Joseph’s Gift (Movie Review)

Joseph's Gift (1998) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Joseph is the youngest sibling of a family who owns a successful garment business in 1970’s Los Angeles. However, his brothers are jealous of how their father favors their younger brother, so they concoct a scheme to land him in trouble and out of their hair. Nonetheless, despite Joseph’s hardships, it all comes full circle as God places him exactly where he needs to be at the right time.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

In the beginning of Joseph’s Gift, there are some tight shots, a handful of odd camera angles, and instances of inconsistent lighting. However, video and audio quality are both fine even though there could be more soundtrack than there is. Elsewhere, the film’s psychological sequences have very poor special effects within them, and a few scenes are cut off very abruptly. As it is, the editing is extremely choppy due to the large amount of content trying to be covered. Nevertheless, all production aspects besides the editing improve as the screenplay goes on, which is enough to earn an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Whereas the premise of Joseph’s Gift, including the 1970’s setting and the psychological integration of Joseph’s visions are interesting, many of the film’s scenes are disconnected from each other due to lack of adequate continuity. The plot tends to jump all over the place with no warning, which hampers any hope of proper character development. A high number of characters confuses the viewer as it’s unclear who to focus on since there are so many different perspectives. This fact often causes dialogue to be fairly cheesy in order to move the story forward and precludes the audience from getting to know who the characters actually are. Elsewhere, there are some unnecessary instances of off-screen content and weirdly creepy experiences. Further, the ending is extremely rushed. Overall, this movie would have worked better as a series or non-linear plot that centralized on Joseph’s character so that certain intriguing concepts, such as Joseph being admitted to a mental institution, wouldn’t have been wasted.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting of Joseph’s Gift is mostly acceptable. Though the emotions are forced at times and could be a bit more authentic, most of the performances, including line delivery, are least passable. While some moments seem just a bit off sometimes, the cast members collectively do enough to post an average score for this section.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, offerings like Joseph’s Gift aren’t able to make a difference due to a handful of avoidable problems, such as fixable production issues and poor screenwriting. It’s one thing to have an interesting idea, but it’s enough to properly execute it. Movies are certainly complex projects to undertake, so they should never be done so in light manners. There are many forgettable films like this one that, if combined together, could make a handful of truly groundbreaking ones.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Taken by Grace [2013] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

While Shawn and Carrie Everett are trying to reconnect as a couple on a camping trip, they are suddenly approached by a mysterious man who talks cryptically to them before pulling out a gun and threatening them to take him where he wants to go.  As Shawn and Carrie agree to help him and as the man continues to babble on about various topics, they begin to get a picture of what this man is all about.  They eventually see him as a desperate man, not a criminal, and concoct a plan to try to intervene in his path of destruction.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

How is it possible that certain PureFlix movies have better production than others?  In Taken by Grace, there are few production problems to mention.  The camera work is good, and the video quality is clear.  Audio quality passes the test of authenticity.  The suspenseful musical score is highly effective.  Even though there are few sets, they are used well.  The only major production issue is, of course, editing.  Too many scenes feel cut short and unfinished.  Overall, while this film would have greatly improved with better editing, it’s still a production effort to be proud of.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

In this highly dialogue-driven psychological mystery, Bradley Dorsey does not disappoint when it comes to creativity.  Most creators could not handle writing long dialogue scenes for just a handful of characters sitting around in vehicles talking, but the philosophical and psychological elements win out.  While the characters could have been developed better, they are adequate enough.  Unfortunately, there are some typical mystery pitfalls, such as easy coincidences and ‘leads’ that are stumbled upon.  Another major problem is that there is too much wasted time and jumping back and forth.  The minor subplots are underdeveloped and almost seem forced.  Even though the creative concept behind this plot is great, it’s not enough by itself; there needs to be something added to it.  Basically, though it has many great strengths, Taken by Grace is an incomplete idea that needs a remake.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Mental health problems are actually portrayed very well through some of the acting in this film, and are not completely overdone like you would expect from a PureFlix film.  However, sometimes emotions are forced and unbelievable.  We have to question whether or not Bradley Dorsey should star in all of his films, as he seems to always underperform his potential.  But overall, this cast isn’t half bad.

Conclusion

In typical Bradley Dorsey fashion, Taken by Grace walks the line between brilliant creativity and amateurish mistakes.  All the films he’s involved are rooted in a deep and profound concept that challenges Christian movie conventions and genres.  He always employs psychological elements that should be found in many more Christian films.  But little mistakes always hold back his ideas from being all that they could be.  As is the case with Meant to Be, Taken by Grace could have been an awesome Hall of Fame film with just a few things changed and with a deeper storyline.  We hope in the future that Bradley Dorsey and company will take that next step to greatness, because Christian film desperately needs it.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points