In the Mirror Dimly (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Nicole and her mother are constantly at odds with each other, and Nicole hates that her father left.  Thus, Nicole turns to her friends for support and identity.  However, when they make fun of the way she looks, Nicole goes to extreme lengths to make herself look like the ‘ideal teenage girl.’  Before she knows it, Nicole is trapped in an eating disorder with no way out.  This leads her mother to drastic measures and causes her father to step back into her life.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

While In the Mirror Dimly is better than the horrid The Saber, that’s not saying much.  Video quality is the only positive aspect to this production.  Otherwise, camera work moves all over the place with no warning, and audio quality is poor, even with the obvious overdubs.  Background sounds are too loud, and the soundtrack is a dumb ‘country’ number.  Flashbacks are unnecessarily black and white, and sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited.  Finally, the editing is very disorienting and confusing.  Unfortunately, the Cross Wind team has very low production standards.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 point)

Much like The Saber, In the Mirror Dimly struggles for any remotely substantial content.  Tons of scenes are wasted on procedural activities of daily living.  The story has no clear purpose as basically all of the dialogue is immature character arguing in the most juvenile ways.  There is a lot of wasted time, along with strange psychological elements.  The premise is basically a predictable city-girl-moves-to-a-rural-area-with-a-horse idea again.  Once again, an otherwise important issue is totally mishandled and ends up being portrayed in an over-the-top and unrealistic way that reflects the writers’ lack of understanding of real problems.  There is a lot of message-pushing as the character as basically pawns in the plot’s clear agenda.  If you’re going to make movies about people’s struggles, please at least attempt to ground your plots and characters in some shred of reality.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Much like other Cross Wind efforts, the acting in this film is as terrible as you can imagine.  Line delivery and emotional delivery are very forceful and unnatural, like it pains the cast members to be there.  Some cast members are especially annoying, and lot of them engage in unnecessary yelling.  This rounds out yet another awful excuse for a Christian movie.

Conclusion

So you want to make a movie about people’s struggles with identity and sin.  Your first task is to learn about real people and how these problems manifest, grow, and heal.  Yet in their films, Cross Wind has demonstrated the exact opposite.  It is very hard to believe that they have a realistic grasp of the struggles of real people, so this sort of film is downright insulting.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Coming Home [2017] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

John works too hard as a doctor and never leaves time to be with his family, but the sudden death of his father at Christmastime forces him and his family, along with his extended family, to slow down and focus on what’s really important.  But getting back together also brings back old memories and reopens old wounds from the past.  John will have to wrestle with his old bitterness in order to face the future in a better way.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

From the dizzying opening sequence to the end of the film, this production uses a strange amount of skycam footage as the camera constantly moves around, even during scenes.  While video quality is okay, it is really the only good element of this film.  Many of the scenes utilize extremely natural lighting, and the sets are strange and filled with tons of Christmas decorations and prominently displayed Catholic imagery.  There aren’t really any locations to speak of.  Audio quality, for the most part, is overdriven, and the soundtrack is a generic holiday one.  Basically this is a very poor production, but unfortunately, the negative does not stop there.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Filled with trite Christian dialogue, Coming Home is extremely shallow yet still is very heavy with message-pushing.  This is not a good combination.  The characters are either very flat or bizarre, thus creating a lot of unintentional comedy.  Besides these obvious errors, there are plenty of Christmas clichés throughout this plot, and it really does not have a clear purpose.  It is a character-driven plot, yet the characters totally drop the ball due to very bad dialogue.  While there might be a good idea in here somewhere, it really does not come through at all.  The presentation is all wrong, which causes this section to not produce any points.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Much like the plot and characters, the cast members also come off as very bland and dry.  Lines are very robotic and are at times mumbled.  Emotions are blank and stone-faced.  Also, a lot of the makeup is poor throughout.  In the end, there is really very little good to say about this movie.

Conclusion

First-time films are hard to pull off most times, but there are definitely ways to make the job easier for yourself.  One way to do this is to make the plot very engaging through realistic characters and accessible dialogue.  You can also do this by having a really good background idea that drives the movie and by making sure it is presented well.  You can also work on assisting your cast to not come off so boring.  Yet unfortunately, Coming Home does none of this, thus leaving us with a poorly created film.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Journey to Paradise (Movie Review)

Love finds you in Paradise?

Plot Summary

Channel 7 News (?) radio station is looking for a new associate producer since they are a privately-run station or something.  Thus, when a mysterious man named Joe shows up to apply for the job, all the people at the station, who have nothing better to do, speculate as to why the young man is in town and who they can try to matchmake him with.  But will his secret past come back to haunt him and ruin his chances at love?  Probably not.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, Salty Earth Pictures has earned a reputation for putting together cheap productions.  While video quality and camera work are okay in Journey to Paradise, there is strange soft lighting throughout that make for an ethereal experience.  The stereotypical holiday soundtrack is accompanied by weird background sounds, which makes no sense, considering there are basically no outdoor locations in this film.  There are only a few sets as it is, and they are filled with dumb Christmas props.  Finally, as is to be expected, there is really no editing present, thus making for a very drab experience.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

At times, it seems like this film is a total joke due to its cheesy, eccentric, and annoying characters that are built with empty, plastic holiday romance dialogue.  All of the comedy falls flat and makes this movie seem like a total joke or a satire.  The storyline is ridiculously typical and predictable, like it was taken from those stupid Love Finds You books.  A majority of the time is wasted with meandering nonsense as the inevitable romance is kicked down the road with silly coincidences and conventions.  This romance idea of a random guy coming to a small town and being thrown together with the first available girl he finds and then having a falling out before getting back together thing has been done ad nauseum already.  Furthermore, the Christian message that is forced into this nonsense is extremely manufactured and almost laughable.  In the end, why movies like this are continually made is beyond me.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Much like the characters they are stuck with, these cast members are awkward and unsure in their line delivery.  Emotions are very plastic, not to mention the fact again that comedy is very forced.  Unfortunately, while it’s not likely this cast had much to work with, it’s still not a good experience.

Conclusion

In some ways, it seems like Salty Earth Pictures means well, but they don’t have a very good way of going about it.  For the most part, their films come off as juvenile and silly.  Mixing Christmas romance clichés with them presentation style is the worst.  If you want this sort of nonsense, watch Hallmark—at least they have better productions or something.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Surrendered: The Story of Jay Harding (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jay Harding is tired of the way some of his family members pretend like everything is okay in their lives.  He is tired of family not acting the way he wants them to, especially when his kids sing in the car.  He feels like he works hard at his small business to provide for his family, but he feels like nobody every appreciates him.  Therefore, he decides that the only way to fix his family is to buy a bigger and more expensive house.  Little does Jay know that he will have to learn to surrender before things will change.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Surrendered is unfortunately another one of those films that PureFlix picked up in their earlier days that probably should not have been distributed.  This production has too much shaky camera work, even though there is clear video quality throughout.  There are too many odd zooms.  Audio quality is also inconsistent, and the soundtrack is too loud at times.  Sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited.  Further, the editing is fairly choppy and makes for a confusing presentation of events.  Unfortunately, there is very little good to say about this film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This story is dominated by an extremely immature character that, while it’s unfortunately realistic, only makes this plot a slightly embarrassing unintentional comedy.  While there may be a good message in here somewhere, it comes off as shallow and empty.  There are some ‘perfect’ Christian characters that are equally as annoying as the lead due to their overuse of platitudes.  Nearly all of the dialogue from all the characters is very juvenile.  As the storyline meanders along and tosses in some random Christmas concepts, there is tons of wasted time and heavy-handed narration to tie things together.  An attempt is made at the end to pull the film up from the nose dive, but this isn’t enough to mitigate the overall train wreck.

Acting Quality (0 points)

To match the absurd characters, the cast members of this film are equally over the top and amateurish.  Some are even obnoxious at times as they fully embrace their characters.  Emotions and line delivery are both forced, thus making for a painful experience.  As has been expressed, there is very little good to note about this film.

Conclusion

We can understand the desire to make a film about realistic, imperfect people, but Surrendered takes this a step too far and makes the entire experience miserable.  Making characters this annoying and giving the cast no direction whatsoever make for a doubly bad experience.  Films like this are fodder for unintentional comedy and only serve to further embarrass the name of Christian movies.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Road 2 Damascus (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Paul used to be a successful performer, but then he had an encounter with Jesus and made a 180 degree turn to become a minister.  He married a local psychologist and settled down with her.  However, he grows restless in his ministry work and is offered a handsome sum of money to come back to perform one last time.  Paul rationalizes that he will use the money to save the church from ruin, but once he returns, he gets sucked back into the old life he left behind.  Will he be able to find his way back to being the man of God he needs to be?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, as an international production, the funding of this film suffers.  However, it seems like this team did not really do the best with what they had.  Camera work is shaky and video quality is blurry.  Audio quality is too inconsistent, and the soundtrack is confusing.  Sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited.  Editing is very disorienting and there are too many cheap-looking special effects used.  Basically, Road 2 Damascus is a typically low-quality production with not much going for it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though this story contains realistic characters doing realistic things and having honest struggles, it is at times too realistic.  Edgy content is not managed very well.  The issues presented are too in-your-face and not presented tastefully enough.  The dialogue is too forceful and information-filled to build the characters properly, even though they are flawed.  However, there are always many issues that come with transposing Biblical stories into a modern-day allegory\parallel setting.  Thus, there is no clear organization or direction in this story, making it very difficult to comprehend at times.  The redemption elements are too muddy and do not outweigh the nonsense enough.  Basically, this movie probably should have gone unmade until these issues were fixed.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast is amateur, and they make this too well known.  They come off as overly practiced, and their emotions are too extreme.  Line delivery is unnatural and forced.  But then again, some of their lines weren’t much to work with.  Yet in the end,

