plot Summary

Agnes Bailey, who goes by Apple, was raised in a terrible environment. Thus, after Apple finds out that she’s pregnant, she decides to make a run for it away from her drug-addicted mother. Apple tries to find her long-lost father, who lives in an affluent area. However, Apple will have to wrestle with the demons of her past before she can find true rest.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, this production is a mixed bag. There is some shaky camera work and inconsistent lighting. However, video quality is fine, and the audio is mostly acceptable. The soundtrack is intriguing even if there are background sounds at times. As a while, sets, locations, and props are realistic, and editing is acceptable. All production elements do improve with time, so this section does enough to receive an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Gimme Shelter is an authentic look at real struggles that is sometimes a bit too raw. There are one too many instances of course language and edgy content, and the first half of the narrative meanders before finding a footing. It’s good that the writers refrained from an overly preachy Christian message, but more redemptive themes would have been preferred. Nonetheless, the characters and dialogue are still very believable even if some sequences are wasted and unnecessarily drawn-out. More meaningful flashbacks could have fleshed out the plot and helped it avoid so much telling. As it is, the stream-of-consciousness storytelling style sometimes works and sometimes does not. The narrative needs a more central focus and stronger themes, but the realistic look at life is refreshing. Thus, an average score is warranted for this section.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Despite previous shortcomings, the acting is the strongest point of Gimme Shelter. The performances therein are very solid with no discernable errors. Emotions and line delivery are on point. This rounds out an overall above-average film.

Conclusion

At the time, Gimme Shelter stood apart from other quasi-Christian screenplays that were being released in the 2010s. This movie was almost too authentic and shocking, and there are quite a few rough edges in Gimme Shelter. Nonetheless, perhaps the most significant element that held this film back from being all that it could have been was its lack of plot focus and organization. The writers relied too heavily on the gritty aspects and forgot the keep the audience engaged with the characters. Thus, this creation serves as a warning for future projects of this caliber.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Into His Arms (Movie Review)

Into His Arms (1999) | Full Movie | Marcia Welch-Kahler | Joel King |  Travis Opdyke | Marc Linn - YouTube

Plot Summary

When a little girl goes missing, the community is shaken. Her parents are beside themselves as they demand for the police to do something. Many authorities are dismissing the disappearance as a simple accident, but one detective isn’t convinced. He won’t stop until he finds out the truth.

Production Quality (0 points)

With very poor audio quality, inconsistent video, and bad lighting, this production is mostly a disaster. Scenes are too bright in the outdoors and too dark in the indoors. Backgrounds sounds are annoying, as is shaky camera work. Sets, locations, and props are extremely cheap, giving the film the feel of a cheap reality show. Weird flashes and special effects disorient the audience, and editing is extremely random. Needless to say, this production has no potential, which is why no points are awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Between very obvious messaging and incredibly unsubstantial dialogue, watching this screenplay is a real drag. There are tons of scenes without conversations and useless montages that waste time. Many side characters do nothing to advance the narrative, and the viewer isn’t drawn into the suspense. Despite the tragic circumstances of the plot, the audience feels nothing due to the totally blank and empty characters. Otherwise good themes are lost in the most boring possible portrayal of a crime drama that’s full of characters staring into space. Then, to top everything off, a wild climax sequence concludes the story by disrupting the overall tone of the movie with an over-the-top ending. Hence, another score of zero is warranted.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Between extremely sappy and unbelievable emotions and overly practiced line delivery, the acting of Into His Arms leaves much to be desired. Many cast members are very over-the-top in their performances, including a lot of fake happiness. Thus, due to lack of potential in this section, no points can be awarded.

Conclusion

In the end, older creations like this film had an uphill battle to fight due to low production potential. There was also a lack of adequate understanding when it came to effective acting. However, this doesn’t diminish the fact that screenplays like Into His Arms are just bad in every way. They have no impact on the audience and only serve as a relic of days that were darker for Christian entertainment. Hopefully, we can move past these times.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

It’s a Life Worth Living (Movie Review)

It's A Life Worth Living (2020) | Full Movie | Daniel Jeffries | Angela  Roberts Johnson - YouTube

Plot Summary

John is running from his dark past, trying to conceal his demons of substance abuse while living a seemingly normal life. However, when everything falls apart, he has nowhere to turn. Thus, he is forced to look to God for strength to continue on and rebuild.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of It’s a Life Worth Living is acceptable. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are fine. Sets, locations, and props are average or better. The main concerns with this section are the wild editing and disorienting special effects in certain sequences. Sometimes, there are very abrupt transitions that cut things off mid-scene. Thus, a slightly above-par score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This narrative is certainly interesting and contains flawed characters. However, the radio-style storytelling is a crutch for actual character development, and this method of plot development encourages large time jumps that are bridged with exposition. The writers tried to cover too much ground in the narrative, and the storyline meanders without much purpose. Despite slight potential, the plot needs lots of reorganization and shoring up. The characters therein are okay but are slightly one-dimensional due to unsubstantial dialogue. Redemption moments are interesting but are unearned due to the weak characters and unclear motivations. The writers’ understanding of substance abuse is okay but incomplete as it makes it seem like that Christian rehab is a magic fix as the protagonist is quickly healed after just a few short steps. Mental health therapy is also viewed in an unrealistic way, and recovery is portrayed as too fast and easy. These shortcomings overshadow the otherwise interesting concepts that are explored in this narrative as well as the non-linear method of storytelling. Unfortunately, as the film progresses, things only get worse with a stupid climax sequence that’s based on childish coincidences, leading to a very ridiculous conclusion. In the end, slight potential is present in this section, but it’s mostly a disappointment.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite a few errors among the lead cast members, the main actors and actresses of this screenplay post pretty good performances. However, the supporting cast is quite week in their performances. Some emotions and lines are too over-the-top in certain moments. Although there is a strong beginning in the acting, this aspect of the movie unfortunately worsens with time. Therefore, an average score is warranted here.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the creators of It’s a Life Worth Living wanted to make an authentic film about substance abuse struggles. However, more research was needed in this area, and story consultation was needed to present the narrative in a more audience-friendly manner. Further, the acting needed shoring up. Nonetheless, with more refinement, this creative team could move on to better things in the future.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

To the Ends of the Earth [2018] (Movie Review)

Watch To The Ends of the Earth | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When the Apostle Paul went to Philippi, this was the first time that the gospel of Jesus Christ had reached the continent of Europe. However, Paul faced much opposition and many trials in his mission to follow the Lord’s calling. Nonetheless, his obedience changed countless generations to come.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Although video quality is fine and the soundtrack is culturally sensitive, dizzying camera work and confusing special effects hold the production back from being what it could have been. Sets, locations, and props are great, but sound effects are poor. Further, editing is inconsistent, which goes with the overall theme of this production being a mixed bag. Thus, an average scored is granted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

While it’s commendable that the writers of this narrative focused on one short aspect of Paul’s ministry, the apostle himself is too perfect of a character, which means that it’s hard to relate to him as a person. Also, demonic elements are too sensational as too much time is spent on dark spirituality. Elsewhere, the story presentation is confusing since it makes the progression of events very unclear. Most of the characters are inaccessible and hard to connect with due to procedural dialogue. Unfortunately, although this plot could have been interesting, it doesn’t offer any potential because attention is given to all the wrong things.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though the casting is sometimes culturally authentic, this is not always the case. Nonetheless, the actors and actresses make some good attempts at accents. Sometimes, the acting is believable while other times, the performances are too theatrical and stoic. Emotions and line delivery can be a bit uneven at times. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good in this section, which leads to a sub-par score.

Conclusion

Period pieces about well-known Bible characters are very difficult to effectively execute. There are many moving parts and small details that are easy to get wrong. As a whole, it seems like that the creators of To the Ends of the Earth had the right motives but not always the correct philosophy. Unfortunately, there are just too many pitfalls in this screenplay that kept it in the basement of Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

The Appointment [1991] (Movie Review)

The Appointment (Spanish) (1991) | Full Movie | Karen Jo Briere | Art Oden  | Leslie Basham - YouTube

Plot Summary

Liz is a journalist who just hates God with a passion. Her entire job consists of writing anti-God articles in the paper. Liz is clearly bent on evil, so she doesn’t believe a strange message that she hears from a mysterious messenger who claims to be from the Lord. The message is that Liz will die at a specific time on a specific day, which was why she needed to get saved. Liz laughs this off, but as the day gets closer, she becomes more and more uncertain of what she believes. Will be turn to Christianity before it’s too late???

Production Quality (0 points)

As a 1990s production, The Appointment is just bad, even for the time period. Video quality is cheap, lighting is inconsistent, and camera work is random, including silly mid-shot zooms. Audio quality is disrupted by weird sound effects, noticeable background sounds, and an overpowering, in-your-face soundtrack. Further, very abrupt cuts and transitions sometimes completely cut off scenes in abrupt and shocking ways. Needless to say, no points can be awarded in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

In the most propaganda-level fashion, the Christiano team made sure to craft one of the most offensive portrayals of Christians and non-Christians known to Christian entertainment. The “bad” characters are downright evil pariahs who are bent on destroying Christianity. Many other characters are generic and vanilla due to blank dialogue, but almost every conversation is used to push agendas, preach at people, and force ideas down the viewers’ throats. Some scenes are very short and punctuated. In general, the writers seemed to have a really bizarre obsession with the main character dying, which further contributes to a portrayal of Christianity that will repulse people. In the end, due to offensive elements, this aspect of the film must receive negative points.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The performances in The Appointment are either generic or overplayed. Some cast members are trying too hard to be interesting, which sometimes comes off as overly theatrical. Forced line delivery and emotions don’t help matters. Further, cheap costuming caps off a section that lacks any substantial potential.

Conclusion

As we’ve said time and time again, trying to scare people into being saved is one of the worst things that a Christian can do. This is not the objective of our faith, yet some Christian creators seem to think that it is. Though older than other movies, The Appointment still tarnishes the reputation of Christian entertainment. The one hope is that we are now past these dark days.

Final Rating: -1 out of 10 points

Secrets in the Fall (Movie Review)

Secrets in the Fall- Official Extended Trailer - YouTube

Plot Summary

After being stuck in school for a snowbound night, a group of teenagers became friends for life. Now, they’re working together as counselors at a Christian camp. However, not everything goes smoothly as some campers don’t want to be there for various reasons. Will they all be able to wok together to make the week memorable?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Beginning with a cheap found-footage feel, this production doesn’t live up to professional standards. Background noises and shaky camera work don’t help matters. While video quality, sets, locations, and props are okay, there’s not much soundtrack to speak of. Editing also contains concerns, including lagging scenes, awkward fadeouts, and weird sped-up portions of the film that confuse the audience. Despite some slight production improvement with time, this section can’t receive any more than an average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

From the get-go, the narrative is filled with convenient exposition that shoves information into the viewers’ faces. When this finally stops, the dialogue is somewhat acceptable yet could use some work. Although this screenplay is a sequel, characters are one-dimensional due to lots of blank scenes that accomplish nothing. Additionally, the high number of characters crowds out the runtime, causing many subplots to get lost in the shuffle and characters to get neglected. As a result of wasted time, character arcs are too steep as shortcuts are taken to force lessons upon the audience. Though there are some good attempts at making the “bad” characters neutral by giving them reasons for their actions, which is the tiny shred of potential in this story that keeps it from receiving no points, there is still not much focus or purpose in this narrative. Characters undergo very self-aware growth without experiencing circumstances that would promote these behaviors, which is unrealistic. In the end, the Every New Day creative team often tries to craft character-based plots but continue to lack key elements that are needed or success.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting of Secrets in the Fall is mostly generic due to there being nothing special or terrible. Line delivery and emotions are standard. Thus, with no positive or negative standouts, this section receives an average score.

Conclusion

Secrets in the Snow had a good amount of potential, but this follow-up seems forced and unnecessary. Sequels should build upon what was previously accomplished, but this movie takes a step backward. It seems like that the Goodwins have noble intentions with their creations, but they have taken a quantity over quality approach. Perhaps it’s time for them to take a step back and focus on producing fewer screenplays that contain more meaning.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Teen Musical: The Movie (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Dr. Alexandra Park just wants to run the community center for the kids, but an evil businessman with unlimited political power wants to tear the building down to build something really important. Dr. Park’s only option to save the center is to host a musical and make money off of the tickets. Thus, she forces the kids she knows to work for free in this show. Will they be able to pull off their scheme in time???

