Diamond in the Rough [2019] (Movie Review)

Diamond in the Rough (2019) - IMDb

Plot Summary

With both her parents struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues, a young teenager is struggling in her faith. At one point, she finds herself homeless, but her spiritually strong grandmother is able to help her. In time, several lives converge together in a way that only God could orchestrate.

Production Quality (.5 point)

For a number of reasons, this production is quite low-quality. One area of concern is the camera work, which includes tight shots. While video quality is acceptable and the soundtrack interesting, audio quality is generally inconsistent, revealing obvious background sounds and overdubs. Also, lighting is terrible in the cheap sets and locations. Further, the editing is quite choppy. Thus, with only a small amount of potential, only a meager score can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Because the scenes of this plot are all over the place, it’s hard to know what timeline is being shown to the viewer. One event happens after another, contributing to a vaguely meandering storyline that lacks focus and direction. Average dialogue and conversations that are full of Christian platitudes do nothing to deepen otherwise shallow characters. Random asides waste time and generally make no sense, and several mindless sequences and montages accomplish nothing. In general, there are too many useless and dead-end subplots, and there are some narrative continuity errors that are caused by the confusing time jumps and mixed timelines. Eventually, the film ends with a very abrupt conclusion that lacks warning. Thus, with no potential, this section cannot receive any points.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Half of the cast members are acceptable in their performances while the other half is not. Some actors and actresses are overly dramatic, unnaturally forcing their lines. Certain scenes come off as overly staged. However, there is enough positive in this area of the screenplay to justify an average rating.

Conclusion

There might have been some good intentions in the creation of this movie, but the experience is too isolating for the audience. It’s unclear what the writers wanted to convey, so any otherwise interesting message was lost in translation. Perhaps, if this creative team is given another chance, they can do better.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Found. (Movie Review)

Found | Christian Movies On Demand

Plot Summary

When several police officers find a teenage boy who was raised by elderly people in the Appalachian Mountains, hard decisions must be made, especially since the boy has no living guardians. One of the police officers decides that she needs to take the boy into her home, which changes the family’s life forever.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

In some respects, this production is professional, such as the good video quality and acceptable sets, locations, and props. However, camera work is slightly inconsistent, and the audio quality is uneven, including background sounds, echoes, and loud portions of the soundtrack. Further, there is not much editing present, but there is some slight improvement throughout the production elements that is enough to warrant an average rating.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

At times, this narrative seems interesting due to its believable and authentic characters that are developed with realistic dialogue. Additionally, the Christian message is not too obvious while it’s still present. Nonetheless, there are plenty of concerns to note, such as time-wasting montages that make the central focus of the plot hard to grasp. The storyline feels like a collection of random scenes, and it seems like that the writers naively believe that being raised in remote areas away from civilization is whimsical, causing those in this lifestyle to become more spiritual than people in civilization. As a result, some key subplots are too muted and only referenced by characters rather than being shown to the audience. Several elements are too vague and never full explored although the creators expect one to care about these factors. Also, the narrative seems to sometimes make convenient decisions for the characters even if these actions are contrary to the characters’ motivations. These missteps lead to a rushed and forced conclusion that means nothing to the viewer due to lack of proper build-up. In the end, slight potential that’s drowned out by quite a few pitfalls leads to a meager score for this section.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The acting is actually the strongest aspect of this film as there are few errors in this section. The adult cast members demonstrate authentic emotions and line delivery. However, some of the younger actors and actresses post performances that leave something to be desire, thus bringing down this section’s overall rating.

Conclusion

It would have been better for this screenplay to focus on the pros and cons of civilized vs uncivilized living rather than glorifying one lifestyle over the other. There could have been timely lessons learned from this type of philosophical exploring. However, perhaps in their future projects, this creative team will build upon what they have begun here.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

One Last Prayer (Movie Review)

Watch One Last Prayer | Prime Video

Plot Summary

David is struggling to keep his family together, which causes him to waver between doing things God’s way and the temptation to handle things himself when he can’t afford treatment for his daughter’s rare cancer. Will David turn back to God before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1 point)

As a whole, this production is substandard due to various factors, including shaky camera work. Audio quality is also poor due to an overpowering soundtrack and loud background noises. Sets, locations, and props are also cheap although video quality is acceptable. Further, editing is fairly choppy as some scenes are cut off while other scenes drag on too long. Nonetheless, there is slight improvement with time, so this is enough to warrant a meager score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The first half of this narrative contains much incoherent meandering, thus lacking focus and purpose and not accomplishing much at first. Despite the otherwise relatable circumstances, characters are generally blank and vanilla due to underwhelming and uninspiring dialogue. Rather than developing characters, time is wasted kicking the can down the road and pushing a patriarchal message. Although Christian platitudes are used to bandage serious problems, the writers employed a surprisingly good use of flashbacks and accurately portrayed the effects of trauma. Nonetheless, better build-up to key scenes is needed to make the impact more significant. In the end, therefore, because of slight potential that is drowned out by other concerns, only a small rating can be awarded to this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the acting in One Last Prayer is average. Some instances are overly practiced and muted while other performances have some effort behind them. It seems like certain cast members try harder than others, so the acting is not all bad. The performances tend to improve as the film progresses, leading to an average score.

Conclusion

This screenplay falls in line with a host of other forgettable projects. Nothing memorable connects the audience with the characters, and there are a number of avoidable pitfalls. Hopefully, we will continue to see fewer of these types of movies in the future.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

Blessed & Cursed (Movie Review)

Watch Blessed and Cursed | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Deitrick Haddon dreamed of becoming a gospel singer, but family duties complicated his desire to do so. Some people in his home church didn’t trust Deitrick because of his checkered past. However, Deitrick insists that he has changed and is on a mission to prove what God has done in his life.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, this production is mostly good, including fine camera work and acceptable sets, locations, and props. However, there are some slight audio concerns, such as background sounds, obvious overdubs, and general inconsistency. In some situations, there are wild action shots and shaky camera work. There are also a few noticeable continuity errors. Further, editing is quite terrible as some scenes cut off prematurely while other scenes are pasted together without effective transitions. In the end, due to the mixed-bag nature of this production, an average score is warranted.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Blessed & Cursed offers a realistic look at internal church problems and long-term ministry corruption. Nonetheless, the narrative presentation is a disaster, including dizzying montages that waste time and various disconnected scenes. Although good points are raised about people being in church leadership for too long, characters are generally one-dimensional. Despite somewhat interesting dialogue, the writers push legalistic worldviews that emphasize odd views of women, music, and relationships. In general, the plot doesn’t have any substantial focus or flow, thus preventing it from living up to its fullest potential. Hence, only a small rating is awarded to this section.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the acting of Blessed & Cursed is average or better. Despite some moments of drama and sensationalism, certain cast members are better than others. At times, line delivery is a bit forced. Nonetheless, there is enough positive in this section to justify an above-average score.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the writers of this film had good intentions, but the presentation is poor. Additionally, the prevailing worldview in the story is not much different than that of the characters who are portrayed as antagonistic. Thus, though there are standout portions of this screenplay, it’s overall underwhelming and forgetful.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Buying Time [2019] (Movie Review)

Buying Time (2019) | Full Movie | Jake Head | Drew Garrett | Nathan Bell -  YouTube

Plot Summary

In the future, when Christianity is outlawed in America, a father tells his son the story of how the father was saved by Jesus Christ. However, the son does not buy any of it until things become more personal. Will the son turn to the faith before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1 point)

In this unwarranted sequel to Lay It Down, made nearly two decades after the original, the production isn’t much better than the first. This includes loud and overdriven audio, annoying sound effects, disorienting special effects, dizzying camera work, and terrible lighting. Additionally, video quality is inconsistent, and there are some tight shots throughout. Though sets, locations, and props are cheap, editing is actually fine. Also, in an ironic twist, the portions that are copied over from Lay It Down have fine production quality, which is the main contributing factor to this section’s score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Oddly, this narrative is centered around a rehashing of the main plot points that were found in Lay It Down, making it the film more of an advertisement than an actual sequel. Acting as a cheap commentary for Lay It Down, this story does little else than go over the main points of the older screenplay. At some points, it seems like the writers were trying to be purposely weird and creepy, attempting to conceal a deep secret until the end by simply wasting time. As such, the conversations go in circles, and mindless dialogue kicks the proverbial can down the road, thus creating blank characters. The antagonists are the most evil bad guys ever, and the circumstances therein are generally unrealistic. The movies arrives at the main point way too late, and while the conclusion is somewhat interesting, it’s just not enough to save this narrative from itself. Therefore, zero points are awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 points)

Much like the production section, the acting portions that are copied over from Lay It Down are actually acceptance. However, these are the only positives that keep the acting of Buying Time from being dismal. In this sequel, there is much yelling and screaming. Many performances are trying too hard to be dramatic, sensational, and generally over-the-top. Therefore, this rounds out an overall mediocre element of the film.

Conclusion

Strangely enough, Buying Time is rated higher than Lay It Down mainly because the portions of the first screenplay that are inserted into the sequel showcase the better aspects of Lay It Down. Thus, in a weird twist, the predecessor falsely props up the successor. All this aside, there’s really no reason why anyone should watch either of these films. Both are a waste of time and money.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Lay It Down [2001] (Movie Review)

Amazon.com: Lay It Down - DVD : Sean McEwen, Nathan Bell, Jake Head,  Alandra T. Ortis, Lisa Cash, Rick Loya, Michael Gier, Bill Atwood, Austin  Ellingson, Nick Valenzuela, Robert Lyon Rasner, Alana

Plot Summary

Ben and Pete have always been close as brothers, and they used to have a hobby of illegal street racing together. However, when one of them comes to the Lord, a rift develops between them. Will they reconcile before it’s too late?

Production Quality (.5 point)

Between very cheesy special effects, quick cuts, and disorienting transitions, this viewing experience is a chore. To add insult to injury, lighting is inconsistent, and the generic soundtrack is sometimes too loud. However, audio quality is otherwise fine, and camera work and video quality are acceptable except for wild zooms, blurry flashbacks, and randomly shaky scenes. Thus, with a small amount of potential, only a tiny score can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This film is full of in-your-face message-pushing via dialogue that’s full of platitudes and sloganeering. The Christian characters are very perfect while non-Christian characters are very bad. The writers seemed to contrive circumstances that were designed to scare people into being saved, and they chose to portray an instant conversation-to-persecution cycle. Following his conversion, the protagonist becomes the most perfect Christian ever, and other Christian characters are Bible-verse-bots that don’t react with normal human emotions. What’s more, lots of time is wasted on seemingly endless racing sequences. In the end, there is really no potential in this section, thus earning zero points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Some of the acting in Lay It Down is fine while other parts include acting that is trying too hard. Certain performances come off as robotic due to mechanical emotions and line delivery. There are also some annoying bouts of yelling and screaming that seem unnecessary. Overall, with some good and more bad, a sub-par score is warranted here.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the creators of this screenplay had a conversion agenda. They took a moderately interesting story idea and ruined it with propaganda-level messaging. Additionally, production and acting problems dragged the movie down further. Thus, Lay It Down is a relic of an era of Christian entertainment that we hope to move past.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Godsend [2021] (Movie Review)

Godsend (2021) - IMDb

Plot Summary

One day, a man wakes up under a bridge with no recollection of how he even got there. Thus, with no identification or memory of his former life, the man becomes instantly homeless. Mistreated by the system, the man has no one to turn to but God. Will the man ever regain what he lost?

Production Quality (.5 point)

This production has many pitfalls in it, such as terrible editing that sometimes cuts off scenes, causes obvious continuity errors, and creates poor transitions. Also, audio is overdriven, and there is a generic soundtrack that, at times, covers up over audio, possibly by design. Despite okay video quality, camera work is wild, including weird camera angles and tight shots. Special effects are cheap, and sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited. Due to all these concerns, only a small score is warranted in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

In Godsend, the writers actually explore an interesting tale of how someone can suddenly become homeless and therefore be on the receiving end of prejudice and discrimination. However, it’s very unrealistic how and why people are rude, and this fact is facilitated by over-the-top “bad” characters that hate the protagonist for no reason at all. Obvious dialogue leaves nothing to chance, and several occurrences are mostly unbelievable and implausible, thus demonstrating a poor understanding of how institutions really work, such as the legal system. Also, a fundamentalist view of Christianity taints the messaging even though there some very interesting concepts to ponder in this narrative. There was a lot of potential to portray the struggles of real people, but the slight possibilities that were inherent to this idea are placed in a poor package. Therefore, because of the unrealized potential, a meager rating is awarded here.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Between extremely forced emotions and out-of-sync line delivery, the acting in this film leaves much to be desired. Many scenes appear to be done in one-take, and performances are generally mechanical. However, a tiny amount of potential in some of the cast members keeps this section from receiving a score of zero.

