Forgiven [2016] (Movie Review)

Watch Forgiven | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When a desperate criminal takes a pastor and his two daughter hostage within the church after a Wednesday night service, the police are forced to take drastic measures to keep the victims safe. However, the criminal is mostly confused and unsure of what he wants to do. Thus, the pastor and his daughters do what they can to help him. Will the situation be resolved before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Besides a few exceptions, Kevan Otto’s more recent productions have contained higher levels of quality than his previous efforts. There’s a continuation of this trend in Forgiven. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all professional. Sets, locations, and props are standard. There are only a few minor editing issues, but this fact doesn’t prevent this section from receiving a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This film is based on an interesting suspense idea although the hostage situation is half-hearted at best. Additionally, the characters are one-dimensional, including a criminal who doesn’t really seem to be committed to anything and generally lacks deeper motivations for his behaviors. Stock and unsubstantial dialogue do nothing to improve the blank characters even though this character-based plot desperately needed real conversations to keep it going. Too many empty scenes fill time rather than create meaningful arcs. It felt like that the writers just wanted to skip to the end instead of make the audience want to watch the build-up. Many sequences are very boring and preachy, espousing a cheap Christian message about going to church to act right. Though the conclusion is slightly interesting, it’s difficult for the view to make it there, and it’s hard to understand why the basically perfect and unrelatable protagonist even wanted to help the criminal character. Very narrative-heavy and character-light, this story needed a lot more fleshing out to truly enhance the potential within. Thus, only a meager rating is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Forgiven is pretty good. For the most part, emotions are realistic, and line delivery is acceptable. Some performances are better than others, and some cast members are more believable than others. Due to the small cast, errors are more noticeable, which is why this section only receives an above-average score.

Conclusion

At this point, it seems like that Kevan Otto and his team know how to craft a pedestrian, acceptable-on-paper screenplay. However, to truly succeed, they will need to go further than this. Otto has proven that he can improve production quality over time, so it’s time for him to employ better writing talent to create more engaging narratives with more accessible characters. Otherwise, average ratings will be the norm.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Fearless Faith (Movie Review)

Watch Fearless Faith | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Colton is a police officer who’s haunted by the trauma of witnessing his former partner get gunned down in a crossfire. Now, Colton avoids all things relating to God even though his wife wants him to come back to the faith. However, circumstances begin to change Colton’s heart as he’s forced to face the past that he’s been running from.

Production Quality (2 points)

Although this production is mostly above-average, it still has some unnecessary pitfalls, such as odd zooms in the camera work and some strangely blurry video quality in certain parts. Action camera work is inconsistent, and the soundtrack is a bit loud at times. Also, flashbacks tend to be disorienting, and the editing has a lot of quick cuts and transitions, but all aspects of the production generally improve with time. This include better video quality, audio quality, and camera work in the second half of the film. Sets, locations, and props are relatively stable throughout. In the end, this mixed-bag section does enough to warrant this score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Fearless Faith is based on a very valid and worthy idea that needs to be explored in entertainment: law enforcement trauma. However, this concept is presented with stream-of-consciousness storytelling that lacks focus or overarching themes. Average conversations don’t do enough to develop the generic characters although there is a lot of missed potential to have better dialogue. The perfect Christian characters and racial stereotypes don’t do much to help the cause of the narrative. Religious platitudes and lack of continuity are only compounded by wasted time and plot jumps. Despite dry humor and sarcasm that could have made for interesting experience, unrealistic coincidences happen just because the writers need them to. Even though the ending does a somewhat good job of bringing everything together, characters are fixed way too easily, and the conclusion isn’t properly set up. There are no meaningful payoffs because a majority of the storyline is just kicking the can down the road to get to an unearned high point. The climax falls flat where it could have soared because it lacks effective build-up, and personal tragedies aren’t exactly treated in a serious fashion. All of this is to say that Fearless Faith had the potential to be a truly interesting movie, but this section’s low score holds it back.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting in this screenplay is average. Surprisingly, Jason Burkey may have found his niche in this film as he demonstrates pretty good performances with dry humor and sarcasm. This role doesn’t require him to go too far beyond his abilities, which actually works. Elsewhere, there are no obviously glaring errors in this section except for some annoying yelling and screaming. In certain pivotal scenes, the acting can tend to be unnecessarily blank and not present. In the end, this aspect of them movie rounds out an okay effort.

Conclusion

Fearless Faith had a lot going for it since it was written by real law enforcement officers who know what it’s like in the real world. This creative team put forth a pretty good project in Beautifully Broken, but Fearless Faith seems to lose some of this progress. A disorganized narrative derailed most of the potential in this screenplay, and a handful of concerns in production and acting didn’t help either. Next time, however, this team can hopefully learn from their mistakes and seek better counsel in their plot development.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Miracle on Christmas (Movie Review)

Amazon.com: Miracle On Christmas: Erin Bethea, Jason Burkey, Brett Varvel,  Micah Lynn Hanson, Kimberly Cruchon Brooks, Thomas Bonifield: Movies & TV

Plot Summary

Mary isn’t having a good holiday season: it’s been a year since her dad died, and now, Mary’s husband, James, has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Nonetheless, Mary wants to hide this from her mother and siblings, who are coming over for Christmas. On top of it all, James brings a total stranger, Harry, to the celebration. However, Harry turns out to be more than anyone thought and offers new hope during the hard times.

