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

We Three Kings [2020] (Movie Review)

We Three Kings (2020) | Trailer | Rebecca St. James | Michael W. Smith |  Nise Davies - YouTube

Plot Summary

The Fay children have had a hard time ever since their mother died, but they can’t wait for their Uncle Henry to arrive for Christmas. He’s trying to add a scandalous new song to the church’s hymnbook despite the resistance he’s getting. The oldest Fay daughter is trying to organize the local Christmas pageant at church, which is what her mother used to do. Will everyone be able to accomplish these things in time for the holiday?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, We Three Kings sports a professional production. This is shown by good video quality, camera work, and audio. Historical accuracy is also a big plus, as seen in the authentic sets, locations, and props. Essentially, there are no real errors in this section except for some minor editing concerns. However, this appears to be partially related to the plot. Thus, a high score is granted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, it’s hard to follow this narrative at the beginning due to its substantial time jumps. This, combined with Shakespearean dialogue, hurts character development, making them seem very stiff and stilted. Scenes go from one thing to another without clear connection or direction, and conversations seem to go in circles and talk about the same things all the time. Because of this, it’s hard to connect with the cardboard cutout characters who never seem to have normal human reactions or emotions. For this reason, it’s unclear why should we care what these people are doing or going through. Therefore, despite the good use of source material, there’s hardly any potential in this plot, which is insufficient given that the story’s framework was already written for the creators.

Acting Quality (1 point)

To fit with the Shakespearean characters, the acting in We Three Kings is very theatrical. Many performances are too stilted due to overly practiced and enunciated line delivery. Additionally, emotions come off as mechanical and robotic. However, some of the acting is acceptable, and the historically authentic costuming is a plus. Nonetheless, the singing leaves something to be desired, which leaves this section with a meager rating.

Conclusion

Many more film makers need to be adapting historical accounts, but this movie is an example of how even that approach can go wrong. Taking shortcuts with writing and acting can easily derail even the best source material. Having a good idea isn’t enough; screenplays are very complex things that require a lot of effort and collaboration. Perhaps, one day soon, the Christian entertainment factory will finally produce quality over quantity.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Miracle on Christmas (Movie Review)

Amazon.com: Miracle On Christmas: Erin Bethea, Jason Burkey, Brett Varvel,  Micah Lynn Hanson, Kimberly Cruchon Brooks, Thomas Bonifield: Movies & TV

Plot Summary

Mary isn’t having a good holiday season: it’s been a year since her dad died, and now, Mary’s husband, James, has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Nonetheless, Mary wants to hide this from her mother and siblings, who are coming over for Christmas. On top of it all, James brings a total stranger, Harry, to the celebration. However, Harry turns out to be more than anyone thought and offers new hope during the hard times.

Production Quality (2 points)

At the very least, Miracle on Christmas meets the minimum requirements for modern productions. There aren’t many concerns to note here, and this section has many positives, including good video quality, camera work, and audio quality. The generic soundtrack leaves something to be desired, however, but the sets, locations, and props are acceptable. The main issues in this area pertain to continuity errors, cheesy special effects, and sparse editing. These seems to be evidences of a thrown-together creation, but this part of the film is still above average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Using a stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling, this plot presents one thing after another without much continuity between scenes. It’s also hard to connect with characters as many conversations go round and round without accomplishing anything, and dialogue is generally inadequate at building characters. It goes without saying that the angel character is very creepy and overly focused on even though it’s unclear why he even needs to be there except to unnecessarily complicate matters. With no clear themes or central focus, this narrative is essentially a bunch of random scenes strung together, and it’s difficult to feel like the happenings are realistic. While the storyline drags on and on without proper payoffs, time is wasted on useless musical montages, angel monologues, and juvenile animations that accomplish nothing. Therefore, with no potential, zero points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Although the acting of Miracle on Christmas isn’t all bad, there are many instances of very awkward acting. This include over-the-top and forced emotions as well as overdone line delivery. Several cast members are trying way too hard to either make themselves known or be very theatrical in their performances. Thus, this section rounds out an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

Kevan Otto continues to randomly release low-quality screenplays without warning and without justification. This movie is just another installment in a long line of disappointments that further damage the reputation of Christian entertainment. With no clear direction or purpose, there’s really no reason why Miracle on Christmas should have been made, making it another example of why people continue to be suspicious of Christian creations.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