Production Quality (1 point)

There is much to be desired in this production. Between inconsistent camera work and video quality, the viewing experience is difficult. Audio quality is also poor, including background noises, echoes, and a cringeworthy singing soundtrack. Also, overdubs and lip syncing are very obvious, and sets, locations, and props are very cheap. Further, editing is choppy, and despite some improvement throughout, this section doesn’t break the average line.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As this narrative jumps all over the place, the audience is assaulted with tons of empty characters and cardboard content. Plastic expository dialogue serves as a crutch to bridge the plot jumps. The villain character is totally ridiculous, and the out-of-left-field suspense elements that come with him are unrealistic. It’s too far-fetched to assume that the level of violence that is brought in by this absurd villain would actually occur in this situation. Besides this, the story is full of other cheesy clichés and constructs, such as the formulaic narrative structure of using a musical event to save a struggling organization. With so many things happening, all leading to a predictable conclusion, there’s no potential in this aspect of the film.

Acting Quality (1 point)

When you combine awkward acting with terrible singing in a musical, you have a disaster on your hands. Emotions are very manufactured throughout the movie, and the performances are overall too scripted and stiff. Despite slight improvement with time, this section doesn’t reach the average point.

Conclusion

This screenplay is just a mess, and this is exactly what we should not longer see in Christian entertainment. Teen Musical is nothing short of a disaster, which many musicals end up being. Hopefully, one day soon, we won’t have to keep wading through these murky waters.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Future Tense [1990] (Movie Review)

Future Tense (1990) | Full Movie | Fred Carpenter | A.J. Merrill | Leigh  Lombardi | John Shannon - YouTube

Plot Summary

After a college student becomes a Christian while away from his family, he tries to encourage them to convert to his newfound faith. When they refuse, he decides to record a tape of what would happen to them if the Rapture came before they were saved. Coincidentally enough, after the student sends the tape to his family, the Rapture actually does happen! What will they do now???

Production Quality (.5 point)

As a 1990s production, Future Tense leaves much to be desired. The weird grainy and shady tint to the video disrupts the viewing experience, as do weird special effects. The soundtrack is loud and annoying, and other aspects of audio are unbalanced. The camera work, sets, locations, props, and editing are the only acceptable elements that prevent his section from receiving no points. Needless to day, this is a very low-quality production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Between heavy-handed messaging and lots of off-screen content that we only hear about, this narrative barely counts as storytelling. With hardly any actual dialogue to speak of, the characters are blank cardboard cutouts. The out-of-order plot style is poorly presented, which confuses the audience. Other aspects are generally boring as many scenes waste time. Also, the entire narrative is perfectly spoon-fed to the audience and magically constructed to fit a very narrow worldview. Further, the vague ending makes no sense and leaves the viewer wondering what just happened. In the end, this section receives a score of zero due to lack of potential.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Although the acting in this film is robotic and overly practiced, it’s actually the strongest aspect of the screenplay. This fact is mainly due to the fact that the lead actor posts the best performance. Elsewhere, however, there’s too much yelling and screaming. There’s not much else good to note here, which rounds out an underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

Apocalyptic movies about the Rapture were all the rage in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, the idea of trying to “scare” people into being saved is fairly morbid. I doubt creations like Future Tense made any significant impact, and such projects definitely have no influence in the more modern era. Once again, films like this one only serve as examples of how not to do it.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Don’t Give Up [2021] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Amy Samuel is drowning in depression due to everything that’s happened to her in life. She just wants to give up and leave her life behind. However, a set of circumstances prevents her from ending it all. As a result, Amy is forced to face her past in order to pick up the pieces and move on.

Production Quality (1 point)

Despite this production having fine video quality and okay camera work, there are a number of concerns to contend with. For instance, the audio is quite bad, including background echoes and a loud soundtrack. Special effects are very cheap. Also, sets, locations, and props are a bit limited. Further, editing is quite choppy. Thus, these missteps all lead to another below-average production for JC Films.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Although the narrative is based on a true story, Don’t Give Up is a train-wreck of a film. Voiceover bridges time gaps and guides the viewer through the plot in a very heavy-handed manner. Sensationalism crowds out interesting psychological elements that provide the story with a small amount of potential. Some content is unnecessarily edgy, and expository dialogue short-circuits the sliver of potential that the characters had. Implied off-screen content makes for a confusing watch, and too many elements are unexplained as it seems like that the writers expected the audience to read a lot into various things. The time jumps create vacuums of information and a general atmosphere of random ideas being strung together with no clear focus or purpose. The flashbacks are slightly interesting since they make attempts to establish character motives, but the protagonist is fixed way too easily. It’s implied that getting saved will automatically fix clinical depression, and the story has a generally rushed conclusion. Therefore, though there is some potential in this section, only a small score can be awarded.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting in this screenplay is average despite the fact that the performances are just average. Some cast members are way too dramatic in their acting, but they are balanced out by other cast members who are more even-keeled. Line deliver is mostly okay throughout the movie although some emotions are forced. While better coaching was definitely in order here, the performances overall improve with time. However, this section’s rating isn’t enough to save the movie from itself.

Conclusion

It’s commendable that Jason Campbell and his team continue to make films that are based on true stories. However, their flooding-the-market approach is still a detriment to Christian entertainment. Other production companies have tried this method in the past but have ultimately failed. At this rate, it’s hard to see how JC Films doesn’t end up with the same fate.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

30 Day Promise (Movie Review)

30 Day Promise (2017) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Heather Winslow’s life has gone from bad to worse. In a short amount of time, she receives news that her husband wants to divorce and that she has cancer. However, she convinces her husband to wait 30 days to see what happens. During this time, Heather must have faith that God is still in control.

Production Quality (1 point)

Despite fine video quality, this film contains on overall cheap production. Audio quality is very inconsistent, including background noises and hard-to-hear lines. Camera work is mostly acceptable except for some moments of shaky cam. Sets, locations, and props are fairly limited, and the screenplay is full of disorienting montages and the use of split screens. Editing is poor, but there is a tiny bit of improvement as time goes on. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to warrant any more than a low score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Due to stock and vanilla dialogue, the characters of this narrative are simply pawns in whatever scheme that the writers want to use them in. Bland conversations do nothing to aid character growth, and the creators give no real reasons for why the characters do what they do. Expository dialogue takes the place of scenes that show the audience what’s happening, and mentions of off-screen content are annoying. Events just happen randomly throughout the plot, and the viewing experience is confused by unnecessarily large time jumps. Lacking regard for realistic divorce proceedings and medical facts, the writers elect to advocate for unusual methods of getting a married couple to love each other again, demonstrating how little they understand about real relationships. In the end, with no potential in this aspect of the movie, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

The acting is actually the strongest aspect of 30 Day Promise. Although the performances are generic, they are neither horrible nor dynamic. In some scenes, it feels like the cast members are awkwardly standing around and reciting lines. However, some actors and actresses are better than others. The finished product is enough to justify an average score.

Conclusion

It’s possible that the creators of film meant well. However, it’s hard to tell based on their portrayal of Christian relationships. 30 Day Promise is essentially a half-finished idea that needed a lot more fleshing out before it was released to the public. In the end, there’s really nothing memorable about this creation, relegating it to the stockpile of forgotten Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

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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)

The Nature of Small Birds promotes poignant themes like truth and transparency among family members, but has a disorganized plot and storyline that detract from the central message. Like most novels, this one has both strengths and weaknesses. However, the novel’s strong points do not outweigh it’s many errors.

First, major plot and storyline strengths in this novel include the non-linear plot progression, the first-person dialogue, the partially developed flashbacks, and the outside the box historical theme. In contrast, major weaknesses include the story holes left behind by the disorganized plot, the split storyline that has multiple protagonists, and the weak conclusion. At it’s core, is this novel portraying generational dysfunction among Bruce’s family, or examining a young Vietnamese American’s experience growing up in small-town USA? It attempts to do both, but does not fully commit to either. If the author had committed to one of these ideas, the novel would have been less choppy and more memorable overall. For these reasons, the novel earns a below average score in plot and storyline.

Character Development (1.5 points)

Second, major strengths in character development include the first-person dialogue that is used to develop the character’s personalities and tendencies, and the nostalgic portrayal of family life. These are commendable, but were not enough to carry the entire novel. This being said, the biggest weakness in this area is the fluctuating protagonist role (is the protagonist Bruce, Sonny, Mindy, or Linda?). All of them are good characters, but they are all left unfinished because no one was the central focus of the storyline. Fixing this error would have greatly upped the overall score, and provided a solution to some of the plot and storyline errors we mentioned above. For these reasons, the novel earns a below average score in character development.

Creativity & Originality (.5 point)

Finally, it was an original and relevant idea to fictionally portray this little-known part of world history, and for that the novel earns a half point in originality. However, most of the novel is not from Mindy’s perspective. This causes the historical aspect to suffer by making it hard to retain any of the historical facts shared in the story. For this reason, the novel earns no points in creativity.

In conclusion, we at BOR had high hopes for this novel, but were disappointed by the flaws we mentioned above that kept this from being a well-written story. We do not think this novel should be made into a film or series. But…we would love to see someone make a movie or series from the perspective of a Vietnamese American who came to the U.S. during Operation Baby Lift! As we’ve said many times before, if Christian entertainment would commit to continually turning out only the best quality products, we would soon see a blessed change!

Wish List Rating: 3 out of 10 points

A Father’s Legacy {The Old Man and the Pond} (Movie Review)

A Father's Legacy (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

After Nick Wolfe commits a crime out of desperation, he takes refuge in Billy Ford’s house, taking Billy as a hostage. Nick is injured from the fallout of the crime, but Billy isn’t really afraid of the younger man. Together, the two men forge an unlikely friendship as they wrestle their demons and face their dark pasts.

Production Quality (2 points)

Though this production is above-average, it’s still not quite up to modern standards. Most production elements are fine, such as camera work, but there are some odd camera angles. Audio quality, however, is acceptable, and the soundtrack is intriguing. Nonetheless, lighting is inconsistent, and sets, locations, and props are slightly limited. Moreover, editing is fine, and all aspects of the production improve with time. Thus, this score is warranted.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This narrative is mostly a mixed bag. Though the writers sometime push a patriarchal worldview, this concept isn’t fully committed to. Throughout the plot, there is a good use of flashbacks to establish character motive, and most of the dialogue is interesting. However, some conversations are driven by an agenda to imply that older generations were better than younger generations. Doing this wastes opportunities to explore the pros and cons of generational differences. Though there is some character complexity and imperfection, the storyline structure is basically formulaic. Despite some interesting themes, there is a need for more consistency and explanation. Perhaps one of the worst elements is the climax scene that makes no sense and tries to go too big without effective buildup. Then, the narrative meanders around before it ends on an awkward note. Therefore, due to small potential but lots of confusion, only a small rating can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the acting in A Father’s Legacy is above-average. Line delivery is very professional, but the few performances that there are are quite dramatic and dour. With such a small cast, the main actors shoulder the whole burden, and neither of them demonstrates much range of emotion. However, the acting does get better as the film progresses, thus leading to this score.

Conclusion

This screenplay contained intriguing psychological elements that needed more fleshing out, and as a whole, the movie was a collection of wasted potential. With mainstream cast members, unsure messaging, and attempts to be authentic, A Father’s Legacy feels like a cash grab. However, this attempt to collect from Christian audiences is very underwhelming. The writers could have tried a bit harder to make this one interesting. In reality, this film is likely to go over viewers’ heads. There was something that could have been done here, but it’s basically a misfire.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Coffee with God (Movie Review)

Coffee With God' Breaks the Mold, Brings an Uplifting Message to TV|  National Catholic Register

Plot Summary

Apparently, Jack has a special connection with God wherein they have coffee together and God makes sarcastic comments about stuff. God also gives Jack random missions to do things, such as going to heal people. However, one day, Jack gets a basically impossible assignment or something, and things happen.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, Coffee with God has an average production with only a few assorted errors. Video quality and camera work are acceptable, but audio quality leaves something to be desired. Some portions of the soundtrack are quite loud, and lighting is fairly inconsistent. Sets, locations, and props are mostly cheap and inadequate. Editing is okay, but the mixed-bag nature of this section can only lead to an average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

The writers of this film espouse an extremely bizarre view of God that includes irreverent sarcasm and general weirdness. The characters seem to go out of their way to be odd and use purposely crude humor. A strange theology undercuts the narrative, and the plot itself is full of wasted time and pointless scenes. Dialogue does nothing to build characters, and many conversations fill time by going in circles without accomplishing anything. With no clear purpose or themes, this story meanders around until it’s mercifully over, having no impact on the audience except an annoying one. Thus, due to the strange worldview, this aspect of the screenplay receives a negative rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite the other concerns in this movie, the acting is mostly average. Not all the performances are bad, but some are a bit over-the-top. Other cast members are bland. There’s not enough positive or negative in this section to warrant anything but an average score.