Conclusion

Once again, the JC Films team wasted an otherwise good idea. Imagine what would have happened if they had refrained from making so many screenplays and instead made one or two good ones. However, as their quantity-over-quality assembly line approach continues, we’ll probably never know what could have been.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

The Man Who Went to Heaven (Movie Review)

Watch The Man Who Went To Heaven | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When David Burrows is fatally shot in the line of duty as a security guard, he is rushed to the hospital but medically dies. However, David comes back from the other side with a wild story to tell. Will anyone believe his experiences in the afterlife?

Production Quality (1 point)

This film contains another sub-pair production due to shaky camera work and inconsistent audio quality that includes loud sound effects and background sounds as well as a stupid free soundtrack. There are also some very tight shots and terrible special effects. Nonetheless, this section is kept from being worse by fine video quality and acceptable sets, props, and locations. Thus, a meager score is awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

In a generally off-the-wall storytelling style, this narrative is full of mindless sequences that don’t accomplish anything. The writers managed to squeeze content out of nothing and filled the runtime with total nonsense as the plot jumps all over the place. Thus, it’s very difficult to keep up with the timelines. Dialogue is ridiculous obvious, and the overt message-pushing produces blank characters. There are also too many characters in general. There is no focus or purpose in this story, and there is a bizarre tone that overshadows everything. In the end, with no notable potential, zero points is the appropriate rating for this aspect of the film.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Surprisingly, the acting of The Man Who Went to Heaven is not horrible. However, this doesn’t mean that the performances are any more than generic and average. Line delivery and emotions are okay but not dynamic. Therefore, an average scored is awarded here.

Conclusion

At this point, it’s painfully clear that the JC Films team will continue to pump out random screenplays however they can. It’s commendable to base movies on source material, but the JC Films model just isn’t the way. Thus, there’s nothing further to say here as constructive criticism has no effect on this team’s choices.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

One Life at a Time (Movie Review)

Watch One Life at a Time | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When a troubled teen is forced to work at a homeless shelter to atone for his misgivings, he doesn’t care about the people at all at first. However, he slowly begins to change as he spends more time around the people at the shelter. Will he change before it’s too late?

Production Quality (.5 point)

This production is fairly low quality due to loud background sounds, echoes, and a generic soundtrack that drown out other audio. Light and camera work are inconsistent, and special effects are bad. Acceptable sets, locations, props, and video keep this section from receiving no points. However, editing is choppy, thus rounding out a poor effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

One Life at a Time contains one of the stupidest ever portrayals of ‘bad kids,’ which are strawmen. It feels like the writers were very tone deaf and didn’t understand how the real world works, especially when it comes to unrealistic legal proceedings, perfect Christian characters, and young people using social media. In general, all the characters are empty due to mindless and robotic dialogue, and there’s no reason why some of them hate homeless people so much. After weird psychological sequences give way to very steep character arcs as people are fixed too easily. In the end, with no potential, this section receives no points.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

As a whole, the acting in this film lacks conviction. Many cast members don’t really seem to care about what they’re doing. Line delivery and emotions are bland and vanilla. Some scenes contain acting that it a bit too extreme. However, there is a tiny amount of improvement with time, which is enough to keep this aspect of the screenplay from being zero points.

Conclusion

Once again, the JC Films team has demonstrated that they care more about dumping more and more Christian movies onto the market than actually creating quality projects. These creators don’t care about heeding advice and will continue to do what they want at the expense of the reputation of Christian media.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

A Horse for Summer (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The Walsh family is struggling financially because of their overly expensive horse boarding farm. Matters are complicated when a troublemaking cousin is forced to live with them due to her mother’s criminal activity. Together, the must all learn to trust God no matter what and to not take matters into their own hands.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, this film has an average production. Despite fine video quality and acceptable camera work and lighting, the audio quality leaves something to be desired. This is due to loud background sounds and a generic soundtrack. Also, editing is somewhat choppy although sets, locations, and props are good. This mixed bag of elements leads to the run-of-the-mill rating.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

This narrative is unfortunately filled with expository dialogue as each scene is overly staged. Every conversation is robotically engineered to spoon-feed the audience and leave nothing to chance. A major component of this is forceful Christian messaging and convenient sermonizing about how going to church will fix all your problems as well as other cheesy platitudes. Some sequences make absolutely no sense, and tons of wasted time drowns out whatever small prospects there are in potentially realistic character backstories. The writers expect the viewers to care about the characters, who could have been good, without properly developing them. In the end, issues are fixed way too easily, and with nothing significantly positive to note here, no points can be awarded in this section.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Most of the time, the acting in A Horse for Summer is quite bad. The performances are very mechanical and lack conviction. Emotions are empty, and line delivery is procedural. Many cast members seem unsure in their acting, but not all of them are unconvincing. There are some moments of good performing, especially from some actors and actresses. Thus, a small score can be given here.

Conclusion

In the end, this screenplay was extremely formulaic in its creation. This idea has been done time and again, and although this movie had some potential to be different, it didn’t live up to this. Thus, A Horse for Summer becomes just another throwaway film that will be forgotten.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

The Committee, Season 1 [2015] (Series Review)

The Committee (TV Series 2015– ) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Park Grove Community Church is in trouble. The executive committee is meeting to determine the future of the church, and the most powerful businessman in the congregation wants to dissolve the church. However, a long-time member wants to save her home church, so she asks a random Christian entertainment star to join the committee and revitalize the church. What ensues is a lot of conflict and healthy dialogue about the purpose of the local church.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of The Committee is acceptable. Video quality and audio quality are fine. However, camera work is plagued with modern sitcom tropes, like mid-shot zooms and shaky perspective camera angles. Sets, locations, and props are a bit limited due to the genre as well, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. Further, editing is also fine, which further contributes to the above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The writers of this narrative raise good points about the local church being out of touch. The dry comedy therein is sometimes funny and other times cheesy. Dialogue and conversations are sometimes interesting, but much of it is overly engineered to cover certain topics and force the characters to talk about the issues in seemingly unnatural ways. As a result, the characters oscillate between being stereotypes and being realistic. There was plenty of potential in this plot, but it would have been better to either construct a more solid premise or avoid forcing so many topics into the course of the conversations. This would have allowed for better character development. In the end, a small rating is warranted here due to the potential within.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in this season is at least above the mark. Many of the cast members stay within their ranges and avoiding trying too hard. There are some moments where the acting leaves something to be desired, including emotions and line delivery. However, the performances generally improve with time, thus leading to an above-average score.

Continuity Quality (1 point)

It’s hard to understand why the first season of this series needed so many short episodes. Without the short episodes, this wouldn’t be much of a series. Elsewhere in this section, there are some good character arcs although they are a bit forced at times. Each episode is well-organized despite short length, but there just isn’t enough dynamic in this area to justify a higher score.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the creators behind this series meant well. They explore many relevant topics in their creation that can get audiences to think. However, the method of delivery was not the best. Overall, the series would have benefited from longer, more substantial episodes that included deeper character development via meaningful dialogue and conversations. As it is, this season is like an outline for an idea that needs fleshing out. Perhaps, in the future, this creative team will keep this in mind.

Final Rating: 6 out of 14 points

The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Megan heard that a group of grumpy men regularly came into the cafe where she worked. These men always complained that the good old days were better, so Megan decided to befriend them and soon found herself believing their stories about the good old days. Together, they all talk about the good old days and wonder what might happen in the future.

Production Quality (.5 point)

Despite acceptable video quality, camera work and lighting are very inconsistent. Sets, locations, and props are okay, but the soundtrack is very loud. However, the soundtrack doesn’t cover up the annoying background noises or cheesy sound effects. There is also basically no editing in the film, which leads to long sequences of blank nothingness and unnecessary fadeouts. Thus, with only a tiny amount of positive, this section receives a small score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club is based on a very simple and short idea that’s dragged on for too long. Narration lazily strings scenes together without giving the narrative focus or purpose. Because of this, there is no connection with the audience, and the forced Christian message and worldview that the good old days were better is annoying. Further, the characters in this plot are empty due to vanilla dialogue and conversations. With no potential to speak of, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Between stilted and robotic acting, unsure line delivery, and uneven emotions, the acting of this screenplay leaves much to be desired. While some cast members are better than others, the negative outweighs the positive. Thus, a less-than-average score is warranted in this section.

Conclusion

It’s unclear what creators of movies like The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club are going for. Perhaps worldview-pushing is the motivation. However, viewers aren’t going to be open to a philosophy when the film presentation is so bad. A creation of this low quality isn’t going to make any difference at all, besides the fact that many audiences don’t care about this type of messaging.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Power Play [1994] (Movie Review)

Powerplay | Pure Flix

Plot Summary

Robbie Steele is an overconfident attorney who believes that she can singlehandedly save the city of Vancouver by keeping their struggling hockey team from skipping town. To do this, Robbie just needs to convince Cody Harris, an estranged but previously popular hockey player, to sign with her home team. However, talking Cody into doing this proves to be a more difficult feat that Robbie expected, especially since Cody has recently become a Christian.

Production Quality (.5 point)

As a 1990s production, Power Play has plenty of holes in it. Despite acceptable camera and audio work, video quality is burry, and the soundtrack is loud and antiquated. There are also cheesy sound effects and wild camera work in the action scenes. Sets, locations, and props are okay, but there are many disorienting flashes and transitions throughout the film, making for an annoying experience. Further, editing is incredibly choppy, sometimes prematurely cutting off scenes. In general, the production gets worse as it goes, which leaves only a tiny score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Although this narrative has an interesting premise, it’s hard to get to know the characters due to the breakneck pace of the plot. Additionally, the premise is very trumped-up as writers go out of their way to make certain events happen that they want to occur. The Christian characters are too perfect, and while the flawed characters have potential, they are swept along by the rapid story progression, which short-circuits potential development. It’s a shame that some of these characters were wasted in this way, but there’s unfortunately no way to justify awarding points for this aspect of the screenplay.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though the acting in Power Play is fairly unsure, this section is actually the strongest of the whole movie. Despite instances of cast members of trying too hard and scenes that feel like one-takes, the performances are not all bad. Some line delivery and emotions are acceptable, which is enough to warrant an average score.

Conclusion

Traditionally, the Worldwide Pictures team was committed to quality in their films. However, Power Play is an exception. Without a quality production and engaging storyline, there is little for a viewer to be interested in. However, the Christian entertainment industry is hopefully moving past this older era of screenplays.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Geronimo [1990] (Movie Review)

Geronimo (1990) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Jeremy is a bad kid who can’t stay out of trouble. However, he likes a random Christian girl, so Jeremy decides to become a Christian summer camp counselor so that he can spend more time with this girl. Nonetheless, Jeremy ends up having to spend more time watching “troubled” kids who have been forced to come to the camp. As a result, Jeremy has to learn about the Christian faith to help them.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, this older style production is acceptable. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are pretty good. Sets, locations, and props are acceptable. The biggest pitfalls relate to editing as this aspect is extremely choppy. Thus, this section receive a score just above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

From almost the very beginning of this narrative, heavy-handed narration leaves nothing to chance, which ultimately short-circuits character development. Before they change in extreme and unrealistic ways without proper justification, the characters are either totally blank people or racial stereotypes due to uninspiring dialogue. A lot of the characters don’t have normal human reactions to events. Many of the scenes seem unfinished and abrupt, and at times, it’s hard to understand what’s happening. The plot jumps all over the place, stringing together a random collection of disconnected moments that are overly scripted. There is no continuity or focus, and there is generally no potential in this section, which is why no points are warranted.

Acting Quality (0 points)

On top off all the other issues in this film, robotic acting joins the fray. The cast members deliver stilted lines and exhibit emotions without any feeling whatsoever. Many of the performances are incredibly awkward, and there are a number of sequences of yelling and screaming that are completely unnecessary. Therefore, with no potential in this area, zero points are awarded.

Conclusion

The “fixing troubled kids at a Christian camp” concept is a bit overwrought. Also, assuming that all “street kids” are of a certain race is fairly questionable at best. Essentially, Geronimo is an example of a era gone by that hopefully Christian entertainment has fully moved on from.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Pass the Light (Movie Review)

Review: 'Pass the Light' could use a less-shiny lead actor - Los Angeles  Times

Plot Summary

Steve is tired of the divisive nature of politics, especially since a local election is heating up as a representative is trying to use the Christian faith to divide group of people from each other. Thus, Steve decides that it’s time to do something at school, in the community, in the political world, and at home. To do this, Steve launches a massive campaign to remind everybody of what the Christian faith is really about.