The Gift of Christmas [2020] (Movie Review)

The Gift of Christmas (TV Movie 2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

After George and Allen Barnett went across country to fulfill their father’s dying wishes, both brothers came back changed men. For the holidays, George asks him brother for a favor: bringing home the prodigal daughter of George’s friend. As such, Allen and the woman embark on their own cross-country journey of good deeds, learning a lot about each other along the way.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the production in this film is average. This is due to clear video quality yet inconsistent lighting: some shots are either poorly lit or overly lit. Camera work and audio quality are acceptable except for some background echoes, and a generic soundtrack sometimes covers up other sounds. There are also some obvious overdubs and continuity errors that seem avoidable. Further, the editing is passable, but some scenes linger too long. Thus, due to the mixed bag, a middle-of-the-road score is warranted.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like its predecessor, The Good Journey, The Gift of Christmas fails to adequately engage its audience. This is due to cardboard characters that are built with expository dialogue rather than the deep conversations that are needed to support a character-based plot. Vague and blank sequences don’t offer much interest, and many scenes simply waste time. Some concepts seem under-explained, and the overall messaging teaches that simply going to church fixes everything. Despite some slightly interesting ideas that are very slow to develop and somewhat aimless, the narrative wanders around until everything is magically fixed in the end. It’s hard to believe the resolutions, and it makes matters worse that the vague story doesn’t hold the attention. Hence, with no tangible potential, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

The acting of this is fairly vanilla. There aren’t any particularly bad performances to point to, but no standouts can be found either. At times, the emotions and lines are robotic and stilted. However, other times, the acting is acceptable. Thus, this run-of-the-mill section rounds out an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

Did anyone really ask for a sequel to The Good Journey? Many audiences never even knew that the first movie existed, much less a Christmas installment. These two screenplays are the perfect example of making entertainment just for the sake of it. Some slightly interesting ideas were included, but nothing was enough to truly engage the viewer. Half-hearted attempts are still hurting the field’s reputation, which means we still need quality over quantity.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

The Greatest Gift Ever Given (Movie Review)

The Greatest Gift Ever Given (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Paul Hanson just wants to close a business deal before Christmas so that he can make the money that his family needs. However, one thing after another begins to go wrong on his business trip, and Paul becomes more and more angry at God. He’ll have to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas in order to move forward with his life.

Production Quality (1 point)

Like we’ve said many times in the past, poor production quality is no longer acceptable in 2020. However, The Greatest Gift Ever Given has this same problem. Though camera work and video quality are fine, audio quality is consistent. One example of this is the never-ending cheap soundtrack that rarely fits the situation. Elsewhere, sets and props don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to portray, and locations are generally cheap and limited. Further, there’s basically no editing, which rounds out an overall underwhelming effort in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Despite being a relatively short movie, many of the narrative’s conversations repeat over and over again like the writers just wanted to fill time with copied statements. Generic boring sequences waste time, and riveting activities of daily living bore the audience. Due to bland and unoriginal dialogue, characters lack substance or depth, swept along in a plot that makes things unnaturally happen because the creators want them to. However, despite these problems that make the story’s first half seem useless and cause the viewers to lose interest, some interesting concepts introduced in the second half, which is too late. This creates wasted potential because there was something good here that could have been further explored if done the right way. The plot’s writers obviously meant well but needed a lot of guidance on follow-through and presentation. Thus, despite some slight positive, the negative drags down this section too much to warrant any points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

As a whole, the acting in this film is vanilla. Sometimes, the cast members try too hard, but they are otherwise very regular and standard in their performances. Line delivery and emotions are a bit uneven and unsure at times, and some scenes feel very staged, but it’s not all bad. There are a handful of positive moments that keep this section above water.

Conclusion

It’s evident that this movie’s creators really meant well and had a pretty good message to offer. However, this is never enough. It’s easier to write than to make a full screenplay that’s quality. Perhaps a short film would have been a better option for The Greatest Gift Ever Given since this would have reduced the budget and provided better focus for the main ideas.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

The God Cafe (Movie Review)

Amazon.com: the God café: Steve Brown, Joe Herrera, Jorge Diaz, Clint  Patterson

Plot Summary

When a worship pastor is facing a crisis in his marriage and his career, he feels like he’s at the end of his rope. The minister wonders if his faith is even real, which is why he’s suddenly visited by mysterious men who claim to be from history. They show the pastor what the true meaning of Christmas is, but the minister will have to decide for himself.

