Power Play [1994] (Movie Review)

Powerplay | Pure Flix

Plot Summary

Robbie Steele is an overconfident attorney who believes that she can singlehandedly save the city of Vancouver by keeping their struggling hockey team from skipping town. To do this, Robbie just needs to convince Cody Harris, an estranged but previously popular hockey player, to sign with her home team. However, talking Cody into doing this proves to be a more difficult feat that Robbie expected, especially since Cody has recently become a Christian.

Production Quality (.5 point)

As a 1990s production, Power Play has plenty of holes in it. Despite acceptable camera and audio work, video quality is burry, and the soundtrack is loud and antiquated. There are also cheesy sound effects and wild camera work in the action scenes. Sets, locations, and props are okay, but there are many disorienting flashes and transitions throughout the film, making for an annoying experience. Further, editing is incredibly choppy, sometimes prematurely cutting off scenes. In general, the production gets worse as it goes, which leaves only a tiny score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Although this narrative has an interesting premise, it’s hard to get to know the characters due to the breakneck pace of the plot. Additionally, the premise is very trumped-up as writers go out of their way to make certain events happen that they want to occur. The Christian characters are too perfect, and while the flawed characters have potential, they are swept along by the rapid story progression, which short-circuits potential development. It’s a shame that some of these characters were wasted in this way, but there’s unfortunately no way to justify awarding points for this aspect of the screenplay.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though the acting in Power Play is fairly unsure, this section is actually the strongest of the whole movie. Despite instances of cast members of trying too hard and scenes that feel like one-takes, the performances are not all bad. Some line delivery and emotions are acceptable, which is enough to warrant an average score.

Conclusion

Traditionally, the Worldwide Pictures team was committed to quality in their films. However, Power Play is an exception. Without a quality production and engaging storyline, there is little for a viewer to be interested in. However, the Christian entertainment industry is hopefully moving past this older era of screenplays.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

The Saint Tammany Miracle {Heavenly Hoops} (Movie Review)

The St. Tammany Miracle (1994) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Father Thomas Mulberry hired Lootie to coach the girl’s basketball team for the small Episcopalian college he was the chancellor of. He didn’t want her to change anything about the team, but she did anyway and, in the process, won the hearts of the girls on the team. Nonetheless, as time went on, Thomas found himself growing fonder of Lootie, but he would have to learn to open up to people if he expected to move forward in life.

Production Quality (1 point)

The Saint Tammany Miracle has unnecessarily blurry video quality even though the camera work is acceptable. Audio is a problem, however, as the loud and annoying soundtrack covers up talking and other sounds. Sets, locations, and props are fine, but the editing is by far the production’s worst element. Some scenes shockingly begin in the middle of others, and many sequences are abruptly cut off. Needless to say, there’s too much negative in this section for it to earn a score higher than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Because this story jumps all over the place, it’s very unclear what its actual purpose is. There’s basically no continuity between the scenes as the screenplay is like a collection of unrelated skits lacking an actual storyline to connect them together. Full of clunky dialogue and meaningless conversations, the characters are generic, blank, and based on ridiculous gender stereotypes. What’s more, they make unusual decisions that lack logic and consistency, including perpetuating a nonsensical love triangle that has no basis in reality. Aided by an extremely vague plot development, the narrative races to a mindless ending scene that easily fixes whatever half-baked problems it created. In the end, with no clear point or direction, The Saint Tammany Miracle flounders at a score of zero for this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite the other problem areas of this film, the acting is actually its strongest element. However, it’s still just average. Emotions and line delivery are just run-of-the-mill as the performances are neither all good nor all bad. Thus, this middle-of-the-road section rounds out an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

The good thing is that we’re (hopefully) long past head-scratchers like The Saint Tammany Miracle. When production quality is so low and the story is so empty, there’s really no point in moving forward with the idea until something substantial can be offered. Making something just for the sake of it is never a good foundation.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

