The River Within (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Jason comes back to his hometown to try to study for the bar exam, he soon discovers that God has other plans for him.  He finds old friends have changed more than he thought and ponders what could have been if he had not gone to law school.  When his former pastor insists he lead the youth group, Jason is hesitant at first but soon realizes that he likes to help the youth.  As Jason slowly finds out more and more about the people around him, he begins to grasp what God really wants for his life.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For starters, The River Within is basically an average production.  Video quality is okay, as is the camera work, though there are some weird angles.  Unfortunately, audio quality is quite cheap, with loud outside sounds and too much dead air.  The soundtrack leaves much to be desired.  Editing is also an issue, as the beginning of the film has tons of useless footage, abrupt scene transitions, and awkward cutoffs.  However, despite the issues at the beginning, all production aspects of this film do improve as it goes on.  By the end, one has to wonder why it was not better at the beginning, but it does get better if you stick with it, thus making this an overall average production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Needless to say, the beginning of The River Within is incredibly boring, depicting flat characters doing stuff that doesn’t really hold the attention.  As nothing of note happens for half an hour or so, there are too many parts that have no real purpose or focus.  Good issues in the church are highlighted, but sometimes quick fixes are suggested for the problems.  By the middle of the plot, there are some strange, out-of-place attempts at comedy that make the viewer want to just end their experience.  However, if you make it to the last thirty minutes of the movie, things finally start to make sense.  Characters become deeper than they were with believable back stories and thought-provoking dialogue.  Things do not turn out the way you might think in the end.  Basically, if you can last through the first hour, the message is very good and the ending effective, though it takes forever to get to it.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Like the rest of the film, the acting starts out rough, with vanilla delivery and mumbled lines, but gets better as it goes on.  Emotions are wooden at first but become more believable as it goes on.  This was actually a decent cast, but they didn’t receive the support they needed at first.  Once again, this portion comes out as average.

Conclusion

The River Within feels like it was made for the last thirty minutes of runtime.  It’s likely that this portion was written first and then the remainder was tacked on the beginning to make it long enough.  However, this is not a winning model as most viewers aren’t going to make it to the point at the end.  Character-based plots need to be developed throughout so that the audience can get to know them better over a roughly ninety-minute time period.  Nonetheless, we feel that this film was sincere and that the creators really care about their message.  Thus, The River Within desperately needs a remake since the ideas therein need to portrayed in film.  Perhaps one day its ideas will be repackaged to have wider appeal.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

Saved By Grace [2016] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Rick’s wife is tragically killed on Thanksgiving by a madman who hates Rick’s police work, Rick is sent into a tailspin for five years and is unable to cope.  So five years after the tragedy, he plans on committing suicide on Thanksgiving.  However, his act is interrupted by Grace, a mysterious woman who needs his help getting to her family on Thanksgiving.  Rick reluctantly agrees to help her and soon finds a whole new world of possibilities open up for him.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

Johnny Remo and Skipstone Pictures have come a long way from poor productions to this quality one.  There are virtually no production errors in Saved by Grace.  The camera work is professional and effective, and the video quality is clear.  Audio quality is great and the soundtrack is good, which is a trademark with Remo.  Sets and locations are also good—there are basically no production errors in this film, which is a huge step in the right direction.  If Skipstone keeps this up, they will be going places.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though the movie begins with an attention-grabbing prologue, it quickly slows down and tends to be a bit too melancholy.  However, the struggles portrayed throughout are realistic.  The dialogue is a mixed bag—sometimes it’s too obvious while other times it builds the characters well.  Flashbacks are used effectively, as is the trademark Johnny Remo artistic flair.  However, this movie is derailed from greatness by its very simplistic storyline that is based too heavily on coincidences.  It is very simplistic and linear as the characters go from one thing to the next for the sake of the plot’s progression.  We would have liked to see more content, deeper subplots, and further development in order for this movie to be all that it could have been.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Though this cast is small, it is very professional.  Each actor and actress is cast appropriately and delivers their roles effectively.  Emotions are believable and line delivery are flawless.  In short, there are virtually no acting errors, which is another major step for Skipstone.

Conclusion

Johnny Remo has always had an ability to create films that have unique feels to them, and this is true about Saved by Grace.  Where in the past his teams have struggled to post good productions and casting, both of these areas do not suffer in this film.  However, the lack of substantial plot content really keeps it from being all that it could be.  We know that this movie means well and was properly supported with the resources it needed, but in order to take the next step, the Skipstone team needs to invest more time in their plots.  Even slight improvement will land them on the Hall of Fame, so we look forward to their future projects.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

 

 

Full disclosure: We were provided by the creator with a copy of this film in exchange for a fair and honest review