Teen Musical: The Movie (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Dr. Alexandra Park just wants to run the community center for the kids, but an evil businessman with unlimited political power wants to tear the building down to build something really important. Dr. Park’s only option to save the center is to host a musical and make money off of the tickets. Thus, she forces the kids she knows to work for free in this show. Will they be able to pull off their scheme in time???

Production Quality (1 point)

There is much to be desired in this production. Between inconsistent camera work and video quality, the viewing experience is difficult. Audio quality is also poor, including background noises, echoes, and a cringeworthy singing soundtrack. Also, overdubs and lip syncing are very obvious, and sets, locations, and props are very cheap. Further, editing is choppy, and despite some improvement throughout, this section doesn’t break the average line.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As this narrative jumps all over the place, the audience is assaulted with tons of empty characters and cardboard content. Plastic expository dialogue serves as a crutch to bridge the plot jumps. The villain character is totally ridiculous, and the out-of-left-field suspense elements that come with him are unrealistic. It’s too far-fetched to assume that the level of violence that is brought in by this absurd villain would actually occur in this situation. Besides this, the story is full of other cheesy clichés and constructs, such as the formulaic narrative structure of using a musical event to save a struggling organization. With so many things happening, all leading to a predictable conclusion, there’s no potential in this aspect of the film.

Acting Quality (1 point)

When you combine awkward acting with terrible singing in a musical, you have a disaster on your hands. Emotions are very manufactured throughout the movie, and the performances are overall too scripted and stiff. Despite slight improvement with time, this section doesn’t reach the average point.

Conclusion

This screenplay is just a mess, and this is exactly what we should not longer see in Christian entertainment. Teen Musical is nothing short of a disaster, which many musicals end up being. Hopefully, one day soon, we won’t have to keep wading through these murky waters.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Mary 4 Mayor (Movie Review)

Mary 4 Mayor — Home Theater Films

Plot Summary

Mary Parsons is tired of the way her family has been torn apart by her father’s obsession with his mayoral work. To make matters worse, her father begins making governmental decisions that negatively impact Mary’s life. She’s fed up with this and decides to run against her father in the upcoming mayoral race. What she discovers is that everything is not as it seems, and she has a lot to learn about life.

Production Quality (2 points)

In this film, Corbin Bernsen and his team mostly upheld their tradition of professional productions. There are very few errors in this section as there is good video quality, camera work, and audio quality. Though the soundtrack is dumb and generic, which detracts more than it should, the sets, locations, and props are well-constructed. There are also a few slight editing concerns, but these could relate to narrative issues. In the end, this production is at least above-average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Consistent with Bernsen’s past tendencies, Mary 4 Mayor is an out-of-the-box plot idea that has good themes and relatable messaging without being too in-your-face with the Christian elements. Portraying a true-to-life family experience with authentic characters and dialogue, Bernsen finds some success with his trademark quirkiness that’s actually truly funny at times. However, other times, the comedy feels overly engineered or half-hearted. Unfortunately, the characters feel like that they could be a bit deeper, but their full development is short-circuited by extraneous content that crowds out the runtime. Sometimes, coincidences randomly happen simply to suit the needs of the story, and in other instances, the narrative aimlessly meanders to hit certain points without properly building up to these events. The first half of the screenplay contains too much wasted time, but there is a really good twist in the middle of the plot that is very thought-provoking. Nonetheless, some occurrences move too fast due to lost time, thus taking away from the chance for natural development. As a result, the climax is quite rushed and silly even though it does contain some effective payoffs. Therefore, due to all these factors, this section is a mixed bag that receives an average score.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The strongest aspect of Mary 4 Mayor is the acting, which is very professional with few, if any, errors. Each cast member seems comfortable in their respective roles. Line delivery and emotions are believable and realistic. Thus, a rare perfect score is awarded here.

Conclusion

In this movie, Corbin Bernsen successfully offered an authentic relevant message about the political problems of today. However, Bernsen continues to hover next to greatness without taking that next step into the truly meaningful. He still can’t seem to decide where he’s committed to satire and comedy in his films. He has also failed to consistently focus on central themes. Mary 4 Mayor would have benefitted from deeper characters, which would have required elimination of extraneous story elements. Character arcs needed to be more effectively developed to prevent the arcs from being too steep. These small changes would have likely given Bernsen his fist Hall of Fame screenplay. Nonetheless, we’re only left wondering what could have been.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Cross Purposes (Movie Review)

Cross Purposes (2020) | Trailer - YouTube

Plot Summary

When an overconfident man who wants to be a medical student at a prestigious school is forced to complete an internship that he doesn’t care about, he has no idea what’s in for him. He’s determined to not care about any of the patients, but he can’t help but grow close to a teenager with a terminal brain tumor. Before he knows it, the intern is trying to determine the meaning of life although he didn’t used to care.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Cross Purposes offers an acceptable production with very few errors. Some of these pitfalls include some slight audio and editing concerns. For instance, there are a few distracting background noises, and certain scenes drag on too long. Nonetheless, this production team did good with what limited funds that they had. Video quality, camera work, and lighting are all above average. Sets, locations, and props are well-utilized. Thus, will very few problems to highlight, this section receives a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The writers of this film, for the most part, were committed to crafting believable characters. However, because there are so few characters, they needed more deepening than they were given. It was good that the creators focused on the main idea of the screenplay without getting sidetracked, but doing such requires intense storytelling. Dialogue and conversations needed to be more than average to pull off this feat. As things are, the character arcs are a bit too steep, and the motivations and personalities of the characters are undeveloped. Elsewhere, it’s clear that the writers did some medical research, but some aspects of the narrative are slightly unrealistic. In the end, Cross Purposes has good messaging without being too forceful, and many audiences will enjoy this brief plot, so a meager score is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

It’s clear that the creative team behind this movie were definitely trying to make an effort, and this fact is evident in the acting. As a whole, the acting is either standard or a little bit better. Line delivery and emotional delivery are mostly on-point. Although some performances fall a bit short due to some forceful moments, there’s enough positive in this section to award an above-average score.

Conclusion

The team who produced this film, like many newer creators, has lots of potential for the future. Offerings like Cross Purposes, among others, provide hope for the future of Christian entertainment. Now, if those who make good things on small scales would collaborate with each other, pooling their expertise and resources, we would really have something to behold.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Faith.Hope.Love. [2021] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When six college students are invited to a mysterious getaway in the snowy mountains of Utah, they have no idea what’s in store for them. What begins as a retreat of self-discovery quickly becomes a life-changing experience that many of them will not soon forget. How will they apply the changes that they have experienced to their everyday lives?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Faith.Hope.Love. has a good production with very few errors. One of these mistakes is the existence of background sounds. The set is fairly limited but well-utilized. As a whole, the production gets better with time, including high-quality video and camera work. The editing is acceptable, which rounds out a section that warrants a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

At the beginning of this story, the premise seems very trumped-up. The conversations are awkward and stiff, sometimes cutting off without warning. In the first half of the narrative, the dialogue feels very strained, forced, and unnatural. Many things are said without actually developing the characters, and there’s a tendency for the writers to be fixated on edgy and provocative content. However, the plot tends to get better as it goes as the characters improve due to more natural conversations. The second half of the film presents real people rather than characters representing social issues, but the initial presentation may discourage viewers from proceeding. The backstories of the characters become very strong if you wait long enough, even if the dialogue sometimes steers the screenplay in the direction that the writers want it to go, including some slight elements of propaganda. This is a testament to how strong characters can make up for other shortcomings. The conclusion is bit rushed, and the twist ending isn’t all that shocking. Thus, one point is awarded here.

Acting Quality (3 points)

For the most part, the acting is likely the strongest area of Faith.Hope.Love. Despite lacking a dynamic quality in the first half of the movie, this aspect of the film improves with time. The performances grow stronger by the second half, including believable line delivery and emotions. Thus, this rounds out an overall encouraging effort.

Conclusion

This creative team has demonstrated plenty of potential for the future, so it will be interesting to see what they produce next. With tighter storytelling and better messaging, they have nowhere to go but up. Hopefully, screenplays like this one represent a new positive trend in the Christian entertainment industry.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

The Wager [2020] (Movie Review)

The Wager (2020) | Trailer | Cameron Arnett | Jim Gloyd | Bishop Stevens |  Ty Sheldon | John Wells - YouTube

Plot Summary

When Brucie loses some kind of supernatural wager with a spiritual being, Brucie is allowed to retrace the steps of his life to see how it happened and how things could have been different. Through mind-bending and reality-defying methods, Brucie criss-crosses through time to see his life in hindsight. Will be able to make the right choice before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2 points)

As a whole, The Wager has a fairly good production despite a lot of loud background sounds. Even still, the soundtrack is very interesting and seems too advanced for this film. Lighting is a bit inconsistent, but video quality is stable throughout. Sets, locations, and props are on par, and editing is acceptable. Thus, this rounds out an above-average section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite interesting character backstories, very generic dialogue consistently overstates the obvious in this narrative, thus causing the characters to be too cardboard and generic. Very expository conversations leave nothing to chance, spoon-feeding the viewer with a very pushy Christian message. Random and disconnected scenes cause the plot to lack concrete themes or purposes; silly coincidences and convenient turns also make for a frustrating experience. Large time jumps confuse the audience, as do trippy psychological sequences that lack sense and only waste time. Although this movie is full of hit-and-miss story presentations due to a meandering, stream-of-consciousness narrative, there is actually a grain of potential somewhere in this screenplay. Aside from all the clutter, several key concepts that are explored in The Wager have the ability to be great. However, the film continually gets in its own way, so only a small score can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Although there are some good performances among this cast, many of the scenes come off as very scripted and overly practiced. Emotions and lines are a bit forced and stilted at times. However, Cameron Arnette is always a standout actor, and as a whole, all the cast members improve with time. Thus, this is enough to warrant an average rating in this section.

Conclusion

In the end, The Wager is full of wasted ideas that need restructuring and repackaging. It’s clear that this creative team wanted to go in a certain direction, but they forgot to let the viewers in on where the movie was actually headed. Mind-bending psychological trips don’t exactly engage the audience or help the watcher connect with the characters. Therefore, this screenplay is an opportunity for the creators to reflect on what they want to convey in the context of film and apply these findings to future projects.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

God’s Fool (Movie Review)

God's Fool (2020) | Trailer | Scott William Winters | Nathan Clarkson |  Laura Orrico - YouTube

Plot Summary

Frank grew up with a privileged life, but it means nothing to him. He’s tried to fill the hole in his soul with all kinds of vices, but nothing helps. Thus, when Frank meets a Franciscan friar one day, Frank’s life changes forever as he learns about the Franciscan order’s philosophy of life. Frank commits himself to live this life but finds it harder than expected as many oppose his new faith.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, God’s Fool has a pretty good production, including good video quality and audio quality. The soundtrack is quite intriguing, but the camera work is a bit inconsistent. Lighting is aligned with industry standards, and sets, locations, and props are acceptable. This section’s biggest drawback is its terrible editing as the film is presented in a very choppy way. Nonetheless, an above-average score is still warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite being based on an interesting idea, this plot meanders all over the place with no focus. One random thing happens after another, including a wild 800-year time jump after an extended prologue that seems initially disconnected from the main narrative. Stream-of-consciousness storytelling leaves the movie lacking a central focus. As a result, the characters are hard to relate to, and even though some dialogue sequences are interesting, it all needs to be deeper. The characters’ struggles are very detached and hard to relate to. While many conversations bring up good points, the back-and-forth interactions are poorly presented, causing the audience to be flooded with ideas without helping them feel the conflict. In general, too many events occur in this plot, and the “bad” characters don’t have good reasons for their actions. Although this narrative explores realistic church corruption issues, it’s all too detached and vague, leaving the viewer without meaningful impact. Thus, due to a small amount of potential, only a small rating can be awarded in this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the performances in God’s Fool come off as staged and overly measured. Emotional and line delivery are clinical and generally lack conviction. Accents are not culturally accurate, but costuming is authentic. Nonetheless, despite these shortcomings, the acting does improve with time, which is enough to warrant an average score here.

Conclusion

It’s clear that the creators of this screenplay meant well in what they were doing. They are trying to present an honest look at modern-day Christianity. However, convoluted storytelling and uneven acting detract from the film’s potential. A more focused narrative would have gotten the presentation off on the right foot. Perhaps, in the future, this creative team can build upon what they have done here to improve their craft.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Romance in the Outfield: Double Play (Movie Review)

Review: Utah-made 'Romance in the Outfield: Double Play' strikes out in the  rom-com department — The Movie Cricket

Plot Summary

Kenzie and Tyler used to be in love, but after their falling out, they haven’t spoken for years. However, a string of coincidences has now thrown them back together, and they’ll have to decide what they’re going to do about it. Also, Tyler’s sister has her own relationship issues to sort out.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, this film’s production is acceptable, including fine camera work and good video quality. Lighting is okay throughout, but there are some background echoes along with an inconsistent soundtrack. Sets, locations, and props are somewhat limited in scope, but the editing is at least average. As a result, these factors produce a run-of-the-mill score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As a sequel to a movie that no one can remember, Romance in the Outfield: Double Play expects the viewers to understand what’s already happened in this narrative. However, this is poorly communicated, leaving the plot purposeless. It feels like every scene is constructed to happen just because the writers want them to, therefore producing blank characters with vanilla and cardboard dialogue. Lots of time is wasted on long and meaningless sequences that use the characters as pawns in a stupid romance agenda. Ridiculously fake conflicts fuel the romantic tug-of-war, and extremely convenient situations force strangers into baseless relationships with each other. The most absurd romance tropes are presented in the most infantile ways until the story mercifully ends, leaving the audience without anything substantial or useful. Thus, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

On the whole, the acting in this screenplay seems unsure although it’s not all bad. Oftentimes, line delivery is too muted, and the emotions are quite mechanical. With nothing truly dynamic yet some potential, only a point is warranted in this section.

