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.
Writer(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Jon Gunn, Scott LeRette, Susy Flory
Director(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Jon Gunn
Producer(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Jerilyn Esquibel, Kevin Downes, Peter Facinelli, Meredith Wieck, Chelsea Kujawa
Starring: Zachary Levi, Jacob Laval, Meghann Fahy, Peter Facinelli, Drew Powell, Pilot Bunch, Patricia Heaton
Plot Synopsis: “The Unbreakable Boy” centers on a teenager with autism who also has a rare brittle bone disease. Described as “told in the charmingly unpredictable voice” of the teen, the film is billed as “a funny and inspiring true story of a young couple stumbling through parenthood, who find constant inspiration from the joy and optimism of their spectacularly unique son.” The film also is described as in “the spirit of ‘Wonder’ and ‘Peanut Butter Falcon,’ with a dash of ‘JoJo Rabbit.'” It will be based on the true story of Iowan Austin LeRette, whose father, Scott, candidly chronicled his son’s life, struggles and faith in God in the book “The Unbreakable Boy,” co-written with New York Times best-selling author Susy Flory.
Jeremy Camp didn’t grow up with much, but he always had the love of his family, which is why they supported him in his dream to pursue a music career. When he attended a Christian college to fulfill this goal, Jeremy unexpectedly met Melissa Henning, who he quickly fell in love with. However, as Jeremy and Melissa grew closer together, they embarked on a harrowing and arduous journey into the unknown as Melissa battled cancer. Through the twists and turns, they discovered that God is always present in the midst of suffering and that there’s always a purpose to pain.
Production Quality (3 points)
It’s no surprise that, after the success of I Can Only Imagine, the Erwin brothers and their team have crafted yet another perfect production. I Still Believe hits all the right notes in every aspect of production, including video quality, camera work, audio quality, sets, locations, and props. Many camera angles are creatively artistic, and the soundtrack is a huge plus as it enhances the audience experience in all portions of the film and seamlessly integrates Camp’s music without turning it into a product placement. Further, the editing professional handles a story that is obviously difficult to properly present due to its scope. In short, there is nothing negative to note in this section.
Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)
The Erwin Brothers, along with Jon Gunn, have no doubt mastered the art of the biopic as they have wisely chosen to focus their movie-making efforts on adapting real life stories into feature films. Though I Still Believe is a slight departure from the traditional Erwin brand since it zeroes in on a very small collection of characters, there are still no concerns with this storytelling adjustment. This narrative may signal a new era of Erwin creations, but it’s still another installment in their history of reliably quality offerings. In many ways, I Still Believe is almost two different movies as the first and second halves are quite different in tone, but these talented screenwriters correctly applied their God-given skills to weave the source material into a life-changing plot that will resound with many viewers from diverse backgrounds. Based off of real people, the characters therein are very poignant and relatable via realistic and profound dialogue that brings the story to life. Musical montages are responsibly used and don’t encroach upon important conversations that build characters; similarly, creative overlays effectively aid the complex plot presentation. Further, there are clear themes that are used throughout the film and serve to tie the major points together. Essentially, there are no issues to note in this section either.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Once again, in I Still Believe, the Erwin collective proves that they take great care in their casting and acting coaching work. Even though some of the cast members don’t entirely represent the real people they are portraying (which is one of the movie’s only flaws), every performance is professional. Line delivery and emotional delivery are very good as the audience is able to easily experience the characters’ feelings. Though this is a relatively small cast compared to previous Erwin projects and could have been a bit more dynamic, it still shines nonetheless and rounds out another blockbuster hit for the brothers.
Jeremy Camp’s compelling backstory was absolutely worth bringing to the big screen and will no doubt lead to further success for Kingdom Story Company. Despite some slight acting missteps, many viewers will enjoy this film, and it’s likely to leave lasting impact on the Christian entertainment market. However, no matter what, we still highly recommend this film for all Christians and always look forward to future Erwin productions.
