Squad 77 (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Allen Davis is a former military special forces operative who is pressed by a friend to train a squadron consisting of a random collection of young adults from churches in order to pull off a dangerous mission to deliver Bibles to missionaries in a harrowing location.  Though he is not completely honest about the mission’s true nature at first, he trains them hard to prepare for the worst.  Will they be able to make it through the mission alive?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Squad 77 is a classic example of biting off more than you can chew.  Action adventure and suspense films, especially in international contexts, need well-funded and responsibly-allocated budgets to meet expectations.  Unfortunately, though Squad 77 is trying to fit into these genres, it fails miserably in the production department.  This is evident in the wild and dizzying opening sequences, as well as the crazy camera work and poor video quality.  Audio quality is equally bad, with loud background sounds, dead air, overdubs, cheesy sound effects, and a generic soundtrack.  There are also dumb special effects used throughout, not to mention the poor lighting and horrific editing.  Essentially, if you don’t have the money to make it good, don’t make it all, unless you have a game-changing plot idea.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

However, Squad 77 does not have a game-changing plot idea.  The premise is silly and unrealistic, and basically half of the film boils down to endless training montages.  The plot throws a bunch of faceless and empty characters together for a vague mission of unrealistic proportions.  There is basically no substantial content to work with here, and what little dialogue there is comes off as very hollow.  Thus, there are no attempts to develop the characters.  It goes without saying that this story is not believable as the action premise is very forced and disingenuous.  Basically, this film really doesn’t have any positive elements.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Though this cast of random people does not show any substantial acting skills to their bland and blank delivery, it’s not like they were given many chances to act or to be coached properly.  Emotions are too awkward and robotic, but again, there was little to no support in the acting department.  In the end, this punctuates a disappointing effort.

Conclusion

If the creators of this film meant well, it doesn’t show.  It feels like this film was misguided and mishandled from the beginning.  With a small budget, it’s better to start out with a small production and a truly creative plot.  Unfortunately, Squad 77 joins a long list of independent Christian films that failed on this front, among others.  Perhaps future film makers will learn from these mistakes.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

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Too Saved (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Lisa loves her boyfriend Bobby, but she doesn’t like the fact that he is not a Christian.  Thus, she prays for him to get saved, not realizing the impact her prayers might have.  Unexpectedly, Bobby gets saved one day in church, but he goes from being a drug addict (???) to being the most extremely Christian man ever.  He can’t stop talking about God, and he wanted to be the best man he can be.  Lisa become annoyed with Bobby and wonders why she ever prayed for him to change.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, Too Saved is a small church film with a very limited budget, which yields a very cheap production.  Because of the low funds and misuse of those there were appropriated, there are quite a few negatives to mention here, including poor video quality, shaky camera work, close-up shots, and inconsistent lighting.  Audio quality is also poor, and the soundtrack is cheesy.  Sets, locations, and props are severely limited and uncreative.  Finally, there is no substantial editing, thus warranting zero points for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It is possible that a more juvenile storyline could be written?  Is this meant to be a children’s movie?  The entire premise is based on a man going from being a drug addict—who is not portrayed properly at all, mind you—to being an obnoxiously Christian person.  This plot could almost be a cartoon, but it’s really not all that funny.  The parts that are absurd are just plain boring.  There are no attempts to write a good story here or to craft realistic characters.  This movie is actually barely worth reviewing.  If the writers meant well, there’s no way to know.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Ahh, small church casts—you have to love them.  If a cast member is not acting over the top, then another is acting very awkward and unsure of themselves.  Emotions come off as forced, and this wardrobe really needs some help.  Unfortunately, there is basically nothing good to say about this fill except better luck next time.

Conclusion

Sure, the budget is tiny, but it doesn’t have to be this bad.  As I’ve said a hundred times, a low budget does not affect the plot.  If you have around $10,000 for a film, which is our minimum budget to garner a review, make sure to craft a very deep and complex plot with believable, accessible characters.  In doing so, you will prove yourself worthy to receive a larger amount of funding.  Instead, movies like Too Saved just squander what little they had.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Running Forever (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After September 11, 2001, when he mother died, Taylor Sims is separated from her father for years.  However, she is given a chance to rebuild a relationship with him at the horse ranch he owns.  Taylor predictably finds a horse to bond with and a new boyfriend as well.  But when adversity faces the horse ranch, will Taylor and her father be able to get along and win the competition to save everything?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Though Running Forever (which was repackaged as the scam ‘Christmas’ film A Horse for Christmas) had a $5 million budget, this is one of the worst productions ever made.  Besides cheap video quality and shaky camera work throughout, audio quality is terrible as it frequently uses overdubs and a generic loud soundtrack to cover up loud background sounds that even still bleed through.  Sets, locations, and props are very cheap, and there are too many close-up shots throughout.  There are also unforced issues like obvious continuity errors and awful transitions and cuts.  Overall, despite the money sunk into this sinking ship, this production is a disaster of epic proportions.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

A Horse for Christmas Running Forever is one of those stories that is trying to make you think it is bigger than it is.  In reality, everything about this half-wit plot has been done before, from the trouble character going to a rural area to bond with a horse and fall in love with the stable hand, to losing the beloved horse, to mending an estranged family relationship.  These clichés are not even executed in a good fashion, as dialogue is extremely thin, which creates cardboard characters.  The Christian message is plastic and seems very forced.  There is barely any substantial content in this plot, and the psychological elements that are attempted are laughable.  In the end, there is nothing good to say about this movie.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Clearly no acting coaching whatsoever was employed in this film as the film’s makers largely make up a majority of the cast.  Line delivery is awful, while emotions are painful.  Everybody is unnatural and stiff in their performances, and no care was given to casting people according to the ages of the characters they are supposed to be portraying.  Like the rest of the film, it seems like it’s all done on the fly.

Conclusion

New Kingdom Pictures seems like a total scam.  Not only did they try to re-release this film as a Christmas film, they didn’t even attempt to add any Christmas elements to it.  I guess they realized this film was so bad it needed a PR boost two years later.  Regardless, Running Forever is basically a train wreck of a film that had no business being made, not only because of its highly uncreative premise, but also because so much money was mishandled in a terrible production.  Somebody needs to stop giving these people so much money to waste.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

The Saber [2007] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Cameron O’Connor joins the military as a cadet and uses his computer skills to make a name for himself.  However, he soon finds himself getting into trouble online with internet pornography that gives him an unrealistic view of women.  As he goes deeper and deeper down a destructive path, he gets kicked out of the military and puts his girlfriend in a very dangerous position.  God finally gets his attention and sends him help to turn around, but not before some serious consequences.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, The Saber is basically B-roll footage of outdoor military maneuvers with some other scenes sprinkled into it in order to try to make it some semblance of a story.  There are no good production elements to point out here.  Video quality is bad, and camera work is inconsistent.  Lighting is very odd, and there a lot of unnecessary zooming shots.  Sets, locations, and props and very cheap and limited.  Audio quality is poor, and the soundtrack is often too loud.  This production feels like a documentary, especially with the stiff way it has been edited.  Thus, there is really nothing good to say here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With the runtime filled with tons of training montages, this ‘story’ wanders and grasps for a purpose, but never finds one.  This aimless storyline contains extremely empty cardboard characters that have the worst possible dialogue.  There are also strange psychological elements throughout that make it hard to understand what’s going on most of the time.  While this is a very important message to portray, it is horribly presented, with a ridiculous and strawman portrayal of otherwise serious problems.  This demonstrates a lack of comprehension of reality and tends to talk down to ‘bad people.’  As events progress to extreme lengths, the film only offers quick and unrealistic fixes to problems that the writers clearly do not fully comprehend.  This is a huge disappointment.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This amateurish cast has the most awkward and forced line delivery possible, as well as the most uncomfortable and stiff emotions.  Their performances are robotic and unsure as they seem to be just reading lines.  There are also some annoying sequences of yelling, as well as some terrible makeup.  This finishes off a very cringe-worthy effort that I want to forget really hard.

Conclusion

The Saber deals with some serious stuff, but the way it handles the serious stuff is disingenuous and tone-deaf.  After watching this film, it is very hard to believe that the Cross Wind team has a grasp of the real struggles of real people, besides the fact that they have no quality standards.  This whole movie is a microcosm of what’s wrong with Christian film and what needs to be changed about it.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

The Basement [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

You’ve heard the story before: in one second, everything is changed on the planet when millions of people suddenly disappear in the Rapture and millions more are left behind, even those who though they were Christians.  A whole bunch of random people are confused by the recent catastrophe and struggle to survive in the dark new world that is immediately created by the Rapture.  Will they ever learn the truth about what happened?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

In yet another poorly produced Rapture film, video quality is the only positive element to mention here.  Otherwise, the camera work is very shaky and inconsistent, as well as full of wild cuts and extremely close angles.  Flashbacks are set in weird sepia tones, and there are too many flashes throughout.  There are lots of poorly lit and very dark scenes.  Audio quality is very poor as well, including a generic sountrack and those annoying background sirens from Final: The Rapture.  On that note, sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited, as usual.  Finally, the editing is typically dizzying and disorienting.  Basically, this is another slipshod production about the End Times.  What else is new?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Like many plots that lead up to the Rapture event in the middle and then depict the aftermath in the second half of the story, The Basement has no clear direction, purpose, or focus that guide it.  It is full of too many cheesy characters that crowd out the runtime so that it’s impossible to get to know any of them or remember who they are.  The non-Christian character are portrayed ridiculously, as usual, and the Christians are too perfect, all due to laughable dialogue.  There is no way to know where the story is going or coming from as there is tons of useless content and a lot of the runtime is wasted on flashbacks to events that happened minutes before.  All of this aside, the manufactured suspense is full of typical apocalyptic tropes and contains no creativity whatsoever.  After jumping all over the place for nearly two hours, basically all the problems are solved in a vague, indiscernible ending that was likely left open for a sequel.  But hey, the market needed another cheesy Rapture movie.

Acting Quality (-.5 point)

The acting is likely the worst section of this film, as a majority of the cast members act in very juvenile fashions.  Their line delivery is painfully forced, like someone is pulling the lines out of them.  Emotions are also over the top like this.  There is too much yelling throughout and too many sequences of cast members talking over each other.  This is overall an annoying and obnoxious portion, thus warranting the negative score.

Conclusion

Note to future film makers: please do make different genres of Christian films, but please please please refrain from making anymore Rapture films.  There are so many tropes in the apocalyptic genre that are complete and laughably overused, so it’s best to steer clear of this unless you have a really, really good idea.  There are plenty of other ways to make good Christians suspense plots that don’t involve End Times opinions.  But no matter what, there’s no excuse for having production and acting this bad.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Countdown: Jerusalem {Countdown: Armageddon} (Movie Review)

Discount Natalie Grant

Plot Summary

A reporter is doing a regular live new report when the whole world starts falling apart!  Buildings begin crumbling to pieces and roads start cracking up.  The only answer is that everything points to Jerusalem and Armageddon.  The reporter suddenly realizes that her daughter and husband are missing, so she follows in their footsteps to find them again, meeting bizarre characters along the way.  Will she ever be able to find them before the world to irreparable pieces???