Conclusion

Romance in the Outfield: Double Play is essentially a follow-up just for the sake of it. There was nothing in Pitching Love and Catching Faith that justified a sequel, especially when the sequel just rehashed the same narrative while still somehow leaving the audience mostly in the dark as to what the first installment was about. This failure was difficult to pull off, but this creative team did it effortlessly. In the end, a lack of effort is this film’s biggest downfall and the reason why it didn’t need to exist.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Hell and Mr. Fudge (Movie Review)

Image result for hell and mr fudge

Plot Summary

In 1970s Alabama, Edward Fudge endeavored to answer the complex theological question of whether God torments people in hell after they die without salvation or if He simply removes them from existence. Fudge’s search for the truth was not well-received by local legalistic church members, including those in the pastor’s own church. In response to Fudge’s questions, a hardline fundamentalist movement made it their mission to discredit the young preacher at every turn. However, Edward and his family never gave up until they found answers.

Production Quality (2 points)

Overall, Hell and Mr. Fudge has a professional production despite its odd choice of a fake docu-drama set-up. At times, this premise seems to excuse shaky perspective camera work. Nonetheless, video quality and audio quality are both up to industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are realistic and well-used. One of this section’s main drawbacks is its choppy editing, but on the whole, this area of the film does enough to be above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 points)

This plot raises many unique and intriguing points even if the theology is sometimes a bit extreme. The writers raise legitimate concerns about legalism and over-theologizing as the narrative highlights a very real disconnect between church insiders and church outsiders. However, many viewers will find the chosen topic to be a bit isolating and even slightly controversial although there may be a nugget of truth somewhere in it. Elsewhere, the docu-drama format of the story is lazily used to take the story all over the map, causing the characters to get lost in the story presentation. Moreover, despite these obvious flaws, the movie makes good use of flashbacks that develop believable character motives. The dialogue is also quite authentic and thought-provoking. In the end, this plot had a lot more potential than it realized, which is why it can only be awarded a meager score.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

As a more mainstream offering, Hell and Mr. Fudge presents professional acting with very few errors. Emotional and line delivery are on point and costuming is historically authentic. The only small drawbacks to note here are some brief instances of over-acting. Nonetheless, this rounds out an average project.

Conclusion

This screenplay is hard to figure in a lot of ways. It has some interesting ideas to offer, but it tends to get confused as to what direction it wants to go. Does it want to be a docu-drama? Does it want to initiate a serious discussion on legalism in the church? Is it trying to disprove hell or simply attempting to change the traditional definition of hell? Most of this is unclear as the film refuses to commit to anything solid, which is its biggest drawback. As such, it falls short of making any real difference.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Take Two [2017] (Movie Review)

Image result for take two christian movie

Plot Summary

Clay Bauer is a nomadic film maker who’s just trying to stay clean during his substance abuse recovery. He’s cut himself off from problematic relationships of the past, but when he suddenly discovers that he has a daughter he’s never met, he wants to get to know her. However, his daughter’s living situation is not ideal, and although Clay is still trying to get back on his feet, he wants to rescue his daughter from the toxic environment. Nonetheless, the courts don’t look very fondly on Clay’s circumstances, so only God can help him in his impossible quest.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Take Two bears a lot of the marks of an independent production, such as inconsistent audio quality that’s manifested in obvious overdubs, background noises, and a soundtrack that’s sometimes good but often overpowers other sounds. Nonetheless, the film’s camera work and video quality are acceptable, and the lighting is average. Sets, locations, and props are fine, but the editing is a bit choppy at times, sometimes cutting off scenes without warning. Certain transitions are a bit shocking, but there’s overall improvement as the movie goes on, which warrants an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Based on true events, Take Two is a realistic exploration of addiction and drug issues that makes good use of flashbacks. However, the past and present subplots made it sometimes hard to understand what time period is being shown. For the most part, the dialogue is pretty good although the characters would have benefitted from longer and more meaningful conversations that aren’t as chopped up by the narrative’s quick pace and abrupt transitions. Even still, the story’s artistic sequences are intriguing, but the good themes and messaging are easily lost in the avalanche of content. With too many characters and subplots to follow, this screenplay needed a lot more focus and organization, such as a non-linear narrative presentation that was more grounded in one time period. Overall, there was tons of potential in this story that could have been a lot better with refinement, which justifies this section’s rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Take Two is either average or slightly better. This is demonstrated by mostly realistic emotions and natural line delivery. However, this section is held back from being perfect by some cast members whose performances tend to drag down the final score with inconsistency. Nonetheless, there is plenty of positive to note here, and it seems like most of the actors and actresses cared about making this a realistic experience, which is why it’s just above average.

Conclusion

With a commitment to use real-life source material, this creative team has lots of potential for the future. Take Two either deserves a remake with improved storytelling and editing or this collective needs to use the film as a starting point for better things. Further collaboration may be the key to improvement, but this group definitely has something to bring to the table. With more honest creators like these, the Christian entertainment market would be much improved.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Why Me? [2020] (Movie Review)

Image result for why me josiah david warren

Plot Summary

All Slater wants to do is goof off while living a life of luxury, but when he’s suddenly forced to be the guardian of his younger siblings due to his parents’ untimely death in a car accident, Slater’s entire world is turned upside down. He desperately tries to find full-time help for his siblings while he messes around with his girlfriend, but things never work out. Then, one babysitter seems to change everything for the family, and Slater has no idea what to do.

Production Quality (.5 point)

As another ridiculous Strong Foundation production, Why Me? has uneven audio, as shown by a very loud soundtrack and loud background echoes. Despite acceptable video quality and camera work, the sets, locations, and props are cheap. Also, the editing is terrible; some scenes suddenly cut off with no warning. There are zero transitions yet very obvious continuity errors. With an overall low-quality feel, this section is another failure for this team.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Full of ridiculously contrived situations and childishly contrived situations, this plot is incredibly juvenile. It lacks purpose and has some of the most absurdly forced comedy sequences ever. The choppy story presentation makes the movie feel like a bunch of random scenes that are poorly strung together. These problems don’t even include the incredibly awkward characters that are pariahs of millennials. The absurd message-pushing about how dumb young people are is incredibly annoying. What’s more, none of the characters seem to have appropriate emotional reactions to life crises like family deaths. Further, after tons of occurrences happen throughout the narrative that lack lead-ups or explanations, it just suddenly ends and leaves the viewer wondering why they just wasted their time on this drivel.

Acting Quality (1 points)

Per usual for the Strong Foundation team, this screenplay’s acting is just bad. Emotions are over-the-top, and line delivery seems mostly unserious. There are lots of awkward performances, and a few cast members are extremely robotic and practiced in their acting. Despite the fact that one of the lead actresses is a standout, it’s not enough to save this disaster from itself.

Conclusion

In 2020, Strong Foundation Films was still making garbage like Why Me?, thus continually making a mockery of Christian entertainment. They continually release unnecessary additions to the market like this one and contribute to the field’s damaged reputation. Thus, in 2021, we’re still saying the same things about movies like this one. Until projects like Why Me? cease being funded, things won’t change much for Christian movies.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Redeeming the Time (Movie Review)

Image result for redeeming the time movie

Plot Summary

When a star high school athlete is emotionally affected by a loved one’s death, he’s forced to soul searching that he never wanted to do. What he finds is unexpected, and he’ll have to turn to God before it’s too late.

Production Quality (1 point)

On the surface, this production is fine, including good video quality and camera work. However, the audio is quite bad, as shown by obvious overdubs, a generic soundtrack, and some loud screeching in certain sets. Similarly, the sets, locations, and props are generally cheap, and the editing is quite choppy. Despite some slight improvement as the film goes on, this section can’t receive any more than one point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It seems like the entire purpose of Redeeming the Time is to push a very legalistic version of Christianity on the audience. The movie’s creators appeared to craft a self-indulgent portrayal of themselves as perfect Christians who can fix the “bad” people just by spouting Bible verses and inspirational quotes at them. While important issues are explored in this narrative, they’re looked at in the totally wrong way, using obvious expository dialogue that forces ideas down the viewer’s throat without being the least bit realistic or subtle. As a result, the characters come off as completely out-of-touch and one-dimensional since they only focus on their stated problems. In the end, due to magical sermonizing, the concerns are easily fixed to the point of making the “bad” characters just as ridiculously perfect as the “good” ones. Once this goal is accomplished, the story ends in an abruptly awkward way, leaving the audience with nothing but an empty, zero-potential idea.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the acting in this screenplay is just as bad as its other elements. Ranging from strained and forced to awkward and overly practiced, these performances leave much to be desired. Extreme emotions, such as lots of yelling and screaming, don’t help matters either. Thus, because there’s not enough positive to outweigh the negative, no points can be awarded in this section.

Conclusion

When a film’s entire purpose is push a certain agenda, regardless of what the worldview is, the movie has already failed. Viewers will almost always be turned off to this since no wants to be spoon-fed propaganda. It’s even worse when Christian screenplays commit these errors because, as we’ve said many times before, it further hurts the field’s reputation. When creations like this are still being made, audiences will continually be turned off to Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

Beyond the Vows (Movie Review)

Image result for beyond the vows movie

Plot Summary

A newly married couple loves each other and is trying to heal after their relationship began with a rocky start. However, situations continue to arise that complicate their marriage, which leaves both of them searching for answers. Will they find redemption under the grace of God before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1 point)

Despite being a 2019 production, Beyond the Vows has many pitfalls. These include inconsistent audio quality, with some lines not even being audible, little to no discernable soundtrack, and loud background sounds. Although video quality and camera are acceptable, the sets, locations, and props are very cheap and limited. Further, the editing is full of continuity errors and abrupt transitions that sometimes completely cut off scenes. As such, though there were some acceptable parts in this production, it can’t receive a very high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2 points)

This film offers a strange mix of odd fundamentalist Christianity and unusually edgy content. Weird conversations both reinforce rigid gender stereotypes and fixate on questionable topics that do nothing to uplift the audience. Besides these obvious concerns, the dialogue fails to do anything for the characters except make them mindless, strawmen, or unrealistically perfect Christians. It’s hard to understand the actual point of this plot as it meanders around with no purpose except to explore weird relationships, demean women, force legalism upon the viewer, pass judgment on certain people, talk down to young adults, or make marriage all about having kids. Using wild time jumps, the story spins in circles, rehashing the same things over and over again and relying on ridiculous coincidences to keep the narrative going. Finally, when it’s mercifully over, nothing is accomplished save for the creation of an offensive project that warrants negative points in this section.

Acting Quality (1 point)

While the acting starts out as generic and average, it definitely gets worse as it goes. Some cast members are better than others, but a handful of them seem quite unsure due to poor coaching. Many of the emotions are either muted or forced. A couple of cast members seem uninterested in being on set, which can’t really be faulted given the low quality of this movie. In the end, this section does nothing but keep this screenplay from being negative points overall.

Conclusion

It’s commendable to try to create a plot that depicts the realistic struggles of married couples, but Beyond the Vows simply goes too far. It’s possible to be too realistic to point of turning off the audience, which prevents anything from being learned. Besides this, this film’s narrative isn’t even engaging, not to mention the fact that the production and acting are sub-par. All of these factors combined together spell a recipe for disaster, which is why this movie should have never been made.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Lost Heart (Movie Review)

Lost Heart (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Hannah is a country music star who loses her cool during an interview due to sensitive questions about her past. This prompts her to take time off from the show business, but her father’s sudden death forces Hannah to return to the hometown that she wants to avoid. There, she has to confront the darkness of her past and come to grips with what her choices have done. Hannah wants to run from God, but He won’t give up on her.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The Collective Development team has come a long way with production quality during their time in the field. Lost Heart is an example of continuing improvement, which is all we really ask of entertainment creators. As such, there are few errors in this section. Video quality, audio quality, and camera work are all professional. Though the soundtrack is a bit generic at times for a music-themed film, the sets, locations, and props are well-constructed. The editing is overall fine with a few minor errors. In the end, this is all deserving of a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Much like Wild Faith, Lost Heart has a high amount of potential in the plot category. It includes a realistic portrayal of entertainment life, which is supported by a very effective use of flashbacks to establish character motive and experiences. This is coupled with a surprisingly realistic view of small towns and hidden family problems within them. Despite the many interesting concepts explored in this narrative, it’s almost too much for one story, making it hard to focus on one thing. Lost Heart feels more like a series than a movie and has the authentic and believable characters necessary for such a venture. They’re crafted with great dialogue that helps the audience to connect with them. However, this section isn’t without its downfalls. Convenient turns and coincidences help important plot points get unnecessarily kicked down the road, and sometimes, things happen in the narrative simply because the writers wanted them to. While the story’s conclusions are good, they seemed to be arrived at in unnatural ways. It’s good to write the ending before the beginning, but it has to be properly set up with logic and reason. Unfortunately, Lost Heart loses more and more focus as it goes, leading to a climax scene that’s a bit over the top and unbelievable. This nosedive in the screenplay’s second half kept it from being placed on the Hall of Fame, but this area of the film still warrants a good rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

In the film’s beginning, the acting is a bit raw. Emotions seem forced at times, and some of the yelling and screaming gets annoying. It would have better if these performances were more subtle and natural, but as a whole, the acting does get better as the movie goes on. There are many good cast members with DJ and Josh Perry being standouts. In the end, this area justifies an above-average score, which rounds out another screenplay that could have been much more.

Conclusion

Lost Heart is another high-potential idea from the Collective Development team. However, like other projects, this one just doesn’t make the cut due to a handful of small yet avoidable errors. This committed group of creators has progressively improved since their former days, which is rare in this business. Nonetheless, they seem to have plateaued and need stronger narrative outlining to help push them across the finish line. Bringing better storytellers into their fold will help them to finally achieve the next level.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Who Am I? [2018] (Movie Review)

Who Am I? | Christian Movies On Demand

Plot Summary

Pastor Joe wants to help the community however he can, so he and his wife spend all their time serving those who are in need. One day, when Tasha comes to Joe’s office with an interesting story, he learns that there are far more people to help than he realized. Spurred on by this, Joe and his loved ones find themselves plunged into a complex web of crime that they could have never previously anticipated.