Conclusion

It’s extremely unclear why this film was even made. What’s to gain from such a strange view of God and miracles? What is the audience for this screenplay? It’s too cheaply made to be a cash grab. It’s too isolating for much of Christian entertainment. In the end, there’s literally no point to Coffee for God except to serve as yet another example of how not to do it.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Good Friday [2020] (Movie Review)

Good Friday (2020) - Movie | Moviefone

Plot Summary

Lucas Cole is a high-power prosecutor who’s currently under political pressure to make a local scandal go away. Lucas wants to do his job but can’t shake the feeling of betraying an innocent victim. Lucas is also struggling with being a single dad to his son. Before he knows it, Lucas finds himself caught up in a complex scheme of local politics with little room for error. Will Lucas be able to get out in time?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Though this creative team is largely unknown in the Christian entertainment world, the production of Good Friday is very professional. There are very few errors to note. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all good. Sets, locations, and props are on par with industry standards. The soundtrack is intriguing, so the only minor concerns to note relate to confusing editing. Nonetheless, this isn’t enough to prevent this section from receiving a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It’s very surprising how complex the characters of this film are. Via superb dialogue, the characters’ motivations and personalities are well-constructed. The writers refrain from painting any one character as all good or all bad, which is a difficult feat. The narrative contains a very realistic and interesting exploration of the complications relating to local politics and legal concerns. However, this section is not without its flaws. Some scenes seem unrealistic, such as over-the-top negotiations, deals, and threats that appear out-of-place for the situations. Also, the plot jumps all over the place, trying to cover too many things at once. The many storylines and asides become confusing as the characters are shuffled from one things to the next. At times, the characters only do what the writers want them to do without having good reasons for acting in those ways. Despite the excellently subtle Christian messaging and flawed characters, this narrative has a really abrupt conclusion that makes no sense at all. Thus, with obvious potential that is left untapped, this aspect of the screenplay can only receive a below-average rating.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting is actually the strongest aspect of this movie. The performances are very strong with little to no problems. Emotions are believable, and line delivery is on point. Thus, a perfect score is awarded here.

Conclusion

Good Friday joins a group of Christian entertainment that almost made it to the next level. However, a collection of small issues held this film back from being all that it could have been. Nonetheless, this creative team certainly has potential for the future, so it will be interesting to see what they offer next.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Promises to Keep [2020] (Movie Review)

Promises to Keep (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Jonathan and Evelyn were engaged when they were young, but mistakes drove them apart. Now that they are both older and widowed, they have come back into each other’s lives because their children have fallen in love. Will they be able to heal the old wounds while looking to the future???

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite a mostly acceptable production, including fine video quality and camera work, the beginning of this film is quite rough. Audio quality leaves something to be desired, such as an in-your-face soundtrack. Flashbacks have an unnecessarily weird quality to them. Also, sets, locations, and props are slightly limited. Further, editing is incredibly choppy and disorienting. However, there is some improvement as the production goes on, which is enough to warrant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Throughout this narrative, there is a generally odd tone as the writers try very hard to force their specific doctrines onto the viewers, which include some very unusual beliefs about Christian behaviors. As such, the dialogue is very obvious, creating perfect characters that are inaccessible as they spout Christian platitudes at the other characters. Besides this, some of the characters make really weird decisions for no reasons at all, and in general, events occur simply because the creators wanted them to happen. The “bad” characters are ridiculous stereotypes while the “good” characters push the lie that becoming more religious fixes all one’s problems. Nearly every scene is either about imposing the writers’ worldview or an exploration of edgy content. Basically a long monologue of propaganda, this plot has no potential and is thus awarded no points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

The acting in Promises to Keep is very sub-par. The performances are quite matter-of-fact, including overly practiced and forced emotions. Some scenes have over-the-top drama, such as yelling and screaming. Though line delivery is mostly acceptable, this isn’t enough to keep this section from receiving a low score.

Conclusion

As has been said many times before, when the creator of a screenplay intends to push propaganda in their movie, there’s no way that the film can ever be good. Two main goals of Christian entertainment should be to invite the audience to think and to responsibly present the writers’ worldview without shoving in down viewers’ throats. It’s unbiblical and un-educational to force agendas on audiences, which is why the reputation of Christian media is so poor today. The only way to fix this problem is to focus on quality over quantity as we move forward.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Power of the Air (Movie Review)

Power of the Air (2018) | Full Movie | Nicholas X. Parsons | Patty Duke | A  Dave Christiano Film - YouTube

Plot Summary

David Williams just wants to live a regular life, but one day, after being convicted by the message of an African missionary, David and his wife decide to stop watching secular movies due to their objectionable content. David is ostracized at work for this decision, but he feels strongly that he needs to do more to reach others for the Gospel. He wants to air a radio ad, but the city’s largest radio station is standing in his way. Will they be able to air the ad on every radio station???

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The Christiano team has come a long way since the old days of their films. Power of the Air has a very professional production with only a few errors. Video quality, audio quality, and camera work are all compliant with industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are also good. The only concerns in this section relate to editing, which leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, this isn’t enough to prevent a very high score from being awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Full of information-dump dialogue and expository conversations that are designed to push messages, this narrative is lacking in depth. Empty characters are simply pawns of the plot, which is full of generic Christian propaganda. The philosophy of the writers is very closed-minded and tone-deaf when it comes to real life. Administering heavy doses of legalism, the creators exchange actually story for an outdated view of society, implying that basically all media is evil. The only thing that keeps the screenplay running on fumes is a ridiculous ongoing conflict about when to air a radio commercial, and this experience is full of absurdly forced drama, trying to make the viewers actually care about this stupid first-world problem. In the end, with no potential to be had, this aspect of the movie can’t receive any points.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Throughout Power of the Air, the acting is acceptable without much good or bad to point out. Most performances are fairly pedestrian. Emotional and line delivery are passable. However, there’s simply not enough dynamic to warrant a higher than average score for this section.

Conclusion

Via this film, the Christiano team raises valid points about how American Christians unnecessarily consume too much objectionable entertainment. However, the very existence of Power of the Air only furthers the problem because it demonstrates why many Christians seek entertainment outside Christian circles: Christian entertainment, as a whole, is just bad. Power of the Air is no exception to this general rule. Why should Christians want to watch a screenplay like this? What’s the point? Until Christian creators learn why people watch what they watch, we’ll just keep having the same problems.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Mary 4 Mayor (Movie Review)

Mary 4 Mayor — Home Theater Films

Plot Summary

Mary Parsons is tired of the way her family has been torn apart by her father’s obsession with his mayoral work. To make matters worse, her father begins making governmental decisions that negatively impact Mary’s life. She’s fed up with this and decides to run against her father in the upcoming mayoral race. What she discovers is that everything is not as it seems, and she has a lot to learn about life.

Production Quality (2 points)

In this film, Corbin Bernsen and his team mostly upheld their tradition of professional productions. There are very few errors in this section as there is good video quality, camera work, and audio quality. Though the soundtrack is dumb and generic, which detracts more than it should, the sets, locations, and props are well-constructed. There are also a few slight editing concerns, but these could relate to narrative issues. In the end, this production is at least above-average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Consistent with Bernsen’s past tendencies, Mary 4 Mayor is an out-of-the-box plot idea that has good themes and relatable messaging without being too in-your-face with the Christian elements. Portraying a true-to-life family experience with authentic characters and dialogue, Bernsen finds some success with his trademark quirkiness that’s actually truly funny at times. However, other times, the comedy feels overly engineered or half-hearted. Unfortunately, the characters feel like that they could be a bit deeper, but their full development is short-circuited by extraneous content that crowds out the runtime. Sometimes, coincidences randomly happen simply to suit the needs of the story, and in other instances, the narrative aimlessly meanders to hit certain points without properly building up to these events. The first half of the screenplay contains too much wasted time, but there is a really good twist in the middle of the plot that is very thought-provoking. Nonetheless, some occurrences move too fast due to lost time, thus taking away from the chance for natural development. As a result, the climax is quite rushed and silly even though it does contain some effective payoffs. Therefore, due to all these factors, this section is a mixed bag that receives an average score.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The strongest aspect of Mary 4 Mayor is the acting, which is very professional with few, if any, errors. Each cast member seems comfortable in their respective roles. Line delivery and emotions are believable and realistic. Thus, a rare perfect score is awarded here.

Conclusion

In this movie, Corbin Bernsen successfully offered an authentic relevant message about the political problems of today. However, Bernsen continues to hover next to greatness without taking that next step into the truly meaningful. He still can’t seem to decide where he’s committed to satire and comedy in his films. He has also failed to consistently focus on central themes. Mary 4 Mayor would have benefitted from deeper characters, which would have required elimination of extraneous story elements. Character arcs needed to be more effectively developed to prevent the arcs from being too steep. These small changes would have likely given Bernsen his fist Hall of Fame screenplay. Nonetheless, we’re only left wondering what could have been.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Forgiven [2016] (Movie Review)

Watch Forgiven | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When a desperate criminal takes a pastor and his two daughter hostage within the church after a Wednesday night service, the police are forced to take drastic measures to keep the victims safe. However, the criminal is mostly confused and unsure of what he wants to do. Thus, the pastor and his daughters do what they can to help him. Will the situation be resolved before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Besides a few exceptions, Kevan Otto’s more recent productions have contained higher levels of quality than his previous efforts. There’s a continuation of this trend in Forgiven. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all professional. Sets, locations, and props are standard. There are only a few minor editing issues, but this fact doesn’t prevent this section from receiving a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This film is based on an interesting suspense idea although the hostage situation is half-hearted at best. Additionally, the characters are one-dimensional, including a criminal who doesn’t really seem to be committed to anything and generally lacks deeper motivations for his behaviors. Stock and unsubstantial dialogue do nothing to improve the blank characters even though this character-based plot desperately needed real conversations to keep it going. Too many empty scenes fill time rather than create meaningful arcs. It felt like that the writers just wanted to skip to the end instead of make the audience want to watch the build-up. Many sequences are very boring and preachy, espousing a cheap Christian message about going to church to act right. Though the conclusion is slightly interesting, it’s difficult for the view to make it there, and it’s hard to understand why the basically perfect and unrelatable protagonist even wanted to help the criminal character. Very narrative-heavy and character-light, this story needed a lot more fleshing out to truly enhance the potential within. Thus, only a meager rating is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Forgiven is pretty good. For the most part, emotions are realistic, and line delivery is acceptable. Some performances are better than others, and some cast members are more believable than others. Due to the small cast, errors are more noticeable, which is why this section only receives an above-average score.

Conclusion

At this point, it seems like that Kevan Otto and his team know how to craft a pedestrian, acceptable-on-paper screenplay. However, to truly succeed, they will need to go further than this. Otto has proven that he can improve production quality over time, so it’s time for him to employ better writing talent to create more engaging narratives with more accessible characters. Otherwise, average ratings will be the norm.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Furance [2019] (Movie Review)

Coming Soon: Darrell Roodt's Award Nominated Film, 'The Furnace' (2019) -  PopHorror

Plot Summary

Mary and Matt are recently married, and for their honeymoon, they want to complete The Furnace together, which is the most treacherous race in Africa. However, Matt’s untimely death delays these plans and sends Mary into a tailspin. Injured from the car accident that took her husband’s life, Mary feels like giving up until she meets a man who inspires her to fight. Then, Mary finds her second wind and decides to compete in The Furnace to prove that she can move on.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of The Furnace is acceptable, including good video quality and an intriguing soundtrack. Other audio elements are also fine, but the visual special effects are quite poor. There are also some instances of shaky camera work for dramatic effect that become disorienting. However, sets, locations, and props are very professional. To round things out, the editing is fairly choppy, but some of this could be due to narrative presentation problems. Therefore, taking all this into account, this production section receives an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The plot of The Furnace is all over the map and is mostly disorienting to the audience. The writers were clearly trying very hard to be mysterious and artistic in their story presentation, but this approach causes many scenes to go way over the viewers’ heads. Very abstract and ethereal at times, the narrative is difficult to follow as it jumps all over the place, full of coincidences and convenient turns that suit the creators’ means. Certain portions are rushed through with montages and time jumps, thus short-circuiting character development. It’s impossible to relate to the people in this plot due to the breakneck speed of the film. Expository dialogue fills in that gaps that are left by the time jumps, and many conversations are unsubstantial. Some parts feels like a dream sequence and carry a very odd tone that’s impossible to quantify. Despite some very interesting concepts that are not fully explored, there are realism errors in this screenplay, such as medical problems that are solved too easily and other lapses in logic. There’s actually a very good theme at the end of the movie, but not many audience members will make it that car. The writers tried to create big, pivotal moments, but these fall flat due to empty characters and lack of proper setup. Thus, only a meager rating can be offered here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, all throughout The Furnace, there are many instances of over-acting. Emotions are often too dramatic and overdriven to the point of being offensive. However, line delivery is mostly acceptable, and all performances improve as the film goes on. Some cast members are better than others. Hence, an average score is awarded for this section.