 

Production Quality (0 points)

The Asylum’s Faith Films venture boasts that hardly any money is spent on these parody films they make, and it definitely shows.  All the weird, crazy, and basically terrible special effects and sound effects used reflect both lack of funding and lack of care.  Most scenes look like they’re done in one take and just slapped together in every way.  It’s also likely that little post-production work was performed in these films.  The only reason to even highlight them at all is to show how the only reason films like this are able to be made is because there are hundreds of terrible Christian films that are supposedly serious.  Thus, The Asylum is able to hide among them and parody familiar titles.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

Countdown: Jerusalem pretends like it’s from the makers of familiar apocalyptic titles by lifting the same old predictable apocalyptic elements and storylines and regurgitating them into a nonsensical movie.  Again, this is easy to do because Christian film makers have set the bar so low.  Everything about this movie is a total ripoff and a joke, but then again, this wasn’t the first or last time someone replicated the Left Behind concept and ‘rebranded’ it (see the Apocalypse saga, the new Left Behind, the other new Left Behind reboot, The Mark saga, The Moment After saga, Jerusalem Countdown, etc.).  This concept is so worn out that it’s almost worth making fun of at this point.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though this cast is clearly not trying and is phoning in performances, they are not all bad, which saves this film from being negative.  But for the most part, they are overly dramatic and forced.  Thus, this rounds out a full-scale parody.

Conclusion

At this point, it’s hard to tell what the difference between a parody Christian film and a so-called serious Christian film is.  That’s why suspiciously-titled films like this one are so easy to put out: because the Christian film market is such a mess, nobody can tell who’s serious anymore.  If the Christian entertainment world raised the bar and didn’t just elevate anything that claims the name of Christ because ‘persecution’ or something, then these sorts of films wouldn’t exist.  But maybe some things are worth making fun of.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Unwanted Presence (Movie Review)

Deliver us from stupid Christian horror films

Plot Summary

When Lindsay Parker moves to a new area for a new job, she looks forward to living in her newly-purchased home.  However, the longer she lives there, the more she realizes that evil is afoot in her home.  Things are moved on their own and she encounters strange noises and presences.  There is an ancient evil there she has no idea how to handle, so she turns to so-called paranormal ‘experts’ for help.  However, little does she know that only faith in God can save her now.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

So you set out to make a Christian horror film and you make sure to use the worst production quality possible.  Like many other independent Christian horror flicks, Unwanted Presence is an unwanted production.  Video quality is blurry and camera work is randomly shaky.  Lighting is also quite inconsistent.  Audio quality is terrible as it’s sometimes too loud but other times too quiet.  The soundtrack is also very cheesy and there are some screeching noises and ‘sound effects’ throughout.  Other special effects relating to the horror genre are also very stupid and juvenile.  Sets and locations are limited to basically one or two houses and the props are pedestrian.  Finally, there is no editing here as all possible content is included.  Basically, there’s  just nothing good to say here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Is there such a thing as a good Christian horror film?  They are always either extremely cheesy and obvious or too vague.  The portrayal of spiritual elements and ‘quirky’ characters in this movie is so laughable that one has to wonder if this is another one of those parody films.  But in all seriousness, the spiritual circumstances portrayed in this story are downright unrealistic and actually suggest some dangerous practices.  Besides this, there is barely enough plot content to sustain a full-length film and the subplots are completely disjointed.  There are too many sequences depicting activities of daily living or some zany character’s antics.  None of the characters are believable or accessible.  Whether or not this film is to be taken seriously, it’s still awful.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast oscillates from being very robotic, practiced, and overly enunciated to downright mumbling their lines.  Facial expressions are not an issue dealt with very often, but the ones used by this cast are extreme and atrocious.  Emotions are flat and empty.  Need we say anything else about this mess?

Conclusion

Spiritual activity in a house is not something to play around with.  If this were actually happening to someone (it’s not likely to happen in the fashion this movie suggests), then I would advise them to move out because a haunted location is not something you can just pray away, unless for some reason God has given you special authority over an area.  For this movie to suggest this is childish and dangerous.  Regardless, Christian horror is a lost and confused genre that should probably be put on hiatus until someone can come up with a real story that is actually funded.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Catching Hearts [2012] (Movie Review)

Why am I here?

Plot Summary

Professor Mark Gavin is a successful atheist speaker and author, but what happens when life causes him to begin questioning his beliefs?  Rachel and Dean are two young adults who have been influenced by Gavin’s work, and they both feel like there is no true purpose for them in life as they meander along and wallow in their problems.  Will any of them ever be able to find meaning and purpose in their lives?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, there’s really not much good to say about this production.  Video quality is grainy and camera work is all over the place.  Audio quality is lacking and the soundtrack is very generic.  Sets, locations, and props are very limited and cheap.  Finally, there is really no editing as this film as the content meanders along aimlessly with no real purpose.  Basically, this is an underfunded production, but it’s easy to see why there’s not much investment here—because there’s really no point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Catching Hearts (whatever that title means) explores the seeming meaninglessness of life, but it gets lost in the purposelessness itself.  Its subplots are very disjointed and full of silly coincidences and unrealistic occurrences.  The characters are stunted and empty.  Too many moments are too melodramatic and the Christian message is very trite, while at the same time, the portrayal of atheists is laughable.  There is no gist or driving purpose in this story—it’s just a bunch of random sequences thrown together with problems that are fixed very easily.  There’s nothing to learn from this film and it’s embarrassing to watch.

Acting Quality (0 points)

It’s evident that there was no acting coaching present with this plot as the performances are lazy and the emotions are too extreme.  Line delivery is sometimes phoned in and it doesn’t feel like the cast members cared about this film.  Then again, who can blame them, since they really didn’t have much content to work with.

Conclusion

What’s the point of films like this?  They begin with a half-hearted idea and somehow materialize into a feature length film of pointlessness.  Catching Hearts has nothing whatsoever going for it, so it’s hard to see how this idea was even pitched.  It’s little wonder that the funding was lacking and the cast members were unmotivated.  Movies like this only further clutter the field.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Daniel’s Lot (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Daniel is a devoted Christian whose marriage is struggling because his wife refuses to embrace the faith he has.  They are also struggling financially as Daniel does not make enough money to pay their mortgage and his wife’s real estate sales are down.  His wife insists that Daniel sell the large lot he inherited from his father, but Daniel promised his father that he wouldn’t sell it until the right time, even though they need the money to pay their mortgage.  When his wife cheats on him, Daniel does the only natural thing anyone would do—set out to build a huge cross on the lot he owns.  What could go wrong?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

As an underfunded church film, Daniel’s Lot has a lot of production errors.  It is overall cheap-looking and includes blurry video quality, weird camera angles, and lots of shaky camera work.  The soundtrack is very silly and often too loud, as are many outside sounds.  Lighting is very inconsistent and is poor a lot of the time, especially in the very bright outside scenes.  Sets and locations are very limited to inside people’s houses and offices and have an overall cheap feel to them.  Finally, editing is totally out the window.  This type of production begs the question, was it really worth making?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The ‘plot’ of this movie also raises questions of necessity and purpose.  Besides the cheesy and childish portrayals of Christians and non-Christians that suggest Christians are perfect and non-Christians are all obnoxious, this story is utterly pointless and juvenile.  Why can’t Daniel sell the lot to take care of his family and keep them from being evicted?  There’s a difference between waiting on God and plain stupidity and lack of common sense.  In addition to all of this, constant heavy-handed TV preaching litters the storyline.  Some of the ways people are portrayed are downright embarrassing, and it goes without saying that the character development is horrible.  To add insult to injury, a ridiculous religious freedom subplot is shoved into this so-called story.  In short, we have no clue what is trying to be accomplished here, but whatever it is, it’s certainly not anything worthwhile.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Amateur church casts are very difficult to hone properly, and this problem is only made worse by the very unusual casting job done here.  Some cast members act like literal children and are over-the-top obnoxious.  Also, makeup is done very poorly.  Unfortunately, this rounds out a very poor job all around.

Conclusion

When making a movie, a church should really look into getting some unbiased feedback of their work.  Films like this are only giggle-inducing or just plain eye-rollers, so there’s no way they’re ever going to have a real impact.  Any good intentions or messages that were attempted to be conveyed here are totally lost when the overall quality is so poor.  Besides improved production and acting, we need stories we can actually relate to and characters we can care about, not silly nonsense like this.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Without a Father (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Two men, Jacob Taylor and Christopher Bauman, grew up with different lives, but they both grew up without a father.  Now they live different lives—one is successful in law but not in his marriage, while the other is successful with his family but struggles for work.  Though they have taken two different paths, the truth for them still remains the same: they both have a Father in Heaven Who wants them to turn to Him in their time of need and to put their trust in Him.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, as a low-budget church production, Without a Father suffers on most production fronts.  Video quality and camera work are very inconsistent and mostly low-quality.  Audio quality is also poor, including a loud and uninspiring soundtrack.  Flashbacks are black and white for no reason.  Sets, locations, and props are limited and fairly cheap.  Finally, the editing is also bad, with very awkward and abrupt cuts and transitions that make for a confusing experience.  In short, though this church likely meant well with this film, the delivery is not very good.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Though Without a Father has a good purpose (which is obviously messaged in the title), the plot completely lacks focus, as it is mostly a random collection of stories all jumbled together.  Though the agenda is good, it is still pushed way too hard in the audience’s faces.  Narration is also heavy-handed and provides more message-pushing.  Trite Christian answers are provided as unrealistic quick fixes for problems.  Also, the legal premise presented here is basically not believable.  Finally, there is no justification for this film being so long, since the runtime is only sustained by long and drawn out scenes depicting the empty characters doing random things and activities of daily living.  Basically, having a low production budget is one thing, but the least you can do as a struggling film maker is make a decent plot without heavy-handed messaging.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As an amateur church cast, some forgiveness is in order here, but it still doesn’t warrant these poor performances.  The cast members are overly practiced and stiff in their delivery.  Emotions are too extreme and there is far too much yelling.  In short, from start to finish, Without a Father is unfortunately how not to make a church movie.

Conclusion

It’s baffling to me how churches make films this long.  In my experience, it’s difficult for a church to even make a thirty-minute film, much less one that’s nearly two hours.  With all the effort put into films like this, what do they really have to show for it?  We can understand not having enough money for a first-time church production, but if you’re going to make a movie like this, at least try to write a good story with realistic characters.  Otherwise, what’s really the point?

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Disconnect. Reconnect. (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Mark Vanderberg’s Com 16 project falls through and causes a massive error in the communications grid of the country, his employer tells him to lay low and stay home with his family until it all passes over.  With nothing better to do besides clean their rooms and discuss the curious social media site called Blended Planet, the family decides to practice their survival skills while trying to understand their strange astronomer neighbor and his antics.  But then the unthinkable happens as the power grid nearly reaches its quantum threshold and Mark is the only one who can save the world from reddish orange destruction.  What will they ever do?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Despite trying to create some kind of high-profile premise, Disconnect Reconnect has a very cheap production.  Video quality is quite poor and there are a lot of unnecessarily dark scenes.  Camera work is inconsistent.  Audio quality is unprofessional, as is the juvenile soundtrack.  Sets and locations are severely limited to one house and the surrounding neighborhood and do not give off a professional persona.  There are too many abrupt cuts and transitions in all the wrong places, thus making the editing very amateurish and silly.  Unfortunately, there is nothing positive to say about this production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Disconnect Reconnect is one of the most off-the-wall premises ever constructed.  The story is driven by very quirky and offbeat characters that are built using absurd and childish dialogue.  The writers construct a bizarre world filled with forceful references to their other films, especially product placements for Healed by Grace.  Besides the large of amount of wasted time, there is no way to really understand what is happening except for a bunch of isolating technical lingo that only demonstrates how little the writers really know about how the American communications infrastructure works.  Why center a plot around this obscure concept without attempting to be realistic?  To make matters worse, a cheap and juvenile Christian message is shoved into the story as it all culminates in one of the most laughable climax scenes ever.  In short, though this movie is good for laugh, it’s funny for all the wrong reasons.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The unintentional comedy continues into the acting as cast members unwittingly portray caricatures of themselves, as if their lines were written for a cartoon film.  Some performances are lazy while others are forceful.  Any way you look at it, it’s all one big mess.

Conclusion

It’s very difficult to pinpoint where the Blended Planet team is coming from.  They definitely wanted to be funny and different in Disconnect Reconnect, but it definitely did not work.  True comedy requires believable and accessible characters, not comic strip characters.  A comedy premise can certainly have an air of absurdity and still be good, but not this absurd.  Also, there is certainly no excuse for poor production quality.  Perhaps their work will improve in the future.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Catastasis {Crisis Call} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Pastor Robert Peterson tells his congregation to do one thing, but does a different thing at home.  Everyone thinks he has it all together, but when a desperate man he once counseled comes back to haunt him, Robert is forced to look at his life in a very uncomfortable way.  The man has taken Robert’s son hostage and thus forces Robert to do a series of actions in order to get his son back.  Will anyone come out of this dangerous game alive?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

In a first-time production, it’s probably not a good idea to begin with the suspense genre.  It is difficult to pull off suspenseful scenes without taking production shortcuts, like the ones taken in this film.  Shaky camera work is one of these shortcuts, as are tight shots and poor lighting throughout.  While video quality is fine, the sets and locations are quite limited, probably on purpose.  Audio quality is mostly average and the soundtrack is a slight attempt to be interesting, but it falls short.  Finally, there is really not much editing to speak of as all content created appears to be included in the final cut.  In the end, we could almost pass this production off as a rookie attempt, but the shortcuts taken cannot be ignored.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

The mind of Anthony Hackett is difficult to comprehend.  Similar to his later work, Love Different, Crisis Call carries an unusual brand or flavor that cannot be replicated.  Yet rather than a comedy, this dark thriller is full of bizarre insinuations and asides, as well as strange characters and rambling dialogue.  The premise is slightly interesting, yet it is also off-putting and somewhat offensive.  There are a lot of dark and brooding elements that offer a lot of hopelessness but not near enough redemption.  Though the ending tries to bring some redemption into the picture, it is too little too late.  We are not saying that Christian films should not deal with gritty and difficult topics—this is not the case at all.  The problem with Crisis Call is that it deals with them in a very incorrect manner, almost as if it is obsessed with being purposely dark.  While we definitely need different genre films in Christian entertainment, this is certainly not the way to go about this.  The offensive nature of this plot warrants negative points.

Acting Quality (0 points)

In a small cast such as this one, every little errors is amplified.  There are not enough positive elements to overcome to negative ones, which include overdone emotions and yelling, as well as many forced and overly practiced lines.  The villain actor is far too maniacal and seems to enjoy being creepy.  Unfortunately, we cannot award any points here.

Conclusion

Anthony Hackett is certainly not afraid of trying different things.  Both of his films are memorable—for all the wrong reasons.  If his goal was to get attention and leave a mark, he succeeded.  Now he needs to move past his first two efforts and seek to harness his creatively in more constructive ways.  Believe it or not, he really does have potential as a film maker, if he has the proper direction and a good team behind him.  It should be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Remember [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Carl Onoway is a captain in the new world army and is constantly tasked with making sure the new laws are enforced.  Children are not allowed to be raised by their parents and can only be raised by qualified professionals.  Everyone is required to take weekly medication to make them forget about their pasts and what has happened.  Propaganda, such as religious materials, is not allowed.  But what happens when these rules begin to be disobeyed?  What happens when Carl and his wife begin to remember the past?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Here’s a good rule of thumb for production: if you don’t have the budget to make it good, don’t make it at all.  This is especially true for sci-fi\speculative dystopian productions.  These types of projects require a lot of funding to create proper special effects, props, sets, and locations.  Unfortunately, Remember does not have what it takes in this department.  Audio quality is especially horrific, with lots of echoes and background noises.  Lighting is very inconsistent, with a lot of the outside scenes inordinately bright.  Camera work is very shaky and video quality is inconsistent.  Sets, locations, and props are very cheap-looking, with obvious low-quality special effects and animation riding on top of them.  The editing is lazy as it includes constant useless time subtitles and repeated sequences.  In the end, this is one of those nightmare productions that should have never been released to the public.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like the propaganda pushed in the plot of this film, the writers obviously had their own agenda in making this movie.  Otherwise, there’s no reason for its creation.  The dystopian premise constructed here is extremely absurd and juvenile as the viewer is constantly reminded that kids cannot be raised by their parents in this world but is given no realistic explanation as to why.  This is combined with constant obvious references to how the natural family structure is attacked in this dystopian world.  Rather than create meaningful characters, time is filled with message-pushing and repeating the same activities over and over again.  The villains are laughable and the protagonists are plastic.  As the story meanders and repeats itself, it still follows a predictable progression with a typical suspense climax scene.  Basically, what appears to be a convoluted idea just boils down to a typical plot structure with no real surprises.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Another grave error of a poorly-funded dystopian thriller is terrible costuming, and Remember sports this quality.  In an attempt to be futuristic, the costuming is very cheap and rushed.  As for the acting, line delivery is very half-hearted while emotional delivery is very forced and sometimes over the top.  Once again, this is another swing and a miss.

Conclusion

We desperately need new genre-breaking films in the Christian market, but this is just not the way.  What could be better than a well-funded, well-constructed dystopian thriller with a Christian worldview that’s not too pushy?  Unfortunately, Remember’s attempt to do this totally failed.  Maybe the creative team should have saved their money a bit more or made a dystopian short film just to get the ball rolling.  We know that funding an independent Christian film is very difficult, especially starting out, but that doesn’t mean you need to bite off more than you can chew.  There is no shame in doing the best you can with what you have.  Unfortunately, Remember is not the best.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Walk By Faith [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Corey Montgomery must live every day with sickle cell anemia and even face stigma for it.  But he feels like he has a chance to live a normal life when he receives word of a possible but risky cure to his disease.  As he continues to hide his disease from some, he tries to convince his mother to try to cure, even though her friends are skeptical of it.  In the end, they will all have to learn to walk by faith.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

From start the finish, the production of Walk By Faith is generally horrible.  Video quality is underwhelming and camera work is very shaky.  A lot of the shots are very tight to hide a lack of extras and resources.  The audio is most often overdubbed due to lack of proper equipment—the scenes that due have live audio recording are full of outside sounds.  The soundtrack is also very loud and annoying.  Many of the scenes look like they only contain one character talking to the air, and the sets and locations therein are extremely limited.  As for the editing, the transitions are very choppy and there are quite a few continuity errors.  In summary, due to lack of funding, resources, and general expertise, this production contains so many errors that its creation must be questioned.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It’s very difficult to determine what message the writers of this film are trying to convey.  Sometimes they attempt to create a bizarre dichotomy of persecution between Christians who are for and against technology and medical advances.  They also sometimes advocate for ‘faith healing’ but other times they do not.  Thus, the story constantly sends mixed messages of what they actually believe and what they think other people should do in this situation.  The plot is almost non-existent as this is just a random collection of useless scenes that are constantly obsessed with talking about sickle-cell anemia without even trying to develop any of the characters.  Literally nothing happens throughout except for a bunch of unusual and hard-to-follow conversations that do nothing to build up the characters or the subplots.  Also, the ending makes no sense.  Basically, it’s very hard to grasp what the motivation behind making this film was.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As a small and inexperienced cast, these cast members were in severe need of coaching.  However, this was not present, thus causing line delivery to be very stilted and measured.  The overdubbed lines wreak havoc on everything.  Also, emotions are very awkward and ingenuine.  Unfortunately, from start to finish, this film is an absolute train wreck.

Conclusion

It’s one thing to want to create a movie depicting the struggles of people with chronic illnesses, but this is absolutely not the way.  No attempts were made to make these people seem remotely realistic or accessible.  What is the point to giving screen time to obscure and bizarre worldviews or toying with their ideas without actually advocating for them?  In the end, the funding for this film should have been saved for another effort because it was certainly wasted here.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Birdie and Bogey (Movie Review)

EVERYBODY’S HAPPY!!!!!!!!

Plot Summary

Pro-golfer Danny O’Connor loves his daughter Birdie, which is why he makes the unorthodox decision to make her his caddy in a tournament.  She begins to have a positive effect on his game, and he inches closer to his dream of playing on the PGA tour.  However, their dreams are tested when a disease threatens their relationship and puts their faith to the test.  Will they be able to withstand the trials before them?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

It is very confusing as to why this film was ever produced, because despite the big names behind it, the quality is quite low.  Video quality is grainy, especially in bright outside scenes, and camera work is shaky.  Audio quality is medieval, including loud outside sounds and a clanky soundtrack.  Sets and locations are underwhelming.  When it comes to the editing, there are far too many sports and scenery montages.  It seems like hardly any effort was put towards this production due to its cheap quality, which begs the question, was this film a necessity to make?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Birdie and Bogey follows the predictable storyline of a typical sports plot and is saturated with golf content that isolates most audiences.  Other than golf references and training sequences, not much really happens in this story.  The premise of the film is very thin and flimsy, and the Christian message is very plastic and shoehorned in.  What little dialogue there in in this movie is very childish, and the characters therein are so over-the-top happy and sappy it’s enough to make you sick.  The end is very predictable and anti-climactic, if you make it that far.  Basically, we are unsure of what this film’s creators were really trying to convey here, but whatever it was, it never came through in a way that made any sense.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Just like the overly sappy characters, these cast members also act as fakely Hallmark as they can.  Their performances are very juvenile and over-the-top, obviously lacking in proper coaching.  Emotions are plastic and overly enthusiastic.  Also, the makeup jobs are atrocious.  In short, this is another example that causes us to ask why.