Production Quality (1 point)

Despite being a Strong Foundation project, this production is actually kind of okay. This is shown by acceptable video quality and camera work. Also, the sets, locations, and props are passable. However, the audio is all over the place, sometimes having a loud soundtrack and background noises. Elsewhere, the editing is horrific, including extremely abrupt cuts and transitions. Many scenes appear to be begin just as the camera starts, and there’s a lack of continuity between sequences. Overall, even though there were some bright spots, this production is still below average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

With so many subplots in Who Am I?, the main narrative is nearly impossible to follow as the storyline jumps all over the place. This creates stunted characters due to the plot moving from one thing to another. There’s also just too many characters to keep up with, and incredibly trite dialogue that’s full of platitudes and forced messaging doesn’t help matters. It feels like the writers were trying to cover every possible social issue at once and attempting to connect every possible coincidence together in stupid and juvenile ways. Too many convenient turns, forced correlations, and unrealistic occurrences litter this film, such as a total lack of ethics code comprehension. Strawman bad characters are around every corner, but although there is much unnecessary content in this movie, there’s a surprisingly good character backstory revealed in the middle of the story. Nonetheless, it’s crowded out by the other tangential inclusions and convoluted with very steep character arcs. A rushed and forced conclusion that’s unearned and somewhat magical caps things off, yet the slight potential in the singular character narrative is enough to prevent zero points for this section.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, Who Am I? carries the typically bad acting styles of other Strong Foundation screenplays, especially when it comes to Josiah David Warren. While Amber Shana Williams tries her hardest, much of the coaching is off, and Warren’s bad performance dominates everything. Many background cast members have potential but are overshadowed by Warren’s extreme negatives. His line delivery and emotions are over-the-top, making for a painful experience. Thus, because the bad cancels out the good, zero points can be awarded here.

Conclusion

In the end, this project comes the closest to a real idea of any other Strong Foundation offering. Nonetheless, it would have been much better to focus on just the main story rather than all the others and to recast Josiah David Warren. This would have been a huge step in the right direction, but at this point, it’s unclear if the Strong Foundation team cares about changing.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

The Defense of New Haven (Movie Review)

The Defense of New Haven (2016) | Trailer | Amelia Steege

Plot Summary

The Raiders constantly attack the city of New Haven, trying to take more victims. Alec is just a regular citizen trying to make his way in the world, but he get accidentally caught in the conflict and wants to join the New Haven Defense army. However, they are skeptical of his abilities due to his handicap but give him a shot. Together, will the team be able to stave off the coming Raider onslaught?

Production Quality (2 points)

This production is fairly good overall despite a few concerns. One of these is a soundtrack that sometimes overpowers other sounds, but most of the audio is acceptable. Video quality and camera work are professional. Sets, locations, and props, though they are limited in scope, are well-utilized. Some of the editing is a bit choppy at times, but all production elements improve with time. Thus, an above-average score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Much like The Runner From Ravenshead, The Defense of New Haven crafts an intriguing world for its story and creatively applies a parable/allegory to the narrative. A major drawback, however, is the characters could have been better developed. As they are, the characters have some believable motivations and slightly developed personalities but lack true arcs and feel one-dimensional due to some unsubstantial dialogue. Surprisingly, the plot is fairly complex due to the well-developed premise and advanced spiritual lessons. Nonetheless, this complexity is also a negative as there’s too much content, which leads to a very rushed conclusion after some time is wasted in the film’s first half. The writers try to use off-screen content to make up for lost time, but it’s not enough to keep the ending from being abrupt and crammed. Moreover, the storyline scores enough wins to be rated average.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Just as The Runner from Ravenshead had a cast composed entirely of kids, The Defense of New Haven follows the same model. This makes the performances hard to quantify, but most of the time, they seem to be on point with line delivery and emotions. Some of the cast member reuse can be redundant, and this overuse can cause smaller roles to suffer in quality. Nonetheless, this section is at least average.

Conclusion

This creative team is definitely doing the best that they can do with what they have. Now that they’ve made two movies using a similar formula, it’s likely time to step out and try something more ambitious. At the very least, they could provide valuable screenwriting skills to a field that’s starving for substantial narratives. It will be interesting to see what they can come up with next.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Runner from Ravenshead (Movie Review)

The Runner From Ravenshead (2010) | Full Movie | Addison Steege | Amelia  Steege | Brendan Steege - YouTube

Plot Summary

Sam has been sentenced to serve time in the impenetrable Ravenshead Prison. However, she desperately wants to be free. Thankfully, the City of Refuge Watch regularly springs prisoners from the bulwark, but in Sam’s case, a rookie is forced to do the job. Can they escape to the City of Refuge before the wardens catch them?

Production Quality (2 points)

Despite being a low budget production, this section is actually pretty good. This is evident in the video quality and camera work. Audio quality is fine although the soundtrack is a bit loud at times, and there are some dumb sound effects used throughout. Special effects are also poor, but sets, locations, and props are fine. Editing is professional, so this rounds out an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The parable premise of this film is quite creative, and it’s encouraging that an intriguing world was built in this narrative without being too heavy-handed with Christian messaging. Nonetheless, the lesson is clearly there with its implied allegorical parallels. However, it feels like the plot could go further than it does even though it was good to try a unique storyline with the limited scope that was available. It’s unfortunate that the characters are only average due to underwhelming dialogue. There’s also some forced comedy and silly coincidences, and a few sequences go too long and only extend the runtime for no reason. More substantial conversations would have fixed both of these problems by building character personality and improving the use of time. Doing this would have also provided better opportunities to explain the narrative’s world. Moreover, there’s enough good here to warrant a small rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While it’s hard to quantify all-child cast, it was efficient to reuse of cast members even though it can become repetitive. Nonetheless, in The Runner from Ravenshead, it was clear that the creators were doing the best they could with what they had, which is all we ever ask from entertainment makers. In this movie, emotions and line delivery are mostly average, which leads to this final score.

Conclusion

Screenplays like this one are certainly unique, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They showcase what the creative team could do with more funding and maximize what’s right in front of them. While films like The Runner from Ravenshead have a low ceiling of potential, finding this maximum is the best way to show what can be done in future projects.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Five Blocks Away (Movie Review)

Watch Five Blocks Away | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Anthony has a successful job and prides himself in being able to date whoever he wants. However, when he crosses paths with a childhood friend, she begins to make him see life in a different way. He’s reminded of his past and begins to want a different life. Nonetheless, changing isn’t as easy as Anthony first thought, and he’ll have to give up more than he bargained for.

Production Quality (.5 point)

This production exhibits many problems, including wildly shaky camera work, tight shots, and poor lighting. Despite acceptable video, audio is often covered up with a loud soundtrack. While the score isn’t bad, it’s clearly trying to hide sound problems, such as overdriven audio and distracting background noises. Despite fine sets, locations, and props, editing is extremely abrupt and choppy. Fadeouts plague the viewing experience, and transitions generally confuse the audience. In the end, all these problems only warrant a meager rating in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

From the get-go, this plot is marred with heavy-handed narration that short-circuits any potential for character development. As such, the characters become stereotypical through stock dialogue and vanilla conversations. Story occurrences only happen because the writers want them to, including actions that seem inconsistent with the characters’ tendencies. This causes the narrative to follow a predictable progression, sometimes at an unnaturally rapid pace. Some scenes bleed together, prompting the film to meander with no purpose or central theme. A lot of the time, it’s hard to quantify what the movie is actually about, and sometimes, things suddenly happen without warning. The rushed and vague ending leaves the screenplay’s messaging very empty and wanting, especially since narration tries to patch everything up without feeling. Due to these concerns, zero points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Despite problems, the acting is actually the film’s strongest point. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of issues, including mumbled lines and inconsistent emotional delivery. Some cast members seem flippant about or overconfident in their abilities. However, slight improvement as the movie goes on prevents this section from being zero.

Conclusion

With no central purpose or focus, a screenplay can’t be good. Five Blocks Away is the perfect example of this rule. If you don’t know where you’re going, don’t make the entertainment. If the funding isn’t there, it may not be the right project. You can’t force something to happen that isn’t meant to be because, as we’ve seen time again, it only hurts the market.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

The Mysterious Note (Movie Review)

The Mysterious Note (2019) | Full Movie | Alex Aguilera | Natasha  Diaz-Potter | Peter Tumangday - YouTube

Plot Summary

The Vargas family doesn’t want to accompany their father to a small town for one of his business trips. However, due to various school incidents, the kids are forced to come along. Despite not liking the idea, the youngest accidentally discovers a mystery along with his new friends. Thus, they race to solve it before the vacation time runs out.

Production Quality (.5 point)

This film’s production is very sub-par, including odd video quality and muted audio quality. There are also bizarre echoes, weird sound effects, and background noises that interrupt the viewing experience. Also, the soundtrack is juvenile, and there are obvious overdubs. Lighting is inconsistent throughout, and there are many tight camera shots. Sets, locations, and props are acceptable, but the editing is just pedestrian. In the end, this section only garners a meager score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Using heavy-handed messaging, this narrative forces obvious themes upon the audience, which spills over into the dialogue. This in-your-face approach hurts character development as they become representations of issues rather than relatable people. The plot’s premise is also contrived due to the near-propaganda methods of communication. Christian characters are portrayed as extremely perfect while other characters are magically fixed after doing what the Christians tell them to do. Every conversation is so obviously tied back to the movie’s purpose that it feels like an extended instructional video. Because there’s nothing in this storyline to save it from itself, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As if other elements in this screenplay weren’t bad, the acting is among the worst. Line delivery is extremely accentuated and forced like it’s being printed out. Emotions aren’t any better as each cast member behaves like a programmed android. It’s very hard to believe that performances like these were even approved. Overall, this conclude a very poor effort.

Conclusion

There’s nothing more to say about The Mysterious Note that hasn’t already been said many times over. If the budget isn’t satisfactory, don’t make it. Collaborate with people who know how to write good plots. Consider how your acting is coming off. If God wants you to make a film, He’ll send the right people. Anything else is just forcing something to happen that will do more harm than good.

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Lucy Shimmers and the Prince of Peace (Movie Review)

Lucy Shimmers and the Prince of Peace | 2020 | Scarlett Diamond, Vincent  Vargas, Adam Hightower - YouTube

Plot Summary

Lucy Shimmers is dying of a terminal illness, and her parents are at a loss. Nonetheless, Lucy doesn’t view death as the end and wants to do everything she can do to make the most of her short time left. Thus, she decides to follow the dreams that she believes God has given her and reach out to other patients at the hospital, even those no one else cares about.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

This film’s strongest area is its professional production, which is demonstrated by great video quality, camera work, and use of sets, locations, and props. The audio quality is acceptable despite a generic soundtrack and some loud background sounds. Similarly, the editing is good although there are a few minor continuity errors. In the end, however, these concerns are small and don’t prevent a high score from being awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The plot Lucy Shimmers is actually based on some fairly authentic characters who are built via intriguing dialogue and conversations, but this area could still be deeper than it is. One detracting aspects is the unusual magical elements of communicating with dead people, which the narrative relies on when it needs to. Also, the story seems to kick the proverbial can down the road trying to get to a certain point by spending time on wasteful montages rather than developing the characters further. This inefficient use of scenes is only compounded by some unrealistic HIPAA violations and ‘bad’ characters who seem too vindictive for no reason. Other implausible occurrences happen just because the writers want them to, and some character actions need better justification besides the desire to reach predetermined conclusion. As a whole, the plot seems to become more unrealistic as it goes, leading to a rushed finish that’s almost interesting because it’s different. Nonetheless, it leaves too many unanswered questions and wastes the potential that this movie had to present an out-of-the-box idea using mostly accessible characters and their struggles. Therefore, with some small positive that’s short-circuited by a lot of unforced errors, only a small score is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Lucy Shimmers is above average. Despite slightly muted emotions, the line delivery is believable. Some performances seem overly practiced, but others are spot-on. The acting tends to improve with time, allowing the positive to outweigh the negative and warrant a good rating for this section.

Conclusion

Screenplays like this one clearly mean well and want to offer an authentic message. However, with the market being saturated with these types of films, it’s hard for new ones to make an impact. Because of this overcrowded genre, movies like Lucy Shimmers have to go above and beyond to set themselves apart, which can be done through deep character development. Only then will they be able to truly make a difference.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

We Three Kings [2020] (Movie Review)

We Three Kings (2020) | Trailer | Rebecca St. James | Michael W. Smith |  Nise Davies - YouTube

Plot Summary

The Fay children have had a hard time ever since their mother died, but they can’t wait for their Uncle Henry to arrive for Christmas. He’s trying to add a scandalous new song to the church’s hymnbook despite the resistance he’s getting. The oldest Fay daughter is trying to organize the local Christmas pageant at church, which is what her mother used to do. Will everyone be able to accomplish these things in time for the holiday?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, We Three Kings sports a professional production. This is shown by good video quality, camera work, and audio. Historical accuracy is also a big plus, as seen in the authentic sets, locations, and props. Essentially, there are no real errors in this section except for some minor editing concerns. However, this appears to be partially related to the plot. Thus, a high score is granted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, it’s hard to follow this narrative at the beginning due to its substantial time jumps. This, combined with Shakespearean dialogue, hurts character development, making them seem very stiff and stilted. Scenes go from one thing to another without clear connection or direction, and conversations seem to go in circles and talk about the same things all the time. Because of this, it’s hard to connect with the cardboard cutout characters who never seem to have normal human reactions or emotions. For this reason, it’s unclear why should we care what these people are doing or going through. Therefore, despite the good use of source material, there’s hardly any potential in this plot, which is insufficient given that the story’s framework was already written for the creators.