Production Quality (2 points)

It’s clear that the creators of this film focused on professional production quality. This fact is evident in the video quality and camera work. Sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-utilized. The only drawbacks include uneven audio quality and inconsistent editing. Nonetheless, this section deserves an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The writers had several good ideas and agendas in creating this screenplay. They raised excellent points about legalism in Christina culture, but the writers bit off way more than they could chew by trying to cover too many concepts at once. As such, there are many random subplots that generate too many characters for the audience to keep up with. Sometimes, it’s hard for the viewer to keep up with the stream-of-consciousness storytelling style, and time is filled with lots of empty montages that could have been replaced with real character development. As they are, the characters are a mixed bag. The protagonist is basically perfect and able to fix everything. The antagonists are a bit extreme, and a majority of the characters are difficult to connect with due to the crowding-out nature of the narrative. For the most part, the political premise is quite unrealistic although the politician characters are okay. In the end, an overwhelming amount of issues are easily fixed in magical fashions, which stunts the potential of this plot. Nonetheless, there were plenty of good discussions about the problems in modern Christianity, which warrants a small score.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

For the most part, the acting in Pass the Light is professional. Most cast members put forth commendable efforts, including good line delivery and emotions. However, there are a few small moments of some actors and actresses trying too hard and generally putting forth over-the-top performances. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to prevent a high rating in this section.

Conclusion

It’s evident to many that there are problems within established American Christianity. However, taking all of the issues on in one movie is not the right way to get your message across. Additionally, crafting an unrelatable protagonist will alienate most audiences. In the end, Pass the Light was based on a number of good ideas that crowded each other out and didn’t really help solve any of the concerns that the writers raised.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Amish Grace (Movie Review)

Watch Amish Grace | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When a mentally ill man tries to exact revenge on a local Amish school for the death of his daughter, the Amish community is rocked with grief. However, as the religious leadership instructs the faithful to forgive, one mother cannot let it go. Thus, she has to come to grips with what it truly means to follow God and do what He says.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

With professional funding behind it, Amish Grace sports a great production with very few errors within it. Video quality, audio quality, and camera are all on par with industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are all well-constructed and well-utilized. There are no lighting or special effects concerns. The only small problems to note relate to editing, but these are not enough to prevent a high score from being awarded to this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It was great that the writers used real-life source material to explore extremely difficult topics in this narrative. As such, some characters are very relatable as they struggle with hard concepts. However, some characters come off as too perfect and angelic, and there are overall too many characters to keep up with. Because of this fact, there is no clear protagonist, and many of the subplots are unfinished or disjointed. It’s unfortunate that a story based on true events lacked focus and organized purpose. Nonetheless, certain sequences of dialogue and some conversations are intriguing even if they fail to effectively move the narrative forward. Sometimes, it feels like the characters are trapped in what the story wants them to do, such as when there are pertinent points raised about the various inconsistencies of legalism in certain religious lifestyles and when these legitimate concerns are never explored again. In the end, this film was not long enough to do justice to the true accounts, and it’s possible that a miniseries format would have been more appropriate. Despite this, however, this aspect of the screenplay does deserve a modest rating for authenticity.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting is the strongest element of Amish Grace. There are virtually no errors with the emotions or line delivery. It’s clear that the cast members were professionally coached, which leads to a perfect score for this section.

Conclusion

There was so much that could have been done in this movie. The true story is extremely compelling and poignant, but the potentially powerful message is not effectively communicated in Amish Grace. Nonetheless, there are still meaningful elements in this film, so it’s likely worthy your time. We just wonder what could have been.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

It’s a Life Worth Living (Movie Review)

It's A Life Worth Living (2020) | Full Movie | Daniel Jeffries | Angela  Roberts Johnson - YouTube

Plot Summary

John is running from his dark past, trying to conceal his demons of substance abuse while living a seemingly normal life. However, when everything falls apart, he has nowhere to turn. Thus, he is forced to look to God for strength to continue on and rebuild.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of It’s a Life Worth Living is acceptable. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are fine. Sets, locations, and props are average or better. The main concerns with this section are the wild editing and disorienting special effects in certain sequences. Sometimes, there are very abrupt transitions that cut things off mid-scene. Thus, a slightly above-par score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This narrative is certainly interesting and contains flawed characters. However, the radio-style storytelling is a crutch for actual character development, and this method of plot development encourages large time jumps that are bridged with exposition. The writers tried to cover too much ground in the narrative, and the storyline meanders without much purpose. Despite slight potential, the plot needs lots of reorganization and shoring up. The characters therein are okay but are slightly one-dimensional due to unsubstantial dialogue. Redemption moments are interesting but are unearned due to the weak characters and unclear motivations. The writers’ understanding of substance abuse is okay but incomplete as it makes it seem like that Christian rehab is a magic fix as the protagonist is quickly healed after just a few short steps. Mental health therapy is also viewed in an unrealistic way, and recovery is portrayed as too fast and easy. These shortcomings overshadow the otherwise interesting concepts that are explored in this narrative as well as the non-linear method of storytelling. Unfortunately, as the film progresses, things only get worse with a stupid climax sequence that’s based on childish coincidences, leading to a very ridiculous conclusion. In the end, slight potential is present in this section, but it’s mostly a disappointment.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite a few errors among the lead cast members, the main actors and actresses of this screenplay post pretty good performances. However, the supporting cast is quite week in their performances. Some emotions and lines are too over-the-top in certain moments. Although there is a strong beginning in the acting, this aspect of the movie unfortunately worsens with time. Therefore, an average score is warranted here.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the creators of It’s a Life Worth Living wanted to make an authentic film about substance abuse struggles. However, more research was needed in this area, and story consultation was needed to present the narrative in a more audience-friendly manner. Further, the acting needed shoring up. Nonetheless, with more refinement, this creative team could move on to better things in the future.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

To the Ends of the Earth [2018] (Movie Review)

Watch To The Ends of the Earth | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When the Apostle Paul went to Philippi, this was the first time that the gospel of Jesus Christ had reached the continent of Europe. However, Paul faced much opposition and many trials in his mission to follow the Lord’s calling. Nonetheless, his obedience changed countless generations to come.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Although video quality is fine and the soundtrack is culturally sensitive, dizzying camera work and confusing special effects hold the production back from being what it could have been. Sets, locations, and props are great, but sound effects are poor. Further, editing is inconsistent, which goes with the overall theme of this production being a mixed bag. Thus, an average scored is granted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

While it’s commendable that the writers of this narrative focused on one short aspect of Paul’s ministry, the apostle himself is too perfect of a character, which means that it’s hard to relate to him as a person. Also, demonic elements are too sensational as too much time is spent on dark spirituality. Elsewhere, the story presentation is confusing since it makes the progression of events very unclear. Most of the characters are inaccessible and hard to connect with due to procedural dialogue. Unfortunately, although this plot could have been interesting, it doesn’t offer any potential because attention is given to all the wrong things.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though the casting is sometimes culturally authentic, this is not always the case. Nonetheless, the actors and actresses make some good attempts at accents. Sometimes, the acting is believable while other times, the performances are too theatrical and stoic. Emotions and line delivery can be a bit uneven at times. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good in this section, which leads to a sub-par score.

Conclusion

Period pieces about well-known Bible characters are very difficult to effectively execute. There are many moving parts and small details that are easy to get wrong. As a whole, it seems like that the creators of To the Ends of the Earth had the right motives but not always the correct philosophy. Unfortunately, there are just too many pitfalls in this screenplay that kept it in the basement of Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Secrets in the Fall (Movie Review)

Secrets in the Fall- Official Extended Trailer - YouTube

Plot Summary

After being stuck in school for a snowbound night, a group of teenagers became friends for life. Now, they’re working together as counselors at a Christian camp. However, not everything goes smoothly as some campers don’t want to be there for various reasons. Will they all be able to wok together to make the week memorable?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Beginning with a cheap found-footage feel, this production doesn’t live up to professional standards. Background noises and shaky camera work don’t help matters. While video quality, sets, locations, and props are okay, there’s not much soundtrack to speak of. Editing also contains concerns, including lagging scenes, awkward fadeouts, and weird sped-up portions of the film that confuse the audience. Despite some slight production improvement with time, this section can’t receive any more than an average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

From the get-go, the narrative is filled with convenient exposition that shoves information into the viewers’ faces. When this finally stops, the dialogue is somewhat acceptable yet could use some work. Although this screenplay is a sequel, characters are one-dimensional due to lots of blank scenes that accomplish nothing. Additionally, the high number of characters crowds out the runtime, causing many subplots to get lost in the shuffle and characters to get neglected. As a result of wasted time, character arcs are too steep as shortcuts are taken to force lessons upon the audience. Though there are some good attempts at making the “bad” characters neutral by giving them reasons for their actions, which is the tiny shred of potential in this story that keeps it from receiving no points, there is still not much focus or purpose in this narrative. Characters undergo very self-aware growth without experiencing circumstances that would promote these behaviors, which is unrealistic. In the end, the Every New Day creative team often tries to craft character-based plots but continue to lack key elements that are needed or success.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting of Secrets in the Fall is mostly generic due to there being nothing special or terrible. Line delivery and emotions are standard. Thus, with no positive or negative standouts, this section receives an average score.

Conclusion

Secrets in the Snow had a good amount of potential, but this follow-up seems forced and unnecessary. Sequels should build upon what was previously accomplished, but this movie takes a step backward. It seems like that the Goodwins have noble intentions with their creations, but they have taken a quantity over quality approach. Perhaps it’s time for them to take a step back and focus on producing fewer screenplays that contain more meaning.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Teen Musical: The Movie (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Dr. Alexandra Park just wants to run the community center for the kids, but an evil businessman with unlimited political power wants to tear the building down to build something really important. Dr. Park’s only option to save the center is to host a musical and make money off of the tickets. Thus, she forces the kids she knows to work for free in this show. Will they be able to pull off their scheme in time???

Production Quality (1 point)

There is much to be desired in this production. Between inconsistent camera work and video quality, the viewing experience is difficult. Audio quality is also poor, including background noises, echoes, and a cringeworthy singing soundtrack. Also, overdubs and lip syncing are very obvious, and sets, locations, and props are very cheap. Further, editing is choppy, and despite some improvement throughout, this section doesn’t break the average line.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As this narrative jumps all over the place, the audience is assaulted with tons of empty characters and cardboard content. Plastic expository dialogue serves as a crutch to bridge the plot jumps. The villain character is totally ridiculous, and the out-of-left-field suspense elements that come with him are unrealistic. It’s too far-fetched to assume that the level of violence that is brought in by this absurd villain would actually occur in this situation. Besides this, the story is full of other cheesy clichés and constructs, such as the formulaic narrative structure of using a musical event to save a struggling organization. With so many things happening, all leading to a predictable conclusion, there’s no potential in this aspect of the film.

Acting Quality (1 point)

When you combine awkward acting with terrible singing in a musical, you have a disaster on your hands. Emotions are very manufactured throughout the movie, and the performances are overall too scripted and stiff. Despite slight improvement with time, this section doesn’t reach the average point.

Conclusion

This screenplay is just a mess, and this is exactly what we should not longer see in Christian entertainment. Teen Musical is nothing short of a disaster, which many musicals end up being. Hopefully, one day soon, we won’t have to keep wading through these murky waters.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Real Stories with Christ, Season 1 (Series Review)

Watch Real Stories With Christ | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Pastor Joe wants to be a good pastor, but church stuff is hard. The devil is always trying to throw him off, and it seems like every day, Joe experiences a modern-day version of a well-known Bible story. Will he and his wife be able to withstand the tests and trials of life???

Production Quality (1 point)

The group at Strong Foundation Films consistently produces low-quality productions, and this miniseries is no exception. Despite okay video quality, camera work is inconsistent throughout. Audio quality is poor, including loud background sounds and a generic soundtrack. While outside lighting is acceptable, indoor lighting is not, and the sets, locations, and props are cheap and limited. Further, editing is choppy, and although there is slight improvement with time in all production aspects, only a meager score can be awarded here because of all the concerns.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Like many other narratives produced by this creative team, the plot of Real Stories with Christ is very hard to follow. Presenting one thing after the next without much actual dialogue, the writers choose to have things randomly happen without good reasons. There is also a fixation on the dramatic and sensational, especially an unnecessary obsession with dark spiritual warfare as basically every episode has a long and drawn-out exorcism sequence. With these ridiculous wastes of time, the story lacks central focus, clear purpose, and consistent themes. Long conversations accomplish nothing and produce blank characters. Events only occur because the writers want them to happen, and problems are unrealistically fixed very quickly. Full of Christian platitudes, cheesy messaging, juvenile worldviews, and patriarchal attitudes, this section cannot receive any points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Per usual for Strong Foundation, the acting in Real Stories is predictably bad. Josiah David Warren dominates the screen time with his typically awkward and cringey performances. Many cast members are trying too hard, and some exhibit uneven lines and emotions that don’t appropriately fit the moment. Injury acting is laughably bad, and the biblical components of the acting include low-quality costuming and inaccurate cultural portrayals. However, there is at least some good acting in this series, such as the performances posted by Amber Shana Williams. Hence, a small score can be awarded here.