The Visual Bible: Acts (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Jesus Resurrected from the dead, He charged His disciples to go out and complete the work He had begun by making new disciples and building His kingdom on earth.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to give His followers power, and they spread His Gospel to ends of their known world.  God also raised up an unlikely champion of the faith in Paul of Tarsus, who formerly persecuted the very people he joined forced with.  Through the power of God, the followers of Jesus turned the world upside down.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Much like the other installments of The Visual Bible saga, Acts demonstrates superb production quality, including in the areas of video quality, audio quality, and camera work.  The soundtrack is a bit generic, but the sets, props, and locations are excellent in historical and cultural authenticity.  There are virtually no errors to point out here—except for the fact that there is no editing, which is by design.  In the end, however, this is a top-notch production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Acts demonstrates the same ambition as other Visual Bible films, which cover entire books of the Bible in one film.  Unfortunately, while there are many excellent stories in the book of Acts, this rendition is simply too long to have full impact.  Once again, designed narration hurts character development and thus makes this more of an informational resource than a drama film.  However, it still has its place, even though this film tends to have a strange portrayal of angels.  In the end, the historical accounts therein are very enjoyable and worth a watch.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Unfortunately, Acts still contains the Visual Bible struggle for cultural authenticity as not many of the cast members are culturally appropriate.  While there are some moments that are too theatrical, this cast is mostly professional even still, with good emotions and line delivery.  Also, costuming is a major plus.  This rounds out another generally average effort.

Conclusion

At least this depiction of Acts is not cheesy, but one has to wonder what it would have been like if this was a series.  It seems like it would have had great impact.  Actually, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey already tried that.  However, I think we are still due a good series based on the book of Acts.  Any takers?

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

 

The Crossing [1994] (Movie Review)

Ah, the good ole days

Plot Summary

Matt and Jason were best friends, but when Matt dies of cancer, Jason is left asking why.  Matt was a Christian, and he wanted Jason to be as well, so Matt appears to Jason in a vision and shows Jason where God keeps the sins of everybody written down, where Jesus died on the cross, and what will happen if Jason’s mother tries to save herself without God.  Jason wakes up so scared that he has to become a Christian!

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Much like other older films affiliated with the Christiano Brothers brand, The Crossing is an archaic production with a loud and outdated soundtrack.  While video quality and camera work are mostly fine, and sets, locations, and props are okay, there aren’t any other positives to note.  There are a lot of very cheesy special effects used throughout, and there are too many background noises.  Editing also suffers, including choppy cuts and a very abruptly awkward ending.  Unfortunately, while this was intended to be a youth group film (probably from the Christian Film Library of Pamela’s Prayer), youth leaders will be hard-pressed to get anyone interested in this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

On the surface, this film has a good message, but it still has the typical overtures of films associated with the Christiano brand, such as the Christian characters being perfect non-sinners and the non-Christian characters being very obvious sinners.  Thus, the characters serve as stand-ins for plot points and spout programmed dialogue that is designed to push and project a specifically forceful and fundamentalist message.  As usual, the plot is out of touch with real people and uses tactics designed to ‘scare’ people into being saved, which are highly questionable and unlikely to be successful.  Besides this, the ‘storyline’ has a quick and rushed progression and completely lacks substance.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing good to say here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

The Crossing reveals some of the origins of the crazy, overly dramatic acting of the dynamic duo Kevin Downes and David A. R. White.  Other cast members in this film bear the resemblance of stoic Christiano cast members.  However, there are some good moments somewhere in here that keep this section from being zero.

Conclusion

All we can do with a film like this is hope it serves as a reminder of how not to make a ‘youth film.’  People that like this sort of garbage also complain about all the ‘bad movies young people watch these days.’  Well, with stuff like this being shown in church, who’s really to blame?  Until Christian entertainment is top-notch quality, we really don’t have much to say, do we?

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points