Pieces of Easter {Backroads and Lillies} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

While high-power executive Alza Bennet is on her way to see her parents, her sister, and her niece and nephew for Easter, who car breaks down, which leads to a serious of disastrous events, including her being stuck with a reclusive country farmer as her only option for transport.  Since she has not seen her family in over a year, Alza is desperate to get there on time, but things keep happening that delay their trip, not to mention the fact that she and her driver cannot get along at all.  But slowly, Alza begins to see the joy of simplicity away from her fast-paced life, even though she hates to be inconvenienced.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Over the years, Kelly’s Filmworks has certainly improved their production quality.  In Pieces of Easter, video quality and audio quality are what they should be.  There are still some trademark Jefferson Moore artistic camera angles, but that’s his brand at this point.  The soundtrack is also random and cheesy and is seemingly made up of free music.  However, sets, locations, and props, are authentic and more diverse than usual.  Finally, the poor editing mostly holds this production back from being better.  Thus, it must be rated as average.  Though this is an improvement from the past, we still feel that they can do better.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Pieces of Easter is a better version of the typical Jefferson Moore two-character conversation plot because things actually happen outside of the drawn-out conversations, and they are actually less drawn out than usual and are broken up by some attempts at comedy.  However, not all of the comedy is funny and some of it is quite forced.  Though this storyline is a stereotypical fish-out-of-water plot, it is presented better and is likely as good as this type of limited story is going to get.  This is likely because attempts were made to develop the characters through dialogue, although they could be deeper.  The biggest drawbacks to this plot are the overly-plentiful dead scenes and goofy montages.  There are too many slow parts that don’t hold the attention and too many references to off-screen content.  Overall, though this is a nice try, it really doesn’t make it far enough.

Acting Quality (2 points)

With some slightly different than usual cast members, the acting is the strongest portion of this film.  However, some lines are still mumbled and some emotions are still over the top.  However, most cast members are placed in appropriate roles.  This overall rounds off a decent performance.

Conclusion

The Moores and the Kelly’s Filmworks team certainly never gives up.  They have been on a steady upward trend throughout their career.  Pieces of Easter is a far cry from low-quality productions like The Perfect Stranger saga and Clancy.  It demonstrates real effort to improve, which is encouraging.  With just a little but more work done on production, some continued casting quality, and more creative plots, this team will finally make their mark on Christian entertainment.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

Advertisement

The Stranger [2007] (Series Review)

Seriously?

Plot Summary

You never know where Jefferson Moore is going to pop up and solve all of your problems.  Whether you’re looking for hope, having trouble with a professor, need some interpersonal assistance, need a boost of faith, or any other issues, Jefferson Moore is there to fix the conflict in less than thirty minutes.  If you look close, you might be able to see his robed cameos.  In short, this is basically a series for the sake of having a series.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

For the first of The Stranger, production quality is extremely poor, so much so that it barely warrants its creation.  The typical soft light obsession is present and lighting is very poor throughout, especially in the indoor sets.  Video quality is quite grainy, and audio quality is terrible, include a loud and clunky soundtrack.  There are strange and awkward zooms throughout as well.  Though the production improves in the middle of the series, it’s far too little far too late that does nothing remedy the past offenses.  Finally, there is no editing as all content is included.  As we will see next, that’s not saying much.  But essentially, the production of this series is so bad to start with that there is no justification for its existence.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Must like its copycat series The Encounter, The Stranger follows a formulaic and predictable model for each of its episodes.  Each one is full of meandering boring conversations and is based around a shallow story concept.  Not much happens as Jefferson Moore shows up to fix stuff, so you know exactly what’s going to happen just by reading the episode description.  The characters are empty and stereotypical—the dialogue carries an annoying Christian message and is full of platitudes and trite sayings.  As expected, there are also a lot of quick fixes to problems.   It makes it all the more childish that things are fixed in less than thirty minutes apiece.  In the end, there is little to no reason to write these juvenile and disconnected stories just for the sake of having a series in which everybody already knows what happens.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Much of this cast demonstrates forceful and annoying acting.  They exhibit unrealistic emotions and lazy line delivery.  While there is some good here, it is still overshadowed by unprofessionalism.  Also, as we have mentioned before, Jefferson Moore is basically Bruce Marchiano’s predecessor, and all that that entails.  Basically, this is just another lazy effort.

Continuity Quality (0 points)

When the same thing happens over and over again in a series of episodes, there is no hope for continuity.  With such a long list of disjointed characters, there are no story arcs or character arcs present.  This type of series may be easy to replicate, but it’s certainly forgettable.

Conclusion

After The Perfect Stranger and Another Perfect Stranger, was there really a need for a series about Jefferson Moore doing the same things that are in these movies?  As if the first two films were even interesting at all, now we get bonuses.  Of all the movies that could have been made into series, this was the one that broke through and got the funding.  For heaven’s sake people, please demonstrate some originality.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 14 points

Another Perfect Stranger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Nikki’s original encounter with Jesus Christ, her daughter Sarah grew to resent her mother’s new faith commitment.  Now, over ten years later, Sarah plans to rebel against the faith of her parents by going to make her own life at a far off art school.  As Sarah takes a trip to visit the school, she is ‘coincidentally’ sat beside a mysterious stranger on the plane (multiple times).  The more she talks to Him, the more she begins to feel her heart soften.  What will she learn before she reaches her destination?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Though the production of Another Perfect Stranger has improved from The Perfect Stranger, that’s not really saying much.  Video quality and camera work are the most marked improvements; audio quality also shows steps in the right direction.  However, the soundtrack is quite stock.  Sets are still severely limited, but the most is made of them.  The Kelly’s Filmworks team still has a weird obsession with soft lighting that becomes annoying.  As for the editing, there are too many filler scenes and too much wasted time.  Essentially, while things are progressing in the right direction, it’s still difficult to see why productions this simplistic are so hard to nail.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

For starters, this title is stupid.  Naming a sequel movie ‘another something’ is so cheesy, but in this case, it’s not even true, because it depicts the same Stranger from the first installment, not a different one.  Anyways, Another Perfect Stranger begins with a useless recap of its predecessor, as if we missed something.  Once again, this second installment is full of uninspiring dialogue that speaks of lots of off-screen content and creates convenient plot turns.  Though this movie is again about two characters talking on a wide range of topics, we still don’t really get to know them very well.  With so few characters, these should be deep characters, but they only seem vague in the end.  However, their conversations do improve throughout the film and there are some good points raised, even though there are a number of odd comments and asides that seem out of place.  But what this plot really comes down to is the fact that there is simply not enough plot content to sustain it, as it is basically a stuck-on-a-plane plot that doesn’t involved the Rapture.  We want to like it, but just can’t find many reasons to.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Jefferson Moore, like Bruce Marchiano, has a Jesus complex; however, Moore might be a better actor than Marchiano when all is said and done.  Other cast members in Another Perfect Stranger are okay.  There is some over-acting, but emotions are overall believable.  Line delivery is mostly average.  Overall, this is an average effort with a small cast.

Conclusion

The Perfect Stranger saga is the definition of untapped potential.  The saga is based on a very simple idea that needs to be taken farther in order to have full effectiveness.  As they are, these films are just cute little Christian movies that people might smile about and then completely forget about.  Christian film makers need to strive to be dynamic and groundbreaking; we need to get out of our little bubble and go make a different with our movies.  An encounter with Jesus should be a difference maker, not another pedestrian effort.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points