Tulsa [2020] (Movie Review)

Tulsa (2020)

Plot Summary

Tommy is a troubled ex-Marine with several substance abuse problems, but now, Tulsa, a girl in the foster care system, is claiming that Tommy’s her father. Thus, Tulsa’s social worker decides to go against her superior’s advice and forces Tommy to take Tulsa on a trial basis. Tulsa wastes no time trying to reform her alleged father so that he’s ready for the home visit. Will Tommy be able to turn around his life before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

The beginning of this 2020 production is rough, including shaky camera work and inconsistent audio quality. The video is consistently clear, but the lighting tends to go back and forth. While the soundtrack is interesting, it sometimes is shocking in the way it’s introduced. Editing also leaves something to be desired as it’s choppy and discombobulated. However, there’s enough improvement in the second half of this film to justify an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It seems like the whole point of Tulsa is to get to a certain point that the writers wanted to get to, but to do so, they move very fast and commit a number of errors. An entire subsection of problems relates to violating reality for the narrative’s sake. For instance, the foster care system is portrayed in unrealistic ways in this movie. Some characters bend rules to make things happen, and there are a lot of seemingly purposeful ethical problems that have to occur for the plot to reach its forced conclusion. Besides these unforced concerns, the story generally meanders without purpose, filled with blank scenes that waste time and add no value. It sometimes seems like things keep going in circles just to fill time, which doesn’t justify a nearly two-hour runtime. The titular character is basically perfect, but her co-lead makes random decisions without logical reasons, and he suddenly changes for no reason. Though unexpected flashbacks suddenly appear in the screenplay’s second half that provide potential for character motive, they’re too little too late. There are not a few unearned dramatic moments, and unexpected things sometimes happen just because the writers’ agenda needs them to take place. Whatever they were trying to convey is lost in translation and poorly communicated, leading to a rushed conclusion that leaves the viewers empty. Hence, Tulsa joins a long line of forgettable Christian films.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the acting is actually the strongest aspect of this movie. Despite some portions being unsure, other parts are fine. Line delivery and emotional performances are mostly believable and on point. However, it’s not enough to lift Tulsa from the basement.

Conclusion

It’s 2020, and low quality Christian entertainment continues to be a mainstay in the field. We’re long past the days where generic inspirational movies with passable productions and casting can be the market standard. It’s time for the next generation of film makers to turn the arena on its ear by doing something different. When the right people allow God to correctly apply their talents, things will finally begin to change.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Virtuous [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Simone Burner is attacked by the grandson of a powerful man, she is arrested for the grandson’s murder and mostly everybody in the city turns against her for no particular reason.  Therefore, she has to seek out the help of an estranged attorney who doesn’t really like her as her last resort.  Meanwhile, there are tons of others subplots are all going on at the same time as other random characters are briefly introduced who have very loose connections to the original point.  With so much going on, the question is not what will happen, but will anyone understand what is happening?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Virtuous has a professional and adequate production, as evidenced by clear video quality, good camera work, acceptable audio quality, and an intriguing soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are professionally chosen and presented.  On the surface, it seems like Virtuous checked all the necessary boxes to receive a passing score.  However, the major detractor here is the horrific editing.  Somewhere in post-production, someone needed to sit down and have a serious talk with the JC Films team about whether or not it’s justified to have a 150 minute film that has next to no continuity.  This was the editor’s job; however, this was not done, and thus, it leaves a gaping hole in this film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As previously mentioned, this perhaps the most convoluted and non-continuous plot in all of our viewing days.  With hundreds of subplots that have very little connection to one another, there is no way to make sense of what is going on as the story hops from one random thing to the next.  There’s all kinds of intrigue with this local judicial and law enforcement system and how corrupt businessmen are trying to control stuff, plus some stereotypical down-on-his-luck who takes on a seemingly impossible case that has some ties to a non-profit involving Erin Bethea, and this doesn’t even cover the random guy in the hospital and the nurse who takes care of him who also has a questionable position on the jury of the original trial.  This previous run-on sentence doesn’t even cover all the points Virtuous tries to expand on.  It’s like twelve different people all had ideas and decided to shove them all together into one bloated film.  With so much going on, there is no hope for character development as dialogue is stunted and all over the place.  The only characters that stand out are strawmen villains, unfortunately.  Yet despite all of this massive blending of concepts, there is a really interesting idea somewhere lost in the fray that would be better served in a miniseries format.  It’s disappointing to see good ideas go to such waste, especially when it’s like this.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

With so many cast members, it’s really hard to keep up.  This is an unusually large cast for a Christian film, thus making the performances inconsistent and random.  Sometimes line delivery and emotional delivery are good, while other times they are not.  Overall, it comes out as fairly average.

Conclusion

When you’re in the process of making a film that is over two and a half hours and you actually have the budget to make a film this long, perhaps you need to stop and consider: with so much content, I should make this a series!  People love series: just look at the unexplainable success of When Calls the Heart.  Why not, instead of making a cumbersome film like this one, try something different and create an interesting genre-busting Christian series.  It would be a huge hit.  Yet once again, we are left wondering what could have been.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points