Sidewalk Singer (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Kris Kivi lost everything when his family was taken in a drunk driving wreck.  Then he lost everything again when he makes a bad investment that leaves him homeless.  But while he is not liked for his homeless status, he decides to continue doing what he does best—singing.  He performs gospel songs on the side of the road for money and food.  But then he is faced with the ultimate test and he will have to decide what he will do.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

It’s clear that Sidewalk Singer has quite a limited budget.  Though video quality and camera work are fine, audio quality is a bit inconsistent at times.  The original soundtrack is unfortunately fairly annoying.  Sets, locations, and props are understandably limited.  Also, editing is quite bad as it is choppy and hard to follow.  These sorts of productions are difficult since they are so low-budget, but it seems like it would have been prudent to either wait for a bigger budget or just make a short film with what they had.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This is a very low-energy plot, which even more begs the need for it to be a short film.  The story is very boring and drab, mostly because it is a character-driven plot that contains dry and empty characters.  This is due to very uninspiring and vanilla dialogue and due to the fact that there is barely enough content here to sustain a feature-length film.  As it is, this story is very vague and hard to understand; it’s a never-ending slow full of wasted time and lacking a central purpose and point.  It’s very difficult to justify this as a full-length movie.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though there are some good spots here, the cast is mostly overly practiced in their line delivery and unnatural in their emotional delivery.  However, the cast members probably mean well in what they do.  Yet they would have likely benefitted from acting coaching in order to deepen their performances.

Conclusion

The unfortunate thing about films like this is that, no matter if the creators meant well or not, there is basically no impact from a film like this.  It is too forgettable and too bland to be of interest, which really calls into question its necessity.  It is better to make a less-expensive short film to practice your movie making skills rather than to continually clutter the market with thrift store fodder.  Please learn this lesson in the future if you are an aspiring film maker.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

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Let There Be Light [2017] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Dr. Solomon Harkins is the rising atheist star bent on destroying the faith of many because of a personal tragedy he endured that tore his family apart.  However, one night while driving drunk, he wrecks his car and has a near-death experience that rocks his worldview and alters his life’s course.  Will he be able to grapple with the new reality he has experienced or will he turn his back on God forever?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Because Sean Hannity has put his money behind this film, its production quality is almost automatically professional.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all flawless.  However, the original soundtrack is a bit much at times.  Nonetheless, sets, locations, and props are all realistic, adequate, and appropriate.  Everything demonstrates great funding and execution—the only nitpicks to raise here pertain to some minor editing concerns, as the film is presented in a choppy fashion.  But in the end, this film goes to show what funding can do to even the worst of Christian films.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, big money from a Fox News personality means big message-pushing from that personality’s unusual worldview.  Though there is a tiny amount of potential in this film, it is quickly squashed by Sean Hannity’s ego and his attempts to combat ISIS with a cellphone app.  Dialogue is mostly absurd as characters are required to make a certain number of ISIS references, not to mention advertise Sean Hannity’s ratings.  Besides this, there is too much of a strawman-atheist-has-a-conversion feel to this film and the character arcs are way too steep for reality.  Though there could have been something to this, it just boils down to a hair-brained idea thought up in the Fox News echo chamber.  This is pandering at its finest.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though this cast is mostly professional, it is hurt by over the top theatrics and forced emotional sequences, especially Kevin Sorbo doing his best David A. R. White as an atheist impression.  Granted, some of these lines leave the cast members hamstrung with no hope of making anything good out of it (“Like a selfie for God”).  Overall, the Sorbos do a decent job with this, and it’s great to see them star opposite each other for once.

Conclusion

What is one to do with Sean Hannity?  Struggling film makers need his money to make their films great again, but with money comes long strings attached.  We believe that the original idea of this film meant well—before Fox News product-placed it to death.  This is the age-old dilemma of Christian films (and ministries for that matter).  But money or no money, an idea as absurd as a cellphone app that hijacks your phone’s flashlight feature in order to combat ISIS (even in North Korea!) should never, ever be placed on the big screen.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points