Conclusion

What is it with films that have digits in the title?  Unfortunately, the whole feel of this film is just cheap and amateurish.  There is hardly anything good to say about it.  Perhaps, like too many movies, it can just serve as a reminder of what not to do in film making.  If the funding is not there, please wait for it to come, because if you are meant to make a Christian film, God will make sure it happens.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

The Congregation: The Hip Hop Gospel Church [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The Church of Truth is gearing up for their new pastor—they tend to go through pastors constantly due to the scandals the pastors create for themselves.  Now the few members that are left do not trust the incoming pastor due to the antics of the previous one, so they have banded together to take their church back.  However, as usual, things do not go as they originally planned.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

It’s very difficult to discern what the creators of this film were exactly going for.  The production is one of the most unique and strange we have witnessed.  Though video quality is fine, this is the only good element of the entire film.  Lighting is weird throughout the film and camera work is extremely dizzying.  Audio quality is below par and the soundtrack is quite annoying.  Sets, locations, and props are very cheap and limited.  Finally, the editing and presentation style are off-the-wall and juvenile.  There is really little justification for the way this film is presented, which is why no one has tried to do it this way before.  Essentially, it’s hard to see the justification for this movie.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This movie is dominated by an absurd and obnoxious live narration trope that directs the main character to constantly interject her comments and lengthy explanations.  This plot device to truly the worst.  But even without this, the few characters that there are very annoying and over the top due to head-scratching and forced comedy dialogue.  None of it is funny—it’s not even unintentionally funny—which makes the entire movie a drag.  The storyline just continually slogs on with meandering and wearing conversations that never really go anywhere or serve any purpose except for the prolonging of this madness.  The plot scope is very limited and it’s once again extremely difficult to justify this film’s existence.  How these sorts of things are continually made is beyond us.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As can be expected, in keeping with the rest of this film’s elements, the acting is overdone, juvenile, forceful, and mostly annoying.  Cast members take their characters to the emotional and ‘comedic’ extremes and lines are forced in very awkward ways.  If this cast meant well, it’s difficult to tell.  However, it is clear that no coaching was present here, thus round out a very wasted effort.

Conclusion

It is increasingly unclear what the creators of this film were going for when they decided to make this.  This idea is barely long enough to sustain a feature length film and it’s certainly not one that ever needs to be repeated.  These sorts of films continue to serve as an embarrassment to Christian movies, but hopefully they will soon be forgotten and their mistakes can be learned from.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Seven Days Away (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Clayton’s father dies on the mission field, Clayton commits himself to serving God through missions just like his father did.  Thus, when Clayton is given the chance to go to Mexico with some friends, he takes it.  However, he finds that all is not as it seems as his friends are only there to party and mess around.  Clayton finds himself alone and suddenly kidnapped by local criminals.  Will he be able to trust God to him out alive?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Seven Days Away is a return to basement production quality, as video quality is the only good element to mention here.  Camera work is too wild in attempts to be dramatic and action-packed.  Audio quality is off and the soundtrack is constantly interrupting things.  The sets, locations, and props are the worst possible.  Finally, the editing is awful as scenes sometimes cut off in the middle of things.  The film jumps all over the place and is overall disorienting.  In the end, this is a very unimpressive effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This story is another forced drama fest that gives Josiah David Warren a venue to do whatever he wants.  There is no focus, direction, or purpose in this plot as it unfolds in a very confusing and isolating manner.  It contains a lot of nonsensical elements, such as forcing people to go to church, and all the usual childish dialogue and characters.  Unfortunately, there is basically no potential in this vague and limited idea and only serves to be another Christian film embarrassment.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast is the same old story as most other Strong Foundation Films.  Josiah David Warren is still in the forefront and is still unsure of himself.  There are too many extreme emotions throughout this cast in attempts to be suspenseful or something.  There is also a lot of yelling and off-kilter line delivery.  To say the least, this rounds out another basement-dwelling Christian movie.

Conclusion

Seven Days Away had a lower budget than usual for Strong Foundation, and it shows.  It’s rarely a good idea to make two movies in one year, yet Strong Foundation makes a habit of this.  All of Josiah David Warren’s forced melodrama is just too much for any film, especially since it dominates all of the movies put out by this outfit.  We hope they mean well, but their delivery is just all wrong.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Saving Faith [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Malcolm’s family is killed in the car wreck that he survives, he begins making poor choices that cause his life to fall apart.  He feels like he’s coming unhinged and what’s worse is that one of his employees in entangled with a dangerous gang that drags Malcolm into the mix of everything.  Will he be able to keep his head above water and remember the faith he has long abandoned?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

One has to wonder what the standards are for PureFlix to distribute a film.  Much like Saving Winston, Hollow, As I Stand, Without a Father, Birdie and Bogey, Running Inside Out, The Wager, etc., Saving Faith is a terrible production in every possible way.  Video quality is very cheap and there are a lot of weird camera angles.  Audio quality is also bad and there’s not enough of a soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are extremely cheap and limited.  Finally, editing is non-existent and all possible content—including useless content—is included.  Basically, this is an awful mess.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As a typical post-tragedy troubled character plot, Saving Faith follows a lot of predictable conventions.  It is very melodramatic and refers to a lot of off-screen content, even as plenty of time is wasted.  Despite this fact, there is hardly enough content to sustain a plot at all as scenes are dragged out painfully in order to fill time.  Dialogue is dead as the characters are cardboard cutouts with no feeling whatsoever.  In the end, if you make it that far, problems are resolved way too easily and thus, nothing is learned.  Unfortunately, this is yet another throwaway movie.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Though this cast has more potential than the rest of the film, they are still overly practiced and stiff in their line delivery.  Emotions are basically non-existent and empty.  With such a low budget, it’s easy to see why there was no coaching, but in the grand scheme of things, what was really the purpose of this film?

Conclusion

It’s likely that a lot of low-funded films have creative teams behind them who mean well but who didn’t anticipate the great undertaking that film making actually is.  In such cases like this, it would be better to make a short film or a beta test and not release it to the public because doing so only hurts your reputation and the reputation of Christian film.  But perhaps the people behind movies like this will improve in the future and surprise us all.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Redemption Ride (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Colter Reese tests positive for performance enhancing drugs, he thinks his professional cycling career is over forever.  His son is dying of cancer and he has seemingly no purpose in life, so he begins to train again in the hopes of earning enough money to pay off his hospital bills.  Will he be able to find redemption in his cycling?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, Redemption Ride is a relatively cheap production.  Though video quality is fine, there are some odd camera angles and shaky camera work.  As for audio, there is too much dead air and not enough soundtrack except in musical montages.  There are also a lot of loud outside noises.  Sets and locations are quite limited and props leave something to be desired.  Finally, as usual for films this low quality, the editing is poor and adds nothing to the film.  In the end, it’s hard to see the justification for this movie.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Redemption Ride really just boils down to a formulaic story about a troubled athlete character returning to his hometown, and this is only combined with a sick child plot and a sports redemption plot.  There is also a typical romance rekindle subplot to pad the runtime.  Besides this, there are tons of dead scenes and empty sports montages.  The characters are very quirky and the dialogue is too full of dry attempts at humor or nothing substantial at all.  Overall, this story is incredibly boring and little to no point at all due to its predictable nature.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast is definitely not the strongest cast.  A lot of the time, their performances are very flat and seem unmotivated and lazy.  Yet other times, they are overly demonstrative and over the top.  Overall, this is not a very good casting or coaching job, which tops off a disappointing and empty film.

Conclusion

Movies like this likely mean well, but it’s difficult to understand how they came to be.  With a such a low budget, one would think films like this wouldn’t make it to even limited distribution, much less become a feature-length film.  The Christian film field really needs a lesson in quality over quantity.  Please don’t make a film just for the sake of having a film—it’s just not worth it.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Almost Home [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Rachel and her dementia-afflicted grandfather decide to go for a walk to the store, they suddenly become lost in their small town find themselves wandering aimlessly along country roads.  As Rachel’s mother prays and tries to organize a search party for them, she can only think of all the horrible things that might happen to her daughter and her father.  However, Rachel and her grandfather end up having a fun time wandering around and meeting eccentric people.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

The only good aspect of this production is the video quality, unfortunately.  Camera work is too shaky and audio quality is unnecessarily echoed.  The soundtrack is also silly.  Sets, locations, and props are too limited and are obviously amateurish.  There is not really any editing to speak of as pretty much all content possible is included.  There are also some references to unnecessary off-screen content.  Basically, this production unjustified due to its low quality and for reasons we will explore next.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The plot of Almost Home is so trite and silly that the entire idea is utterly pointless.  Filled with silly juvenile conversations, there is literally nothing to this film except for a girl and her grandfather aimlessly wandering around and meeting goofy people while their family worries about them.  This is the only conflict presented and a majority of the ‘plot’ is based on coincidences.  While there may be a place of this sort of film, its idea needs to be greatly expanded and the comedy of it needs to be further embraced.  As it is, this story is so limited that it can only be justified as a short film as it is.  There is no way this story is going to interest people.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With such a small cast, all errors stand out obviously.  The cast members are overly practiced and stilted in their line delivery.  Sometimes the acting is a bit off the wall.  Emotions seem very plastic.  Overall, this caps off a disappointing film.

