Uphill Battle (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Erica Stratton wants to move on from her divorce and from the wounds it caused, but she is struggling to connect with people and to guide her teenage children in life.  She has taken up cycling as a pastime and is trying to spend more time with God, but she has mostly shut herself off from other people, except for her coworkers.  But when a fellow cyclist takes interest in her and pursues her, she doesn’t know what to do.  She is also preoccupied with trying to keep her kids out of trouble so that they do not end up like her husband.  In the end, she will have to decide if she wants to move forward or keep looking back to the painful memories of the past.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For a film of this caliber, the production of Uphill Battle isn’t really that bad.  The video quality is mostly clear, but the camera work is somewhat amateurish.  Some of the angles are awkward, while others are not.  The sound quality is inconsistent, but most of the outside scenes are filmed fairly well.  The sets and location aren’t very creative or professional.  There are flashbacks that are presented in a cheesy fashion.  In this same vein, the editing is all over the place.  In the end, the production is just average—not horrible nor great.  Unfortunately, this cannot be said about the remainder of the film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Somewhere, there is a good idea hidden in Uphill Battle.  Divorce needs to be explored on the big screen, as do addiction and post-divorce scars, but Battle just muddles all the issues.  Characters are portrayed as black and white, as either perfect or evil.  Erica is almost a mockery of women, as she seems empty and air-headed, always forgetting things and hiding from people.  Her ex-husband is over the top and unbelievable.  Other characters are mindless.  The plot meanders along with no real direction—things just happen randomly, characters talk about things without engaging the audience, and then the movie just ends awkwardly.  It seems like this was an idea that never really panned out and needed to be re-thought at the storyboard.  The good message is lost in another poorly made Christian film.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

This cast needed some serious coaching that they do not get.  They show potential that is not tapped.  Emotions aren’t believable and line delivery is either lackadaisical or overdone.  In short, this film wouldn’t have been nearly as bad with better coached actors and actresses.

Conclusion

Another film review, another wasted idea.  There are countless Christian movies like Uphill Battle that take a vague interesting concept and run with it, forcing a movie to be made without any real thought or effort put into it.  The end result is a continuously flooded movie market that further defames the title ‘Christian film’.  If you have a great movie idea, then take your time to make it great so that you can truly make a difference in culture.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Stand Strong (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Matt Webster and his family are more wealthy than the average American, and they make sure everyone knows it.  However, they don’t even like to be around each other and are always trying to find ways to cover up the emptiness inside each of them.  But when a series of adverse financial events begin affecting them, they are faced with the choice to live differently or lose everything.  Unfortunately, they do not curb their lifestyles and instead are forced to vacate their immaculate home, sell most of their possessions, and move in with Matt’s brother and his family, who do not share their lavish ideals.  In order to truly fill the emptiness inside, the Websters will have to be willing to learn and to live differently.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

The one good thing about Stand Strong’s production is the video quality—at least it’s clear and professional-looking.  However, there is really nothing else good to say.  The sound quality back and forth depending on the type of scene that is being filmed.  The sets and locations are very limited, mostly taking place inside of the two Webster houses, even though other locations are unsuccessfully attempted.  Due to the confusing editing, sometimes the viewer has to guess what is actually happening.  The camera work is only good when the camera is obviously stationary.  In short, it seems like more could have been done here, but nothing materializes.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

There is a profound point somewhere buried in this amateurish plot: people with a lot of money and not enough character often have disjointed family lives and unstable emotions, even when things seem good on the outside.  However, this point is communicated somewhat too obviously—dialogue is over-the-top and extreme, thus creating characters with lots of mood swings.  On the other hand, the ‘good’ characters are perfect robots with schedules and basements full of canned goods.  Stand Strong has the components to be a creative non-typical plot, but it is reduced to unwatchable due to poor planning.  Some parts are over-stated while others are understated, almost like this script underwent different cuts and edits at different times.  The end is not necessarily neat and tidy, but the ‘bad’ characters become replicas of the ‘good’ characters, forming their own robotic dialogue.  In the end, the idea behind Stand Strong needed to be given to a more thorough crew that wasn’t going to just throw something together to have a movie.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast seems like a collection of random people were chosen to play parts and then given no help in this endeavor.  The actors and actresses are not necessarily cast inappropriately, but no care is taken to make them palatable to the audience.  There is potential in each one of them if it is mined properly.

Conclusion

Like we have said many times before, Stand Strong is one of those movies that desperately needs a re-work and a re-write.  This idea doesn’t have to go to waste; it is interesting enough to help us overlook this movie’s negative elements to a point.  It is unfortunate that the team behind this film was not given more help or did not seek out help when making this movie.  If important messages are to be properly communicated, they must be done so in a way that people will listen.  We feel that this is done through a professionally made movie, something that Stand Strong is not.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points