Conclusion

There are simply too many films on the Christian market like this one that have already been forgotten by most audiences and remain forever locked in the basement of Christian film.  We’ve said this before and will unfortunately continue saying this: making a film for the sake of making a film is never a good idea.  Just because you have a little bit of funding doesn’t mean you need to use it up on a knee-jerk movie.  Take your time, think about what you’re doing.  Make sure you have a good plot and the proper equipment and a cast who can at least be coached.  It’s simply not worth it to rush things.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Fathers [2012] (Movie Review)

Yup

Plot Summary

Michael was randomly abandoned by his wife while Rick’s wife and daughter died in a car wreck.  Rick hates God now but Michael is still a perfect role model for his son.  Rick has let his life fall into shambles, but Michael and his son reach out to Rick and his son and try to help them with stuff.  After hanging around the doing stuff for a while, tragedy suddenly strikes these characters and they will have to try to face it together.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Seriously, this movie looks like it was filmed with a camcorder on the cloudiest days possible.  We’ve seen some doozies when it comes to bad productions, but Fathers really takes the cake.  There are absolutely no positive elements here as everything about this production is terrible and horrific in every possible way.  From blurry video quality to shaky camera work to horrible audio quality to a loud soundtrack to highly unprofessional sets, this film is unrivaled, except for unforgettable gems like Final: The Rapture or My Refuge.  As if it matters, there is also no editing.  Just when we think we’ve seen it all, along comes another medieval production.  How does this stuff get made?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With barely any plot or purpose to speak of, Fathers mindlessly slogs along until the time is up.  Full of meandering emptiness and utter pointlessness, there is no clear story here to speak of.  Whatever point is trying to be conveyed here is totally lost in the disaster that this film is.  The characters therein in are totally empty and laughable, burping out garbled dialogue here and there.  Though there is an attempt at a plot twist near the end of the story, it’s just too little too late.  Words can’t even begin to describe how inept this film is.

Acting Quality (0 points)

If the Rossetti’s team goal was to find and cast the most awkward white people Walmart has to offer, then they succeeded with flying colors.  They succeeded in mumbling at least half of their lines and demonstrating to most dorky emotions ever.  They constantly repeat phrases like ‘you know’ over and over again.  At this point, it must be considered how much those involved in this film actually cared about what it looked like in the end.

Conclusion

There is little else we can say.  If you want a good laugh, you simply have to see this one for yourself.  If you don’t laugh, then you have to cry at the fact that this kind of stuff is made in the name of Christian film.  Money was spent on this and somehow it was released as a feature length film.  The only thing we can ask is why.  Why, why, why, why, why, why, why.  Why.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Project Dinosaur [2000] (Movie Review)

The information room? Correct!

Plot Summary

When Mikey crashes his unusual (haha) remote controlled airplane that probably shouldn’t have worked anyway, he sends one of his female friends to retrieve it, since that’s a woman’s job or something.  But she falls into a hole and accidentally finds a so-called dinosaur bone that was clearly planted in the dirt as it was hardly buried at all.  The only conclusion is that it’s a dinosaur bone, so Mikey swipes it for his new ‘science project’.  Now all they have to do is research some creationism versus evolution talking points, use an archaic computer program to look up types of dinosaurs, and avoid the evil bully Simon, who is bent on destroying the science project for some reason.  Just another day in the life of a Bob Jones kid.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Another day, another poor production spewed from the minds of white patriarchal Christians.  So much for making Christian things quality.  Video quality is grainy and camera work is pedestrian.  Audio quality is quite low, including a stupid childish soundtrack.  Sets and locations are limited to that same old ‘bed and breakfast’ from Treasure Map and a few others.  Special effects are horrid, including a stupid little beeping computer program that was clearly made for children.  Finally, editing is thrown out the window as a good portion of the beginning of Project Dinosaur rehashes things nobody cares about from Treasure Map.  In short, there is little to no point in making movies like this except to push an agenda, as we will see next.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

There is zero purpose in an unwanted remake of one of the world’s most horrid films of all time except to push the agenda of creating an extremely rigid dichotomy between creationism and evolution by making a strawman out of everything the writers disagree with.  This propaganda piece is barely an hour long, including rehashing from this movie’s predecessor, as if we care where these characters came from.  These perfect little white robots are programmed with childish dialogue and talking points that expose the ridiculous patriarchal fundamentalist worldview of the creators.  Essentially, with no real conflict or substance, the only reason to waste your time on this mess if you need a good laugh.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Who ever thought it was a good idea to copy over a majority of the Treasure Map cast?  The only ones missing are Edward White Eyes and his grandfather.  But this doesn’t alleviate the fact that not a single one of these cast members should have ever been cast ever again, period.  Yet when you have such a limited pool of perfect little white people who agree with your worldview, what’s a film maker to do?

Conclusion

Sadly, the saga of these white kids ended with Project Dinosaur and we have no more chances to know what happened to them!  As if we cared about what they were doing in the first place.  In all seriousness, it should be noted that the creators of Box Office Revolution were all homeschooled yet we wholeheartedly disagree with the worldviews propagated by fundamentalist Christina groups like Bob Jones.  We have nothing against this model of education, but we do take issue with Christians who purposely isolate themselves in bubbles and refuse to listen to people on ‘the other side’.  This is the real problem with this type of movie, as it further sinks Christian film to new lows.  But hopefully we are past this sort of thing in Christian entertainment.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

A Calling of Courage (Movie Review)

Fauston’s brain machine

Plot Summary

Sergeant Major Kurt Roberts is called home from his duty when his teenage daughter, Zoey, is in a car accident that leaves her in a coma.  Since her prognosis is unknown, Zoey is allowed to go back home to stay until she comes out of her coma.  Under the care of her parents and an in-home nurse, Zoey lays in a coma for months.  Then her nurse decides to bring in an old friend to experiment with his new brain machine that can communicate with people who are in comas.  What could go wrong?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

It’s unbelievable that so-called productions like this are even funded.  Even so, what did they spend the money on, because there is no quality whatsoever here.  Camera work is very shaky, video quality is underwhelming, and lighting is poor in most scenes.  The sets are limited to basically one house and some outside scenes.  Audio quality is also inconsistent and the soundtrack is generic.  There is no editing as pretty much all of their empty ideas are included.  Essentially, this is not a production that needed any funding, especially since they wasted it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

What is happening here?  The story starts as a half-baked idea about a girl laying around in a coma and three other characters caring about what happens to her and then suddenly transforms into an off-the-wall sci-fi concept, complete with Fauston’s special brain machine that can communicate with someone who’s in a coma.  Before this point, hardly anything happens and there is a lot of off-screen content.  The medical premise is strange and has a lot of plot holes.  Despite the fact that there are basically five characters in this plot, they are extremely empty and wooden.  Dialogue does nothing to develop them, even though they sit around talking all the time.  Basically, besides being bizarre and childish in an attempt to be creative, A Calling of Courage was barely justified as a plot as there is really no content to speak of here.  Thus, there is no point in any of this.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With basically five to seven cast members, one of which lays in a bed a majority of the film, there is not much to work with here.  The cast members are robotic and empty in their line delivery and in their emotions.  We can’t relate to them as real people.  Also, there is an odd portrayal of military service members.  In short, like the rest of this horrific mess, the acting has nothing to offer.

Conclusion

As we will see this week, the theme of Faith House Pictures is having the bare minimum resources required to slap together a half-baked movie just for the sake of making it.  Their model seems to be to acquire the funds necessary to have basically one set, less than ten cast members, and the cheapest possible production equipment, and combine this with a tiny plot idea that includes some eccentric element(s).  There is no justification for Faith House Pictures to exist, and yet they do.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Apocalypse 1: Caught in the Eye of the Storm (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Helen Hannah and Bronson Pearl are two of the world’s top new reporters, but they are about to experience a breaking story like never before—the Rapture has come to the world and everyone left behind is left wondering what happened.  As the world descends into violence and chaos, everyone looks to a new world leader to answer their problems.  But at the same time, this leader turns everyone against those who hold the true hope for humanity—namely, the Christians.  Will Pearl and Hannah find the truth before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

As a production created in 1998, there really isn’t a lot good to say here.  Yet the fact that it was made in this year doesn’t mean it has to be this bad.  Video quality is cheap and camera work is maddening with constant zooming.  Sets, locations, and props are limited and cheesy.  Audio quality is poor with a loud and annoying soundtrack.  Many scenes have poor lighting and look like they were recorded in a closet.  Besides all this, the film is just one giant advertisement for Jack Van Impe, but it’s not even presented well.  With production this bad, nobody’s going to watch this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

I’m sure there is a good message in here somewhere, but with Van Impe propaganda constantly being shoved down your throat and with this plot being so bad, it’s hard to find.  All typical apocalyptic concepts are conveniently inserted and forced into the story in obvious ways as Van Impe finds a way to shove every single one of his beliefs into the plot.  With this going on, there is no real plot as a majority of the story is told through childish news reports.  Character development is non-existent, since dialogue is stunted as the pot rushes along quickly to hit the apocalyptic high points.  Unfortunately, there is really nothing good to say here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

To fit with the rest of the film, this acting is very awkward and amateurish.  Line delivery is very measured and forced, while emotions are wooden.  This cast seemed like it had potential, but it was never found.

Conclusion

One can understand a ministry leader’s motivation to get their message and beliefs out there through means of entertainment, but this is just unacceptable.  Combining extremely low quality with propaganda is one of the worst combinations you can make.  While there is somewhat of a gospel presentation at the end of this film, who’s watching it?  Who wants a gospel packaged in this way?  As Christians, we need to move past the whole ‘scaring people with the apocalypse’ convention because it’s not working and people who need to hear the gospel are laughing at this.  But wait, there’s three more of these films…

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Creed of Gold (Movie Review)

The permeations are insanely complex

Plot Summary

Cody Williams was entrusted a secret by his parents, but it is a secret that could change the world forever.  When he moves to America to go to school, he feels that it is his destiny to use his secret—a list of the world’s most powerful elites—to make a difference and bring down the Federal Reserve.  With the help of God and some newfound friends, Cody sets out to do just that, but they encounter trouble along the way from those who want to silence them forever.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Creed of Gold is supposed to be some serious action adventure epic, but it’s just not.  Unfortunately, Crystal Creek Media still doesn’t have production quality down.  From poor lighting to dizzying camera angles to cheap special effects and CGI, this one is a real doozy.  With clearly no boom mic to speak of nearly all of the dialogue is voiced over in post, and it’s very obvious that they are voiceovers.  Any audio that is not voiced over is very poor, and the ‘action’ soundtrack is very loud and annoying.  In short, if you don’t have the resources to make a good action production, please don’t make one at all.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

What is this plot?  From the confusing prologue to the silly unrealistic premise of a bunch of college students trying to hack the Federal Reserve, there is no sense or continuity here.  Random things just happen for no reason, subplots jump all over the place, and leaps in logic are constantly used to drive the plot.  Despite the constant in-your-face anti-Fed propaganda and many long and drawn out conversations about isolating topics, the plot is still extremely complicated and offers no explanation as to how characters go from point A to point B.  Due to the droning conversations, the characters are extremely one-dimensional and the villains are very cheesy.  Creed of Gold just feels like an idea that never figured out what it was supposed to be.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, there is nothing good to say here either.  The acting is very wooden and robotic.  Little emotion is demonstrated from this cast, and there are too many obviously fake accents.  I wish there was something good to say, but there’s just not.