Acting Quality (1 point)

To fit with the Shakespearean characters, the acting in We Three Kings is very theatrical. Many performances are too stilted due to overly practiced and enunciated line delivery. Additionally, emotions come off as mechanical and robotic. However, some of the acting is acceptable, and the historically authentic costuming is a plus. Nonetheless, the singing leaves something to be desired, which leaves this section with a meager rating.

Conclusion

Many more film makers need to be adapting historical accounts, but this movie is an example of how even that approach can go wrong. Taking shortcuts with writing and acting can easily derail even the best source material. Having a good idea isn’t enough; screenplays are very complex things that require a lot of effort and collaboration. Perhaps, one day soon, the Christian entertainment factory will finally produce quality over quantity.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

The Gift of Christmas [2020] (Movie Review)

The Gift of Christmas (TV Movie 2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

After George and Allen Barnett went across country to fulfill their father’s dying wishes, both brothers came back changed men. For the holidays, George asks him brother for a favor: bringing home the prodigal daughter of George’s friend. As such, Allen and the woman embark on their own cross-country journey of good deeds, learning a lot about each other along the way.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the production in this film is average. This is due to clear video quality yet inconsistent lighting: some shots are either poorly lit or overly lit. Camera work and audio quality are acceptable except for some background echoes, and a generic soundtrack sometimes covers up other sounds. There are also some obvious overdubs and continuity errors that seem avoidable. Further, the editing is passable, but some scenes linger too long. Thus, due to the mixed bag, a middle-of-the-road score is warranted.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like its predecessor, The Good Journey, The Gift of Christmas fails to adequately engage its audience. This is due to cardboard characters that are built with expository dialogue rather than the deep conversations that are needed to support a character-based plot. Vague and blank sequences don’t offer much interest, and many scenes simply waste time. Some concepts seem under-explained, and the overall messaging teaches that simply going to church fixes everything. Despite some slightly interesting ideas that are very slow to develop and somewhat aimless, the narrative wanders around until everything is magically fixed in the end. It’s hard to believe the resolutions, and it makes matters worse that the vague story doesn’t hold the attention. Hence, with no tangible potential, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

The acting of this is fairly vanilla. There aren’t any particularly bad performances to point to, but no standouts can be found either. At times, the emotions and lines are robotic and stilted. However, other times, the acting is acceptable. Thus, this run-of-the-mill section rounds out an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

Did anyone really ask for a sequel to The Good Journey? Many audiences never even knew that the first movie existed, much less a Christmas installment. These two screenplays are the perfect example of making entertainment just for the sake of it. Some slightly interesting ideas were included, but nothing was enough to truly engage the viewer. Half-hearted attempts are still hurting the field’s reputation, which means we still need quality over quantity.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

The Greatest Gift Ever Given (Movie Review)

The Greatest Gift Ever Given (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Paul Hanson just wants to close a business deal before Christmas so that he can make the money that his family needs. However, one thing after another begins to go wrong on his business trip, and Paul becomes more and more angry at God. He’ll have to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas in order to move forward with his life.

Production Quality (1 point)

Like we’ve said many times in the past, poor production quality is no longer acceptable in 2020. However, The Greatest Gift Ever Given has this same problem. Though camera work and video quality are fine, audio quality is consistent. One example of this is the never-ending cheap soundtrack that rarely fits the situation. Elsewhere, sets and props don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to portray, and locations are generally cheap and limited. Further, there’s basically no editing, which rounds out an overall underwhelming effort in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Despite being a relatively short movie, many of the narrative’s conversations repeat over and over again like the writers just wanted to fill time with copied statements. Generic boring sequences waste time, and riveting activities of daily living bore the audience. Due to bland and unoriginal dialogue, characters lack substance or depth, swept along in a plot that makes things unnaturally happen because the creators want them to. However, despite these problems that make the story’s first half seem useless and cause the viewers to lose interest, some interesting concepts introduced in the second half, which is too late. This creates wasted potential because there was something good here that could have been further explored if done the right way. The plot’s writers obviously meant well but needed a lot of guidance on follow-through and presentation. Thus, despite some slight positive, the negative drags down this section too much to warrant any points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

As a whole, the acting in this film is vanilla. Sometimes, the cast members try too hard, but they are otherwise very regular and standard in their performances. Line delivery and emotions are a bit uneven and unsure at times, and some scenes feel very staged, but it’s not all bad. There are a handful of positive moments that keep this section above water.

Conclusion

It’s evident that this movie’s creators really meant well and had a pretty good message to offer. However, this is never enough. It’s easier to write than to make a full screenplay that’s quality. Perhaps a short film would have been a better option for The Greatest Gift Ever Given since this would have reduced the budget and provided better focus for the main ideas.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

The Good Journey (Movie Review)

The Good Journey (2018) - IMDb

Plot Summary

George and Allen Barnett are extremely different as brothers, but when their father dies, part of getting their inheritances is working together. Though they don’t get along, the brothers are forced to retrace the steps of their parents’ honeymoon trip, which was aided by many different Good Samaritans. George and Allen are tasked with repaying these kind people for their good deeds, and along the way, they discover more about themselves.

Production Quality (1 point)

The production isn’t quite up to the mark despite its clear video quality. Camera work is inconsistent although it gets better as it goes. Audio quality is fine except for loud background noises and a generic soundtrack that hardly stops playing. Sets, props, and locations are okay, but there are cheesy graphics throughout. Elsewhere, the editing is average, and the amount of negatives overall isn’t enough to warrant a score any higher than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Between the choppy story presentation and the lagging nature of many scenes in this screenplay, The Good Journey is a boring experience. Tons of time is wasted with musical montages that displace substantial conversations, making the film feel like a collection of randomly disconnected sequences. The character have absolutely no substance or depth, seeming strangely unconcerned about family deaths without good reason. They do things simply because the writers want them to. As a whole, the dialogue is bland and generic. Thus, with no real potential in this section, no points can be given.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Robotic acting dominates the first half of this movie, making for an annoying experience. Emotions are stoic and nonexistent as line delivery is uneven. Nonetheless, slight improvement in the latter parts keep this section from being nothing but still isn’t enough to buoy an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

The Good Journey was based on a nice idea, one that seemed slightly different from other run-of-the-mill Christian entertainment. However, poor funding and misfired presentation sunk whatever creativity was possible here. As such, this film joins the long line of offerings in the Christian market that could have been something yet fell short of the mark for a number of reasons.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Our Father’s Keeper (Movie Review)

Our Father's Keeper (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

When David Roberts is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the entire family is forced to adjust. Two of his sons are at odds with each other due to the fact that one of them has a checkered past. David’s wife is forced to take a job to make ends meet. Thus, the already-strained family is pushed to the limit when David suddenly goes missing just before Thanksgiving. This forces the family to work together in order to find David before it’s too late.

Production Quality (2 points)

In keeping with the recent trends of Christian entertainment, Our Father’s Keeper has a professional production quality. This is shown by good video quality and camera work. The soundtrack is a bit generic, however, and the audio has some moments that could be better. Nonetheless, sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-utilized. Perhaps this section’s biggest downfall is its choppy editing, which includes premature cutoffs and abrupt transitions. Moreover, despite the negatives, this production does enough to warrant an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

This film presents a very very intriguing story of the mental decline that can come about due to Alzheimer’s disease. It contains fairly realistic and accessible characters who are based on average or better dialogue. Many of them have, at minimum, partially developed personalities and motivations. However, at times, the narrative gets side-tracked on useless tangents, such as one too many side characters. Despite its creative undertones, the plot needs more fleshing out for tighter story telling. Elsewhere, there’s good subtle Christian messaging that restrains itself from being either heavy-handed or vague, but the main themes, which are very thought-provoking, come up a bit late in the game. At times, things occur that are too convenient for where the writers are trying to steer the story, and some scenes tend to fill time instead of doing something useful. This leads to a slightly rushed ending that tries to fix problems without good explanations, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that there’s plenty of potential in this screenplay.

Acting Quality (2 points)

One of this movie’s highlights is an excellent portrayal of tragic mental decline through the mode of acting. This is very difficult to pull off without being cheesy, but Craig Lindquist does well with this. While some cast members try too hard to force lines and emotions, most of them are either average or good in their performances. Despite inconsistent makeup work, there are many bright spots in this section that garner an above-average score.

Conclusion

Our Father’s Keeper is another film that needs a remake because of its high bar of potential that wasn’t adequately met. The raw creativity of this narrative was enough to set it apart from the run-of-the-mill noise with Christian entertainment, but a handful of errors kept it from being all that it could have been. Hopefully, in the coming days, this type of movie will be the worst that the Christian market has to offer. We look forward to seeing what this production team has planned next.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Adam’s Testament (Movie Review)

Adam's Testament (2017)

Plot Summary

Joseph Gable is a police detective with a troubled past, but he never gives up trying to bring his son Adam back to the faith they once both had. However, a creepy businessman has come to city and seems to have some kind of magical hold over Adam, along with others in the area. Thankfully, there’s some ninja angels in the neighborhood who can help Joseph fight the forces of evil and take back his son!

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite acceptable video quality and camera work except for some randomly shaky moments, there are a lot of dark scenes throughout this production. The soundtrack is interesting, but audio quality is inconsistent. Special effects are very cheesy, and there are several awkward fadeouts. Further, the editing is mostly average; there are also some improvements with various elements as the movie goes on, which is enough to warrant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Besides the typically absurd spiritual horror premise, the dialogue of Adam’s Testament is very obvious and message-pushing, making the characters feel like mere representations of issues rather than actual people. Despite a few interesting psychological elements, the spiritual warfare aspects are not handled well at all as they are too heavy-handed, leaving nothing to chance. Flashbacks are present but fail to properly build character personality and motive. What’s more, the audience can easily become isolated by the world built in this narrative since it’s hard to know where or what is happening as too many concepts are thrown at the viewers. At times, the writers become lost in their own philosophizing and their obsession with portraying Satan as a cheesy figure with more power than he actually possesses. Further, legalism and the unusual elevation of angels pollute the storyline, and it all concludes on a very bizarre note that only muddies the already murky waters. In the end, there’s just too much negative here to warrant any points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Between forced emotions and line delivery, it’s clear that this cast was coached to as dramatic and serious as possible. Overall, the performances are trying too hard, and things only get worse as they go. Though some of acting is somewhat acceptable, it tends to get worse as it proceeds. Thus, one point is all that can be warranted here, which rounds out an overall absurd film.

Conclusion

Pretty much every spiritual horror screenplay in Christian entertainment history is a total bust. Adam’s Testament just falls into the already long line of awful offerings in this so-called genre. It seems like all these types of movies want to do is create a lot of sensationalism, using faith-based elements as props to reach a certain audience, whoever it may be. Thus, the next time a creator thinks about making one of these, they might should think twice and see if that’s what they’re actually supposed to do.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

No Place in This World (Movie Review)

No Place in This World Movie Trailer | FlixHouse.com - YouTube

Plot Summary

Two girls are stuck in a bad home situation, and bullies at school only make matters worse. However, tragedy strikes when school officials and those close to the girls fail to act in time. Will the community be able to come together and prevent future crises?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Although this production has fine video quality, the audio leaves much to be desired. Background sounds and cheap sound special effects are annoying, and the soundtrack sometimes overpowers other sounds. Camera work is okay at times, but there are also some tight shots and odd camera angles. Sets, locations, and props are not quite up to par. Further, the editing contains a lot of quick cuts and transitions. Nonetheless, there is some slight improvement throughout the film’s sequence, which is enough to warrant an average rating for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Despite a choppy introduction sequence and initial dialogue that pushes issues rather than developing characters, there’s a surprising amount of potential in this plot. At first, many of the characters seem to only represent social concerns rather than people even though most of the highlighted problems are definitely realistic and worthwhile to look at in movie form. However, the conversations between characters do improve as the narrative proceeds, and the family issues that are presented are unfortunately believable and could exist anywhere. Connecting these negative elements to school struggles was a very good aspect of this storyline despite the fact that it’s a very sobering exploration of everyday pain that many experience. It’s also a hard look at the problem of evil and the church’s response to this concept. In the end, the plot has a very meaningful conclusion even if it’s quite sad. In conjunction with the first half being improved, it would have been better for this narrative to end on a better note of hope and redemption. As it is, many audiences will be isolated by the ending, and this blunts any impact the story would have otherwise had.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite a bit too much screaming, most of the cast members are okay in this screenplay. Child acting is not bad, and emotions outside of the yelling are acceptable. Some line delivery is a bit quick while other parts are fine. Overall, these factors contribute to an average score for this section, which rounds out a respectable effort.

Conclusion

No Place in This World is another film in need of a remake or adaptation. It’s an example of all we ask entertainment creators to do: put your best foot forward and see what God does. Though there were some definite areas in need to improvement, it’s clear that the team behind this movie were really trying to make something quality, so it will be interesting to see what they do next.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

A Message Through Time (Movie Review)

A Message Through Time (2019)
The magic tree!

Plot Summary

After a girl is bullied at her new school and shunned by everyone for no particular reason, things get worse when her mom is late picking her up. Thus, the only thing the girl can do is walk into a random forest, write her troubles on a piece of notebook paper, tear out the page, wad it up, and throw it into a hollow tree. However, she’s shocked when a paper suddenly pops back out of the tree, which lets her know that a monk from centuries before her time received her crumpled note and sent one back to her! Will they be able to help each other even though they’re worlds apart???

Production Quality (.5 point)

In this extremely cheap production, audio quality is very poor, as shown by background echoes, invasive environmental sounds, annoying post-production sound effects, and a loud soundtrack that tries to cover up the problems. Even though video quality and camera work are okay, bad lighting is a consistent problem. Also, the sets, locations, and props don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to depict. Further, the editing leaves much to be desired. Overall, this section barely registers any life, but it’s not the worst this movie has to offer.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-.5 points)

Besides the fact that the time travel tree portal premise is completely absurd, the characters couldn’t have less personality than they do. Due to blank and vanilla dialogue, they seem like they stepped out of poorly written children’s story. ‘Bad’ characters are total strawmen, and useless conversations contribute to the narrative’s futility. Lots of time is wasted on meaningless musings about who should have been the head of the medieval church, and the world presented in the plot lacks logical sense. Time travel in and off itself is totally nonsensical, but this story takes matters a step further by trying to connect two time periods that have absolutely nothing to do with one another. It’s utterly laughable that this idea was even made into a film, and it’s so ridiculous that this area earned an negative rating.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As if the plot isn’t bad enough, the acting is painfully awkward. Line delivery is quite unsure, and emotions are overly practiced. It’s clear that coaching is lacking for the cast, which isn’t entirely their fault. As a side note, historical accents are obviously incorrectly portrayed, but it really only contributes to an overall zero-point effort.