Conclusion

Many screenwriters mean well but lack proper execution in their offerings. However, in the case of The Furnace, it’s very unclear what the creators actually wanted to convey. The production, story, and acting are all over the map, making for a confusing viewing experience. In the end, this screenplay is an example of why proper planning is vital to the success of a movie.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Discarded Things (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Grace Wyatt felt like she had finally buried her past by becoming a successful professor of music. However, her husband’s untimely death sends her back into a spiral of addiction and bitterness. Once Grace is able to recover, she’s assigned to live as a volunteer at a house program for troubled teens. Though Grace initially clashes with the leadership decisions of the program, she eventually finds her niche helping the teens find their voices. Nonetheless, Grace has no idea that she still has to make peace with her past to move forward in life.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, the production quality of Discarded Things is professional…at least it gets there eventually. In the beginning, there’s a driving soundtrack that doesn’t always fit the mood although the score is still intriguing. There are also some background sounds and sepia tone flashbacks. The editing is sometimes choppy, cutting off scenes for no good reason. However, all productions elements improved in the latter two-thirds of the film, offering good video quality and camera work. Also, sets, locations, and props are professional. The improvement is good enough to warrant a high score in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The creative team behind this screenplay really had a lot going for them as they demonstrated a strong understanding of how hidden church problems and childhood trauma can affect people for their entire lives. This narrative contains an excellent portrayal of fundamentalist legalism and its consequences, and this is done via a good application of flashbacks that provides believable reasoning for character motive. However, Discarded Things has a rare problem: it’s too short. The fact that so much content is squeezed into this movie creates various issues, such as too-obvious dialogue. The writers rushed through important sequences, using montages as a crutch and implying that substance abuse rehab is a really easy fix for people. Platitudes are also used to quickly solve problems. It’s very evident that too much is being covered in this linear plot with the limited amount of time that’s been allotted. There are many complex and interlocking storylines that we barely get time to explore, and this lack of development causes some otherwise meaningful events to occur without proper buildup, thus making them empty and meaningless. Though most of the conversations are good, the characters are under-developed, but their major potential can still be seen. There are obvious themes throughout the narrative that slightly tie everything together, but the conclusion of the film is quite cheesy. In the end, this section is a mixed bag that could have been so much more than this.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Despite a few moments of cast members over-acting and being a bit too dramatic, the acting is still very strong in Discarded Things. Karen Abercrombie appeared comfortable in her role, and Cameron Arnett is always a standout. This particular role for Cameron was perhaps his best to date. In the end, the acting is quite good, earning a great score.

Conclusion

This screenplay likely would have worked better as a series that blended what the protagonist learned from rehab with what she taught the teenagers. In this current form, this was too much content to cram into one movie, and this was a rare instance where we actually need to see more of these characters rather than less. We need to observe their journeys so that the payoffs don’t feel cheap due to lack of proper buildup. However, on the whole, some viewers will enjoy Discarded Things in its current state, and this film overall demonstrates huge potential for the future.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Acquitted by Faith (Movie Review)

Watch Acquitted by Faith | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Benjamin Stills’ life is forever changed when he’s responsible for a texting-and-driving accident that puts a little girl in the hospital. Benjamin is a high-power lawyer with a lot of workplace pressure, but this event sends his life spiraling out of control. Will he ever be able to regain his footing and return to the faith that he left behind before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2 points)

This film contains a professional production with only a few errors to speak of. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all in line with industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are professional and well-constructed. The main concerns in this aspect of the screenplay relate to weird special effects and editing. It’s unclear why these special effects were even needed as they make for an odd experience. Further, some scenes end very abruptly with no warning. Thus, due to more good than bad, an above-average score is warranted in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Acquitted by Faith contains an intriguing narrative although there are many subplots to keep up with. The characters therein are realistic and flawed, developed through authentic dialogue. Due to the large amount of content, many scenes can be a bit rushed even though some sequences waste time when there’s no time to be wasted. The more the story progresses, the more hasty the progression of the narrative becomes. There are many interesting asides and complex characters that could have had creative backstories, but we never get the chance to fully explore them because of the many tangents and subplots. These concerns make the story better suited for a series. It’s a shame that this movie is too bloated because is contains a good subtle Christian message. In the end, due to a generally mixed bag, this section receives an average rating.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, the acting in Acquitted by Faith is quite good. There are only a few over-the-top performances, but for the most part, the cast members deliver believable performances with good line and emotional delivery. Near the end of the film, the acting becomes nearly perfect, which leads to a very high score for this section.

Conclusion

This screenplay is perhaps the closest that Kevan Otto has ever come to the Hall of Fame, but it wasn’t due to his solo efforts. Acquitted by Faith was clearly a collaboration, but it still missed the mark due to inconsistent production elements and a bloated narrative. Nonetheless, this movie deserves a remake that reorganizes the concepts therein and presents them in a clearer fashion, perhaps in series form. With the consistent funding that Kevan Otto can get, it’s time to start saving some of the money to put toward fewer projects. Maybe then he’ll finally break through.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Dispatched [2020] (Movie Review)

Watch Dispatched | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Carl Thomas is an embattled police officer being questioned about his past actions. Thus, Carl relates why he made the choices that he did and how he’s now a different man. Will his interrogators believe his story before it’s too late?

Production Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, the past production transgressions of JC Films have not been atoned for. Dispatched has all the same problems of past films created by this team, such as loud background sounds and echoes, not to mention the generally grainy audio quality. Despite moments of a surprisingly good soundtrack, many aspects of the score don’t always fit the mood of the scenes. Elsewhere, lighting is inconsistent, and camera work is incredibly random, including weird angles. Video quality is acceptable, but editing is quite choppy. Thus, with a tiny amount of potential, this section receives a small score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

One of the main strength areas of Dispatched is its shockingly honest portrayal of the complexity behind police problems. In this endeavor, authentic flashbacks are used to build character motive and personality. However, it all goes downhill from there as convenient and random things happen when the writers need them to occur. Similarly, obvious dialogue steers the plot in the direction that the creators want it to go rather than letting events develop naturally. The interesting exploration of the protagonist’s backstory is overshadowed by the contrived nature of the narrative. Part of this trumped-up premise is the assumption that one spiritual experience will magically make someone the most perfect Christian who ever lived. These steep character arcs are impossible to relate to, and these concerns make for very cheap messaging. Christian platitudes are used in place of meaningful lessons, thus leading to an empty conclusion. Therefore, with only a small dose of potential, this section is awarded a meager rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Although the acting of this screenplay leaves much to be desired, it’s still the strongest aspect of the movie. Emotions are forceful, such as cast members trying too hard to be angry. Line delivery often lacks conviction and natural register. However, the acting generally improves with time to the point where an average score is warranted.

Conclusion

When will the JC Films team ever learn? The last thing that the Christian entertainment field needs is more quantity to full up our streaming services and further turn people off to the genre. Just imagine if the budgets and efforts for each individual film were bundled together into one or two screenplays. Less is always more, so one day, we’ll hopefully see this play out in Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Cross Purposes (Movie Review)

Cross Purposes (2020) | Trailer - YouTube

Plot Summary

When an overconfident man who wants to be a medical student at a prestigious school is forced to complete an internship that he doesn’t care about, he has no idea what’s in for him. He’s determined to not care about any of the patients, but he can’t help but grow close to a teenager with a terminal brain tumor. Before he knows it, the intern is trying to determine the meaning of life although he didn’t used to care.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Cross Purposes offers an acceptable production with very few errors. Some of these pitfalls include some slight audio and editing concerns. For instance, there are a few distracting background noises, and certain scenes drag on too long. Nonetheless, this production team did good with what limited funds that they had. Video quality, camera work, and lighting are all above average. Sets, locations, and props are well-utilized. Thus, will very few problems to highlight, this section receives a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The writers of this film, for the most part, were committed to crafting believable characters. However, because there are so few characters, they needed more deepening than they were given. It was good that the creators focused on the main idea of the screenplay without getting sidetracked, but doing such requires intense storytelling. Dialogue and conversations needed to be more than average to pull off this feat. As things are, the character arcs are a bit too steep, and the motivations and personalities of the characters are undeveloped. Elsewhere, it’s clear that the writers did some medical research, but some aspects of the narrative are slightly unrealistic. In the end, Cross Purposes has good messaging without being too forceful, and many audiences will enjoy this brief plot, so a meager score is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

It’s clear that the creative team behind this movie were definitely trying to make an effort, and this fact is evident in the acting. As a whole, the acting is either standard or a little bit better. Line delivery and emotional delivery are mostly on-point. Although some performances fall a bit short due to some forceful moments, there’s enough positive in this section to award an above-average score.

Conclusion

The team who produced this film, like many newer creators, has lots of potential for the future. Offerings like Cross Purposes, among others, provide hope for the future of Christian entertainment. Now, if those who make good things on small scales would collaborate with each other, pooling their expertise and resources, we would really have something to behold.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

The Perfect Race (Movie Review)

Watch The Perfect Race | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Courtney Smith-Donnelly is still teaching high school track-and-field, but when she gets the opportunity to fill in for a college track-and-field coach, which also involves coaching a former student, Courtney jumps at the chance. Much like her past experiences, Courtney faces heat for teaching basically conventional running techniques. Nobody thinks that Courtney knows what she’s doing although her advice is common-sense. Will they ever be able to run the perfect race?

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of The Perfect Race is acceptable. This includes good video quality, standard camera work, and passable audio quality. The soundtrack is generic, but sets, locations, and props are realistic and professional. Lighting is on par with industry standards. The biggest drawback in this section is the very choppy editing that makes for a confusing viewing experience. Nonetheless, the production is still above-average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Throughout this plot, many of the scenes are quite short and end prematurely, making for rushed conversations. It doesn’t help that much of the dialogue is full of boring and procedural information, thus leading to blank and empty characters. As meaningless scenes speed by one after another, the audience is subjected to proprietary sports content that involves characters who no one cares about due to lack of development. Much like the predecessor of The Perfect Race, Remember the Goal, this sequel film ridiculously shoe-horns Christian messaging into the sports elements, using empty platitudes to do so. Although the middle of this narrative explores some surprisingly interesting themes pertaining to self-esteem in relationships and Christians not liking death, it’s too little too late. These topics were not properly set up, and it doesn’t help that most of the Christian characters are basically perfect people who can fix everything really easily. In the end, there’s hardly any difference between The Perfect Race and Remember the Goal as both screenplays involve the same character being unrealistically persecuted for using basic cross-country running strategies that pretty much any sports professional would agree with. Because of these concerns, no points are awarded in this section.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, The Perfect Race continues the long-term Christiano tradition of poor acting. The line delivery is too quick, and emotions are quite robotic. Throughout the movie, it feels like that the cast members are simply going through the motions without conviction behind their performances. However, the acting is not all bad as the work of some actors and actresses is acceptable. Thus, a small score is merited here.

Conclusion

It’s very hard to believe that the Christiano team squeezed two full films out of this extremely limited and boring idea. There’s very little difference between The Perfect Race and Remember the Goal except that the sequel has a bit more potential. Nonetheless, this screenplay is still a relic leftover from the old era of Christian entertainment that we are hopefully transitioning away from.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

Faith.Hope.Love. [2021] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When six college students are invited to a mysterious getaway in the snowy mountains of Utah, they have no idea what’s in store for them. What begins as a retreat of self-discovery quickly becomes a life-changing experience that many of them will not soon forget. How will they apply the changes that they have experienced to their everyday lives?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Faith.Hope.Love. has a good production with very few errors. One of these mistakes is the existence of background sounds. The set is fairly limited but well-utilized. As a whole, the production gets better with time, including high-quality video and camera work. The editing is acceptable, which rounds out a section that warrants a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

At the beginning of this story, the premise seems very trumped-up. The conversations are awkward and stiff, sometimes cutting off without warning. In the first half of the narrative, the dialogue feels very strained, forced, and unnatural. Many things are said without actually developing the characters, and there’s a tendency for the writers to be fixated on edgy and provocative content. However, the plot tends to get better as it goes as the characters improve due to more natural conversations. The second half of the film presents real people rather than characters representing social issues, but the initial presentation may discourage viewers from proceeding. The backstories of the characters become very strong if you wait long enough, even if the dialogue sometimes steers the screenplay in the direction that the writers want it to go, including some slight elements of propaganda. This is a testament to how strong characters can make up for other shortcomings. The conclusion is bit rushed, and the twist ending isn’t all that shocking. Thus, one point is awarded here.

Acting Quality (3 points)

For the most part, the acting is likely the strongest area of Faith.Hope.Love. Despite lacking a dynamic quality in the first half of the movie, this aspect of the film improves with time. The performances grow stronger by the second half, including believable line delivery and emotions. Thus, this rounds out an overall encouraging effort.

Conclusion

This creative team has demonstrated plenty of potential for the future, so it will be interesting to see what they produce next. With tighter storytelling and better messaging, they have nowhere to go but up. Hopefully, screenplays like this one represent a new positive trend in the Christian entertainment industry.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Cries of the Unborn (Movie Review)

Watch Cries of the Unborn | Prime Video

Plot Summary

In a sequel to The Life Zone, which nobody cared to remember, much less watch a sequel about, the horrific nonsense of the first installment is rehashed as a completely new cast of characters decides the fate of the perpetrators from the first film. These new characters form a jury who’s tasked with determining the innocence or guilt of the alleged criminals. In order for this movie to have a “plot,” one juror inexplicably thinks that the evil corporation that imprisoned three pregnant women is somehow innocent of all transgressions. She spends the entire screenplay trying to convince others, including the audience, of this fact. What ensues is a slow descent into madness that will leave you wondering how this garbage gets made.

Production Quality (-3 points)

Much like this film’s awful predecessor, Cries of the Unborn has an extremely cheap production that’s negatively impacted by other elements. Lighting and audio are quite poor, and the soundtrack is creepy. Sets, locations, and props are extremely limited. There really isn’t any editing present, and any aspects of the production that aren’t bad are washed away by all the other problems that are in this screenplay.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-3 points)

How is it even possible that there was enough money to make two of these terrible movies? To self-indulge in their first creation, the writers use Cries of the Unborn to provide a bizarre commentary on The Life Zone. Doing this requires the narrative to lead the audience in one direction, only to pull out a double fake twist at the end. As a result, the plot is completely mind-bending and out-of-this-world insane, essentially presenting a demented defense of the events that took place in The Life Zone. There are so many rehashed scenes from the first film that Cries of the Unborn feels like a sick director’s commentary on The Life Zone where the creators are speaking through the characters to lecture you on why you shouldn’t hate their utter madness. Contrived dialogue and trumped-up situations force propaganda down the viewers’ throats, including a very twisted obsession with eternal punishment for certain sins that the writers deem ‘worse’ than others. In the end, the awful nature of this section drags the entire creation down to the lowest level.

Acting Quality (-3 points)

On the whole, the acting in Cries of the Unborn is uninspiring. However, this section is overwhelmed by the sheer nonsense that overtakes the entire screenplay. When a central idea is this bad, it infects every section of the movie, causing an overall negative rating.

Conclusion

Additionally, this film receives a negative x-factor point for being offensive and for pushing toxic propaganda on the audience. It’s rare that film creators fail so hard that they produce two screenplays that each receive the lowest score possible from our ratings system. This is a feat that has never been previously recorded in our experience with the field of Christian entertainment. It goes without saying that both The Life Zone and Cries of the Unborn are among the worst movies ever created, and the views espoused by these films have no place among Christianity. If the pro-life movement is to ever be effective, it must dispense with poison like these two creations and actually care about every person like Jesus does.

Final Rating: -10 out of 10 points

The Life Zone (Movie Review)

The Life Zone' Review | From the Mind of Victor Lovecraft Anderson

Plot Summary

Three pregnant women, who each intended to have abortions, are kidnapped by a powerful and creepy corporation that’s bent on forcing its pro-life agenda onto people. This unethical company intends to hold the three women captive until they deliver their unborn children. While they wait, the women are forced to explore their pasts and understand what led them to their choices. With a premise as bad as this, you can’t even imagine how strange things get.

Production Quality (-3 points)

The Life Zone is truly a creation to behold for all the wrong reasons, starting with its extremely cheap production. Poor lighting and bad audio quality make for an obnoxious experience. The soundtrack is creepy, and the sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited. Editing is choppy, and while some small aspects of the production are slightly acceptable, this section is overall negatively impacted by other elements of the film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-3 points)

Words can hardly explain how awful this screenplay is. It’s hard to believe that this plot is so honest about the radical extremist wing of the pro-life movement. The Life Zone could be a dark parody if it weren’t so propaganda-heavy and full of bizarre sequences. Tossing all conventional movie procedures aside, such as meaningful dialogue and developed characters, The Life Zone elects to take a very demented turn down some of the less-traveled alleyways of Christian culture that many don’t dare to discuss. Instead of beating around the bush, this story fully embraces a warped view of the life issue to the point that the writers are unashamedly pro-baby and anti-mother rather than being an advocate for all life, born and unborn. Dominated with extraneous documentary content that attempts to brainwash the audience, this narrative is basically a slow descent into madness. Once The Life Zone reaches its climax, which is a very sick twist ending, it becomes clear what the creators’ agenda was: demonize everyone who’s ever had an abortion. Supporting the kidnapping of pregnant women so that they can be forced to deliver their babies is a very demented idea that has absolutely no place in Christian entertainment, which is why the negative ratings fill up this review.

Acting Quality (-3 points)

Much like the other aspects of this film, the acting is quite bad. Emotions are very strained while lines are forced and unnatural. Many cast members over-act and try way too hard to be convincing. Similar to the production, this section is negatively effected by the other horrible elements of the screenplay, which gives another negative score here.

Conclusion

Additionally, The Life Zone receives a negative x-factor point for being offensive propaganda that pushes a toxic agenda. There is literally zero justification for making a movie like this. If the pro-life movement is to defend the philosophies of this film, these activists are further gone than expected. This screenplay is the epitome of why the pro-life movement in America has not been fully successful over the past few decades. All that can be learned here is how not to do it, but such a movie can also prompt us to examine the purpose of our activism to see if we actually care about all people or just some.

Final Rating: -10 out of 10 points

Timbertown (Movie Review)

Timbertown (2019) | Trailer | Eleanor Brown | Cory Kays | Adam Dufour -  YouTube

Plot Summary

There’s a murder mystery among the people of Timbertown, but most are too busy to care. However, when a logger accidentally discovers the body, an ambitious Natural Resources officer takes it upon himself to solve the case. Doing such leads him to unexpected places, and each character must determine how they will find purpose in a life that is sometimes meaningless.

Production Quality (2 points)

Timbertown has an acceptable production as a whole since it lacks glaring errors. Despite some inconsistent camera work, video quality and audio quality are on par with industry standards. The soundtrack is intriguing, and sets, props, and locations are authentic. Lighting is good, but there’s some lagging editing due to the nature of the story. Thus, in the end, an above-average rating is awarded to this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

In the beginning, Timbertown is quite boring and doesn’t accomplish very much, especially since a lot of the complicated dialogue doesn’t effectively build characters. In the first half of the plot, it’s hard to understand the point as it’s based on a vague idea that isn’t fully fleshed out. After wasting some time, the narrative suddenly changes into an anthology as if it’s a series. This element of the film is interesting because it lets the audience see the same scenes from other characters’ perspectives, thus fleshing them out and bringing more clarity to the situations. However, despite this creative aspect, the story is still a partial idea that lacks deep enough characters to carry the plot when the viewer is confused. In the final third of the movie, there’s actually a really good montage that lets the audience know the entire purpose of the screenplay, even if it’s a little too late. Working backwards to get to this point was commendable, but it left the viewer uninterested in the stakes, which begs the need for a better hook. The characters have tons of potential to be gray rather than black-and-white, so they just needed more development to fully achieve the goals that the writers had. Thus, with a good amount of prospect that wasn’t completely fleshed out, this aspect of the film receives one point.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the acting in Timbertown is either average or slightly better. Some cast members are better and worse than others. As a while, line delivery and emotions are believable and on-point. The positive aspects, combined with the fact that some elements could be better, leads to a slightly above-average score for this section.

Conclusion

The core concept of this film would have worked much better as a series that involved more content and collaboration. Nonetheless, the creative team behind this movie has massive potential for the future as they could expand the long-neglected genre of suspense mystery in Christian entertainment. We need more faith-based mysterious that are actually engaging and unpredictable. Perhaps these creators can do this in the future.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Girl Who Believes in Miracles (Movie Review)

Sneak Peek of New Film Starring Kevin Sorbo and Mira Sorvino 'The Girl Who  Believes in Miracles' | CBN.com

Plot Summary

Sara Hopkins is just a regular perfect little girl who not many people take seriously. However, when she begins praying for miracles and when the miracles actually happen, others begin to take notice. Everywhere she goes, Sara can’t help but encounter a situation where she prays for a miracle that later occurs. Nonetheless, these experiences take a toll on Sara as she suddenly begins dying of an undisclosed medical condition. The only hope for her survival is for her grandfather to concoct a slightly illegal scheme to spring Sara from the hospital and, against all odds, take her to a magical lake. Can they do this questionable act before it’s too late???

Production Quality (2 points)

As a well-funded project, The Girl Who Believes in Miracles has a professional production. This is shown by good video quality and camera work. The audio quality is fine but could be better due to blank portions that lack music and a boring, generic soundtrack. Sets, locations, and props are on par, and lighting is acceptable throughout. However, there are some terrible special effects and choppy editing, but there’s enough positive here to warrant an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

This film is essentially a series of disconnected scenes that present one thing after the next, strung together with plenty of expository dialogue. As one miracle after another are spoon-fed to the audience, there’s no way to feel any emotions about what’s happening because the characters are so blank. This nonchalant presentation of important events short-circuits payoffs and prevents the viewers from understanding who the characters are. A matter-of-fact and clinical approach to this topic was a very bad idea as life-changing occurrences are treated as boring or uneventful. Besides this, the dialogue is incredibly underwhelming and empty. Conversations accomplish very little outside of information dumps, and most of the Christian characters are basically perfect. Offscreen content is skipped over for no reason other than the fact that there’s too many new characters to introduce before the absurd conclusion. After aa number of extremely convenient turns and coincidences that suit the writers’ means, the plot escalates into utter madness for the final act. One of the few enduring themes of the narrative is a fixation on a magical lake, so the ridiculous ending sequence of this movie involves all the characters, who you’re expected to care about for no reason, engineering a basically illegal and very dishonest scheme to kidnap a dying girl from a hospital so that she can go to said magic lake. This madness only works due to luck and caps off a story that gets worse as it goes, which is why this section receives negative points.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Despite the obvious flaws of the screenplay, The Girl Who Believes in Miracles actually has good acting without any glaring errors. However, some performances are a bit too dramatic and overwrought, extending beyond the scope of the cast members’ skill sets. There’s also some slight inconsistency with emotional delivery, but line delivery is on-point. Thus, an above-average score is justified here.

Conclusion

After the success of “miracle” films like Heaven is for Real and Miracles from Heaven, it’s inevitable that other creators will try to capitalize. However, The Girl Who Believes in Miracles comes to such an outlandish conclusion that many audiences will feel isolated. In the end, an obvious cash grab like this movie really should not be supported because its funding could have been better served on other projects. Before producing more click-bait like this screenplay, creative teams needs to consider what their intentions are and how their work will leave a lasting impact beyond the opening weekend at theaters.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

The Wager [2020] (Movie Review)

The Wager (2020) | Trailer | Cameron Arnett | Jim Gloyd | Bishop Stevens |  Ty Sheldon | John Wells - YouTube

Plot Summary

When Brucie loses some kind of supernatural wager with a spiritual being, Brucie is allowed to retrace the steps of his life to see how it happened and how things could have been different. Through mind-bending and reality-defying methods, Brucie criss-crosses through time to see his life in hindsight. Will be able to make the right choice before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2 points)

As a whole, The Wager has a fairly good production despite a lot of loud background sounds. Even still, the soundtrack is very interesting and seems too advanced for this film. Lighting is a bit inconsistent, but video quality is stable throughout. Sets, locations, and props are on par, and editing is acceptable. Thus, this rounds out an above-average section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite interesting character backstories, very generic dialogue consistently overstates the obvious in this narrative, thus causing the characters to be too cardboard and generic. Very expository conversations leave nothing to chance, spoon-feeding the viewer with a very pushy Christian message. Random and disconnected scenes cause the plot to lack concrete themes or purposes; silly coincidences and convenient turns also make for a frustrating experience. Large time jumps confuse the audience, as do trippy psychological sequences that lack sense and only waste time. Although this movie is full of hit-and-miss story presentations due to a meandering, stream-of-consciousness narrative, there is actually a grain of potential somewhere in this screenplay. Aside from all the clutter, several key concepts that are explored in The Wager have the ability to be great. However, the film continually gets in its own way, so only a small score can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Although there are some good performances among this cast, many of the scenes come off as very scripted and overly practiced. Emotions and lines are a bit forced and stilted at times. However, Cameron Arnette is always a standout actor, and as a whole, all the cast members improve with time. Thus, this is enough to warrant an average rating in this section.

Conclusion

In the end, The Wager is full of wasted ideas that need restructuring and repackaging. It’s clear that this creative team wanted to go in a certain direction, but they forgot to let the viewers in on where the movie was actually headed. Mind-bending psychological trips don’t exactly engage the audience or help the watcher connect with the characters. Therefore, this screenplay is an opportunity for the creators to reflect on what they want to convey in the context of film and apply these findings to future projects.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Fearless Faith (Movie Review)

Watch Fearless Faith | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Colton is a police officer who’s haunted by the trauma of witnessing his former partner get gunned down in a crossfire. Now, Colton avoids all things relating to God even though his wife wants him to come back to the faith. However, circumstances begin to change Colton’s heart as he’s forced to face the past that he’s been running from.