Conclusion

We think the Crystal Creek Media team means well, but they have been short on delivery.  Since Creed of Gold is almost a National Treasure knockoff, we strongly suggest they reconsider what types of plots they are writing.  Also, until more resources are available for better production quality, action adventure films are probably not the way to go.  We believe they have potential, they just need some direction and better backing.  Perhaps they will improve in the future.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Unidentified [2006] (Movie Review)

Strange invaders…

Plot Summary

Keith and Brad work for a magazine that is more prominent its own mind and when they are sent by their supervisor to investigate some UFO claims in some obscure small town in Texas, they can’t believe it.  They think it’s all pointless, especially when the locals refuse to talk about the sightings.  But when their friend Darren invites them to take a different look at the UFO phenomena, their whole world is turned upside down.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Sometimes the Christiano brothers put together a respectable production, but not in Unidentified.  The okay camera work is the only positive quality to speak of.  The video quality is quite cheap and there are too many cheesy special effects littering the film.  Though the plot goes all over the country, the sets and locations are fairly limited and mostly focus on the office set.  Finally, the editing is extremely choppy in a failed attempt to be dramatic.  In short, there are not enough redeeming qualities to make up for the rest of the nonsense in this movie.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

The Christiano brothers might as well have not even tried to make this a fiction plot, because it’s mainly a docu-drama filled with regurgitated UFO documentary talking points.  There are tons of disjointed subplots that are nearly impossible to follow and that are based entirely on coincidences.  Things happen because they need to as the dialogue is filled with information dumps and consists of long and drawn out conversations.  There is also tons of off-screen content.  A clear agenda is being pushed here, placing this plot in the propaganda category.  Even though there may be some truth to what is being said here, it comes off as disingenuous and is mostly clouded with legalism.  As usual, opposing worldviews are treated offensively, thus warranting negative points.  Finally, this film has the weirdest end since Decision that you have to see to believe.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Except for a few small positive elements, this cast is very unprofessional.  It’s not only a very awkward cast, but they are not coached very well at all.  Their line delivery and emotional delivery are overly practiced and robotic.  Some cast members come off as lofty.  In short, this rounds out a very embarrassing effort.

Conclusion

It is clear that the Christiano brothers have a legalistic agenda to push both in this film and in others like Time Changer and A Matter of Faith.  The sad thing is that spiritual issues like the ones alluded to in Unidentified need to be discussed on Christian film, yet people like the Christianos are the only ones who seem to do this, and always in the wrong way.  There is some truth to the UFO phenomena, but no one is going to learn it from this film.  Unidentified only serves to further solidify a Pharisaical and sometimes bizarre image in Christian film, especially Christian sci-fi, which is a needed genre.  Who will stand up to reverse this trend?

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

The Young Messiah (Movie Review)

I’m British!

Plot Summary

According to some fake historical accounts written down in pseudepigraphical infancy gospels, while the British boy Jesus lived in British Egypt, he supposedly had no idea that He was God in the flesh as His family ‘concealed’ His true identity from Him.  Stalked by Satan, British Jesus accidentally raised people from the dead and healed them.  But when British Herod sent a British Centurion to kill the little British Messiah, young British Jesus must discover who He is before it’s too late.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Despite its glaring flaws, The Young Messiah does have good production merits, which is becoming the new baseline of Christian film.  Camera work and video quality are obviously professional, except for a few strange moments of weird camera angles.  The audio quality is fine but the soundtrack leaves something to be desired.  The sets and locations are mostly realistic.  However, there are some editing issues pertaining to useless scenes and generally confusing plot development.  Overall, this is a respectable effort and lends to the new normal of Christian film, which is quality productions.  However, it gets worse from here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

I don’t care what your theology is—if you believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man from birth, then there’s no way you can believe that the young Jesus had zero clue what He was supposed to do on earth or that Mary could conceal anything from Him.  What is the actual point of constructing an entire plot around keeping a ‘secret’ from God Himself?  Even without this issue, this plot is meandering, useless, and without focus as it jumps from one sensational scene to the next.  With tons of extra-Biblical, questionable, and even borderline explicit content, The Young Messiah has an overall dark feel to it and an unhealthy addiction to sadistic violence.  Bizarre spiritual elements are also present as this film has a typical obsession with Satan, who is mostly portrayed as smarter than Jesus.  Perhaps the entire motivation for making this mess should be reexamined.  With no truly redemptive qualities to speak of and an offensive portrayal of Christ, this plot warrants negative points.

Acting Quality (-1 points)

Obviously the standard for slapping together a Bible film is to put out a casting call for people who sound like they stepped out of a Charles Dickens novel.  There’s nothing wrong with cockney British accents, mind you, as long as they are kept in their proper place, like Jane Austen movies and such.  But why, can anyone tell me, do movie creators feel the need to endlessly cast Roman and Middle Eastern figures as WHITE BRITISH PEOPLE?!  It effects everything—not just the accents—but even the out-of-place culture-specific references like ‘hubbub’.  Besides this, costuming and makeup is generally weird and line delivery is overly dramatic.  Any good hidden here is totally overshadowed by all things BRITISH.

Conclusion

If you’re going to make a Biblical movie, first why do you feel the need to cast an entirely and extremely BRITISH cast?  Second, why not portray a clearly written story from Scripture rather than some made up garbage from a false historical source (see pseudepigrapha and Infancy Gospels)?  It’s not like we’re running out of Bible stories to choose from for movies.  And we’re certainly not at an international shortage for Middle Eastern cast members as some have shown.  Even if you’re not going to cast totally Middle Eastern people, can’t you at least have them learn different accents?  Some actors conceal their accents for some roles because that’s their job.  Can’t we respect the Bible enough, at least as a historical document, and attempt some authenticity?  Finally, if you don’t care to portray Jesus and Satan properly, don’t make a movie about them, KTHXBYE.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When she’s sent with her friends to boarding school to become ‘proper ladies and gentlemen’, Mandie Shaw and crew stumble upon an attic full of Christmas secrets of years gone by.  But another girl is determined to get them in trouble for snooping around.  Yet Mandie is equally determined to find out the important information behind a room full of Christmas junk.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Though there was some effort put in here, Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas embraces its childish identity too much.  The entire production has an overall plastic feel to it, as the video quality looks like it’s been adjusted in post-production.  The lighting is all wrong and camera work is very amateurish.  Some of the audio sounds like it’s been over-dubbed while other parts are very echoed.  The soundtrack is very cheesy and the audience is forced to listen to all kinds of stupid Christmas sound effects throughout.  There is virtually no editing present as the story meanders around aimlessly.  Essentially, the Mandie trilogy has digressed as it has gone on.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As previously mentioned, there is little to no focus in this plot as the viewer is forced to sit through one choppy scene after another.  The dialogue is very stilted and over-practiced, like a bad church play.  The characters are quite plastic and scream ‘children’s book characters’ with every line and action.  We realize this was adapted from a children’s book, but it doesn’t have to be like this.  The events that happen are not terribly realistic and seem to exist in a magical alternate world.  Also, the ending is as cheesy as can be expected.  Essentially, there’s really nothing good to say here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Really, what’s the point of casting David Blamy as a different character in this installment than he was in the first two installments?  It’s extremely confusing and gives off the impression that they can’t find anybody else to cast in these films.  Besides this, changing lead actresses in the midst of a trilogy\saga is never a good idea.  In other respects, this cast is really not any good at acting and acting coaching is absent.  As previously mentioned, this is just a bad church play.

Conclusion

As the Mandie series comes to a pathetic conclusion (maybe?), we have to reflect on what was truly accomplished in this saga.  There was some potential early on, but it quickly faded away.  We have to wonder if there was any justification for bringing this books to film, as the movies likely hurt the reputation of the children’s series.  We’re sure that the creators meant well, but maybe some advice seeking was in order.  Ambition is great, but delivering well is even better.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Midnight Clear [2006] (Movie Review)

Hold on, it's another movie calling
Hold on, it’s another movie calling

Plot Summary

Lefty is a drunken no-account who has been fired from his job, is living in his car, and is going through a divorce.  Desperate for money, he begins planning a robbery.  Eva is a shut-in widow who feels like no one in the world cares about her or would miss her if she died.  Kirk owns a convenience store but feels like he’s not making a difference in the world.  Mary is left raising her son alone when her husband has a car accident that leaves his brain permanently damaged.  Mitch is a youth pastor who is tired of going through the motions and wants to impact someone’s life for God.  All of these stories intersect at Christmastime and learn valuable lessons.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

With just under a million dollars spent on this work, there is no reason why it is so poor, but it is.  The video quality is grainy and the camera angles are awkward.  The audio quality is poor and the soundtrack is stock Christmas stuff.  The sets and locations are cheap with nothing special about them.  With so many subplots to juggle, the editing is not very good as it chooses to waste time on blank and empty scenes.  Essentially, there is really not much to say here because the production is so empty and disappointing.  This should have been way better than this for the money spent on it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As previously mentioned, there are too many subplots in this storyline, therefore they are disjointed and do not flow together well.  They are all just crammed into the film for the sake of making the film long enough.  Due to the number of them, character development is left by the wayside; we barely get to know any of these people as the movie jumps from one subplot to another.  This leaves the characters flat, supported by uninspiring and boring dialogue.  Also, to connect some of the subplots together, odd coincidences are employed to give it that Christmas-miracle-feel.  While there are some slightly interesting ideas here, there is no heart behind them.  There are too many off-the-wall elements present that come off as abrasive.  The ending is predictable and leaves much to be desired.  In short, Midnight Clear was a half-idea forced to happen because Christmas, of course.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With a small cast of people that have at least an average amount of talent (not sure about Stephen Baldwin), Midnight Clear is supported entirely by its actors and actresses.  However, with no acting coaching, this is not a good thing.  While there are no glaring acting errors, everything about the acting is just like the rest of the film: flat and boring.  There are little to no believable emotions and line delivery is pedestrian.  I suppose that description pretty much sums up the movie.

Conclusion

Of all the Jerry B. Jenkins stories to bring to the big screen, one of the most obscure and boring was chosen.  There are better choices that have nothing to do with holiday cheer.  While the message behind Midnight Clear has some substance to it, this is not conveyed properly in the film.  This one either needed a serious rework in pre-production or it needed to be abandoned altogether.  Just having another cheap Christmas movie on the market is not what this world needs.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Belle and the Beast: A Christian Romance (Movie Review)

Please love me, I'm desperate
Please love me, I’m desperate

Plot Summary

Eric Landry is known as a ruthless businessman who stays locked up in his mansion all day yelling at people.  Belle Watson is the nicest, most hard working young woman you can think of.  But when Eric threatens to have Belle’s father fired for breaking some stupid vase, Belle confronts the businessman and strikes a deal with him: she will work for him to pay off her father’s debt, in addition to all the other things she does.  Though they frequently argue, Belle and Eric slowly begin to like each other and this attraction could grow into something more!

