My Brother’s Keeper [2021] (Movie Review)

My Brother's Keeper - IMDb

Plot Summary

When Travis Fox returns from war, the trauma of combat still haunts him, especially the death of his Christian friend.  Nonetheless, Travis has sworn off Christianity altogether, wanting to move on with his life.  However, the past won’t leave him alone, and new complications with Travis’ family don’t help matters.  Will he ever be able to find peace?

Production Quality (2 points)

In keeping with most Christian productions that have come out since 2018, My Brother’s Keeper is mostly professional.  Video quality, camera work, and audio are all in line with industry standards.  For the most part, sets, locations, and props are acceptable although they sometimes don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to portray.  The biggest concern in this section is the choppy editing as some scenes cut and transition in awkward ways.  Thus, this portion of the film receive a slightly above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Throughout this narrative, the conversations and scenes come off as overly staged and unnatural, such as the forceful dialogue and messaging (including overt sermonizing) that leaves nothing to chance.  These problems are only complicated by the many subplots that are juggled, which causes the story to lack focus.  As a result, every character is a one-dimensional representation of an issue rather than an actual person.  Despite potentially good PTSD flashbacks, these experiences are a bit overwrought instead of providing opportunities for the audience to connect with the character.  Elsewhere, events in the narrative happen just because the writers want them to, and this extreme level of convenience causes the plot of aimlessly meander through a sea of empty platitudes and disorganized ideas.  It goes without saying that there are also some very questionable portrayals of dual relationships and counseling ethics.  In the end, there’s unfortunately no potential in this story, leading to zero points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Despite acceptable line delivery, the emotions in this movie’s performances are very over-the-top.  This is evidenced by lots of yelling and screaming, and it’s generally hard to believe that the cast members care about what they’re doing.  Many of their performances are robotic and practiced although there are some bright spots.  In the end, due to the errors, only a small score is warranted here.

Conclusion

My Brother’s Keeper is essentially another Christian issue screenplay, this time focusing on PTSD.  Normally, this would be a good idea, but adequate research and firsthand accounts are needed to keep mental health portrayals realistic.  There are many complex factors to consider, so crowding out this concept with subpar content isn’t the way to go.  Unfortunately, this film is unable to connect with the audience, which likely means that it will be forgotten in a few weeks.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

My Brother’s Keeper (March 2021)

Coming to theaters March 19, 2021 from Manns/Mackie studios

Writer(s): Ty Manns

Director(s): Kevan Otto

Producer(s): Robert C. Bigelow, Troy Duhon, Joel M. Gonzales, Robert Katz, Bishop Charles Mackie, Ty Manns, Pat Mathews, Brandon Riley

Starring: Joey Lawrence, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Robert Ri’chard, Gregory Alan Williams, T. C. Stallings, Shannen Fields, Blue Kimble, Karen Valero, Jeff Rose, Ty Manns, Derrick Gilliam, Stephanie Katz, Delone Manns, Nate Jones, Justin Clark, Roz Williams, Amberiell Hudson, Jermal Martin

Plot Synopsis: Travis Fox is a returning veteran struggling with PTSD and his faith in God.

Small Group [2020] (Movie Review)