Conclusion

Exactly how was this idea pitched?  Almost Home is at best a piece of a film or a short film, not a feature-length idea.  There is so little potential and content here that it’s actually quite sad.  We are unsure as to how films like this are made, even if the creators do mean well.  The time and money spent on this film would have been far better used elsewhere.  As it is, films like this one will have no impact on the field and will be easily and unfortunately forgotten.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Redemption of the Heart [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Alex Montoya has backslidden from his Christian faith, and now he finds himself under the weight of financial debt.  Desperate for money, he agrees to help his friend scam church members for money using a false charity front.  However, a kind man named Jacob soon sees through their scheme, yet wants to offer Alex a second chance.  Will Alex turn away from his double life and back to the faith he was raised in?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Though the video quality of this production is okay, it is really the only good element to it.  Camera work is fairly shaky and audio quality is relatively poor.  The soundtrack is loud and amateurish.  Sets and locations are mostly limited and need a little bit more work done on them.  Furthermore, the editing leaves something to be desired as there are too many montages and extended flat scenes.  Overall, there just seems like there’s a lot of corners being cut in this production, which is unacceptable in a film this new.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Redemption of the Heart follows a very predictable and stereotypical plot line.  Things happen because the pre-determined plot mold determined that they needed to happen; thus, the characters are swept along in inevitability.  Yet sometimes the premise is too vague, making it hard for the audience to understand what is happening some of the time.  There is a lot of off screen content mentioned, along with a lot of confusing dialogue that creates cardboard characters.  There is an attempt at a plot twist at the end, but it is introduced so late that it only leaves the viewers scratching their heads.  In the end, this story is so formulaic that it is unlikely to be easily remembered.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, many of these cast members look very fake and unnatural.  A majority of the line delivery is very stilted and awkward, with some of the lines being very indiscernible.  Any emotions seem very forced and empty.  Alas, this section rounds out another disappointing effort.

Conclusion

Redemption of the Heart is one of those films that will be forgotten shortly after it is watched.  It is a prime example of why it’s never a good idea to slap together a project just for the sake of releasing another Christian film.  The market doesn’t need to be flooded with more and more half-hearted attempts at Christian movies.  We say this all the time, but it still remains true: taking your time on a movie to make it quality, making sure you have the proper funding, writing a complex plot with good characters, and coaching your cast members well always, always, always pays off in the end.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Clancy [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Nick Best is a down on his luck veteran of the military who has chosen to live on the streets due to his drinking habits and his emotional issues.  But he is given a so-called second chance when the corrupt mayor of the city he hangs around tells the chief of police to offer a substantial amount of money to Nick for him to keep, Clancy, a runaway abused girl for a week so that the mayor, who is losing his reelection campaign, can have a media field day.  Skeptical of this elaborate scheme, Nick decides to take the girl under his wing to protect her, but he soon finds that she is changing his outlook on life.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Why do Kelly’s Filmworks productions always look so drab?  It’s like they were all filmed in cloudy weather.  Though the video quality of Clancy is fine, the camera work is atrocious, including very tight shots and shaky camera work that looks like it was literally filmed in an alley with a camcorder.  Thus, the lighting is very inconsistent and there are constant loud outside sounds.  There is no soundtrack to speak of—just background silence.  Sets and locations are very cheap—no thought was given to making them look interesting.  Finally, there is absolutely no editing as all content is included—and we mean all content.  Every Jefferson Moore silent staring scene is here.  In short, the continual creation of Kelly’s Filmworks productions is baffling to us.  They obviously aren’t spending much money on these, but what is the real point if it’s going to look this bad?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Clancy includes perhaps the most trumped up scheme possible.  Who really believes that a corrupt mayor (aka the most cheesy villain available besides Goliath from Timothy Chey’s David and Goliath) would pay off a random homeless guy to keep an abused girl ‘safe’ for a week in order to boost reelection chances?  In what universe would that work?  Most importantly, why do we need a movie about this?  Why do we need to be forced to see long sequences of characters (mostly Jefferson Moore) wandering around and staring into the distance?  There is no way this is going to hold anyone’s attention, especially when the dialogue is extremely void and lackadaisical.  The story is based on far too many coincidences to keep it going and there is so little content here that we can hardly believe the runtime lasted as long as it did.  All we can say is that we were glad when it was over.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Recycling the same old cast members from Kelly’s Filmworks (they weren’t that good in the first place), Clancy is much like the others from this company.  Makeup is bad, costuming is laughable.  The only emotions present are either deadpan or over the top.  The line delivery is beyond lazy.  One would think these cast members would get better with experience.

Conclusion

Jefferson Moore and company are experts at thinking up the most mundane movie ideas and then following through with them.  How have they made so many feature length films?  One thing you can say for them is that they save money—in all the wrong ways.  These movies are definitely easy and cheap to make, but why do we need them?  They are utterly pointless and contribute nothing.  Maybe they won’t make as many in the future.  But wait…there’s a sequel to this film????

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

The Freedom of Silence (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In the year 2030, Christianity is effectively outlawed in America due to a series of controversial laws passed by Congress and rulings handed down from the Supreme Court.  Christians are forced to live in secret, but some of them risk their lives to share their faith with others.  Thus, Zach Thompson, his family, and his friends decide that they are going to take down the government by hacking into their system and broadcasting a message of truth to the entire country.  However, what price will they pay for this?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if you don’t have the money to fund your big idea, please please please don’t make it until the funding is there.  There is absolutely no reason to further muddle the market with laughable Christian productions.  The Freedom of Silence is very cheap-looking, including grainy video quality and shaky camera work.  The lighting is most scenes is positively deplorable, especially the dark torture scenes.  Audio quality is also abysmal, including audible outside noises, and the generic soundtrack is often too loud.  There is also a good amount of overdubbed audio.  Sets, locations, and props are very limited in cheap—this also goes for the special effects.  Finally, the editing is quite choppy and confusing, including abrupt and awkward transitions.  For such a big idea, this production simply does not cut it.  It is too limited and short-sighted and thus completely falls flat.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

While this futuristic concept is an interesting idea (this is the only redeeming quality of the film), it has been completely mishandled in The Freedom of Silence.  The dystopian premise is very thin and flimsy—it is not explained well and is very small scale compared to what the writers are trying to portray.  There is far too much off-screen content that the budget would not allow them to include, so this is really a big idea taken far too lightly.  The storyline is just a collection of information dump conversations, awkward dialogue, and over the top torture scenes.  The characters therein are very empty and robotic, except for the villains, which are total strawmen.  There is also far too much heavy-handed messaging and unexplainable content.  Essentially, if there weren’t an interesting idea somewhere in here, this film would have zero positive aspects.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This amateur cast has been given no help.  This is supposed to be a highly serious film, yet the acting is extremely stiff and awkward.  Lines are said far too quickly and there is too much yelling.  Emotions are very wooden and unrealistic.  Unfortunately, there is nothing good to say here.

Conclusion

We desperately need different genres and premises in Christian film, but this is most certainly not the way.  The cover of this film looks way better than the actual movie does.  Imagine an excited Christian’s disappointment when they begin watching this film based on what the outside looks like.  Viewers will either have to laugh or cry at this mess, so it should serve as a reminder to future film makers that if the budget is not there, do not make the film.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

New World Order: The End Has Come (Movie Review)

This cover has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual movie

Plot Summary

With the New World Order clamping down on all aspects of life as they know it, a group of people decide to band together against the regime and refuse to take the mark that is required to buy and sell.  The evil world leader is coming down hard on people and sending out his troops to enforce the receiving of the mark even in small towns.  When this small group of people, who now identify as Christians, gets word of this, they start taking in more refugees.  But how long will they be able to hide, especially when the tyrant comes to town?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

If you can make it through the long opening sequence of this production, you’re still in for plenty of nonsense.  For starters, the video quality is fairly grainy, and camera work is quite shaky.  There are also a ton of audio problems, including outside noises, weird sound effects, and an odd soundtrack.  The sets and locations are fine, but they are quite limited considering the fact that this plot is trying to cover international issues.  Finally, there is far too much wasted time in this film, thus demonstrating a lack of sufficient editing.  In short, this is a highly disappointing production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

New World Order: The End Has Come is just another typical apocalyptic plot with a predictable setup and progression.  However, there is hardly any true apocalyptic content as vague concepts are lazily tossed around and toyed with while still being confined to basically one neighborhood.  There are also unnecessary time jumps that are made up for with obvious information dump dialogue that talks about all kinds of off-screen content.  Sometimes things happen with no real explanation, and there is lot of juvenile forced drama and cheesy conflicts.  Finally, the characters seem very fake and exhibit ridiculous dialogue.  In short, there is really no reason for this plot to exist because it has nothing to offer.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As usual for this type of film, which is unfortunately all too common, this cast is very amateurish.  While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using amateur cast members, like all actors and actresses, they need coaching, which is clearly not present in New World Order.  Lines and emotions are very forceful and awkward, while some cast members are overly theatrical and sometimes even bizarre.  Basically, this is just another mess.