Continuity Quality (1 point)

It’s very confusing and unclear as to how this series relates to Who Am I? because Amber Shana Williams plays a different character in that movie than she does in Real Stories. This creates continuity problems, but there are other concerns in this section, such as a lack of character arcs. Though some subplots are followed between episodes, these narratives are formulaic and predictable. Also, some characters disappear between episodes with no good explanations. Thus, this rounds out an underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

This series is basically the culmination of all the other failed projects that have been produced by the Strong Foundation team. Real Stories includes all the predictable elements from this group and offers very little to redeem itself. As they continue to taint Christian entertainment with this offerings, there’s little advice to offer the Strong Foundation creators. They will obviously continue to do what they do without changing.

Final Rating: 3 out of 14 points

Promises to Keep [2020] (Movie Review)

Promises to Keep (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Jonathan and Evelyn were engaged when they were young, but mistakes drove them apart. Now that they are both older and widowed, they have come back into each other’s lives because their children have fallen in love. Will they be able to heal the old wounds while looking to the future???

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite a mostly acceptable production, including fine video quality and camera work, the beginning of this film is quite rough. Audio quality leaves something to be desired, such as an in-your-face soundtrack. Flashbacks have an unnecessarily weird quality to them. Also, sets, locations, and props are slightly limited. Further, editing is incredibly choppy and disorienting. However, there is some improvement as the production goes on, which is enough to warrant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Throughout this narrative, there is a generally odd tone as the writers try very hard to force their specific doctrines onto the viewers, which include some very unusual beliefs about Christian behaviors. As such, the dialogue is very obvious, creating perfect characters that are inaccessible as they spout Christian platitudes at the other characters. Besides this, some of the characters make really weird decisions for no reasons at all, and in general, events occur simply because the creators wanted them to happen. The “bad” characters are ridiculous stereotypes while the “good” characters push the lie that becoming more religious fixes all one’s problems. Nearly every scene is either about imposing the writers’ worldview or an exploration of edgy content. Basically a long monologue of propaganda, this plot has no potential and is thus awarded no points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

The acting in Promises to Keep is very sub-par. The performances are quite matter-of-fact, including overly practiced and forced emotions. Some scenes have over-the-top drama, such as yelling and screaming. Though line delivery is mostly acceptable, this isn’t enough to keep this section from receiving a low score.

Conclusion

As has been said many times before, when the creator of a screenplay intends to push propaganda in their movie, there’s no way that the film can ever be good. Two main goals of Christian entertainment should be to invite the audience to think and to responsibly present the writers’ worldview without shoving in down viewers’ throats. It’s unbiblical and un-educational to force agendas on audiences, which is why the reputation of Christian media is so poor today. The only way to fix this problem is to focus on quality over quantity as we move forward.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Power of the Air (Movie Review)

Power of the Air (2018) | Full Movie | Nicholas X. Parsons | Patty Duke | A  Dave Christiano Film - YouTube

Plot Summary

David Williams just wants to live a regular life, but one day, after being convicted by the message of an African missionary, David and his wife decide to stop watching secular movies due to their objectionable content. David is ostracized at work for this decision, but he feels strongly that he needs to do more to reach others for the Gospel. He wants to air a radio ad, but the city’s largest radio station is standing in his way. Will they be able to air the ad on every radio station???

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The Christiano team has come a long way since the old days of their films. Power of the Air has a very professional production with only a few errors. Video quality, audio quality, and camera work are all compliant with industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are also good. The only concerns in this section relate to editing, which leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, this isn’t enough to prevent a very high score from being awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Full of information-dump dialogue and expository conversations that are designed to push messages, this narrative is lacking in depth. Empty characters are simply pawns of the plot, which is full of generic Christian propaganda. The philosophy of the writers is very closed-minded and tone-deaf when it comes to real life. Administering heavy doses of legalism, the creators exchange actually story for an outdated view of society, implying that basically all media is evil. The only thing that keeps the screenplay running on fumes is a ridiculous ongoing conflict about when to air a radio commercial, and this experience is full of absurdly forced drama, trying to make the viewers actually care about this stupid first-world problem. In the end, with no potential to be had, this aspect of the movie can’t receive any points.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Throughout Power of the Air, the acting is acceptable without much good or bad to point out. Most performances are fairly pedestrian. Emotional and line delivery are passable. However, there’s simply not enough dynamic to warrant a higher than average score for this section.

Conclusion

Via this film, the Christiano team raises valid points about how American Christians unnecessarily consume too much objectionable entertainment. However, the very existence of Power of the Air only furthers the problem because it demonstrates why many Christians seek entertainment outside Christian circles: Christian entertainment, as a whole, is just bad. Power of the Air is no exception to this general rule. Why should Christians want to watch a screenplay like this? What’s the point? Until Christian creators learn why people watch what they watch, we’ll just keep having the same problems.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Forgiven [2016] (Movie Review)

Watch Forgiven | Prime Video

Plot Summary

When a desperate criminal takes a pastor and his two daughter hostage within the church after a Wednesday night service, the police are forced to take drastic measures to keep the victims safe. However, the criminal is mostly confused and unsure of what he wants to do. Thus, the pastor and his daughters do what they can to help him. Will the situation be resolved before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Besides a few exceptions, Kevan Otto’s more recent productions have contained higher levels of quality than his previous efforts. There’s a continuation of this trend in Forgiven. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all professional. Sets, locations, and props are standard. There are only a few minor editing issues, but this fact doesn’t prevent this section from receiving a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This film is based on an interesting suspense idea although the hostage situation is half-hearted at best. Additionally, the characters are one-dimensional, including a criminal who doesn’t really seem to be committed to anything and generally lacks deeper motivations for his behaviors. Stock and unsubstantial dialogue do nothing to improve the blank characters even though this character-based plot desperately needed real conversations to keep it going. Too many empty scenes fill time rather than create meaningful arcs. It felt like that the writers just wanted to skip to the end instead of make the audience want to watch the build-up. Many sequences are very boring and preachy, espousing a cheap Christian message about going to church to act right. Though the conclusion is slightly interesting, it’s difficult for the view to make it there, and it’s hard to understand why the basically perfect and unrelatable protagonist even wanted to help the criminal character. Very narrative-heavy and character-light, this story needed a lot more fleshing out to truly enhance the potential within. Thus, only a meager rating is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Forgiven is pretty good. For the most part, emotions are realistic, and line delivery is acceptable. Some performances are better than others, and some cast members are more believable than others. Due to the small cast, errors are more noticeable, which is why this section only receives an above-average score.

Conclusion

At this point, it seems like that Kevan Otto and his team know how to craft a pedestrian, acceptable-on-paper screenplay. However, to truly succeed, they will need to go further than this. Otto has proven that he can improve production quality over time, so it’s time for him to employ better writing talent to create more engaging narratives with more accessible characters. Otherwise, average ratings will be the norm.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Discarded Things (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Grace Wyatt felt like she had finally buried her past by becoming a successful professor of music. However, her husband’s untimely death sends her back into a spiral of addiction and bitterness. Once Grace is able to recover, she’s assigned to live as a volunteer at a house program for troubled teens. Though Grace initially clashes with the leadership decisions of the program, she eventually finds her niche helping the teens find their voices. Nonetheless, Grace has no idea that she still has to make peace with her past to move forward in life.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, the production quality of Discarded Things is professional…at least it gets there eventually. In the beginning, there’s a driving soundtrack that doesn’t always fit the mood although the score is still intriguing. There are also some background sounds and sepia tone flashbacks. The editing is sometimes choppy, cutting off scenes for no good reason. However, all productions elements improved in the latter two-thirds of the film, offering good video quality and camera work. Also, sets, locations, and props are professional. The improvement is good enough to warrant a high score in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The creative team behind this screenplay really had a lot going for them as they demonstrated a strong understanding of how hidden church problems and childhood trauma can affect people for their entire lives. This narrative contains an excellent portrayal of fundamentalist legalism and its consequences, and this is done via a good application of flashbacks that provides believable reasoning for character motive. However, Discarded Things has a rare problem: it’s too short. The fact that so much content is squeezed into this movie creates various issues, such as too-obvious dialogue. The writers rushed through important sequences, using montages as a crutch and implying that substance abuse rehab is a really easy fix for people. Platitudes are also used to quickly solve problems. It’s very evident that too much is being covered in this linear plot with the limited amount of time that’s been allotted. There are many complex and interlocking storylines that we barely get time to explore, and this lack of development causes some otherwise meaningful events to occur without proper buildup, thus making them empty and meaningless. Though most of the conversations are good, the characters are under-developed, but their major potential can still be seen. There are obvious themes throughout the narrative that slightly tie everything together, but the conclusion of the film is quite cheesy. In the end, this section is a mixed bag that could have been so much more than this.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Despite a few moments of cast members over-acting and being a bit too dramatic, the acting is still very strong in Discarded Things. Karen Abercrombie appeared comfortable in her role, and Cameron Arnett is always a standout. This particular role for Cameron was perhaps his best to date. In the end, the acting is quite good, earning a great score.

Conclusion

This screenplay likely would have worked better as a series that blended what the protagonist learned from rehab with what she taught the teenagers. In this current form, this was too much content to cram into one movie, and this was a rare instance where we actually need to see more of these characters rather than less. We need to observe their journeys so that the payoffs don’t feel cheap due to lack of proper buildup. However, on the whole, some viewers will enjoy Discarded Things in its current state, and this film overall demonstrates huge potential for the future.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Dispatched [2020] (Movie Review)

Watch Dispatched | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Carl Thomas is an embattled police officer being questioned about his past actions. Thus, Carl relates why he made the choices that he did and how he’s now a different man. Will his interrogators believe his story before it’s too late?

Production Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, the past production transgressions of JC Films have not been atoned for. Dispatched has all the same problems of past films created by this team, such as loud background sounds and echoes, not to mention the generally grainy audio quality. Despite moments of a surprisingly good soundtrack, many aspects of the score don’t always fit the mood of the scenes. Elsewhere, lighting is inconsistent, and camera work is incredibly random, including weird angles. Video quality is acceptable, but editing is quite choppy. Thus, with a tiny amount of potential, this section receives a small score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

One of the main strength areas of Dispatched is its shockingly honest portrayal of the complexity behind police problems. In this endeavor, authentic flashbacks are used to build character motive and personality. However, it all goes downhill from there as convenient and random things happen when the writers need them to occur. Similarly, obvious dialogue steers the plot in the direction that the creators want it to go rather than letting events develop naturally. The interesting exploration of the protagonist’s backstory is overshadowed by the contrived nature of the narrative. Part of this trumped-up premise is the assumption that one spiritual experience will magically make someone the most perfect Christian who ever lived. These steep character arcs are impossible to relate to, and these concerns make for very cheap messaging. Christian platitudes are used in place of meaningful lessons, thus leading to an empty conclusion. Therefore, with only a small dose of potential, this section is awarded a meager rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Although the acting of this screenplay leaves much to be desired, it’s still the strongest aspect of the movie. Emotions are forceful, such as cast members trying too hard to be angry. Line delivery often lacks conviction and natural register. However, the acting generally improves with time to the point where an average score is warranted.

Conclusion

When will the JC Films team ever learn? The last thing that the Christian entertainment field needs is more quantity to full up our streaming services and further turn people off to the genre. Just imagine if the budgets and efforts for each individual film were bundled together into one or two screenplays. Less is always more, so one day, we’ll hopefully see this play out in Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Cross Purposes (Movie Review)

Cross Purposes (2020) | Trailer - YouTube

Plot Summary

When an overconfident man who wants to be a medical student at a prestigious school is forced to complete an internship that he doesn’t care about, he has no idea what’s in for him. He’s determined to not care about any of the patients, but he can’t help but grow close to a teenager with a terminal brain tumor. Before he knows it, the intern is trying to determine the meaning of life although he didn’t used to care.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Cross Purposes offers an acceptable production with very few errors. Some of these pitfalls include some slight audio and editing concerns. For instance, there are a few distracting background noises, and certain scenes drag on too long. Nonetheless, this production team did good with what limited funds that they had. Video quality, camera work, and lighting are all above average. Sets, locations, and props are well-utilized. Thus, will very few problems to highlight, this section receives a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The writers of this film, for the most part, were committed to crafting believable characters. However, because there are so few characters, they needed more deepening than they were given. It was good that the creators focused on the main idea of the screenplay without getting sidetracked, but doing such requires intense storytelling. Dialogue and conversations needed to be more than average to pull off this feat. As things are, the character arcs are a bit too steep, and the motivations and personalities of the characters are undeveloped. Elsewhere, it’s clear that the writers did some medical research, but some aspects of the narrative are slightly unrealistic. In the end, Cross Purposes has good messaging without being too forceful, and many audiences will enjoy this brief plot, so a meager score is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

It’s clear that the creative team behind this movie were definitely trying to make an effort, and this fact is evident in the acting. As a whole, the acting is either standard or a little bit better. Line delivery and emotional delivery are mostly on-point. Although some performances fall a bit short due to some forceful moments, there’s enough positive in this section to award an above-average score.

