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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare (Movie Review)

Trafficked: A Parent's Worst Nightmare (DVD) - Kino Lorber Home Video

Plot Summary

When Allison goes missing on her birthday and doesn’t turn back up, her parents become very worried. The police won’t do anything for 48 hours, so Allison’s parents do the only thing that any reasonable person would do: contact an old friend from college who deals drugs and happens to know a shady private investigation group that has questionable ethics, such as impersonating police officers and breaking into people’s houses without permission. Allison’s grandmother uses a good portion of her retirement to fund this dubious operation, and time is running out to find Allison, who has been taken by human traffickers.

Production Quality (1 point)

After a long opening sequence wastes time, this film’s remaining production doesn’t get much better. Video quality is acceptable, but camera work and lighting are quite inconsistent. The audio leaves a lot to be desired, such as a very loud and distracting soundtrack as well as awful special effects. Sets, locations, and props are fine, but the editing is quite poor. Some scenes awkwardly cut off while other sequences are very disorienting. In the end, despite slight improvement with time, this section is still below average, which is unacceptable for 2021.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This plot’s main strategy is the shove one thing after the next onto the audience without any continuity. Most events happen because the writers want them to, and some occurrences are quite unrealistic, such as the questionable legitimacy of the narrative’s shady investigative force and their possibly illegal actions. Many scenes come off as overly staged, and the many confusing subplots easily become discombobulated. There are a lot of moving parts in this story, and characters have no chance to be developed due to musical montages and mindless conversations. The villains are stereotypical and over-the-top, often using unnecessary expletives. The Christian message in this movie is fairly vague, and there seems to be an unnecessary political tilt. Overall, with unforced errors and basically no potential, zero points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Most of the time, the acting in Trafficked is trying way too hard. Line delivery and emotions are much too forceful. Performances come off as overly practiced and unnatural. Despite slight improvement with time, only a small score is warranted in this section.

Conclusion

This screenplay is a true embarrassment for 2021. How much longer must we endure such drivel? Besides a juvenile portrayal of the otherwise serious issue that this human trafficking, this film chooses to give credence to shady and questionable operations wherein people take the law into their own hands. This should have been a major red flag for anyone who thought about investing in this movie. It’s still unbelievable how projects like Trafficked even get funded and make it to the public release, but it’s high time that we see fewer of them.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Beyond the Shield (Movie Review)

Beyond the Shield (2017)

Plot Summary

Pastor Omar wants to make a difference in the lives of troubled youth. However, things become complicated when the pastor runs into two local police officers, Fitzpatrick and Finch. An unexpected turn of events occurs, and everyone involved must decide what their faith is in before it’s too late.

Production Quality (-1 points)

This production goes beyond simply being bad and is actually offensive. Poor video quality, shaky camera work, and weird camera angles are just a few issues that make this film nearly unwatchable. Inconsistent audio quality, wild zooms, and bad lighting are also concerns that disrupt the viewing experience. The editing is likely the most off-putting element as weirdly abrupt cuts and transitions sometimes completely interrupt scenes. Unnecessary stock footage wastes time and seems to replace more substantial content. In the end, this is just an awful section overall, which warrants a negative rating.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

Despite the presentation of realistic circumstances and themes that absolutely should be explored in the context of Christian entertainment, the narrative of Beyond the Shield is simply a train wreck. Subplots are dizzyingly offered to the audience, jumping from one thing to the next with no organization or continuity. In addition to an obnoxious portrayal of story happenings, some scenes nonsensically repeat over and over again. Basically a random collection of loosely connected ideas, this movie completely lacks any shred of character development. Dialogue is extremely stilted and wooden, and attempts at flashbacks but poorly executed. What’s more, there are annoying breaks in the screenplay for fake interviews and confessionals. All of this combined justifies a negative score in this section as well.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The acting in Beyond the Shield doesn’t inspire any confidence either, but it’s at least not offensive. Nonetheless, overly practiced line delivery and forced emotions are commonplace in these performances. Acting is either robotic or full of screaming and yelling.

Conclusion

The good thing is that negative-point films are few and far between, but when they come up, it’s just another instance of Christian entertainment’s reputation being tarnished. It makes the field into a laughingstock and turns potential audience members away. However, there are hopefully new creators who want to do what God has called them to and can rebuild what’s been torn down.

Final Rating: -2 out of 10 points

Skydog {Lifestone Velocity} (Movie Review)

Skydog - Crystal Creek Media Crystal Creek Media

Plot Summary

Josh never knew that his father was killed in the line of duty as a CIA agent nor that his mom and her boyfriend are also CIA agents. However, these secrets are revealed to Josh, along with his real name, Colt Lifestone, when his mother goes missing in action. The CIA is trying to track down biochemical weapons that a rogue terrorist group has seized with the help of a corrupt CIA agent. Thankfully, however, the CIA is in need of a few willing teenagers to help them find the turncoat before the bio weapon is released on the whole city!

Production Quality (.5 point)

In 2020, Crystal Creek Media still hasn’t improved their production quality. Skydog (formerly known as Lifestone Velocity), sports weird video quality and poor lighting in some scenes. In keeping with previous trends from this production team, the audio of this film is all over the map, including a generic soundtrack that sometimes cover up other sounds, background noises that distract the viewers, ridiculous sound effects that are added on top of the video, and overdubbing that’s extremely obvious. Elsewhere, special effects are horrible, and camera work is wild. Sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited; all of the aforementioned production elements don’t adequately portray what they’re supposed to represent. To cap things off, the editing is terrible…some scenes prematurely cut off with no warning while others drag on for no reason. In the end, despite some slightly improvement as the movie goes on, this section is just another failed effort from this team.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

During the screenplay’s opening twenty minutes, so many things happen that the audience becomes very lost on what the narrative is actually about. The plot needs to pick a lane and stay in it as it’s trying to do tons of things at once, such as vague government agency stuff that’s hard to follow and is likely not very accurate to real life. With many characters to keep up with, it’s hard to relate to any of them, especially since some of them do odd things without legitimate reasons. Bland and vanilla dialogue depersonalizes them, and a convenient lack of communication between some characters allow certain things to occur that wouldn’t otherwise. On this note, the story often decides what needs to happen and forces it to take place without logical reasons. Lacking focus or purpose whatsoever, Skydog is full of the most ridiculous action scenes and outcomes, including outrageous things that the extremely cheesy villains get away with in broad daylight. Also, it’s unclear why the CIA would ever trust teenagers with government secrets, which demonstrates a lack of understanding of how things actually work in the real world. Therefore, due to many unforced errors and absurd elements, no points can be awarded in this category.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Like other acting performances from this team, many of the cast members in Skydog are trying too hard. This produces robotic and cardboard emotions as well as stiff and stilted line delivery. A lot of the scenes seem overly practiced with certain performances coming off as really strange. However, despite poor injury acting, this section isn’t all bad. There are some acceptable elements, but they aren’t enough to save this film from itself.

Conclusion

Much like previously unsuccessful offerings from this company (Creed of Gold, Unexpected Places, Courageous Love, The King’s Messengers, A Horse Called Bear), Skydog is just more of the same from Crystal Creek. They’ve never significantly improved throughout their tenure in Christian entertainment, which is unacceptable from a group that consistently puts out content. At this point, it’s unfortunately unclear where this team is headed, but we don’t have high hopes for their future.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Denounced: Rise of the Horsemen (Movie Review)

Watch Denounced: Rise of the Horsemen | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Paul loved his family, but they were Christians while he wasn’t. Thus, when they were taken in the rapture, he was left behind to face an ever-darkening world. Becoming a violent hater of God, Paul joins the ruthless government agency known as the Horsemen, who stamp out any traces of Christianity left on the earth. However, when they turn on Paul, he’s forced to face the reality he’s been trying to avoid.

Production Quality (0 points)

From the get-go, Denounced exhibits very disorienting and off-putting audio quality that’s sometimes overdriven, and although the soundtrack can be interesting at times, it’s often too loud. Camera work is very inconsistent, and despite clear video quality, the lighting is all over the place. The same can be said for the cheap sets, locations, and props as they don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to portray. Special effects and sound effects are annoying, and weird zooms and camera angles confuse the audience. The editing is a disaster, sometimes wasting time on nature footage that accomplishes nothing and others times letting scenes drag on for no reason at all. Needless to say, there’s too much negative in this section to warrant any points.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

In keeping with most apocalyptic films, as soon as the rapture happens in Denounced, everything in the world starts falling apart and melting down for no reason. How are supposed to be believe so many instant natural disaster occur in succession? Besides this, it’s hard to follow the movie’s storyline since it jumps from one thing to the next, vaguely constructing the world with cryptic dialogue. Despite okay attempts at flashbacks, they’re too heavy-handed and narrated, and other conversations don’t do enough to build characters. Long boring sequences go by wherein nothing really happens and no one talks. Then, these give way to scenes of unnecessarily extreme and sometimes gross violence even though they’re accompanied by some slightly interesting plot turns that give better understanding to what the writers wanted to do. Nonetheless, it’s just too little too late as some potential as wasted that could have been better presented in a short film. This concept simply demands too much funding and planning than was put into this screenplay, but it’s a shame that the imperfect character outlines weren’t fully fleshed out and were instead replaced with excessive torture scenes. Also, to make things even more complicated, the ending of Denounced is very confusing as it seems to negate everything that happened in the narrative. Due to all these concerns, zero points are also awarded here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The acting performances of this movie are less than inspiring, including a lot of yelling and screaming. As such, most emotions are quite forced. Lines are also mumbled, and there’s generally not any positive here to offset the negative, which rounds out a zero-point effort.

Conclusion

Did we really need another apocalyptic film? This rapture-succeeded-by-worldwide-dystopia song and dance has been done time and again, and it basically never works. Then, as if the premise didn’t already short-circuit potential, all other movie elements are very low quality. Denounced is a classic example of biting off more than you can chew and pushing forward to make something without proper planning. We’re long past the era where any random piece of Christian entertainment is going to be embraced.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Heavenquest: A Pilgrim’s Progress (Movie Review)

4 Things to Know about Heavenquest: A Pilgrim's Progress

Plot Summary

Vangel was a judge in the Kingdom of the South, but when he was wrongly accused of treason against the king he worked for, Vangel is sent for punishment. However, he escapes this fate and meets up with another fugitive; together, they run into a mysterious man named Elder who tells them that they can be set free if they make it to the Kingdom of the North. Through many perilous circumstances, they battle their way to freedom at all costs. Will they be able to cross the border before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, fantasy productions in Christian entertainment almost never fare well, and cheesy special effects combined with obvious CGI elements are usually the leading culprits. Heavenquest isn’t an exception to this tendency as its sets, locations, and props don’t adequately portray what they’re supposed to portray. Camera work is often shaky, especially in action scenes, and the film is replete with very trippy and dizzying sequences that confuse and overwhelm the viewer. Video quality is clear, but lighting is inconsistent. Despite an interesting soundtrack, it’s sometimes too loud. There are many quick cuts and transitions throughout, but there is actually some production improvement throughout, which is enough to grant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

After completely dropping the audience in the middle of narrative nowhere, Heavenquest consistently introduces concepts that fly over the head of the viewer. These elements seem designed with purposeful vagueness even though they include intriguing psychological aspects and artistic perspectives. It seems like the writers were trying to tell something profound but never got around to explaining it. Nonetheless, it’s hard to follow the plot’s progression as random things happen. Some sequences are total wastes of time and accomplish nothing, only wasting valuable opportunities to develop accessible characters and help audiences understand what’s actually going on. As they are, the characters are difficult to connect with due to detached and cryptic dialogue although they have some potential. The villains are very cheesy and mainly serve to include unnecessary language and edgy content. Often, things in the story happen because they need to rather than naturally developing. Besides the disorienting nature of the movie, its allegory seems a bit off at times and not completely congruent with the faith. It seems to adopt unusual theological stances, and its flat ending leaves everyone empty-handed. Thus, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Some acting in Heavenquest is acceptable, but for the most part, the villain cast members post over-the-top performances. A portion of the acting seems unsure or awkward while other parts demonstrate overly practiced emotional and line delivery. Further, makeup isn’t all that it could be, which rounds out an overall average section.