Conclusion

Movies like A Message Through Time are so detrimental for Christian entertainment efforts. They reinforce stereotypes of inexperienced creators making something laughably bad. Films like this one continue to turn potential audiences off to the concept of faith-based screenplays. However, all that can be done is for the creative teams who have actually been called by God to make movies and series to follow through and transform the market.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

End of the Trail [2019] (Movie Review)

End of the Trail | 2019 Movie | Drama | HD | Full Movie | English - YouTube

Plot Summary

When their father dies, three brothers are tasked with taking his ashes to their dad’s favorite place in the California wilderness. However, because each son knew their father at different stages in his checkered life, they all have different perspectives of him. As a result, each brother lives completely different lives. However, they will have to learn how to overcome their differences in order to face the future together.

Production Quality (.5 point)

End of the Trail has a surprisingly bad production for 2019. This includes poor lighting, odd camera angles, shaky camera work, and off-putting zooms. The video is a bit blurry at times, and while the audio is mostly acceptance, the soundtrack seems out of place and too loud. There are also some echoes, background noises, and extremely obvious overdubs. Flashbacks tend to have a weird quality to them. What’s more, the editing is incredibly choppy, sometimes cutting off scenes for no reason. Odd occasions of slow motion sometimes disrupt the viewing experience, and despite some very small improvements as the production does on, it’s just not enough to warrant a higher score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

From the very start, End of the Trail is guided by heavy-handed narration that comes and goes at will. It attempts to tie scenes together that seem randomly thrown together without continuity between them and out of place in the big picture. Besides being mostly boring and aimless, mindless conversations and unnecessary language produce empty characters, including strawmen depictions of non-Christians. Also, ‘bad’ characters have incredibly steep arcs and unrealistic conversions just for the sake of it. Despite this narrative’s tiny amount of potential, exploring broken family systems through intriguing flashbacks, it’s overshadowed by terrible storytelling. The plot finally crashes into a forced conclusion that lacks believable buildup and tries to claim unearned victories. In the end, this is just another one of those forgettable experiences.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Even with vanilla acting, this section is surprisingly the film’s best aspect. With nothing particularly special or horrible, the acting earns an average score. Through emotions are forced at times, there are enough good elements to justify this rating, yet it doesn’t help the movie’s overall abysmal performance.

Conclusion

As we’ve said over and over again, 2019 is not the time for such low-quality offerings. That year was particularly bloated with new screenplays, and a vast majority of them were extremely unnecessary. All they did was further contribute to the already-negative view of Christian entertainment. Hopefully, in the coming days, future creators can reverse this tide.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Diary of a Lunatic: Trew’s Calling (Movie Review)

Diary of a Lunatic (2017) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Trew doesn’t really like her life, but she lives with it anyway. She’s not interested in God, but when she wakes up one day to find that He wants her to do something for Him, she just wants Him to go away. However, He keeps pursuing her because He has something she wants to learn if she’ll ever listen. What Trew ultimately discovers is beyond her wildest dreams.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, Trew’s Calling has a pretty good production. This is shown by good video quality and fine camera work. Sets, locations, and props are also professional. However, there are some annoying comedic zooms. Also, audio can be over-driven at times even if the soundtrack is acceptable. Further, editing tends to be choppy due to poor story structure. However, this is basically a standard production effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It’s apparent that the plot of Diary of a Lunatic is meant to be purposely quirky and eccentric, which means it’s sometimes truly funny yet other times is either head-scratchingly bizarre or slightly sacrilegious. Some content seems a bit inappropriate and even somewhat blasphemous. A few aspects of the comedy and a handful of the themes are actually quite relatable and interesting, such as problems within the established church. However, there are still sequences that are extremely eyebrow-raising and appear to have no purpose or point whatsoever except to be purposely wacky and off-the-wall. The portrayal of God is odd at times but not all bad; some sequences are beyond explanation and seem totally out of place. The writers’ theology and beliefs seems to be very unusual and even borderline on new age philosophies. As a whole, the narrative is a giant mixed bag of potential combined with complete nonsense. Sometimes, the storyline pretends like it’s hiding a great secret that it never gets to. Its silly rushed conclusion and ending sequence are forced and basically fix everything without providing legitimate explanations for the stranger elements of the screenplay. In the end, if anything is to be salvaged from these ideas, they need a total rewrite in order to preserve the surprisingly worthwhile elements.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Surprisingly, the acting of this film is actually pretty good at times. However, it tends to be a bit over the top in some scenes despite some comedic elements. Emotions are forced at times yet other times are not. Line delivery is mostly even at times. As such, this section does enough to get above the average line.

Conclusion

With some worthwhile elements pulling Trew’s Calling in one direction and really bizarre aspects pulling it in the other direction, the movie’s score falls right in the middle of the scale. It’s very unclear what the screenwriters were going for except that they wanted to make a point about how organized Christianity often turns people away. However, this idea was packaged in such a wacky way because it feels like they just kept sticking random scenes together over time until they had a burgeoning screenplay. Also, it’s not like they just filled with vanilla content; many of the sequences are completely beyond explanation. As a whole, it feels like this movie had something going for it, but it gets completely lost in the shuffle of whatever vendetta this creative team had at the time.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Crossroads of Hunter Wilde (Movie Review)

The Crossroads Of Hunter Wilde - Full Movie | Mike Norris, Abel ...

Plot Summary

In the aftermath of a world war that left mutants and ISIS rebels roaming the earth in search of their next victims, Hunter Wilde fights to survive and protect those close to him. However, when a new threat emerges that he has no idea how to fight, Hunter does what he typically does: run away. Will he be able to rekindle his faith before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite seemingly having adequate funding, this production fails to meet quality standards. This includes background noise that sometimes conflicts with spoken audio as well as a loud and generic soundtrack. The sets, locations, and props don’t effectively portray what they’re supposed to portray. Also, the camera work is wild, including poor shots in action sequences. The video quality is mostly stable throughout, however, and the editing is average. Despite some less-than-inspiring special effects, some elements of the production do improve as it goes on. Nonetheless, it’s only enough to earn a middle-of-the-road score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Besides the fact that this film is based on a ridiculous premise and bizarre plot elements, it also contains a really bad and slightly incorrect portrayal of the spiritual dimension. The writers seemed to be obsessed with sensationalism, shock, and awe as well as fixated on pro-prepper messaging that seems to want the world to descend into chaos so that they can do whatever they want. Despite being a large-scale idea, the story is based on clunky narration and stock footage. It’s also full of forced drama and purposely creepy supernatural elements. In the character department, the so-called protagonist almost always saves the day via unrealistic action sequences. Other characters are built on forced cardboard dialogue and awkward conversations that make everything drag out. The villains are extremely cheesy, and the narrative decides what happens to the characters and what random things they’ll do without good reasons for doing them. Things only get more ridiculous as they go, mostly due to the fact that the movie confuses itself with wacky inter-dimensional subplots and terminology. The concepts of other realms are extremely difficult to grasp, and the screenplay’s questionable view of spirituality tends to play fast and loose with reality. In the end, this is a pointless storyline full of madness and nonsense.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Between overly theatrical emotions and forced line delivery, the cast was seemingly coached to be very serious for no good reason. Too often, tones and feelings don’t seem to appropriately fit the situations. Makeup is also an obvious problem, and the villain acting is laughably ridiculous. In the end, despite some okay moments that keep this section from being zero, the acting tends to worsen as it goes forward, which rounds out an overall absurd creation.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to understand what the makes of this film were really going for. Mixing a dystopian premise with muted political overtures, much like The Reliant, is basically a losing formula from the get-go. Combing this with poor production and acting aspects sends this movie down to the basement of Christian entertainment. However, the market is thankfully changing for the better, which will no longer allow screenplays like this to exist.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Only One Way (Movie Review)

Only One Way Movie - Josiah Warren, Michael Maponga, Suzee Rodetis ...

Plot Summary

Paul was homeschooled all his life, but now that he’s in college, he feels persecuted by all the students because he lives with his parents and never wants to party with them. Thus, due to the prodding of his girlfriend, Paul moves into his own apartment and starts partying with her so-called friends. Will Paul be able to find his way back to the faith of his childhood???

Production Quality (.5 point)

In keeping with all previous patterns of Strong Foundation Films, Only One Way (not sure why it’s called that) has a horrific production. It contains poor background audio, loud noises, extremely obvious overdubs, and a loud, generic soundtrack. Though video quality and camera work are fine except for some shaky moments, the lighting is inconsistent. Sets, locations, and props are extremely cheap and limited, and there are a number of glaring continuity errors. Further, this movie has one of the worst editing jobs on record as there are incredibly abrupt cuts and very quick transitions between sequences. Sometimes, scenes are completely cut off, and most of them seem completely disconnected from the others. However, this section is surprisingly the best one of the whole film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This absurd storyline is presented one scene after the next with absolutely no continuity between them; no scene seems connected to the others as the narrative just blurts out random content however it wants. Needless to say, the content is full of mindless dialogue and conversations that build totally blank characters who act different ways at different times in the plot. Some of them are total strawmen non-Christians while others are impossibly perfect Christians. Many occurrences suddenly happen without proper lead-up because the writers simply wanted them to transpire. The screenplay drags on and on as the same things happen over and over again until it all crashes down in an incredibly bizarre ending. In the end, Only One Way is just another awful offering from the Strong Foundation team, which is unfortunately nothing new.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This section is also full of typical Strong Foundation stuff, such as mumbled lines and grossly uncoached acting. It seems like none of the cast members are really trying or are even motivated to perform well. None of the actors and actresses are believable or realistic in their offerings. As a side note, the injury acting is horrific. Thus, this part also receives no points and rounds out another ridiculous creation from this team.

Conclusion

What else is there to say? Time and again, Josiah David Warren and the rest keep rolling out pathetic excuses for movies with nothing to really stop them. They continue to contribute to the already-cluttered Christian entertainment landscape. All anyone can learn from this is how not to do it.

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

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

Destiny Road (Movie Review)

Destiny Road (film) - Wikipedia

Plot Summary

The lives of three people may all take different turns, but one way or another, they are destined to meet up with each other. A young couple who met in church, a successful megachurch pastor, and a poor boy from the slums may not have much in common, but they all have common lessons to learn. Will they find their true purposes before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of Destiny Road is acceptable, including good video quality and camera work. Sets, props, and locations are also fine, but the audio is quite uneven throughout the film. Sometimes, it’s too quiet, and other times, there are obvious overdubs. However, there aren’t that many notable issues to note here save for the poor editing, which can be explained away by the sheet amount of content included in this movie. Thus, this section earns an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Destiny Road, from start to finish, is determined to be full of confusing interlocking subplots, which causes the film to try to cover too much ground in one creation. As such, it may have been better suited as a series or as several movies, especially since there is plenty of potential to note here, including characters that are realistic at times, authentic looks at secret problems within ministries that put on shows for their congregations, and believable sequences of dialogue that demonstrate church fakeness, expose soft legalism, and establish relatable character backstories. However, narration absolutely decimates any hope of having better characters as it sometimes unnecessarily covers up conversations and just never stops. Besides this, there’s tons and tons of scenes that show many things happening all at once and include far too many concepts shoved into one screenplay. Additionally, there are very bizarre, creepy, and trippy content that’s very much out of place for the rest of the narrative and may frighten some audiences. In the end, it all leads to a confusingly vague ending that’s hard to grasp and leave the viewer feeling lost. Therefore, despite some potential, Destiny Road mostly gets in its own way.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting of this film is average since it’s sometimes unsure and sometimes acceptable. In parts, line and emotional delivery are fine while in other portions, they’re not. Nonetheless, there are plenty of good parts to balance out the bad. Therefore, this section earns an middle-of-the-road score.

Conclusion

Despite being based off of source material, Destiny Road hurts its cause by crowding itself out and overwhelming the audience with too much content to focus on. In doing this, it falls in line with with so many other screenplays that have something to offer yet ruin their chance in one fashion or another. Perhaps, one day, as we see a possible increase in writing quality among Christian entertainment, we’ll no longer have unfinished disppointments like this one.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

The Big Fix [2018] (Movie Review)

The Big Fix (2018) - IMDb

Plot Summary

The Reynolds family members all have many commitments and obligations, yet none of them want to see anything from the others’ perspectives. However, after asking God to change each other, they get the surprise of their lives when they suddenly switch bodies with each other. This gives each of them a chance to see what it’s like to walk in the others’ shoes, and what they find out is unexpected.

Production Quality (2 points)

Overall, the production of The Big Fix is good without many errors. This includes a great soundtrack and professional audio quality. Camera work and video quality are also up to standards. Sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-utilized. The only drawbacks in this section are some cheesy special effects and some choppy editing. In the end, however, this production is enough to be above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

At times, The Big Fix offers some good dialogue and realistic looks at problems with families and businesses in American culture, but other times, the film is a bit in-your-face with obvious messaging and sermonizing. This aside, the movie’s entire basis is a bit off, to say the least, as it comes with all the expected logical problems and inconsistencies that usually accompany body-switching plots. Despite these obvious concerns, not much actual content actually transpires in this narrative apart from forced comedy, unearned silliness, wasted time, and useless montages, which all pertain to the questionable premise. Along with these errors comes inevitably unusual content and insinuations that make for awkward stop-and-start scenes and meandering sequences that lead to nowhere. In order to effectively pull off any type of character-switching idea, you have to actually have good characters to begin with rather than basic stereotypes. This storyline’s poor character development also gives rise to cheesy views of young people. In the end, the conclusion is forced and cheesy as it basically fixed everything very rapidly, and the last scene is quite bizarre in general. Therefore, not many points can be awarded to this section.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the acting in The Big Fix is okay even though it can be too forceful at times. Other times, however, the emotional and line deliveries seem more natural. The biggest issue here is that, in order to properly execute a character switching plot, you need high-level acting. Unfortunately, these performances are just a bit above average. Nonetheless, while the acting is a bit stop-and-start at first, it tends to improve with time, which rounds out a run-of-the-mill effort.

