Ace Wonder: Message from a Dead Man (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ace Wonder, aka Gator Moore, always loves a good mystery and seeks to solve whichever ones come in front of him so that justice may be served.  While traveling with his family on vacation, when their camper breaks down in a small Tennessee town, Gator accidentally stumbles upon a family with a mystery that needs solving.  Derek Morton’s grandfather died unexpectedly and left behind a cryptic message that cause many to suspect he was crazy.  However, Gator believes there is something bigger afoot and enlists his siblings to assist him in solving the case.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

After The Widow’s Might, it was difficult to see what the future of HeuMoore Productions was.  However, with Ace Wonder: Message from a Dead Man, the HeuMoore team has demonstrated adequate improvement.  Video quality is professional, and camera work is fine except for some weird camera angles that attempt to be suspenseful.  Audio quality is great and the original soundtrack is creative without SINGING.  Sets, locations, and props are good but somewhat limited.  There are some cheesy special effects utilized, but animation is actually used effectively and enhances the film.  Finally, editing is quite good, thus rounding out an overall average production.  This is definitely a great effort for an underfunded project, and it is great to see this team continually improving.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though there is some potential to this Ace Wonder plot, it is still a mostly formulaic suspense\mystery storyline.  The story is based on too many coincidences, mystery clichés, and clues being found at opportune times.  Though there is way too much narration, the dialogue and characters are actually good, which shows that this team is trying to make a good film.  This story would be way better with a little more creativity and real plot twists, as well as a less fundamentalist portrayal of women.  Mysteries are certainly a hard genre to write, since it’s easy to fall into cheesy coincidences, so they might consider trying a different genre next time.  Overall, it is great to have a different genre in Christian film for once, and this team certainly has the potential and wherewithal to go further in their careers to do something great.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Though Ace Wonder uses a lot of the same cast members from The Widow’s Might, there are others that make for a greatly improved acting experience.  It seems like all of the cast members from the previous film have honed their skills better.  This category is actually the most improved as there are really no glaring errors except for a few minor missteps.  Once again, this gives great hope for the future.

Conclusion

Coming back from the horrific Widow’s Might couldn’t have been easy for HeuMoore Productions, but on the whole, despite their unusual worldview that needs broadening, the Moore team really seems like they are trying this time.  They definitely put forth more effort in the production and acting departments and it is encouraging that they are showing improvements, especially since they are committed to breaching different genres in Christian film.  The biggest blessing of Ace Wonder was the lack of cast members singing.  Now if they can continue to hone their plot creativity and shed some of the odd components of their worldview, they will really be on the track to greatness.  After The Widow’s Might, I never thought I would be saying this, but the HeuMoore team has great potential for the future.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

The Widow’s Might (Movie Review)

Please stop singing

Plot Summary

The widow Grace Jackson is being persecuted by a small Texas town local government—her property has been valued too high, thus causing her taxes to skyrocket.  To make matters worse, the incumbent mayor will have nothing to do with it.  Will the injustice in America ever end?  Thus, two aspiring filmmakers take it upon themselves to create a western musical about Grace’s plight, which is the most natural thing you would do in this situation.  But the mayor’s nephew, a corrupt media figure, is trying to undermine them at every turn.  Will their film be able to make the case to free Grace from her persecution, or will the liberal media win out?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For starters, at least the HeuMoore team put some thought into how their movie looked, whatever you may think about it.  Video quality is fine and camera work is professional.  Sets and locations are decent enough, but some of the props are slightly cheesy.  Audio quality is fine, but the original soundtrack, which includes characters literally singing, is atrocious.  Not only is the singing bad, the lyrics are absurd.  One of the songs is actually five minutes long and is extremely painful.  Elsewhere, the editing isn’t really that impressive as scenes cut off awkwardly and transitions are hard to follow.  In the end, though this production looks good on the outside, the beauty is only skin deep.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It is very difficult to take this plot seriously because of its musical elements and because of its basically patriarchal fundamentalist Christian worldview.  While the issue discussed therein has some basis in reality, its presentation is very poor and its messaging is too in-your-face.  The dialogue that isn’t sung comes off as manufactured, thus creating very cardboard characters.  The ‘villains’ are extremely cheesy strawmen.  There is too much fake outrage that attempts to fuel this half-baked nearly-propaganda piece.  Whatever point is trying to be driven home here is too easily lost and generally contributes to a further negative view of Christian entertainment.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Consisting of a mostly amateur cast, there are some talented performances here, but a lot of the emotions are seemingly ingenuine and overly practiced.  Line delivery is very measured and stilted.  Costuming and makeup is not the best.  Also, did we mention the singing?  Overall, this is neither the worst nor the best performance.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, you can tell without asking what this film group is trying to push.  While they are not as extreme as some, they tend to push fundamentalism in its usual unpalatable forms.  Women are cast in a silently offensive light and opposing viewpoints are made a mockery of.  Even though The Widow’s Might is not even as blatant as some fundamentalist propaganda (see Last Ounce of Courage), it still has its undeniable elements and its fixation on subjective traditionalism.  However, it seems like the makers of this film have moved on from this worldview, which is a breath of fresh air.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Edit: The review was edited to reflect accuracy, as brought to light by the film maker.