Conclusion

This film joins other similar ones (such as The Adventures of Chris Fable and Heaven’s War) in presenting poorly constructed CGI fantasies. Relying too much on visual effects and allowing the storyline to fall by the wayside, Heavenquest‘s creators either never figured out why they wanted to make this movie or never properly communicated this. After all the hype surrounding the movie, Christian audiences were left with another disappointment that will contribute to the growing discontent with the field. Hopefully, however, future offerings won’t commit the same errors.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

Adam’s Testament (Movie Review)

Adam's Testament (2017)

Plot Summary

Joseph Gable is a police detective with a troubled past, but he never gives up trying to bring his son Adam back to the faith they once both had. However, a creepy businessman has come to city and seems to have some kind of magical hold over Adam, along with others in the area. Thankfully, there’s some ninja angels in the neighborhood who can help Joseph fight the forces of evil and take back his son!

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite acceptable video quality and camera work except for some randomly shaky moments, there are a lot of dark scenes throughout this production. The soundtrack is interesting, but audio quality is inconsistent. Special effects are very cheesy, and there are several awkward fadeouts. Further, the editing is mostly average; there are also some improvements with various elements as the movie goes on, which is enough to warrant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Besides the typically absurd spiritual horror premise, the dialogue of Adam’s Testament is very obvious and message-pushing, making the characters feel like mere representations of issues rather than actual people. Despite a few interesting psychological elements, the spiritual warfare aspects are not handled well at all as they are too heavy-handed, leaving nothing to chance. Flashbacks are present but fail to properly build character personality and motive. What’s more, the audience can easily become isolated by the world built in this narrative since it’s hard to know where or what is happening as too many concepts are thrown at the viewers. At times, the writers become lost in their own philosophizing and their obsession with portraying Satan as a cheesy figure with more power than he actually possesses. Further, legalism and the unusual elevation of angels pollute the storyline, and it all concludes on a very bizarre note that only muddies the already murky waters. In the end, there’s just too much negative here to warrant any points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Between forced emotions and line delivery, it’s clear that this cast was coached to as dramatic and serious as possible. Overall, the performances are trying too hard, and things only get worse as they go. Though some of acting is somewhat acceptable, it tends to get worse as it proceeds. Thus, one point is all that can be warranted here, which rounds out an overall absurd film.

Conclusion

Pretty much every spiritual horror screenplay in Christian entertainment history is a total bust. Adam’s Testament just falls into the already long line of awful offerings in this so-called genre. It seems like all these types of movies want to do is create a lot of sensationalism, using faith-based elements as props to reach a certain audience, whoever it may be. Thus, the next time a creator thinks about making one of these, they might should think twice and see if that’s what they’re actually supposed to do.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

No Place in This World (Movie Review)

No Place in This World Movie Trailer | FlixHouse.com - YouTube

Plot Summary

Two girls are stuck in a bad home situation, and bullies at school only make matters worse. However, tragedy strikes when school officials and those close to the girls fail to act in time. Will the community be able to come together and prevent future crises?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Although this production has fine video quality, the audio leaves much to be desired. Background sounds and cheap sound special effects are annoying, and the soundtrack sometimes overpowers other sounds. Camera work is okay at times, but there are also some tight shots and odd camera angles. Sets, locations, and props are not quite up to par. Further, the editing contains a lot of quick cuts and transitions. Nonetheless, there is some slight improvement throughout the film’s sequence, which is enough to warrant an average rating for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Despite a choppy introduction sequence and initial dialogue that pushes issues rather than developing characters, there’s a surprising amount of potential in this plot. At first, many of the characters seem to only represent social concerns rather than people even though most of the highlighted problems are definitely realistic and worthwhile to look at in movie form. However, the conversations between characters do improve as the narrative proceeds, and the family issues that are presented are unfortunately believable and could exist anywhere. Connecting these negative elements to school struggles was a very good aspect of this storyline despite the fact that it’s a very sobering exploration of everyday pain that many experience. It’s also a hard look at the problem of evil and the church’s response to this concept. In the end, the plot has a very meaningful conclusion even if it’s quite sad. In conjunction with the first half being improved, it would have been better for this narrative to end on a better note of hope and redemption. As it is, many audiences will be isolated by the ending, and this blunts any impact the story would have otherwise had.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite a bit too much screaming, most of the cast members are okay in this screenplay. Child acting is not bad, and emotions outside of the yelling are acceptable. Some line delivery is a bit quick while other parts are fine. Overall, these factors contribute to an average score for this section, which rounds out a respectable effort.

Conclusion

No Place in This World is another film in need of a remake or adaptation. It’s an example of all we ask entertainment creators to do: put your best foot forward and see what God does. Though there were some definite areas in need to improvement, it’s clear that the team behind this movie were really trying to make something quality, so it will be interesting to see what they do next.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

The Crossroads of Hunter Wilde (Movie Review)

The Crossroads Of Hunter Wilde - Full Movie | Mike Norris, Abel ...

Plot Summary

In the aftermath of a world war that left mutants and ISIS rebels roaming the earth in search of their next victims, Hunter Wilde fights to survive and protect those close to him. However, when a new threat emerges that he has no idea how to fight, Hunter does what he typically does: run away. Will he be able to rekindle his faith before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite seemingly having adequate funding, this production fails to meet quality standards. This includes background noise that sometimes conflicts with spoken audio as well as a loud and generic soundtrack. The sets, locations, and props don’t effectively portray what they’re supposed to portray. Also, the camera work is wild, including poor shots in action sequences. The video quality is mostly stable throughout, however, and the editing is average. Despite some less-than-inspiring special effects, some elements of the production do improve as it goes on. Nonetheless, it’s only enough to earn a middle-of-the-road score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Besides the fact that this film is based on a ridiculous premise and bizarre plot elements, it also contains a really bad and slightly incorrect portrayal of the spiritual dimension. The writers seemed to be obsessed with sensationalism, shock, and awe as well as fixated on pro-prepper messaging that seems to want the world to descend into chaos so that they can do whatever they want. Despite being a large-scale idea, the story is based on clunky narration and stock footage. It’s also full of forced drama and purposely creepy supernatural elements. In the character department, the so-called protagonist almost always saves the day via unrealistic action sequences. Other characters are built on forced cardboard dialogue and awkward conversations that make everything drag out. The villains are extremely cheesy, and the narrative decides what happens to the characters and what random things they’ll do without good reasons for doing them. Things only get more ridiculous as they go, mostly due to the fact that the movie confuses itself with wacky inter-dimensional subplots and terminology. The concepts of other realms are extremely difficult to grasp, and the screenplay’s questionable view of spirituality tends to play fast and loose with reality. In the end, this is a pointless storyline full of madness and nonsense.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Between overly theatrical emotions and forced line delivery, the cast was seemingly coached to be very serious for no good reason. Too often, tones and feelings don’t seem to appropriately fit the situations. Makeup is also an obvious problem, and the villain acting is laughably ridiculous. In the end, despite some okay moments that keep this section from being zero, the acting tends to worsen as it goes forward, which rounds out an overall absurd creation.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to understand what the makes of this film were really going for. Mixing a dystopian premise with muted political overtures, much like The Reliant, is basically a losing formula from the get-go. Combing this with poor production and acting aspects sends this movie down to the basement of Christian entertainment. However, the market is thankfully changing for the better, which will no longer allow screenplays like this to exist.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Home of the Brave [2020] (Movie Review)

Amazon.com: Watch Home of the Brave | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Drew Thomas returns from active duty and wants to get back to normal, but he finds it difficult due to the trauma he experienced overseas. Nonetheless, he goes right back to working for a nonprofit he started with his brother and friends. Before they realize it, their paths are unintentionally crossing with group of local police officers who want to see change come to their city. They must all come to grips with how God wants them to act and react to the difficult circumstances they are placed in.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Home of the Brave has some good and some bad aspects in its production. The video quality and camera work are acceptable, but audio is very poor at times, including loud background sounds and an inconsistent generic soundtrack. The sets, locations, and props are mostly average, however. Possibly one of this section’s worst aspects is the extremely choppy editing, which involves some weird fadeouts and abrupt transitions between scenes. Though this could be due to the large amount of content within the film, this rounds out an overall middle-of-the-road effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

At its very core, Home of the Brave is trying to do way too much at once. It feels like an entire season of a series was crammed into less than two hours as there are many, many characters who seem like they have potential yet crowd each other out due to the sheer number of them. The plot tries to cover too many topics at once, and in doing so, short-circuits any hope for meaningful themes even though there could have been some. Some of the dialogue is actually pretty good and shows a lot of potential, but the narrative is just a long string of scenes and sequences, some of which seem totally out of place and context. Certain circumstances that characters find themselves in seem very staged and contrived only to force the storyline to go in a certain direction that the writers wanted it to go. As such, characters are pawns in the plot, and many scenes are very unnecessary and waste time. There are far too many coincidences throughout the screenplay, and it all leads to a very rushed ending where mostly everything is fixed in unrealistic ways. In the end, although there was plenty of potential in this movie for a thought-provoking story, it got in its own way by biting off more than it could chew.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the acting in Home of the Brave is most okay. It could be a bit better than it is, but it’s not horrible. Emotions and line delivery are a bit forced in dramatic scenes, and many instances are fairly bland. Thus, the mixed aspect of the acting in this film makes this an average section.

Conclusion

This screenplay had a lot going for it, but it needed to be slowed down and planned in a more efficient way. The creators needed to strongly consider turning it into a miniseries so that the full weight of their ideas could have been felt. As such, a remake may be in order. In the end, Home of the Brave can be a learning experience for all movie makers: don’t try to do too much at once.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Run [2017] (Movie Review)

Director & Actor Josiah Warren On the Problem of Human Trafficking ...

Plot Summary

After months of anticipation, Levi and Natalie have finally been able to get married. He’s a businessman while she’s a news anchor with a passion to end human trafficking. However, on their wedding night, Natalie is tragically kidnapped by human traffickers who want to put a stop to her activism. Thus, Levi begins a frantic search for his wife that leads him down paths he never thought he would travel and gives him a front row seat to the social issue he only ever heard about.

Production Quality (.5 point)

Strong Foundation Films is notorious for having low-quality productions, even in recent years when the field has evolved for the better. Run is no exception to this, as evidenced by over-driven audio, a loudly invasive soundtrack, and stupid sound effects. Though video and camera quality are average, lighting is inconsistent, and there are some weird zooms and camera angles. Sets, locations, and props are okay, but flashbacks are dizzying. The editing is atrocious since it’s very quick and abrupt; one scene after the next whizzes by at breakneck speed. Therefore, with very little positive to note here, this low score is warranted for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

From the beginning, which contains creepy sequences, to the end, which basically resolves everything before cutting off in a wacky way, Run is one of your typically bad narratives. When the plot isn’t heavily relying on coincidences, it’s fully of obvious message-pushing as everything in the storyline is about the central issue rather than actually developing the characters. The dialogue is bland, and the conversations are extremely procedural; there’s also a lot of forced drama and constant suspense. The absurdly strawman villains are unrealistically obsessed with the protagonists and are somehow able to commit human trafficking crimes around literally every corner. This brings up the point that the premise is quite childish and is based on a ridiculous amount of luck and giant leaps in logic. It’s hard to understand why certain things happen except for the fact that the writers need them to occur in order to reach a certain point. Besides all of these problems, there are simply too many characters to keep up with, even if some of them do have flashbacks and though some of the minor characters are actually better than the major ones. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to make up for the sea of issues throughout this movie.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As is typical for Strong Foundation screenplays, Run contains a lot of unsure acting. This includes awkward and muted line delivery, forced juvenile emotions, yelling, and screaming. Josiah David Warren posts a traditionally bad performance due to trying way too hard to be something he’s not. While the supporting cast members are better than the principles, it’s not enough to present this section from earning zero points.

Conclusion

Even after terrible movies like The Takeover, A Golden Mind, and Seventy Times Seven, to name a few, the Strong Foundation team continues to churn out awful creations. Run is no exception to this. Despite the Christian entertainment market moving in a positive direction for the past few years, Josiah David Warren, Sun Hui East, and their team members continue to do the same old thing. With a lot of experience under their belts, they should be trending upward, yet they continue to be mired in the basement of Christian film.