Production Quality (.5 point)

Starting off with odd lighting and tinted filtering, the production quality of The God Cafe is quite low. Cheap special effects and overlays clutter the viewing experience despite acceptable video quality. Sub-par audio is accompanied by a generic soundtrack. Limited sets, locations, and props are supplemented by embarrassing fake backgrounds, and some odd camera angles further contribute to this section’s problems. Additionally, the editing is marred by sudden and abrupt flashes and transitions, which disorients the audience. In the end, only a very meager score can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Despite the fact that this plot is centered around the inherent problems with celebrity worship pastors (a pertinent discussion that needs to be had), it’s unclear why certain apostles from church history have to visit the protagonist to clear things up. What’s more, the story is frequently interrupted with random, out-of-context songs just because it’s a Christmas musical, I guess. Dialogue is basically a general regurgitation of Bible reading, making the story a long informational diatribe. As such, character development is thrown out the window in favor of a constant stream of facts and references to offscreen content. In the end, besides being a an alternate redux of The Perfect Gift, The God Cafe accomplishes next to nothing, which is the reasoning for zero points in this section.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Between forceful line delivery and manufactured emotions, this section is overall subpar. It seems the cast members are trying to be too interesting, which just comes off as annoying. As a whole, the performances are too theatrical, but there are some bright spots that keep the acting from being a total loss. The amount of positive is enough to warrant a point in this area.

Conclusion

Films like The God Cafe don’t even begin with a sound plot structure, just a vague idea that could be interesting. This isn’t sufficient for a Christian movie, so it’s long past time for collaboration to be the norm in the field. No one can make a movie on their own, and everyone has different talents to bring to the table. If God wants you to make a screenplay, He’ll supply the team and the resources that you need, so you don’t have to try to force more films to happen that will likely fail.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Hope for Christmas (Movie Review)

Hope For Christmas (2018) #GLCFF2019 @GLCFF - YouTube

Plot Summary

Pastor Greg randomly wins a shopping spree for Christmas Eve, but this causes him to be late for the service he has to run because he and his staff get stuck in an elevator with a pregnant woman who suddenly goes into labor! Will they be able to get back to the church in time to help those in need?

Production Quality (.5 point)

With shaky cam and terrible special effects, the production of this film leaves a lot to be desired. Although video quality is fine and the audio quality is acceptable, the soundtrack is quite generic. Sets, locations, and props are very cheap and limited. Further, the editing is very weird due to the fact that some scenes are extremely short with shocking fadeouts. Other sequences drag on for no reason, so this section can’t be award more than half a point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like Diary of a Lunatic: Trew’s Calling, Hope for Christmas brings up a lot of problems that exist within the American church establishment, but many of the satire and parody elements are bizarre and isolating. A lot of the plot elements are completely unexplainable as they either try way too hard to be funny or waste true comedic potential. The narrative lacks focus as it tries to explore an overwhelming amount of topics at once, which causes one thing to happen after another without continuity. Random instances happen for no particular reason, and there are simply too many characters and subplots. Obvious dialogue and conversations try to obsessively hammer the same concepts into the audience’s brains. However, this fact is even worse because the story is very purposeless and aimless. Hence, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Surprisingly, the acting is the strongest aspect of this movie although it leaves much to be desired. Some cast members appear to be trying too hard in their performances. Lots of crosstalk muddles scenes; emotions and line delivery is mostly uneven across the board. However, not all is bad here, which is sufficient to warrant a point but not enough to save this screenplay from itself.

Conclusion

Greg Robbins and company always have something to offer, but their packaging is all wrong. It’s understandable and relatable to discuss the problems within the American church establishment. However, doing so in a such an offbeat way delegitimizes the message. This doesn’t even mention the fact that low quality films continually undermine the reputation of Christian entertainment. We’ve said this all before, and there’s nothing new this holiday season.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

The Good Journey (Movie Review)

The Good Journey (2018) - IMDb

Plot Summary

George and Allen Barnett are extremely different as brothers, but when their father dies, part of getting their inheritances is working together. Though they don’t get along, the brothers are forced to retrace the steps of their parents’ honeymoon trip, which was aided by many different Good Samaritans. George and Allen are tasked with repaying these kind people for their good deeds, and along the way, they discover more about themselves.