Conclusion

The team who produced this film, like many newer creators, has lots of potential for the future. Offerings like Cross Purposes, among others, provide hope for the future of Christian entertainment. Now, if those who make good things on small scales would collaborate with each other, pooling their expertise and resources, we would really have something to behold.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

The Perfect Race (Movie Review)

Watch The Perfect Race | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Courtney Smith-Donnelly is still teaching high school track-and-field, but when she gets the opportunity to fill in for a college track-and-field coach, which also involves coaching a former student, Courtney jumps at the chance. Much like her past experiences, Courtney faces heat for teaching basically conventional running techniques. Nobody thinks that Courtney knows what she’s doing although her advice is common-sense. Will they ever be able to run the perfect race?

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the production of The Perfect Race is acceptable. This includes good video quality, standard camera work, and passable audio quality. The soundtrack is generic, but sets, locations, and props are realistic and professional. Lighting is on par with industry standards. The biggest drawback in this section is the very choppy editing that makes for a confusing viewing experience. Nonetheless, the production is still above-average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Throughout this plot, many of the scenes are quite short and end prematurely, making for rushed conversations. It doesn’t help that much of the dialogue is full of boring and procedural information, thus leading to blank and empty characters. As meaningless scenes speed by one after another, the audience is subjected to proprietary sports content that involves characters who no one cares about due to lack of development. Much like the predecessor of The Perfect Race, Remember the Goal, this sequel film ridiculously shoe-horns Christian messaging into the sports elements, using empty platitudes to do so. Although the middle of this narrative explores some surprisingly interesting themes pertaining to self-esteem in relationships and Christians not liking death, it’s too little too late. These topics were not properly set up, and it doesn’t help that most of the Christian characters are basically perfect people who can fix everything really easily. In the end, there’s hardly any difference between The Perfect Race and Remember the Goal as both screenplays involve the same character being unrealistically persecuted for using basic cross-country running strategies that pretty much any sports professional would agree with. Because of these concerns, no points are awarded in this section.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, The Perfect Race continues the long-term Christiano tradition of poor acting. The line delivery is too quick, and emotions are quite robotic. Throughout the movie, it feels like that the cast members are simply going through the motions without conviction behind their performances. However, the acting is not all bad as the work of some actors and actresses is acceptable. Thus, a small score is merited here.

Conclusion

It’s very hard to believe that the Christiano team squeezed two full films out of this extremely limited and boring idea. There’s very little difference between The Perfect Race and Remember the Goal except that the sequel has a bit more potential. Nonetheless, this screenplay is still a relic leftover from the old era of Christian entertainment that we are hopefully transitioning away from.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

Faith.Hope.Love. [2021] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When six college students are invited to a mysterious getaway in the snowy mountains of Utah, they have no idea what’s in store for them. What begins as a retreat of self-discovery quickly becomes a life-changing experience that many of them will not soon forget. How will they apply the changes that they have experienced to their everyday lives?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Faith.Hope.Love. has a good production with very few errors. One of these mistakes is the existence of background sounds. The set is fairly limited but well-utilized. As a whole, the production gets better with time, including high-quality video and camera work. The editing is acceptable, which rounds out a section that warrants a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

At the beginning of this story, the premise seems very trumped-up. The conversations are awkward and stiff, sometimes cutting off without warning. In the first half of the narrative, the dialogue feels very strained, forced, and unnatural. Many things are said without actually developing the characters, and there’s a tendency for the writers to be fixated on edgy and provocative content. However, the plot tends to get better as it goes as the characters improve due to more natural conversations. The second half of the film presents real people rather than characters representing social issues, but the initial presentation may discourage viewers from proceeding. The backstories of the characters become very strong if you wait long enough, even if the dialogue sometimes steers the screenplay in the direction that the writers want it to go, including some slight elements of propaganda. This is a testament to how strong characters can make up for other shortcomings. The conclusion is bit rushed, and the twist ending isn’t all that shocking. Thus, one point is awarded here.

Acting Quality (3 points)

For the most part, the acting is likely the strongest area of Faith.Hope.Love. Despite lacking a dynamic quality in the first half of the movie, this aspect of the film improves with time. The performances grow stronger by the second half, including believable line delivery and emotions. Thus, this rounds out an overall encouraging effort.

Conclusion

This creative team has demonstrated plenty of potential for the future, so it will be interesting to see what they produce next. With tighter storytelling and better messaging, they have nowhere to go but up. Hopefully, screenplays like this one represent a new positive trend in the Christian entertainment industry.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

The Girl Who Believes in Miracles (Movie Review)

Sneak Peek of New Film Starring Kevin Sorbo and Mira Sorvino 'The Girl Who  Believes in Miracles' | CBN.com

Plot Summary

Sara Hopkins is just a regular perfect little girl who not many people take seriously. However, when she begins praying for miracles and when the miracles actually happen, others begin to take notice. Everywhere she goes, Sara can’t help but encounter a situation where she prays for a miracle that later occurs. Nonetheless, these experiences take a toll on Sara as she suddenly begins dying of an undisclosed medical condition. The only hope for her survival is for her grandfather to concoct a slightly illegal scheme to spring Sara from the hospital and, against all odds, take her to a magical lake. Can they do this questionable act before it’s too late???

Production Quality (2 points)

As a well-funded project, The Girl Who Believes in Miracles has a professional production. This is shown by good video quality and camera work. The audio quality is fine but could be better due to blank portions that lack music and a boring, generic soundtrack. Sets, locations, and props are on par, and lighting is acceptable throughout. However, there are some terrible special effects and choppy editing, but there’s enough positive here to warrant an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

This film is essentially a series of disconnected scenes that present one thing after the next, strung together with plenty of expository dialogue. As one miracle after another are spoon-fed to the audience, there’s no way to feel any emotions about what’s happening because the characters are so blank. This nonchalant presentation of important events short-circuits payoffs and prevents the viewers from understanding who the characters are. A matter-of-fact and clinical approach to this topic was a very bad idea as life-changing occurrences are treated as boring or uneventful. Besides this, the dialogue is incredibly underwhelming and empty. Conversations accomplish very little outside of information dumps, and most of the Christian characters are basically perfect. Offscreen content is skipped over for no reason other than the fact that there’s too many new characters to introduce before the absurd conclusion. After aa number of extremely convenient turns and coincidences that suit the writers’ means, the plot escalates into utter madness for the final act. One of the few enduring themes of the narrative is a fixation on a magical lake, so the ridiculous ending sequence of this movie involves all the characters, who you’re expected to care about for no reason, engineering a basically illegal and very dishonest scheme to kidnap a dying girl from a hospital so that she can go to said magic lake. This madness only works due to luck and caps off a story that gets worse as it goes, which is why this section receives negative points.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Despite the obvious flaws of the screenplay, The Girl Who Believes in Miracles actually has good acting without any glaring errors. However, some performances are a bit too dramatic and overwrought, extending beyond the scope of the cast members’ skill sets. There’s also some slight inconsistency with emotional delivery, but line delivery is on-point. Thus, an above-average score is justified here.

Conclusion

After the success of “miracle” films like Heaven is for Real and Miracles from Heaven, it’s inevitable that other creators will try to capitalize. However, The Girl Who Believes in Miracles comes to such an outlandish conclusion that many audiences will feel isolated. In the end, an obvious cash grab like this movie really should not be supported because its funding could have been better served on other projects. Before producing more click-bait like this screenplay, creative teams needs to consider what their intentions are and how their work will leave a lasting impact beyond the opening weekend at theaters.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

Fearless Faith (Movie Review)

Watch Fearless Faith | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Colton is a police officer who’s haunted by the trauma of witnessing his former partner get gunned down in a crossfire. Now, Colton avoids all things relating to God even though his wife wants him to come back to the faith. However, circumstances begin to change Colton’s heart as he’s forced to face the past that he’s been running from.

Production Quality (2 points)

Although this production is mostly above-average, it still has some unnecessary pitfalls, such as odd zooms in the camera work and some strangely blurry video quality in certain parts. Action camera work is inconsistent, and the soundtrack is a bit loud at times. Also, flashbacks tend to be disorienting, and the editing has a lot of quick cuts and transitions, but all aspects of the production generally improve with time. This include better video quality, audio quality, and camera work in the second half of the film. Sets, locations, and props are relatively stable throughout. In the end, this mixed-bag section does enough to warrant this score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Fearless Faith is based on a very valid and worthy idea that needs to be explored in entertainment: law enforcement trauma. However, this concept is presented with stream-of-consciousness storytelling that lacks focus or overarching themes. Average conversations don’t do enough to develop the generic characters although there is a lot of missed potential to have better dialogue. The perfect Christian characters and racial stereotypes don’t do much to help the cause of the narrative. Religious platitudes and lack of continuity are only compounded by wasted time and plot jumps. Despite dry humor and sarcasm that could have made for interesting experience, unrealistic coincidences happen just because the writers need them to. Even though the ending does a somewhat good job of bringing everything together, characters are fixed way too easily, and the conclusion isn’t properly set up. There are no meaningful payoffs because a majority of the storyline is just kicking the can down the road to get to an unearned high point. The climax falls flat where it could have soared because it lacks effective build-up, and personal tragedies aren’t exactly treated in a serious fashion. All of this is to say that Fearless Faith had the potential to be a truly interesting movie, but this section’s low score holds it back.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting in this screenplay is average. Surprisingly, Jason Burkey may have found his niche in this film as he demonstrates pretty good performances with dry humor and sarcasm. This role doesn’t require him to go too far beyond his abilities, which actually works. Elsewhere, there are no obviously glaring errors in this section except for some annoying yelling and screaming. In certain pivotal scenes, the acting can tend to be unnecessarily blank and not present. In the end, this aspect of them movie rounds out an okay effort.

Conclusion

Fearless Faith had a lot going for it since it was written by real law enforcement officers who know what it’s like in the real world. This creative team put forth a pretty good project in Beautifully Broken, but Fearless Faith seems to lose some of this progress. A disorganized narrative derailed most of the potential in this screenplay, and a handful of concerns in production and acting didn’t help either. Next time, however, this team can hopefully learn from their mistakes and seek better counsel in their plot development.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

God’s Fool (Movie Review)

God's Fool (2020) | Trailer | Scott William Winters | Nathan Clarkson |  Laura Orrico - YouTube

Plot Summary

Frank grew up with a privileged life, but it means nothing to him. He’s tried to fill the hole in his soul with all kinds of vices, but nothing helps. Thus, when Frank meets a Franciscan friar one day, Frank’s life changes forever as he learns about the Franciscan order’s philosophy of life. Frank commits himself to live this life but finds it harder than expected as many oppose his new faith.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, God’s Fool has a pretty good production, including good video quality and audio quality. The soundtrack is quite intriguing, but the camera work is a bit inconsistent. Lighting is aligned with industry standards, and sets, locations, and props are acceptable. This section’s biggest drawback is its terrible editing as the film is presented in a very choppy way. Nonetheless, an above-average score is still warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite being based on an interesting idea, this plot meanders all over the place with no focus. One random thing happens after another, including a wild 800-year time jump after an extended prologue that seems initially disconnected from the main narrative. Stream-of-consciousness storytelling leaves the movie lacking a central focus. As a result, the characters are hard to relate to, and even though some dialogue sequences are interesting, it all needs to be deeper. The characters’ struggles are very detached and hard to relate to. While many conversations bring up good points, the back-and-forth interactions are poorly presented, causing the audience to be flooded with ideas without helping them feel the conflict. In general, too many events occur in this plot, and the “bad” characters don’t have good reasons for their actions. Although this narrative explores realistic church corruption issues, it’s all too detached and vague, leaving the viewer without meaningful impact. Thus, due to a small amount of potential, only a small rating can be awarded in this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the performances in God’s Fool come off as staged and overly measured. Emotional and line delivery are clinical and generally lack conviction. Accents are not culturally accurate, but costuming is authentic. Nonetheless, despite these shortcomings, the acting does improve with time, which is enough to warrant an average score here.

