2018 Box Office Revolution Movie Awards

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.

Staff Choice Movie of the Year: I Can Only Imagine

Runners-Up: Unbroken: Path to RedemptionPaul: Apostle of ChristIndivisibleAn Interview With God

Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: I Can Only Imagine

Runners-Up: Paul: Apostle of Christ, God’s Not Dead 3: A Light in Darkness, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Indivisible

Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Dennis Quaid

Runners-Up: J. Michael Finley, Samuel Hunt, James Faulkner, Justin Bruening

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Joanne Whalley

Runners-Up: Merritt Patterson, Sarah Drew, Madeline Carroll, Alexandra Vino

Staff Choice Director of the Year: Harold Cronk

Runners-Up: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin, Andrew Hyatt, David G. Evans


Image result for terence berden

Staff Choice Writer of the Year: Andrew Hyatt\Terence Berden

Runners-Up: Jon Erwin, Brent McCorkle, Alex Cramer, Richard Friedenberg, Ken Hixon, David G. Evans, Cheryl McKay, Peter White

Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: I Can Only Imagine

Runners-Up: Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Paul: Apostle of Christ, Indivisible, An Interview With God

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Paul, Apostle of Christ (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Paul had completed many full years of missionary work across the continents of Asia and Europe and after carrying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands of people, both Jews and Gentiles, he appealed to stand trial in Rome before Caesar, but this decision only caused him to suffer further for the cause of Christ at the hands of cruel Romans.  With the church in Rome on the brink of total annihilation, Priscilla and Aquila house many wanted Christians in their home, and Luke is sent to tend to Paul in prison.  As many Christians begin to question the words of Christ, Luke begs Paul for a fresh word to strengthen the church in her dark times, yet Paul is plagued by his thorn in the flesh–namely the lives of all he killed while he was a religious zealot.  With darkness seeming to close in on Christ’s people, the story of Paul’s life carries the same message that saved all followers of the Way: where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Gone are the days when ‘Bible plays’ like The Book of Esther are socially acceptable as Christian films.  We are in a new era of Christian productions, and Paul, Apostle of Christ is another hallmark of this era.  Similar to recent Biblical depictions, such as Risen, this new look at Paul’s life is gritty and authentic and has no fear of being painfully realistic.  This is evident in the excellent and historically authentic sets, locations, and props.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are also what a professional production should be.  The soundtrack is very engaging and thought-provoking, and the editing is quite creative and effective in presenting the story.  The only drawback to this production is a collection of very dark scenes that may be realistic but do not make for great viewing.  Nevertheless, this is a top-notch production that we should see over and over again in Christian films.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

While most standard Biblical plot fare is very flat, face-value, and vanilla, Paul, Apostle of Christ rejects this mold and upends the Biblical genre once and for all.  By inserting extremely creative and well-crafted psychological elements into the core of this storyline, Andrew Hyatt and his team have created a point of no return for films based on Biblical events.  Much like their work in Full of Grace, which showed the potential they have always had, their portrayal of Paul’s thorn in the flesh and the trauma he went through in his life is revolutionary in this genre.  This is exactly what needs to be done to show the humanness of Biblical characters through the exquisite use of effective flashbacks and through processes that demonstrate real motive.  Elsewhere, dialogue is rich and meaningful, and the other subplots are intertwined very well as each character is very well-developed.  Care is given to demonstrate great historical accuracy, and while there are some slightly slow scenes and areas that could have been fleshed out with further dialogue and flashbacks, this storyline is a breath of fresh air in a world of very poor Biblical screenwriting.  To top things off, the ending sequence completes the film excellently and is well worth the wait.  In short, this film is a job well done in nearly every area.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

While there were a few missteps with cast members that are not entirely culturally authentic, they are trained to appear culturally authentic, which is leagues better than having a fully BRITISH cast.  Elsewhere, there is plenty of culturally authentic casting to make this section great, and there is clearly a presence of professional acting coaching.  There are very few errors to point out here, and costuming and makeup are also extremely realistic.  In summary, there are many positive elements to point out in this breakout effort.