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Worth Fighting For [2017] (Movie Review)

Amazon.com: Watch Worth Fighting For | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Alex has made a name for himself as an underground prize fighter, which has attracted the attention of the local mob. Thus, when Alex agrees to be one of their enforcers, he doesn’t realize how much he’s agreed to do. This seems to jeopardize the relationship Alex wants to have with Lilly, a girl he met at a local diner. Because of his decision, Alex will have to confront both his past and his present in order to be free.

Production Quality (1 point)

The production of Worth Fighting For is likely its weakest area, with wild camera work in action scenes, loud background sounds, and inconsistent lighting. For instance, some outside scenes are too bright while some inside scenes are too dark. Also, there are very obvious overdubs throughout the film, and the live audio sounds quite cheap. Video quality also leaves something to be desired, but the soundtrack is one of the bright spots. Further, some elements of the production do tend to improve as the movie goes on, such as the video quality, so this section overall does enough to warrant a point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

From the beginning, Worth Fighting For contains surprisingly well-constructed dialogue that makes the characters mostly believable. However, there are also some drawbacks here, such as cheesy conversations that unnecessarily reinforce gender stereotypes and build thin romantic subplots. Nonetheless, it’s good that the viewers are able to slowly learn about the characters rather than all at once, and most of their dialogue is authentic and organic, which develops realistic character struggles and motives. Even so, there were plenty of chances for the characters to be a bit deeper and to drive the plot with their choices. As it is, the storyline tends to sweep the characters along with some head-scratching coincidences, including the slightly forced romantic relationship. Unfortunately, the narrative tends to worsen as it goes, including a lot of patriarchal messages and things happening without enough precedent, which all culminates into a cheesy against-all-odds sports climax that’s paired with a very forced and rushed conclusion that leaves things too empty. However, the first half of the screenplay is enough to warrant an average score, which is encouragement for the future.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though the acting sometimes comes off as a bit blank and vanilla while some performances are a bit stiff, there are moments when the acting is better. Despite some dramatically forced lines, for the most part, emotions are believable, and the cast members definitely appear to be trying to do their best. At the very least, this is Alan Powell’s best performance to date, and the cast as a whole does enough, even though there are some rocky moments, to warrant an average score for this section.

Conclusion

Films like Worth Fighting For are complicated because they have something to offer, but it’s usually packaged in the wrong way. This is almost always due to some shortcoming within the movie-making process, and it’s typically poor screenwriting. However, that’s not the case in this screenplay; a lack of adequate funding is to issue this time. Nonetheless, all a film maker can do is put their best foot forward and let God take care of the rest. Thus, perhaps we’ll see more from this creative team in the near future.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Where Was God? [2014] (Movie Review)

Where Was God (2014) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Pastor Thompkins has a secret, but his life becomes even more complicated when a desperate man decides to hold him hostage in the pastor’s own home. During their standoff, the man asks Thompkins pressing questions about the problem of pain and life’s true purpose. Will either man come out of the situation alive?

Production Quality (1 point)

With such a low budget, it’s unclear why this production was put forth just for it to contain cheap sets and props, lack actual locations, and have inconsistent lighting throughout. As it’s basically people hanging around in a house, the camera work and video quality are fine, yet it all feels very cut-rate. The soundtrack is very generic, and all audio is quite hit-and-miss, including silly sound effects. There’s also no editing to speak of, which rounds out an overall poor effort that undermines this film’s existence.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As a heavy character-based plot, Where Was God? needed some serious help in the narrative department for it to even have a chance, but with only wooden characters to speak of due to overly constructed, obvious dialogue, there’s really no hope for this movie. The entire premise, full of unrealistic circumstances, feels very contrived, and the storyline is an overused waste of time because it seeks to drag things out as long as possible. Dead time also fills gaps where substantial content could have gone. Instead of a real plot containing believable dialogue, the audience is only left with silly gender stereotypes and a strange endings that both instantly fixes all the problems and almost negates the entire situation at the same time. Due to all of these factors, no points can be awarded to this section.

Acting Quality (0 points)

In nearly every facet of Where Was God?, the acting is extremely awkward, including wooden emotions and incredibly forced line delivery. The drama is also manufactured, and the cast is so small that even the smallest errors are very noticeable. Unfortunately, there’s just nothing positive to say about this category, which rounds out an overall basement-level offering.

Conclusion

What else is there to say? Where Was God? is just another in a long line of embarrassing Christian projects that will fade from memory as time goes on. There’s next to nothing that justifies its existence and no reason for it to be made. The only thing that can be gleaned from it is how not to produce Christian entertainment, but there are already too many examples of that.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

Modern Prodigal (Movie Review)

Modern Prodigal (2019) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Brian Sanderson is an investigative reports who’s addicted to painkillers and never ceases in his quest to solve the mystery of his son’s untimely death to the same drug he’s hooked on. Even though his obsessions cause him to lose his dream job, Brian will stop at nothing to discover the truth of what really happened while also wrestling the demons inside his head. Ultimately, Brian will have to confront his dark past in order to face the future.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

After an odd opening sequences that seems to suggest Modern Prodigal is part of a crime series, weird gray lighting seems to dominate much of the film. Audio quality is also an issues as there are some obvious background sounds as well as too much dead air, even if the little soundtrack therein has some potential. Sets, locations, and props are are bit cheap-looking, and there are some unnecessarily tight shots and instances stationary camera work. Furthermore, the editing leaves something to be desired with awkward cuts and transitions, but the good news is that the production takes a turn for the better in the film’s second half that amends a lot of the earlier errors. However, this is only enough to raise this section to the halfway mark.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Surprisingly, the characters are one of the strongest aspects of Modern Prodigal as some of them possess subtle characteristics that make them come off as relatable and human; their dialogue is also not all bad since it establishes them as imperfect people. However, while some conversations are quite good, others are too obvious and over the top. Nonetheless, the narrative makes fairly good use of mystery concepts throughout the plot progression and does a reasonable job at concealing important facts and revealing them bit by bit throughout the film. While there are plenty of positive aspects, there are also nagging concerns with this story, such as the fact that it’s trying to cover too much ground in one screenplay. Much of its content would have been better suited for a series, and a sudden massive time jump at the movie’s conclusion leaves the viewer somewhat confused. Nevertheless, Modern Prodigal offers a lot of hope for this writing team’s future potential.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, the good aspects of this film’s plot are detracted from by a lot of over-acting in many of the screenplay’s important scenes. This includes quite a bit of overdone emotional performances and forced line delivery. While there is some good in this section, such as some good supporting cast members and better acting in the less dramatic scenes, better coaching could have lifted Modern Prodigal to a better level.

Conclusion

This film joins a sizable collection of Christian creations that had a lot going for them but never made the next step in to greatness. Much of this shortfall is due to financial constraints, but a lot of it can be blamed on a lack of collaboration or a tendency to force something to happen before it’s time. Ideas were never meant to be carried out alone, and sometimes, it’s just not the right season for them. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what this creative team offers next.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Scion [2018] (Movie Review)

Kingdom Sight

Plot Summary

Kendra Williams is tired of the way things are. She never gets to have any fun because her parents won’t let her go to dangerous all-night parties with her “friends.” One of these said nights, Kendra meets a mysterious man who promises to grant her secret wish of living however she wants. Kendra accepts his offer but suddenly wakes up in a world where she was never born. Will she be able to escape the nightmare before it’s too late???

Production Quality (1 point)

For the most part, Scion offers a very cheap production experience, including shaky camera work, tight shots, and bizarre camera angles designed to be “cool.” Audio quality is also uneven as backgrounds sounds are too prevalent and invasive sound effects annoy the viewer even though the soundtrack is somewhat interesting. The video is also sometimes blurry, and lighting is inconsistent throughout. Sets, locations, and props are mostly average if not slightly limited, and cheesy special effects plague the audience with dizzying sequences. Further, though there is some slight improvement throughout, continuity errors and various editing concerns keep this section on the low end of the spectrum, but it’s not even the worst of it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Scion starts off with the completely wrong premise by portraying a tone-deaf view of young people being wayward and throwing in with strawman villains. Also, the psychological fantasy world created for this plot is very difficult for viewers to understanding since its rules seem very subjective. For instance, things in the alternate universe randomly happen for no particular reason, and obstacles are arbitrarily applied to the characters just for the sake of expanding the narrative and illogically getting them where the writers wanted them to go. Similarly, the story’s progression makes little sense as unnecessary time jumps disorient the audience and endless meandering sequences waste time just so that the characters can run all over the place and fill the runtime. Very convenient dialogue also forces the plot to go where screenwriters wanted it to go, and forced suspense scenes crowd out any shred of potential there was for character development. In the end, this screenplay is just a bad version of the typical It’s a Wonderful Life style of psychological narrative.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though it’s a bit average and sometimes even awkward, the acting is the best aspect of Scion. However, emotions still aren’t very believable throughout, and line delivery is pedestrian. Nonetheless, it’s unclear how the cast members could have done much better with how poorly written this movie was. Thus, this rounds out a severely underwhelming effort that should have never gotten past the initial planning stages.

Conclusion

Kingdom Sight Studios has demonstrated some slight potential in the past, such as in 2nd Greatest, but more recent projects, like Scion and A High School Story, have not instilled any confidence in their commitment to quality. Often, being a lone ranger studio rarely pays off, but the least they could do is overcome their low production quality with deeper storylines that would make bigger companies take notice. However, this isn’t the case as they further contribute to the already low image of Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Harriet [2019] (Movie Review)

Film review: All aboard the freedom train with “Harriet ...

Plot Summary

Harriet Tubman was a Civil War hero although many did not initially regard her in that way. While she was raised as a slave on a Maryland plantation, she heard God call her one day to leave and run to freedom. With the help of her pastor, Harriet persevered through perilous circumstances to reach the free state of Pennsylvania, but it was there where her real work began. She knew God had called her to free slaves on her own…starting with her family… even though the Philadelphia abolitionists were reluctant to help. In the end, Harriet’s obedience to God left a lasting mark on American history.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a well-funded, mainstream project, Harriet sports very high production quality with very few errors to note. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are exceptionally high, and the soundtrack is excellent at tying the movie together, including using real-life singing that was historically authentic. The sets, locations, and props are realistic and well-utilized, and the production overall has a gritty feel to it that shows attention to detail and care for accuracy. The only small concern to point out relates to some slightly choppy editing, but this also pertains to the storyline. As a whole, however, this is a highly professional offering.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

The true story of Harriet Tubman was definitely one that was long overdue to be put into movie form. In this rendition, the characters are very well-developed through believable and accessible dialogue, and the high number of them is handled well as even the minor characters are given efficiently used scenes. Also, the major element of Harriet’s faith in and relationship with God is well-integrated throughout the narrative and is presented at face-value so that the viewers can decide for themselves. Other themes are creatively interwoven throughout the plot to tie together an epic biopic that was likely difficult to effectively condense. Moreover, the sheer amount of content covered in this movie does pose a problem that creates some choppiness in the storyline. It would have been better for Harriet to be presented in a non-linear style so that the story didn’t simply jump from one high point to another. Another pitfall of this section is the fact that some of the writing went out of its way to include unnecessarily edgy content (although some of it is unfortunately realistic) and slightly extreme language (though some is still authentic). Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, this narrative is still high quality and leaves a lasting impact on the viewers.

Acting Quality (3 points)

With professional acting and directing, Harriet has virtually no flaws in this category. The costuming is period-accurate and reflects attention to detail. Line delivery is on point, and emotions are very accessible. Thus, this rounds out an encouraging effort and completes this film’s campaign for the Hall of Fame.

Conclusion

Harriet also receives an x-factor point for being re-watchable and for tackling a highly relevant topic in a memorable way. One thing to note is that this movie could have been even better in the hands of different directors who could have portrayed the story in a more Christian manner, but the current market was unfortunately not suitable for this to happen. Nonetheless, this creative team did enough to preserve Tubman’s Christian worldview and to make this a high-level screenplay, which caused it to earn a spot on the Hall of Fame. Therefore, we highly recommend it for appropriate audiences.