Conclusion

With all the horrid apocalyptic films that have already been made, we don’t need another one, yet they are still being made!  It used to be that apocalyptic was the different genre in Christian entertainment, but now it’s become its own caricature.  Until somebody can actually create an engaging and professionally done apocalyptic film, there needs to be a moratorium on this genre.  The biggest reason for this is that some non-Christians may watch these types of movies more than other Christian films, and if they do, what will they see?  More often than not, they’ll see another laughable disaster.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Before All Others (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When a woman is struck with a rare and unexplainable disease that is sure to temporarily paralyze her, she is left with no choice but to go live under the care of her elderly grandmother who barely gets out and can hardly walk around.  As the two of them hobble around and try to talk about family secrets, the grandmother finds her advice from her dead husband, whom she frequently talks to in the garden shed.  That is, until some random guy starts hanging around all the time fixing stuff and the grandmother decides to grab the first guy she found to marry her granddaughter off to.  What could go wrong?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Despite clear video quality, Before All Others is another poor Faith House production.  Camera work is very shaky and amateurish, even though easily 75% of the film takes place in one cabin set.  It should be easy to film in this environment, but not for Faith House.  For that matter, the audio quality shouldn’t be this bad, but it is.  The soundtrack also blares constantly and sometimes covers up dialogue.  Finally, as is commonplace in Faith House films, there is really no editing as long sequences of random footage are included.  Seriously, this is a 2016 film and they still can’t get production right.  Does anyone else see anything wrong with this?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Once again, there is literally no purpose to this story as two pathetic characters limp and hobble around a primitive cabin and talk to dead people.  Despite having so few characters, they are so empty and lifeless due to utterly inept dialogue.  There is very little actual content as viewers are forced to watch awkward activities of daily living over and over again.  The mysterious illness’ progression is extremely convenient, depending on whether the plot needs the character to be well or unwell at the moment.  There is also a very awkwardly forced and juvenile romantic subplot that only serves to waste time.  All drama is completely manufactured and the shoehorned Christian message is completely mindless.  Basically, Before All Others is just more of the same.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Despite having different cast members than usual, this cast is still very small and very wooden.  One cast member is laughably eccentric while another is embarrassingly lifeless.  There is zero coaching present and no believable emotions.  As a side note, makeup is also terrible.  But this is apparently business as usual for Faith House.

Conclusion

As previously mentioned, this film was made in 2016, yet fundamental movie making elements are still not grasped by this team.  A film of this low caliber has no place in Christian entertainment anymore as the bar is being set higher, especially when it comes to production quality.  But yet, here it is, available for all to see.  After this long stretch of reviewing their films, we have to wonder what is really going on at Faith House.  Is it just one big scam or do they really have no idea what they’re doing?  We honestly have no clue and wonder if they do either.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Desert Redemption (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

A family that no longer spends very much time together decides to go on a long-planned desert hike to try to mend what is broken.  The father doesn’t take things seriously at first, but as things begin to go from bad to worse, he sees the cost of his actions.  His wife falls unconscious after falling off of a cliff face, his daughter sustains a leg injury, and he sustains multiple life-threatening injuries.  As they limp around the desert in search of food, water, and help, will they ever be saved?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

In an attempt to shoot and outdoor adventure, some elements of the production of Desert Redemption are not half bad, such as the video quality and the realistic sets.  Lighting is improved outside, but there are still a myriad of issues that detract from these small positives.  Camera work is very shaky and audio quality is often so bad that the characters cannot be understood.  While the soundtrack is interesting, it is often too loud and out of place.  There are also a lot of loud outdoor noises.  The runtime is dominated by scenery footage, and thus, no editing is present.  Essentially, this is more of an effort than usual for Faith House, but still not good enough.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Once again, there is barely any plot to speak of in this film.  Three characters go into the desert and start getting tons of injuries.  From there, it’s just one manufactured drama after another with a dose of juvenile Christianity.  Everything bad happens at once and in a laughable fashion.  It really just boils down to a predictable survival plot, just done very poorly.  Though there are only three main characters in this film, they do not develop into realistic people but instead remain wooden due to lack of substantial dialogue.  Instead, there are too many sequences of characters laying around grunting and breathing hard.  Then, when the time runs out, everything gets fixed through narration.  As if it couldn’t get any worse, this is probably Faith House’s thinnest plot to date.  So why are they still writing plots?

Acting Quality (0 points)

In perhaps the smallest cast ever, the three main cast members are very juvenile and amateurish.  They have no clear direction in their acting as they awkwardly force emotions and lines.  They also demonstrate some of the most laughable injury acting we have ever witnessed.  If they mean well, which we are sure they do, it’s unfortunate that they are portrayed in this fashion.

Conclusion

We ask ourselves time and again: how can a studio this juvenile and unprofessional continually fund feature-length films?  How were A Calling of Courage, A Box of Faith, and this one not forced to be short films?  They barely have enough plot content to be thirty minutes long without all the wasted footage and activities of daily living.  What has happened in the world of Christian film to allow films such as these to exist?  Somebody has some serious soul searching to do.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 point

 

Apocalypse 2: Revelation (Movie Review)

Bluriness…

Plot Summary

After the Rapture rocks the world and leaves millions of people searching for answers as to what happened, agent Thorold Stone is left searching for his family and wondering why the entire world has suddenly turned against Christians.  The world is also following the bidding of a rising world leader who promises peace to all if the Christians are eliminated.  With chaos ensuing around him, will Stone be able to find the truth he needs?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

The second installment of this unfortunate series is much like the first.  There is barely any difference in the production quality of Caught in the Eye of the Storm and Revelation.  Camera work is still shaky and video quality is still blurry.  Special effects are very cheap and out of place.  Audio quality is average, but the soundtrack is loud and annoying.  There is some improvement with the sets, locations, and props, however.  But this film is still replete with Jack Van Impe product placements.  The editing is also poor.  In short, while there is some slight improvement here, it’s not significant.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The Apocalypse series is very thin on plot content and heavy on agenda-pushing.  Much of this film is dedicated to sequences of cheesy and stereotypical sitting around talking with robotic dialogue that is designed to force the plot along.  There’s also a lot of technological mumbo jumbo lingo and a weird obsession with virtual reality devices.  The plot has a predictable apocalyptic\suspense progression and is based on lots of coincidences.  Also, it’s worth nothing that it’s extremely hard to follow the cast of characters that is supposed to be portrayed in this so-called series.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s still difficult to find a justification for this series.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Made in 1999, this cast is far too theatrical.  Jeff Fahey is always a head-scratching cast, since he basically whispers all the time.  Emotions are either flat or overblown and line delivery is stiff.  Unfortunately, nothing good to say here.

Conclusion

Once again I ask, who’s going to watch this movie?  It has nothing going for it whatsoever.  There is no plot and certainly no notable production quality.  The casting is horrible.  Most Christians are and should be offended by this nonsense.  Once again, the world is laughing.  This kind of junk reaches no one and only adds to the caricature of Christian film.  But wait…there’s still more of these…

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

The Perfect Gift {The Perfect Christmas} [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Maxine is a spoiled girl who doesn’t like the fact that everyone always does something else on her birthday, which happens to be on Christmas Day.  Her mother is overworked and barely has time for her, so she takes Maxine help her struggling pastor neighbor at church.  At the church, Maxine meets a mysterious but kind drifter who is helping the pastor fix things up for Christmas.  As Maxine spends more time around him, she begins to change and have a new perspective in life.  As people continue to attack Christmas, she becomes a strong defender of the day, even though it’s also her birthday.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

It’s clear that not much care was given to this production.  The video quality is quite poor and many camera shorts are very tight.  Also, outside scenes are glaring and loud.  Audio quality is equally poor, including a Christmas soundtrack that is blaringly loud in some parts.  A lot of props look very cheap to the point that cast members can barely use them.  Sets and locations are nothing wowing.  As for editing, there are too many wasted uncut scenes.  Yet there are also abrupt and awkward transitions between some scenes.  Basically, this is an amateur effort that did not pay off.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The entire premise of The Perfect Gift is the typical ‘war on Christmas’ mantra, including tons of asides about characters being ‘persecuted’ for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and such.  The giant strawman is made of the so-called ‘anti-Christmas agenda’, including terms like ‘winter tree’ and ‘winter gala’. Besides these juvenile false conflicts, nothing else really happens in this plot.  It’s very boring and does not hold the attention.  Many occurrences are unrealistic and all the characters are quite childish.  Odd and offbeat dialogue peppers the movie and makes it an unintentional comedy.  Perhaps the most perplexing part of this film is the fact that the Jesus character—who is also the creator of the film—has an impassioned speech at the end that actually raises several good points regarding the alleged conflict between atheists and Christmas.  Yet Jefferson Moore, the creator, does not seem to actually believe what he is saying, since he inserted so much red meat into the movie about people being anti-Christmas.  Overall, The Perfect Gift is both low quality and confusing, an odd combination indeed.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the story does not get any better here.  The few cast members that there are come off as either very obnoxious or totally dead inside.  Line delivery is awkward and emotions are childish.  The makeup work is amateurish.  Basically, there is not much good to say about this film.

Conclusion

Jefferson Moore seems to have a good heart and some slightly interesting ideas.  He can probably be credited with writing the original plots that have characters encountering Jesus in everyday circumstances.  But with such low production and acting quality, The Perfect Gift will have very little of the impact that it’s intended to have.  Fixing these two areas would be a good start to improving this film.  It really seems like Moore needed some help with this film and it’s a shame to see some of his ideas go to waste.  Perhaps there will be better things in store for the future.