Production Quality (2 points)

Although this production is mostly above-average, it still has some unnecessary pitfalls, such as odd zooms in the camera work and some strangely blurry video quality in certain parts. Action camera work is inconsistent, and the soundtrack is a bit loud at times. Also, flashbacks tend to be disorienting, and the editing has a lot of quick cuts and transitions, but all aspects of the production generally improve with time. This include better video quality, audio quality, and camera work in the second half of the film. Sets, locations, and props are relatively stable throughout. In the end, this mixed-bag section does enough to warrant this score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Fearless Faith is based on a very valid and worthy idea that needs to be explored in entertainment: law enforcement trauma. However, this concept is presented with stream-of-consciousness storytelling that lacks focus or overarching themes. Average conversations don’t do enough to develop the generic characters although there is a lot of missed potential to have better dialogue. The perfect Christian characters and racial stereotypes don’t do much to help the cause of the narrative. Religious platitudes and lack of continuity are only compounded by wasted time and plot jumps. Despite dry humor and sarcasm that could have made for interesting experience, unrealistic coincidences happen just because the writers need them to. Even though the ending does a somewhat good job of bringing everything together, characters are fixed way too easily, and the conclusion isn’t properly set up. There are no meaningful payoffs because a majority of the storyline is just kicking the can down the road to get to an unearned high point. The climax falls flat where it could have soared because it lacks effective build-up, and personal tragedies aren’t exactly treated in a serious fashion. All of this is to say that Fearless Faith had the potential to be a truly interesting movie, but this section’s low score holds it back.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting in this screenplay is average. Surprisingly, Jason Burkey may have found his niche in this film as he demonstrates pretty good performances with dry humor and sarcasm. This role doesn’t require him to go too far beyond his abilities, which actually works. Elsewhere, there are no obviously glaring errors in this section except for some annoying yelling and screaming. In certain pivotal scenes, the acting can tend to be unnecessarily blank and not present. In the end, this aspect of them movie rounds out an okay effort.

Conclusion

Fearless Faith had a lot going for it since it was written by real law enforcement officers who know what it’s like in the real world. This creative team put forth a pretty good project in Beautifully Broken, but Fearless Faith seems to lose some of this progress. A disorganized narrative derailed most of the potential in this screenplay, and a handful of concerns in production and acting didn’t help either. Next time, however, this team can hopefully learn from their mistakes and seek better counsel in their plot development.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Interview with Dallas Jenkins, Christian filmmaker

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first get into making Christian entertainment?”


Dallas Jenkins: “I loved media and entertainment and was confused as to why I never saw anything of faith that I liked, so I wanted to fill that void if possible.”

BOR: What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of movie making?

DJ: “I’m obsessed with honest portrayals of real people, I think that’s probably my #1 priority. I want the people and their dialogue to feel real, I want the key moments to feel earned.”

BOR: What do you think is the hardest part of making a good Christian film?


DJ: “I don’t think it’s any more hard to make a good Christian film than it is to make a good film period. It’s all hard. The hardest part is simply writing a great script.

BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian entertainment?

DJ: “I can’t think of anything specific, I just want to see us Christians working just as hard as everyone else. Making a good piece of entertainment requires a lifetime of preparation and work.”

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved in Christian entertainment as a whole?


DJ: “That’s not for me to say, I’m just working hard to improve myself. I can’t worry about how to improve others; and who am I to tell someone else they need to improve? I’d just say we all need to constantly work to get better at our craft every day.”

BOR: How do you feel about Christian entertainment creation being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

DJ: “Hopefully, if you’re making a project, you surround yourself with people who are all better at their jobs than you are.”

BOR: How has Christian entertainment improved during the time you’ve been involved in it?

DJ: “Back when I started, Christian entertainment was so rare, other than music. It’s great to see that now it’s finally seen as an acceptable art form by the church at large.”

BOR: Is working on Christian movie sets any better or worse than working on ‘secular’ movie sets?


DJ: “I hope that the leaders of Christian film sets are so honest and kind and generous that it feels better than any other set, but each set is different, Christian or non.”

BOR: What are your future plans for new Christian entertainment (movies, series, etc.)? Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?


DJ: “Nothing but Season Two of The Chosen for now, that’s enough to keep me wall to wall busy. But yeah, I’ve got a few projects I’m hoping to do if I get any breathers from The Chosen. But for now…let’s focus on The Chosen. That said, you can watch The Resurrection of Gavin Stone on Netflix right now, that’s pretty cool.”

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us Mr. Jenkins, we really enjoyed hearing your perspective!:)

Roe v. Wade (Movie Review)

ROE v. WADE the Movie | Indiegogo

Plot Summary

In this propaganda version of history, Roe v. Wade only happened because a giant conspiracy involving the media, the court system, and the medical field forced it to happen since they were so addicted to abortions. This alleged cabal supposedly loved abortion so much that they regularly sang songs about it. If this film is to be believed, all the conspirators ever thought about night and day was abortion, and anyone who stood against them was to be completely ostracized. With movies like these, it’s no wonder that so many people are skeptical of the pro-life movement.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the production of Roe v. Wade is mostly acceptable, including good video quality and camera work. However, audio quality is uneven, as shown by very poor overdubs and an inconsistent soundtrack. Some scenes are very dark while others have odd soft lighting. Sets, locations, and props are passable, but the editing is quite choppy. Cuts and transitions are all over the map, but this aspect of the film is likely due to the utter disaster that is the plot. In the end, the production section is at least average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2.5 points)

Seemingly in a mission to become one of the most obnoxious and in-your-face movies since Assassin 33 AD or The Reliant, Roe v. Wade succeeds on all fronts. Beginning with the very first scene, the screenplay’s extreme pro-life message is pushed on the audience via immediate and constant narration that sometimes covers up dialogue. Moreover, it’s not like the conversations are really worth hearing since most of the dialogue is designed for shock factors and propaganda. Not a single spoken line can exist without a fundamentalist agenda being shoved down the viewer’s throat. Elsewhere, tons of content is forced into the narrative, including random asides that continually interrupt the storyline. Large time jumps and information dumps attempt to connect it all together, so all these pitfalls inevitably create wooden characters. The “bad” characters, such as the abortion activists, could not be worse strawmen, and there are generally way too many characters to keep up with. The most disgusting aspects of the issue are obsessed over, and the pro-abortion side of the argument is portrayed in the most evil way possible. Due to the massive amount of content in this film, many sequences are very rushed, leading to a nonsensical and incoherent conclusion. Needless to say, this section easily earns its negative rating.

Acting Quality (0 points)

A majority of the acting in this movie is quite overplayed and disingenuous. Line delivery is robotic, and emotions are forced. It’s extremely difficult to believe that many of the actors and actresses in this bloated cast are taking the matter seriously. Hence, this aspect of the screenplay rounds out an effort that should have never happened.

Conclusion

Much like the production process of Unplanned, the creation of Roe v. Wade was seemingly based on deception as some of the initial cast and crew were allegedly not given complete information about the film’s intentions. Whether or not this claim is fully or partially true, it seems to shed light on the attitude of the movie’s creators: produce propaganda at any cost and through any means necessary. Thus, we’re left with this finish product, which is a total disaster in every way. Hopefully, in the very near future, we’ll no longer see offerings like this one that further mar the reputation of Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: -1 out of 10 points

God’s Fool (Movie Review)

God's Fool (2020) | Trailer | Scott William Winters | Nathan Clarkson |  Laura Orrico - YouTube

Plot Summary

Frank grew up with a privileged life, but it means nothing to him. He’s tried to fill the hole in his soul with all kinds of vices, but nothing helps. Thus, when Frank meets a Franciscan friar one day, Frank’s life changes forever as he learns about the Franciscan order’s philosophy of life. Frank commits himself to live this life but finds it harder than expected as many oppose his new faith.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, God’s Fool has a pretty good production, including good video quality and audio quality. The soundtrack is quite intriguing, but the camera work is a bit inconsistent. Lighting is aligned with industry standards, and sets, locations, and props are acceptable. This section’s biggest drawback is its terrible editing as the film is presented in a very choppy way. Nonetheless, an above-average score is still warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite being based on an interesting idea, this plot meanders all over the place with no focus. One random thing happens after another, including a wild 800-year time jump after an extended prologue that seems initially disconnected from the main narrative. Stream-of-consciousness storytelling leaves the movie lacking a central focus. As a result, the characters are hard to relate to, and even though some dialogue sequences are interesting, it all needs to be deeper. The characters’ struggles are very detached and hard to relate to. While many conversations bring up good points, the back-and-forth interactions are poorly presented, causing the audience to be flooded with ideas without helping them feel the conflict. In general, too many events occur in this plot, and the “bad” characters don’t have good reasons for their actions. Although this narrative explores realistic church corruption issues, it’s all too detached and vague, leaving the viewer without meaningful impact. Thus, due to a small amount of potential, only a small rating can be awarded in this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the performances in God’s Fool come off as staged and overly measured. Emotional and line delivery are clinical and generally lack conviction. Accents are not culturally accurate, but costuming is authentic. Nonetheless, despite these shortcomings, the acting does improve with time, which is enough to warrant an average score here.

Conclusion

It’s clear that the creators of this screenplay meant well in what they were doing. They are trying to present an honest look at modern-day Christianity. However, convoluted storytelling and uneven acting detract from the film’s potential. A more focused narrative would have gotten the presentation off on the right foot. Perhaps, in the future, this creative team can build upon what they have done here to improve their craft.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

A Cowgirl’s Story (Movie Review)

A Cowgirl's Story': Movie Review | HORSE NATION

Plot Summary

Dusty Rhodes has had a hard time due both of her parents being in the military and being called out for duty at the same time during the Iraqi War. While she lives with her grandfather, Dusty has an idea to force her school to start a horse program by riding her horse to school. As a result, she gets a whole bunch of her classmates together to compete in horse competitions, but things get even more complicated from there. Can Dusty rely on her faith to make it through?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, A Cowgirl’s Story has an average production, including fine video quality but odd camera work as some scenes appear to be filmed in busy public places. Audio quality is acceptable, however, and the sets, locations, and props are run-of-the-mill. Other aspects are okay, but the editing is a big detractor. The cuts and transitions are very poor, making for a choppy viewing experience. Due to this mixed bag, a middle-of-the-road score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With absolutely no substantial plot content to speak of, this film lacks meaningful conflict and story focus. The narrative jumps all over the map as one thing happens after another without any clear connections to other events. A disjointed and spastic narrative presentation takes the audience on a wild ride through cheesy high school romances and horse subplots that just happen for no good reason other than the writers’ whims. The characters experience extremely unrealistic and absurd circumstances just for the sake of coincidences, and there’s so many things to keep up with since more and more new concepts are continually being introduced. This is disorienting to the viewer, and it makes matters worse that the characters are incredibly blank. Stiff and forced conversations accomplish absolutely nothing as they’re full of vanilla and stock dialogue. Therefore, due to purposelessness and pointlessness in this section, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Despite some average performances from a handful of cast members, much of the acting in this movie is cringeworthy, especially the teenage and young adult actors and actresses. This includes forced line delivery and emotions. It’s hard to take some of the cast members seriously, especially when Pat Boone posts creepy performances. Thus, this section can only receive a meager score.

Conclusion

A Cowgirl’s Story is just another pointless screenplay littering the Christian entertainment landscape. There’s no point to films like these except to make an attempt at a cash grab. Hopefully, however, these days are ending as we look forward to an improved market where creators actually care about producing quality content that can connect with audiences.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Worm [2007] (Movie Review)

Worm | Pure Flix

Plot Summary

Adam was one of the cool kids in high school who didn’t want anything to do with Christianity. However, he’s forced to examine the faith when people around him begin following Jesus. Nonetheless, Adam still wants nothing to do with Christ until it’s too late for him.

Production Quality (1 point)

Even though this production has okay video quality and camera work, the audio quality is quite weird, including loud sound effects, obvious overdubs, and a distorted soundtrack. Sets, locations, and props are average, but lighting is inconsistent. Editing is also passable, but there are too many concerns to award this section more than one point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

It seems like that the entire purpose of this plot is to try to scare people into becoming Christians, which is a ridiculous tactic. The message-pushing is extremely obvious and doesn’t allow the audience to decide anything for themselves. The narrative is full of expository conversations and manufactured dialogue that make for cheesy characters, including absurd strawmen non-Christians and overly perfect Christians. There’s also quite a bit of talk about off-screen happenings as well as mindless sequences that accomplish nothing. The story concludes in a very dark way, and due to the propaganda nature of this film, this section has to receive a negative point.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, this section doesn’t yield any positive results either as most of the performances seem overly staged. Line delivery is unnatural and overly practiced, and it makes matters worse that the cast members frequently talk over the top of one another. Further, emotions are mechanical, rounding out a zero-potential effort.