Production Quality (2 points)

At the very least, Miracle on Christmas meets the minimum requirements for modern productions. There aren’t many concerns to note here, and this section has many positives, including good video quality, camera work, and audio quality. The generic soundtrack leaves something to be desired, however, but the sets, locations, and props are acceptable. The main issues in this area pertain to continuity errors, cheesy special effects, and sparse editing. These seems to be evidences of a thrown-together creation, but this part of the film is still above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Using a stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling, this plot presents one thing after another without much continuity between scenes. It’s also hard to connect with characters as many conversations go round and round without accomplishing anything, and dialogue is generally inadequate at building characters. It goes without saying that the angel character is very creepy and overly focused on even though it’s unclear why he even needs to be there except to unnecessarily complicate matters. With no clear themes or central focus, this narrative is essentially a bunch of random scenes strung together, and it’s difficult to feel like the happenings are realistic. While the storyline drags on and on without proper payoffs, time is wasted on useless musical montages, angel monologues, and juvenile animations that accomplish nothing. Therefore, with no potential, zero points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Although the acting of Miracle on Christmas isn’t all bad, there are many instances of very awkward acting. This include over-the-top and forced emotions as well as overdone line delivery. Several cast members are trying way too hard to either make themselves known or be very theatrical in their performances. Thus, this section rounds out an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

Kevan Otto continues to randomly release low-quality screenplays without warning and without justification. This movie is just another installment in a long line of disappointments that further damage the reputation of Christian entertainment. With no clear direction or purpose, there’s really no reason why Miracle on Christmas should have been made, making it another example of why people continue to be suspicious of Christian creations.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

Pardoned by Grace (Summer 2021)

Movie about the life of a Michigan City priest films in the Region, Porter County Jail

Expected Summer 2021

Writer(s): Mark E. McCann, Melissa Stamper

Director(s): Kevan Otto

Producer(s): Ben Graham, Scott Highberger, Kevan Otto, Brandon Riley, Tim Warren, Ron Wolff

Starring: Joey Lawrence, Michael W. Smith, Jossie Thacker, Danny Farder, Ben Graham, Chandra Michaels, Tom McElroy, Chad Moseley, Daniel Ball, Roger Welp, Katie Mancuso, Steve Flanigan, Dave Honigman, Ron Wolff, Obi Obisoulstar Uwakwe, Tim Hubbard, Sarah Joanou, Brenda Reiser, Ezra Fontanez, Lindsay Whisler, Elyse Collier, Joe Goehl

Plot Synopsis: This biopic film tells the true story of Scott Highberger, a man who was in and out of jail for a big part of his life. Based on his memoir, the film will cover his 35 arrests, eight felony convictions, five prison sentences, and his path to drug addiction and personal turmoil. The film will end with his new life as an outreach pastor at Road to Life Church’s Michigan City campus who ministers to inmates at Westville Correctional Center.

Remember the Goal (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Courtney Smith-Donnelly, an inexperienced coach, is given the job as the new cross country coach at Orange Hills Christian Girls Private School, many parents are skeptical of her ‘unusual’ training methods.  She insists on not wearing the girls out, but the parents want a winning team.  Under the threat of being fired, Courtney pushes forward and encourages her girls to remember the goal no matter what.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

At least since they have been making films for nearly two decades, the Christiano brothers have learned how to craft a professional production.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all what they should be.  The soundtrack is a bit silly at times, but outdoor locations and indoor sets are on market standard.  The only real issue to point out here is the slightly poor editing job, which manifests in too many sports montages.  But in the end, at least the production quality of this film is fine.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, after all these years, the Christiano brothers have not been able to figure out how to craft a plot that relates the real people and real circumstances.  They still demonstrate a trite and sometimes childish outlook on life, which includes a silly and plastic handling of otherwise important issues.  The characters are also extremely thin and one-dimensional due to mindless dialogue.  There is hardly any content in this plot except for sports sequences and lingo and there are a lot of disjointed subplots.  But perhaps the most memorable part of this plot—for all the wrong reasons—is the forced and confusing parallels between Christianity and cross-country, as well as the ridiculous persecution the main character undergoes for training her team in a supposedly controversial fashion.  This component dominates the film and is downright laughable, not to mention all of the quick fixes in this film.  Basically, there is still nothing good to say here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though the Christianos mostly departed from their usual cast in his film, there are still issues here.  The lead actress is often overly practiced yet unsure of herself at the same time.  Other cast members are fine, but emotions often seem forced.  Overall, this is an average performance.

Conclusion

Remember the Goal is a departure for the Christianos in that they have finally allowed a female character to take a lead role in a plot that does not involve them being confined to the house.  Yet it still contains a lot of their typical shallow elements and their limited outlook on life and faith.  Unfortunately, they’re not going to improve until they learn how to relate to real people and stop thinking that everything is a persecution ploy.  But after all this time, why would they change?

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points