Grace of the Father (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When a family’s mother dies, the father decides to move with his kids back to his wife’s birthplace. Tired of being under the thumb of a ruthless land owner, they want to have a farm of their own like the mother always wanted. However, the adopted son doesn’t want to live their new life and promptly leaves when he’s old enough. Will he come to his senses and return to the family who loves him?

Production Quality (1 point)

Despite acceptable camera work and video quality, the lighting in this production is inconsistent, including some dark indoor scenes and weird soft light in random places. Audio quality is all over the place due to poor microphones, background echoes, loud background sounds, and a generic soundtrack. Special effects are very cheap, and production elements, such as sets, locations, and props, don’t adequately portray what they’re supposed to represent. Nonetheless, some slight production improvement in the film’s second half is enough to earn a point for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Although the characters in Grace of the Father are slightly realistic at times, they mostly tend to be stereotypical due to obvious dialogue and circular conversations. The perfect Christians have unrealistic responses to tragedies and seem unaffected by a key family death, choosing to rely on mindless platitudes and exhibit random emotional outbursts that don’t fit the contexts. Elsewhere, it’s difficult to know what to focus on as the random subplots are simply strung together, causing the narrative the aimless wander in purposelessness. Valuable time is wasted on musical montages that accomplish nothing, and the story meanders all over the place without giving the audience a reason to be interested in it. However, in the final fourth of the plot, a slightly interesting twist is revealed that could have been interesting. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to redeem the other pointlessness in the movie, and many viewers will never make it far enough to see the ending. Thus, only a small score can be granted here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

For the most part, the acting in this film is passable even though the emotions tend to be flat and unrealistic. There’s nothing particularly dynamic or awful about these performances. However, they trend negative as the movie progresses. Therefore, only a point can be warranted here.

Conclusion

Lazarus Filmworks consistently puts out screenplays but has never been able to hit the average mark. They seem to mean well in what they do, but there’s always too many things holding them back from better ratings. Grace of the Father is no exception to this tendency, and there’s simply no more room in Christin entertainment for subpar efforts. In the future, creative teams like this one need to reassess their current direction and see where God wants them to go in the future. Collaboration is likely the best option for most creators.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Run the Race (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

It seems like Zach and Dave Truett have always been dealt a bad hand in life. Their mother died, and their father soon after fell into alcoholism. Dave suffers from a medical condition, so when Zach tears his ACL at a party, his chances of a football scholarship, their only clear way out of their small town, are jeopardized. This forces Zach to do the soul-searching he had always avoided since their mother died, and it leads the brothers to unexpected places.

Production Quality (2 points)

As the first production funded and facilitated by the Tebow brothers, they have definitely shown that they can aggregate funds and put them to fairly good use. For the most part, this production is quite good and hits all the right notes, including good video quality, effective camera work, professional audio quality, and a great soundtrack. Sets, locations, and props are also adequately used and constructed. While the music is good, one drawback is the many dizzying sports montages that seem to eat up most of the runtime. Because of the time spent on this part, other scenes in the film are awkwardly and abruptly cut off with poor transitions. However, on the whole, this is an above-average production that is great for a first time effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, the money put into the production didn’t reflect well in the plot department. While something good is trying to be portrayed in this story, it doesn’t come through well at all, mostly due to the quick, clipped scenes that leave little room for proper development. Much of the dialogue refers to off-screen content or is very punctuated; this makes for awkward conversations that are inadequate in building characters effectively. While there are some attempts to take a real look at issues facing small towns in America and the people in them, too much time is spent on sports and training montages, which makes for a fairly choppy story presentation that doesn’t flow very well at all. There are too many missed opportunities as mindless sequences crowd the runtime, and many of the characters are too basic and one-dimensional. Difficult topics are mishandled with cliches, and unexpected time jumps leave the viewer disoriented to the story’s progression. Besides a handful of good scenes near the end of the film, this movie mainly talks about things without really showing them to you and fixes things without any heart behind them. In better screenwriting hands, this could have been a great exploration of relevant issues facing ordinary people, but we are left wondering what could have been.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

On the whole, the acting of this film could have been good, and while there aren’t any glaring errors, it’s still a bit thin. Better coaching would have likely brought out the potential in the cast members, and even so, it’s not as bad as it could have been. However, it’s not really dynamic either, which makes this an average section that rounds off a middle-of-the-road film.

Conclusion

In summary, Run the Race is fine for a freshman film effort, but with higher standards being set in the Christian entertainment market, new film makers will need to aim higher if they want to make their mark. Good productions have become more of a benchmark than they once were, and acting should at least be above average. The films that will truly set themselves apart moving forward are those that have dynamic plots and effective storytelling techniques. Perhaps in the their next attempt, the Tebow brothers can wield their fundraising skills to support a truly talented screenwriter.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points