Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare (Movie Review)

Trafficked: A Parent's Worst Nightmare (DVD) - Kino Lorber Home Video

Plot Summary

When Allison goes missing on her birthday and doesn’t turn back up, her parents become very worried. The police won’t do anything for 48 hours, so Allison’s parents do the only thing that any reasonable person would do: contact an old friend from college who deals drugs and happens to know a shady private investigation group that has questionable ethics, such as impersonating police officers and breaking into people’s houses without permission. Allison’s grandmother uses a good portion of her retirement to fund this dubious operation, and time is running out to find Allison, who has been taken by human traffickers.

Production Quality (1 point)

After a long opening sequence wastes time, this film’s remaining production doesn’t get much better. Video quality is acceptable, but camera work and lighting are quite inconsistent. The audio leaves a lot to be desired, such as a very loud and distracting soundtrack as well as awful special effects. Sets, locations, and props are fine, but the editing is quite poor. Some scenes awkwardly cut off while other sequences are very disorienting. In the end, despite slight improvement with time, this section is still below average, which is unacceptable for 2021.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This plot’s main strategy is the shove one thing after the next onto the audience without any continuity. Most events happen because the writers want them to, and some occurrences are quite unrealistic, such as the questionable legitimacy of the narrative’s shady investigative force and their possibly illegal actions. Many scenes come off as overly staged, and the many confusing subplots easily become discombobulated. There are a lot of moving parts in this story, and characters have no chance to be developed due to musical montages and mindless conversations. The villains are stereotypical and over-the-top, often using unnecessary expletives. The Christian message in this movie is fairly vague, and there seems to be an unnecessary political tilt. Overall, with unforced errors and basically no potential, zero points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Most of the time, the acting in Trafficked is trying way too hard. Line delivery and emotions are much too forceful. Performances come off as overly practiced and unnatural. Despite slight improvement with time, only a small score is warranted in this section.

Conclusion

This screenplay is a true embarrassment for 2021. How much longer must we endure such drivel? Besides a juvenile portrayal of the otherwise serious issue that this human trafficking, this film chooses to give credence to shady and questionable operations wherein people take the law into their own hands. This should have been a major red flag for anyone who thought about investing in this movie. It’s still unbelievable how projects like Trafficked even get funded and make it to the public release, but it’s high time that we see fewer of them.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Skydog {Lifestone Velocity} (Movie Review)

Skydog - Crystal Creek Media Crystal Creek Media

Plot Summary

Josh never knew that his father was killed in the line of duty as a CIA agent nor that his mom and her boyfriend are also CIA agents. However, these secrets are revealed to Josh, along with his real name, Colt Lifestone, when his mother goes missing in action. The CIA is trying to track down biochemical weapons that a rogue terrorist group has seized with the help of a corrupt CIA agent. Thankfully, however, the CIA is in need of a few willing teenagers to help them find the turncoat before the bio weapon is released on the whole city!

Production Quality (.5 point)

In 2020, Crystal Creek Media still hasn’t improved their production quality. Skydog (formerly known as Lifestone Velocity), sports weird video quality and poor lighting in some scenes. In keeping with previous trends from this production team, the audio of this film is all over the map, including a generic soundtrack that sometimes cover up other sounds, background noises that distract the viewers, ridiculous sound effects that are added on top of the video, and overdubbing that’s extremely obvious. Elsewhere, special effects are horrible, and camera work is wild. Sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited; all of the aforementioned production elements don’t adequately portray what they’re supposed to represent. To cap things off, the editing is terrible…some scenes prematurely cut off with no warning while others drag on for no reason. In the end, despite some slightly improvement as the movie goes on, this section is just another failed effort from this team.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

