The Imposter [2008] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Johnny C is a wildly successful Christian rock star with a dark past.  He knows how to entertain Christian crowds and how to say the right things, but he still struggles with the demons inside him.  He has had a secret addiction that he constantly lies about and consistently has struggles in his topsy-turvy marriage.  When he finally can’t hold it all together and his world comes crashing down all around him, he has no one to turn to except for God.  Left with virtually nothing, will Johnny be able to pick up the pieces and start over for real?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

As an early 2000s production, The Imposter seems like a film searching for identity.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really find it.  In attempts to be artistic and ‘creative’, strange production conventions are embraced, such as shaky camera work and very dizzying special effects.  Audio quality is fine, and the original soundtrack is intriguing, but there are too many songs, musical montages, and confusing music videos.  Lighting is also inconsistent, especially in some outside scenes, which are too bright.  Furthermore, editing is choppy and makes the story hard to follow.  In the end, while there was adequate money spent on this production, it is mostly wasted and disappointing.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though The Imposter is not afraid to deal with difficult yet realistic issues and to take an honest look at Christian ‘stars’, it’s just not enough.  The constant narration stunts character development.  They need to be deepened through improved dialogue because it’s difficult to understand why they do what they do—the characters seem to be too swept along by circumstances.  Unfortunately, some of the Christian characters are portrayed as too high and mighty.  Also, too much of the messaging is heavy-handed as the story jumps all around and is somewhat hard to follow.  The story seems too aimless and sometimes lacks purpose and even hope.  However, the ending is interesting and realistic, although it lacks proper buildup and leaves something to be desired.  In summary, The Imposter is an honest look at life, but at the same time, it lacks the true authenticity that is required to properly deal with the issues dealt with here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though this is a ‘popular’ Christian cast, they are fairly unconvincing and sometimes appear to be phoning in their performances.  Emotions are too unrealistic and all over the place.  Sometimes the performances are fine, but on the whole, these cast members are without direction and need better coaching in order to reach their full potential.

Conclusion

Movies like The Imposter start with good intentions but without a real focus on where they are going, their plots wander aimlessly and try to use Christian ‘celebrities’ as crutches for their mistakes.  There are some poignant issues portrayed in this film that need to be discussed in the context of Christian entertainment, but as this movie is, it just comes off as unserious and sometimes unprofessional.  You need more than a base idea and some ‘big name’ cast members to make a good film.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

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The Book of Genesis [2016] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

As Jochebed and her children hide from the Egyptian soldiers, she recounts the story of her people so far and the struggles they have gone through.  She remembers Adam, Eve, Abel, Cain, Noah, Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel and how they went wrong and how God took care of them.  Jochebed wrestles with the truth that God will take care of her and her family too, no matter what odds are facing her.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s obvious that a good amount of time and resources were spent on this production.  Cinematography is clearly professional and well-thought-out, including great camera work and crisp video quality.  Sets and locations are also highly professional and enhance the film.  Audio quality is good and the soundtrack is respectable and intriguing.  The only minor issue to raise here is some small editing issues, including random cuts and transitions that confuse the audience.  However, this is a very high quality production and we can’t wait to see what else Austin Ridge Bible Church produces in the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, this is where the positivity ends.  As Jochebed constantly narrates through cryptic monologues, the plot skips all over Genesis without settling down on a coherent thought.  To be titled after to first book of the Bible, there is actually very little true Biblical content and easily a fourth of the film relates to the book of Exodus.  While the psychological elements are somewhat creative, there is no continuity and the overall feel of the storyline is overly artistic and embellished.  Taking on such a large amount of content is ambitious but misguided.  There is no way to understand the characters presented as they are largely silent; everything relies too much on Jochebed’s riddles and musings.  Overall, this is a disappointingly wasted idea can could have gone somewhere but never found the path home.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The casting job falls into the trap many Biblical films fall into.  Not only are there some issues with cultural authenticity (though not full British), but the cast members seem to be purposely acting mysterious.  Their emotions are ethereal and abstract and line delivery is sometimes off.  It’s difficult to put your finger on, but there are not many positive qualities to highlight here.  A stronger cast would have made a difference for this film.

Conclusion

When you’re first starting out with movies, it’s essential to have quality production, which is what The Book of Genesis has.  However, it’s not clear that Austin Ridge Bible Church knew what they were doing with this plot idea.  There is an element of creativity here that could be drawn out by the right team, but this movie just doesn’t make the mark.  When first writing a plot, it’s best to start out small and grow from there, not start out with a big idea that might not pan out.  Maybe next time Austin Ridge Bible Church will find their way to the promised land, because they certainly have the potential to do so.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points