Currently in pre-production from LightWorkers Media
Writer(s): Brian Egeston
Director(s): Sean McNamara
Producer(s): Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Autumn Bailey-Ford
Starring: Dennis Quaid
Plot Synopsis: After a small-town pilot dies unexpectedly while flying the plane, passenger Doug White is forced to land the plane safely in order to save his entire family. Based on an astonishing true story, On a Wing and a Prayer follows one man’s harrowing journey to save his family from insurmountable danger.
Producer(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Kurt Warner, Brenda Warner, Mark Ciardi, Kevin Downes
Starring: Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, Dennis Quaid, Virginia Madsen, Ser’Darius Blain, Adam Baldwin, Bruce McGill, Danny Vinson, Chance Kelly, Hayden Zaller
Plot Synopsis: This film tells the true story of how Kurt Warner went from a grocery store employee to becoming a star NFL quarterback. The plot is based on Warner’s memoir, All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the First Miracle Season.
Every year, movies and series are released, and cast members show off their talents. Writers and directors showcase their creativity. Films and series are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those entertainment creators and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.
Bart Millard always loved to sing, but he grew up in a broken home. His mother left while he was young, and his father beat him and told him he would never amount to much. When Bart failed high school football due to injuries, he and his father spent as little time around each other as possible. Out of this, Bart began singing in high school plays and was told that he had a special talent for the stage. This led Bart to pursue a career in Christian music, but life on the road was hard. When he was forced to make a pivotal decision at a crossroads in his career, Bart was finally faced with having to go back to reconcile with the person he came to hate the most: his father.
Production Quality (3 points)
What else can be said about the talent of the Erwin Brothers at this point? They have clearly mastered production quality, especially when it comes to historical epics. The attention to detail in I Can Only Imagine is exquisite. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are flawless. With Brent McCorkle involved, the soundtrack is always going to be a hit. Sets, locations, and props in I Can Only Imagine are excellent and demonstrate wonderful historical authenticity. This content-packed epic is edited nearly to perfection. In short, it’s rare to have a perfect production, but the Erwin Brothers are still schooling the industry in how it’s done.
Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)
Naturally following their epic film Woodlawn, the Erwin Brothers seem to have found a niche in biopics. The story of Bart Millard is one that is absolutely worth being told, especially since so many people are familiar with MercyMe and their original breakout hit single, which is the title of this film. What some audiences may not expect is the profound and timely message this film has to offer. This film is more than just another inspirational film to grab cash from a willing audience. In typical Erwin fashion, I Can Only Imagine is the film the western church needs now. Besides this, the characters are very realistic, authentic, and easy to access via believable dialogue and back stories. Each character is flawed and gray rather than black and white. There are really no errors to point out here as the Erwins have masterfully captured another poignant true story in the context of film.
Acting Quality (3 points)
The Masters of Casting did their homework once again in crafting a cast that was true-to-life to the real people behind the story. Each actor and actress is cast appropriately and assume their roles very well. Costuming is excellent and correct for the time period. Dennis Quaid likely posts one of the performances of the year as a very complex three-part role. In the end, there are little to no errors to raise about this film, which has become the norm of the Erwin brand.
I Can Only Imagine receives an x-factor point for presenting an extremely important issue in a realistic way. Audiences will flock to this film on the basis of its title recognition alone, but many will receive a message they least expected, yet one that the church as a whole desperately needs. Many, many Christians and those associated with the church are running from parts of their lives that are broken and are not always their fault because they do not know how to deal with them. I Can Only Imagine brings this paradigm to front and center at a time when the message of redemption for broken families needs to be heard. Also, in keeping with their perfect record, the Erwins have notched another one on the Hall of Fame and have possibly taken the top spot of Christian film.
Ad avid surfer living the dream in Hawaii, Bethany Hamilton always sought to know God better and to improve her technique on the waves. She had her life planned out fairly well: surf and compete. What she least expected was having her arm horrifically bitten off by an unforeseen shark one day while surfing with friends. After being rushed to emergency care, Bethany began a slow recovery process, but in the midst of this, she discovered that her life would never be the same again, for her passion—surfing—was suddenly next to impossible for her. She is forced is come to grips with both her faith and her dreams and discover what her true purpose in life is.
Production Quality (2 points)
With an obviously large budget and professional production teams at work, Soul Surfer looks great on the surface. Its marketing campaign was backed up by beloved Hawaiian scenery, captured by professional camera work and clear video quality. There is no question that the sets and locations are professional, and the scenery is diverse. Sound quality is excellent, especially in the many outside scenes. The soundtrack is intriguing and attempts to capture the local culture. The biggest issue with this production is the one that plagues the entire film: poor editing, which is coupled with a blurry and confusing storyline. With this level of professional production crews, the editing should be far better than it is. Scenes are largely understated and meaningful segments are cut short to jump to more Hawaii landscapes. The editing makes it hard to follow the actual purpose of this film. There are too many time jumps and wasted scenes. Overall, the production is clearly professional, but the editing unfortunately holds this movie back from being all that it could be.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Based on a great true story of Bethany Hamilton, whom we maintain is an excellent Christian role model, Soul Surfer falls short of capturing the depth and meaning of the true story. Realistic events obviously happen throughout, but we cannot help but think this movie would have been less realistic were it not bound by real life events. In the midst of Hawaiian beaches, surfing lingo, wave scenery, and surfing competitions, the characters are left shallow and wooden. The audience cannot connect with them as real people—they are just characters that are swept along by the plot. Dialogue is stiff and procedural, leaving much to be desired. The plot ebbs and flows, sometimes hitting high points and missing them other times. The Christian message is vague at first, then becomes very clear and meaningful, and then fades away again. The ending is interesting enough, but it just ends up washing away like the tide (pun intended). The audience is left thinking that they should like the movie because it’s a Christian movie based on a true story, but Soul Surfer is actually quite forgettable and disappointing. True stories are usually undiscovered treasures when it comes to the big screen, but Soul Surfer is just another average film.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Someone thought that putting together a collection of semi-big-name actors and actresses would make this movie work, and there is really nothing glaringly wrong with this cast, but like the rest of the movie, they leave much to be desired. Their professionalism only carries them so far—they needed to perform better. Line delivery is mostly good, but emotions are hard to connect with. A lot of the acting comes off as stiff and procedural, just collecting a paycheck. With big name talent comes big responsibility.
As we have mentioned before, true stories should be among the best of Christian movies. Whether viewers or creators realize it or not, audiences everywhere connect better with a movie that’s about real people like them who experience real stuff. But after experiencing Soul Surfer, the audience doesn’t really learn anything else about Bethany Hamilton except that she surfed and stuff. This is no discredit to her as a person, since she is likely a nicer person than we are. But we remain opinionated as always: while still an average movie, Soul Surfer disappoints expectations.