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Belle and the Beast is a different than usual production for WisenQuest, but it is still not any good.  The video quality is still grainy and there are odd camera angles.  Audio quality is just okay and the soundtrack is underwhelming.  It seems like every scene uses a different set just for the sake of it, like they actually had a lot of sets at their disposal and they decided to flaunt it.  But it doesn’t help anything, as many of the scenes therein are useless and only expand the movie’s runtime, even though plenty of pertinent details occur off screen.  Thus, in can be inferred that little to no editing took place as a part of this production.  In fact, it’s difficult to understand how and why productions like this one keep getting made.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Beginning with the canned narration sequence at the beginning and ending with an empty and trite attempt at forced romance, Belle and the Beast is scripted and copied from just about any cheesy family-friendly romance you can think of.  Besides the constant shoehorning of ‘beast’ themes and the vague business premise and lingo, there’s the boy meets girl and they don’t like each other scene, the boy and girl have a fight scene, the girl finds something important about the boy’s troubled past scene, the girl complains to her female friend about the boy who she supposedly doesn’t like scene, the boy and girl talk backstory scene, boy and girl have a soft ‘accidental’ romantic scene…need I go on?  I didn’t even cover the boy and girl break up over a misunderstanding caused by the girl’s strawman alternate love interest (pictured above) scene.  Then there’s the obligatory get back together kissing scene.  The stereotypical progression of this plot is downright laughable.  Programmed with stock dialogue, the comical characters are swept up in a grand design far bigger than themselves…it was written in some Hallmark storyboarding room decades ago to be copied by all.  Needless to say, this model never needs to be replicated again.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This stereotypical cast really had no clue how to handle emotional delivery.  The wannabe Hallmark actor Matthew Davis ranges from wild, over-the-top yelling to vanilla line delivery.  Other cast members do a terrible job at trying to be sad.  The acting is overall stiff and empty, and the makeup jobs are typically horrible.  I didn’t even fully cover how the presence of Caitlyn E. J. Meyer in a film totally makes the experience bizarre, but you get the point.

Conclusion

What is to be learned from films like Belle and the Beast or any other WisenQuest work?  There are so many like it on the market; this is just an example of others passed over.  While true love should be portrayed in Christian film, it needs to be done in a manner that is realistic and believable.  Crafting a fantasy tale and trying to call it the real world is just doing a disservice to everyone.  There’s nothing wrong with romance, but please make an attempt at realism.  If you want a blueprint, look to films like Old-Fashioned.  All we can hope is that more like that film will be made in the future.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Overcome [2008] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Colton is a bad boy.  He spray paints churches, defies his passive aggressive parents, makes fun of people for no reason, skips out on work, destroys volleyballs, blends up cell phones, and drinks at parties.  But his drunkenness costs him one night when he and his buddy are driving home drunk and they crash into a fellow student of theirs.  While in the hospital, Colton dies and comes back to life a totally changed man.  He seeks to make amends with Sarah, the girl he crashed into, and tries to help her regain her tennis skills.  The more time they spend together, the more they like each other.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

WisenQuest seems set on generating low quality Christian productions at any cost.  Overcome repeats their usual mistakes, including terrible camera work and low video quality.  Audio quality is also bad, accompanied by a cheesy free soundtrack.  Though outside scenes are a central part of this film, they are executed very poorly—sometimes too bright and other times too dark.  For that matter, sets and locations are very underwhelming and low-effort.  Finally, there is virtually no editing as the production team squeezed everything possible into the runtime to make the movie long enough to be justifiable; more on this will be discussed shortly.  Basically, this is just business as usual for WisenQuest.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Overcome is supposed to be based on the conversion of the Apostle Paul, but the plot has a very weak correlation with the original story.  As previously mentioned, there is very little content to speak of in this plot.  The runtime is padded with tons of childish montages and cheesy awkward conversations.  The dialogue is very staged, thus creating cardboard characters.  Though the writers attempt to take on serious issues of juvenile delinquency, they are ill-equipped to handle them because the issues are portrayed in an immature fashion.  It’s like they’re scared to do anything ‘too controversial’ or ‘too deep’ and thus skate on the surface of everything, never finding any substance.  The ending is anti-climactic and the film is overall yawn-inducing.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Pulling from their usual store of amateur cast members, the Wisenquest team did not see fit to employ any acting coaching.  Some lines are mumbled and most of them come off as overly rehearsed.  Emotions are forced and not believable.  Also, makeup jobs are atrocious.

Conclusion

The team at WisenQuest apparently just decided to spit out some half-hearted ideas in an unprofessional fashion just to contribute to the already-crowded market of wasted Christian films.  With very little content to speak of and a tiny correlation with a Biblical account, Overcome is as forced as a movie comes.  This is called making a movie for the sake of making one.  No thought was put into quality.  This film will just take its place among the myriad of failed Christian films before and after it.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Island of Grace [2010] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

While in route on a business trip, Mark, Megan, and Chris survive a plane crash in the south Pacific and find themselves stranded on an abandoned island.  Forced to fend for themselves in the wild, they wonder if anyone will ever find them.  Megan finds herself torn between the two men as she tries to conceal her Christian faith to impress Mark, even though Chris, an outspoken Christian, does not want her to.  In the end, they will all have decisions to make that will impact their lives forever.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

While the effort is nice to film at a different than usual location, namely an island, this choice actually does more harm than good.  This is mostly due to the extremely loud and constant outdoor background noise in the island scenes, which mostly consists of incessant wave and waterfall noises.  Besides this, other sets are quite limited and the usage of props is cheesy.  The video quality is below average and the camera work uninspiring.  Besides the terrible audio quality previously mentioned, the soundtrack is very pedestrian.  Finally, there is no editing present—what you see is what you get.  Despite the unique concept behind the film, there was little to no justification for this film being made.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Though this plot is trying to depict a serious survival situation, this idea is treated flippantly as a majority of the movie is spent hashing out a superficial high school love triangle while on a deserted island.  Important issues are portrayed in a petty way and are overshadowed by silly relationship issues.  Thus, the content is very shallow, as is the dialogue.  Even though the plot focuses on primarily three characters for over an hour, we don’t get to know any of them very well—they are just people reciting lines and being swept along by circumstances.  There are no plot twists and the ending is as superficial as the rest of the storyline.  In short, what started out as an interesting idea quickly devolved into unimportant fluff.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With the tiny amateur cast that carries the movie on their shoulders, they needed to come through, but they did not.  Coaching is obviously absent as line delivery is very lackluster.  Emotional delivery is plastic and uninspiring.  Costuming is okay but nothing groundbreaking.  The bottom line is that this film failed in every category.

Conclusion

We kind of feel sorry for the creators of Island of Grace because they could be nice people.  Unfortunately, another film with another petty portrayal of relationships is not what the market needs, especially if it’s trying to depict a survival situation.  This genre should be gritty and suspenseful, not light and laughable.  If God gives you the opportunity to make a film, you should leave it all on the field and make a mark on the field.  This is what mainly frustrates us—film makers not taking their calling seriously, because it is certainly a calling if God has given you the opportunity to create.  Please do not take it lightly and seek to make a difference.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

2 to Tangle [2013] (Movie Review)

I think you mean the 'coincidence of faith'
I think you mean the ‘coincidence of faith’

Plot Summary

Jessica finds herself torn between dumping her no-account boyfriend Tom and trying to fix him.  But then the unthinkable happens (one hour into the film): Tom tragically dies in a car accident, leaving Jessica and his family heartbroken.  But then Tom starts appearing to Jessica after his death.  Is she being haunted by an apparition masquerading as her dead boyfriend?  Is she going crazy and seeing things?  She will have to find out if she ever expects life to go back to normal.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Starting off, this production is less than quality, to say the least.  The camera work is very shaky and the video quality is quite grainy.  Audio quality is inconsistent, especially in the outdoor scenes, and the soundtrack is very cheap-sounding.  The sets and locations are amateurish and the lighting is terrible in a majority of the scenes.  The fades and transitions between the scenes are very awkward, sometimes cutting off characters before they are done talking.  For that matter, all of the editing is quite choppy, sometimes making scenes drag on too long and sometimes not allowing scenes to run their full course.  In other words, while money was obviously tight with this effort, there was little to no justification for creating it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

If you watch the trailer for 2 to Tangle, it partially spoils the ‘suspenseful’ plot twist this film pretends to conceal.  But if you watch the movie for roughly twenty minutes, the entire ‘twist’ is full revealed without leaving anything to the imagination.  Besides this, the ‘twist’ isn’t even realistic or feasible in the real world.  While there is quite a bit of content in this overall cheap creation, it’s just a bunch of shallow subplots spliced together with no real coherent thought.  Many elements defy logic and sense, including juvenile ‘coincidences’.  There are too many bizarre tangents and rabbit trails that do nothing except expose the wacked out worldview of the writers.  This film’s characters are extremely immature in their behavior and spout empty, programmed dialogue.  Furthermore, the ending is anti-climactic and trumped up.  Basically, 2 to Tangle is a ‘clever’ idea gone awry.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The creators of this film likely just cast some of their friends and people they knew, because it’s a horrible casting job.  While there’s nothing wrong with amateur casts, coaching must always be present for it to make any sense.  An actor playing two different characters should rarely be done.  Line delivery in this film is wooden and forced.  Emotions are very empty, even when the characters are working overtime to make us believe they are happy or sad.  It just doesn’t work.

Conclusion

What do the makers of films like 2 to Tangle really expect?  To make a truly great movie, regardless of the size of your budget, you have to put thought into what you do.  If God has called you to make a movie, then He will give you the resources you need to make a great one, but you have to put forth work and effort.  Independent film making is a tough business and sometimes unrewarding, but putting in the work and prayer to make a quality film pays dividends.  Movies like 2 to Tangle just seem disingenuous and lackadaisical, which is the last thing we need in the field of Christian film.  Next time, please give it a little more thought, because the reputation of Christian film lives and breathes by you.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Second Glance [1992] (Movie Review)

Jesus man!
Jesus man!