Final Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points

The Islands [2019] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

John Thornton felt called to be a missionary on the remote island of Hawaii in the early 1800s, so he took his wife, Mary, and went with their friend Hiram to the unknown place. Once there, the missionaries met Chiefess Kapiolani and those her were in her tribe. Although the chiefess was familiar with the English language and American customs, many of her people were suspicious of the Caucasian visitors and preferred to practice human sacrifice to their pagan gods. However, one fateful day, as the island’s volcano raged, they all came face to face with what it truly meant to believe in a god.

Production Quality (2 points)

Overall, it’s clear that this production was well-funded with money that was mostly responsibly spent. All the standard elements are up to par, including video quality, audio quality, sets, props, and locations. However, there are a few pesky issues that hold this section back from being perfect, such as some cheesy sound effects that were obviously added on top of the normal audio and a generic soundtrack that never stops playing. Further, the editing leaves something to be desired as there are some abrupt cuts and transitions that cause some scenes to end without natural conclusions. Nonetheless, this production does enough to stay above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

From the get-go, The Islands‘ plot is nearly crippled by immediate narration that continues throughout the narrative and is sometimes substituted with information dump dialogue, which seems to serve as some type of history lesson. To make matters worse, there are far too many characters for the viewer to keep up with much less for them to have time to be properly developed. Time jumps also complicate matters and make the story seem like just a collection of random scenes strung together as the film goes from one high point to the next and even seems to repeat itself on several occasions. Several interactions between characters feel like they’re on repeat and are simply designed to waste time until the climax. A lot of the conversations and situations seem very contrived just for the sake of the plot-line, and there are no clear or consistent themes that underlay the idea and give it true purpose. Nonetheless, all of these problems aside, Timothy Chey and his team did stumble upon a very intriguing true account that still shines through despite the poor storytelling. This fact is most evident in the famed final sequence that actually demonstrates some potential, which is why this section isn’t zero points. However, it’s too little too late and makes for a disappointing experience.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

One of The Islands‘ strongest points is its encouraging commitment to assembling a diverse and culturally accurate cast, even if the costuming is a bit cheesy at times. However, this main strength is slightly weakened by the fact that much of the acting is fairly robotic at times, and emotions are sometimes difficult to believe. While it’s good to see the proper foreign language being applied in this setting, there is a lot of fight-acting throughout the film that is poorly executed and coached. Moreover, in the end, there is enough positive in this section to keep in at the average mark.

Conclusion

The historical narrative behind The Islands appears to be a very interesting and potentially powerful story that could and should have received better treatment. It’s one thing to have a good idea, but it’s another to successfully execute it, and it’s definitely a difficult feat to accomplish. Nonetheless, the experience Chey and his team bring to the table is enough to ask more of them, and the amount of potential for engaging concepts and overarching themes that was left on the table in this film was simply unacceptable. However, Chey is still on an upward trend in his career when compared to his earlier days, so perhaps his true success is just around the corner.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Why We Breathe (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Carrie Hicks just wants to catch a country music break in Nashville, but her relationship with her current boyfriend consistently complicates things. However, things escalate when he inadvertently paralyzes Carrie’s daughter, leading the aspiring artist to flee town and seek shelter with her great uncle, who she’s barely spoken to in years. Carrie wants to get back on her feet and move on with her life, but her daughter’s new disability often halts her in her tracks. In the end, Carrie will have to not only come to grips with her new reality but with the faith she’s been running from all these years.

Production Quality (2 points)

Despite a limited budget, it’s obvious that great care was taken to maintain mostly good production quality in Why We Breathe. This is evidenced by acceptable video and audio elements. Though there are some random moments of shaky camera work and some obvious overdubs, there is enough positive in the film’s first half to keep this section above the average line. Sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-utilized throughout the movie. Unfortunately, however, the editing tends to become more choppy as things progress, which prevents this area of the movie from being all that it could be. Nonetheless, this is acceptable for a first-time effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

In the beginning of the narrative, the ideas are creatively presented without the use of narration and through the eyes of believable characters with realistic struggles. In the plot’s first half, the dialogue is authentic, and the use of subtlety is commendable. However, by the film’s middle point, things tend to become more abrupt as some montages waste valuable time while a handful of conversations reference off-screen content that would have been better to see. Not a few scenes feel like they’re unfinished or cut off as the storyline unnecessarily rushes to an inevitable conclusion that is fairly cheesy. Unfortunately, in this pursuit, the previously positive elements lose their value as the story’s progression becomes more and more rapid. In the end, since the movie’s premise was mostly typical with some predictable elements, it needed deep character development and a more natural conclusion instead of ending with unrealistic fixes and unfinished ideas. The effort is notable, but more fleshing out was needed before it went into production.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, the acting in Why We Breathe is mostly professional. Line delivery and emotions appear natural as the cast members seem comfortable in their roles. Though there are some slight moments of robotic and awkward performances, for the most part, the actors and actresses are definitely working to be earnest. Thus, this rounds out an above-average attempt that could develop into better things in the future.

Conclusion

The creative team behind this film definitely had a lot going for them, and they began very strong. However, somewhere at the halfway point, it seems like the process became rushed in a possible desire to quickly release the movie. It’s a shame because with a little more collaboration and a slight amount of fleshing out, Why We Breathe could have scored much higher. Even so, it’s highly possible that the lessons learned from this project could lead to better things in the coming days.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Life With Dog (Movie Review)

Image result for life with dog movie

Plot Summary

Joe Bigler wants to shut the world out after his wife died a tragic death. However, his daughter won’t leave him alone, the bank wants him to pay his mortgage, and a big company is threatening to turn his neighborhood into a housing development, which prompts them to constantly offer to buy his house. Nonetheless, when a stray dog takes up residence with Joe, his life begins to take a different trajectory. Will he finally be able to make peace with his past and move on with his life?

Production Quality (2 points)

As is the typical custom of Corbin Bernsen and his team, Life With Dog sports a respectable production, including good video and audio qualities along with professional usage of sets, locations, and props. There are really no concerns to note save for the randomly poor lighting and the inconsistent application of editing. Also, the soundtrack is a bit off since it sometimes doesn’t fit the moods of scenes, but as can be seen in the remainder of the film, much of the oddness seems purposeful.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Life With Dog is a capstone of Corbin Bernsen’s erratic and unusual Christian entertainment career because it’s the ultimate encapsulation of everything he’s ever done. Not only does this film boast the typically odd elements he inserts into movies, but it carries an inexplicably unusual tone that can’t be easily quantified. Some example of this intangible bizzareness are evidenced by some actually interesting scenes that appear to make fun of cliched film tropes, some subtle asides that range from eyebrow-raising to borderline inappropriate, and a tendency for the dialogue to frustratingly meander among some actually pertinent topics that need to be discussed, some complex philosophical concepts that are difficult to grasp, and a constant itching feeling that the narrative is hiding some deep secret that’s never to be revealed. Besides this, there are logical inconsistencies in the writing, such as the fact that the main character is seemingly able to do whatever he wants with little to no consequences for his sometimes questionable actions and the fact that there are too many coincidences that allow the plot to exist. Though there are many half-hearted attempts (we suppose) to do something meaningful in the story, like provide an accessible character exploration, nothing specifically significant materializes and is instead left as an unfinished, off-the-wall idea. The climax scene is probably the best example of the entire film in a nutshell because it pretends to keep building to something real but never gets there and only leaves the viewer with something that’s both vaguely significant and head-scratchingly odd, as if the storyline was purposely written to dangle hidden things in front of the audience without actually revealing their true natures. In the end, though there is some potential in this chaos, it’s not enough to keep this movie above water.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Much like other Home Theater films, the acting of Life With Dog is fine without many noticeable errors. Though there are some overdone emotions are certain moments, the cast members’ line deliveries are consistently on point. Also, each individual appears to assume their roles well. Thus, this rounds out a slightly below average effort.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, Bernsen’s career is marked with wasted potential (Christian Mingle, In-Lawfully Yours, 25 Hill, to name a few), and it’s unclear whether or not he ever intends to change. It seems like he’s always striving to make the next great iconic Christian film but consistently falls short due to intangible oddness. The worst part is that he clearly has the connections and the resources to do better than he is, yet he usually comes up short as he settles for second best. Perhaps, in future projects, he will finally unleash his full skill set and collaborate with others who can make up for his shortcomings.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Mountain Top [2017] (Movie Review)

Image result for mountain top christian movie

Plot Summary

Mike Andrews retired from his law career to follow what he thought was God’s call to be a pastor. However, that all changed when Muriel Miller came to his office to ask her to represent her eccentric husband who has gotten himself in trouble with the law due to his self-proclaimed spiritual gift of prophecy wherein he has visions of the future. Through a set of unusual circumstances, Mike agrees to represent Sam Miller pro bono, which sends the lawyer-pastor on a wild ride that he never expected to experience and that will forever change his life.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Gary Wheeler and his team are well-known for their professional productions, and Mountain Top is no exception. There are virtually no concerns to note in this instance, which entails the use of effective camera work, high video and audio qualities, and well-utilized sets, locations, and props. The only minor nitpicks to note are the somewhat generic soundtrack and the minuscule editing issues that are mostly due to the expansive plot. However, this is an overall nearly perfect effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The Level Path creative team has always had the right idea of adapting Christian novels into films, and Robert Whitlow has wisely sought dramatizations of his books. However, it’s unclear whether or not Mountain Top was the best choice of source material. While the psychological elements that make up the core basis of the plot are interesting, they are also a bit over the top and far-fetched since one of the main characters claims to have many supernatural visions covering a wide range of topics and issues. There’s never been historical precedent for any Christian being able to receive so many special revelations in their lifetime. Besides this, the character receiving the dreams is basically perfect and inaccessible as a person. Additionally, the sheer number of characters in this storyline is overwhelming for the audience and makes for a choppy presentation. They crowd each other out and cause dialogue to be inadequate at developing who they are. The many interlocking subplots are difficult to effectively follow and are better suited for a series if this idea must be portrayed in entertainment. However, there are simply too many convenient turns and coincidences that push the narrative along as the writers seek to cover as much ground as possible while at the same time including wastefully slow sequences. Due to Whitlow’s legal expertise, this aspect of the plot is mostly realistic, and it’s commendable to explore the existence of miracles in the modern world, but Mountain Top treats God’s power like a magic charm, which causes its premise to be simply too unbelievable. There was some potential here, but it was squandered in pursuit of sensationalism.

Acting Quality (2 points)

It seems like Mountain Top endeavored to include nearly every recognizable Christian cast member in one film, and it’s not a bad thing to have experienced cast members. There are actually only a few acting concerns here and there, such as some bland moments, but the sheer number of actors and actresses may mask potential weaknesses. In the end, emotional and line deliveries are at least average, if not better, with only a handful of small issues. In the end, this rounds out a basically average offering.

Conclusion

Wheeler and his team have always been so close to the Hall of Fame, and they do many things the right way. Adapting Christian novels and being committed to professional productions and experienced casts are a winning model on paper. However, many of their films still lack meaningful connections with their audiences and require deeper and more meaningful purposes in order to be truly successful. Perhaps, in the coming days, the Level Path team will finally make a breakthrough.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

MBF: Man's Best Friend (Movie Review)

Image result for mbf man's best friend movie

Plot Summary

Paul Landings retired from the military after a disability prevented his further service, so now he works at a dog shelter and takes in dogs who have no homes. However, his practices draw ire from locals, and several troublemakers set fire to his house with the dogs still in it. Affected by PTSD, Landings commits a crime in revenge for his dogs and finds himself embroiled in a lawsuit charged with local politics. Will he be able to be set free from the bondage both in his head and in his life?