During the screenplay’s opening twenty minutes, so many things happen that the audience becomes very lost on what the narrative is actually about. The plot needs to pick a lane and stay in it as it’s trying to do tons of things at once, such as vague government agency stuff that’s hard to follow and is likely not very accurate to real life. With many characters to keep up with, it’s hard to relate to any of them, especially since some of them do odd things without legitimate reasons. Bland and vanilla dialogue depersonalizes them, and a convenient lack of communication between some characters allow certain things to occur that wouldn’t otherwise. On this note, the story often decides what needs to happen and forces it to take place without logical reasons. Lacking focus or purpose whatsoever, Skydog is full of the most ridiculous action scenes and outcomes, including outrageous things that the extremely cheesy villains get away with in broad daylight. Also, it’s unclear why the CIA would ever trust teenagers with government secrets, which demonstrates a lack of understanding of how things actually work in the real world. Therefore, due to many unforced errors and absurd elements, no points can be awarded in this category.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Like other acting performances from this team, many of the cast members in Skydog are trying too hard. This produces robotic and cardboard emotions as well as stiff and stilted line delivery. A lot of the scenes seem overly practiced with certain performances coming off as really strange. However, despite poor injury acting, this section isn’t all bad. There are some acceptable elements, but they aren’t enough to save this film from itself.

Conclusion

Much like previously unsuccessful offerings from this company (Creed of Gold, Unexpected Places, Courageous Love, The King’s Messengers, A Horse Called Bear), Skydog is just more of the same from Crystal Creek. They’ve never significantly improved throughout their tenure in Christian entertainment, which is unacceptable from a group that consistently puts out content. At this point, it’s unfortunately unclear where this team is headed, but we don’t have high hopes for their future.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Courageous Love {Rather to Be Chosen} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Alex Shelby inherits his father’s real estate investment company, he feels like he is in over his head because he does not know how to lead.  But he decides to trust in the experienced people who assisted his father all of his career.  However, when he is faced with an impossible situation involving accusations against an employee of his that he is falling in love with, Alex will have to make hard decisions as he tries to discover who is really trying to sabotage his company.  Will love win out in the end?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

While Courageous Love is an improved production effort compared to the track record of Crystal Creek Media, it is still just average.  For example, video quality and camera work are fine, but inconsistent audio issues still plague this film, which is an error Crystal Creek has yet to rectify in their films.  Also, the soundtrack is very stock.  In this film are many of the same limited sets from Unexpected Places, especially the office sets.  Finally, the editing of Courageous Love is very sloppy, with very confusing and abrupt transitions and cuts.  Overall, while this production looks better than the past ones, there are still commonly recurring issues that plague it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Unlike past plots from this studio, Courageous Love has an interesting and slightly complex idea behind it, even though it gets severely covered up by incompetent writing.  There is really no way to follow what’s happening as the audience is presented with a dizzying amount of unconnected and underdeveloped subplots.  From one scene to the next, there is little continuity or understanding of what is happening.  Many sequences and scenes are empty and wasted, doing nothing to deepen the story.  This story’s characters are one-dimensional, act disingenuous, and demonstrate no real purpose or personality as they are driven by mindless dialogue.  Finally, the plot rests on unrealistic yet extremely convenient occurrences in order to make the story go where it ‘needs’ to go.  In short, while we believe the Knudsens and company have good intentions, their messaging is all wrong.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

While this is another film filled with the same old under-coached Crystal Creek cast members, there is still some potential here.  Tim Kaiser seems to be improving with time.  However, there are still many errors that plague this section, including useless fake accents and overdubs and the usual emotion and line delivery problems.  This group may mean well, but they are in severe need of coaching.

Conclusion

After a handful of movies under their belt, has the Crystal Creek team really made it anywhere?  Following such poor productions like Unexpected Places, Indescribable, Christmas Grace, and Creed of Gold, they are just now getting the hang of a proper production, even though they still have a ways to go.  But what of their writing?  We sincerely implore the Knudsens to reach out for help in this area, because whatever good ideas they have are being wasted as they are lost in translation.  Furthermore, please find some new cast members or at least try to coach the ones you have.  Movies like Courageous Love are easily forgotten for all of the previously listed reasons.  If you want to make an impact, aim for quality over quantity.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points