Production Quality (1 point)

The production isn’t quite up to the mark despite its clear video quality. Camera work is inconsistent although it gets better as it goes. Audio quality is fine except for loud background noises and a generic soundtrack that hardly stops playing. Sets, props, and locations are okay, but there are cheesy graphics throughout. Elsewhere, the editing is average, and the amount of negatives overall isn’t enough to warrant a score any higher than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Between the choppy story presentation and the lagging nature of many scenes in this screenplay, The Good Journey is a boring experience. Tons of time is wasted with musical montages that displace substantial conversations, making the film feel like a collection of randomly disconnected sequences. The character have absolutely no substance or depth, seeming strangely unconcerned about family deaths without good reason. They do things simply because the writers want them to. As a whole, the dialogue is bland and generic. Thus, with no real potential in this section, no points can be given.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Robotic acting dominates the first half of this movie, making for an annoying experience. Emotions are stoic and nonexistent as line delivery is uneven. Nonetheless, slight improvement in the latter parts keep this section from being nothing but still isn’t enough to buoy an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

The Good Journey was based on a nice idea, one that seemed slightly different from other run-of-the-mill Christian entertainment. However, poor funding and misfired presentation sunk whatever creativity was possible here. As such, this film joins the long line of offerings in the Christian market that could have been something yet fell short of the mark for a number of reasons.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Our Father’s Keeper (Movie Review)

Our Father's Keeper (2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

When David Roberts is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the entire family is forced to adjust. Two of his sons are at odds with each other due to the fact that one of them has a checkered past. David’s wife is forced to take a job to make ends meet. Thus, the already-strained family is pushed to the limit when David suddenly goes missing just before Thanksgiving. This forces the family to work together in order to find David before it’s too late.

Production Quality (2 points)

In keeping with the recent trends of Christian entertainment, Our Father’s Keeper has a professional production quality. This is shown by good video quality and camera work. The soundtrack is a bit generic, however, and the audio has some moments that could be better. Nonetheless, sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-utilized. Perhaps this section’s biggest downfall is its choppy editing, which includes premature cutoffs and abrupt transitions. Moreover, despite the negatives, this production does enough to warrant an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

This film presents a very very intriguing story of the mental decline that can come about due to Alzheimer’s disease. It contains fairly realistic and accessible characters who are based on average or better dialogue. Many of them have, at minimum, partially developed personalities and motivations. However, at times, the narrative gets side-tracked on useless tangents, such as one too many side characters. Despite its creative undertones, the plot needs more fleshing out for tighter story telling. Elsewhere, there’s good subtle Christian messaging that restrains itself from being either heavy-handed or vague, but the main themes, which are very thought-provoking, come up a bit late in the game. At times, things occur that are too convenient for where the writers are trying to steer the story, and some scenes tend to fill time instead of doing something useful. This leads to a slightly rushed ending that tries to fix problems without good explanations, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that there’s plenty of potential in this screenplay.

Acting Quality (2 points)

One of this movie’s highlights is an excellent portrayal of tragic mental decline through the mode of acting. This is very difficult to pull off without being cheesy, but Craig Lindquist does well with this. While some cast members try too hard to force lines and emotions, most of them are either average or good in their performances. Despite inconsistent makeup work, there are many bright spots in this section that garner an above-average score.

Conclusion

Our Father’s Keeper is another film that needs a remake because of its high bar of potential that wasn’t adequately met. The raw creativity of this narrative was enough to set it apart from the run-of-the-mill noise with Christian entertainment, but a handful of errors kept it from being all that it could have been. Hopefully, in the coming days, this type of movie will be the worst that the Christian market has to offer. We look forward to seeing what this production team has planned next.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Seven Letters: Ephesus (Movie Review)

Watch Seven Letters: Ephesus | Prime Video

Plot Summary

David is a widower who has had a good life, but he feels like something’s missing. He follows God but feels distant from the Lord. Thus, he sets out to discover what’s wrong, and what he finds surprises him.