Conclusion

It’s clear that the creators of this screenplay meant well in what they were doing. They are trying to present an honest look at modern-day Christianity. However, convoluted storytelling and uneven acting detract from the film’s potential. A more focused narrative would have gotten the presentation off on the right foot. Perhaps, in the future, this creative team can build upon what they have done here to improve their craft.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

A Cowgirl’s Story (Movie Review)

A Cowgirl's Story': Movie Review | HORSE NATION

Plot Summary

Dusty Rhodes has had a hard time due both of her parents being in the military and being called out for duty at the same time during the Iraqi War. While she lives with her grandfather, Dusty has an idea to force her school to start a horse program by riding her horse to school. As a result, she gets a whole bunch of her classmates together to compete in horse competitions, but things get even more complicated from there. Can Dusty rely on her faith to make it through?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, A Cowgirl’s Story has an average production, including fine video quality but odd camera work as some scenes appear to be filmed in busy public places. Audio quality is acceptable, however, and the sets, locations, and props are run-of-the-mill. Other aspects are okay, but the editing is a big detractor. The cuts and transitions are very poor, making for a choppy viewing experience. Due to this mixed bag, a middle-of-the-road score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With absolutely no substantial plot content to speak of, this film lacks meaningful conflict and story focus. The narrative jumps all over the map as one thing happens after another without any clear connections to other events. A disjointed and spastic narrative presentation takes the audience on a wild ride through cheesy high school romances and horse subplots that just happen for no good reason other than the writers’ whims. The characters experience extremely unrealistic and absurd circumstances just for the sake of coincidences, and there’s so many things to keep up with since more and more new concepts are continually being introduced. This is disorienting to the viewer, and it makes matters worse that the characters are incredibly blank. Stiff and forced conversations accomplish absolutely nothing as they’re full of vanilla and stock dialogue. Therefore, due to purposelessness and pointlessness in this section, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Despite some average performances from a handful of cast members, much of the acting in this movie is cringeworthy, especially the teenage and young adult actors and actresses. This includes forced line delivery and emotions. It’s hard to take some of the cast members seriously, especially when Pat Boone posts creepy performances. Thus, this section can only receive a meager score.

Conclusion

A Cowgirl’s Story is just another pointless screenplay littering the Christian entertainment landscape. There’s no point to films like these except to make an attempt at a cash grab. Hopefully, however, these days are ending as we look forward to an improved market where creators actually care about producing quality content that can connect with audiences.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Church People [2021] (Movie Review)

CHURCH PEOPLE (2020) | Movieguide | Movie Reviews for Christians

Plot Summary

Youth pastor Guy Sides feels like he’s stuck inside of a well-oiled ministry machine. His boss, lead pastor Skip Finney, wants to find new and outlandish ways to draw people into the church. However, Guy feels like the simple gospel is enough. Nonetheless, Skip charges ahead with zany plans for an Easter production that will have everyone talking about it. Can Guy help everyone see the true meaning of Easter before it’s too late?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s evident from start to finish that Church People is well-funded, and this results in a professional production. This high quality is evidenced by top-notch video, camera, and audio elements. The sets, locations, and props are great, and it’s clear that the money has been well-spent. The only minor concerns in this section pertain to some inconsistency in editing, but overall, a high score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

This plot begins with a strong opening sequence that refrains from narration and establishes a basis for subtle humor that avoids being too over-the-top. Though the comedy is sometimes a bit dry, the writers were definitely trying to construct effective dialogue as they took a realistic look at the problems with the corporate church mentality. There are many relatable conversations throughout the narrative although there’s also a dose of exposition throughout the course of the conversing. However, as the story continues to develop, some comedy overstays its welcome, being used too much and coming off as too quirky. Rather than expanding as it goes, the premise remains quite thin and has little basis in reality beyond silly conventions. Montages strung together with humor take the place of deeper character development, and some oddly explained off-screen scenes only make matters more awkward. When it comes down to it, Church People is just another return-to-hometown plot, complete with forced romance-with-your-former-love tropes. Despite its promising beginning, this narrative continues its nose dive all the way to a forced conclusion that involves an eye-rolling ‘twist’ that doesn’t really work. Thus, one point is garnered here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Although Stephen Baldwin once again positioned himself to star as a wise character in a self-produced film, he exhibits an acceptable kind of unusual in Church People. Other cast members are quite good in their performances despite a few slightly awkward moments. Some actors and actresses can be over-the-top and over-extended, but for the most part, they are all well-coached. As a whole, this section is at least above-average.

Conclusion

In the end, some audiences will enjoy this screenplay even though it travels through well-worn church comedy ruts. Unfortunately, the humor just isn’t enough to carry the entire movie: deeper characters are needed to drive the point home. The purpose of Church People is commendable (exposing corporate Christianity), but the audience isn’t left with much beyond the obvious fact that this approach to the faith is insufficient. Therefore, this film boils down to another standard comedy release that will unfortunately be forgotten in a few months.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Charity [2012] (Movie Review)

Watch Charity | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Megan and Jake were happily married with six children. However when Jake is suddenly killed in a military training accident, Megan the the kids are almost immediately thrust into poverty. Megan is forced to scrape by on a tiny income while she worries where her family will live. Will anyone come to help them? Does God still care about them?

Production Quality (.5 point)

There are many problems in this production, beginning with the very poor audio quality, which is evidenced by echoes, loud background noises, and an invasive soundtrack that overtakes the audio and doesn’t fit with the scenes. While camera work is pedestrian at best, the lighting is quite random. For the most part, sets, locations, and props are generic, but some of them don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to portray. Elsewhere, the editing is inconsistent, which rounds out an underwhelming effort only worthy of a meager score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As this story jumps around without much coherent thought, some scenes drag on too long despite the fact that they’re totally lifeless. It really doesn’t make much sense for a military family to suddenly fall into total poverty after the father was killed in training…logically, there would be other extenuating circumstances that would lead to the economic downturn. Besides this plot hole, there really isn’t any character development due to very bland and procedural dialogue. Narrative focus and themes are lacking in the first half of the film, but this surprisingly changes in the second half as the movie actually presents some slightly interesting ideas using a unique storyline structure. Nonetheless, this doesn’t make up for the fact that the characters are lacking in development, which doesn’t change later in the screenplay. As such, just a small amount of potential reflects a low rating for this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite some poor costuming and bored acting, the performances of Charity tend to improve as the film goes on. Although there aren’t any truly dynamic cast members, none of them are terrible either. Emotions begin somewhat flat yet become more realistic with time. Thus, due to this mixed bag, only an average score is warranted here.

Conclusion

This movie is basically a short story idea that needs to be repackaged into a more complex series. The plot concept needs more buildup because it’s interesting but requires more background than we’re given in Charity. Though the final rating is quite low, there was a surprising amount of potential here, so maybe, in future projects, this creative team will improve with increased collaboration.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

6 Hearts 1 Beat (Movie Review)

Watch 6 Hearts 1 Beat | Prime Video

Plot Summary

A man and woman fall in love with each other, but their relationship is complicated by the fact that she already has four children. Although people try to talk him out of marrying her, he’s intent on doing so. Together, the man and the woman will have to strengthen their faith as they move forward.

Production Quality (.5 point)

This production commits many unforced errors, such as loud background sounds, some obvious overdubs, and a cheap soundtrack that annoyingly invades the viewing experience. A handful of spoken lines can’t be heard, and the lighting is quite inconsistent. Camera work is also uneven, sometimes being shaky and other times using tight shots and weird angles. Despite clear video quality, which is this section’s only positive, the sets, locations, and props are very cheap. Further, the editing is atrocious as quick and abrupt cuts disrupt the film’s flow. Thus, due to all these concerns, only a tiny score can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Despite being tied together with unnecessary narration that short-circuits character-building dialogue, this plot still meanders all over the place without any clear purpose. Most scenes just kill time, and many sequences are totally pointless. Characters are thrown together because the story requires them to be, and they constantly talk about the same things over and over again as their conversations go in circles. The narrative espouses a bizarre view of women and romantic relationships in general while mixing in silly Christian antidotes. At times, the story is very vague and confusing, including black-and-white flashbacks to events that just happened in the movie. As the screenplay concludes, the writers try to derive meaning from their work without earning anything, and they fail to craft any meaningful resolutions. Therefore, because of these combined problems, no points are merited in this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Surprisingly, the acting is the strongest aspect of this film. However, it’s only because this section is average. Some line delivery and emotions are forced, and a few cast members seem unsure or disingenuous in their performances. Others overplay their roles. In the end, this rounds out an underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

It’s still hard to believe that movies like 6 Hearts 1 Beat are still being made. It’s incredibly difficult to create entertainment, so why not aim for quality over quantity? Nonetheless, the Christian market has been intent on quantity over quality for over a decade now. This corrosive effect will take a long time to fix, but perhaps future creators are up to the task.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Take Two [2017] (Movie Review)

Image result for take two christian movie

Plot Summary

Clay Bauer is a nomadic film maker who’s just trying to stay clean during his substance abuse recovery. He’s cut himself off from problematic relationships of the past, but when he suddenly discovers that he has a daughter he’s never met, he wants to get to know her. However, his daughter’s living situation is not ideal, and although Clay is still trying to get back on his feet, he wants to rescue his daughter from the toxic environment. Nonetheless, the courts don’t look very fondly on Clay’s circumstances, so only God can help him in his impossible quest.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Take Two bears a lot of the marks of an independent production, such as inconsistent audio quality that’s manifested in obvious overdubs, background noises, and a soundtrack that’s sometimes good but often overpowers other sounds. Nonetheless, the film’s camera work and video quality are acceptable, and the lighting is average. Sets, locations, and props are fine, but the editing is a bit choppy at times, sometimes cutting off scenes without warning. Certain transitions are a bit shocking, but there’s overall improvement as the movie goes on, which warrants an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Based on true events, Take Two is a realistic exploration of addiction and drug issues that makes good use of flashbacks. However, the past and present subplots made it sometimes hard to understand what time period is being shown. For the most part, the dialogue is pretty good although the characters would have benefitted from longer and more meaningful conversations that aren’t as chopped up by the narrative’s quick pace and abrupt transitions. Even still, the story’s artistic sequences are intriguing, but the good themes and messaging are easily lost in the avalanche of content. With too many characters and subplots to follow, this screenplay needed a lot more focus and organization, such as a non-linear narrative presentation that was more grounded in one time period. Overall, there was tons of potential in this story that could have been a lot better with refinement, which justifies this section’s rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Take Two is either average or slightly better. This is demonstrated by mostly realistic emotions and natural line delivery. However, this section is held back from being perfect by some cast members whose performances tend to drag down the final score with inconsistency. Nonetheless, there is plenty of positive to note here, and it seems like most of the actors and actresses cared about making this a realistic experience, which is why it’s just above average.

Conclusion

With a commitment to use real-life source material, this creative team has lots of potential for the future. Take Two either deserves a remake with improved storytelling and editing or this collective needs to use the film as a starting point for better things. Further collaboration may be the key to improvement, but this group definitely has something to bring to the table. With more honest creators like these, the Christian entertainment market would be much improved.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Jacob’s Ladder, Season 1 (Series Review)

Image result for jacob's ladder series

Plot Summary

Rafael is a lighthouse keeper in Wales who has an unexplained magical ability to let local kids cross back and forth between the present timeline and the historical timeline of the Bible. When the secret portals open up, the kids can interact with the biblical accounts as they appear to take place on top of the modern world but also in the past at the same time. It’s amazing what a little time travel convenience can do!

Production Quality (0 points)

This Byzantine production has some of the worst Bible props ever, coupled with cheap sets and locations. What’s more, these elements lack cultural and historical authenticity. Elsewhere, grainy video quality and wild camera work make for an unpleasant viewing experience. Audio quality is very poor, and the soundtrack is quite loud. The editing is all over the map, creating a dizzying presentation that confuses the audience. Because of these obvious problems, no points can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

Whose idea was this anyway? The very unusual time travel premise of Jacob’s Ladder makes no sense at all. How are the biblical accounts happening on top of modern-day Wales? How do the characters randomly cross back and forth in time, seemingly forming an alternate timeline? Are they just imaging that this is happening, or is it really occurring? How are they able to sometimes become characters in the historical accounts and actually influence the Bible events? This series was basically doing Assassin 33 AD before their time. In other aspects of this section, live narration is extremely annoying since it leaves nothing to chance. The stories that are chosen for this season are different from usual biblical entertainment, but they are crammed into tine timeframes that leave little room for anything interesting. Both the narration and the rapid-fire narrative presentation short-circuit character development, not to mention that the dialogue is totally bland. In the end, there is too much negative here due to the outrageous and unexplained alterations of historical events, making this section negative.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Mixing terrible homemade Bible-play-caliber costuming with modern-day dress is never a good recipe for historical entertainment success, but Jacob’s Ladder does just this. Makeup work also leaves a lot to be desired. Like many projects before it, this series lacks historical and cultural authenticity in casting and even reuses cast members for different stories. The actual performances are covered up with this nonsense, but they still aren’t very good. Emotional and line delivery are very staged and robotic. Hence, no points can be justified here.