 

Final Rating: .5 point out of 10 points

 

Love’s Christmas Journey (Movie Review)

Registering...
Registering…

Plot Summary

After Ellie King loses her husband and daughter in a strange tornado, she decides the visit her brother, Aaron Davis, for Christmas.  When she arrives in the generic-looking Western small town that looks like all the others in this series, she meets all the stereotypical characters, including Sean Astin the sheriff.  Of course, what would this Love Comes Softly movie be without a replacement romance for the poor widow Ellie?  But even Christmas is threatened when Aaron hits his head on a rock (hmm, sounds familiar…) and is lost to the wilderness.  What will they ever do?

 

Note: This two-part film has been reviewed as one because we cannot differentiate the two parts

Production Quality (.5 point)

As the Love Comes Softly series endlessly drags on with more and more sequels, prequels, and specials that have long since departed from the original novels, we have to wonder at this point what Janette Oke thinks of Hallmark’s total dismantling of her work.  In keeping with usual Hallmark style, Love’s Christmas Journey has some good production qualities, such as clear video quality and good camera work.  The sets and locations are okay, but as previously mentioned, are clearly recycled from past films, but this time with Christmas decorations!  The soundtrack is as stock as it comes.  The editing is designed to drag this movie out into a nearly three-hour runtime, so there are plenty of wasted scenes.  In short, this is what you can expect from a Hallmark Christmas film—some money spent on production, but otherwise very empty.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Whoever is in charge of letting these movies get on television decided that since they needed to force a Christmas Love Comes Softly film to happen, then they needed to recycle the old standby plot of the saga: a young widow moves to a new place to start a new life and meets a new man.  Seriously, how many times are they going to do this one?  First it was Marty, then Missy, then Belinda, and now some sister of Missy’s named Ellie.  Besides this nonsense, the characters are extremely empty-headed and mindless, fueled by forced and awkward dialogue.  The first half of the movie (the original first part), is a huge waste of time, spent on preparing for the next half by introducing trite and petty conflicts that have no consequence whatsoever.  Throughout the movie, there are many factually unrealistic elements (what else is new?), such as the audacity of including Santa Clause in this plot.  No, seriously: Santa is a character.  And nothing can beat the cheesiest Christmas end in the world: snowing on Christmas Eve.  Essentially, Hallmark just phoned this one in because they can.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This is just more of the same garbage.  The cast members are extremely fake and plastic.  Natalie Hall in particular acts like she’s had a lobotomy most of the movie, taking forever to recite her lines, like she keeps forgetting what she’s supposed to do.  The emotions of the cast members are equally plastic.  In typical Love Comes Softly style, costuming and makeup are overdone and unrealistic for the time period.  But what else can we say without constantly repeating ourselves?

Conclusion

Love’s Christmas Journey is a textbook case from that all important manual from the executive offices of Hallmark: How to Make Another Hallmark Christmas Film.  First, find a plot to rip off; it can be a stock plot or it can be a loose idea stolen from an unsuspecting Christian author.  Second, find the most plastic cast members available and shower them with makeup and costuming.  Third, find a reusable set that fits the genre and inundate it with Christmas cheer.  Now just film the movie as fast as possible to get it ready for television!  Once again, with the resources and platform they have at their disposal, Hallmark squanders opportunity after opportunity to make a real difference in the film world.  But we doubt they will ever learn.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

God’s Club {Holy Warrior} (Movie Review)

As you can see, they spent a lot of time on that sign

Plot Summary

When his wife dies tragically in a car accident, Michael Evans falls into a funk.  In order to find new meaning and life and try to keep his wife’s memory alive, he decides to return to teaching and start an after-school Bible club, something she had always wanted to do.  But he is shocked when he is met with extreme resistance both from school authorities and parents.  As the pushback goes from bad to worse, Michael considers just leaving it all behind (after all, there’s no churches in his city).  But his daughter reminds him that her mom would never have wanted him to give up, so Michael sticks with the fight (literally) and doesn’t back down.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

It feels like we repeat ourselves all the time.  There are simply too many Christian productions that are all the same.  God’s Club offers nothing new—clear video quality along with a host of errors.  Between nearly every scene is an awkward fade to black moment that requires a fade-in for the next scene.  In many scenes throughout, especially outdoor scenes, there is shaky camera work, which seems to indicate that someone is holding the camera, which infers that the budget was too small to pay for any other equipment.  The limited funds are also evident in the few cheap sets that there are, as well as in the prop usage.  It seems like the only reason this film is ninety minutes long is because of excessive use of slow motion throughout.  Also, in an attempt to be ‘cool’, the creators crafted a weird soundtrack that sometimes covers for their lack of better sound.  In short, God’s Club commits all the usual production sins, just in different ways than usual.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

In an attempts to frame a religious freedom conflict, God’s Club portrays an all out school war, complete with fistfights, brawls, vandalism, arson, and sabotage, all because of a silly after-school activity called God’s Club, also known as Bible Club or Bible Group.  The worst part is that Christian characters aren’t even able to be sympathized with because they deserve half of the treatment they get, as they either pick fights or continue them.  The Christian perspective is also very empty, lacking meaningful depth and espousing odd Christian philosophies as they try to shove the Bible down your throat.  There are very few characters in this plot; some of them we are supposed to appreciate without even getting to know them.  ‘Bad’ characters are very evil in every possible way until they are randomly fixed up.  Dialogue is in-your-face, leaving nothing to the imagination.  God’s Club also sports a growing trend in offbeat Christian films: a disdain for proper counseling and psychology.  Basically, if you are to believe the worldview of this film, churches are disappearing (the town in this plot has no churches), Christians are being persecuted for having after-school activities, it’s okay for Christians to fight back (literally), and reciting Bible verses will fix your life up.  In our experience, none of these things are true in reality, so why portray them in a film?  Because you’re trying to make some kind of quick buck by preaching to the choir.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Why do movies consistently cast Stephen Baldwin in major roles he’s not suited for?  He’s downright creepy in this movie, and when he’s not creepy, he’s lethargic.  It’s beyond me why Corbin Bernsen consistently involves himself in these sorts of messes.  The few other cast members that there are either make no positive impact or remind us why they’re not in any other notable films.  In short, there is clearly no coaching for this cast, thus obvious problems go unchecked.

Conclusion

Was there any thought during the making of this film to attempt to make it realistic and down-to-earth?  We highly doubt it.  At least the persecution subplot of God’s Not Dead is somewhat realistic.  God’s Club is a trumped up preaching-to-the-choir load of nonsense only designed to further inflame Christians against ‘the world’ and give them a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality to approaching non-believers.  None of this movie is reality and it’s a total sham and embarrassment to portray people in this way.  As Christians, our time would be better served using movies to actually reach people for the Gospel and to encourage Christians to go deeper in their faith by using meaningful and realistic plots combined with professional production and acting.  Until Christians are stronger in their faith and until more people are reached with the saving power of Jesus Christ, we have nothing else we need to be discussing.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

In the Name of God {Name in Vain} [2013] (Movie Review)

Eric Roberts trying to conduct group counseling without screening clients

Plot Summary

When Mason, a troubled foster teen, comes to live with the Lewis family, he thinks that it will be just like all the other foster families he has stayed with.  But unlike the families before them, the Lewis are committed to setting him on the straight and narrow and teaching him RESPECT at all costs.  Even when he vandalizes a hardware store and is sentenced to ‘group’, the Lewis family sticks by him.  In the end, Mason will have to learn about RESPECT in order to move forward in life.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

If KKO Productions have anything going for them, at least they have figured out how to have clear video quality.  Otherwise, there is little else we can say positive for this film.  Camera work is inconsistent and some scenes are darker than others.  Audio quality is also a tossup, as some lines are indistinguishable while others are too loud.  The soundtrack is cheesy, as usual.  KKO appears to be severely limited in sets and locations, as there are really only three main sets used in this film.  This causes the editing to suffer as well, since many events take place off screen in places where they obviously could not acquire a set.  In short, old news is new news for KKO when it comes to cheaply produced Christian films.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Framing an entire film as a sermon illustration is hardly ever a good idea.  It gives the writers a springboard to shove an obvious message down the viewer’s throat and is generally lazy.  Thus, In the Name of God overuses theological concepts and oversimplifies them by having characters repeat them over and over again.  Rather than showing and demonstrating Christian virtues lived out, they are talked about and impressed upon the audience with no meaningful actions to back them up.  Coupled with this overreach are empty and mindless characters, who are driven by petty and silly dialogue.  None of them seem like real people, just players in an obvious church play designed to teach second graders the Ten Commandments.  The subplots therein are very random and lack continuity, not the mention the fact that they contain highly unrealistic occurrences, such as a small church pastor placing children in foster care and a ‘counselor’ sharing confidential information with random people.  If you want to include such things in your films, please research them first.  As it is, In the Name of God makes a mockery of important issues that could have been presented in a meaningful fashion.  But alas, we can find no real potential with this movie, thus warranting no points for the plot.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As is the usual custom of KKO, otherwise talented actors and actresses are fed lines without any real coaching or guidance.  Most of the scenes in this film seem like they were one-take only.  John Ratzenberger has certainly had much better acting jobs than this one.  Eric Roberts always plays the same weird character, but that’s beside the point.  It seems like the ‘no-name’ cast members have potential that is not being brought out.  Thus, no points can be awarded here.