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of Man’s Best Friend is respectable, including good video, camera, and audio qualities. While the sets, locations, and props are mostly well-chosen, there is some inconsistent lighting in the indoor sets. However, the outside locations are better, and these issues overall improve as the film progresses. Elsewhere, the soundtrack is acceptable, and the editing is a bit odd at types although it is mostly fine. In the end, this is an above average production that could have been a little better due to the year it was made.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The opening sequences of MBF are a bit of a drag for the viewer since they are drawn out and full of stock footage and vague voiceover that both isolates the audience and wastes valuable time. However, once it gets to the substantial parts of the plot, there are actually some good explorations of how warfare effects people after the military and how one’s life can be greatly altered by the service. Nonetheless, there are a number of problems in this narrative’s character department, beginning with the fact that most of the ‘bad’ characters are total strawmen who hate the main character for no particular reason, are unrealistically anti-military, and are generally annoying. At the same time, the military characters are painted in perfect lights as they create a very odd dichotomy that tries to force the viewer to choose between the importance of a paralyzed character’s life and the lives of dogs that died in a fire. There are either perfect victim characters (though it’s not clear how some of them are actually victims) or highly corrupt small town characters, which is likely realistic in many contexts but is too over the top for this situation. Moreover, the storyline provides both a realistic look at post-war trauma and a hard examination of corruption in small towns, but many audiences may find the premise to be a bit dark and without significant hope or redemption. Elsewhere, the judge seems unnecessarily biased toward the protagonist, and some of the characters attempt to nearly justify the paralysis-inducing crime that is on trial. Dialogue is inconsistently used for information dumps, and a lot of the characters feel unfinished as they tend to crowd each other out for screen time. Also, there is some inappropriate language throughout the plot, and the ending is a bit hard to follow. Overall, much like this creative team’s previous efforts at crafting complex suspense situations (Wild Faith), MBF tries to interest the viewer in legal intrigue mixed with military drama, but there are just too many issues with this concept to justify any points for this section.

Acting Quality (2 points)

While many of the cast members of MBF tend to force their lines and their emotional deliveries in the beginning, the performances as a whole improve as the film progress. The most significantly positive aspect is the fact that DJ Perry posts an extremely memorable and groundbreaking performance as he becomes a character unlike any other he’s previously played and transforms himself for a very difficult role. This element is very impressive and is one of the main bright spots in this otherwise flawed project. Thus, this rounds out an overall above average acting effort that could have been slightly better.

Conclusion

Man’s Best Friend, like many of this creative team’s past projects, had a lot going for it, but it didn’t quite make it past the finish line. Perry, Hagedorn, Teaster, Hornus, and the rest had a lot of momentum following Wild Faith and The Christ Slayer, but MBF tends to blunt this success with its confusing messaging and dark focus. However, Perry’s breakout performance is a key bright spot that gives renewed hope for the future, so it will be interesting to see what this collective produces next.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Assassin 33 AD (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Ram Goldstein and several other genius scientists are working on a top secret project for a multimillionaire named Ahmed. At first, they’re completely cool with being locked in a room with armed guards patrolling the halls, but when they use their super hacking skills to discover that Ahmed is coordinating with government leaders from Muslim-controlled nations to create time travel, they begin to grow concerned. Ahmed intends to use the mystical power of time travel to return to the past and kill Jesus before He’s resurrected so that Christianity will cease to exist! However, time travel is a bit tricky, and when multiple timelines are created due to the tampering, many different versions of the same characters are apparently created. Also, if they don’t erase the extra timelines before it’s too late, they will all converge into an APOCALYPSE! Can Ram and his friends stop this wicked plot before it’s too late?!?!?

Production Quality (-3 points)

Even though it seems like there was a substantial budget spent on Assassin 33 AD, the funding didn’t pay off as it was wasted on extremely cheap CGI and ridiculous special effects that overtake and overpower all other production elements. They have direct connections to the sets, locations, and props and make it clear that this team had no idea what they were doing when they slapped this project together. While there are some notable positives in this production, they are covered up by the myriad concerns created by the CGI and special effects blunders. Also, the editing has a handful of issues, but this could easily be chalked up to having to deal with one of the worst plots in the history of Christian entertainment. Overall, the glaringly obvious negatives throughout this film overshadow any slightly good elements that could be noted.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-3 points)

Where to begin? Assassin 33 AD has achieved the unthinkable feat of being as incoherent and offensive as Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. This is not a title to be lightly delivered, but there plenty of ways Assassin goes further than even Timothy Chey has gone (yet). First of all, the entire premise behind Assassin is totally off-base from the get-go. Messing around with time travel and how it relates to Jesus is an absolute no-no when it comes to story-boarding, so there’s no reason to even broach the subject. Then, to take this a step further and actually make a purportedly Christian film about modern day soldiers being able to shoot Jesus with a pistol in the Garden of Gethsemane is borderline insanity. As if this isn’t enough, to create multiple timelines that both alter Scripture and try to twist biblical history into including the movie’s characters in the actual canon is just the end. I literally cannot comprehend the inanity of this proposition, which by no indication is being done in jest. Besides these glowing red flag problems that are part of the story’s very fabric, there are so many other movie faux pas committed in Assassin that space will likely not permit a full exploration. Nonetheless, here is a very quick rundown: characters are poorly developed via expository dialogue and unnatural lines that are designed to force the plot forward, key plot points are supported by unexplained “science” and convenient technical devices that lack basis in reality or logic, the villains basically stepped out of a conservative fever dream about Muslims taking over the world, wild time jumps are only supplanted by the maddening nature of the multiple timelines created by time travel, basically every character has a minimum of two different versions of themselves (“past” and “present”), some of these copy characters end up having conversations with each other, the protagonists can seemingly do whatever they want in a supposedly high-security facility with armed guards all around them, the Jesus character seems just as confused about what’s going on as the viewers are, etc., etc., etc. Did I mention that the writers took a crazily arrogant creative license to replace Biblical characters (like the thieves on the crosses beside Jesus and the man who fled the Garden of Gethsemane with no clothes on) with modern-day characters from the “future” timelines? This notion is only made complete by the scene where two copy characters (the same cast member) are discussing how the modern-day Bible is changing right before their eyes due to the timelines being altered in the past. Further, as if all of this wasn’t an epic trainwreck, the film’s epilogue completely turns everything on its ear by negating the “past” timeline that set the movie’s events into notion in the first place. Therefore, taking all of this evidence into account, this section is awarded the maximum negative score, and this also affects other aspects of the film.

Acting Quality (-3 points)

The horrid nature of the plot bleeds over into acting and causes this section to suffer even though it may not have been as bad if it were paired with a different narrative. Much of the line delivery is robotic and not earnest, and emotions are hard to believe. Some cast members, especially those who are portraying villains, overplay their roles while others seem bored or confused, which may have been justified. In the end, the major negatives at the core of the project drag the entire thing down into the depths of Christian entertainment.

Conclusion

Assassin 33 AD also receives to honor of scoring a negative x-factor point to round out an effort that joins Saving Christmas as one of the worst films of all time. Whenever a creator sets out to make a movie about how biblical accounts and Jesus’ life on earth in general could be altered via time travel as well as how the Bible could be rewritten based on the changing of previous timelines, they are already way off the road and should entirely ditch the project. Going through with such a travesty raises some serious questions about the true motivation behind its creation. There’s literally no way to redeem this awful concept, so the best thing that can be done is to encourage audiences to stay away from it and to help future film makers avoid these types of monumental blunders.

Final Rating: -10 out of 10 points

Sacred [2017] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Barrett Lenox, despite his dark past, aspires to succeed in the boxing ring. However, the pressures of helping his wife, Danielle, build their life together, are weighing on him. Her father, who is training him, also pushes him to do better. Will he ever measure up to who he needs to be before more time has passed him by?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

At the beginning of the film, the opening sequence is intriguing and shows promise of creative potential. Also, the soundtrack is effective, and video quality and audio quality are at least average. For the most part, camera work and lighting are good, even if there are some unnecessarily dark scenes throughout. Unfortunately, the editing is somewhat flat, which puts a drag on things, but these efforts were overall good for the tiny budget the production team had to work with. In the end, this is at least an honest attempt.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Since Sacred is only based on a handful of characters and is basically an extended short film, it would have been good to see more depth from both the storyline and the characters. Working with only one subplot requires a lot of refinement, yet there are good attempts at flashbacks throughout this film, which definitely help things. Even so, there needed to be more substantial character-building dialogue to make it easier to get to know them as real people. As they are, the conversations are a bit too matter of fact and flat, and there are a lot of sports training montages for a less-than-an-hour film. Thus, there is a lot of wasted time that takes away from better possibilities. Moreover, there are a lot of interesting concepts and ideas throughout the movie that make it more worthwhile than it would have been, even if the Christian message needs some refinement. The ending is certainty unexpected and slightly creative though it needed a better lead-up than it had. In the end, Sacred has a non-typical plot structure that shows a lot of potential but didn’t quite go as far as it could have.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the acting of this film is average since it has some good scenes and some poorly executed ones. At times, emotions are overdone, and sometimes, lines are forced. Some cast members appear to be trying too hard, but there are also a handful of good performances. Also, some of the makeup work is fairly low quality, and there’s an unusual insinuation (without hard evidence) that a Caucasian cast member is playing an African-American character, but it’s difficult to know. In the end, this section rounds out a passable effort.

Conclusion

The creators of Sacred were onto something, but it’s possible that they didn’t quite know how to convey it. With such limited resources, it was wise for them to choose a shorter-than-usual runtime though it could have been better utilized by delving deeper into character development. Because of this, the story concept could use a remake, or the creative team could use this film as a foundation to build on for better ideas in the future. Either way, it will be interesting to see what they produce next.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

The Reliant (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When the American dollar literally collapses overnight, a family is attacked by desperadoes and is forced to take their gun supply and survival gear into the woods behind their house in order to fend for themselves in the elements. However, the men who gunned their father down are still in pursuit (for some reason), which forces the family to either band together or tear each other apart as they try to defend themselves and survive in the brave new world of looting and living off the land. What will become of them all?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

It’s clear that the money that was donated by people (so that they could be listed as executive producers on the credits) was mostly well-used and not only spent on guns and weaponry. Video quality and audio quality are good, and since the film is mostly filmed in the outdoors, this definitely helps things. The soundtrack is also passable. However, much of the camera work is shaky and dizzy in the name of being action-oriented. Also, most of the indoor scenes are unnecessarily dark and poorly lit. Further, the editing is extremely choppy, which makes things hard to follow, but there are likely other factors to this problem, such as the plot.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

From the get-go, the story makes zero sense. There’s no reason why the world would immediately descend into chaos basically in one day due to the sudden collapse of the dollar. How did it happen? What led to this extreme result and knee-jerk looting? This idea is too big and expansive to focus ninety percent of the plot on a collection of characters wandering around in the woods with guns. Did we mention that this movie is OBSESSED with guns? It holds nothing back in being outright propaganda that’s desperate to both create further political divide and garner the attention of powerful lobbying organizations. These concerns aside, there are tons of characters in The Reliant, and while flashbacks are used throughout, it’s not enough to make up for other problems, such as awkward conversations about vague things that are occurring in the world outside the forest, shoehorned Christian concepts, cheesy survival concepts, and outright fundamentalist messaging. Much like Unplanned, there was much fake outrage about The Reliant‘s so-called undeserved MPAA rating, but once again, the rating was actually justified due to the high amount of needless violence without proper balance. Regardless of this, the characters of The Reliant have extremely steep arcs and lack proper motivation for their actions as things just randomly happen one after another, and the plot lacks clear direction or purpose other than to shove certain worldviews down viewers’ throats. Hence, this section’s negative rating is given due to propaganda and due to total pointlessness.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Throughout nearly every scene, the cast members of The Reliant are coached to exhibit extreme emotions, including a lot of yelling and screaming. Though there is some potential despite these annoyances, dramatic and tense scenes are totally butchered either with awkward line delivery, off-beat emotional delivery, or general uncomfortability with the given roles. In the end, there is little good to highlight in this movie.

Conclusion

After the screener was provided for this film, one of the creators strongly requested that they be given the chance to “approve” this review before it was publicly posted. Surprisingly, this was the first and only request we’ve ever received for this to happen. Moreover, it further shows the amount of control that’s surrounding this movie and reflects the mentality behind its creation. Films like The Reliant have a clear agenda to push on their audiences and purposely make themselves lightning rods for controversy with the hopes of garnering attention from certain groups. There were no attempts in this movie to craft a meaningful plot based on accessible characters, so even if the creative team had the best message in the world, it’s still not correctly packaged. In the end, there are just too many issues here to discern any amount of potential there might have been in this half-baked idea.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Decision of Faith {365 Decision Time} (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

On the surface, the Miller family is the model of success in Caucasian American culture, but behind the scenes, they’re coming undone. The parents are divorced yet maintain a tenuous relationship in order to aid their grown children. Their daughter is married to a successful political staffer who has his own secrets to hide. Their son is involved with a questionable crowd of people and suddenly has a child on the way with a girlfriend they’ve never met. In the midst of all the turmoil, the Millers have a chance to find the true peace they’ve never had if they will ask for help from the right people.