Conclusion

This creative team is usually almost there (see Fat Chance), but a collection of things always holds them back from reaching the next level. They would greatly benefit from improved screenwriting so that they can focus their talents in other areas, like beefing up production and acting. With a more substantial plot and stronger characters, The Big Fix could have really been something. Nevertheless, perhaps we’ll see better things from this group in the coming days.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Modern Prodigal (Movie Review)

Modern Prodigal (2019) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Brian Sanderson is an investigative reports who’s addicted to painkillers and never ceases in his quest to solve the mystery of his son’s untimely death to the same drug he’s hooked on. Even though his obsessions cause him to lose his dream job, Brian will stop at nothing to discover the truth of what really happened while also wrestling the demons inside his head. Ultimately, Brian will have to confront his dark past in order to face the future.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

After an odd opening sequences that seems to suggest Modern Prodigal is part of a crime series, weird gray lighting seems to dominate much of the film. Audio quality is also an issues as there are some obvious background sounds as well as too much dead air, even if the little soundtrack therein has some potential. Sets, locations, and props are are bit cheap-looking, and there are some unnecessarily tight shots and instances stationary camera work. Furthermore, the editing leaves something to be desired with awkward cuts and transitions, but the good news is that the production takes a turn for the better in the film’s second half that amends a lot of the earlier errors. However, this is only enough to raise this section to the halfway mark.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Surprisingly, the characters are one of the strongest aspects of Modern Prodigal as some of them possess subtle characteristics that make them come off as relatable and human; their dialogue is also not all bad since it establishes them as imperfect people. However, while some conversations are quite good, others are too obvious and over the top. Nonetheless, the narrative makes fairly good use of mystery concepts throughout the plot progression and does a reasonable job at concealing important facts and revealing them bit by bit throughout the film. While there are plenty of positive aspects, there are also nagging concerns with this story, such as the fact that it’s trying to cover too much ground in one screenplay. Much of its content would have been better suited for a series, and a sudden massive time jump at the movie’s conclusion leaves the viewer somewhat confused. Nevertheless, Modern Prodigal offers a lot of hope for this writing team’s future potential.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, the good aspects of this film’s plot are detracted from by a lot of over-acting in many of the screenplay’s important scenes. This includes quite a bit of overdone emotional performances and forced line delivery. While there is some good in this section, such as some good supporting cast members and better acting in the less dramatic scenes, better coaching could have lifted Modern Prodigal to a better level.

Conclusion

This film joins a sizable collection of Christian creations that had a lot going for them but never made the next step in to greatness. Much of this shortfall is due to financial constraints, but a lot of it can be blamed on a lack of collaboration or a tendency to force something to happen before it’s time. Ideas were never meant to be carried out alone, and sometimes, it’s just not the right season for them. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what this creative team offers next.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Eyes to See (Movie Review)

Eyes to See (2010) - IMDb

Plot Summary

What Ray cares about most in the world is being a successful camera operator for a traveling national media crew. However, this demanding profession frequently keeps him away from his wife and daughter, who desperately want to be close to him. Nonetheless, Ray pushes forward for career success until a Haitian earthquake traps him underneath rubble and forces him to reexamine everything he holds dear.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

From start to finish, Eyes to See is a very professional production, which is evidenced by good camera work and video quality. The authentic sets, locations, and props are well-utilized and make for a very gritty, realistic setting. Audio quality and soundtrack are also great, and it should be noted that it was very ambitious to take on a difficult natural-disaster-style production idea like this one. As such, the earthquake sequences are mostly accurate. The only minor concerns to point out in this section pertain to some unnecessarily soft lighting within some of the flashbacks and some slightly choppy editing in the film’s second half. However, there’s plenty of positive in this production, which earns it a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Eyes to See sports a very strong message about the stark contrast between actually helping people in need during a natural disaster and just looking for media entertainment. This is accomplished through believable characters, which are built with accessible dialogue that establishes character personality as well as a very effective use of flashbacks that reveals character motive. Through these excellent narrative tools, recurring themes and thought-provoking conversations are presented to the audience that offer a brave and honest look at how Americans can easily mistreat those struggling in developing countries. Although it was great to efficiently use time and money with a short film rather than a long one, this is a rare instance where we wish a movie was longer than it was, especially since hearing more from the Haitian characters in this narrative would be have been good to balance out the American characters that tend to dominate the screen time. Also, the plot’s ending is a bit rushed, which leads this section to the rating that it gets, but it’s still an enjoyable experience.

Acting Quality (3 points)

This screenplay’s strongest aspect is its highly professional acting performances, which sport realistic emotions and on-point line delivery. Costuming and disaster makeup are also positive points to note. Further, the culturally accurate casting is very refreshing and essential. In this, this section rounds out an effort that does just enough to achieve Hall of Fame status.

Conclusion

Normally, we would like to see many films that are over ninety minutes long to be shorter, but Eyes to See is an outlier instance since we would have rather seen more than half an hour of content. As previously mentioned, extending the runtime could have been done by giving more focus to the experiences of the local characters instead of focusing so heavily on the Americans, but as it is, this brief narrative is enough to warrant a position on the Hall of Fame. It’s a prime example of how good a small creation can be as well as something adequate can be even better. Hopefully, future entertainment makers can take cues from this example, and perhaps, we’ll see even better things from this creative team in the future.

Final Rating: 7 out of 10 points

Desires of the Heart [2009] (Movie Review)

Image result for desires of the heart christian movie

Plot Summary

Ethan and Jack always had a strained relationship as brothers, but events surrounding the death of their father lead to an even larger wedge being driven between them. Now, after time has passed, things have greatly changed in each of their lives, and there are other family members to forgive. The family business is thriving, but rifts still abound. Will each person make the decisions they need to make in order to heal wounds from the past?

Production Quality (2 points)

Although this production’s background audio quality tends to be poor at times, this is really the only major error to note, and it does improve as the film progresses. Elsewhere, camera work and video quality are good, and the sets, locations, and props are well-utilized. Though the soundtrack is a bit generic and the editing mostly average, the second half of the production is better than the first and overall ends on a good note. Thus, this is enough to warrant an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Desires of the Heart is a rare instance in which a modern-day adaptation of a biblical story actually works because the writers successfully preserved the narrative’s original concepts without being over-representative or too obvious with their rendering. As such, the plot makes good use of flashbacks and creatively weaves a non-linear storyline that explores the complexities of family inner workings. The characters are pretty good even if they could be a bit better with more substantial, motive-revealing dialogue. Nonetheless, they do have very authentic backstories, and the story as a whole isn’t afraid to create unfortunately realistic consequences that can come as a result of family disputes, bitterness, and unforgiveness. It also contains a great message that is relevant for many audiences, but the slightly abrupt ending seems to keep it from being all that it could be. Nevertheless, this section does enough to earn an average rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the acting in Desires of the Heart is average since some if it is fine while the rest of it is a bit robotic and overly practiced. However, many of the cast members seem honest and committed to their roles. Additionally, much of the line delivery and emotions are mostly believable. Thus, this section rounds out an overall standard effort.

Conclusion

Desires of the Heart is a good example of how focusing on a shorter story is sometimes better than overextending resources with a longer project that could be lower quality. While many audiences enjoy longer creations, beginning small is a great way to maximize potential and practice entertainment making skills. For these reasons, we look forward to seeing what this creative team will produce next.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Epiphany [2019] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ever since Luka’s mother died, she’s been raised by her uncle while her father seeks to drown away his emotional pain with gambling and other illicit ventures. Luka steals from people to get attention, but she really just wants to help her father and her uncle with their struggling sea sponge business. However, her community service assignment that’s intended to make restitution for her indiscretions sends her down a path she never anticipated that will help her reconnect with her Cyprian heritage.

Production Quality (2 points)

Despite being a small-time production, Epiphany possesses a mostly professional production, as evidenced by good video quality, adequate audio quality, and a mostly engaging soundtrack that’s culturally authentic. The sets, locations, and props are also well-utilized while the lighting is consistently on par. The only major concerns to highlight here are some editing issues and some odd camera angles, but on the whole, this is respectable for a first-time effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for the audience to follow Epiphany‘s storyline or to grasp what its actual purpose is. In between random sequences of narration, the plot is a scattering of many loose ends that never logically come together or demonstrate realistic connections with each other. Haphazard scenes come off as being patched together to create a long string of vague ideas that never come to anything significant. The inconsistent story presentation also harms character development by making conversations between them very abstract and unpredictable. While this could have been a more interesting exploration of broken family systems and the generational effects of ethnic prejudice, there’s too much edgy content to make things palatable, and there are too many aspects of the narrative that are difficult to grasp, such as the dreamscape elements and what seems to be historical flashbacks portrayed as visions (?). This short-circuits the viewer’s ability to properly connect with the characters, and the film’s overall feel is just too conjectured to have any real impact.

Acting Quality (2 points)

On the whole, the acting of Epiphany is mostly average with only a few concerns, such as some forced emotions and some slightly overdone line delivery at important moments. However, there are also some bright spots, such as the culturally authentic casting. Other aspects are basically pedestrian. In the end, this is an above-average section to round out a film that otherwise underachieved.

Conclusion

It’s great to explore little-referenced cultures and aspects of international Christianity that many audiences never think about, but this just isn’t the way. When the viewer can’t follow where the story is going to or coming from, even the best messages are lost in translation. Narratives have to possess core purposes that are clearly communicated and properly presented, and sometimes, this can only be effectively accomplished through collaboration.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Life With Dog (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Joe Bigler wants to shut the world out after his wife died a tragic death. However, his daughter won’t leave him alone, the bank wants him to pay his mortgage, and a big company is threatening to turn his neighborhood into a housing development, which prompts them to constantly offer to buy his house. Nonetheless, when a stray dog takes up residence with Joe, his life begins to take a different trajectory. Will he finally be able to make peace with his past and move on with his life?

Production Quality (2 points)

As is the typical custom of Corbin Bernsen and his team, Life With Dog sports a respectable production, including good video and audio qualities along with professional usage of sets, locations, and props. There are really no concerns to note save for the randomly poor lighting and the inconsistent application of editing. Also, the soundtrack is a bit off since it sometimes doesn’t fit the moods of scenes, but as can be seen in the remainder of the film, much of the oddness seems purposeful.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Life With Dog is a capstone of Corbin Bernsen’s erratic and unusual Christian entertainment career because it’s the ultimate encapsulation of everything he’s ever done. Not only does this film boast the typically odd elements he inserts into movies, but it carries an inexplicably unusual tone that can’t be easily quantified. Some example of this intangible bizzareness are evidenced by some actually interesting scenes that appear to make fun of cliched film tropes, some subtle asides that range from eyebrow-raising to borderline inappropriate, and a tendency for the dialogue to frustratingly meander among some actually pertinent topics that need to be discussed, some complex philosophical concepts that are difficult to grasp, and a constant itching feeling that the narrative is hiding some deep secret that’s never to be revealed. Besides this, there are logical inconsistencies in the writing, such as the fact that the main character is seemingly able to do whatever he wants with little to no consequences for his sometimes questionable actions and the fact that there are too many coincidences that allow the plot to exist. Though there are many half-hearted attempts (we suppose) to do something meaningful in the story, like provide an accessible character exploration, nothing specifically significant materializes and is instead left as an unfinished, off-the-wall idea. The climax scene is probably the best example of the entire film in a nutshell because it pretends to keep building to something real but never gets there and only leaves the viewer with something that’s both vaguely significant and head-scratchingly odd, as if the storyline was purposely written to dangle hidden things in front of the audience without actually revealing their true natures. In the end, though there is some potential in this chaos, it’s not enough to keep this movie above water.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Much like other Home Theater films, the acting of Life With Dog is fine without many noticeable errors. Though there are some overdone emotions are certain moments, the cast members’ line deliveries are consistently on point. Also, each individual appears to assume their roles well. Thus, this rounds out a slightly below average effort.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, Bernsen’s career is marked with wasted potential (Christian Mingle, In-Lawfully Yours, 25 Hill, to name a few), and it’s unclear whether or not he ever intends to change. It seems like he’s always striving to make the next great iconic Christian film but consistently falls short due to intangible oddness. The worst part is that he clearly has the connections and the resources to do better than he is, yet he usually comes up short as he settles for second best. Perhaps, in future projects, he will finally unleash his full skill set and collaborate with others who can make up for his shortcomings.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

MBF: Man's Best Friend (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Paul Landings retired from the military after a disability prevented his further service, so now he works at a dog shelter and takes in dogs who have no homes. However, his practices draw ire from locals, and several troublemakers set fire to his house with the dogs still in it. Affected by PTSD, Landings commits a crime in revenge for his dogs and finds himself embroiled in a lawsuit charged with local politics. Will he be able to be set free from the bondage both in his head and in his life?

