Run [2017] (Movie Review)

Director & Actor Josiah Warren On the Problem of Human Trafficking ...

Plot Summary

After months of anticipation, Levi and Natalie have finally been able to get married. He’s a businessman while she’s a news anchor with a passion to end human trafficking. However, on their wedding night, Natalie is tragically kidnapped by human traffickers who want to put a stop to her activism. Thus, Levi begins a frantic search for his wife that leads him down paths he never thought he would travel and gives him a front row seat to the social issue he only ever heard about.

Production Quality (.5 point)

Strong Foundation Films is notorious for having low-quality productions, even in recent years when the field has evolved for the better. Run is no exception to this, as evidenced by over-driven audio, a loudly invasive soundtrack, and stupid sound effects. Though video and camera quality are average, lighting is inconsistent, and there are some weird zooms and camera angles. Sets, locations, and props are okay, but flashbacks are dizzying. The editing is atrocious since it’s very quick and abrupt; one scene after the next whizzes by at breakneck speed. Therefore, with very little positive to note here, this low score is warranted for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

From the beginning, which contains creepy sequences, to the end, which basically resolves everything before cutting off in a wacky way, Run is one of your typically bad narratives. When the plot isn’t heavily relying on coincidences, it’s fully of obvious message-pushing as everything in the storyline is about the central issue rather than actually developing the characters. The dialogue is bland, and the conversations are extremely procedural; there’s also a lot of forced drama and constant suspense. The absurdly strawman villains are unrealistically obsessed with the protagonists and are somehow able to commit human trafficking crimes around literally every corner. This brings up the point that the premise is quite childish and is based on a ridiculous amount of luck and giant leaps in logic. It’s hard to understand why certain things happen except for the fact that the writers need them to occur in order to reach a certain point. Besides all of these problems, there are simply too many characters to keep up with, even if some of them do have flashbacks and though some of the minor characters are actually better than the major ones. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to make up for the sea of issues throughout this movie.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As is typical for Strong Foundation screenplays, Run contains a lot of unsure acting. This includes awkward and muted line delivery, forced juvenile emotions, yelling, and screaming. Josiah David Warren posts a traditionally bad performance due to trying way too hard to be something he’s not. While the supporting cast members are better than the principles, it’s not enough to present this section from earning zero points.

Conclusion

Even after terrible movies like The Takeover, A Golden Mind, and Seventy Times Seven, to name a few, the Strong Foundation team continues to churn out awful creations. Run is no exception to this. Despite the Christian entertainment market moving in a positive direction for the past few years, Josiah David Warren, Sun Hui East, and their team members continue to do the same old thing. With a lot of experience under their belts, they should be trending upward, yet they continue to be mired in the basement of Christian film.

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

The Chosen, Season 1.2 (Series Review)

Image result for the chosen season 1 jesus
The Critically Acclaimed Hit Series Completes Its First Season

Plot Summary

After Jesus chose a majority of His followers, He began to slowly but surely reveal His nature to the world through public miracles and teachings. Though He mostly ministered in obscurity, His work drew the attention of multiple different spheres of influence: common people, powerful politicians, and power-hungry religious leaders. However, Christ never discriminated in who He chose to follow Him as He broke down social and cultural barriers in order to proclaim His love for all humanity.

Production Quality (2.5 points)
Much like the first half of Season 1, this season’s second half boasts a very high-quality production that both lives within its means and makes the most of what it has. Though camera work can be a bit shaky at times, much like the former half, there are virtually no other production flaws to note here. Video quality and audio quality are both flawless as the camera captures poignant scenes that feel like real life. Sets, locations, and props are incredibly authentic and demonstrate extreme care for historical accuracy and attention to detail. Perhaps the most impactful element of the production is the exquisite soundtrack that is creatively and artistically placed to enhance key moments and to draw the audience into the story’s emotional experiences. Further, editing is seamless and presents a well-crafted plot in a professional manner. In the end, Dallas Jenkins and his very talented creative team have once again showcased their God-given talents in a very responsible manner that has revolutionized Christian entertainment at a time when it was desperately needed.

Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)
However, there’s still more to say. It’s undeniable that the extreme humanity of The Chosen’s characters are what make the series more than a run-of-the-mill Bible drama. Tyler Thompson and the other writers clearly went great lengths, as prompted by the Holy Spirit, to not only ensure the accurate cultural profiles of the characters but to also make them very flawed and relatable to all audiences, which is something other Biblical productions have been allergic to. The Chosen doesn’t just show the viewers a collection of well-known miracles and stories: the lead-up and fallout of each important event is carefully crafted and woven together with other intriguing subplots. All of this is good enough without even mentioning the way some scenes are presented in artistic manners that are nearly flawless in their presentation. Dialogue and conversations between characters are very deep, meaningful, and even philosophical at times, which is something we rarely see in Christian entertainment. Basically, there are more positive qualities in this section than can be named, which has warranted a separate discussion on how the subplots interlock and interact. In the end, The Chosen creative team has transformed the development of series and characters in Christian entertainment, and there’s no going back from here.

Acting Quality (3 points)
With virtually the same cast from episodes one through four plus others who add more life than there already was, the acting of episodes five through eight does not waver from its previously perfect score. In fact, many of the cast members build off of their roles and become even more comfortable in their characters. Emotions are right on target such that they can be felt by the viewers, and line delivery is basically perfect. This cast is so heavily talented that it’s posing a good problem for Box Office Revolution’s upcoming Actor and Actress of the Year Awards, which is a type of dilemma we have unfortunately never been faced with in our reviewing experience.

Continuity Quality (3 points)
Continuity is where many Christian series completely drop the proverbial ball because the episode are often disconnected and self-contained. However, every episode of The Chosen that has been released so far are somehow able to be both self-consistent as well as connected to the bigger picture, which is an important component of a great series. One way the continuity is best demonstrated in through the use of flashbacks to cover both previously overlooked New Testament stories along with relevant Old Testament accounts, and this latter inclusion is one of the added bonuses of episodes five through eight. Finally, the ending of each episode is epic and demonstrates how much this creative knows what they’re doing and how much they have relied on God to get this project right.

Conclusion

The second half of The Chosen’s first season also receives two x-factor points for presenting the greatest stories of history in the ways they should have been portrayed all along as well as for being re-watchable and binge-able. There’s hardly anything we would want changed about The Chosen at this point except for an even bigger budget to do better things with since Jenkins and the rest have demonstrated an ability to responsibly steward the resources God’s given them. As a side note, we receive no compensation or reward for our reviews and advertising of this series, but we wholeheartedly support its full release and strongly encourage you to both watch Season 1 during this year’s holidays and to share it with as many people as you can. This is first time a season of a Christian series has been critically acclaimed and placed on the Box Office Revolution Hall of Fame. We believe The Chosen has a rare, God-given opportunity to change not only the Christian entertainment world but also Christian culture as a whole because it’s a fresh, high-quality look at well-known stories that are timelessly relevant for all people.

Final Rating: 13.5 out of 14 points

The Chosen, Season 2 (Spring 2021)

Filming Fall 2020; releasing spring 2021

Writer(s): Ryan Swanson, Tyler Thompson, Dallas Jenkins, Kurt Gebhards

Director(s): Dallas Jenkins, Adam Drake, Mitch Hudson

Producer(s): Chad Gunderson, Justin Tolley, Derral Eves, Ricky Ray Butler,
Earl Seals, Matthew Faraci, Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson

Starring: Jonathan Roumie, Shahar Issac, Paras Patel, Noah James, Elizabeth Tabish, George Xanthis, Abe Martell, Giavani Cairo, Jordan Walker Ross, Joey Vahedi, Yasmine Al-Bustami, Vanessa Benavente, Brandon Potter, Kenneisha Thompson, Vanessa DeSilvio, Maz Siam, Shaan Sharma, Ivan Jasso, Amber Shana Williams, Noé de la Garza, Yoshi Barrigas, Austin Alleman, Joseph Campbell, Alaa Safi, Nene Nwoko, Elijah Alexander

Plot Synopsis: Season 2 of the groundbreaking new series follows Jesus and His disciples during his earthly ministry outside of Capernaum.  The season overall focuses on group dynamics between the disciples and introduces at least two more key characters.  Jesus and His followers encounter both love and hatred as a result of their newfound popularity.