Production Quality (2 points)

At first, the production of Decision of Faith is somewhat rough, including weird, unnatural lighting, dark sets, and slightly random camera work. The audio quality is also quite inconsistent at first, along with the editing, which includes some abrupt cuts and transitions between scenes. However, the good thing is that the production improves as the runtime progresses, which suggests better funding was provided later on in the process. It gets better to the point that video quality, audio quality, camera work, sets, props, and locations are all passable and even respectable in some parts. The editing remains somewhat inconsistent throughout, but this section overall does enough to go past the average mark.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

In the beginning of the storyline, many disjointed subplots tend to come out of nowhere and meander around, but once things settle down, the subplot overlaying slightly improves even though it’s still somewhat poorly presented. By the middle of the film, one of the most interesting things about the plot is its exploration of realistic hidden issues in affluent Caucasian lifestyles. Before this point, the characters are extreme: either perfect, platitude-spouting Christians or horribly bad non-Christians. However, once things begin to change in the middle, the characters actually become authentic and believable with obvious flaws and issues that can be accessed by many people. One drawback is that large time jumps in the story are marked by time subtitles, and another concern is the unnecessary use of explicit language and edgy content in attempts to be realistic. Also, as the plot continues on past the middle, random things keep happening that have forced connections to previously highlighted elements, and in a seeming rush for time, there are quite a few very sudden conversations that seem programmed to happen at certain moments in order for the story to hit the high points it wants to hit. These types of dialogue devices create very steep and unrealistic character arcs so that things are fixed very rapidly by the time the credits come around. Overall, despite the intriguing themes that show good potential for future screenwriting, Decision of Faith tries to cover too much time and too many issues at once. Thus, it may have been better to present this story in series form to allow for better character refinement and plot organization.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, there is some poor makeup work throughout this film, and at first, the emotional performances are quite forced and un-earnest. However, like other elements of the movie, the acting tends to improve with time, which suggests a shift in leadership mentalities partway through the process. Nothing significantly dynamic occurs as a result, but the improvement is refreshing. Overall, the acting does enough to be average by the conclusion, which rounds off a mostly middle-of-the-road film.

Conclusion

First-time films like Decision of Faith are tricky because it’s difficult to get things started, but in the new wave of Christian entertainment we’ve seen over the past few years, standards are higher, which makes it harder for new voices to stand out. Thus, the planning process is key. Are you meant to make this film at this time? Has God given you the adequate funding to make it professional? Would it work better as a series? Should you collaborate with other creators? These are all great questions to ask that will help you rise above the fray.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

China Cry (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Sung Neng Yee was glad when the Chinese Communists rose to power in her homeland to drive out the occupying Japanese, but she never anticipated the ultimate consequences this would cause. First, it cost her father his wealth and respect as a successful doctor, and then, the Communists began to tighten their grip on every aspect of Chinese life. However, she and her fellow people adjusted and went forward. Moreover, after beginning a family of her own, Sung Yeng Nee was accused of consorting with Westernizers and Christians. In the darkest moment of her life, she reached out to the God she had always shunned for the help only He could give her.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As an early 1990s production, China Cry has a handful of concerns with it, such as a loud, outdated soundtrack and odd soft lighting at times. Video quality is also sometimes blurry even though the camera work is overall fine, including good establishing shots. For the most part, audio quality is average, and the sets, locations, and props are very realistic, culturally accurate, and historically appropriate. Although the film overall seems outdated and has a lot of quick cuts and awkward transitions due to time jumps in the plot, the production does enough to achieve an average rating, especially considering the time period it was made in.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Right out of the gate, unnecessary narration tends to hurt the plot development, but once it ceases, things begin to unfold naturally without hindrances even though the narration does pop up here and there afterward. Had more substantial and qualitative flashbacks been employed to replace the narration, this plot would have been even better. This would have better helped to bridge the large time jumps throughout the story (non-linear plot structure is the only way to effectively handle lots of content), yet on its face, this narrative is still engaging and very intriguing due to the obscurely interesting portions of history it explores. Key themes are subtly introduced in order to let the character feel more authentic and real than they otherwise would be; the writers definitely did a good job at presenting people at face value rather than trying to push messages via strawmen. Even still, there are some lagging scenes that could have been better re-purposed to improve character growth even more, especially since the second half of the story tends to rush through a lot of content that would have been better explored slowly. This is why a non-linear plot style centered around the weak explanation for the narration would have been appropriate. In the end, China Cry still packs a very powerful message that’s still relevant for all Christians today. It’s too bad that’s is hidden behind poorly designed storytelling, but this true account is nonetheless engaging for all audiences.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Although many of the cast members tend to be dramatically stiff, the lead actress and lead actor are standouts for their comfortably real line delivery and believable emotions. Others tend to lack natural flair for acting, but it’s refreshing to see a culturally authentic cast. Costuming also reflects this commitment to cultural accuracy. In the end, the acting improves enough by the second half of the movie, and the lead acting carries it most of the way.

Conclusion

China Cry definitely deserves a remake, possibly in a miniseries form to further explore alternate subplots and to present the story in a more comprehensive and non-linear fashion. In the end, this film was made very early on in Christian entertainment, but it was onto something we don’t see in many newer movies: a poignant message about relying on God during difficult times and witnessing His miraculous intervention. Thus, many audiences will enjoy this movie, and maybe, new film makers will be inspired to try something outside the norm.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Bonhoeffer, Agent of Grace (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Dietrich Bonhoeffer didn’t want to get involved as the Nazis rose to power in Germany and demanded absolute submission from all institutions, including churches. However, after taking time away in America, he sensed God calling him back to his homeland. Then, the Nazi regime hit home as his twin sister and her Jewish husband had to escape Germany for fear of Nazi nationalism. Thus, when a close friend invited him to get involved in the underground working against Nazi power, Bonhoeffer felt he had to do something to stand against tyranny. Nonetheless, he never anticipated how far he would have to go and what he would experience as a result.

Production Quality (2 points)

For an early 2000s production, it’s clear that a lot of effort was put into Agent of Grace to make it historically authentic, which is evidenced by a great use of realistic-looking sets, props, and locations. Also, the video quality is mostly good except for some outdated-looking portions, and the camera work is standard. Audio quality is on the mark, but it would be nice if there was a more substantial soundtrack to enhance the emotional experience. At the beginning of the movie, the editing is commendable as it uses an overlaying style with effective out-of-order storytelling, yet this is discarded in the last two-thirds of the film and replaced with a very standard linear style. There are also some abruptly awkward cuts that put a damper on things, but overall, this is a respectable production, especially for the time period, and is good enough to be above-average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

There’s no doubt that the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is an excellent and worthwhile one to tell, and in this endeavor, this storyline makes good attempts at character development via adequate dialogue. Where the beginning and the end are interesting, the middle of the story tends to sag a bit as it’s not very engaging and merely presents a collection of isolated and disconnected scenes where things sometimes happen without much lead-up. The good thing is that narration, while it would have been easy to lean on, is entirely avoided, and the conversations between characters are realistic enough. The quick passage of time in the narrative is often difficult to deal with, so it might have been better to frame the entire story as a flashback from the ending sequence since bridging large time gaps while also keeping audience isn’t an easy feat at all. Even still, many sequences are quite good and make the movie worth your time although the amount of off-screen content shows there’s too much in this story to cover in one film. In the end, Agent of Grace is a great effort and is one that was rarely seen in the early 2000s, so at the very least, it makes for a good historical experience.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

The best part of this movie is the culturally correct acting and the culturally authentic casting. The costuming is also historically accurate. Besides this, the actual acting quality is very professional, including line delivery and emotional expression. There are very few errors to note here…there are just a few lapses, but this may be due to other elements. Overall, this strong section is enough to push the film past the halfway mark.

Conclusion

This historical account would definitely work better as a miniseries, especially since there are many side plots that didn’t have a chance for exploration in Agent of Grace. There’s a lot of interest and intrigue surrounding this period of history, so more time would have been good. Unfortunately, this film was made before Christian series were even considered outside the children’s entertainment realm; thus, a remake of Bonhoeffer’s narrative and the related elements would be pertinent. Nevertheless, this movie is still worth your time as it portrays a highly important tale that’s still relevant for us today.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Dawn [2018] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Carrie Saunders just wants to live her normal life as a businesswoman, but her recurring nightmares about a missing girl continue to haunt her night after night. Her visions cloud her judgment and cause her to begin to suspect her husband of wrongdoing. Police refuse to believe her tales, so she decides to investigate the matter on her own. Little does she know that the wild ride she’s about to experience will change her life forever.

Production Quality (2 points)

At first, the production of Dawn begins in a rocky manner as evidenced by inconsistent camera work and lighting and some slight background sounds. However, the video quality is stable throughout, and the sets, locations, and props are mostly fine. The camera work does seem to improve as the film proceeds, and it becomes quite professional in the end. Another inconsistent area is the soundtrack since it’s generic in some parts yet quite good in others. Further, one other drawback is somewhat dizzying and repetitive nature of some of the psychological sequences, but this is also sometimes an asset. In the end, the editing is good, and the production is a mixed bag that’s overall above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Dawn dares to try something extremely different in Christian film as it takes on a very unique plot that’s often hard to quantify yet intriguing at the same time. The attempts at extreme creativity are well-noted, even if they can get a bit head-scratching at times. Although some may not like it, it’s good that the Christian elements of Dawn aren’t too in-your-face as it tries to primarily rely on good mystery plot content. However, the storyline does have a few flaws in that the characters could be a bit more developed than they are, which means the time could have been better spent on this venture rather than on repetition of key elements the audience is shown over and over again. Still, the characters are fairly good as they are, even if the villain characters are slight strawmen. The psychological elements of the plot are interesting, but they could use a bit more explanation as to why they are occurring. However, the ending isn’t quite expected, and Dawn is an overall very creative attempt at a complex mystery plot culminating with an actually effective climax that’s built throughout the entirety of the film. This is finally a real suspense plot worth watching, but it would be even better as a remake or a similar replication.

Acting Quality (2 points)

On the whole, the acting of Dawn is fine with only a few minor errors to contend with. There were definitely some opportunities for improved emotional delivery and more dynamic line delivery. However, the cast does enough to make this an above average performance, which rounds out an overall above average film that’s worth your time.

