A Christmas Snow (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Kathleen hates Christmas and thus likes to make her restaurant staff work all the time on the holidays.  But she likes Andrew, so she decides to help watch his Christmas-loving (and slightly obnoxious) daughter, Lucy, while he completes a business trip before the holiday.  So when Kathleen and Lucy get snowed in with a random guy who saved Kathleen from some hoodlums in a parking lot, Kathleen thinks her life is over, especially when they are forced to play board games that remind her of her parents.  Will they ever be able to make it through the day?

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The good thing about this film is that is has high production quality.  Tracy Trost and her team are usually committed to this, and it shows again in A Christmas Snow.  The positive elements include good video quality and camera work, as well as adequate audio quality and an okay soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are fine and are mostly utilized well.  There are really no glaring errors to note here.  There are just some small issues pertaining to some choppy cuts and transitions, but this is not enough to derail the production.  On the whole, this is an applaudable effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the plot of this film.  It is based on a stereotypical holiday-hating-character-is-forced-to-like-the-holidays-because-of-some-outside-event plot sequence.  It would be one thing if the characters were fine, since this is a character-based plot, but that is not the case here.  The main character in particular is quite obnoxious, as are some of the supporting characters.  This is mostly due to absurd dialogue and ridiculously forced comedy, such as statements like ‘chickatarian.’  There is really nothing creative about this story as it depicts a collection of random characters stuck in a house during the holidays again.  While there are some attempts to use flashbacks to build the characters, they fall flat.  The character arcs are far too steep, and the Christian message is too vague.  Unfortunately, this is a swing and a miss.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

For a majority of the film, the lead actress and the child actress of this film are quite annoying, in keeping with the characters they play.  This is demonstrated through forceful emotions and stiff line delivery.  They are clearly trying too hard, while other cast members just come off as off-beat.  Needless to say, this movie will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Conclusion

There was a good idea behind this movie, this much must be noted.  Trying to develop a grumpy character through establishing flashbacks can be a great way to present a nice holiday story, but A Christmas Snow does it all wrong.  Unfortunately, although the production was good in this film, it was wasted on a poorly written story and off-putting acting.  Maybe next time, Tracy Trost and her team will improve upon their past films.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

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The Christmas Candle (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The people of Gladbury have always looked forward the Christmas when an angel comes and blesses a candle at Haddington Candlery.  The tradition of the Haddington family has always been to give the blessed candle to someone in need, since the candle has special powers to give that person what they needed.  This Christmas, with a skeptical new pastor in town and more requests than ever for the fabled Christmas Candle, the Haddingtons feel like they’re in over their head.  This only gets worse when Edward Haddington trips the night the angel blesses a candle and causes all of his candles to scramble in a mess on the floor.  Now, with no way of knowing which candle is the blessed one, Edward and his wife Bea decide to give a candle to everyone on the request list and hope for the best.  But little do they know that there is far more in store for them this Christmas than they could have ever imagined.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

Echolight Studios has always put together top-notch productions, and The Christmas Candle is no exception.  The video quality is very clean and the camera work is extremely professional.  Audio quality is excellent, including an epic original soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and historical props are very realistic and appropriate.  The editing is flawless and presents the plot seamlessly.  In short, Echolight has always thrived with productions, but this is perhaps their crowning achievement.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

Adapted from a beloved Max Lucado novel, this plot is far better than one might expect from a Christmas storyline involving angels touching candles.  It is extremely character based and driven by excellent dialogue.  Though there are numerous characters and subplots, they are handled extremely well and are threaded together wonderfully.  There are some excellent points raised throughout, including a balanced view of miracles versus good works.  The issue of the angel blessing the candle is actually presented in a palatable and even believable way.  The only problems to highlight here are some convenient plot coincidences and one too many silly magical elements.  Otherwise, this is a masterpiece storyline and stands as an example of how non-Biblical Christmas plots should be written.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The Christmas Candle utilizes a very professional cast, yet their ‘big names’ do not give excuse for lackluster acting.  There are virtually no acting errors here, as each member of this very well-rounded cast is coached well and delivers their lines and emotions superbly and effectively.  As a side note, each actor and actress is also cast appropriately for their characters, which is a rare feat to accomplish.  In summary, this rounds out a job well done.

Conclusion

With The Christmas Candle, Echolight has finally found their way home.  For years they have searched for a great plot to combine with their excellent production quality, and they have finally achieved this.  Max Lucado has also taken his career to a new level, as this film actually improves upon his original work of fiction.  It’s refreshing to know that there are quality Christmas movies in the Christian field instead of all the usual garbage that is forced upon us.  As we come around to Christmas Day, let’s just enjoy the fact that there is still hope for Christmas films.

 

Final Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points

Home Run [2013] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Cory Brand is a seemingly successful baseball player, but he has an anger problem on the field and an addiction problem off the field.  Following the advice of his agent, he decides to return to his hometown to reconcile with painful memories of the past.  As a part of the deal, his agent signs him up for an addiction counseling group at a local church in order to work through his issues.  Cory’s brother, still a resident of the hometown, takes him under his wing to help him, but Cory doesn’t want any help.  He shuns all help until he is forced to come face to face with the choices he has made and people he has hurt.  He must deal with his personal hurt and learn to love again if he expects to change his ways.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Home Run is produced fairly well, especially where the camera work is concerned.  The video is clear, but some of the shots are awkward.  The editing is confusing and it seems like there is a lot of unnecessary content in the film.  The flashbacks put a strain on the film, although flashbacks are usually a positive aspect to assist the film.  However, in Home Run, they are accompanied by annoying flashes that isolate the audience.  While the audio quality is good, the soundtrack is uninspiring. In short, the production of Home Run is a nice try, but not good enough.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

For starters, it is commendable to make a movie dealing with the troubled personal lives of athletes, along with highlighting addiction issues in popular culture.  The counseling aspect is interesting and the gospel message is well-communicated, but it also seems like an advertisement for Celebrate Recovery.  Outside of this, there is not much good to say.  As previously mentioned, the flashbacks are an interesting touch to give background to Cory’s character, but they are not done well and seem to repeat too much.  There are too many characters that are not well-developed; some characters are so vague that they are easily confused with other ones.  The dialogue is lackluster and contains unnecessary profanity.  Most of the subplot conclusions are hard to understand.  In short, Home Run was an interesting idea that never materialized.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

There is a severe absence of acting coaching in this film.  The acting is not glaringly bad, but there is little positive to bring up about it.  A lot of the delivery is forced and the emotions are not believable.  It seems like this movie would have been better with better acting.

Conclusion

Alcohol addiction is an uncomfortable topic that needs to be dealt with appropriately on the big screen, especially from a Christian perspective.  Proper counseling also needs to be portrayed as necessary for people from all walks of life.  Home Run attempts to do all of these things, but their attempts fall short.  It seems like they forced this movie to happen for the sake of the issues, but the only thing that happened was just another forgettable film with a Christian tag on it.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points