Producer(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Kurt Warner, Brenda Warner, Mark Ciardi, Kevin Downes
Starring: Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, Dennis Quaid, Virginia Madsen, Ser’Darius Blain, Adam Baldwin, Bruce McGill, Danny Vinson, Chance Kelly, Hayden Zaller
Plot Synopsis: This film tells the true story of how Kurt Warner went from a grocery store employee to becoming a star NFL quarterback. The plot is based on Warner’s memoir, All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the First Miracle Season.
Plot Synopsis: This film is the first in a trilogy aiming to create a new cinematic universe of Bible stories. The first installment follows the growth of the early church after the Resurrection of Christ.
Producer(s): Kevin Downes, Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin, Greg Laurie
Starring: Jim Gaffigan, Joel Courtney
Plot Synopsis: This film tells the true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970’s and its origins within a community of teenaged hippies in Southern California. The story follows the early life of nationally known pastor Greg Laurie.
Much like other newer, more mainstream PureFlix releases, Do You Believe sports professional production quality with very few errors to speak of. Naturally, due to the nature of this film, the editing is mostly a mess as each scene tries to be a dramatic climax with no resting periods or relief scenes. Thus, the only issue with the production can be rectified by improving the plot.
Plot and Storyline Improvements
Much like God’s Not Dead, Do You Believe takes on far too many subplots than it can handle. Easily half of them are unnecessary, as each of them try to insert a dramatic turn into nearly every scene that comes up. The paramedic subplot is mostly unrealistic and unnecessary, and its deletion would have also rendered the Andrea Logan White\Sean Astin subplot useless. The military veteran suffering from PTSD and the girl with the unknown past who tries to commit suicide belong in their own film, so they can be developed better as characters. The criminal brothers subplot is awkward and stereotypical. With the removing and reassignment of these subplots, the more pertinent elements of this storyline, namely the older couple who helps the homeless mother and daughter and the pastor and his wife who help the young homeless mother, could have been given more room to grow and be developed beyond their current state. An alternate option to improve this plot would have been to start at the mass car accident scene and then work backward by following each character’s path to the accident, but this would take a lot of skill and discipline. Also, the narration has to be totally eliminated. In short, there is so much content in Do You Believe that there is bound to be potential in here somewhere.
While there are some good elements to the acting of this film, most casts would be improved in the absence of Liam Matthews, Andrea Logan White, and of course, Ted McGinley. There are just so many cast members involved here that any good portions are cancelled out by poor performances. However, if the storyline was pared down to a realistic medium, the cast would have also been trimmed to ensure quality of quantity.
Quality over quantity was truly the order of the day for this film. Dumping every subplot you can think of into one film will make a film that a lot of people will see and perhaps like momentarily, but its lasting impact is blunted by its onslaught of content. However, there are enough good ideas in this film to perhaps kickstart a better film in the future.
Every year, movies are released and cast members show off their talents. Writers and directors showcase their creativity. Films 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 movie makers and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.
Lee Strobel was an acclaimed newspaper reporter who had seemingly reached a new level in his career with his in-depth research pieces. Everything in his life seemed perfect, until his wife Leslie began talking to a Christian nurse who saved the life of their daughter and became a Christian herself. Lee’s staunch atheism was immediately challenged by his wife’s beliefs, even though she had become a better person as a result. Thus, Lee set out to disprove the faith of his wife by attacking the core tenets of Christianity and skeptically investigating the truth behind them. However, the deeper he went into his investigation, the less faith he had in atheism. He would eventually have to come to grips with what he really believed and make a decision that would change his life forever.