Conclusion

The potential that this creative team showed is very encouraging because it could be the start of something great for them. It’s highly possible that streaming series are in their future if they are allowed to collaborate with larger budgets and tighter writing. What we need is more psychological suspense and mystery stories, and seeing these in the context of Christian series would be awesome, so we can’t wait to see what they have planned next.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

A Murder of Innocence (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When Albert and Aimee Anderson move to a small town to pastor the local church, they expect all the typical things of a small town church, but nothing in their lives ever prepared them for what happened soon after they arrived. After discovering the dead bodies of their two newest and closest friends, the Andersons are left reeling in the aftermath as they entire church turns to them for guidance during this dark time. However, answers escape them as the culprit seems elusive and the townspeople grow restless and anxious. Will evil ever be brought to justice? Will they be able to recover a sense of normalcy?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, A Murder of Innocence has a mostly fine production, including good video quality and fine sets, locations, and props, even if they are a bit limited in scope. A lot of the time, the audio is extremely quiet and muffled, and the soundtrack is either lacking or overpowering. Also, camera work is inconsistent–sometimes shaky and sometimes fine. Further, the editing is a concern as there are many awkward fadeouts throughout after scenes have gone on too long while some scenes have very quick transitions that cut things off. It seems like there was more content or some that wasn’t usable, so a lot of it appears to relate to post-production issues. Overall, this is just an average production, which isn’t quite up to modern standards.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Although it initially was a good idea to use a true story to try something a bit different, yet much time is wasted on silent montages and clunky dialogue as everything feels very scripted and robotic, especially the ‘perfect’ Christian characters. Instead of actual character development, we’re just left with offensive gender stereotypes that paint women as less intelligent than men. Besides this, the plot is largely based on very shallow concepts and doesn’t appear to comprehend reality very well. Throughout the story, there’s a mysteriously odd tone like it’s concealing some great secret, but it all comes to nothing substantial. If you’re going to write mystery plot, you need to make sure you’ve done your homework to make criminal investigations realistic and believable. It feels like there’s too much going on here that the writers don’t quite understand, which creates the odd mysticism. Besides this, a vast majority of the scenes are slow and dour without much balance or adequate character engagement as the plot drags on and on and chases fruitless rabbit trails. After using up over an hour teasing a possibly forthcoming purpose via dramatic dialogue and randomly extra subplots, there’s little to show for the effort. While it’s commendable to try a suspense plot centered around mental health in rural areas, the very steep character arcs and magical fixes in the final minutes really do the film in, especially since there’s nothing to hold the audience’s interest or make the film worthwhile. Without a central focus, the movie meanders and flounders until a conclusion.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Much like the other elements of the film, the acting is a bit stifled and lifeless as it comes off as over-practiced. In conjunction with the audio problems, the line delivery itself is very soft and almost muted most of the time. However, the acting is at least average in most places without any majorly glaring errors or standout performances. Though there is some unnecessary drama, this section rounds out a basically vanilla effort.

Conclusion

The good thing is that Christian entertainment is becoming broader and braver as time goes on. There was a time when mystery suspense dramas like A Murder of Innocence would have been unthinkable in some Christian circles, but thankfully, there are at least attempts to be more creative and diverse. However, there are still things to work on, most notably plot and character content. This was based on a true story, so it’s not really acceptable to have such poor characters, along with an aimless storyline. Next time, before making a Christian film, it would be better to count the cost and make sure there’s enough creativity and purpose behind it. The only stories that will be transformative are the ones that feel like real life.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

To Save a Life (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Jake Taylor is one of the most popular kids in school: he’s a basketball star on track for a big scholarship, and he has the girlfriend everyone wanted. He seems to have friends everywhere, but he’s chosen to ignore the only friend he had in middle school because it’s not cool to hang around him anymore. However, this appears to lead to his old friend becoming suicidal and bringing a gun to school one day in an apparent last-ditch attempt for help. In the fallout of the tragedy, Jake and his friends try to get back to normal, but they seem to sink deeper into their vices as a response to the trauma. What is the true purpose of life, and is it possible for high school to have meaning?

Production Quality (2 points)

As an early 2000s production, To Save a Life is good despite some minor missteps. For one, the flashback sequences, while great to include, sometimes come off as a bit disorienting and invasive as they tend to jump back and forth too much and use disruptive flashing effects. In a similar vein, some montages are a bit confusing and protracted in length, especially since they take up time that could have been used on other things. However, there are plenty of positives to note about this production, For one, the soundtrack is fairly good, and the camera work is professionally artistic even if there is some wild zooming and cutting during suspenseful scenes. Nonetheless, much of the production elements improve as time goes on, and video quality, sets, locations, and props are all great in each part of the film. As a whole, the editing is good enough considering how much content is in the story and how many characters there are, so overall, this is an above average production that’s mostly on the mark and improves with runtime.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Even in the beginning, Brian Baugh was always a master of capturing the real human experience, especially of Millennial coming of age years, as he weaves complex storytelling via raw, realistic topics, effective flashbacks, and accessible characters. To Save a Life is a real and honest look at authentic problems facing teenagers both in high school and in the church. It’s a hard but necessary look at the factors leading to teen suicide and teen substance abuse, among other vices; in doing so, the plot unfolds fairly well without dumping too much information onto the audience in the beginning as plot points are developed gradually. The relationships among the characters are very easy to believe as they feel like real people who do real things with real motivations. The psychological material therein is used in very great ways, and the hard look at problems within the church is refreshing. To Save a Life has a very complex cast of characters that makes it feel more like a series than a movie; because of this, some of the characters arcs are a bit too steep due to lack of adequate development time. Even still, the dialogue is well-constructed as the subplots weave together, but the number of storylines is also the slight undoing of the film as we’d like to see some more backstories and more explorations of the issues rather than trying to cover too much in one film. Because of how many ideas are in one movie, the epilogue and the lead-up to it tend to fix things too quickly and easily without many tangible character consequences. The climax scene is also slightly contrived just to have one and only leads to expository dialogue designed to finish things off. In the end, To Save a Life is a massive mixed bag of content that is both rewarding and disappointing, yet Brian Baugh’s talents are still undeniable in his first movie attempt.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

At first, the acting can come off as a bit awkward, but this also tends to work in the film’s favor. This is really the only nitpick to point out since the cast is overall really good despite its large size. There are quite a few standout roles…even Randy Wayne posts a good one. Due to the sheer number and diversity of cast members, they would have done so well in a series, but alas, this film occurred before the era of Christian streaming. Nevertheless, perhaps something similar to To Save a Life will be crafted in the future.

Conclusion

We would definitely love to see Brian Baugh make a series either like this movie or about something else because some creators are just too big for the big screen. Some creators (see Dallas Jenkins) are better the small screen because series provide much better forums to explore complex characters and subplots. No matter what, Baugh is consistently showing today that he has a profound understanding of people, and with two Hall of Fame entries after To Save a Life (I’m Not Ashamed and The World We Make), the sky is the limit for his creative potential.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Turbulent [2018] (Movie Review)

Oooohh scary

Plot Summary

When a man and his wife have a sudden plane accident in the middle of nowhere, they have to do whatever they can do to fight for survival. However, the strained relationship between them becomes a detriment to their quest as she believes in God while he resists her faith because of the tragedies they’ve endured in their marriage. Will they be able to overcome both the elements and the distance between them in order to survive another day?

Production Quality (-1 point)

With a production this bad in 2018, we don’t even know where to begin. It’s literally terrible in every way you can conceive: weird outdoor lighting, horrible audio quality with loud background sounds, and basically no soundtrack on top of this. Sets, locations, and props are extremely cheap and don’t line up with what they’re supposed to portray. There are also weird special effects and oddly chosen sound effects that contribute to the annoyingly bad quality of this production. Since you almost have to try to make a production this bad, it warrants a negative point. It goes without saying that the editing is very choppy, but that’s just white noise in the bigger picture because there are so many problems here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 point)

In this storyline, there are no breaks in negativity or balanced scenes as everything is dour and dramatic in infantile ways. It has a very juvenile outlook on life as characters do things that have no grounding in reality and as the plot contains unrealistic survival elements. The majority of the film is painfully long and drawn out scenes that are like pulling teeth to watch. It’s obvious that the main agenda of the film is to scare the viewers into being saved (as if any non-believers would ever think about watching this garbage), yet there are a lot of fantastically weird magical concepts that don’t seem to line up with typical fundamentalist ideologies. These elements are connected to a really bizarre twist at the end of the movie that comes off in a very strange and off-putting way. In the end, there’s so much wrong here with so little to deal with, which is why this is a rare feat deserving of negative points.

Acting Quality (-1 point)

With such a small cast, everything stands out, and the acting therein is annoyingly horrible. Emotions are excruciating to watch as if the cast members are being tortured to say them…it’s like fingernails in the chalkboard to watch it unfold. Every little drama is extremely forced to the point of straining, and because of these issues, there’s no way to properly connect with the character struggles. It’s not like the cast members had good lines to work with in the first place, but they make matters worse with their agonizing delivery. Thus, in summary, if you’re looking for the exact opposite of how to make a Christian film, watch Turbulent.

Conclusion

Negative films are absolutely unacceptable in the modern era of Christian entertainment, and survival plots as a whole are worn out and should be used sparingly unless somebody actually has a good idea to share. Basically, from Turbulent, we can learn the same old lessons we’ve seen before: if you don’t have the money for your film, don’t even think about making it because the higher production standards in the field today demand better delivery. Also, even if you have the money for a decent production, please make sure you actually have a worthwhile plot to share and can properly coach your cast to be believable. The time for poor quality Christian films to go away is long overdue.

Final Rating: -3 out of 10 points

Heaven’s War {Beyond the Darkness} (Movie Review)

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The magic of the cosmos…

Plot Summary

Senator Jonah Thomas is a rising political star who wants to be the good guy in Washington, but evil individuals, both human and spiritual, have their own plans for him. Jonah’s political career is pushing his family to the brink, and he doesn’t realize the evil devices that await him in one fateful meeting. As his soul hangs in the balance, he will be given one last chance to battle for his eternal destiny in a very poorly-animated CGI world.

Production Quality (0 points)

Imagine you have this great idea for a complex sci-fi plot that requires a lot expensive CGI and animation tools. Would you go ahead and make it even though you didn’t have the funding to make it on a level we see in theaters today? Essentially, Heaven’s War is a poorly funded attempt at a possibly good idea that will fall totally flat due to how bad the production is. The extremely cheap special effects and the cheesiest possible animation and CGI draw so much attention to themselves that they negate any possible good elements in other parts of the production. They affect everything and make it an unpleasant experience whether via disorienting editing, cheap flashback quality, weird sound effects, or wild and quick cuts between scenes. Even if other elements of the film are fine, the special effects failings are the types of issues that infect everything, which keeps this production rated at zero.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Besides this, the plot is fairly confusing and hard to follow. Even though it’s an interesting idea to explore the spiritual realm, everything is too focused on American politics, which begs the question why the major spiritual battles highlighted here center around raising taxes and finding a vaccine for cancer. If this isn’t the intention, it comes off that way through expository dialogue and devices that move the plot forward, such as news reports and phone conversations. As the story wildly jumps from one random idea to the next, the slightly interesting flashback\psychological vision elements had something going for them, but the way they are presented is a disservice. Poor delivery and unclear direction doomed this plot from the start, not to mention the extremely cheesy portrayal of the spiritual realm that is almost a laughingstock. After lots of disorienting battle sequences and explorations of alternate realities, problems are suddenly quickly fixed at the end with no feeling or reality behind it, and by the time it’s all over, you suddenly realize that this film barely had any actual content in it. Hence, no points can be awarded in this section either.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Surprisingly, as bad as it is, the acting is the strongest point of this movie because it’s the only section that gets any points. Even still, the acting often comes off as un-earnest, overly practiced, and robotic. For the most part, emotions are black, forced, and unnatural. There are some good moments for some of the cast members that are basically just average, but as a whole, the acting is cardboard and the casting poor. This rounds out an unacceptably bad film in the new era of Christian entertainment.

Conclusion

Danny Carrales’ intentions to make different types of Christian films are definitely noted, but their application is way off the mark. It would have been better to make Heaven’s War fully animated so that more time could have been spent on making a real plot. Relying only on special effects of any quality level is never a good idea because they can’t write the story for you. Even the best sci-fi idea will fail if the characters can hold it up for you because the audience has no real connection to the concept without feeling like real people are experiencing it. Basically, better luck next time.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

The Christ Slayer (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Longinus was raised by the Magi, but he never fully believed the stories they told of the Messiah as he rose through the ranks of the Roman army. he was at the pinnacle of his career, but an injury led to blindness, forcing him out of service. As he languished in darkness with a servant to guide his daily activities, he never dreamed that his life would be forever changed when he helped end a seemingly meaningless crucifixion of the One they called the King of the Jews.

