The Visual Bible: Matthew (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In the Gospel of Matthew, the story of Jesus Christ is told, from birth to earthly ministry to death to Resurrection.  Jesus was not only fully God, but he was the Messiah, the Savior of the Jews and of the whole world.  He was a historical figure Who not only impacted everyone He came into contact with but also completely altered human history with His coming.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

The Visual Bible was an ambitious film project to create movies that contained entire books of the Bible within them.  Obviously, with this sort of undertaking, the films produced are going to be very long and are going to lack substantial editing.  Moreover, the Matthew installment has good production overall, including good video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  There are a few oddly-lit scenes, but there was lots of effort put into the historical authenticity of this film, especially when it came to sets, locations, and props.  Though there are a lot of slow parts to this film, this is to be expected, and this production is overall above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Naturally, a movie based entirely on one whole book of the Bible, word-for-word, is going to have built-in narration.  Once again, this is a great take on the entire Gospel of Matthew from start to finish, but there are a handful of issues that come with this territory, such as a high number of scenes that lack dialogue and a hampering of character development due to limited dialogue options.  Nonetheless, this project is well-meaning and has its place as an informational resource rather than as a work of historical fiction.  It’s not possible to watch in one sitting, but it is definitely good and insightful to use in certain situations.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The Visual Bible: Matthew marked the beginning of Bruce Marchiano’s career, and after seeing this version of him, one can understand why he was cast so often as the Messiah.  He stood out in a world of drab, lofty, and ethereal ‘zen’ portrayals of Jesus from the 70s and 80s, thus making The Visual Bible an enjoyable experience with a positive, natural portrayal of Christ.  However, there are other inconsistencies with this cast, such as random cultural authenticity mixed with British and American cast members.  Moreover, most of the acting is fine, even if there are some slow moments, thus making for an overall positive film.

Conclusion

The Visual Bible project is a resource that can be used for various occasions and purposes, even if it is not truly a historical epic.  It played a key role in bringing Bible movies back to the correct basis of Biblical accuracy, which was a contrast from 70s and 80s attempts at using creative license with the Bible.  The Visual Bible is a good example to build off of regarding how to keep Biblical films rooted in historical fact.

 

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

 

The First Stone [1993] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Murrell is released from prison for serving time on drug charges, he is hired as a charity case at a local church as the janitor, even though there was opposition to him.  As he is quietly going about his work one day, he notices that the youth group has gotten out of control in the absence of the leader, so he decides to step in and teach the lesson for the day.  To everyone’s surprise, the kids respect him, so the head pastor makes a bold move to make Murrell the new youth leader.  The results of this move are surprising and unprecedented.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

As an early 1990s production, The First Stone is fairly archaic, which is evidenced by blurry video quality and poor lighting.  While camera work is fine, the sets and locations are cheap.  The props are okay, even if they are a bit outdated.  There also really isn’t any editing to speak of as this film is shorter than most.  While this movie might have meant well, it has an overall feel that screams very old and worn out.  This one was definitely due an upgrade, but funding was likely hard to come by.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

However, The First Stone is one of those rare instances in which the plot is much better than the production.  This movie tells an actually interesting story about problems in churches and in pastor’s families without white-washing it.  It contains realistic and flawed characters and exposes church secrets and broken family systems.  The circumstances therein are believable, and the dialogue is substantial enough to be interesting.  However, there are still some areas for improvement as this is basically an unfinished idea that didn’t get much funding.  The ending is unexpected and interesting, thus making this film somewhat worth your time.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, there are also some acting errors that hold this film back from being what it could be.  The cast members can be too stiff and stilted at times—they basically need some better coaching.  The costuming is old-fashioned, but it’s probably realistic for the time period.  Also, there is acting improvement throughout, as well as plenty of good moments, thus warranting an average score for this section.

Conclusion

You never know what random movies you might stumble upon.  Films like The First Stone are only halfway done, but they have potential to go further.  This movie is definitely worthy of a remake, but it’s unlikely to happen due to the age of it.  Perhaps someone can use the ideas therein to create a truly interesting small church film one day.

 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

 

Come the Morning (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Constance Gibson decides to take her three children to the growing city of Los Angeles in search of her absent husband in the hopes that he has been able to start a new life for them all.  However, as they arrive in the strange new city, they find that not all is as they expected, and they will have to make some hard decisions in order to face the future.  Through it all, will they be able to press into their faith in God to get through the dark times?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

For a production created in 1993, Come the Morning is excellent.  Worldwide Pictures has always been a standout company for their commitment to production quality.  Video quality, audio quality, soundtrack, and camera work are all what they should be in this film.  There was obviously great care given to the historical authenticity of this film’s sets, locations, and props.  The only small issues to point out here pertain to some slightly low-quality lighting in some scenes, as well as some quick cuts and transitions in the editing.  However, in the end, this is an excellent effort and is one that can serve as an example for future films.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Unlike other Christian films newer than it, Come the Morning exhibits Worldwide Pictures’ ability to capture the real-life struggles of accessible characters.  This story is not afraid to portray gritty circumstances and contains a lot of good ideas.  The characters are very believable, yet they could use a little more personality through more complex dialogue.  They have a tendency to be swept along by circumstances.  It also seems like this story could be longer than it is, since it leaves a lot of potential on the proverbial playing field.  But regardless of this, Come the Morning is an accessible story that depicts a realistic story that many audiences will enjoy.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting is the strongest section of this film since there are no real errors to point out here.  This is a very encouraging acting job to witness, as emotions are all believable and line delivery is very much on point.  The costuming is also authentic, which show great effort.  This rounds out a very respectable creation.

Conclusion

We desperately need more Christian film making groups and creative teams who are consistently committed to rolling out movies that are quality on all fronts.  Five- and six-point ratings should be the norm in Christian film, as Worldwide Pictures always did.  If this were the case in Christian entertainment, we would be looking at a completely new field filled with greater opportunities and successes.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points