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

 

Advertisements

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

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: