Movie Renovation: Road to Redemption

See original review here.

 

Production Improvements

In keeping with most Worldwide Pictures films, Road to Redemption has a high-quality production, especially for the time period it was made in.  There are no issues to point out here except for the use of cheesy special effects that try to accompany the eccentric genre of the film.  However, if these small issues had been eliminated, then Road to Redemption would have had a perfect production.

Plot and Storyline Improvements

Road to Redemption is clearly a comedy, and it’s a pretty good one at that.  It’s also quite a departure for a typical Worldwide Pictures film, which is great.  However, sometimes the comedy is a bit cheesy, unless it is read in the context of satire, which is unfortunately unclear.  Some parts seem to be included just to be eccentric, and thus the satire is not clear enough.  For example, what’s up with the mafia subplot?  It’s funny, but is this supposed to be serious or not?  Also, character development is a bit lacking in some areas, and this is a needed element in any comedy.  We need some more back story from the main characters beyond their representing of typical family issues.  Finally, the ending too easily resolves the conflicts in unrealistic ways.  Thus, had comedy been more rooted in reality, had the satire been clearer, had the characters been developed better through personality-building dialogue, and had the ending been less unrealistically patched up, then Road to Redemption could have been a Hall of Fame film.

Acting Improvements

Much like the commitment to high-quality productions, Worldwide Pictures also always demonstrated a commitment to high-quality casts.  They were one of the few independent Christian film groups who seemed to employ acting coaching.  However, there were some opportunities for improvement in Road to Redemption, such as Jay Underwood in general, who plays Alan.  His delivery and emotions are annoying and whiny.  If his character was written like that, then it needed to be changed.  Also, the mafia cast members are a bit cheesy at times.

Conclusion

In the end, there were just a few minor issues that held Road to Redemption back from being all that it could be.  With minor production errors eliminated, with a clearer comedy premise more based in reality, with a more effective use of satire, with deeper characters, and with a slightly better cast, Road to Redemption could have found itself on the Hall of Fame.  However, perhaps someone can use the feedback here to make a better version one day.

 

No Greater Love [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jeff and Heather Baker once had a happy marriage, but when Heather was struggling with her alcohol problems, she felt like she could not hold it together anymore.  Thus, she abandoned Jeff and their son and disappeared from their lives.  Now Jeff has found someone else he wants to marry, but he runs into a problem: he and Heather were never officially divorced.  As he tries to find her again, she suddenly turns up at the local church, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation.  Is it possible that they could put aside the past and find a new life together?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, No Greater Love is an underwhelming production.  Though video quality and audio quality are both fine, other production elements suffer.  Camera work is shaky and there is a lot of poor lighting.  Sets, locations, and props are fairly cheap and limited.  As for the editing, there are too many awkward transitions and lagging sequences.  In the end, it’s clear funding was limited for this film, which makes production elements suffer, however, is understandable considering it is basically a first-time effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Though on its face this is an interesting idea, No Greater Love is neither handled well nor developed properly.  There is not enough plot content as the same conversations and flashbacks seem to repeat over and over again.  Dialogue is fairly cheesy, which hurts the characters’ development.  Despite this, there is lots of wasted time and useless montages that pump the runtime.  Though there is a somewhat good point in the end, it is hard to get to and is packaged in a very shallow Christian message.  The problems presented in this story are fixed way too easily, so it is hard to learn anything from this film.  In the end, though this could have been an interesting story with an important message, it fell far short of expectations.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Since this is a small cast, every little error stands out.  Though the cast members are sometimes okay, they are in need of some coaching.  Emotions are over the top and too dramatic.  There is too much yelling and line delivery is sometimes forced.  In the end, this is another area of this film that falls short of the target.

Conclusion

This creative team likely meant well in making this film, but the delivery is lacking.  Not having enough funding is one thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an interesting plot with relatable characters.  This is a character-driven plot, which means the characters and the cast members have to carry it.  However, this did not happen.  Perhaps next time things will improve.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

Road to Redemption (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When Amanda decides to steal a bag of money from her boss, she and her boyfriend elect to bet it on a racehorse so that they can not only give the money back, but also keep a big portion for themselves.  What they didn’t anticipate was losing all of it at the races and suddenly finding themselves on the run from mafia hitmen.  Then Amanda has an idea—sweet talk her elderly grandfather into giving her the money she needs to pay back her boss.  But her grandfather has another idea: in order for Amanda to get the money, she has to go fishing with him at his childhood favorite location in Redemption, Montana.  Along the way, Amanda discovers something about herself and her family that she never anticipated—something more important than money.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

For a little known independent project, the production quality of Road to Redemption is overall pretty good.  The money is obviously spent well, with great video and sound quality throughout.  The camera work is above average, including great action sequences.  Some of the sets and locations seem cheaply limited, but others are quite good.  There are some cheesy special effects, but the editing is fairly good.  Overall, there are a few minor production errors, but it is quite good in all, especially considering the age of the film and the limited budget.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Road to Redemption is a rare type of Christian movie—an action comedy.  There is plenty of real humor and satire throughout, as the story pokes fun of many overused suspense antidotes.  There are some cheesy elements throughout that could be passed as satire, but some of it is hard to discern.  While the plot has a slightly improbable premise, there is pretty good dialogue that builds the flawed characters.  Some character behavior is a bit silly, but when viewed through the lens of satire, it makes sense.  Worldwide Pictures always demonstrated a commitment to a clear gospel presentation in their stories, and they do so here.  The plot’s biggest tarnish is its predictable and unrealistic end that patches everything up too well and leaves more questions than answers.  Because of this, the plot comes out as just average, but it still provides comic relief.

Acting Quality (2 points)

This cast is mostly professional, and they appear to be coached well, which is something Worldwide Pictures did to set themselves apart.  There are some slightly forced attempts at comedy and some over the top emotions that keep the cast from being all that they could be.  But despite these missteps, the acting in Road to Redemption surpasses the average mark.

Conclusion

Worldwide Pictures found a way, in the earlier days of Christian films, to present a Gospel message to their audiences packaged in a quality Christian movie that is enjoyable and watchable.  No one was doing what they were doing with movies in the late 90s and early 2000s.  It’s a shame that they no longer are actively making films, but their work can serve as a model to follow today.  It’s also a shame that Road to Redemption didn’t make it to the Hall of Fame—it was so close.  But it still is a great comedy movie that we would recommend.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points