Conclusion

This film receives a full x-factor point for its effective use of poignant psychological elements as Paul, Apostle of Christ takes its rightful place among the greatest Christian films of our time.  Andrew Hyatt and his team are clearly going places, and even though their sophomore effort was somewhat muted by the blockbuster release of I Can Only ImaginePaul is a signal that a new force to be reckoned has finally arrived in Biblical films.  It will be exciting to see what this team puts together next, but for now, we can enjoy this great movie.

 

Final Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points

 

A.D.: The Bible Continues (Series Review)

Plot Summary

After the death of Christ, His followers were lost and confused.  But following His miraculous Resurrection from the dead, He appeared to them and gave them new strength to carry out a new task: taking His gospel to all people.  After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, His apostles and other followers stopped at nothing to tell everyone of what they had witnessed in and through Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.  Though opposition came at them from every side, the cause of Christ did not fail but only gained more followers.  Even as Christian persecution became a global event, even the ‘worst’ of sinners came to follow the Resurrected Savior.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Following closely on the heels of mixed results of The Bible Epic Miniseries, A.D.: The Bible Continues uses similar production elements, yet improves upon them.  The surroundings are still gritty and realistic, allowing the audience to see that the events after the crucifixion of Christ were very real.  The camera work is exquisite—many things indicate that money was well spent in A.D.  The musical score is engaging and the special effects are used responsibly.  Really the only production complaint to raise is some slightly inconsistent editing—were more unnecessary parts cut and more essential parts amplified, production would have been perfect.  But there is still much to be proud of here; Mark Burnett and company definitely learned from past production mistakes and proved that they can do better in A.D.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

In contrast to the breakneck pace of The Bible, A.D. elects to follow a slower pace.  Since this is not an exclusively Biblical series, historical context is responsibly explored—it actually aids and enhances the Biblical narrative.  The political elements are intriguing—some of these characters are better than others—yet this portion of the series tends to eat up too much of the runtime.  Some screen time should have been taken away from certain political characters, such as Caiaphas’ unrealistic wife, and given to Biblical characters with more potential.  Yet there is still much to enjoy in the Biblical plot lines.  The events of Acts are portrayed very well; A.D. actually accomplishes the goal of bringing a part of the Bible to life.  Historical truths are introduced in slightly unexpected ways without compromising authenticity.  While the early Christians could have been developed better, they are pretty good as they are.  There are also peripheral characters that are intriguing, yet tend to get squeezed out of the picture.  Were it not for a good deal of wasted time, the overall plot of A.D. would probably have been perfect.  It is a pretty good example of what a Biblical-historical series should be and can serve as a blueprint for the future.

Acting Quality (2 points)

While British actors and actresses are still employed, A.D. does something revolutionary: cast diversity in first century Judea.  Some may consider African characters in this narrative to be inaccurate, and while there should still be more Middle Eastern characters, there is really no historical precedence to deny this.  In other areas, emotional expression and line delivery is fairly believable, allowing the audience to connect with the Biblical and historical characters as real people.  Overall, were it not for overuse of British actors and actresses, this portion could also have been perfect.

Continuity Quality (3 points)

The arc of A.D. is particularly epic.  The driving purpose behind the series is very clear.  There are multiple exciting character arcs that were just coming to full completion right before the series was cancelled.  But cancellation is not necessarily the fault of the writers, since we sincerely believe they were doing the best they could do.  Overall, the short time we were able to enjoy A.D. was well spent when it came to continuity, arcs, and driving purpose.