Production Quality (.5 point)

Seven Letters: Ephesus bears all the typical hallmarks of a low-quality production. Poor audio, sub-par video, inconsistent lighting, and tight camera angles are all evidence of this. Sets, locations, and props are cheap, not representing what they’re supposed to portray. At times, weird sepia tones and other filtering problems overtake the viewing experience. Special effects and flashes are also annoying to the audience, and the soundtrack sounds like a free trial. However, despite these obvious problems, there are some okay moments that keep this section from being zero. Nonetheless, it’s too little too late.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Although it’s obvious that the creators wanted to make this the first installment of a series, it’s hard to understand the actual purpose of Seven Letters: Ephesus. Besides major agenda-pushing, the plot is very simplistic and empty. Dialogue is very staged and designed solely to force a point on the viewer. As such, characters only present issues rather than actual people. In the pursuit of spoon-feeding messages to the audience, the problems that are introduced in the narrative are often rapidly fixed in unrealistic ways. Magical solutions present themselves just when the writers need them to, which makes the premise even more inaccessible. In the end, with no transformative themes, clear focus, or believable characters, this storyline has no potential and thus receives no points.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Even though it’s sub-par, the acting is actually the strongest aspect of this film. Nonetheless, much of the line delivery is too pronounced and enunciated. Emotions also come off as overly practiced rather than natural. However, there are plenty of good moments, just not enough to raise this score any higher.

Conclusion

When setting out to make a movie series, the pilot has to actually be interesting enough to make people want to see more. Trying to shove beliefs down viewers’ throats is never the way to do this. Hopefully, however, we’re now in the era where screenplays like this one are no longer commonplace.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland (Movie Review)

Movie – The Farmer and The Belle

Plot Summary

Belle Winters is a model who’s been told that she’s aging out of the business. Thus, she decides to revisit a place from her childhood to find the secret to true beauty, which she believes was found on a bracelet she left behind. However, when she returns, she once again crosses paths with the pen pal she thought forgot about her. In seeing him again, what Belle finds is unexpected.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite being average, The Farmer and the Belle isn’t quite good enough for a 2020 production. Video and audio quality are good, and sets, locations, and props are acceptable. However, camera work is randomly shaky at times. The generic soundtrack is sometimes too obvious for the situations it’s played in. Editing is quite choppy as some scenes cut off prematurely. Nonetheless, there’s some improvement as the film goes on, but it’s still just run-of-the-mill.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Surprisingly, this plot begins with good attempts to develop character motive via a flashback prologue. Though the often-expository dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, there’s actually a basic narrative focus, including obvious themes albeit slightly juvenile ones. The tongue-in-cheek comedy is sometimes funny and sometimes not. At times, things happen simply because the writers want them to, and convenient turns transpire simply to suit the story’s purposes. The middle of the plot wastes a lot of time, seemingly kicking the can down the road, and a few sequences seem too staged and forced to exist. Overall, there is some potential in this section, but the contrived nature of the narrative and the lack of strong characters holds it back from being all that it could be.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Due to the back and forth nature of this section, the final score comes out as average. At times, the acting is professional while other times, it isn’t. Line delivery and emotions are overall inconsistent. Some scenes are more dramatic than others, but it’s not all bad. In the end, this mixed bag caps off an mostly underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

Movies like Saving Santaland are neither bad enough to be remembered nor good enough to be upheld. In the end, this screenplay is likely to fall into the same bin with other forgettable Christmas offerings that clamor for the attention of audiences. It’s definitely possible that holiday films are more likely to be viewed, so why not give the watchers something to remember rather than forget?

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Trust {The Life of Daniel} [2018] (Movie Review)

Trust (2018) | Full Movie | Suzan Marie Ghaleb | Danny Elacci | Chelsea  Bennett - YouTube

Plot Summary

Daniel Rainwater had everything going for him in life: a good job, a nice house, and the family he always wanted. However, when things suddenly take a turn for the worst, Daniel is unsure what to do. Some people tell him to turn to God, but Daniel isn’t too sure about the Christian faith. Little does he know that he’ll have to face what he doesn’t want to talk about before it’s too late.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