Plot Summary

Back in the Dark Ages of Christian film, when David A. R. White was a fresh new face on the scene and when the Christiano brothers competed with Bob Jones University and WorldWide Pictures for control of the market, this movie was borne.  Depicting the iconic struggles of a perfect Christian teenager in an evil fallen high school world, Second Glance has been called ‘the best Christian film ever’ by dubious critics.  This teen feels like he’s not making any difference at all, so he wishes the unthinkable—that he wasn’t a Christian anymore.  He wakes up with this wish come true, so guided by a creepy angel, he is forced to take a second glance at his life.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

In this barely one-hour length extended short film, production errors are aplenty.  Camera work is bad, including a lot of awkward tight shots, and video quality is very poor.  The audio quality is replete with background noises that often drown out dialogue.  Also, a stupid soundtrack blares constantly.  The sets and locations are severely limited, and characters are awkwardly placed in them.  Editing is virtually nonexistent, since they basically cut nothing from this film.  They needed all the wasted time they could get to stretch this glorified skit into an hour-long ‘movie’.  In short, there is nothing positive to highlight here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This movie might as well be called Randy’s Party, because that’s the focal point of the entire plot.  This illustrious event, and that creepy King-James-Version-only angel that keeps following David A. R. White around are the highlights of the film.  In this character-based coming-of-age biopic, the characters are extremely shallow.  The high school kid White plays is extremely perfect and holds his universe together while everyone else is either beholden to his wisdom, neutral, or obviously wicked.  This makes the entire premise of this film absurd and unrealistic.  The dialogue that can be discerned is uninspiring.  There’s really nothing else to say here except that this It’s a Wonderful Life plot concept has been thoroughly worn out at this point.  Next time, please think through your idea before forcing it to happen.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As previously mentioned, easily half the lines are unable to be deciphered, partially because of background noises and partially due to mumbled delivery.  Emotions are awkwardly delivered, as with most things involving David A. R. White.  Behavior is extremely obvious and forced, trying to drive home concepts that should be subtle (gee, that sounds familiar).  As with everything else in this film, there is nothing good to note here.

Conclusion

This is such a half-baked idea that it doesn’t even warrant creation.  Couldn’t they have just dumped this one in the early stages?  But no, Christian movies must be made at all costs!  If you stand in the way, you are a persecutory extremist humanist atheist propaganda machine bent on controlling the minds of children.  The world in this movie is portrayed as very bad and oppressive to Christians (an early David A. R. White concept), and Christians must stand up against it or something.  Second Glance could almost be a prequel to Holyman Undercover.  There is really nothing learned from this work, so unless you just want to watch the infamous final scene (depicted above), don’t waste your time.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

A Letter for Joe [2013] (Movie Review)

Forgiveness...................is no joke
Forgiveness……………….is no joke

Plot Summary

When a collection of ‘troubled’ guys who hang out in a bar all the time decide to pick on Joe, an impressionable ‘seventeen-year-old’ (for no particular reason), by forging a letter for him from millionaire Howard Hughes.  This letter instructs Joe to fly to Las Vegas and meet Hughes for an important job interview.  Without question, this clueless ‘kid’ jumps to ‘free-wheeling Las Vegas’ and lands himself an accidental job working for the eccentric entrepreneur.  As he jets around the country buying up supposedly historic artifacts, the troubled guys suddenly fall into personal ‘tragedies’ of their own.  Will they ever be able to reconcile and show that forgiveness……..is no joke?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Obviously shot using a limited budget, A Letter for Joe screams cheap church production.  There are many more like this film that are not ninety minutes long and do not make it to on-demand video services.  It boasts all the trademarks of this indie subgenre: shaky camera work (replete with tons of character close-ups and tight shots), grainy video quality, an ear-piercing soundtrack, inconsistent audio quality, and poorly designed sets and props.  Does that about cover it?  I think it does.  Nothing else to see here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This is supposed to be an allegory of the story of Joseph from the Old Testament, but the correlation is so loose that it’s nearly unrecognizable.  All we’re left with is endless scenes of planes flying in the sky, montages of Joe buying ‘historic stuff’, random high school football scenes, a laughable scene that includes a character running with a broken leg, an intelligent discussion on provisional scholarships as two characters sit in a very poorly designed car simulator, and yes, tons of vintage cars.  The so-called plot is head-scratching and downright confusing.  The dialogue that isn’t horribly mumbled does nothing to assist in character development.  Many events happen out of context and there is really no reason for the major plot points to occur.  Basically, whatever was trying to be accomplished here totally fell flat.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Starring as Joe, Evan Schwaaaaab Schwalb delivers the most unsure and low self-esteem acting job since John Carmen as The Rev.  Many other acting performances are also particularly memorable, but not in a good way.  As previously mentioned, many lines from all cast members are terribly mumbled.  Emotions are out of place for the situations they are in.  I think that about covers this area.

Conclusion

A Letter for Joe is essentially a bunch of college guys in Florida who got together to try their hand at movie making.  While they put a lot of effort into acquiring 1970s-era vehicles for visuals, they totally failed at actually making a movie.  This effort makes us nostalgic of unmentionable church films of days gone by.  When dealing with films like this one, the question is always a resounding “Why?”  What’s the purpose of this movie?  Does it provide us with anything besides unwanted laughs?  We seriously doubt it.  A word of advice: film makers, please save your funding for something that’s going to truly make a difference.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Right to Believe [2014] (Movie Review)

What a strange idea.......
What a strange idea…….

Plot Summary

Tony Morris, a reporter for a local newspaper, suddenly finds his faith tested when he is instructed by his maniacal boss to cover a local gay pride parade.  This assignment consists entirely of him interviewing a gay activist in a coffee shop to get that hard hitting piece done.  As they argue back and forth on a wide variety of topics and employ outdated textbook arguments, the audience is left breathless in wonder.  The plot twists and turns even more when Tony and his plastic wife discuss his occupational dilemma while sitting on the world’s most hideous couch (pictured above).  Suspense builds when a random gun-wielding man threatens the lives of the two debaters.  In the end, as the film’s original soundtrack asks us, will anyone have the right to believe?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Being forced to sit through this docu-drama should be a crime.  With poor video quality and amateurish camera work, Right to Believe is a loser in every possible way.  The lighting is very inconsistent in the three sets that are used to film this wonder.  That’s right: there’s only three sets.  Audio quality is the pits, especially when you’re compelled to have the most obnoxious non-Hallmark soundtrack shoved into your ears, complete with the garage band original number that shares its title with this movie.  To round things off, prop usage is high school caliber.  In short, this is perhaps the cheapest looking production we have ever witnessed.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This is not a plot.  There is zero plot content and the entire film consists of two long-winded coffee shop debates on homosexuality, sin, Christianity, and other related topics.  Both sides of the issue use strawman arguments, like the Christian character saying that sin is worse in modern times because of technology.  The portrayal of the gay character is cringe-worthy.  Despite there only being three or four main characters, there is no development of any of them as we are forced to watch them stiffly converse in a coffee shop environment and lounge on the world’s most hideous couch.  They are talking points robots programmed to say stereotypical things.

No one will be converted based on the empty arguments offered by either side of the issue.  There’s really not much else to say here except for this film is a total embarrassment.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With literally eight cast members to work with, the acting should be flawless due to efficient acting coaching.  This is not the case (shocker).  More than half the time, spoken lines are indiscernible and mumbled.  There are no realistic emotions to speak of.  But after reviewing the other elements of this film, who’s really surprised?

Conclusion

At the end of this film, there is a black and white epilogue depicting the main character’s confession article as an internationally acclaimed piece, even appearing in Chinese and Russian (?) newspapers and books.  Are we really supposed to believe this is the case?  The writers were obviously bigger in their own heads.  If they really wanted to craft an unforgettable epic on the Christian response to homosexuality, they should have taken more time to actually listen to the other side rather than paint them as illegitimate and stupid.  There is no care or thought in this film as sensitive issues are clinically diagnosed and ‘fixed’ with empty arguments and rhetoric.  In some ways, Right to Believe is an example of the sad state of the American church: cold, unfeeling, entitled, and somewhat delusional.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Seven Deadly Words (Movie Review)

They're always watching.........
They’re always watching………

Plot Summary

When the Bennett family moves to Connorsville, Indiana, to lead a struggling small church that’s running low on funds, what they find there is not what they expected.  They find a very small congregation who is largely controlled and influenced by a local rich family.  When Pastor Evan Bennett decides to disagree with them on a riveting budget line item, they unleash their full wrath on his family.  Can the Bennett family survive the onslaught and get their budget passed before darkness descends on the church forever?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Where to begin?  Seven Deadly Words is an experience unlike any other.  For starters, the movie is framed as a fake documentary, sort of like a found footage film, but lacking the usual elements of this indie film genre.  Needless to say, this docu-drama concept just serves as a crutch for poor production quality.  For example, shaky camera work and inconsistent video quality throughout are ‘masked’ by the ‘raw footage’.  The film is filled with constant reality show ‘confessional’ style interviews, which pump the runtime.  Aspect ratios are inconsistent, sometimes trying to depict camcorder recordings.  The audio quality is spotty, as is the lighting.  The editing is spliced together, like it’s literally an amateur documentary.  Again, all of this is chalked up to the documentary style footage, but it’s a stupid excuse for bypassing quality.  Watching this film is very isolating and confusing because of the choice to use this type of delivery.  Essentially, this is just a cheap production that poorly masquerades as a professional one.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This entire film has a strange undertone, like there’s an inside joke we don’t know about.  The movie gives off a very twilight zone feel.  It’s also filled with stupidly unnecessary concepts like the main character always riding a bike instead of driving.  As the so-called plot limps along and jumps from one thing to the next, you have no idea what you’re going to experience next.  Therefore, there is no coherent plot structure and zero character development.  All the characters are just randomly used, and some have next to no air time.  The villains are extremely obvious and over the top.  Dialogue is offbeat and off the wall.  The saddest thing is that this good movie idea about small church corruption is totally squandered.  After much discussion on complex church budget drama and other fake suspense, the movie lurches towards the most bizarre ending ever since Decision.  The bottom line is that there is basically no sense in this storyline and it just reflects another wasted idea ruined by poor planning and little effort.

Acting Quality (0 points)

While having an amateur cast is not an inherent problem, it’s usually ill-advised unless you’re going to employ some series acting coaching.  As can be expected, this was not done in Seven Deadly Words.  The actors and actresses often have random outbursts and rants that have no context.  The emotional vacillations are dizzying.   Some cast members cannot be taken seriously at all.  In short, this section rounds off a truly embarrassing creation.

