In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for. Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here. Someday we might post more, if we’re fortunate enough to find more.
The Adventures of Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure
Oh, Mickey Matson. Why does this series exist? I guess someone pitched the idea of a juvenile young-adult patriotic secret society action adventure suspense secret codes National Treasure concept copycat film to PureFlix and they liked it because they don’t usually have any standards (see Divine Will). So they found the most redneck characters ever to play the villains and wrote out a bunch of mumbo jumbo about secret codes to make the story look interesting. Then they thought it would be cool to throw in some kind of cockamamie machine invention doohickey that does alchemy or something. Basically, this sort-of-non-Christian action adventure film is just too far over our heads to warrant a full review, especially since we can’t make heads or tails of what we’re supposed to learn from it.
Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson
Oh, there’s another one? To think they meant to make more of these like PureFlix’s own version of a poor man’s young adult film franchise. Seriously, is this all they could come up with? More redneck villains and stupid props! More devices, doohickeys, and junk science! More secret societies and secret codes and secret secrets! More terrible special effects! If a non-Christian saw this, they would laugh you out of the room. This non-franchise should have been left at the storyboard.
Road to the Open
This isn’t really even a Christian film at all, just another random cheap inspirational film that PureFlix endorses. It was so boring to watch and the only reason we did was so we could see John Schneider and Eric Roberts play an alpha-male star tennis team. They were barely in the movie as it was, which was a real bummer, and they weren’t even that funny, even though they tried. Oh well.
Well that’s all for now! Maybe we’ll post another one someday…maybe not…
When his wife and kids are tragically murdered by local racists, Bob Collins decides that God doesn’t care about him anymore and gives up on his faith. His brother and family continue to try to get through to him, but all to no avail. Jake Knight was there the night of the murders and feels guilty about the part he played, even though the corrupt sheriff has pardoned them all. All of their lives must intersect as they come to grips with the harsh realities of life—and the power of forgiveness and redemption.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
With a modest budget behind it, Gallows Road definitely demonstrated effort in production. The video quality is good throughout and the camera work is above average. Audio quality is fairly good and the soundtrack is interesting enough. Sets and locations are slightly limited and there are some inconsistencies throughout. As with most independent productions, the biggest problem relates to the lack of editing. The plot meanders too much with no direction. Scenes are disjointed and appear to be unrelated to each other. This will be discussed in depth next. Basically, the tools are here to make this a great production, but they are not used, thus causing it to be stuck at average.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
In an endeavor to be too big of a plot, Gallows Road falls flat. As previously mentioned, there are too many subplots that have very loose connections to each other. There’s actually nothing inherently wrong with the subplots themselves, but they need to be synthesized and fleshed out better than they are. There are actually quite a few profound ideas hidden among this frustrating plotline, but they easily get lost. The characters of these subplots are intriguing, but we hardly have a chance to get to know any of them as the story skips around so much. The premise seems a little bit thin at times and needs to be bigger and bolder. The message of Gallows Road is actually quite powerful, presenting important issues such as broken families, bitterness, racism, and addiction. Yet these themes needed better packaging in order to drive their point home. The ending is slightly interesting, but again, it needed more thought put into it. To sum things up, Gallows Road is sitting on a gold mine of content that failed to be mined. Some parts are enjoyable, while the rest of them are extremely frustrating.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Despite having the creepiest cast member of all Christian film, the acting of Gallows Road is the strongest part of the film. A few other cast members definitely need to be replaced, but otherwise, there is a lot of positive here. Emotions are mostly believable and line delivery is effective. Costuming is culturally appropriate. In short, this is a great acting performance that should be common place in Christian film.
The trailer for Gallows Road is ten times better than the film. It also paints a deceiving picture of what the plot is actually about. Nonetheless, it had the potential to become a major small town epic by tackling local racism, prejudice, and addiction at the gritty level. But alas, it became another film that fell short of its full potential. It seems like this idea should have been put on hold if the resources were not available to make it as big as it should have been. The subplots need expanding and synthesizing and the overall feel of the movie needs to be more epic. If there’s such a thing as Christian movie remakes, please remake this one.
When Christian teacher Grace Wesley is sued by a student’s parents for daring to mention the name of Jesus in her classroom, she is confused as to what is even happening to her. Yet, inspired by the wisdom of her ailing father whom she takes care of, Grace refuses to back down and begins working with her union-appointed lawyer to fight back in court. With her faith under fire, Grace’s case draws the attention of many from the town of Hope Springs, including Pastor James White David Hill, who serves on the jury. As Grace’s beliefs are attacked and tested over and over again, she must dig deep to withstand the world’s onslaught so that Christianity is not snuffed out forever.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
In the new era of PureFlix, video quality and camera work are no longer in question. The sets, locations, and surroundings are respectable. The musical score is average. On the surface, God’s Not Dead 2 looks like a professional film, but there are many hidden issues therein. Of the high profile Christian movies we have reviewed, this is possibly the worst edited one to date. The many-subplots addiction from God’s Not Dead and Do You Believe? is back, and this time, they are more empty than ever. As will be discussed next, there long sections of this movie that consist of characters staring into space and attempting to sing. Essentially, this was just a lazy production effort that looks good on the outside but not on the inside.
Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
In this plot, Christian characters are very perfect in every way while atheist characters are hopelessly evil. What’s more, atheists are borderline ridiculed, giving an embarrassing feel to the film. Subplots jump all over the place, confusing the viewer. The premise and other plot happenings are unrealistic and cannot be reconciled with reality. The storyline is saturated with legal rhetoric that is either only half-true or isolating to the audience. Besides these glaringly obvious issues, the plot does not hold the attention and is very drab. There are many slow and melancholy scenes that seem to be designed only to pad the runtime. Large portions of the film are dedicated to advertising apologetic books and other Christian ‘celebrities’. While there is a lot of good information in these product placements, it flies over the audience’s heads and is not remembered. With all this wasted time, there is zero character development, therefore we cannot even appreciate the struggles that are portrayed. In addition, the dialogue is chock-full of swipes at atheists and ‘worldly’ people. The ending is very empty and anticlimactic (despite desperate attempts) and even includes an off-the-wall post-credits scene. Basically, David A. R. White and company just phoned this one in, hoping that the title name recognition would garner them some more cash.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
While this section is not all bad, there is a lot of monotone acting in this film. In another attempt to create buzz by trotting out C-grade ‘big name’ actors and actresses (in addition to the typical PureFlix clowns), this attempt basically flops. Most of the characters carry a Hallmark-ish look to them, with far too much makeup and costuming. Other cast members are just blank—even though they show potential, there’s no one to draw it out. In the end, there is really nothing new here.
In our experience, the world portrayed in this film has never existed. This is not to diminish the plights of some, but the realm PureFlix constructs in many of their films is over the top and outside of reality. Rather than preaching to the choir with a juvenile us-against-the-world narrative that further divides Christians and atheists, the money spent on these types of films would be better spent on films that actually strengthen the church as a whole and tastefully address how American Christian behavior can improve. No one will be saved as a result of God’s Not Dead 2. Christians will not be inspired to grow closer to God as a result of viewing this movie. I would never recommend this movie to a non-believer because the creators give no concern to opposing points of view. Since we as Christians have the truth, we have no need to force it down people’s throats with no regard for their feelings. Delegitimizing someone else’s beliefs has no place in the gospel message. Yet with an awkwardly placed post-credits scene, we are all but promised more of the same nonsense from PureFlix. This is not the direction Christian film needs to go in and now more than ever we need someone who will stand up and combat the image movies like this one project.