Conclusion

So apparently this was intended to be a movie series about the Ten Commandments.  Can you imagine ten movies like this one?  If this was supposed to be about the fourth Commandment, it completely went over our heads.  Basically, In the Name of God, or whatever it’s called, is another embarrassing low budget production that carries an in-your-face theological message that is unlikely to convert or inspire anyone.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: before making a Christian movie, please make sure you have the funding for what you want to do.  Then please make sure you actually have a plot.  These two things can make such a difference when your movie is completed.  Because seriously, who’s going to watch this garbage?

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Six: The Mark Unleashed (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In a film market far, far away, before the birth of PureFlix Productions, David A. R. White, Kevin Downes, and Stephen Baldwin (with a cameo from ‘Logan White’) all teamed up to create an apocalyptic film to remember.  This movie was unlike any other and focused on the hard-hitting topic of…the daily ins and outs of a futuristic men’s prison?  Caught in the grip a dictatorial international government and threatened with death in three weeks if they don’t take the Mark of the Beast, the men of the prison are…allowed to walk around however they please and write Bible stuff on the walls?  Busted for smuggling illegal stuff like painkillers and old movies to Eric Roberts and for stealing a pizza, Downes and White are forced to spend their three weeks in a cheesy looking set with a group of Christian prisoners who draw Christian-themed stuff on the walls of the prison without punishment.  Will they ever escape or will they be forced to take the Mark?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Watching Six: The Mark Unleashed is a surreal experience.  We can’t even believe this thing exists.  Everything about it feels like one big joke.  The fingerprints of Downes and White are all over this one, from the cheesy sets to the poor camera work to the bad lighting.  They went so overboard trying to look futuristic that it comes off as a Star Trek knockoff.  Are we really supposed to believe that the future of the world is peppered with Star Trek wardrobes and buildings?  What’s more, there is no coherent thought to the editing, as a vast majority of the ‘plot’ takes place in a giant concrete box billed as a prison.  Any other elements are completely isolating, as will be discussed next.  In short, this is nothing short of a production disaster, one that should have never been funded.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As Downes and White bumble their way through this ‘plot’, many characters are introduced and then quickly discarded with no explanation.  Vague concepts are constantly referred to that isolate the audience.  After being arrested and spending tons of time in the prison reading stuff off of darkly lit walls and talking to mysteriously creepy Baldwin, Downes and White employ absurd tactics to escape the freakishly bald Brad Heller, such as hacking using Tommy Blaze keyboard gymnastics and calling on an enigmatic figure to help them get to ‘the walled city’.  But never fear, for Brad Heller’s ‘spiritual bloodhounds’ are quick on their tails.  Do you get the picture of how ridiculous this ‘plot’ is?  By the end of the movie, there are more questions than answers.  What’s the deal with that one prisoner who sometimes acts as a double agent?  What ever happened to Eric Roberts’ smuggling business?  How did the people in the tent city escape the dictatorial rule?  Who’s Rahab and where did she come from and why do we care?  Why is Brad Heller wearing so much eye makeup?  Yet in the wake of all of this, the prologue and the epilogue of the film actually demonstrate a stroke of creative genius; they are likely the reason why this horrifying mess was even made in the first place.  It’s just too bad that they get lost in the swamp of nonsense.  In short, it is extremely unclear what type of message is supposed to be conveyed in this film, as the plot is very disjointed and schizophrenic.  Stuff like this makes you wonder how White and Downes ever made it anywhere in filmmaking.

Acting Quality (0 points)

It’s no surprise that the acting of this film is just ridiculous.  Emotions are extremely awkward and too many cast members are trying to be mysterious action heroes.  No coaching is employed as line delivery is forced and disingenuous.  Some lines are horribly slurred and annunciation is inconsistent.  Basically, no effort was put into acting, just like the rest of the movie.

Conclusion

Is any movie viewer supposed to take this film seriously?  It’s so absurd and out of touch that I would be embarrassed to recommend it to someone or even admit that it is supposed to be a Christian film.  What is gained from this level of immaturity?  Are we supposed to applaud the effort lest we be condemned for persecuting Christians or for not standing with ‘our own’?  Are Christian films allowed to be however poor quality they wish yet still be promoted in Christian circles?  We say no.  The line must be drawn somewhere.  Someone must hold filmmakers who claim the name of Christ to a higher standard if we ever expect to impact the field for Him.  Otherwise, we’re just talking to ourselves about the good things we do and making money off of it while the world looks on in disgust and\or confusion.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

What Would Jesus Do? (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When a down-on-his-luck pastor encounters a mysterious drifter who wants his help, the pastor is unsure of how he is to respond.  Mired in his own self-pity, the pastor lets the drifter pass on by.  As the drifter makes his way around the small California town searching for someone to help him, he only meets distrust and resistance.  The people of the town are all hurting and struggling in different ways, and it seems like the upstart mayoral candidate’s plans to bring a casino to town is the only hope.  But one day, the ‘few’ Christians that are ‘still faithful’ are forced to take a good look at the lives they are living when the drifter collapses in the middle of a worship service.  From there, the Christians must decide whether or not they are going to live their life by the slogan ‘What Would Jesus Do?’

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

All\KKO Productions were never much for investing money in films.  We completely understand that far too often, funding for Christian films is scarce and hard to come by, but if you’re going to make a movie, there’s no point in propping up a cut-rate production, because no enough people are going to watch and enjoy it, unless other elements, such as the plot, are very profound.  WWJD falls in line with many low quality Christian productions before and after it, sporting the typical symptoms of the same old malaise: poor video quality, cheap camera work, inconsistent sound quality, and the like.  The sets are very sloppy and the surroundings are glaringly low budget.  The soundtrack is one part Hallmark and another part indie worship band.  Finally, we have to question whether or not the editing department knew what they were doing with this film, as the plot zings all over the place, trying to land on and amplify in-your-face Christian elements.  In short, this production barely keeps its head above the water of zero points, but not by much.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With seemingly good motives, WWJD is actually the most disjointed plot we have ever seen.  Sporting an infinite cast of shallow caricatures with laughable dialogue, this vastly meandering storyline is enough to make your head spin.  From a bumbling-borderline-creepy drifter to a depressed burned-out pastor to an awkward amateur ‘musician’ to a generic realtor to a scrupulous newspaper editor to a cartoonish political villain…the list of characters goes on and on and on.  There are numerous other peripheral characters, but you get the point.  Each character is complete with bizarre one-liners there are intended to be serious but instead come off as comical.  Strawman issues facing modern Christians (churches shutting down, casinos being built in suburban areas, evil realtors buying up low income housing, spreading rumors in the media) are presented and quickly fixed as the characters diverge to either become perfect slogan-spouting Christians or hopelessly wicked power-hungry snakes.  Everyone is either transformed into a do-gooder when a drifter collapses in the middle of a church service or is condemned to live a life of forever evil.  What’s more, this ‘plot’ limps along on childishly unrealistic elements, such as a church taking care of a sick man rather than a hospital.  By the end, this film will be trying to sell you cheap WWJD gear that makes you a better Christian (not kidding).  In short, the intent of this movie is beyond our comprehension; all we know is that it’s a mockery of Christian film—again.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast is essentially John Schneider and a whole host of amateurs, all of which are provided zero acting coaching.  Line delivery is awkward and emotions are either nonexistent or forced.  Positivity is overplayed; sometimes people are very over-excited to the point of embarrassment.  Lines that are meant to be serious come off all wrong and appear comedic.  Basically, if you watched Decision and Lukewarm, you get the picture of what the acting is like.

Conclusion

What else can be said that hasn’t already been said?  Between Decision, Lukewarm, and the WWJD trilogy, All\KKO Productions has really done a number on the reputation of Christian movies.  The real question is this: the message of asking what Jesus would do in every circumstance that faces us as Christians is highly important, but who is going to watch this movie to learn that?  Even if someone did watch this movie, they are highly unlikely to either be converted to Christianity or to be inspired in their faith.  Since neither of these objectives is accomplished, what’s the point of making a half-cocked, cheap, and downright embarrassing production?  We implore future film makers to take notice.  Make a difference in Christian film, not another thrift store reject.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Appalachian Trial (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The Hart family wants to help the hurting Crandall family, so they decide to take them to their favorite camping spot in the Appalachian mountains.  However, the Crandall family, a father and his two sons, are not well suited to the outdoors at all.  Thankfully, the Hart patriarch is an expert outdoorsman and is well-versed in his ability to impersonate an Animal Planet narrator when he instructs others in his art.  But the most horrific thing happens when the Hart siblings and the Crandall brothers get lost on ‘the trail’ and take a wrong turn that sends them out into no man’s land.  But never fear, because Mr. Hart is ready to save the day with his Discovery Channel knowledge as Mrs. Hart does her women’s duty by staying at the tent and praying.  In the end, both families will learn heartwarming lessons of friendship, family, and faith.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Appalachian Trial is about what you can expect from a C-grade fundamentalist Christian production outfit.  The only positives are the fairly consistent sound quality and the pretty good camera work.  Otherwise, there’s nothing good to say here.  The video quality is grainy and the sets and locations are severely limited.  While the surroundings are basically realistic, no one really wants to watch a movie shot entirely inside of vehicles, at a fire pit, and in the flora and fauna of Appalachia.  The musical score is just about as annoying as it gets, like it was recorded by Bob Jones’ star music students on a flute and an old piano.  Finally, the editing is abhorrent.  This ‘film’ plays out like a bunch of outdoor and camping tutorials spliced together.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at Unusual Films saw the tutorials they play in class and decided to add some ‘drama’ to them, to splice them together in the reel to reel room, and to call that a movie.  Like seriously.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

There is zero plot content in this eighty-minute camping docu-drama.  The storylines are flat; no one wants to watch a grainy depiction of people driving, trudging through the forest, stacking wood, building fires, and making hot dogs.  The characters are childish, with the exception of Mr. Hart, who is a walking encyclopedia of outdoor knowledge with a radio voice.  Mrs. Hart fulfills all stereotypes of how fundamentalist Christians think motherhood should be.  Mr. Crandall is obnoxious and petty.  The kids remind us too much of kids from homeschool groups gone by.  The dialogue throughout is absurd and wooden.  If it’s any consolation, there is a pretty good gospel presentation, but it’s so deep into this mind numbing reject video that I seriously doubt anyone will ever find it.  Simply put, there is no plot here and therefore no points are awarded.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This tiny cast was never suited to be in a movie.  Not a single cast member needed to be cast.  This is not a personal attach on the actors and actresses, but some people should never be forced into acting.  I know I would never want to act and I would likely never allow myself to be cast.  Bob Jones seems intent on constantly casting awkward white people in all of their ‘films’.  Emotions are not conveyed well by the cast members and line delivery is terrible.  I’m sorry, but this just wasn’t their calling.