Conclusion

We’ve said it before and will say it again: propaganda screenplays always fail. There’s just no potential in them. Setting off to push an agenda on the audience is always the wrong motive, and it will be inevitably exposed. There’s simply no sense in contributing this sort of garbage to the market.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Romance in the Outfield: Double Play (Movie Review)

Review: Utah-made 'Romance in the Outfield: Double Play' strikes out in the  rom-com department — The Movie Cricket

Plot Summary

Kenzie and Tyler used to be in love, but after their falling out, they haven’t spoken for years. However, a string of coincidences has now thrown them back together, and they’ll have to decide what they’re going to do about it. Also, Tyler’s sister has her own relationship issues to sort out.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, this film’s production is acceptable, including fine camera work and good video quality. Lighting is okay throughout, but there are some background echoes along with an inconsistent soundtrack. Sets, locations, and props are somewhat limited in scope, but the editing is at least average. As a result, these factors produce a run-of-the-mill score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As a sequel to a movie that no one can remember, Romance in the Outfield: Double Play expects the viewers to understand what’s already happened in this narrative. However, this is poorly communicated, leaving the plot purposeless. It feels like every scene is constructed to happen just because the writers want them to, therefore producing blank characters with vanilla and cardboard dialogue. Lots of time is wasted on long and meaningless sequences that use the characters as pawns in a stupid romance agenda. Ridiculously fake conflicts fuel the romantic tug-of-war, and extremely convenient situations force strangers into baseless relationships with each other. The most absurd romance tropes are presented in the most infantile ways until the story mercifully ends, leaving the audience without anything substantial or useful. Thus, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

On the whole, the acting in this screenplay seems unsure although it’s not all bad. Oftentimes, line delivery is too muted, and the emotions are quite mechanical. With nothing truly dynamic yet some potential, only a point is warranted in this section.

Conclusion

Romance in the Outfield: Double Play is essentially a follow-up just for the sake of it. There was nothing in Pitching Love and Catching Faith that justified a sequel, especially when the sequel just rehashed the same narrative while still somehow leaving the audience mostly in the dark as to what the first installment was about. This failure was difficult to pull off, but this creative team did it effortlessly. In the end, a lack of effort is this film’s biggest downfall and the reason why it didn’t need to exist.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Church People [2021] (Movie Review)

CHURCH PEOPLE (2020) | Movieguide | Movie Reviews for Christians

Plot Summary

Youth pastor Guy Sides feels like he’s stuck inside of a well-oiled ministry machine. His boss, lead pastor Skip Finney, wants to find new and outlandish ways to draw people into the church. However, Guy feels like the simple gospel is enough. Nonetheless, Skip charges ahead with zany plans for an Easter production that will have everyone talking about it. Can Guy help everyone see the true meaning of Easter before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s evident from start to finish that Church People is well-funded, and this results in a professional production. This high quality is evidenced by top-notch video, camera, and audio elements. The sets, locations, and props are great, and it’s clear that the money has been well-spent. The only minor concerns in this section pertain to some inconsistency in editing, but overall, a high score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

This plot begins with a strong opening sequence that refrains from narration and establishes a basis for subtle humor that avoids being too over-the-top. Though the comedy is sometimes a bit dry, the writers were definitely trying to construct effective dialogue as they took a realistic look at the problems with the corporate church mentality. There are many relatable conversations throughout the narrative although there’s also a dose of exposition throughout the course of the conversing. However, as the story continues to develop, some comedy overstays its welcome, being used too much and coming off as too quirky. Rather than expanding as it goes, the premise remains quite thin and has little basis in reality beyond silly conventions. Montages strung together with humor take the place of deeper character development, and some oddly explained off-screen scenes only make matters more awkward. When it comes down to it, Church People is just another return-to-hometown plot, complete with forced romance-with-your-former-love tropes. Despite its promising beginning, this narrative continues its nose dive all the way to a forced conclusion that involves an eye-rolling ‘twist’ that doesn’t really work. Thus, one point is garnered here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Although Stephen Baldwin once again positioned himself to star as a wise character in a self-produced film, he exhibits an acceptable kind of unusual in Church People. Other cast members are quite good in their performances despite a few slightly awkward moments. Some actors and actresses can be over-the-top and over-extended, but for the most part, they are all well-coached. As a whole, this section is at least above-average.

Conclusion

In the end, some audiences will enjoy this screenplay even though it travels through well-worn church comedy ruts. Unfortunately, the humor just isn’t enough to carry the entire movie: deeper characters are needed to drive the point home. The purpose of Church People is commendable (exposing corporate Christianity), but the audience isn’t left with much beyond the obvious fact that this approach to the faith is insufficient. Therefore, this film boils down to another standard comedy release that will unfortunately be forgotten in a few months.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Charity [2012] (Movie Review)

Watch Charity | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Megan and Jake were happily married with six children. However when Jake is suddenly killed in a military training accident, Megan the the kids are almost immediately thrust into poverty. Megan is forced to scrape by on a tiny income while she worries where her family will live. Will anyone come to help them? Does God still care about them?

Production Quality (.5 point)

There are many problems in this production, beginning with the very poor audio quality, which is evidenced by echoes, loud background noises, and an invasive soundtrack that overtakes the audio and doesn’t fit with the scenes. While camera work is pedestrian at best, the lighting is quite random. For the most part, sets, locations, and props are generic, but some of them don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to portray. Elsewhere, the editing is inconsistent, which rounds out an underwhelming effort only worthy of a meager score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As this story jumps around without much coherent thought, some scenes drag on too long despite the fact that they’re totally lifeless. It really doesn’t make much sense for a military family to suddenly fall into total poverty after the father was killed in training…logically, there would be other extenuating circumstances that would lead to the economic downturn. Besides this plot hole, there really isn’t any character development due to very bland and procedural dialogue. Narrative focus and themes are lacking in the first half of the film, but this surprisingly changes in the second half as the movie actually presents some slightly interesting ideas using a unique storyline structure. Nonetheless, this doesn’t make up for the fact that the characters are lacking in development, which doesn’t change later in the screenplay. As such, just a small amount of potential reflects a low rating for this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite some poor costuming and bored acting, the performances of Charity tend to improve as the film goes on. Although there aren’t any truly dynamic cast members, none of them are terrible either. Emotions begin somewhat flat yet become more realistic with time. Thus, due to this mixed bag, only an average score is warranted here.

Conclusion

This movie is basically a short story idea that needs to be repackaged into a more complex series. The plot concept needs more buildup because it’s interesting but requires more background than we’re given in Charity. Though the final rating is quite low, there was a surprising amount of potential here, so maybe, in future projects, this creative team will improve with increased collaboration.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Divine Decision {The Tribunal} (Movie Review)

Divine Decision (2016) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Tony wants to marry Emily, but before he can do this, he has to annul his first marriage. However, the Catholic Church will only allow Tony to annul the marriage if Tony’s friend Joe will testify about this. The problem is that Joe used to date Emily, so this could make for an awkward love triangle. Will they all do the right thing in the end?

Production Quality (1 point)

Despite acceptable camera work and video quality, this production contains many pitfalls. One of these is the audio, which is mostly uneven and contains a horrific soundtrack. Lighting is also a problem as there are too many dark scenes. Sets, locations and props are okay, but stupid special effects detract from the viewing experience. Further, editing poses problems due to the fact that some scenes drag on while others cut off prematurely. In the end, the negatives outweigh the positives, leading to a below-average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

This plot is completely dominated with high amounts of legalism and fundamentalist propaganda. The issues that are raised by the narrative are only painted in the light that the writers want the audience to see, so alternate perspectives are not considered. This makes for a very awkward story presentation that’s filled with obvious and canned dialogue. Nearly every conversation is designed to force the intended worldview upon the viewer, which leads to cardboard characters who are tools for brainwashing. Further, an obsession with edgy content doesn’t help matters. Thus, due to various offensive elements, this aspect of the film garners negative points.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With extremely forced and dramatic performances, the acting of Divine Decision leaves much to be desired. Most of the cast members come off as very stiff and lacking in emotion. Many of them are too theatrical and overly practiced, and there’s a lot of yelling and screaming throughout. Any other acting is just awkward, so there aren’t any positives to note here, leaving this section with zero points.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the creators of this movie only wanted to push their agenda on the audience. When this is the central goal of a screenplay, it never ends well. The purpose of Christian entertainment is not to try to force people to believe what you believe. Everyone is tired of religion being shoved down their throats, so showing, rather than telling, is the only way forward.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

6 Hearts 1 Beat (Movie Review)

Watch 6 Hearts 1 Beat | Prime Video

Plot Summary

A man and woman fall in love with each other, but their relationship is complicated by the fact that she already has four children. Although people try to talk him out of marrying her, he’s intent on doing so. Together, the man and the woman will have to strengthen their faith as they move forward.

Production Quality (.5 point)

This production commits many unforced errors, such as loud background sounds, some obvious overdubs, and a cheap soundtrack that annoyingly invades the viewing experience. A handful of spoken lines can’t be heard, and the lighting is quite inconsistent. Camera work is also uneven, sometimes being shaky and other times using tight shots and weird angles. Despite clear video quality, which is this section’s only positive, the sets, locations, and props are very cheap. Further, the editing is atrocious as quick and abrupt cuts disrupt the film’s flow. Thus, due to all these concerns, only a tiny score can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Despite being tied together with unnecessary narration that short-circuits character-building dialogue, this plot still meanders all over the place without any clear purpose. Most scenes just kill time, and many sequences are totally pointless. Characters are thrown together because the story requires them to be, and they constantly talk about the same things over and over again as their conversations go in circles. The narrative espouses a bizarre view of women and romantic relationships in general while mixing in silly Christian antidotes. At times, the story is very vague and confusing, including black-and-white flashbacks to events that just happened in the movie. As the screenplay concludes, the writers try to derive meaning from their work without earning anything, and they fail to craft any meaningful resolutions. Therefore, because of these combined problems, no points are merited in this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Surprisingly, the acting is the strongest aspect of this film. However, it’s only because this section is average. Some line delivery and emotions are forced, and a few cast members seem unsure or disingenuous in their performances. Others overplay their roles. In the end, this rounds out an underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

It’s still hard to believe that movies like 6 Hearts 1 Beat are still being made. It’s incredibly difficult to create entertainment, so why not aim for quality over quantity? Nonetheless, the Christian market has been intent on quantity over quality for over a decade now. This corrosive effect will take a long time to fix, but perhaps future creators are up to the task.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Hell and Mr. Fudge (Movie Review)

Image result for hell and mr fudge

Plot Summary

In 1970s Alabama, Edward Fudge endeavored to answer the complex theological question of whether God torments people in hell after they die without salvation or if He simply removes them from existence. Fudge’s search for the truth was not well-received by local legalistic church members, including those in the pastor’s own church. In response to Fudge’s questions, a hardline fundamentalist movement made it their mission to discredit the young preacher at every turn. However, Edward and his family never gave up until they found answers.

Production Quality (2 points)

Overall, Hell and Mr. Fudge has a professional production despite its odd choice of a fake docu-drama set-up. At times, this premise seems to excuse shaky perspective camera work. Nonetheless, video quality and audio quality are both up to industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are realistic and well-used. One of this section’s main drawbacks is its choppy editing, but on the whole, this area of the film does enough to be above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 points)

This plot raises many unique and intriguing points even if the theology is sometimes a bit extreme. The writers raise legitimate concerns about legalism and over-theologizing as the narrative highlights a very real disconnect between church insiders and church outsiders. However, many viewers will find the chosen topic to be a bit isolating and even slightly controversial although there may be a nugget of truth somewhere in it. Elsewhere, the docu-drama format of the story is lazily used to take the story all over the map, causing the characters to get lost in the story presentation. Moreover, despite these obvious flaws, the movie makes good use of flashbacks that develop believable character motives. The dialogue is also quite authentic and thought-provoking. In the end, this plot had a lot more potential than it realized, which is why it can only be awarded a meager score.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

As a more mainstream offering, Hell and Mr. Fudge presents professional acting with very few errors. Emotional and line delivery are on point and costuming is historically authentic. The only small drawbacks to note here are some brief instances of over-acting. Nonetheless, this rounds out an average project.