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of Man’s Best Friend is respectable, including good video, camera, and audio qualities. While the sets, locations, and props are mostly well-chosen, there is some inconsistent lighting in the indoor sets. However, the outside locations are better, and these issues overall improve as the film progresses. Elsewhere, the soundtrack is acceptable, and the editing is a bit odd at types although it is mostly fine. In the end, this is an above average production that could have been a little better due to the year it was made.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The opening sequences of MBF are a bit of a drag for the viewer since they are drawn out and full of stock footage and vague voiceover that both isolates the audience and wastes valuable time. However, once it gets to the substantial parts of the plot, there are actually some good explorations of how warfare effects people after the military and how one’s life can be greatly altered by the service. Nonetheless, there are a number of problems in this narrative’s character department, beginning with the fact that most of the ‘bad’ characters are total strawmen who hate the main character for no particular reason, are unrealistically anti-military, and are generally annoying. At the same time, the military characters are painted in perfect lights as they create a very odd dichotomy that tries to force the viewer to choose between the importance of a paralyzed character’s life and the lives of dogs that died in a fire. There are either perfect victim characters (though it’s not clear how some of them are actually victims) or highly corrupt small town characters, which is likely realistic in many contexts but is too over the top for this situation. Moreover, the storyline provides both a realistic look at post-war trauma and a hard examination of corruption in small towns, but many audiences may find the premise to be a bit dark and without significant hope or redemption. Elsewhere, the judge seems unnecessarily biased toward the protagonist, and some of the characters attempt to nearly justify the paralysis-inducing crime that is on trial. Dialogue is inconsistently used for information dumps, and a lot of the characters feel unfinished as they tend to crowd each other out for screen time. Also, there is some inappropriate language throughout the plot, and the ending is a bit hard to follow. Overall, much like this creative team’s previous efforts at crafting complex suspense situations (Wild Faith), MBF tries to interest the viewer in legal intrigue mixed with military drama, but there are just too many issues with this concept to justify any points for this section.

Acting Quality (2 points)

While many of the cast members of MBF tend to force their lines and their emotional deliveries in the beginning, the performances as a whole improve as the film progress. The most significantly positive aspect is the fact that DJ Perry posts an extremely memorable and groundbreaking performance as he becomes a character unlike any other he’s previously played and transforms himself for a very difficult role. This element is very impressive and is one of the main bright spots in this otherwise flawed project. Thus, this rounds out an overall above average acting effort that could have been slightly better.

Conclusion

Man’s Best Friend, like many of this creative team’s past projects, had a lot going for it, but it didn’t quite make it past the finish line. Perry, Hagedorn, Teaster, Hornus, and the rest had a lot of momentum following Wild Faith and The Christ Slayer, but MBF tends to blunt this success with its confusing messaging and dark focus. However, Perry’s breakout performance is a key bright spot that gives renewed hope for the future, so it will be interesting to see what this collective produces next.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Home Sweet Home [2020] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

What Victoria mostly cares about in life is going from one relationship to the next so that she can be whoever she wants to be without having too much commitment. However, when one of her attempts to get a guy’s attention doesn’t quite go as she planned, she stubbornly decides to do whatever it takes to make him ask her out. Thus, she volunteers at the non-profit her prospect, Jason, heads up and finds herself suddenly building a house for a single mother and her family. Little does Victoria know that she’s about to gain a surprisingly new perspective on life that she never considered before.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, Home Sweet Home is a near-perfect example of what a 2020 production should look like for freshman Christian film makers. Not only did they wisely use their budget without over-extending themselves, but they also made sure that key production elements demonstrated good quality, such as video, camera, audio, and music work. The sets, locations, and props are also efficiently used, and overall, there are really no negatives to highlight here save for some minor editing concerns. However, some of these issues can be attributed to the plot; in the end, this is a very solid production effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

From the get-go of this plot, it’s very clear that the writers were inspired by very strong and worthwhile themes of people living behind false exteriors versus being comfortable with who God created them to be. Also, Home Sweet Home isn’t afraid to shine a light on fake romantic relationships that may exist in a Hallmark view of the world as well as the ease of finding identity in “scoring” relationships in the Western world. In doing so, the creators gave a lot of attention to detail to produce a truly funny comedy based on mostly good dialogue. However, while many of the characters are spot-on, some of them, such as the male lead, leave a lot to be desired in the personality and motivation departments because it’s hard to get to know him as a person. Elsewhere, secondary characters and subplots could have been a bit deeper than they are had they been provided with more adequate screentime. To make room for them, some romantic comedy cliches, such as the returning ex-love interest, could have been cut out. In the end, even though the narrative follows a basically predictable progression toward a somewhat forced and convenient ending, Home Sweet Home demonstrates tons of potential for future projects because the writers clearly know how to properly integrate themes into their stories.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Despite the small cast, there are not many acting problems to note in this film. One of the biggest drawbacks, however, is the lack of adequate coaching for the lead actor as he seems lost a lot of the time, but then again, his role isn’t very expansive. Elsewhere, Natasha Bure posts an above-average performance while Sarah Kim is also a standout. In the end, like the movie as a whole, there are just small problems that hold this section back from taking the next step.

Conclusion

The 5×5 Productions team is clearly onto something with this unexpectedly refreshing release. With just a few minor tweaks, Home Sweet Home would have easily made the Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, the themes of this film make it worth your time and give us great hope for the future of this creative team’s work. With a bit more funding and collaboration, they could be going great places with their next project.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

The Least of These: A Christmas Story (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Rose and Katie have been homeless ever since escaping from an abusive relationship, and Rose struggles to make ends meet for her and her daughter. Working as a waitress at a local diner causes her to cross paths with Charlie, who acts as a Salvation Army Santa Claus just outside the restaurant. However, while their friendship gets off to a rocky start, Charlie feels like God wants him and his wife to reach out to the single mother who’s fallen on hard times. Together, they all discover what it truly means to help the needy at Christmastime.

Production Quality (2 points)

The production of The Least of These starts out a bit rough with some cheap sets, props, and locations as well as some inconsistent lighting. There are also some awkward cuts, fade-outs, and slight continuity errors in the beginning. However, the production does improve as it goes, which suggests a positive change of direction. This includes demonstrating good camera work and video quality throughout. Also, the audio quality is great, including a well-constructed soundtrack. Further, all other elements that were previously below par show marked improvement by the film’s conclusion, which helps this section get over the average mark.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

From the beginning of the narrative, The Least of These takes a rare look at little-considered Christmas themes like the connection between the concept of Santa giving gifts to good children and following a works-based religion. Neither of these ideals holds up when someone is homeless due to fleeing an abusive situation. Elsewhere, the writers put forth realistic attempts to present some problems there are with traditional Christmas ideas while at the same time showing the authentic struggles of real people. This includes giving actual attention to detail of how the working homeless population functions on a daily basis and of how Christians can practically assist them if God prompts them to do so. As a whole, the plot feels like it’s based on real happenings of real people, and the dialogue definitely aids this pursuit. However, the storyline isn’t without its flaws; it can be a bit slow at times, and it struggles to hold the audience’s attention. Though the story is definitely trying to be real, some scenes feel like unnecessary filler, and the ending is basically typical. Also, the Christian message can be a bit muted at times, even though this isn’t always bad. In the end, this screenplay shows tons of potential for future projects, especially character-based explorations, so it will be interesting see what a little collaboration can do for this creative team.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting isn’t bad at all as many of the cast members appear to be really striving to do their best in assuming the roles of the characters. While they are not always dynamic in their performances, they are mostly professionals and do well enough in emotional portrayals and line delivery. Moreover, this section is kept from being perfect by some isolated scenes where the acting is very awkward and some makeup that is a bit crazy a times. Nonetheless, this section rounds out a commendable and honest effort, which is all we ever ask for.

Conclusion

For future projects, this creative team would definitely benefit from further collaboration to enhance their talents. Also, creating a series may be a better way to showcase their characters and to more efficiently use their budget. In summary, The Least of These is an average movie

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Fat Chance [2016] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Allison has always struggled with her weight, but she doesn’t know what to do to change herself. She feels ostracized by other people, and when she feels like she might be interested in a guy from her church group, she feels like she has no chance due to her image. Thus, she decides she needs to find love on the internet…by using her roommate’s picture on her online dating profile. However, things don’t go as she originally planned them to go, and everyone learns a hard lesson about self-esteem and being themselves.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, Fat Chance has a fine production, including good video and audio quality. The soundtrack is intriguing, but some of the camera angles are a bit odd at times. Similarly, lighting is good throughout even if the sets, locations, and props are a bit limited. Even still, they are mostly used well, and the editing is adequate. In the end, this is essentially an above average production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Fat Chance definitely isn’t afraid to explore some very relevant body image issues, but this film may not have gone about it in the best way. This is a difficult topic to tastefully portray in a movie, and some of the attempts to highlight the weight of the main character are questionable at best. There are also quite a few distasteful jokes about being overweight, but there are also some other areas of comedy that are actually somewhat funny because they poke fun of silly societal trends. Elsewhere, the writers definitely had some good intentions with character development (since the characters are intended to be based on real people), yet there are also some very poorly designed “bad” characters who are basically really obvious strawmen. However, the dialogue throughout the film is pretty good despite the somewhat strong messaging, and these worldviews are agreeable since they explore important topics of how people paint themselves on social media, how some Christians act fake, and how it’s better to be yourself. In a similar vein, while Fat Chance also includes a lot of typical dating service plot elements (two characters are virtually dating and know each other in real life but don’t know that the other one is the virtual date), it does present a realistic parody of the problems these services can cause. In the end, this storyline is a mixed bag of missed opportunities and potential for the future. With deeper characters and subtler messaging, this plot could have gone a lot further.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Despite having a partially “amateur” cast, Fat Chance has a handful of bright spots among its cast members. Many of them definitely make good attempts to become the characters, and while some are a bit awkward at times, they are mostly good at exhibiting emotions and delivering lines. Thus, this rounds out a basically average effort.

Conclusion

More Christian movies and series need to explore the unpopular opinions and topics found in Fat Chance, but there are obviously better ways to go about this particular concept. Self-worth and self image are both important and sensitive issues to look at, which is why they must be done in consultation with people who have struggled with them and in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the creators of this film demonstrated potential for the future by making Fat Chance, so it will be interesting to see how they build off of this movie in their potentially upcoming projects.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Tapestry [2019] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Ryan’s family is already in turmoil before he loses his job, so after he’s fired, things begin to unravel even more. His mother, his only emotional support, is dying of cancer, and his wife refuses to speak to him. As he grows more and more distant from his family and as life seems to crash down around him, Ryan will have to decide who he relies upon: himself or God?

Production Quality (-1 points)

Tapestry is likely the worst production of this year due to its myriad errors, beginning with the inconsistency of its camera work: sometimes shaky and sometimes unusually angled. Similarly, a lot of shots seem very tight. There are also many, many audio concerns, including annoying background sounds, erratic volume changes, noticeable echoes in the backgrounds of some sets, and some instances of severely over-driven audio. However, none of this even speaks of the predominantly poor video quality or the very bad lighting that accompanies many of the already-cheap sets, props, and locations. Nevertheless, perhaps the worst element of the production is the truly horrific editing job. A key example of this is the fact that there is sometimes zero continuity between scenes that are merely seconds apart…in these moments, it feels like several different movies were maniacally spliced together with no reason whatsoever. Further, these problems are paired with lagging fadeouts, quick and awkward cuts, and abrupt transitions to top off this dumpster fire of a production. For these reasons, this section warrants a negative score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

During the first ten minutes of the film, there’s absolutely no way to discern what is transpiring as tons of characters are introduced in a very short span of time using clunky narration and random, disconnected scenes. From there, the story proceeds with an unusual attitude like the whole thing is meant to be one big joke; this idea is only reinforced by the extremely dramatic narration style that tells the viewer what people are thinking and the very vague plot ideas that contribute to the confusing story presentation. Due to the sheer number of characters, there are too many random subplots and tangents to keep up with, which causes the focus to jump from one thing to the next and cuts some scenes painfully short. Some scenes just pop up very quickly without warning and disappear without leaving a significant impact, and there are also unannounced black and white flashbacks as well as weird asides that have no connection to the “main point,” whatever that really is. The viewer is left guessing not only what’s happening but what’s coming next, and things trend weirder and stranger as they progress, including a bizarre obsession with multiple characters committing infidelity. Besides the obviously inexplicable elements, there are also many completely laughable moments before it all culminates in a silly, patched-up conclusion that teaches the audience absolutely nothing. In short, there’s plenty of evidence that supports this section’s negative rating.

Acting Quality (-1 points)

Despite the need for most of the characters to have northeastern United States accents, many of them, most notably Stephen Baldwin, who is mostly his usual self, do not make the mark of inflection authenticity. However, this mistake isn’t the worst part of the acting section. There are plenty of screaming scenes and extreme emotional displays that really take the cake. Elsewhere, line delivery is often forced and very strained; it’s clear that no acting coaching was present since there are basically no good performances to note. Therefore, this category rounds out a comprehensively negative effort.

Conclusion

We repeat: negatively rated Christian entertainment has no place in the year 2019 and beyond. When all aspects of a movie are this bad, there needs to be some very serious rethinking of the creation process. The fact that utter disasters like this still make it to the public is disheartening, but hopefully, we have a growing group of Christian innovators who will transform the field into something that will help us forget that negatively rated Christian entertainment ever existed.

Final Rating: -3 out of 10 points

Be Still and Know (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Childhood friends CJ and Sophia have lost connection with each other due to various life circumstances, but they now have a chance to rekindle their friendship during a fall break getaway. Along with two other friends, they go off the grid in a family cabin in order to re-establish what they once had. However, things don’t go as planned, and their sort of vacation takes a turn for the worst, which forces them to rely on God for their help.

Production Quality (1 point)

After showing concerted production improvement in If You’re Gone, the Goodwin creative team has unfortunately gone backward in quality with Be Still and Know. This is due to many very dark indoor scenes and quite a few outdoor scenes that are dominated by background noises. Camera also tends to be shaky throughout, and some odd camera angles are used, likely for some type of dramatic effect. However, it doesn’t work, and the sets, locations, and props are fairly cheap. While video quality is one of the only bright spots of the production and although there are some good portions of this film’s presentation, there are many concerns as well, including a soundtrack that almost always plays in the background even though it doesn’t fit with the moods of the scenes. It goes without saying that many scenes are quite long and drawn out, which is due to random editing. In the end, while it’s not all bad in this section, it’s still a major letdown from a collaborative team that was headed in such a good direction.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unlike previous efforts from the Goodwin team, the plot of Be Still and Know unfortunately has no real potential since there’s barely anything to it. The characters are either blank or stereotypical, and the conflict in the story really makes no sense at all. Conversations and dialogue are very bland and uninspiring, which makes the viewing experience a drag. The premise is highly unrealistic and questionable as it tends to involve slightly illegal activity that’s nonsensically justified. Further, the Christian message feels extremely forced and contrived. In the end, there are either too many issues with this storyline or too much boredom to justify its creation; it’s rare to see a plot with no potential from a experienced creative team, but this is unfortunately the case with Be Still and Know.