Conclusion

Another Bob Jones creation, another disaster.  But hey, at least it’s better than The Treasure Map!  Of course, improving from -10 points is a feat that could have been accomplished by anyone.  Unusual Films existed so early on in Christian entertainment history that they were likely the only ones making these sorts of films of their day, which should explain why entertainment is where it is today.  All Bob Jones ever wanted to do with these ‘films’ was push their white patriarchal fundamentalist Christian propaganda.  With no real ideas and terrible delivery, there was no reason to ever make ‘films’ like this.

 

Final Rating: .5 point out of 10 points

 

Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Josh McManus is a confused man.  As a traveling self-defense product salesman, he is used to meeting new people on a daily basis, but he is not comfortable with the secret man inside of him.  While travelling across the western America desert, strange things start to happen.  Pursued by mysterious biker villains and plagued by weather anomalies and electrical failures, he is finally forced to face off with his pursuers.  Hawg is a troubled biker gang leader with an agenda to take over random small towns in the western United States.  His disgruntled mentality tends to cause discontent in his gang, but they ride on, bent on destroying the mysterious Josh McManus.  All of the characters involved must not only come to grips with who they are, but with the strangely changing world around them.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Where to begin?  Let’s start with the positive.  The only reason this film’s production is not zero points is because there is at least clear video quality.  Otherwise, there is nothing good to discuss.  The camera work is obnoxious, with random dizzying cuts and zooms for faux-dramatic effect.  To ‘enhance’ action sequences, the camera jerks all around, getting weirdly close to important characters.  While we’re on the topic of action scenes, they are either very poorly executed or far too long, eating up huge chunks of the movie’s runtime.  Watching a David A. R. White action scene is usually dizzying, and Revelation Road is no exception.  Speaking of dizzying, the sheer overuse of special effects in this movie makes us wonder if it’s safe for epileptic viewers to watch.  Topping things of, the soundtrack is deplorable.  Therefore, as you can see, this is another horrific Pureflix production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With this movie packed so chock full with useless action sequences that add nothing to its overall purpose, whatever that is, actual plot depth is squeezed out of the picture.  The intended plot can be summed up in a nutshell: random guy drives to a random desert town to sell self-defense gear (does anybody really do that?) and gets caught in the middle of a store holdup, uses secret military training to defeat mindless biker villains, hangs out with the store owner and his family, observe strange weather anomalies with eccentric local policemen, calls his worried wife about stuff, plays vigilante with local deadbeats, and observes a strange ‘rapture’ from a local motel.  Elsewhere, we are shown the life and times of a bizarre desert biker gang led by a grunting leader and his sidekick, plus Andrea Logan White in a makeup disaster.  No character development occurs as the ‘plot’ jumps from one explosion and gunfight to the next.  Dialogue has a typical cheesy, off-the-wall Pureflix feel.  We are unsure what is trying to be communicated here except for another offbeat Christian apocalyptic concept.  This movie might as well be a commercial for the next one, as it delays the viewers any real substance for over ninety wasted minutes.  Finally, the ending is extremely confusing and isolating.  In short, Revelation Road is the story of the White action films: toss out convention and common sense and exchange it for cheaply constructed action sequences.

Acting Quality (0 points)

What more is there to say that hasn’t already been said?  With the same old Pureflix actors and actresses recycled in the Revelation Road saga, their acting skills do not improve.  When a collection of cast members is kept in such a bubble, there is no reason for them to improve when there is no constructive criticism or filter.  Through this film, emotions are forced and unbelievable.  Action scenes are sloppily acted and line delivery is lazy.  Unfortunately, there is nothing unique or surprising from this cast.

Conclusion

We promise we are really not out on some kind of Pureflix warpath, but when a company so consistently generates such low quality and bizarre content in the name of Christianity, they must be called out.  Revelation Road may be the pinnacle of the Whites’ action movie career.  It involves every possible element of a C-grade action flick.  With creations like this, only two conclusions can be determined: either Pureflix does not know how to make a good movie or they do not care to make a good movie.  Apocalyptic movies are usually bad enough, but this motorcycle madness takes things to a whole new level.  The end result is just another ridiculous Pureflix creation.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

The Ultimate Legacy {The Gift of a Legacy} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When a wealthy woman approaches Hamilton’s firm to construct a legal inheritance process similar to that of Red Stevens’ due to her terminal illness, Hamilton and Miss Hastings enlist Jason Stevens as a special consultant (?).  Within a month, the woman dies and her wild grandson, Joey, inherits her fortune and the famous Anderson House—with stipulations: he must agree to live at Anderson House for a year and complete a series of ‘gifts’ in order to receive his inheritance in full.  Skeptical and frustrated, Joey decides to play along with the will’s demands and suddenly find himself enjoying life in a whole new way.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

To put it frankly, the once respectable Ultimate Gift saga has been #Hallmarked.  The only positive aspects of this entire film is the decent camera work and video quality.  Otherwise, it’s all a wash.  The film is plagued by choppy and rushed editing, as disoriented viewers are taken on a roller coaster ride from one high point to the next.  The sets and surroundings are severely limited, rivaling Hidden Secrets for how long a random collection of unrelated characters can hang around a house together and be united by completing projects related to said house.  The sound quality is average and the soundtrack is typical Hallmark.  In short, corners were obviously cut in order for this made-for-television film to happen.  There is literally no justification for it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Anything that was bad about The Ultimate Life has been taken to new lows.  Ultimate Legacy is the most obviously ridiculous stupid rip off of an original film in the history of Christian film.  Peppered with childish references to Gift and overt copycat concepts of the first installment, Legacy makes for a sadly comedic experience.  The movie is based on an unrealistic premise of people hanging around a house with nothing better to do than devote all of time to another unusual inheritance project.  Legacy is also based entirely on legal and ethical issues by shoehorning Jason Stevens into the plot, who should have no business whatsoever in the Anderson inheritance case.  A perpetually angry character later chides a fellow character for not adhering to attorney-client privilege.  The irony!  Speaking of characters, they are either empty shells from better movies gone by or useless and unexplained caricatures driven by empty and amateurish dialogue.  Other dialogue consists of isolating architectural lingo and the plastic insertion of a trite Christian message.  The plot has no direction whatsoever except to poorly mimic as much of Gift as possible through a rushed and choppy timeline.  The ending is beyond silly and follows Hallmark’s latest habit of departing from typical inspirational conventions to exchange them for empty fluff.  To sum this disaster up, forcing a third movie installment to occur should never happen, especially when it’s built entirely off of overtly and badly copying the original idea.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Hallmark brings with them their typical casting baggage: overdone makeup and zero coaching.  The actors and actresses from previous installments are painfully forced into this film and are joined by a new head-scratching cast that doesn’t seem to know why they are there.  Line delivery is lazy for the older cast members and forced for others.  Emotions are overblown by some, while others seem dazed and confused the whole time.  In short, no thought or effort was put into this casting job.

Conclusion

If Hallmark and PureFlix wanted to be partners in crime for the destruction of a film legacy (pun intended), they could have done so without forcibly inserting previously better characters into their creation.  At least let us leave those characters in a more palatable place (I never thought those words would describe The Ultimate Life) rather than drag them down into Christian movie Sheol (look it up).  The legacy (yes, I did it again) of Jim Stovall’s creative ideas is forever marred by two film conglomerates who now make money off of trolling their audiences.  The best thing we can do now is pretend like Life and Legacy never happened and remember better days, such as the original Hall of Fame movie The Ultimate Gift.  One day we hope that inspirational film giants such as Hallmark and PureFlix will no longer be able to get away with such unethical activity as this film.

