Heavenquest: A Pilgrim’s Progress (Movie Review)

4 Things to Know about Heavenquest: A Pilgrim's Progress

Plot Summary

Vangel was a judge in the Kingdom of the South, but when he was wrongly accused of treason against the king he worked for, Vangel is sent for punishment. However, he escapes this fate and meets up with another fugitive; together, they run into a mysterious man named Elder who tells them that they can be set free if they make it to the Kingdom of the North. Through many perilous circumstances, they battle their way to freedom at all costs. Will they be able to cross the border before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, fantasy productions in Christian entertainment almost never fare well, and cheesy special effects combined with obvious CGI elements are usually the leading culprits. Heavenquest isn’t an exception to this tendency as its sets, locations, and props don’t adequately portray what they’re supposed to portray. Camera work is often shaky, especially in action scenes, and the film is replete with very trippy and dizzying sequences that confuse and overwhelm the viewer. Video quality is clear, but lighting is inconsistent. Despite an interesting soundtrack, it’s sometimes too loud. There are many quick cuts and transitions throughout, but there is actually some production improvement throughout, which is enough to grant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

After completely dropping the audience in the middle of narrative nowhere, Heavenquest consistently introduces concepts that fly over the head of the viewer. These elements seem designed with purposeful vagueness even though they include intriguing psychological aspects and artistic perspectives. It seems like the writers were trying to tell something profound but never got around to explaining it. Nonetheless, it’s hard to follow the plot’s progression as random things happen. Some sequences are total wastes of time and accomplish nothing, only wasting valuable opportunities to develop accessible characters and help audiences understand what’s actually going on. As they are, the characters are difficult to connect with due to detached and cryptic dialogue although they have some potential. The villains are very cheesy and mainly serve to include unnecessary language and edgy content. Often, things in the story happen because they need to rather than naturally developing. Besides the disorienting nature of the movie, its allegory seems a bit off at times and not completely congruent with the faith. It seems to adopt unusual theological stances, and its flat ending leaves everyone empty-handed. Thus, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Some acting in Heavenquest is acceptable, but for the most part, the villain cast members post over-the-top performances. A portion of the acting seems unsure or awkward while other parts demonstrate overly practiced emotional and line delivery. Further, makeup isn’t all that it could be, which rounds out an overall average section.


This film joins other similar ones (such as The Adventures of Chris Fable and Heaven’s War) in presenting poorly constructed CGI fantasies. Relying too much on visual effects and allowing the storyline to fall by the wayside, Heavenquest‘s creators either never figured out why they wanted to make this movie or never properly communicated this. After all the hype surrounding the movie, Christian audiences were left with another disappointment that will contribute to the growing discontent with the field. Hopefully, however, future offerings won’t commit the same errors.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points


Unplanned [2019] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and abortion rights advocate, was taken by God on an unforgettable journey of redemption and forgiveness that led her to reject her former way of life and trade it for a ministry of pro-life activism. Though no one could have ever dreamed that an abortion clinic supervisor would switch political sides and join her former enemies, there is no end to the power of prayer.

Production Quality (2 points)

As expected at this point from PureFlix, the production of Unplanned is above-average and hits all the right notes, for the most part. On the surface, it looks good due to high video quality, professional camera work, and adequate sets, locations, and props. Audio quality is also good. They’ve checked all the typical boxes, but there are some issues with the soundtrack as many of the songs don’t properly fit the situations they are played in. However, the most glaring problem is the horrific editing that takes the viewer all over the map of a story that could have been good but only ends up playing like an audio book, as we see next.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

At this point, it’s painfully clear that the current PureFlix team can’t even properly portray a great true story even if it hit them in the face like Abby Johnson’s story did. Even if the book is already written for them, you can count on PureFlix to fumble the ball at the goal line by falling back on their old tried-and-failed pitfalls of trying to be too obvious without trusting the audience to read in to the subtlety and of crafting too many climax scenes for dramatic effect. The obvious goal was the hit all the high points of the story in order to maximize the most shock and awe possible with the hopes of scaring people about abortion. There’s no doubt that there were many powerful parts of Abby’s story, but we’ll never really know as the demonstrative elements are over-emphasized in the movie while the potential for character building is simply replaced with incessant and heavy-handed narration. They seem like great characters, but it’s impossible to know them due to the narration and the wild time jumps that leave the viewer disoriented. Since there’s a lot of content in this story, it could have been effectively laid out via flashbacks that built character motivation, yet instead, we were left with talking-points conversations and overly emphasized strawman villain moments. The film is written for basically one good scene near the end where we actually get realistic dialogue uninterrupted by Bratcher’s narration, but it’s too little too late. Unfortunately, where Abby Johnson’s story could have been a powerful treatise on prayer and a change of heart, all we’re given is a smile-and-wave, run-of-the-mill experience dedicated to grossing people out about abortion whose R-rating is warranted due to lack of balance.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Surprisingly, Ashley Bratcher is a bright spot in this cast, which suggests her performance in Princess Cut was heavily controlled by the creators of that film. While the supporting cast might have been interesting, it’s hard to tell due to the famine of lines and dialogue in this film. Even still, the casting and acting are mostly good without many glaring errors…it’s just basically unfinished and left wanting, like the overall feel of this movie.


There’s absolutely no doubt that Abby Johnson and David Bereit played integral roles in bringing the pro-life movement out of the dark ages through prayer and expert leadership, and Abby’s story is an amazing one that deserved a movie of its own. However, PureFlix’s treatment of the story doesn’t do it any justice. Moreover, Unplanned, in a way, represents the current state of the pro-life movement: lots of well-meaning people who want to do the right thing, along with a collection of more influential people who believe that ‘gotcha’ talking points and graphic displays of the evils of abortion will change things. The early marketing for this film proclaimed it to be (another) death knell for the corrupt Planned Parenthood, yet we beg to differ. Any success the pro-life movement will find moving forward is by both listening to and telling actual stories of real people, not by falling into the trap of unleashing smoking guns that will ‘sink’ your opposition. There was a massive opportunity to tell a real story in Unplanned that could actually reach people, but once again, PureFlix proves that they can’t tell stories properly because this requires actually knowing people. Unfortunately, while the gory moments of this film can be powerful if packaged properly, when they are separated from an emotional connection with the characters, they can re-traumatize those who have been hurt by abortion, which doesn’t win any ‘converts.’

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points