Daily Bread [2017] (Series Review)

Plot Summary

When a solar flare passes through the earth’s atmosphere, all electricity and electronic devices cease to work, which throws the entire planet into chaos. The cast and crew of a famous cooking show are stranded in a mansion in the middle of nowhere, a group of isolated preppers, and a homeschool colony are all forced to cross paths in unlikely ways as they fight for survival with guns and MRE’s. In the end, who will survive the deadly new world that’s been created since the power went off?

Production Quality (1 point)

On the bright side of this season, a lot of good time and money was spent on the video quality and drone shots in the episodes. Thus, for the most part, camera work is acceptable. The same can be said for the sets, locations, and props, even if some of them are overused (liked num-chucks). One of the most glaring issues to point out in this production relates to audio quality, as there are a lot of loud background sounds in outdoor scenes and echoes in indoor scenes. The audio as a whole is very uneven as many scenes are full of clattering noises and as the soundtrack is all over the map since many songs are not situation-appropriate and since the music often overpowers spoken dialogue. It goes without saying that the introductory sequence is arguably better than the rest of the series, mostly due to the fact that the editing throughout the season is horrific with many cut-off scenes and many choppy transitions that throw scenes at the audience one after the other with little organization. As a whole, unfortunately, while there could have been something here, it just didn’t pan out.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Needless to say, it gets worse too. The most glaring issue with the plot is obviously the 48340982 characters that have to be kept up with due to the sheer number of subplots that this season forces upon the viewer. For the first half of the season, every episode is constantly introducing new characters to the point of embarrassment. Thus, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the sheer number of subplots throughout the course of this season, and this causes many subplots and storylines to become ‘extra’ and easily discard-able. Even if these subplots were the best in the world, it’s very difficult to understand the actual point of people randomly wandering around and acquiring guns and possessions in violent ways immediately after the power grid collapses. What are the characters defending themselves from? How are we supposed to know who they are as people? What does any of it have to do with a cooking show? Any hope or time there was for real content was frivolously used on trivial scenes and utterly purposeless asides. Narration randomly pops up throughout the course of the season, and flashbacks are used inconsistently where they should have been a focal point. A more consistent use of them would have been one of the only ways to fix this mess, along with eliminating nearly half of the characters and coming up with a real central focus other than prepping for an unknown and unseen apocalypse. What’s going on in the world outside of these characters? What is the government’s response? These are all unanswered questions that would be pertinent in this genre rather than sequences of forced drama, conversations depicting off-screen content that seems way more interesting than the actual season, cooking montages, and literal recitations of the Constitution and other forced Christian content. Basically, it’s better luck next time with trying a different genre.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Due to the high number of characters, this obviously leads to the assembling of a giant cast. One would think this would mask the minor weaknesses of some cast members, but that’s not the case as there are many acting errors, including overly practiced line delivery and stiff emotions. Some line delivery is half-hearted, unsure, and slightly mistaken at times, and many scenes depict cast members awkwardly standing around talking to each other like they’re not really filming a scene because it seems impromptu. Besides this portion of acting, the costuming is extremely random, and the hair and makeup do not jive with the notion that these people have been trying to survive an apocalypse away from civilization for days. Basically, this is just another mistake-prone aspect of this season.

Continuity Quality (1 point)

As previously mentioned, there are many, many storylines to contend with here, but despite this, there is actually some continuity between the episodes. However, the story and character arcs aren’t any good since there are no substantial instances of character growth or dynamic storytelling. There are, of course, the usual instances of romantic subplots and villain plans, but other than that, there’s not much continuity to mention here.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt in the world that Christian entertainment is starved for new genres and new concepts, and we have to commend this creative team for sticking their necks out there to try something unique, but this isn’t the way to do it. Regardless of genre, characters have to always be deep because audiences want to connect with real, accessible people. Science fiction stories can be difficult to write and even more difficult to produce professionally, which is why proper planning and truly creative writing are essential. The budget may not be there, but if the storyline is dynamic, it shows that the creator is ready for bigger and better things. If you’re faithful with the little God’s provided you, He will give you the bigger budget down the road.

Final Rating: 3 out of 14 points


Come What May [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Caleb Hogan has always been torn between his parents and their differing belief systems.  He finally convinces his lawyer mother to fund a semester at Patrick Henry College for him, even though they hold beliefs contrary to hers.  Interested in law himself, Caleb joins the mock trial team and begins working with Rachel Morton, a somewhat stodgy girl whom he likes but cannot date right away due to her standards.  They begin to have a conflict over the moot court topic: overturning Roe vs. Wade.  Caleb is unsure of the college’s insistence on full overturn, especially as he and Rachel work as interns at his mother’s firm while they take on an abortion case in real life.  In the end, one worldview must win out in Caleb’s mind and heart.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Come What May is obviously an amateur film, but it didn’t have to be this bad.  While the video quality is okay, there is really nothing else good to say, unfortunately.  The makeup jobs on each actor are poor.  The camera work is stock, and the lighting and sound quality are very inconsistent.  The sets are quite limited, which can be expected, but the outdoor scenes rarely have sound.  Finally, the editing is poor—some scenes are very confusing and others last too long.  However, this may also be due to a lack of good content.  Overall, it is hard to justify this movie’s existence if for the production alone.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Patrick Henry College is supposed to be an expert on winning moot court championships, and make sure to not let the audience forget their greatness in their own brand of product placements throughout the movie.  However, if they are so good, then they should at least get their facts straight.  They do not.  There are multiple moot court championship inaccuracies and untrue facts, including having a former Supreme Court justice judge the final round.  It is great to have a pro-life message, but it comes off very abrasive and preachy, like the creators are trying to force things down your throat.  Some arguments used for the pro-life worldview are so off-the-wall that Box Office Revolution does not support them.  As previously mentioned, there are plenty of unnecessary scenes, and offbeat amateurish dialogue litters the film.  To top things off, this movie reinforces negative Christian stereotypes by purporting strange views of the roles of women in society.  The ‘bad’ characters are caricatures, with the exception of one character, who has an interesting enough arc to save this plot from garnering zero points.  In short, while we need more pro-life films on the market, Come What May only hurts the cause.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

This cast must be given a break since they are all mostly inexperienced.  It is great to find new actors for Christian films instead of using the same ones over and over again, but coaching needs to be provided.  There is poor emotional delivery and wooden acting throughout this film.  In short, though these was some potential, the acting only serves to further hurt this movie’s case.

Conclusion

Overall, Come What May is a very bad presentation of the otherwise important pro-life issue.  It would have been one thing to have average production and average acting combined with a strong plot, but none of this happened.  The creators manipulated reality to suit their own means, filled the movie with their bizarre brand of Christianity, and generally did everything possible to force this movie to happen without thinking about the overarching consequences.  Social issues need to be showcased in Christian films, but Come What May only serves as an example of how not to go about it.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points