 

Final Rating: .5 point out of 10 points

Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude to Armageddon (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Nuclear weapons have been smuggled into America, and FBI agent Shane Daughtry and his team have been ordered to find them before they are detonated.  They must reluctantly collaborate with an old weapons dealer, a corrupt CIA director, and an ex-Muslim spy in order to find the dangerous contraband before America and Israel are blown off the map.  Little do they know is that their true hope lies in a Jewish researcher who has come by valuable information about his mysterious next door neighbor.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

The good video quality is the only positive element to mention.  Otherwise, this movie is barely watchable.  The cheap action scenes are unbearable and poorly executed.  The camera angles are below par and the musical score is what one can expect from such a film as this.  The editing is as maddening as the jumpy action sequences.  CGI and special effects are very C-grade.  Nothing can compare with the incessant John Hagee product placements as the audience is spoon-fed his controversial views on eschatology and international politics.  Unfortunately, the negativity doesn’t end here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It doesn’t really seem like David A. R. White and company really did any research on the inner workings of government organizations or the true nature of terrorists when they were planning this movie.  The way that the plot unfolds is so unrealistic that it feels like a comic book.  Leaps in logic and plot holes litter the landscape.  The ways that the characters proceed forward with ‘leads’ is absurd.  Searching the internet for ‘Iran Shipping Ltd’ and then snooping around in a house they own to see whether or not they have nuclear weapons probably takes the cake, but it’s not to be topped by a librarian assisting FBI agents in a confidential case.  Every character is a ridiculous caricature and not believable.  The only consolation is that this is an apocalyptic plot that doesn’t take place on an airplane, but that’s not saying much.

Acting Quality (0 points)

We are convinced that PureFlix believes that if you have enough action scenes in a movie, you don’t need to coach the actors.  Such is the case in Jerusalem Countdown.  The delivery of lines is lackadaisical and emotions are lackluster.  So-called interrogation scenes are forced and awkward.  In short, there is little to nothing good to say about this film.

Conclusion

Is this movie supposed to have a sequel?  We certainly hope not, but ending the movie the way it does suggests that this film was only created to push John Hagee’s unusual worldview.  Movies in the action adventure, suspense, and apocalyptic genres can be used to reach audiences outside of the church, but when films like Jerusalem Countdown crowd out the field and water it down.  The next time an unbeliever hears about a Christian action film, they may only think of movies like this one and roll their eyes, as we do.  We implore Christian film-makers everywhere to learn from the mistakes of movies such as this one and not repeat them.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

The Book of Ruth: A Journey of Faith (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

A grieving widow at risk of losing more family members, Naomi is confused and disillusioned to her Jewish faith as she resides in a pagan country.  When her two sons die, Naomi makes up her mind to return to her homeland in disgrace.  One daughter-in-law, Orpah, turns away and goes back to her idols, but Naomi’s other daughter-in-law, Ruth, insists on going to the land of Israel with her mother-in-law to further adapt the Jewish faith and to take care of Naomi.  Together, they are uncertain of the path ahead of them but they forge forward, clinging to some hope that Yahweh will look upon them with favor.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Besides clear video quality, there is nothing positive to mention regarding The Book of Ruth’s production.  This film commits every cardinal sin of Bible movies: cheap sets and locations, ridiculous costuming and props, inconsistent sound quality, and choppy editing.  To top things off, a lot of scenes are overshadowed by annoying background music, making it hard to focus on what’s actually going on in the story.  Sometimes the music even covers up dialogue.  There is really little to make this movie worth watching.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The story of Ruth can and should be adapted to film, but this particular adaptation is just C-grade.  Beginning with Oded telling the story to a young David, this tale portrays Biblical characters in an unrealistic light.  It is usually difficult to understand what the characters are supposed to be doing in this movie, whether they are staring at flowers or rubbing random pieces of wood together.  It doesn’t even seem like this plot was meant to be a movie, more like a church play, as we have often mentioned in the past regarding PureFlix Scriptural storylines.  Any potentially good dialogue is eclipsed by odd monologues about Moabite gods and inventive cultural customs.  As previously mentioned, a lot of the dialogue and plot is covered up by loud background music.  In short, there is very little ability to comprehend the actual Biblical message here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

In this film, the actors and actresses stand awkwardly and recite overly practiced lines.  No believable emotion is exhibited and line delivery is amateurishly theatrical.  The casting was poorly executed, as they are too modern in look and not coached at all.  There is too much makeup and manicures, like middle class Americans wrapped in cheap church play costumes.  Once again, we could find nothing positive here.

Conclusion

The Book of Ruth is one of those movies we wish never existed.  When a Biblical adaptation is this bad, it makes us severely embarrassed for both Christians and unbelievers alike who thought this movie would be good, only to later find that it was a DVD that should have been quietly forgotten about and later donated to the local thrift store.  A word of advice to those who are contemplating a Bible movie: learn from the mistakes of movies like The Book of Ruth and never, ever repeat them.  The Christian movie world cannot afford any more movies like this one.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Hidden Secrets [2006] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Following the death of a common friend, Gary, Jeremy, Michael, Harold, and Sherry all gather at his house for a long weekend of repairs and catching up on the good old days.  However, all is not well among them.  Jeremy discovers that he still love Sherry, his former girlfriend, even though his current girlfriend is staying with them.  Michael is guarding a dark secret from his past.  Gary and Harold’s wife constantly clash over his Jewish background and his atheist beliefs.  In the end, they will have to come to grips their hidden secrets in order to face the future.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

There is literally nothing good to say about this film’s production quality.  The video is grainy and the sound quality is all over the place.  The camera work is unprofessional.  Everything about the production has a very cheap identity.  The sets are severely limited, mostly taking place inside one house or on its roof (yes, seriously).  The editing is terrible, but it’s not like there was much to work with.  Roof repair scenes, standing around and talking scenes, and thrift store dress-up scenes litter the landscape.  But nothing can beat David A. R. White mouthing a Building 429 song and pretending like he’s singing it.  As previously mentioned, there is nothing positive here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

There is only one positive element to discuss from this entire film, and that is its slightly interesting exploration of the various types of secret sins many Christians harbor.  Otherwise, the remainder of this film is utter nonsense.  The dialogue is almost written purposely ridiculous.  One character is an over-the-top, obnoxious, legalistic Christian who is the only one, in her mind, who can interpret the Bible properly.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so unwatchable.  The atheist character is equally annoying.  Other dialogue is absurd and overly obvious, shoving issues down viewers’ throats.  There is also no clear plotline to this movie except for repairing a roof, hanging around talking and arguing on various controversial topics, reminiscing about the good old days, playing dress-up in a thrift store, and pretending to sing in a cheap restaurant.  Any good intentions there were in making this movie are buried beneath a mound of insanity.

Acting Quality (0 points)

No acting coaching is employed in Hidden Secrets.  Actors and actresses are allowed to basically run wild with the material with no quality control.  Line delivery is forceful—several actors and actresses are clearly trying to draw attention to themselves.  Emotions are also extreme and unbelievable.  Once again, there is nothing good to say here.

Conclusion

There is a base idea in Hidden Secrets that should have been given to another film.  Unfortunately, Carey Scott, Sean Paul Murphy, and Timothy Ratajczak have not demonstrated that they are good stewards of movie ideas.  To make this sort of movie shows one of three things—they either do not care about making quality movies, they do not fully know how to make quality movies, or they are purposely making low quality movies.  What type of audience is supposed to derive meaning from this sort of movie?  For many reasons, this movie receives a very low score.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Decision [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Following the tragic death of her husband, Ilene Connors struggles to maintain her current financial situation and to keep her delinquent teenage son, Jackson, under control.  At the end of her rope, she agrees with her father’s plan to take Jackson to his remote cabin in the woods in order to teach him some tough life lessons.  Resistant and frustrated, Jackson suddenly finds himself liking the structured atmosphere.  However, he forced to face what he truly believe in when his grandfather’s medical problems leave Jackson having to man up and make some tough decisions.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, we have really nothing positive to say about this film.  We tried to find something, and we sort of did, but it does not pertain to production.  The camera work is very cheap, showcasing poor angles and a general camcorder feel.  The video quality is grainy and the sound quality is spotty, especially in the outdoor scenes.  The sets and locations are extremely limited.  The props are cheesy and the editing looks like it was done on a cheap computer program.  There is really nothing good to say here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Now for the movie’s only positive factor: it clearly presents the gospel message to anyone who happened to be forced to watch the remainder of the film.  That’s all we could find.  The plot is extremely simplistic and very linear.  If this was meant to be a simple gospel presentation, then the characters should have been fleshed out and it should have been marketed that way, not as a direct to DVD movie.  The dialogue is pretty good when it comes to sharing the gospel, but otherwise, it’s high school grade.  The few characters that are in the plot are stereotypical.  Events that take place in the plot are not even believable, such as the survival and outdoors parts.  The grandfather has an undisclosed heart condition that is magically healed every time he pops a pill.  Otherwise, the one hour run time is filled with useless filler, like cleaning out a barn and talking on the phone.  But nothing, absolutely nothing, can top the end of the film.  It is painfully obvious that either someone made a huge editing blunder or the money simply ran out, since the movie cuts off in the middle of someone’s dialogue.  You have to see it for yourself to believe it.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Mike Rosenbaum is obviously older than the Jackson character he plays, which adds a whole new element to this movie.  While it is noble of Natalie Grant to attempt to act while pregnant in real life, it doesn’t really work.  Overall, the cast is not coached at all.  So many times, we see actors and actresses thrown out on the set with no help, and Decision is one of those instances.

Conclusion

Every day we ask ourselves why movies like this are made.  The clear gospel message should have been lifted from this movie idea and inserted into another more worthwhile plot that someone can actually appreciate.  After watching Decision, you get the feeling that Christian movies have reached new lows.  Christian film-makers are not meant to simply churn out cheap productions for the sake of making them.  We strongly believe that God expects Christians to try their best in every area of life—including creating movies.  Decision does not meet these standards.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points