Continuity Quality (0 points)

After enduring an annoying opening sequence, viewers are forced to see one thing happen after the next without any significant arcs or themes. There are little to no subplots that are followed throughout the season, and the characters remain static throughout the series. This project might as well have been an anthology with how little continuity there was between episodes, so once again, no points can be given here.

Conclusion

If watchers aren’t thoroughly confused about the Bible after seeing Jacob’s Ladder, they’ll be turned off to its very low-quality presentation. This absolute train wreck should have never existed and now only serves as yet another example of how not to do it. Hopefully, in our current entertainment market, we’re past seeing utter nonsense like this come out.

Final Rating: -1 out of 14 points

Why Me? [2020] (Movie Review)

Image result for why me josiah david warren

Plot Summary

All Slater wants to do is goof off while living a life of luxury, but when he’s suddenly forced to be the guardian of his younger siblings due to his parents’ untimely death in a car accident, Slater’s entire world is turned upside down. He desperately tries to find full-time help for his siblings while he messes around with his girlfriend, but things never work out. Then, one babysitter seems to change everything for the family, and Slater has no idea what to do.

Production Quality (.5 point)

As another ridiculous Strong Foundation production, Why Me? has uneven audio, as shown by a very loud soundtrack and loud background echoes. Despite acceptable video quality and camera work, the sets, locations, and props are cheap. Also, the editing is terrible; some scenes suddenly cut off with no warning. There are zero transitions yet very obvious continuity errors. With an overall low-quality feel, this section is another failure for this team.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Full of ridiculously contrived situations and childishly contrived situations, this plot is incredibly juvenile. It lacks purpose and has some of the most absurdly forced comedy sequences ever. The choppy story presentation makes the movie feel like a bunch of random scenes that are poorly strung together. These problems don’t even include the incredibly awkward characters that are pariahs of millennials. The absurd message-pushing about how dumb young people are is incredibly annoying. What’s more, none of the characters seem to have appropriate emotional reactions to life crises like family deaths. Further, after tons of occurrences happen throughout the narrative that lack lead-ups or explanations, it just suddenly ends and leaves the viewer wondering why they just wasted their time on this drivel.

Acting Quality (1 points)

Per usual for the Strong Foundation team, this screenplay’s acting is just bad. Emotions are over-the-top, and line delivery seems mostly unserious. There are lots of awkward performances, and a few cast members are extremely robotic and practiced in their acting. Despite the fact that one of the lead actresses is a standout, it’s not enough to save this disaster from itself.

Conclusion

In 2020, Strong Foundation Films was still making garbage like Why Me?, thus continually making a mockery of Christian entertainment. They continually release unnecessary additions to the market like this one and contribute to the field’s damaged reputation. Thus, in 2021, we’re still saying the same things about movies like this one. Until projects like Why Me? cease being funded, things won’t change much for Christian movies.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Redeeming the Time (Movie Review)

Image result for redeeming the time movie

Plot Summary

When a star high school athlete is emotionally affected by a loved one’s death, he’s forced to soul searching that he never wanted to do. What he finds is unexpected, and he’ll have to turn to God before it’s too late.

Production Quality (1 point)

On the surface, this production is fine, including good video quality and camera work. However, the audio is quite bad, as shown by obvious overdubs, a generic soundtrack, and some loud screeching in certain sets. Similarly, the sets, locations, and props are generally cheap, and the editing is quite choppy. Despite some slight improvement as the film goes on, this section can’t receive any more than one point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It seems like the entire purpose of Redeeming the Time is to push a very legalistic version of Christianity on the audience. The movie’s creators appeared to craft a self-indulgent portrayal of themselves as perfect Christians who can fix the “bad” people just by spouting Bible verses and inspirational quotes at them. While important issues are explored in this narrative, they’re looked at in the totally wrong way, using obvious expository dialogue that forces ideas down the viewer’s throat without being the least bit realistic or subtle. As a result, the characters come off as completely out-of-touch and one-dimensional since they only focus on their stated problems. In the end, due to magical sermonizing, the concerns are easily fixed to the point of making the “bad” characters just as ridiculously perfect as the “good” ones. Once this goal is accomplished, the story ends in an abruptly awkward way, leaving the audience with nothing but an empty, zero-potential idea.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the acting in this screenplay is just as bad as its other elements. Ranging from strained and forced to awkward and overly practiced, these performances leave much to be desired. Extreme emotions, such as lots of yelling and screaming, don’t help matters either. Thus, because there’s not enough positive to outweigh the negative, no points can be awarded in this section.

Conclusion

When a film’s entire purpose is push a certain agenda, regardless of what the worldview is, the movie has already failed. Viewers will almost always be turned off to this since no wants to be spoon-fed propaganda. It’s even worse when Christian screenplays commit these errors because, as we’ve said many times before, it further hurts the field’s reputation. When creations like this are still being made, audiences will continually be turned off to Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

Our Rose Garden (Movie Review)

Our Rose Garden - BMG-Global | Bridgestone Multimedia Group | Movie & TV  Distribution

Plot Summary

A married couple is struggling due to the wife’s psychosis, which makes their lives unpredictable. However, despite his son’s desire to place his mother in a mental health facility, the husband wants to remain faithful to his wife because she was there for him when he was unfaithful to her.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Because this production stays within its financial and logistical boundaries, it is very professional. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all on point, and the soundtrack is quite good. Sets, locations, and props are all well-utilized. The only slight concerns relate to some choppy editing and awkward transitions, but these aren’t enough to prevent his section from receiving a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Our Rose Garden uses a very creative story presentation that mixes past and present subplots to develop character motive. It’s an authentic look at realistic problems that many people face even if the dialogue is a little thin and under-developed. It was better to make a short film rather than long and drawn out movie with no meaning, but this didn’t leave much time to completely develop the characters to their fullest potentials. Also, the narrative could have had a stronger premise rather than a vague one as well as more concrete messaging. Throughout the screenplay, some scenes oddly mix with each other and cut off as another invades, which confuses the audience. The story concludes with a somewhat abrupt ending that seems to easily fix the problems at hand. Nonetheless, there was a enough potential in this plot to justify a meager rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The cast of Our Rose Garden definitely showed that they were trying hard in their performances as they acted in meaningful ways. Despite some very small moments of robotic emotions and line delivery, these cast members demonstrated good skills. Another drawback of this section was beyond their control: the fact that the past and present cast members didn’t really look like each other. However, as a whole, this area was above average, which rounds out a good effort.

Conclusion

This creative team obviously has tons of potential for the future due their knack for analyzing people without creating stereotypes or being too heavy-handed with message-pushing. They also avoid wasting resources on an unnecessarily long film. With a little more character and narrative depth, as well as slight acting upgrades, these creators will be well on their way to greater things.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Lost Heart (Movie Review)

Lost Heart (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Hannah is a country music star who loses her cool during an interview due to sensitive questions about her past. This prompts her to take time off from the show business, but her father’s sudden death forces Hannah to return to the hometown that she wants to avoid. There, she has to confront the darkness of her past and come to grips with what her choices have done. Hannah wants to run from God, but He won’t give up on her.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The Collective Development team has come a long way with production quality during their time in the field. Lost Heart is an example of continuing improvement, which is all we really ask of entertainment creators. As such, there are few errors in this section. Video quality, audio quality, and camera work are all professional. Though the soundtrack is a bit generic at times for a music-themed film, the sets, locations, and props are well-constructed. The editing is overall fine with a few minor errors. In the end, this is all deserving of a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Much like Wild Faith, Lost Heart has a high amount of potential in the plot category. It includes a realistic portrayal of entertainment life, which is supported by a very effective use of flashbacks to establish character motive and experiences. This is coupled with a surprisingly realistic view of small towns and hidden family problems within them. Despite the many interesting concepts explored in this narrative, it’s almost too much for one story, making it hard to focus on one thing. Lost Heart feels more like a series than a movie and has the authentic and believable characters necessary for such a venture. They’re crafted with great dialogue that helps the audience to connect with them. However, this section isn’t without its downfalls. Convenient turns and coincidences help important plot points get unnecessarily kicked down the road, and sometimes, things happen in the narrative simply because the writers wanted them to. While the story’s conclusions are good, they seemed to be arrived at in unnatural ways. It’s good to write the ending before the beginning, but it has to be properly set up with logic and reason. Unfortunately, Lost Heart loses more and more focus as it goes, leading to a climax scene that’s a bit over the top and unbelievable. This nosedive in the screenplay’s second half kept it from being placed on the Hall of Fame, but this area of the film still warrants a good rating.

Acting Quality (2 points)

In the film’s beginning, the acting is a bit raw. Emotions seem forced at times, and some of the yelling and screaming gets annoying. It would have better if these performances were more subtle and natural, but as a whole, the acting does get better as the movie goes on. There are many good cast members with DJ and Josh Perry being standouts. In the end, this area justifies an above-average score, which rounds out another screenplay that could have been much more.

Conclusion

Lost Heart is another high-potential idea from the Collective Development team. However, like other projects, this one just doesn’t make the cut due to a handful of small yet avoidable errors. This committed group of creators has progressively improved since their former days, which is rare in this business. Nonetheless, they seem to have plateaued and need stronger narrative outlining to help push them across the finish line. Bringing better storytellers into their fold will help them to finally achieve the next level.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Five Blocks Away (Movie Review)

Watch Five Blocks Away | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Anthony has a successful job and prides himself in being able to date whoever he wants. However, when he crosses paths with a childhood friend, she begins to make him see life in a different way. He’s reminded of his past and begins to want a different life. Nonetheless, changing isn’t as easy as Anthony first thought, and he’ll have to give up more than he bargained for.

Production Quality (.5 point)

This production exhibits many problems, including wildly shaky camera work, tight shots, and poor lighting. Despite acceptable video, audio is often covered up with a loud soundtrack. While the score isn’t bad, it’s clearly trying to hide sound problems, such as overdriven audio and distracting background noises. Despite fine sets, locations, and props, editing is extremely abrupt and choppy. Fadeouts plague the viewing experience, and transitions generally confuse the audience. In the end, all these problems only warrant a meager rating in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

From the get-go, this plot is marred with heavy-handed narration that short-circuits any potential for character development. As such, the characters become stereotypical through stock dialogue and vanilla conversations. Story occurrences only happen because the writers want them to, including actions that seem inconsistent with the characters’ tendencies. This causes the narrative to follow a predictable progression, sometimes at an unnaturally rapid pace. Some scenes bleed together, prompting the film to meander with no purpose or central theme. A lot of the time, it’s hard to quantify what the movie is actually about, and sometimes, things suddenly happen without warning. The rushed and vague ending leaves the screenplay’s messaging very empty and wanting, especially since narration tries to patch everything up without feeling. Due to these concerns, zero points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Despite problems, the acting is actually the film’s strongest point. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of issues, including mumbled lines and inconsistent emotional delivery. Some cast members seem flippant about or overconfident in their abilities. However, slight improvement as the movie goes on prevents this section from being zero.

Conclusion

With no central purpose or focus, a screenplay can’t be good. Five Blocks Away is the perfect example of this rule. If you don’t know where you’re going, don’t make the entertainment. If the funding isn’t there, it may not be the right project. You can’t force something to happen that isn’t meant to be because, as we’ve seen time again, it only hurts the market.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

The Mysterious Note (Movie Review)

The Mysterious Note (2019) | Full Movie | Alex Aguilera | Natasha  Diaz-Potter | Peter Tumangday - YouTube

Plot Summary

The Vargas family doesn’t want to accompany their father to a small town for one of his business trips. However, due to various school incidents, the kids are forced to come along. Despite not liking the idea, the youngest accidentally discovers a mystery along with his new friends. Thus, they race to solve it before the vacation time runs out.

Production Quality (.5 point)

This film’s production is very sub-par, including odd video quality and muted audio quality. There are also bizarre echoes, weird sound effects, and background noises that interrupt the viewing experience. Also, the soundtrack is juvenile, and there are obvious overdubs. Lighting is inconsistent throughout, and there are many tight camera shots. Sets, locations, and props are acceptable, but the editing is just pedestrian. In the end, this section only garners a meager score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Using heavy-handed messaging, this narrative forces obvious themes upon the audience, which spills over into the dialogue. This in-your-face approach hurts character development as they become representations of issues rather than relatable people. The plot’s premise is also contrived due to the near-propaganda methods of communication. Christian characters are portrayed as extremely perfect while other characters are magically fixed after doing what the Christians tell them to do. Every conversation is so obviously tied back to the movie’s purpose that it feels like an extended instructional video. Because there’s nothing in this storyline to save it from itself, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As if other elements in this screenplay weren’t bad, the acting is among the worst. Line delivery is extremely accentuated and forced like it’s being printed out. Emotions aren’t any better as each cast member behaves like a programmed android. It’s very hard to believe that performances like these were even approved. Overall, this conclude a very poor effort.