In some respects, this production seems to have good effort behind it. For instance, video quality is acceptable, and the sets, locations, and props are at least above average. Audio quality is also fine, including an okay soundtrack. However, the camera work is quite inconsistent, sometimes involving odd camera angles that disorient the audience. Additionally, by far the worst aspect of this section is the severely choppy and confusing editing that nearly negates any good there was in other production elements. It makes for a very difficult viewing experience and overall reduces this rating to middle-of-the-road.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like the disorganized editing, the scenes of this narrative jump from one thing to the next, going by so fast that it’s difficult to know what’s going on. Offscreen content makes things confusing, and the characters are simply pawns in the plot’s manufactured circumstances. Despite some slightly meaningful attempts at dialogue, it’s simply not enough to keep the characters from being distant and abstract cardboard cutouts. The protagonist goes from being a downtrodden victim to being a perfect Christian as the writers assert that nothing can’t be easily fixed by a Christianese speech and a musical montage. Because of this, the real issue explored in this story are portrayed in very trite and shallow ways. Further, strangely forced humor is framed in weird contexts. In the end, Trust is a wasted effort due to its childish handling of otherwise heavy topics, vaguely inaccessible characters, and spastic plot presentation.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though there are some good performances, awkward and forced acting is another pitfall in this movie. Emotions seem very forced throughout, including a lot of yelling and screaming. Also, line delivery is quick, choppy, and stilted. Thus, the negative outweighs the positive here, giving this section a below-average rating.

Conclusion

Screenplays like Trust start out with possibly good intentions but easily go off the rails due to poor planning and lack of collaboration. This film has the potential to offer a meaningful message to viewers, but it’s extremely jumbled in the delivery. Without vital components and clear direction from God, movies like these will unfortunately always come up short.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Great Gain (Movie Review)

Great Gain Movie Trailer - Movies

Plot Summary

Isaac works as a janitor for an advertising firm, but his new boss is making life miserable for him. However, when Isaac suddenly wins the lottery one day, things completely change for him. Nonetheless, Isaac makes poor choices with his new money and is forced to come face to face with God’s plan for his life.

Production Quality (.5 point)

The production commits a lot of unwarranted errors, such as cheap audio quality that includes background sounds and a stereotypical soundtrack that sometimes overpowers the scene although it doesn’t fit the mood. While video quality is acceptable, the camera work is excessively shaky. Sets, locations, and props are quite cheap, and the editing isn’t quite up to standard. Thus, with lots of negative and very little positive, only a meager score can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Without much content in this plot, basically nothing substantial happens. The scenes are stretched out in ridiculous fashions, making them very drab and unengaging. Riveting cleaning montages show how desperate this film is for actual content. Due to empty dialogue, the characters come off as very cheesy. It feels like the writers didn’t even try to make things interesting or realistic. Lacking overall purpose, things happen because they need to until it all comes to a forced conclusion. Hence, without any potential in this section, zero points are awarded.

Acting Quality (1 point)

For good reason, many of the cast members in this movie seem bored and checked out throughout the experience. While there do exhibit some potential in certain scenes, not enough coaching is applied here. Some moments come off as very awkward, including line and emotional delivery. In the end, this section is actually the best of the screenplay, which isn’t saying much.

Conclusion

Great Gain is basically a different verse of the same song in Christian entertainment. Extremely cheap in every way, there’s no justification for its existence. It accomplishes nothing and only further detracts from the reputation of the field.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Provision [2017] (Movie Review)

Provision (2017) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Joel wants to serve God and dedicate his life to the Lord, but one day, he begins to lose everything he holds dear. Those who used to be on Joel’s side have now turned against him. Despite the pain and hardship, will Joel hold into his faith in Christ?

Production Quality (.5 point)

Overall, Provision has a very cheap production. Video quality is blurry, and audio quality is inconsistent, including terrible overdubs, chopped-up sound, background noises, and a soundtrack that’s sometimes too loud. While camera work is okay, the sets, locations, and props are extremely limited. The editing is also hit-and-miss, sometimes acceptable and sometimes using weird fadeouts that cut off scenes. Some sequences seem very disconnected from each other as a few are too short to adequately portray their content. In the end, despite some slight improvement as the film goes on, this section digs too deep of an early hole to warrant a higher score than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It’s hard to continually justify plots that are modern-day renditions of well-known biblical accounts. This aside, the least that writers can do is make it interesting, but Provision fails in this respect. Doing next to nothing to hold the audience’s attention, this narrative presents very vanilla characters and uninspiring dialogue. Some of them are total strawmen, and the protagonist is an unrealistically perfect victim. As the story presents one unrelated thing after another without any continuity, it gets worse with time, getting confusing due to large time jumps. Silly and nonsensical coincidences make things happen because they need to, and the Christian message of this movie leaves much to be desired. In the end, there’s no potential to award in this area.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Although this section is actually better than the previous ones, it still falls short. Performances are often overly practiced despite attempts to do the right thing. Lines and emotions are bit too bland, robotic, forced, and wooden. Some cast members try to unsuccessfully portray multiple age brackets. Moreover, though there’s improvement with time, it’s not enough to warrant a higher score.