Production Quality (2 points)

Over time, DJ Perry and his creative have definitely improved their production skills as The Christ Slayer demonstrates good camera work, effective camera angles, and professional video quality. The audio quality is also fine for the more part, and the soundtrack is culturally authentic. While the sets, locations, and props are great, the outdoor scenes are better since some of the indoor shots are a bit too dark and disorienting. Some of the editing could have been more consistent and understandable, but on the whole, this production is adequate and shows commitment to improving.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

The Quest Trilogy has taken many different turns, and at this point, the ending is better than the beginning. At its inception, some parts were hard to grasp and a bit too abstract, but the unique turn in The Christ Slayer definitely helped things. This is a unique extra-Biblical plot that gives a fresh perspective on the events surrounding the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, and it sports the typical abstractly creative concepts of the CDI team. The spiritual elements from Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are included in this third installment, but they are presented in more accessible fashions. Similarly, the psychological themes of The Christ Slayer are fairly well-utilized, and integration of Biblical accounts is creatively woven together with the main plot. There are a few drawbacks, however, that keep this plot from being all that it could be. For instance, there are quite a few slow scenes that tend to be too artistic such that the audience has trouble understanding them, and some of the characters’ dialogue is a bit archaic and drawn-out. There are some expository conversations that replace better character development, and sometimes, the Jesus character is a bit too ethereal and inaccessible, but as a whole, this is a fine Easter plot that demonstrates unique storytelling.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Probably the brightest spot of this film’s cast is the awesome idea to cast a special needs cast member in a role that doesn’t over-emphasize his condition. Treating him as a regular actor is a huge step forward for disability rights, so this creative team’s decision to do this shows a deeper care for inclusion in the arts. Elsewhere in this cast, some of the main cast members are good while some could use more efficient coaching to avoid being too theatrical and dramatic. As a whole, the acting is average, but it could have been better if emotions were more accessible. In the end, The Christ Slayer is a good end to the Quest Trilogy.

Conclusion

DJ Perry and company have a lot going for them, so it will be interesting to see how they will be able to collaborate with other talent in the future. Throughout their careers, they have only gotten better as they have adapted and changed, which is encouraging to see. Sometimes trilogies end worse than they begin, so since the Quest Trilogy has ended on a good note, this will hopefully be a springboard to better things in the future for CDI entertainment.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

40: The Temptation of Christ (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

After Jesus’ baptism and before his earthly ministry officially began, he went into the desert for forty days, where He was tempted by the devil to forfeit His work before it even began. Satan used many tactics to convince Jesus to fall, yet Christ remained without sin in the trials. As Jesus endured the hardship, He experienced human pain and suffering that prepared Him to relate to those who needed His power the most.

Production Quality (2 points)

While this film’s budget was somewhat limited due to its independent nature, resources were clearly allocated responsibly. Although there are some cheap special effects and sound effects, mostly toward the beginning of the film, there is plenty of positive to note here. The first thirty minutes of the movie are the hardest because these contain some poor editing and lagging scenes, but once the film progresses past this point, things begin to look up. There are some elements of shaky camera work throughout, but the outdoor locations used are very engaging and professionally shot. The perspective filming is effective, and the soundtrack is highly engaging in many parts as it adds to the viewing experience. Further, video quality is crisp throughout, and even though it takes a bit, the production slowly becomes a great one, which is a testament to what this team could pull off with more resources under their belt.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Like the production, the plot is a bit shaky at first, mostly due to immediate and unnecessary narration. Jesus is also a bit too theatrical and inaccessible as a character at first, but He definitely gets better as the story goes on. It’s somewhat difficult to get through the first thirty minutes of the film because of these issues and because of some lagging scenes, so it’s possible that this idea may have worked better as a short film. However, once the thirty-minute mark has been passed, things change for the better since a really good idea is revealed. The use of flashbacks and flash-forwards is very effective to bridge time and to reinforce the psychological elements that the temptations are based on, which are very well-constructed. The core of the plot is based on a collection of very engaging and creative conversations that clearly show what the film was made for. Old Testament prophecies are integrated very well into the dialogue, which is something we don’t see enough of in Bible films. As a whole, this creative team’s take on the temptations of Jesus is very interesting and innovative, mostly due to well-executed psychological sequences that go hand-in-hand extremely well with the flashbacks, mostly because the viewer doesn’t always see the temptation coming. In the end, the use of symbolism and artistic elements are effective in presenting a familiar Bible story in a new, creative way, and the horror elements are handled well without being too sensational. Thus, there is a lot of potential for this creative team through future collaborations.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While the cast is not entirely culturally authentic, this can be forgiven due to the limited budget of the project. At first, the line delivery and emotions come off as too forced and theatrical, but they moderate as the film progresses and show concerted improvement. Due the small cast, they carry the whole film on their shoulders, and for the most part, they post good performances by the movie’s conclusion. This rounds out an overall refreshing independent effort, which plants promising seeds for the future.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to portray the temptations of Jesus properly without a good understanding of human psychology. As a whole, this creative team appears to have such an understanding. The Temptation of Christ is everything a first-time, self-funded project should be: as good of a production as possible, a well-written plot that demonstrates talent that can be developed in the future, and a good enough acting performance to carry the day. Thus, we can’t wait to see what these film makers have to offer once they are given better funding opportunities.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

The Trump Prophecy (Movie Review)

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Shofars!

Plot Summary

Mark Taylor was burnt out as a firefighter after nearly twenty years of service, and he began having physical symptoms of his exhaustion. He also began having mental symptoms of the trauma he experienced, which led to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. He went on leave from work due to the condition and eventually retired, and during this time, he believed that he received visions both from Satan and from God of how Donald Trump would become President of the United States.

Production Quality (0 points)

So Liberty University wants to make another movie to showcase their expensive equipment and unusual application of it. While on the surface this production seems fine, there are too many film school experiments exhibited throughout, such as bizarre camera work and choppy ‘artistic’ editing. Sets, props, and locations are surprisingly limited for the supposed scope of this film, and it seems like with the budget that was funded for this film, things would look better than this. The audio quality as a whole is unacceptable for a movie of this budget level since there are many weird background noises throughout and since the many musical montages use an invasive and unrelated soundtrack. Besides these obvious problems, it goes without saying that the special effects are horribly bad and very cheap-looking for a film school who purports to have some of the best resources at their fingertips. As a side note, there are too many CBN product placements, probably because they couldn’t license the big networks in a film that depends too heavily on news sequences to move time forward. In the end, any good parts of this production are cancelled out by the bad, which leaves us with nothing here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2 points)

As expected from the build-up and from the divisive political atmosphere surrounding the origin of this film’s idea, this story is utter madness. The fact that a large section of the American Christian population has embraced the bizarre ramblings of a self-proclaimed prophet who has many prophecies that never came true is very disturbing at best. Due to money, Liberty University has chosen to give a platform to these wacky theories, but they packaged them in the most boring and vanilla plot you can imagine. The weird worldview aside, this story has basically nothing to offer the viewers except for boring activities of daily living, random life montages, and off-the-wall acid trip vision sequences that have little to no explanation or understanding of what’s going on. Besides the fact that this film gives a platform to highly unusual and offbeat ideas that borderline on false teaching and peddles cult-life politically Christian propaganda, the main story is actually quite short and irrelevant. There’s hardly anything to it at all, and all of the negative brings it lower than zero, which isn’t really surprising, given the history of this story’s origins.

Acting Quality (0 points)

To combine with one of the most boring plots possible, Liberty University’s film school made sure to cast the most boring cast members we’ve ever seen, and we thought that the cast of Extraordinary was bad enough. The lead actor is extremely dead-faced for most of the movie, and most of the cast members don’t exhibit any substantial emotions except for overly practiced ones. Line delivery is very stilted and robotic, and the interactions between the cast members come off as very awkward and impersonal. In short, if there’s something bad about any movie, it’s probably represented somehow in The Trump Prophecy.

Conclusion

We have to wonder if Liberty University will ever learn from their series of colossal failures (see Extraordinary). Even if you agree with the total drivel propagated by this film of madness, there’s no way you can contort this film to be a quality movie or even an interesting one. Whoever is behind the decision making at LU’s film school clearly has no idea what they’re doing in the entertainment business because they consistently roll out some of the most well-funded and tone deaf movies we’ve ever seen. Words cannot express how far out of touch with reality they are; anyone that even thought about making a film based on a scam-worthy book like The Trump Prophecy has their priorities seriously out of whack and out of tune with what really matters.

Final Rating: -2 out of 10 points

One Church (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Cornelius Barlow is a devious politician who has had a vendetta against organized religion ever since his daughter was killed by a cult. Instead of eradicating religion, however, once he becomes President of the United States, he decides to make his own united religion by bringing all faiths together and by forcing them to work together. Unfortunately, this doesn’t go as simply as he planned as he faces opposition from a secret resistance who claims that they know the only truth of salvation: Jesus Christ. Will their numbers be able to survive the coming persecution?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

One Church is one of those Christian suspense films that bites off more than it can chew in the production department. This is evident by the shaky camera work, the loud soundtrack and sound effects, and the inconsistent audio that is sometimes muted. There are also a lot of tight shots and a weird aspect ratio, along with some randomly blurry camera shots and odd camera angles. Some scenes also cut off very abruptly as if this is an early cut that wasn’t finished. However, not all is bad in this production as there are some elements that are fine throughout, such as the sets, locations, and props, which keep this production from being below average. Even still, if the funding and resources aren’t there for a good suspense plot, it’s better to not make it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

While this is an interesting attempt at a different type of plot, it’s based too much on far-fetched concepts and ‘bad’ characters that are total strawmen and get worse as the film progresses. The premise also progressively become more unrealistic, and large time jumps hurt any hope there was of plot and character growth. Time is mostly spent on montages, which leaves characters shallow and the purpose of the film unclear. One thing happens after the next in very rapid fashion, and expository dialogue is used as a shortcut. There are too many vague ideas that are started without backup or follow-through, and sequences of boring activities are used in place of actual conversations between characters that could help us get to know them as people. In the end, the story ends in a very awkward and abrupt fashion that makes it even more unclear why this movie was even made.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the acting is fine without any major problems, even though it’s underwhelming and vanilla at times. Sometimes, dialogue is slightly mumbled, and line delivery is under-performing at times. It seems like some cast members become more and more dramatic as the film goes on, and other case members don’t do enough to make up for these poor performances. However, the early acting does enough to keep this section average, which rounds out an overall blah movie.

Conclusion

The JC Films team still hasn’t found itself in movie-making. They are disjointed and disconnected from both reality and relevance in the film world. They have a lot of ambitions and want to try different things (sometimes), but they have no foundation or basis for what they do. This likely won’t change until they begin retaining real screenwriters and actually put their funding and resources to good use.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

On Wings of Eagles [2016] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Eric Liddell was a Scottish Olympic gold medalist, an accomplished educator, and a dedicated family man who was called to take the Gospel to China in the 1930s and 1940s. He faced hardship and persecution from the Communist government, but he never gave up in his mission to run, to educate children, and to share the Gospel with whoever he came in contact with. Though he died in captivity, he left a lasting legacy with all who knew him and beyond.

Production Quality (2 points)

It’s apparent that good effort was put into making this production professional, which is evidenced by great video quality and camera work, as well as a good use of international sets and locations. The props are culturally authentic, and the soundtrack is very effective. However, this production is kept from being perfect because of some inconsistent audio quality and some fake-looking special effects that should have been better. Further, the editing is fairly poor as there are some awkward cuts and transitions and since there is a lot of content that is not handled very well. Even so, this is a good production that is above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Due to taking on a large amount of content from the life of one person, this plot relies too heavily on time jumps and excessive, unnecessary narration that short-circuits any hope for actual character and plot development. While this is a great true story with a lot of potential to be an epic, we have a hard time understanding who the characters are beyond historical bios. Any hope of dialogue is mostly rushed and choppy due to the storyline jumping all over the place. There are also too many wasted and drawn-out scenes that could have been maximized to fuller potential, but they cause the story to not flow well at all. However, there is still a lot of good content here due to the fact of it being based on a real story, and the ending likely makes it worth a watch, even though it could have been much better.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, this cast is fairly culturally authentic and professional as each cast member does a good job assuming his or her respective character role. If they had more lines to work with, things would definitely be even better, even if there is some inconsistent line and emotional delivery in some places. Though there is some over-acting, this section is overall above average, which rounds out an average film that could have been much better.

Conclusion

On Wings of Eagles had so much going for it: a well-funded production, culturally accurate casting, and an excellent true story that had the makings of a real epic. Nevertheless, this great potential was seemingly forgotten as half-measures were settled for. Just fixing one of these elements listed would have likely qualified it for the Hall of Fame, but it unfortunately fell short of the mark. Even still, many audiences will still enjoy this film, and it can serve as a blueprint for how to take things one step further into greatness.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points