Every year, movies and series are released, and cast members show off their talents. Writers and directors showcase their creativity. Films and series are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those entertainment creators and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.
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.
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.
After the Civil War, Emmett returned to his hometown to take care of the widow of one of his fellow troops in order to fulfill a promise he made. Emmett and his son live with the African-American widow and her daughter, which causes them extra scrutiny in the corrupt small town they live near. Emmett’s father-in-law, the local pastor, is against him, as are several other colorful characters. Everything comes to a head one day when the circus train breaks down in the forest and unwittingly releases wild beasts into the woods. The children are caught in the middle of the animal escape and a kidnapping plot aimed at hurting Emmett, and it will take wild faith to overcome to dark night before them.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
For years, DJ Perry, Shane Hagedorn, and their team have struggled with poor production quality and overly artistic attempts. However, while the artistry is still present in Wild Faith, a higher production level has finally been achieved. This is evidenced by great camera work and video quality even in the realistic and complex war scenes. There are great action shots, as well as historically authentic sets, props, and locations. Audio quality is also great, and the soundtrack is creative. The only nitpick to raise here relates to some slightly confusing editing, but this is a small issue compared to the great improvement that has been shown here. Perry and Hagedorn have proven that never giving up and working to improve pays off in the end.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Though the beginning of this plot is a bit disorienting at first, if you stick with it, things begin to make more sense. Where the characters are a bit raw at first, they become more realistic as time progresses with the exception of the cheesy villains. Some of the dialogue is a bit vague at times, but there are also some good conversations throughout that reveal character motive, which is a rarity to find in Christian film. The overall plot structure of this film is fairly unique and creative as it effectively uses flashbacks and other psychological elements to keep things interesting. This story is a great attempt to be different rather than the typical inspirational fodder, but there are some opportunities for improvement especially in the areas of character refinement and storyline organization. Some of the dialogue is a bit obvious at times, but Wild Faith takes an honest look at corrupt small town Christianity and the pain of racism after the Civil War. Overall, this film shows a lot of potential in this team.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
Surprisingly, the acting of this movie is also fairly good. This DJ Perry character is likely his best performance to date. Shane Hagedorn starts out a bit rough at first, but his character is a slow burn and begins to refine as it goes on. The villain cast members are fairly poor and drag down this score, and there are a few overdone emotional moments, but on the whole, this is a good acting performance that caps off a suprisingly enjoyable film.
We always look for improvement across films, and we are always glad when Christian film makers don’t give up and continue to try things. Experience is hopefully going to lead to improvement, as is listening to constructive criticism. The Perry and Hagedorn team has wandered in the film wilderness for a few years now, from Ashes of Eden to 40 Nights and Chasing the Star. To be honest, I did not have high hopes for Wild Faith when it was first sent to me, but I was pleasantly surprised. Whether or not this film becomes a series, it is clear that this creative team has a lot of potential in front of them, so it will be interesting to see what they produce next.
Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He was baptized by His cousin John and then set out to fast in the desert wilderness for forty days and forty nights. As He sought His Father’s will in the desert, Satan tempted Him in every way imaginable to try to derail His ministry before it started. As Jesus grew weaker and weaker and the devil became more and more relentless, the fate of humanity hung in the balance. Choices had to be made to bring the world back from the brink.
Production Quality (2 points)
It’s undeniable that time and money were spent to make Forty Nights a quality production. Camera work and video quality are professional. The audio quality is also on point, including an effective soundtrack. Shooting on location is excellently executed as the sets and locations are realistic. All of this is great, but it is detracted from by the glaring presence of cheap special effects, obvious CGI, and weird sound effects throughout. Sometimes these conventions are used to be ‘dramatic’ or something, but it really gives the film a cheesy feel. Overall, this is a fine production, but it would have been much better without the bizarre effects.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
What started out as an applaudable effort to create a unique Bible plot quickly became a trainwreck, unfortunately. The story rushes through Biblical events and alters some of them for convenience sake so that sensational extra-Biblical content can be focused on. Though the entire plot is based on dialogue, as it should be, it is too isolating and meandering. Often, the dialogue is extremely formal and Shakespearean to the point of not feeling like these are real people talking. Though there are some interesting philosophical conversations and ideas, they are not enough to outweigh the stoic and robotic nature of this plot. Also, this story commits the unforced error of implying that Jesus doesn’t know certain things and that Satan knows more than Him, probably in an attempt to make things more climactic or something. But it is unwise and irresponsible to insinuate such things and undermines the entire message. Finally, though the ending is fine and there is an overall good point somewhere in this film, it’s not enough to overshadow the glaring errors present here.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
However, the acting is perhaps the biggest element that drags this movie down. The only remotely good thing to say here is that the costuming is mostly realistic. Otherwise, this acting is far too theatrical and practiced. Line delivery is measured, stilted, and robotic. Emotions are flat and lifeless. Though the dialogue is a problem to begin with, we can’t even feel like these cast members are real people. This in and of itself makes this film basically unwatchable.
Unfortunately, Forty Nights basically boils down to The Book of Ruth with more money behind it. This was a really good idea that has been sadly wasted due to annoying acting and a thin plotline. Yet there are also other issues to discuss. These days, there seems to be an overdone effort to ‘humanize’ Jesus in film to the point that He is no longer omniscient. While I am not one to nitpick over theology, I believe this is a dangerous position to take. We know that Jesus certainly had physical limitations while on earth, but to believe that Satan ever knew more than He did is very dangerous. While Jesus was absolutely tempted in every way and while this is great to portray in a film, this was unfortunately not the way to do it. We realize that films need conflict and climax to be successful, but there is no human conflict within the person of Jesus Christ. There is never a good excuse to create a new gospel for the sake of drama.
Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points
Full disclosure: We were provided by the creator with a copy of this film in exchange for a fair and honest review