***CONFIRMED SPOILERS BELOW***

Overarching Season Themes: People finding their place in Jesus’ earthly ministry and the group dynamics of the disciples

Returning Characters: Jesus, Simon, Andrew, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, John son of Zebedee, Big James, Little James, Thaddeus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Thomas, Ramah, Photina, Neriah, Shmuel, Yussif, Tamar, The Paralytic, Quintus, Rivka

New Characters: Philip, Nathanael, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot, Melech, Rebecca, Chedva, Gershon, Nedim, Kaphni, Yanni, Atticus

Episode 1, Thunder: Jesus and His current disciples enter Samaria and meet up with Thomas and Ramah. Jesus preaches to the people about the parable of the lost sheep, and many believe in Him. Rama’s father Kaphni, after talking to Jesus, gives his daughter permission to travel with the group. After introducing them to everyone in town, Photina invites the whole group over for dinner, but her husband, Neriah, doesn’t know what to think about this. Jesus and His disciples stay at an inn for the night, and they spend several days in Samaria. The Sons of Thunder (John and Big James), after tilling some soil for a disabled farmer, are mistreated by some of the townspeople, who throw rocks at them for being Jews. After being spit on, John and Big James demand that Jesus let them call down fire on the Samaritans, but Jesus tells them that their work is for future generations. Elsewhere, Thomas takes issue with Matthew being in the group due to Matthew’s former tax collection work. Simon and Matthew continue to feud with each other.

Episode 2: Matthew begins to find his place among the disciples, despite the fact that some of them don’t like him. Philip and Nathanael are introduced as characters since John the Baptist refers Philip to Jesus, which prompts Philip to talk to Nathanael about the new Rabbi. Nathanael has just gone through a career failure and is skeptical of Jesus. This career failure may or may not be related to a possible flashback of a building collapsing.

Episode 3, Matthew 4:24: Based on its titular verse, this bottle episode depicts the current disciples taking turns helping Jesus with the many who are coming for healing. Many of the disciples are tired from their journey and previous work, so as they rest, they discuss what has been happening in the past few weeks. Mary the mother of Jesus and Philip join the group at the beginning of the episode. Mary the mother offers unique insights of her perspective on the situation.

Episode 4, The Perfect Opportunity: This episode includes some type of mid-season cliffhanger where success is within the grasp of the characters yet also far away. It presents a well-known Bible story in a fresh way and somehow involves a wedding and the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda. The episode begins with a montage of scenes depicting a character’s early life, possibly that of the paralytic by the pool. Sometime during the episode, some of the characters enter Jerusalem. It’s possible that someone attempts to take Jesus’ life in this episode.

Episode 5: A character goes to a place of ill repute.

Episode 6: At some point during the season, not necessarily this episode, a subplot is introduced about a band of zealots, some of whom are crucified. Also, sometime, not necessarily in this episode, Shmuel goes to the city of Tiberias to meet with Yanni at a wailing wall.

Episode 7: If Jesus and His current disciples return to Capernaum by this time, He will possibly have an encounter with Quintus. In this episode, it seems like the disciples are split up and in hiding. Andrew and Philip try to stop Tamar and the paralytic from preaching about Jesus.

Episode 8: Focuses on a big moment that takes Jesus’ earthly ministry to a new level. It presents a well-known Bible story in a fresh way and very likely involves the Sermon on the Mount. Also, a character wonders if there’s more to life than what he’s currently experiencing. The disciples are struggling with forgiveness and other painful events that have happened throughout the season.