Conclusion

By the way, there is no explanation of what the ‘seven deadly words’ are or why this movie is entitled that.  As mentioned before, while we know from firsthand experience that small church corruption (i.e. being controlled by one rich family or a handful of them) is very common in America and needs to be exposed in film.  However, like far too many movies before and after it, this one only serves to further blacken the name of Christina film.  The fact that this mess won any awards at all is truly disturbing.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

A Letter to Dad [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Dan Donahue believes he has found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.  But as he continues to struggle with anger issues, he can’t help but feel that they are related to his lack of a healthy relationship with his father.  Therefore, he begins to write a letter to his estranged father detailing what he missed out on.  As Dan writes, his mind drifts back to his childhood and he wonders what could have been.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Exactly what is supposed to be happening with this production?  Is it a flashback within a flashback or a series of flashbacks?  Why are the sepia tones inconsistent?  This is possibly the cheapest looking production we have ever witnessed.  The camera work is deplorable and the video quality is from another century.  Lighting is very amateur throughout the film.  In some scenes, it is extremely hard to hear what is being said.  Some sequences are dominated by the silly soundtrack.  As for the editing, there is no way to understand what is even happening from one scene to the next.  Everything is out of context and obscure.  In summary, you can’t get any more poorly homemade than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The idea behind this plot—the fact that absent fatherhood affects children later in life—is highly important and must be discussed in movie form.  However, this is absolutely not the way to do it.  Much like Lukewarm, an important family systems issue is made a mockery of in A Letter to Dad.  There is no coherence in this storyline as the ‘plot’ meanders from letter writing flashbacks to other flashbacks to present day (we guess?).  Scenes are randomly strung together with no continuity between them and the viewer is left lost in translation.  Any meaning that is attempted to be conveyed goes over your head.  Dialogue is choppy and inconsistent, causing the characters to be empty shells.  There is really little else to be said—there is such little content in this plot that it barely registers any life.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Sadly, the bad news does not end.  It’s possible that this virtually unknown and tiny cast never had a chance without acting coaching.  There is literally nothing good to say here—the delivery of lines is awkward and emotions cannot be felt.  There are so few cast members that it just becomes glaringly obvious that so support is being provided to them.  Unfortunately, they likely wasted their time.

Conclusion

We sincerely believe that the motive behind this movie is pure, but the delivery is terrible.  This one would have been better off as a short film.  The good news is that it will have little to no impact in the movie industry, which means it won’t further contribute to bad publicity.  However, the bad news is that the time of the creators of this film was wasted and money was dumped down the drain.  Jesus spoke about counting the cost before undertaking a big project, and we believe it’s high time for Christian filmmakers to begin doing this.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

As I Stand (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Devin Wheeler and Matthew Daniels both have separate lives from each other, but each of them experience different tragedies that forever alter their lives.  Both of them choose to cope differently with the paths they have been taken down, but little do they know that their tragic experiences will inadvertently cause their paths to cross.  Forced to live under the same roof for a time, they must both grapple with the problem of pain in order to find their way out of their dark storms.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

The production quality of As I Stand is so low, that it has to be questioned whether or not it was even justifiable to make it.  The video is grainy and the camera work is shaky.  There are quite a few obvious continuity errors—sometimes characters are wearing different clothes in what is supposed to be the same scene.  In intended crowd scenes, it is painfully obvious that there were very few extras for this film.  The sets are severely limited, mostly taking place inside one house and around its property.  The editing is bad, but then again, what was there really to work with?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

What exactly is this plot supposed to be about?  The Christian message is very clear, but what is the application?  One tragedy takes place off screen, so there is no way for the audience to connect with the pain.  The other tragedy is executed in such a juvenile fashion that no sympathy can be offered.  The remainder of the plot meanders in an understated fashion that lulls the audience to sleep.  The characters are hollow and lifeless—they cannot be emotionally accessed by the audience.  One character in particular, a victim of domestic violence, had great potential to bring this important issue to light, but it all falls flat due to poor character development.  The dialogue is vanilla and practiced, thus leaving much to be desired.  Centering a plot around the problem of pain is a great idea, but it’s lost in this movie due to such low quality.  The ending of the movie leaves the audience confused and scratching their heads—that is, if they made it that far.

Acting Quality (0 points)

It was a good idea to go with a lesser known cast for this film, and it seems like the actors and actresses had potential.  But with such a small team and such a low budget, acting coaching was not employed.  This is not a typical PureFlix cast of vain wannabes, but their potential is not mined.  Unfortunately, this film does not garner any points.

Conclusion

In this modern era of Christian movies, is there any reason why films like As I Stand should ever be made?  There was a good idea behind this film and it definitely could have been better, but Christian film-makers cannot be loners.  We need many good teams working on movies together.  This zero-point film does not deserve a scathing review like some others do, but rather constructive criticism.  We sincerely believe that Carlo Nicoletta’s heart was in the right place for this film, but he needed more support than this.  As I Stand would have worked as a short film to help him build up his reputation in the industry, but not as a feature length release, unless he had more help.  Yet we sincerely hope that Nicoletta does not give up his film-making aspirations and keeps trying to improve in the future.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Saving Winston (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When she is left behind by her partners in crime, Ashley is caught by the police and arrested following a break-in she assisted with.  After being released from juvenile detention, she is assigned to kinship care under her Aunt Diane.  Ashley’s aunt hopes to provide a structured atmosphere on her horse farm for the troubled teen and hopes to lead her to faith in Christ.  But as Ashley’s past keeps calling her back, Diane finds herself at the end of her rope.  That is, until Ashley grows close to a struggling horse on a neighboring property and tries to nurse him back to health.  Little do Ashley and Diane know that healing can come from unexpected places.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Ugh.  That pretty much describes this production.  It looks like it was filmed with a camcorder, sometimes shaking around in someone’s hand, sometimes on a tripod, and sometimes sat on a table some distance away.  More often than not, characters are cut out of the shot or are only partially in the shot since there is obviously no adjustable camera equipment.  Other camcorder qualities include tinny sound and grainy video.  There are lots of wasted ‘artistic’ shots of leaves, grass, and trees, accompanied by clanky piano music.  The sets and locations are basically people’s backyards and living rooms—not that there’s anything wrong with this, but they’re not utilized properly.  In short, Saving Winston is extremely and obviously cheap; no professionalism is exhibited here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

So, what exactly is the plot here?  Why does this plot even center around a horse that gets less than 50% screen time?  It seems like there could have been an interesting plot about juvenile delinquency issues, but there is just nothing here.  The characters are hollow, fueled by lifeless dialogue.  With so few characters, excellent dialogue is needed, but not received.  The aunt character, who is supposed to be the Christian guide of the plot, comes off as abrasive and rude.  Saving Winston just boils down to a collection of scenes depicting people driving around, working with horses, doing Bible studies, and having juvenile arguments.  Box Office Revolution has never reviewed such an empty plot.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This very small cast was neither given good coaching nor interesting lines to work with.  Victoria Emmons has demonstrated the ability to act better in other movies, but not this one, probably due better crews in other films.  In Winston, line delivery is either forced or mumbled and emotional delivery is borderline comedic.  Unfortunately, there is once again nothing good to highlight here.

Conclusion

Everyone has meager beginnings, but it doesn’t have to be this bad.  Winston should have been a short film that concisely and clearly communicated its intended point.  Many new filmmakers have used short films to begin their careers; Shane Hawks could have easily done this and saved time and money.  As it is, Saving Winston made no impact on the market accept to further tarnish the reputation of Christian films.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

The Book of Esther (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Following the banishment of Queen Vashti from the royalty of Medo-Persia, King Xerses, lonely and confused, takes the advice of his closest advisors and decrees that all the young women be brought to him, given beauty treatments, and then displayed before him so that he can choose a new queen from among them.  Among them is a Jewish girl, Hadassah, who had been admonished by her cousin Mordecai to hide her cultural identity from those in the palace.  Against all odds, she is chosen to succeed Queen Vashti, just as the wicked advisor Haman is plotting to destroy the Jewish people from the face of the earth.  Queen Esther must decide that she must live up to the calling God has put in front of her in order to save an entire race from extinction.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

The Book of Esther commits every Biblical movie error in every category, beginning with production.  The sets and costuming are very cheap, like this is a children’s church play.  It would be one thing if PureFlix did not have the funding to put on a better production, but this is not the case.  The camera work and video quality are passable, but the sound quality is very inconsistent.  There is really nothing to comment on regarding the editing, either good or bad.  In short, the first rule of Bible movies is to create a realistic and high quality setting, including backgrounds, sets, props, and costumes.  The Book of Esther does none of this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

The story of Esther is overused in movies, probably because it is easy to replicate and the plot suits most audiences.  But this film is not even a good adaptation—it misrepresents Biblical and historical events and includes unnecessary parts.  It seems like the viewer is being insulted and being treated like a child in a bad Sunday school class.  The film contains ridiculous over the top characters, more so than usual for a Bible film.  The dialogue is overly dramatic, like most Scripture screenplays.  There are also creepy undertones and insinuations regarding Haman and his eunuch.  A lot of content takes place off screen and this plot generally has no real potential and is even offensive is some ways, thus warranting negative points.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

As a whole, line delivery is horrible and emotion is absent.  The acting is either absurd or too theatrical.  The only exception is some small acting potential from Joel Smallbone and Jen Lilley, as their talents seem to be wasted on this nonsense.  Otherwise, there is unfortunately nothing positive to say.

Conclusion

Needless to say, The Book of Esther is another ruined Bible movie.  The audience will learn nothing worthwhile from it except that they probably don’t want to watch anymore films based on Scripture.  This movie is the embodiment of why Box Office Revolution feels the need to speak out for quality Christian films and against low quality ones.  It feels like PureFlix isn’t even trying when they make movies like this, which further warrants a very low score.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

The Remaining (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jack, Dan, and Allison are excited to be a part of the special day for their friends Tommy and Skylar, who are marrying each other.  Dan looks forward to capturing the day with his camera.  However, the wedding reception is interrupted by an unexplainable cataclysmic event—thousands around the world are turning up suddenly dead.  As if this was not enough, natural disasters begin occurring one after another, driving the five friends to seek shelter along with millions of others as darkness descends on the planet.  They must come to grips with the Christian beliefs they have long been ignoring in order to survive the chaos.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

This is intended to be a found footage production, but the movie does not stick with found footage for the entire duration, even though multiple characters are shown filming with various devices.  In conjunction with this, the camera work is expectedly shaky, probably to add some kind of sensational feel.  Since this is supposed to be a horror movie, there are also obligatory cheesy jump scares, cheap dark action, and poor special effects.  Multiple scenes have constant flashing lights or piercing noises, making for a cringing watch.  In addition, there are multiple scenes that repeat over again due to characters watching the footage they have already recorded.  In summary, the production is C-grade; do not watch if you have epilepsy or dizziness problems, because this movie will not be kind to you.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

What is the plot?  The Remaining falls in line with many apocalyptic action and horror movies that discard the plot and exchange it for sensationalism.  There is no driving purpose except for trumped up drama.  There too many characters, and they are all empty, neglected in a quest to attempt to entertain young audiences, we are guessing.  The dialogue is stock and forced, like it was added just because the characters had to say something.  The Biblical elements of the movie are juxtaposed on top of an overdone horror concept.  No matter where you stand on end-times prophecy, the succession of the judgments is sped up to suit this movie’s runtime.  Furthermore, the end of the movie is extremely perplexing, like they just ran out of ideas.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The acting is cheesy and amateurish.  Most of the time, the actors are either trying too hard or not trying at all.  Horror acting is already bad enough, and this cast took it to a whole new level.  We feel that even coaching would not have helped because of this movie’s clear lack of direction.

Conclusion

The Remaining feels like a group of college students got together and wanted to make a horror movie.  When they were rejected by mainstream producers, they decided to slap a Christian message on it and hope it stuck.  Why this movie was distributed is beyond Box Office Revolution.  It should have been stripped of its funding early in the production process.  It will forever be remembered as one of those cheesy Christian apocalypse films that never made any real impact.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points