Conclusion

Provision likely doesn’t fall into the category of Christian movies that are only about getting money from a certain audience. At multiple times, it felt like the creators wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know how. This shows the importance of effective collaboration, planning, and spirituality in the creative process. Without proper direction, support, and reliance on God, the screenplay always suffers.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Objects of Wrath (Movie Review)

Objects of Wrath (Video 2004) - IMDb

Plot Summary

After a call from God, Steve moves to Las Vegas to be a pastor. However, things don’t turn out as expected since he’s forced to start a church in a bar. Steve soon learns that lost people aren’t who he thought they were and that they’re not much different than he is.

Production Quality (.5 point)

This film contains a very poor production, partly due to low quality audio. This is evidenced by a loud soundtrack that doesn’t fit the mood and intermittent background sounds. Camera work is very odd, and lighting is inconsistent, giving off an overall cheap feel. Sets, locations, and props leave something to be desired, and flashbacks are unnecessarily black and white. While video quality is acceptable, the editing isn’t up to standard, and all of this only warrants half a point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

If the funding isn’t there for a good production, the least a team can do is present a dynamic story. However, Objects of Wrath also fails in this area. Nothing much happens in this narrative as characters woodenly do meaningless things. Canned dialogue and conversations are hopeless at developing character motive and personality, making them impossible to relate to. Many scenes are totally wasted on useless TV preaching, cheesy reality TV episodes, and riveting typing sequences. These pitfalls make the plot seem more like a play than reality, and Christian clichés are used to fill in the gaps. Disjointed storylines do nothing to aid this failed section, and its lack of potential leaves it with zero points.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

To top off the other bad aspects of this movie, the acting is very poor. Much of the line delivery is quite awkward, and emotions aren’t very believable. Although there was a tiny amount of potential in this cast, they needed better coaching to bring it out. As it is, this section is just another symptom of the overall problems in this screenplay.

Conclusion

With no clear direction and inadequate funding, how can a film like this even go forward? Objects of Wrath falls right in line with many other creations before and after it that simply play the Christian card as justification for their existence. Thankfully, however, this tactic is no longer acceptable, and we can look forward to more high-quality offerings in the future.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

If You Really Love Me (Movie Review)

If You Really Love Me

Plot Summary

Three sisters want to support each other in their life, love, and faith, but sometimes, expected circumstances get in the way. Thus, they’ll have to decide if they’ll rely on each other and on what they believe about God or if they will go their own way.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, this production isn’t all that it could be. Video quality and audio quality are acceptable, but the camera work is all over the place, including shakiness and mid-shot zooms. The soundtrack is generic, and the special effects are cheesy. Sets, locations, and props are very limited, but the editing is at least average. Though there’s some improvement throughout the film, it’s only enough to give this section an average rating.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It’s difficult to grasp what this narrative is going for since there’s really not much quantifiable content to base it on. The plot is basically the portrayal of stereotypically one-dimensional character doing random things without good reasons. This story is essentially a collection of long, dry conversations that lack purpose or focus. There’s hardly anything noticeable to discuss, and any half-hearted conflicts that are introduced are unrealistically fixed in the end. Thus, with no potential in this section, zero points can be awarded.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though not all cast members post bad performances, some aren’t very good. Emotions are over the top at times, and a few actors and actresses appear to be trying too hard. Line delivery is mostly even throughout, and this mixed bag warrants an average score in this area.

Conclusion

It’s hard to put one’s finger on movies like If You Really Love Me. It seems like an attempt to explore the authentic experiences of some, but it’s done in such a way that it’s not relatable in the real world. Without realistic characters and dialogue, it’s nearly impossible to do this type of screenplay the right way.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points