Conclusion

It’s a real shame that A.D. was cancelled, because it had nowhere to go but up.  It was progressing at an epic pace, had so many positive elements, adapted a historical approach to the days after Christ’s earthly ministry, and was ten times better than The Bible Epic Miniseries.  It had so much explosive potential, but it was cut off at the knees.  One factor that potentially led to the cancellation was trying to please too many people.  Perhaps if fewer edgy elements were employed and more family-engaging elements were used, then the show might have survived on Christian audiences.  But that may not have been enough.  Even still, A.D. was a key step in engaging even the Christian population in being more interested in the historical nature of the Bible.  There needs to be more of a bubble-up approach to these types of series, and independent means, such as on-demand series, may need to be used in order to make series like A.D. successful, since national broadcast ratings are often too fickle to sustain new concepts.  Future ideas for Bible series need to build off of the positive elements and the strong points of A.D. and to improve on its mistakes.  Such a series would be a thing to behold and something worth getting behind.

 

Final Rating: 9.5 out of 14 points

 

The Ark {Noah’s Ark} [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In another overly British production loosely based on Biblical events, Noah and his family are depicted as an angry, dysfunctional unit fighting to survive on their agricultural incomes in a world full of atheists and hedonists.  They’re also the only white people around.  Noah, the unquestioned but mostly aloof patriarch, is told by an angel that a flood is going to sweep across the planet and destroy everything.  Therefore, he needs to build a boat for him and his family—and a whole bunch of other random people—to be saved.  Also, there’s apparently no call for any animals to board the ark at all.  Despite opposition from his family and the people ‘in town’, Noah and his wife build the massive lifeboat almost singlehandedly before scrambling around and getting on the ark just as the flood waters rise.  Good thing they were able to fit about thirty people and no animals on that giant vessel before the hurricanes overtook the planet.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we didn’t particularly like this film.  But we will begin with this film’s one positive quality—most of the characters seem authentic most of the time, such as actually getting dirty and muffed up.  But otherwise, there is nothing good to say.  There are too many modern nuances and costumes.  The camera work is just okay—there are too many outside shots ruined by poor angles that catch too much sunlight.  A majority of the time, dialogue is indiscernible due to unusually loud and annoying background music.  The editing is terrible, with tons of wasted time and useless scenes, which we will see more of next.  In short, The Ark isn’t even partially redeemed by professional production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2.5 points)

There’s plenty of real content in the Scriptural narrative on Noah that can be expounded on, yet this creative team chose to ad lib and transpose modern family struggles on top of the story.  Noah’s relationship with God is replaced with odd conversations with an angel.  If Noah’s family isn’t shown eating that mysterious pizza from The Bible miniseries, then they’re having childish skirmishes and fistfights with each other.  Noah’s fictional fourth son has a very large role, including his nightly illicit activities.  As a character, Noah is inaccessible and lofty, a typical Bible character error.  Abstract philosophical discussions that fit in more in modern Great Britain replace meaningful dialogue.  If someone wants to complain about ethnocentrism in modern Western film, look no further than Bible films.  In short, The Ark barely attempts to stay true to the historical truth.  While some Bible movies commit small inaccuracy errors, this one uses the characters and invents a primitive soap opera transposed on top of a natural disaster plotline.

Acting Quality (-1 points)

Did we mention these actors are British?  They’re British.  Not only that, but it seems to suggest that the white characters, primarily only Noah’s family, are the ‘good’ characters, while the multicultural characters are the ‘bad’ ones.  The truth is, we can’t really be sure what ethnicity any of these people actually were—likely nothing like what we have today—but the least that could have been done was at least attempt to use primarily Middle Eastern actors and actresses.  As it is, the cast that has been assembled here is overly dramatic.  Women are portrayed as mostly silent kitchen helpers.  In short, there is no end to this movie’s problems.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, it cannot be effectively said that Christian-led Bible films are better than mainstream Bible films.  The truth is that truly watchable Scripture-based films are very few and far between.  People need to know that the Bible isn’t just a bunch of silly mostly-untrue narratives.  Movies like The Ark only contribute to this cultural storyline, and perhaps purposely so.  But Christian film makers have nothing to say about this unless they are going to make meaningful, accurate, and professional Bible-based movies that can overshadow movies like this one with better overall quality.  The world is waiting.

 

Final Rating: -3 out of 10 points