Saving Winston (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When she is left behind by her partners in crime, Ashley is caught by the police and arrested following a break-in she assisted with.  After being released from juvenile detention, she is assigned to kinship care under her Aunt Diane.  Ashley’s aunt hopes to provide a structured atmosphere on her horse farm for the troubled teen and hopes to lead her to faith in Christ.  But as Ashley’s past keeps calling her back, Diane finds herself at the end of her rope.  That is, until Ashley grows close to a struggling horse on a neighboring property and tries to nurse him back to health.  Little do Ashley and Diane know that healing can come from unexpected places.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Ugh.  That pretty much describes this production.  It looks like it was filmed with a camcorder, sometimes shaking around in someone’s hand, sometimes on a tripod, and sometimes sat on a table some distance away.  More often than not, characters are cut out of the shot or are only partially in the shot since there is obviously no adjustable camera equipment.  Other camcorder qualities include tinny sound and grainy video.  There are lots of wasted ‘artistic’ shots of leaves, grass, and trees, accompanied by clanky piano music.  The sets and locations are basically people’s backyards and living rooms—not that there’s anything wrong with this, but they’re not utilized properly.  In short, Saving Winston is extremely and obviously cheap; no professionalism is exhibited here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

So, what exactly is the plot here?  Why does this plot even center around a horse that gets less than 50% screen time?  It seems like there could have been an interesting plot about juvenile delinquency issues, but there is just nothing here.  The characters are hollow, fueled by lifeless dialogue.  With so few characters, excellent dialogue is needed, but not received.  The aunt character, who is supposed to be the Christian guide of the plot, comes off as abrasive and rude.  Saving Winston just boils down to a collection of scenes depicting people driving around, working with horses, doing Bible studies, and having juvenile arguments.  Box Office Revolution has never reviewed such an empty plot.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This very small cast was neither given good coaching nor interesting lines to work with.  Victoria Emmons has demonstrated the ability to act better in other movies, but not this one, probably due better crews in other films.  In Winston, line delivery is either forced or mumbled and emotional delivery is borderline comedic.  Unfortunately, there is once again nothing good to highlight here.

Conclusion

Everyone has meager beginnings, but it doesn’t have to be this bad.  Winston should have been a short film that concisely and clearly communicated its intended point.  Many new filmmakers have used short films to begin their careers; Shane Hawks could have easily done this and saved time and money.  As it is, Saving Winston made no impact on the market accept to further tarnish the reputation of Christian films.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Come What May [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Caleb Hogan has always been torn between his parents and their differing belief systems.  He finally convinces his lawyer mother to fund a semester at Patrick Henry College for him, even though they hold beliefs contrary to hers.  Interested in law himself, Caleb joins the mock trial team and begins working with Rachel Morton, a somewhat stodgy girl whom he likes but cannot date right away due to her standards.  They begin to have a conflict over the moot court topic: overturning Roe vs. Wade.  Caleb is unsure of the college’s insistence on full overturn, especially as he and Rachel work as interns at his mother’s firm while they take on an abortion case in real life.  In the end, one worldview must win out in Caleb’s mind and heart.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Come What May is obviously an amateur film, but it didn’t have to be this bad.  While the video quality is okay, there is really nothing else good to say, unfortunately.  The makeup jobs on each actor are poor.  The camera work is stock, and the lighting and sound quality are very inconsistent.  The sets are quite limited, which can be expected, but the outdoor scenes rarely have sound.  Finally, the editing is poor—some scenes are very confusing and others last too long.  However, this may also be due to a lack of good content.  Overall, it is hard to justify this movie’s existence if for the production alone.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Patrick Henry College is supposed to be an expert on winning moot court championships, and make sure to not let the audience forget their greatness in their own brand of product placements throughout the movie.  However, if they are so good, then they should at least get their facts straight.  They do not.  There are multiple moot court championship inaccuracies and untrue facts, including having a former Supreme Court justice judge the final round.  It is great to have a pro-life message, but it comes off very abrasive and preachy, like the creators are trying to force things down your throat.  Some arguments used for the pro-life worldview are so off-the-wall that Box Office Revolution does not support them.  As previously mentioned, there are plenty of unnecessary scenes, and offbeat amateurish dialogue litters the film.  To top things off, this movie reinforces negative Christian stereotypes by purporting strange views of the roles of women in society.  The ‘bad’ characters are caricatures, with the exception of one character, who has an interesting enough arc to save this plot from garnering zero points.  In short, while we need more pro-life films on the market, Come What May only hurts the cause.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

This cast must be given a break since they are all mostly inexperienced.  It is great to find new actors for Christian films instead of using the same ones over and over again, but coaching needs to be provided.  There is poor emotional delivery and wooden acting throughout this film.  In short, though these was some potential, the acting only serves to further hurt this movie’s case.

Conclusion

Overall, Come What May is a very bad presentation of the otherwise important pro-life issue.  It would have been one thing to have average production and average acting combined with a strong plot, but none of this happened.  The creators manipulated reality to suit their own means, filled the movie with their bizarre brand of Christianity, and generally did everything possible to force this movie to happen without thinking about the overarching consequences.  Social issues need to be showcased in Christian films, but Come What May only serves as an example of how not to go about it.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points