Conclusion

This screenplay is hard to figure in a lot of ways. It has some interesting ideas to offer, but it tends to get confused as to what direction it wants to go. Does it want to be a docu-drama? Does it want to initiate a serious discussion on legalism in the church? Is it trying to disprove hell or simply attempting to change the traditional definition of hell? Most of this is unclear as the film refuses to commit to anything solid, which is its biggest drawback. As such, it falls short of making any real difference.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Take Two [2017] (Movie Review)

Image result for take two christian movie

Plot Summary

Clay Bauer is a nomadic film maker who’s just trying to stay clean during his substance abuse recovery. He’s cut himself off from problematic relationships of the past, but when he suddenly discovers that he has a daughter he’s never met, he wants to get to know her. However, his daughter’s living situation is not ideal, and although Clay is still trying to get back on his feet, he wants to rescue his daughter from the toxic environment. Nonetheless, the courts don’t look very fondly on Clay’s circumstances, so only God can help him in his impossible quest.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Take Two bears a lot of the marks of an independent production, such as inconsistent audio quality that’s manifested in obvious overdubs, background noises, and a soundtrack that’s sometimes good but often overpowers other sounds. Nonetheless, the film’s camera work and video quality are acceptable, and the lighting is average. Sets, locations, and props are fine, but the editing is a bit choppy at times, sometimes cutting off scenes without warning. Certain transitions are a bit shocking, but there’s overall improvement as the movie goes on, which warrants an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Based on true events, Take Two is a realistic exploration of addiction and drug issues that makes good use of flashbacks. However, the past and present subplots made it sometimes hard to understand what time period is being shown. For the most part, the dialogue is pretty good although the characters would have benefitted from longer and more meaningful conversations that aren’t as chopped up by the narrative’s quick pace and abrupt transitions. Even still, the story’s artistic sequences are intriguing, but the good themes and messaging are easily lost in the avalanche of content. With too many characters and subplots to follow, this screenplay needed a lot more focus and organization, such as a non-linear narrative presentation that was more grounded in one time period. Overall, there was tons of potential in this story that could have been a lot better with refinement, which justifies this section’s rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Take Two is either average or slightly better. This is demonstrated by mostly realistic emotions and natural line delivery. However, this section is held back from being perfect by some cast members whose performances tend to drag down the final score with inconsistency. Nonetheless, there is plenty of positive to note here, and it seems like most of the actors and actresses cared about making this a realistic experience, which is why it’s just above average.

Conclusion

With a commitment to use real-life source material, this creative team has lots of potential for the future. Take Two either deserves a remake with improved storytelling and editing or this collective needs to use the film as a starting point for better things. Further collaboration may be the key to improvement, but this group definitely has something to bring to the table. With more honest creators like these, the Christian entertainment market would be much improved.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Why Me? [2020] (Movie Review)

Image result for why me josiah david warren

Plot Summary

All Slater wants to do is goof off while living a life of luxury, but when he’s suddenly forced to be the guardian of his younger siblings due to his parents’ untimely death in a car accident, Slater’s entire world is turned upside down. He desperately tries to find full-time help for his siblings while he messes around with his girlfriend, but things never work out. Then, one babysitter seems to change everything for the family, and Slater has no idea what to do.

Production Quality (.5 point)

As another ridiculous Strong Foundation production, Why Me? has uneven audio, as shown by a very loud soundtrack and loud background echoes. Despite acceptable video quality and camera work, the sets, locations, and props are cheap. Also, the editing is terrible; some scenes suddenly cut off with no warning. There are zero transitions yet very obvious continuity errors. With an overall low-quality feel, this section is another failure for this team.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Full of ridiculously contrived situations and childishly contrived situations, this plot is incredibly juvenile. It lacks purpose and has some of the most absurdly forced comedy sequences ever. The choppy story presentation makes the movie feel like a bunch of random scenes that are poorly strung together. These problems don’t even include the incredibly awkward characters that are pariahs of millennials. The absurd message-pushing about how dumb young people are is incredibly annoying. What’s more, none of the characters seem to have appropriate emotional reactions to life crises like family deaths. Further, after tons of occurrences happen throughout the narrative that lack lead-ups or explanations, it just suddenly ends and leaves the viewer wondering why they just wasted their time on this drivel.

Acting Quality (1 points)

Per usual for the Strong Foundation team, this screenplay’s acting is just bad. Emotions are over-the-top, and line delivery seems mostly unserious. There are lots of awkward performances, and a few cast members are extremely robotic and practiced in their acting. Despite the fact that one of the lead actresses is a standout, it’s not enough to save this disaster from itself.

Conclusion

In 2020, Strong Foundation Films was still making garbage like Why Me?, thus continually making a mockery of Christian entertainment. They continually release unnecessary additions to the market like this one and contribute to the field’s damaged reputation. Thus, in 2021, we’re still saying the same things about movies like this one. Until projects like Why Me? cease being funded, things won’t change much for Christian movies.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Redeeming the Time (Movie Review)

Image result for redeeming the time movie

Plot Summary

When a star high school athlete is emotionally affected by a loved one’s death, he’s forced to soul searching that he never wanted to do. What he finds is unexpected, and he’ll have to turn to God before it’s too late.

Production Quality (1 point)

On the surface, this production is fine, including good video quality and camera work. However, the audio is quite bad, as shown by obvious overdubs, a generic soundtrack, and some loud screeching in certain sets. Similarly, the sets, locations, and props are generally cheap, and the editing is quite choppy. Despite some slight improvement as the film goes on, this section can’t receive any more than one point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It seems like the entire purpose of Redeeming the Time is to push a very legalistic version of Christianity on the audience. The movie’s creators appeared to craft a self-indulgent portrayal of themselves as perfect Christians who can fix the “bad” people just by spouting Bible verses and inspirational quotes at them. While important issues are explored in this narrative, they’re looked at in the totally wrong way, using obvious expository dialogue that forces ideas down the viewer’s throat without being the least bit realistic or subtle. As a result, the characters come off as completely out-of-touch and one-dimensional since they only focus on their stated problems. In the end, due to magical sermonizing, the concerns are easily fixed to the point of making the “bad” characters just as ridiculously perfect as the “good” ones. Once this goal is accomplished, the story ends in an abruptly awkward way, leaving the audience with nothing but an empty, zero-potential idea.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the acting in this screenplay is just as bad as its other elements. Ranging from strained and forced to awkward and overly practiced, these performances leave much to be desired. Extreme emotions, such as lots of yelling and screaming, don’t help matters either. Thus, because there’s not enough positive to outweigh the negative, no points can be awarded in this section.

Conclusion

When a film’s entire purpose is push a certain agenda, regardless of what the worldview is, the movie has already failed. Viewers will almost always be turned off to this since no wants to be spoon-fed propaganda. It’s even worse when Christian screenplays commit these errors because, as we’ve said many times before, it further hurts the field’s reputation. When creations like this are still being made, audiences will continually be turned off to Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

Beyond the Vows (Movie Review)

Image result for beyond the vows movie

Plot Summary

A newly married couple loves each other and is trying to heal after their relationship began with a rocky start. However, situations continue to arise that complicate their marriage, which leaves both of them searching for answers. Will they find redemption under the grace of God before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1 point)

Despite being a 2019 production, Beyond the Vows has many pitfalls. These include inconsistent audio quality, with some lines not even being audible, little to no discernable soundtrack, and loud background sounds. Although video quality and camera are acceptable, the sets, locations, and props are very cheap and limited. Further, the editing is full of continuity errors and abrupt transitions that sometimes completely cut off scenes. As such, though there were some acceptable parts in this production, it can’t receive a very high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2 points)

This film offers a strange mix of odd fundamentalist Christianity and unusually edgy content. Weird conversations both reinforce rigid gender stereotypes and fixate on questionable topics that do nothing to uplift the audience. Besides these obvious concerns, the dialogue fails to do anything for the characters except make them mindless, strawmen, or unrealistically perfect Christians. It’s hard to understand the actual point of this plot as it meanders around with no purpose except to explore weird relationships, demean women, force legalism upon the viewer, pass judgment on certain people, talk down to young adults, or make marriage all about having kids. Using wild time jumps, the story spins in circles, rehashing the same things over and over again and relying on ridiculous coincidences to keep the narrative going. Finally, when it’s mercifully over, nothing is accomplished save for the creation of an offensive project that warrants negative points in this section.

Acting Quality (1 point)

While the acting starts out as generic and average, it definitely gets worse as it goes. Some cast members are better than others, but a handful of them seem quite unsure due to poor coaching. Many of the emotions are either muted or forced. A couple of cast members seem uninterested in being on set, which can’t really be faulted given the low quality of this movie. In the end, this section does nothing but keep this screenplay from being negative points overall.

Conclusion

It’s commendable to try to create a plot that depicts the realistic struggles of married couples, but Beyond the Vows simply goes too far. It’s possible to be too realistic to point of turning off the audience, which prevents anything from being learned. Besides this, this film’s narrative isn’t even engaging, not to mention the fact that the production and acting are sub-par. All of these factors combined together spell a recipe for disaster, which is why this movie should have never been made.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Our Rose Garden (Movie Review)

Our Rose Garden - BMG-Global | Bridgestone Multimedia Group | Movie & TV  Distribution

Plot Summary

A married couple is struggling due to the wife’s psychosis, which makes their lives unpredictable. However, despite his son’s desire to place his mother in a mental health facility, the husband wants to remain faithful to his wife because she was there for him when he was unfaithful to her.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Because this production stays within its financial and logistical boundaries, it is very professional. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all on point, and the soundtrack is quite good. Sets, locations, and props are all well-utilized. The only slight concerns relate to some choppy editing and awkward transitions, but these aren’t enough to prevent his section from receiving a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Our Rose Garden uses a very creative story presentation that mixes past and present subplots to develop character motive. It’s an authentic look at realistic problems that many people face even if the dialogue is a little thin and under-developed. It was better to make a short film rather than long and drawn out movie with no meaning, but this didn’t leave much time to completely develop the characters to their fullest potentials. Also, the narrative could have had a stronger premise rather than a vague one as well as more concrete messaging. Throughout the screenplay, some scenes oddly mix with each other and cut off as another invades, which confuses the audience. The story concludes with a somewhat abrupt ending that seems to easily fix the problems at hand. Nonetheless, there was a enough potential in this plot to justify a meager rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The cast of Our Rose Garden definitely showed that they were trying hard in their performances as they acted in meaningful ways. Despite some very small moments of robotic emotions and line delivery, these cast members demonstrated good skills. Another drawback of this section was beyond their control: the fact that the past and present cast members didn’t really look like each other. However, as a whole, this area was above average, which rounds out a good effort.

Conclusion

This creative team obviously has tons of potential for the future due their knack for analyzing people without creating stereotypes or being too heavy-handed with message-pushing. They also avoid wasting resources on an unnecessarily long film. With a little more character and narrative depth, as well as slight acting upgrades, these creators will be well on their way to greater things.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Lost Heart (Movie Review)

Lost Heart (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Hannah is a country music star who loses her cool during an interview due to sensitive questions about her past. This prompts her to take time off from the show business, but her father’s sudden death forces Hannah to return to the hometown that she wants to avoid. There, she has to confront the darkness of her past and come to grips with what her choices have done. Hannah wants to run from God, but He won’t give up on her.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The Collective Development team has come a long way with production quality during their time in the field. Lost Heart is an example of continuing improvement, which is all we really ask of entertainment creators. As such, there are few errors in this section. Video quality, audio quality, and camera work are all professional. Though the soundtrack is a bit generic at times for a music-themed film, the sets, locations, and props are well-constructed. The editing is overall fine with a few minor errors. In the end, this is all deserving of a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Much like Wild Faith, Lost Heart has a high amount of potential in the plot category. It includes a realistic portrayal of entertainment life, which is supported by a very effective use of flashbacks to establish character motive and experiences. This is coupled with a surprisingly realistic view of small towns and hidden family problems within them. Despite the many interesting concepts explored in this narrative, it’s almost too much for one story, making it hard to focus on one thing. Lost Heart feels more like a series than a movie and has the authentic and believable characters necessary for such a venture. They’re crafted with great dialogue that helps the audience to connect with them. However, this section isn’t without its downfalls. Convenient turns and coincidences help important plot points get unnecessarily kicked down the road, and sometimes, things happen in the narrative simply because the writers wanted them to. While the story’s conclusions are good, they seemed to be arrived at in unnatural ways. It’s good to write the ending before the beginning, but it has to be properly set up with logic and reason. Unfortunately, Lost Heart loses more and more focus as it goes, leading to a climax scene that’s a bit over the top and unbelievable. This nosedive in the screenplay’s second half kept it from being placed on the Hall of Fame, but this area of the film still warrants a good rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

In the film’s beginning, the acting is a bit raw. Emotions seem forced at times, and some of the yelling and screaming gets annoying. It would have better if these performances were more subtle and natural, but as a whole, the acting does get better as the movie goes on. There are many good cast members with DJ and Josh Perry being standouts. In the end, this area justifies an above-average score, which rounds out another screenplay that could have been much more.

Conclusion

Lost Heart is another high-potential idea from the Collective Development team. However, like other projects, this one just doesn’t make the cut due to a handful of small yet avoidable errors. This committed group of creators has progressively improved since their former days, which is rare in this business. Nonetheless, they seem to have plateaued and need stronger narrative outlining to help push them across the finish line. Bringing better storytellers into their fold will help them to finally achieve the next level.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points