Production Quality (3 points)
After years of wandering in the proverbial wilderness, Jon Gunn and his team, aided by the new standards of PureFlix, have finally found the promised land. The Case for Christ is a flawless production in every aspect and is an example of what we should see in every film. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are error free. The soundtrack is highly authentic and appropriate for the time. Sets, locations, and props are exquisite and demonstrate great care for historical accuracy. Finally, editing is excellent as montages are kept to a minimum and each scene transitions seamlessly. Basically, this is your textbook perfect production.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)
What better plot to use than a real-life story that many audiences can relate to for multiple different reasons? Not only is this film about real people, but they are actually portrayed as real people through meaningful dialogue and realistic circumstances. This film could have easily descended into an information-saturated and message-heavy dump that tried too hard to push its point, but that is not the case here. Both the atheist and the Christian characters are portrayed extremely well and the highly relevant message is presented in such a way that it is both clearly understood and easily received without being pushed in your face. In the hands of a different writer, this idea could have gone south very easily. Yet it did not, and Brian Bird proves that with good content, he can go great things. The only nitpick to raise here is some slight choppiness, but it’s not a big deal. The bottom line is that this is an excellent plot and one well worth your time.
Acting Quality (3 points)
You can hardly ask for a better cast than this, as each member fits their character excellently. There are zero acting errors to point out as every performance is executed with near perfection. Emotions are highly believable and line delivery is on point. This rounds out an excellent film.
In conjunction with Brian Bird, Jon Gunn has finally discovered his true talent and has struck gold. He put previous disappointments behind him and found a way to become a great film maker. All we ask of film makers is to show steady and consistent improvement, and Jon Gunn has done just that. He was also afforded a great opportunity to tell the amazing true story of Lee Strobel and to have better funding due to the better decisions made by the PureFlix leadership. This film gives Jon Gunn, Brian Bird, and the rest a platform to build off of to do even greater things.
John and Jeremiah are estranged twin brothers who were separated by tragedy. One thinks the other is dead, while the other resents his twin for leaving him behind. Now one of them is a priest, while the other is a slimy street dealer. When they accidentally trade places and find themselves in harm’s way, they discover what they are really made of. Will they be able to reconcile their differences before one of them is killed?
Production Quality (1.5 points)
As an early 2000s production, Mercy Streets has a lot of eccentric elements. A lot of the time, it seems like this film is trying to mimic some cheesy 80s movie. Video quality is mostly fine, but camera work is strange, with random and unwanted freeze frames at inconvenient times. Audio quality is good, however, and the soundtrack is actually effective and interesting. Sets, locations, and props are realistic and authentic. However, the editing, like the camera work, is also unusual and hampers the viewing experience with odd stop-starts and slow motion. In the end, this is an ambitious production, but it is stuck at average due to some off-the-wall issues.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Mercy Streets is one of those rare movies wherein the plot is better than the casting. Though the story is built on a somewhat predictable twin-character-switch premise, it is a still a unique standout among Christian films. The characters are quirky but are at least interesting and flawed. Dialogue is all over the place—sometimes creative and sometimes ridiculous. The twists are not really twists at all, and the ending sequence is a bit confusing at times, but overall, the storyline does not follow a very predictable progression, even though it has some predictable elements. In the end, this story is worth a rewrite at some point—as long as a different cast was utilized.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
This is an unusual instance in which the clown cast really drags down the characters and the story. Unless this movie was supposed to be a comedy, which we don’t think it was, this casting is terrible. Eric Roberts makes a great comic villain, but not an actual one (although, this is probably his most dedicated performance to date). David A. R. White can rarely be taken seriously—in this film, it seems like he’s trying to mint his career by copying some iconic performance. Also, he fulfilled his dream of playing two characters (which he also did later) and laid the groundwork for his later ‘comedy’ preaching. Need we say anything about Kevin Downes and the others? This cast really puts a damper on things.
Jon Gunn and his team have always had potential to do something great, but little issues always hold his works back from being great. But definitely has great things ahead of him if he can continue producing good plots, improve production quality, and find better cast members. If these three elements come into alignment, there are great things in store for him and his team.
When the Campbells adopted little Joey from the struggling Porters, they thought it was forever. But when the Porters get back on their feet after Joey’s father gets out of jail, they file to regain custody of their son. Heartbroken, the Campbells do everything they can do to keep their only son, but they cannot prevail. Therefore, they resort to a drastic measure that could land them in prison, but they are committed to protecting their son from evil.
