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

A Horse Called Bear (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Ethan’s mother dies in a car wreck, he inherits everything she owned, especially her horse, called Bear!  Therefore, he decides to forsake all of his other possessions and his college scholarship to learn ‘computers’ and go to live with his aunt and uncle so he can be near his new horse.  As he wrestles with his life’s purpose and meets new friends, Bear is always there to bring them all together.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

This is likely one of Crystal Creek Media’s best productions, as it has good video quality and professional camera work, although some of the camera work tends to be too artistic.  Audio quality is fine, though the soundtrack is incredibly boring.  The same old sets and locations from all the Crystal Creek films, with some exceptions, are used again.  Finally, there are a lot of editing problems, including too many lagging scenes and not enough fluff being edited out.  There are too many repeated and useless sequences, as well as scenery sequences, that just fill time.  Basically, though they have made some strides, they still have some work to do.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It’s extremely difficult to grasp the purpose of this film.  The plot summary above is basically it, sans a few extra rabbit trail subplots that never seem to come to anything.  There are too many meandering and disconnected elements, thus causing the story to overall lack focus and direction.  From one scene to the next, it is hard to tell what is really happening or what the viewer is supposed to focus on.  Dialogue is extremely formal and empty at the time, thus creating cardboard characters.  There are too many trite and plastic Christian platitudes with no substance or meaning behind them.  Next time, the Crystal Creek team needs to give better scrutiny to their plots before letting the movie go to production.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Utilizing the same cast members over and over again can be cheap and easy, but it doesn’t pay off unless you have some serious acting coaching.  With this many films under the belts of these cast members, they should be getting better with experience, but they’re not.  There is a severe lack of emotion among this cast and too many lazy performances.  Unfortunately, this is another disappointing effort.

Conclusion

We still believe that the Crystal Creek team has good intentions—they just need a lot of direction and deepening.  They certainly persevere as they continue to put out film after film.  Since they have this drive, we ask that they use each film as a learning opportunity to get better and better.  Their production skills have slightly improved over time, but other areas are still suffering.  Perhaps as they continue to truck along, they will keep learning how to get better.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Christmas Grace [2013] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Gary is a local toy shop owner, but when a rude rival toy shop owner comes to town and tries to sabotage Gary’s business, Gary suddenly has to close down and look for work elsewhere.  He knows that he shouldn’t be angry so he trusts God for the next step in his life.  As his wife has their first child, Gary suddenly has an idea for a business venture and decides to pursue it.  But little does he know that the rival toy shop owner is still miserable inside…

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

There’s not much to get excited about with this production.  The only positive thing to mention is the clear video quality.  The camera work is poor and some scenes have bad lighting.  The audio quality is quite inconsistent, including an annoying Christmas soundtrack and sound effects.  The sets and locations are limited and seem amateurish.  Furthermore, the editing is quite choppy—some scenes are too long while others are too short.  In short, there is really nothing much good to say here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

In an attempt to include more plot content, the writers had to also include large time jumps, spanning from one Christmas to the next (since everything has to happen at Christmas time).  While there are slight attempts to be spiritually meaningful, there is too much heavy-handed messaging.  There are also some slightly interesting flashbacks that attempt to build characters, but a majority of the characters are still cheesy stereotypes.  This is mainly because the dialogue is very pedestrian and stock.  This is not to mention the fact that the entire premise of the film, which is warring toy shops, is absurd and unrealistic.  There are other happenings that are equally unrealistic, created for the sole purpose of the plot.  In the end, this plot is quite predictable and needs to be reworked.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The casting work, unfortunately, brings out the amateurism of the creators.  The acting is extremely wooden and stiff and line delivery is quite forced.  There are really no emotions to speak of.  Perhaps the worst part is the makeup, especially the eye makeup, which makes some people look like they have black eyes.  Basically, there’s nothing good to say here.

 

Conclusion

The creators of Christmas Grace seemed like they meant well, but they needed to choose a more realistic premise for their plot.  Honestly, in the advent of online ordering, nobody shops at toy stores anymore.  Yet the provision of God during hard times could be communicated in a different way that is less cheesy and more realistic.  At least there was some slight justification for this being a Christmas movie, and it definitely could have been better.  This creative team has some potential in them, and it will be interesting to see what they do next.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points