Acting Quality (1 point)

In this small cast, errors are more obvious, and they tend to carry the weight of the movie on their shoulders. However, the cast members cannot be fully blamed for the lack of adequate lines to work with. Nonetheless, many of them come off as either bored or overplaying, yet they aren’t all bad. Most of the acting is very boring, unchallenging, and uneventful, and emotions are vanilla. Further, costuming is unusual at times, but this section isn’t completely lost, which rounds out a surprisingly low-quality attempt.

Conclusion

John and Brittany Goodwin definitely care about making an impact in Christian entertainment, and every creator must come to a crossroads in their career: will they choose to continue in mediocrity or step out with something even better than before? Some movie makers are better suited to be series makers (see Dallas Jenkins), so this may be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Goodwins. There’s also plenty of Christian fiction to explore, which can supply ample content for struggling screenwriters if permission is secured. In the end, one movie doesn’t define someone’s entire career, so Be Still and Know could be a rough patch before the breakthrough.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Miles Between Us {Four Days Alone in a Car} (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Scott Dauer is a successful Hollywood agent, but an untimely accident prevents his ex-wife from driving their daughter across the country to the Christian college she wants to attend. Thus, Scott is forced to reconnect with the young woman he’s been estranged from for many years as they make the four-day journey across the nation. However, little does either one of them know that their time together will forever alter their lives.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Especially in the beginning, the sets, locations, and props of Miles Between Us are fairly cheap and not well-thought-out. This include some sets that echo a lot of audio, yet most of the scenes have fine lighting and video quality. Camera work is acceptable for the most part, except for the shaky moments and the odd camera angles that sometimes appear. Audio quality is mostly okay, but the soundtrack leaves something to be desired. Finally, there’s virtually no editing in this film as many of the scenes are long and drawn out without proper cuts. In the end, though there’s some improvement as the movie progresses, the production still ends up average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

At the start of this heavily character-based plot, the characters seem to be grasping for things to say in order to fill time while the story moves along. Many of the conversations seem unnatural and don’t do what they need to do with character development even though this plot line heavily depends on them and their personalities due to its limited scope. On top of this, the Christian characters are both perfect and condescending, and many lines spoken by all characters are sterile and clinical, like they were crafted by AI. The progression of time is also unrealistic, no doubt confused by the riveting driving montages and clouded by sequences of sermonizing. One of the only ways to save this plot would have been to transform the memory-based dialogue (“I remember when you did that!”) into actual flashbacks that integrate into a non-linear storyline; this would have done something to breathe life into the dead characters therein. This would have especially helped the fact that an important concept is explored in the last quarter of the film that, while it’s kind of out of left field for the movie’s context, really does need to be discussed in Christian entertainment. However, many viewers will never make it that far due to absolute boredom of the story’s first three quarters. It’s too bad this intriguing idea was wasted, along with the somewhat ambiguous ending, but perhaps, one day, it can be re-purposed in a better way.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Throughout a majority of the film, the cast members seem understandably bored with their lot and sometimes awkward around each other. We can’t blame them since they were given such poor lines to work with. However, their delivery of them is still overly practiced and stilted even though there are some fine performances. Emotions are a bit lame at times, and hair and makeup is strange. Nonetheless, there’s some improvement in these areas as the movie goes on, which is enough to warrant and average rating for this section.

Conclusion

The creative team behind Miles Between Us is almost onto something, but they would do well to make sure their screenwriting is up to industry standards. With the growth of Christian entertainment and the collective improvement of productions, the bar has been raised, and there’s little room for vanilla or basement-level creations anymore. Thus, this can be a learning experience for them; in the near future, they may be able to redo this film or at least use some of its concepts with better characters. Overall, film making is always a learning process, so it will be interesting to see what they produce next.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

The Christ Slayer (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Longinus was raised by the Magi, but he never fully believed the stories they told of the Messiah as he rose through the ranks of the Roman army. he was at the pinnacle of his career, but an injury led to blindness, forcing him out of service. As he languished in darkness with a servant to guide his daily activities, he never dreamed that his life would be forever changed when he helped end a seemingly meaningless crucifixion of the One they called the King of the Jews.

Production Quality (2 points)

Over time, DJ Perry and his creative have definitely improved their production skills as The Christ Slayer demonstrates good camera work, effective camera angles, and professional video quality. The audio quality is also fine for the more part, and the soundtrack is culturally authentic. While the sets, locations, and props are great, the outdoor scenes are better since some of the indoor shots are a bit too dark and disorienting. Some of the editing could have been more consistent and understandable, but on the whole, this production is adequate and shows commitment to improving.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

The Quest Trilogy has taken many different turns, and at this point, the ending is better than the beginning. At its inception, some parts were hard to grasp and a bit too abstract, but the unique turn in The Christ Slayer definitely helped things. This is a unique extra-Biblical plot that gives a fresh perspective on the events surrounding the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, and it sports the typical abstractly creative concepts of the CDI team. The spiritual elements from Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are included in this third installment, but they are presented in more accessible fashions. Similarly, the psychological themes of The Christ Slayer are fairly well-utilized, and integration of Biblical accounts is creatively woven together with the main plot. There are a few drawbacks, however, that keep this plot from being all that it could be. For instance, there are quite a few slow scenes that tend to be too artistic such that the audience has trouble understanding them, and some of the characters’ dialogue is a bit archaic and drawn-out. There are some expository conversations that replace better character development, and sometimes, the Jesus character is a bit too ethereal and inaccessible, but as a whole, this is a fine Easter plot that demonstrates unique storytelling.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Probably the brightest spot of this film’s cast is the awesome idea to cast a special needs cast member in a role that doesn’t over-emphasize his condition. Treating him as a regular actor is a huge step forward for disability rights, so this creative team’s decision to do this shows a deeper care for inclusion in the arts. Elsewhere in this cast, some of the main cast members are good while some could use more efficient coaching to avoid being too theatrical and dramatic. As a whole, the acting is average, but it could have been better if emotions were more accessible. In the end, The Christ Slayer is a good end to the Quest Trilogy.

Conclusion

DJ Perry and company have a lot going for them, so it will be interesting to see how they will be able to collaborate with other talent in the future. Throughout their careers, they have only gotten better as they have adapted and changed, which is encouraging to see. Sometimes trilogies end worse than they begin, so since the Quest Trilogy has ended on a good note, this will hopefully be a springboard to better things in the future for CDI entertainment.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Secrets in the Snow (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When a snowstorm hits unexpectedly, six teenagers are trapped at Eastbrook High to wait it out.  None of them want to be there, and each of them as a secret to hide.  As time goes on, frustrations and stress increase, which causes the secret stories to come to light one by one.  However, the storm also continues to worsen, which threatens their safety.  Will they be able to make it out before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2 points)

Although it appears the budget was somewhat limited, Secrets in the Snow has a mostly good production, including fine audio, video, and camera quality.  However, the soundtrack is a bit generic and loud at times, and the sets, locations, and props are understandably limited by design, even though they are well-utilized for the most part.  There is also some inconsistent lighting, as well as some randomly shaky moments of camera work, but the editing is good.  As a whole, this is an above average production that could have been slightly better than it was.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

John and Brittany Goodwin have always attempted to develop their characters through backstories, so the effort to do this in this film is definitely commendable.  However, since this is a heavily character-based plot with almost nothing but the characters to hold it up, we needed to see much deeper character development and growth through meaningful conversations and flashbacks.  The dialogue therein needed to be less shallow and less scripted, and there are too many wasted scenes on activities that don’t build characters or help us to understand who they are as people.  Even still, this is a non-typical and mostly creative plot structure that demonstrates the true potential the Goodwins have as both screenwriters and film makers.  As they continue to grow in their careers, we expect great things from what they have to offer as they continue to deepen their character development over time because we know that they mean well and want to do their best.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Like other parts of this film, the cast members also mean well, but some of the line delivery and emotions come off as overly practiced and not natural enough.  Some performances seem to stilted and measured while some lines appear to be read.  However, there is plenty of positive here as most of the cast members appear to be comfortable with their character roles and seem to be committed to the process.  As a whole, this is an average film, which is great for a debut.

Conclusion

After this film and If You’re Gone, the Goodwins and their team are definitely on the cusp of something great.  Once they are able to deepen their characters and refine their plot structures, they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with since they have already rectified their production and acting shortcomings.  As the Goodwins continue to produce their own source material for films, we anticipate better things from them in the near future.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Clara’s Ultimate Christmas (Movie Review)

Image result for clara's ultimate christmas

Plot Summary

Clara wants to have the ultimate Christmas or something, but her dad is always working on ‘projects’ and ‘contracts’; he even has to fly out to finish a project in NEW YORK on CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!!!  Thankfully, Clara has plenty to keep her busy with her VLOG and her dog, which keeps getting lost.  She also hangs out with her awkward cousin, uncle, and aunt while her mother sees how bored she can be with this movie.  The real question with this film is can it get any less creative?

Production Quality (1 point)

As Clara’s Ultimate Christmas is basically an enhanced collection of home videos, production is greatly lacking.  This is manifested in random and off-the-wall camera angles and shaky camera work.  While video quality is fine, audio quality is inconsistent as there is basically no soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are severely limited for good reason since the entire movie basically takes place in one house.  In keeping with the home video theme, editing is virtually non-existent, which rounds out a very poor production score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The home video theme continues with basically no plot content as Clara’s Ultimate Christmas is essentially Clara’s and her family’s activities of daily living (ADL’s), including eating breakfast, playing with dolls, walking the dog, crafting, cooking, vlogging, and talking on the phone.  I don’t know about you, but one-sided phone conversations aren’t what Christmas is all about.  In pursuit of ADL’s, characters and dialogue fall flat as we don’t really know these characters as real people but as pawns in the chess game played by the Hallmark Holiday Syndicate.  Granted, this isn’t a Hallmark movie, but the plot might as well be.  Every scene is squeezed and stretch to manufacture any possible content out of it, and the Christian messages are extremely vague and forced.  Essentially, there’s nothing good to say here since there’s nothing to this ‘plot’ at all.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The horrific child acting in this film is almost enough on its own to make this section negative, but the vanilla acting from other cast members just makes it zero.  Since this cast is so small, errors are greatly pronounced, especially when the child acting is forced through a strainer.  The adult cast members come off as very awkward and uncomfortable in their interactions with each other, and some cast members seem very bored with the film.  Emotions are either over the top or too bland, and line delivery is mostly lazy.  As a whole, there’s really very little good to say about this ‘film.’


Conclusion

It’s great that Bridgestone gives independent Christian film makers chances to get their content out there, and it’s been helpful for films like Altar Egos that people disregard for no reason, but movies like Clara’s Ultimate Christmas have literally nothing going for them.  There’s no purpose or point to them, and they just used worn-out and recycled ideas that nobody cares to see again.  Maybe we will see fewer and fewer of these sorts of films moving forward.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

Undeserved (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Dawn’s life is changed when her deadbeat mother is shot dead in a bar parking lot, which prompts the state to assign her custody to her aunt and uncle until she can finish high school.  Despite her loss, things are looking up for her as she is moved to a better area.  However, it doesn’t take long for Dawn to discover that there are just as many hidden problems in suburbia as there are obvious problems on the streets.  Fearing for her safety, Dawn leaves her new home to take up residence on the streets once again.  Moreover, she soon finds herself in trouble again, and only her aunt believes that she is worth the fight.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

For a very small budget, Undeserved sports a lot of good production qualities, including good camera work, video quality, and audio quality.  The soundtrack is also creative, even though it tends to be a bit too loud at times.  Sometimes, camera work is randomly shaky, and sometimes scenes are too dark and poorly lit.  However, these issues are not completely noticeable, even if the flashback quality is bit odd.  The editing is average overall, and these factors are enough to make this an above-average production, which is a great start for a new film maker with such a limited budget.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Undeserved is definitely not afraid to take on difficult but unfortunately realistic issues within the white suburban church demographic.  Though there is some obvious and expository dialogue throughout, the storyline is intriguing due to its non-typical structure.  For the most part, the story unfolds in a realistic manner with a natural progression of time, even though there are some slight coincidences that help the plot along.  The character are fairly well-developed even though the dialogue could be constructed a bit better.  Sometimes it seems like the main characters are victimized too much, but there are plenty of good attempts to develop character motive and personality through conversations and flashbacks.  However, there are a few too many montages, and issues appear to be fixed too easily in the end.  There are quite a few things tacked onto the end of the film, as if time ran out, which suggests that this idea might have worked better as a series.  However, this plot is overall average.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Though this cast is mostly inexperienced and ‘amateur,’ they appear to be professional in their performances.  There is definitely evidence of coaching, and although there are some slightly forced emotions and some moments that are partially underwhelming and awkward.  However, there is far more good here than bad, and this is only amplified by the fact that the cast does not have ‘big names’ in it.  In summary, this rounds out a very good first film effort.

Conclusion

It’s hard to get the necessary funding for a first-time small church film, so the best thing a film maker can do is craft a good plot, coaching cast members well, and get the film out there.  This creative team made efforts on all three of these fronts, and for the most part, the efforts paid off.  One can hardly do better than this with a less than $50,000 budget except perhaps forge a more captivating storyline.  In the end, a film like Undeserved is all we really ask of freshman creators, so it will be interesting to see what this team produces next.

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points