3 Things to Know about Small Group the Movie

Plot Summary

R. Scott Cooper is a struggling documentary film maker, but he gets a big break when an investor pays him to move his family to Georgia and go undercover as a local church member. While in disguise, Scott is supposed to record everything he sees using a special pair of glasses. However, halfway through the assignment, Scott and his wife begin to change their minds about the scheme as things in the small group aren’t what they thought. Will they have the courage to do what’s right before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a 2020 production, Small Group‘s is nearly flawless. Video quality, audio quality, and camera work are all on point. The sets, locations, and props are well-funded and well-utilized. There are no lighting problems, and the soundtrack is acceptable. The only thing keeping this section from being perfect is the poor editing, but this is likely a byproduct of a bloated plot. Hence, this section receives a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite a somewhat forced premise, this narrative has a surprising amount of potential, starting with the mostly realistic portrayals of people in churches. Some comedic scenes are actually funny due to pretty good dialogue, and the writers raise a lot of legitimate points about institutionalized churches. Nonetheless, the storylines struggles with being more than just a collection of funny sequences that are strung together without specific focus. The ‘villain’ is a total strawman, and certain things happen because the plot requires them to, causing the characters to be swept away in the circumstances and hitting on all the expected points. Although there are too many characters and subplots to adequately focus on in one film, some scenes occur for no reason at all except to fill time. Trying to do everything at once causes the narrative to leave behind a lot of unfinished ideas; it feels more like a series than a movie as some elements come completely out of left field and don’t fit with the overall purpose (if there is one). The sheer amount of content in this story is overwhelming for the audience, and some humor is just ridiculously obnoxious. However, though the ending sequence is rushed and tends to magically fix its problems via unrealistic coincidences, the conclusion is better than the beginning if you make it there. Therefore, this sliver of potential, in addition to pretty good characters, keeps this section from being zero.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Much like its production, Small Group‘s acting is actually quite good. Though some cast members tend to have overdone lines and emotions, all performances get better as they go. As a whole, this section exhibits a lot of professionalism and rounds out a big mixed bag.

Conclusion

This screenplay’s central problem is that it can’t decide if it’s about hidden problems within the American church, quirks of American churchgoers, ministries and corruption in Central America, and people doing silly stuff together. Surprisingly, despite the jumbled plot, there’s actually hope for Small Group…in series form. There’s simply too much going on here to make a less-than-two-hour film. Had a series been made instead of a movie, this idea would have had more room to authentically develop. As it is, based on its heavy marketing push, Small Group unfortunately feels like another Christian entertainment cash grab.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Rumors of Wars (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

As Roxy, a college student, witnesses the slow but sure takeover of a one world government, she chronicles her thoughts, beliefs, and discoveries in a detailed journal that is eventually discovered by agents of the new world order.  Shaw 408, the agent who discovers the journal, is unsure of his role in the takeover regime and finds himself intrigued by the journal’s contents.  As Zurn, the leader of the new regime, tightens his grip on the world by ordering everyone to receive a microchip inserted under their skin, the world descends into chaos.  Who will survive?

 

Production Quality (3 points)

It’s clear that the Bearfruit Films team has a commitment to high quality productions, as their effort on Rumors of Wars shows in every production element.  Video and audio quality are error-free.  The original soundtrack is effective and appropriate.  The apocalyptic sets, locations and props are excellent.  The action-based camera work, which is often difficult to execute, is done quite well.  Finally, there are no obvious editing errors, thus making this a perfect production job.  This is rarely found, so we greatly anticipate Bearfruit’s future work.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Rumors of Wars is a unique brand of apocalyptic storyline that actually doesn’t bite off more than it can chew by trying to cover tons of apocalyptic high points.  Instead, the story stays in a controlled atmosphere to build a good dystopian premise without jumping through time too quickly or zooming all over the world.  The mixing of the past and present subplots is interesting and is done fairly well.  However, this overall concept needs a little more explaining and development.  The characters are most okay, but some of the villains are cheesy.  Surprisingly, the antichrist character is actually different and creative.  Finally, Rumors of Wars does commit a key apocalyptic error in creating a passive-aggressive this-might-be-continued-someday ending.  But otherwise, there is a lot of potential here and room to grow.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Full of recognizable actors and actresses, this cast is a mixed bag.  Sometimes they are over the top and other times they are very much on point.  For example, this is not T. C. Stallings’ best performance, but Ben Davies is better than usual.  It’s different from cast member to cast member, thus making this an overall average performance.

Conclusion

This whole idea would work so much better either as a series of films or as a miniseries.  There are a lot of creative ideas and concepts hidden in here that require further development, which necessitates more time and money to do this.  We hope that one day this movie concept can be continued or remade in some fashion.  Regardless, Bearfruit Films has a talented team, so it will be interesting to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points