Reconciliation [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Grant Taylor (not the football coach) is a soon-to-be father who finds himself distracted and confused by wounds from his past.  Specifically, he feels scarred by the way his father treated him and is bitter at him for leaving his mother so he could become involved with another man.  Grant never forgave his father and allowed the unforgiveness to poison his marriage.  Thus, his wife encourages him to go see his dying father in the hospital when she receives a call about his condition.  Grant reluctantly goes and discovers that nothing is always as it seems.


Production Quality (2.5 points)

Even though this is a somewhat underfunded amateur production, a lot of good effort was put into it to make it high quality.  Almost every production element in as professional as it should be—video quality, camera work, and audio quality included.  The soundtrack is also interesting and creative.  Sets, locations, and props are mostly good, with only some minute errors.  The same goes for the editing, as there are a few lagging parts.  However, overall, this is an excellent production, especially considering the limited resources.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

At least a part of this film really does mean well, but the good message is too easily derailed by the obvious and forceful way it’s presented.  Dialogue is too in-your-face, and there are too many character stereotypes and cringe-worthy caricatures, especially of the gay characters.  This seems to be a problem in Christian film.  Though there are plenty of good ideas and realistic circumstances here, it needs some major refining and toning down.  Subtly and ambivalence is the key here.  There are many interesting points raised here, especially through flashbacks, that are often packed incorrectly.  The characters definitely have potential, but they need more development.  In the end, this was a good idea that needed a lot longer look than it was given.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This cast is semi-professional, and they are mostly fine in their performances, especially in their line delivery.  However, emotions tend to be all over the place—they are sometimes awkward and forced and other times too flat.  Yet overall, this is an average performance that makes this film basically average.


Many a film has started with a good idea and even good production like Reconciliation, yet it doesn’t have the necessary elements to close the deal.  This is fine as a first-time film, but it’s still frustrating to see movies like this rise up and fall back down, short of their potential.  Yet maybe this creative team will build off of this movie and make a better one in the future.  One never knows what is coming next in the Christian movie market.


Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points


Vanished: Left Behind Next Generation (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In one instant, millions around the globe disappear, leaving everyone else to wonder what just happened.  Four friends find that all they have in the world is each other as they embark into the wilderness to search for one of their own.  As they journey into the new landscape, they are forced to take refuge at a survivalist compound that seem safe on the outside, but is it really all it appears to be?  In this new world, can anyone be trusted?


Production Quality (2 points)

EchoLight has always had a commitment to quality productions, but in Vanished, the quality slips slightly.  Video quality, audio quality, and camera work are all professional except for some dizzying action shots.  The soundtrack is pretty good but is sometimes used to fill time.  Sets and locations are on par.  However, there are some cheap-looking special effects, as well as weird ‘dramatic’ sound effects.  There are also too many bouts of silence and too much slow-mo.  Finally, there is tons of wasted time as this film is designed to set up for the inevitable next one.  In short, EchoLight knows how to make an above-average production, but with Vanished, one has to wonder if it was worth it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

After an opening sequence that dumps all kinds of information on the audience, things start happening at a rapid pace for the first twenty minutes before you can even catch your breath.  After throwing a bunch of random characters together and trying to force you to get to know them too quickly, the plot soars off on a predictable apocalyptic progression that’s been done before and tries to hurriedly construct an isolating dystopian premise.  Then when everything is set, things slow way down to let you be immersed in a half-hearted teenage love triangle.  As previously mentioned, there’s not enough dialogue as one-dimensional characters wander around and make apocalyptic references and things happen because they need to.  The entire storyline is based on coincidences and trumped up conflict as time progresses vaguely towards a cheesy climax and uninspiring end that is supposed to make you want another movie, but fails epicly.  In short, there is little justification for this movie being made.

Acting Quality (2 points)

While it’s clear that this film was professionally cast and the cast members therein know what they’re doing, there’s still a handful of problems.  Some emotions are too forceful and some line delivery is half-hearted.  It also goes without saying that there is little chance the mainstream actors and actresses used in Vanished will come back for a supposed sequel.


Do we really need to re-hash this same old apocalyptic plot sequence over and over again?  How many more times do we need to repackage and reboot the same worn out Left Behind concepts and characters?  This time, it’s clear the creators were pandering to young adult audiences.  Maybe it’s time to stop constantly trying to redo Left Behind, because this movie would have been better if it had just created its own dystopian premise and abandoned Left Behind altogether.  Had the survivalist concept been expanded and the apocalyptic landscape been made a little more creative and mysterious and less copied, we could be looking at the start of a truly great saga.  But instead we are left wondering what could have been.


Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points