Conclusion

There’s nothing more to say about The Mysterious Note that hasn’t already been said many times over. If the budget isn’t satisfactory, don’t make it. Collaborate with people who know how to write good plots. Consider how your acting is coming off. If God wants you to make a film, He’ll send the right people. Anything else is just forcing something to happen that will do more harm than good.

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Second Chances [2021] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After his father dies, Cameron Taylor is confused and frustrated with life. This is only compounded by a tragedy that he witnesses and feels guilty about. Thus, Cam’s mother decides that he needs to spend the summer with his aunt, uncle, and cousins in a small town. There, Cam has a life-changing experience that he could have never expected to happen.

Production Quality (1 point)

This production has some acceptable areas and some aspects that are not up to standard. Audio and video quality fall into the acceptable category. However, inconsistent lighting, amateurish camera angles, and terrible sound and special effects detract from this. Also, sets, locations, and props are quite cheap. Further, editing is fairly choppy, and despite some slight improvement as time goes on, this section just doesn’t make the cut for 2021.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Although this narrative jumps all over the place and meanders around with little to no purpose, there are actually some slightly interesting ideas contained in the shuffle. One of these is a surprisingly good portrayal of trauma via flashbacks. Another is the protagonist’s relatable struggles with the problem of pain. However, vanilla dialogue and overly scripted conversations short-circuit character development and accessibility. The characters seem incomplete, and the Christian ones are simply too perfect. After a random collection of scenes fills time in the story’s first and second thirds, the final third is ruined by very steep character arcs that lack adequate build-up. As a whole, even though it’s clear that this writing team meant well, the plot is too unfocused, lacking a central theme to tether the random concepts that are mixed together within it.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, the acting of this film leaves something to be desired as it’s overly practiced and stilted. Many of the scenes are very awkward as the cast members simply stand around and recite lines without conviction. Nonetheless, some of the actors and actresses seem to mean well, and they demonstrate slight improvement as the movie goes on. However, it’s only enough to warrant a small score.

Conclusion

This creative team obviously wanted to do the right thing with Second Chances. For this reason, they have lots of future potential. Moreover, while it was a nice idea to explore a character-based narrative, this screenplay would have been better suited as a short film. Alternatively, more writing support was needed to make it complex enough to justify the runtime. Taking all of this into account, it will be interesting see what this group comes up with next.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Beyond the Shield (Movie Review)

Beyond the Shield (2017)

Plot Summary

Pastor Omar wants to make a difference in the lives of troubled youth. However, things become complicated when the pastor runs into two local police officers, Fitzpatrick and Finch. An unexpected turn of events occurs, and everyone involved must decide what their faith is in before it’s too late.

Production Quality (-1 points)

This production goes beyond simply being bad and is actually offensive. Poor video quality, shaky camera work, and weird camera angles are just a few issues that make this film nearly unwatchable. Inconsistent audio quality, wild zooms, and bad lighting are also concerns that disrupt the viewing experience. The editing is likely the most off-putting element as weirdly abrupt cuts and transitions sometimes completely interrupt scenes. Unnecessary stock footage wastes time and seems to replace more substantial content. In the end, this is just an awful section overall, which warrants a negative rating.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

Despite the presentation of realistic circumstances and themes that absolutely should be explored in the context of Christian entertainment, the narrative of Beyond the Shield is simply a train wreck. Subplots are dizzyingly offered to the audience, jumping from one thing to the next with no organization or continuity. In addition to an obnoxious portrayal of story happenings, some scenes nonsensically repeat over and over again. Basically a random collection of loosely connected ideas, this movie completely lacks any shred of character development. Dialogue is extremely stilted and wooden, and attempts at flashbacks but poorly executed. What’s more, there are annoying breaks in the screenplay for fake interviews and confessionals. All of this combined justifies a negative score in this section as well.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The acting in Beyond the Shield doesn’t inspire any confidence either, but it’s at least not offensive. Nonetheless, overly practiced line delivery and forced emotions are commonplace in these performances. Acting is either robotic or full of screaming and yelling.

Conclusion

The good thing is that negative-point films are few and far between, but when they come up, it’s just another instance of Christian entertainment’s reputation being tarnished. It makes the field into a laughingstock and turns potential audience members away. However, there are hopefully new creators who want to do what God has called them to and can rebuild what’s been torn down.

Final Rating: -2 out of 10 points

Sustained [2017] (Movie Review)

Watch Sustained | Prime Video

Plot Summary

Jobari Martin McPherson is a successful lawyer with a bright future ahead of him, but one day, it appears as though he’s lost everything dear to him. Due to someone’s betrayal, Jobari is brought to his knees and forced to dig deeper into the faith he claims. Will his trust in God prevail against all odds?

Production Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, this film’s production leaves a lot to be desired. While video quality is fine, the audio needs some work as there are frequent echoes in the background, an inconsistent soundtrack, and some very quiet scenes due to the microphone being too far away from the cast members. Camera work is mostly okay but is sometimes off-the-wall. Special effects, sets, locations, and props are all very cheap and sub-standard. The editing is average but contains some awkward transitions. As a whole, this is just a below average experience deserving of a low score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As another Bible story adaptation plot, Sustained suffers in the creativity department. It’s hard to follow the storyline, and it doesn’t help that the characters are very bland and generic due to extremely stock and pedestrian dialogue. Time jumps only confuse matters and make it more evident that this narrative lacks a core purpose or focus. Despite a very long runtime, there is very little substantial content that keeps the audience involved in the story. To make matters work, the plot writers demonstrate a grossly inadequate knowledge of real-world legal proceedings, and the movie’s topic seems too complicated when compared with the miniscule level of research that was put into the concept. Thus, with no potential and some major pitfalls, this section can’t be awarded any points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

When the acting in this screenplay isn’t dominated by yelling, it’s overly practiced and slightly robotic. Some cast members seem too laid back while others overdo their performances. At times, it appears as if the film is full of one-take scenes due to possible line mistakes. Overall, emotions and lines are too uneven to warrant an any higher score.

Conclusion

Once again, Sustained is an instance where it’s absurd why this movie was even made. With no direction, poor planning, and low funding, it not only wastes the viewer’s time but continues to pile onto an already overcrowded market. If you want to make a screenplay, please make sure that this actually what God wants you to do.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Christmas Wander (Movie Review)

Christmas Wander | MovieTickets

Plot Summary

Amelia Pittman wanted to be independent, but trouble with her business, along with nursing home troubles, has forced her to reconnect with her father over the holidays in a most unconventional way. Believing that he has the key to finding a substantial sum of money that he stole when he was younger, Amelia drags her dementia-suffering father across the country in hopes of jogging his memory. However, what they find along the way isn’t what Amelia initially expected.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Despite a somewhat limited budget, Christmas Wander has an overall good production. Video quality, camera work, and audio are all at or above industry standards. The soundtrack is also creative as it uses typical Christmas music in unique ways. Sets, locations, and props are realistic, and the only concerns to note are some minor editing issues, such as awkward fadeouts and lagging scenes. However, on the whole, this production warrants a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Using a creatively comedic premise, this plot stands apart from your average Christmas movie fodder. The comedy therein is actually organic as it arises from the natural flow of dialogue, which also develops good characters, including motive and personality. Flashbacks are also efficiently used to craft realistic characters who are flawed and accessible. Though most of the storyline is initiated by character choices, some some slight coincidences keep the plot alive. Although the narrative as great themes and lessons, leading to characters learning something, the vague ending and slightly cheesy conclusion put a damper on the potential that was here. As the plot comes to a close, it tends to fall flat and lose its focus as if the writers ran out of ideas. This fact, combined with the convenient turns that keep the story alive, prevents this section from getting a higher score than it could have even though this narrative was a mostly enjoyable experience.

Acting Quality (3 points)

It’s clear that this film’s strongest point is its acting. The cast members are solid and honest in their performances without committing any glaring errors. Emotions are believable, and line delivery is on point. Thus, this rounds out a very good screenplay that could have been much better.

Conclusion

Christmas Wander had a lot going for it, and it’s still a good movie to watch. However, it’s hard to overlook how it could have been much more than it is. With a better conclusion and more clear direction for the characters, this would have been a Hall of Fame film. Nonetheless, it’s still a fine holiday screenplay and one that can be learned from.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

A Christmas Wish [2011] (Movie Review)

A Christmas Wish

Plot Summary

Martha Evans has been abandoned by her husband, so her only option is to pack up the kids and start a new life somewhere else. However, money is tight, so she’s forced to look for work along the way. She settles in a small town working at a struggling diner, but times are hard for everyone. Martha’s oldest daughter is intent on her mother finding the true meaning of Christmas, but will it be too late before Martha sees the light?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s clear from start to finish that A Christmas Wish has a well-funded production. Video quality, camera work, and audio are all on par with industry standards. Locations and props are good while sets only have a few minor concerns in them, such as being a bit too cluttered and cramped. Further, editing is fine save for a few small issues. Overall, however, this is a top-notch production worthy of a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

For a Christmas film, this plot actually contains accessible characters and struggles that can be easily related to. The people feel authentic and have believable motivations through good dialogue. Nonetheless, conversations could be a bit better and less expository, which would allow for deeper personalities in the characters. Similarly, the backstories need more comprehensive explanations, and there’s so much content that some of it takes place offscreen. Scenes and sequences aren’t as efficient as they could be, which is an issue when there’s so many characters and subplots to deal with. Side tangents distract from the main themes, making this feel more like a series than a movie. Wastes of time like these make it hard to understand why some of the characters quickly develop such close and personal relationships with one another, and some things randomly change without good reasoning. Despite some cheesy Christmas elements, the story contains a very accessible message about praying and not giving up no matter what. There’s still plenty of potential here even though the rushed conclusion fixes everything without logical buildup. Thus, at least one point is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

In keeping with the well-funded nature of this screenplay, the acting is professional. Many of the cast members assume their characters very well, even if there are a few overdone performances. Despite a few awkward moments with lines and emotions, the acting is good enough to receive a high score.

Conclusion

As a whole, A Christmas Wish is a better version of a small-town plot due to the accessible quirkiness of the characters. It’s actually a shame that it’s not longer than it is. This begs the question why this wasn’t the pilot of a recurring TV series. The characters were enough to justify at least one season, and a Christmas special like this film could have garnered interest for it. However, instead of this idea, we’re just left with a good screenplay that’s awkwardly stuck between the terrible parts of Christian entertainment and the truly memorable creations.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Lucy Shimmers and the Prince of Peace (Movie Review)

Lucy Shimmers and the Prince of Peace | 2020 | Scarlett Diamond, Vincent  Vargas, Adam Hightower - YouTube

Plot Summary

Lucy Shimmers is dying of a terminal illness, and her parents are at a loss. Nonetheless, Lucy doesn’t view death as the end and wants to do everything she can do to make the most of her short time left. Thus, she decides to follow the dreams that she believes God has given her and reach out to other patients at the hospital, even those no one else cares about.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

This film’s strongest area is its professional production, which is demonstrated by great video quality, camera work, and use of sets, locations, and props. The audio quality is acceptable despite a generic soundtrack and some loud background sounds. Similarly, the editing is good although there are a few minor continuity errors. In the end, however, these concerns are small and don’t prevent a high score from being awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The plot Lucy Shimmers is actually based on some fairly authentic characters who are built via intriguing dialogue and conversations, but this area could still be deeper than it is. One detracting aspects is the unusual magical elements of communicating with dead people, which the narrative relies on when it needs to. Also, the story seems to kick the proverbial can down the road trying to get to a certain point by spending time on wasteful montages rather than developing the characters further. This inefficient use of scenes is only compounded by some unrealistic HIPAA violations and ‘bad’ characters who seem too vindictive for no reason. Other implausible occurrences happen just because the writers want them to, and some character actions need better justification besides the desire to reach predetermined conclusion. As a whole, the plot seems to become more unrealistic as it goes, leading to a rushed finish that’s almost interesting because it’s different. Nonetheless, it leaves too many unanswered questions and wastes the potential that this movie had to present an out-of-the-box idea using mostly accessible characters and their struggles. Therefore, with some small positive that’s short-circuited by a lot of unforced errors, only a small score is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a whole, the acting in Lucy Shimmers is above average. Despite slightly muted emotions, the line delivery is believable. Some performances seem overly practiced, but others are spot-on. The acting tends to improve with time, allowing the positive to outweigh the negative and warrant a good rating for this section.

Conclusion

Screenplays like this one clearly mean well and want to offer an authentic message. However, with the market being saturated with these types of films, it’s hard for new ones to make an impact. Because of this overcrowded genre, movies like Lucy Shimmers have to go above and beyond to set themselves apart, which can be done through deep character development. Only then will they be able to truly make a difference.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points