Production Quality (1 point)
As a pilot production from Jon Gunn and company, this production quality is not what it could be. But on a shoestring budget, it is not that bad. Camera work is sometimes shaky and video quality and lighting are sometimes poor. The standard soundtrack is sometimes loud enough to cover up dialogue, but audio quality is mostly fine. For a first-time effort, the sets and locations are quite realistic, even the international ones. The editing is a pretty good effort considering what they had to work with. In the end, every movie maker has to start somewhere, regardless of the budget or resources. When put in that perspective, Like Dandelion Dust is an applaudable effort.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Based on a novel by Karen Kingsbury, this plot is somewhat slow to develop and has one too many flat scenes and dead spots. Yet the story is true to the book and depicts unfortunately realistic happenings. Too much time tends to be spent on trashy elements, although what happens therein is believable. This film is a fair portrayal of real people and their struggles and highlights important issues with child welfare. Dialogue is mostly accessible and helps to build the characters. Unfortunately, the first three-fourths of the film may not hold the attention of most audiences. However, once it gets to the point at the end, it suddenly becomes really good and is worth the wait. Overall, Like Dandelion Dust improves at the end and shows great potential for the future.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
This cast is semi-professional and mostly knows what they are doing. Through they are small, they have some bright spots, such as well-played and believable emotions. Their line delivery can be wooden at times, but overall, this is a good effort that shows talent in casting.
It is always good to choose a book plot for your first film, but we have to wonder if this was the best Karen Kingsbury book to choose. The story is intriguing as a book, but it doesn’t translate very well to the big screen. Yet nonetheless, it is a good effort and something to build off of for the future. There is great potential in this team and we can’t wait to see what they have planned next.
Pastor Matthew has almost forgotten why he believes what he believes. His spiritual life is stagnant and he wonders why he is even a pastor, until one day he when he encounters an eccentric man on the side of the road carrying a cross. The man asks him if he truly believes in the cross he preaches about. This prompts Matthew to alter his approach to ministry by assisting a homeless pregnant girl and by learning more about the lives of his congregants. Outside of his realm of influence, events begin to take place that indirectly affect him and the people of his church. They are all headed for an unexpected collision and are forced to truly look at the lives they are living—what do they truly believe?
Production Quality (2.5 points)
In the same vein of God’s Not Dead, the production of Do You Believe is an improvement over previous PureFlix installments. The camera work is good; several difficult action scenes are portrayed well. The sets are realistic and diverse. Audio quality is also good and the soundtrack is respectable. There is not too much wasted time in the movie, but the editing is not the greatest. However, this is most likely due to the high amount of plot content.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
There are a lot of well-meaning intentions in the plot of Do You Believe. There are a lot of good stories, but like God’s Not Dead, they are all crammed together, thus making it hard to focus on one or for each one to develop as they should. There are more subplots in Do You Believe, and a handful of them are unnecessary and stereotypical. There is also too much narration that replaces the value of developing a plot. Due to the large amount of content, most of the characters are reduced to stereotypes and are therefore not accessible. What would have greatly improved this movie would have been to start at Do You Believe’s climax and then work backward by integrating the past and the present. As it is, a lot is left on the field.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
Some actors are professional, while others seem unrealistic in delivery. The cast is very diverse, which is a plus. It is possible that the many characters crowded out the scene and did not give actors enough time to work through their characters, but it is also possible that not enough acting coaching was employed in Do You Believe.
Do You Believe has an excellent message, but it is too issues-based. The better production quality and the action sequences do hold the attention of the target audience, but the movie is not as good as it could be. There is plenty of potential with some of the better story lines, but they are drowned out by too much content. It is noble that the creators wanted to address a lot of important issues in a Christian movie, but the point may be lost. In the end, it will be interesting to see how this PureFlix saga plays out in the future.