My Name is Paul [2013] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

What if the story of the Apostle Paul took place in the near future, when the government cracks down on religious freedom and forces the true Christians underground?  Paul seeks out Christians to bring into custody to further his status among the government, but a profound experience causes him to turn around and change his ways by joined the very people he once tried to stamp out.  Now he is on the run from his former employers and the Christians are wary about trusting him.  Will the Way be able to prevail in the face of grave opposition?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

It is clear that many attempts were made in this film to craft a very professional action-based production, which is something we rarely see in Christian film these days.  Video quality is what it should be and camera work is great, especially in the action scenes.  Audio quality is mostly good and the soundtrack is intriguing.  However, sometimes there are some oddly lit scenes, as if the producers are trying to be too artistic, and the indoor sets sometimes suffer from lack of creativity.  Yet the outdoor locations are very well-constructed.  The editing sometimes leaves something to be desired, as some scenes lag too long while others are cut short.  But in the end, this is a commendable effort and one that will hopefully yield even better fruit in the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It’s definitely not easy to take on such a large Bible-story-set-in-the-future concept, especially with all of the characters that are involved.  Sometimes it’s too awkward for the writers to try to force parallels; it might have been better to keep the associations looser.  However, there is still lots of good plot content—perhaps too much content for a film less than two hours long.  This is a highly complex story that sometimes gets lost in itself and may have been better suited for a miniseries, since there are a lot of ideas crammed into such a short time frame.  This is a good problem to have, yet it leaves too many disjointed subplots in its wake.  The characters are pretty good, even if they are limited in scope.  The biggest red flag to raise here is the very confusing and isolating ending that is hard to explain or understand.  In the end, this story desperately needed to be a series in order to be truly effective.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The casting and acting is clearly the strongest point of this film, as there are no errors to speak of.  This is a very large cast, yet they are all very talented and cast very appropriately.  Emotions are believable and line delivery is on target.  The cast members make this film as good as it is.

Conclusion

We realize it’s hard to make an independent series or miniseries, but with the PureFlix on Demand platform, things have been made easier.  More budding film makers need to take advantage of this resource to boost their brand so that we can see some actually worthwhile Christian series come to light.  Regardless, with some production tweaks, more funding, and continued casting success, this creative team is going to go big places.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

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Standing Firm [2010] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Dave Corwin’s wife died, he was confused and lost in life.  He did not know where to turn as he tried to hold his job together while not neglecting his son.  But his son’s newfound faith intrigues him, even though Dave does not understand why a loving God would take his wife away.  In the end, Dave’s journey to faith will be tested by life’s circumstances.  Which path will he ultimately choose?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For a freshman production, Standing Firm is decent.  Most of its aspects are professional, including video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  Yet the soundtrack is a bit stock at times and sets and locations are somewhat limited.  Also, the editing is somewhat passive as it seems like a majority of the recorded content was included at face value.  Overall, on the whole, this is a very generic and base production, which is good for a new production company to start out with.  With a limited budget and resources, this is likely the best Praise Pictures could have done with what they had.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the plot of Standing Firm is very underwhelming and low-key.  Its theme is slow and melancholy, thus causing the story to be slow to develop.  Dialogue is quite pedestrian as the same conversations tend to repeat and rehash over and over again.  Thus, the character development is null—this creates one-dimensional characters where this character-driven plot should have complex ones.  Unfortunately, this story is a fairly limited idea that needs more complexity than it has.  Though it is simple, it does have a meaningful message; however, it doesn’t hold the attention very well, so the message is not conveyed well.  But in the end, this is still a beginner’s plot, and the good thing is Praise Pictures improved later.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though this is a slightly ‘rookie’ cast, they post at least average performances.  They are not terribly dynamic in what they do, but they are not highly negative either.  There is definitely some room for improvement, especially in emotional delivery, but this is a good start that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Conclusion

Overall, though this is a modest beginning for Praise Pictures, it is definitely something to build off of.  There is a lot of potential here, especially since production and casting are off on the right start early on.  The plot does suffer for creativity, but this is something that can be easily fixed down the road.  In the end, it seems like the Praise Pictures team really does mean well, which means they will be able to go far in the future.  It will be interesting to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Love Covers All (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Michael goes on a business trip and leaves his very pregnant wife at home, he never anticipated the series of events that would occur.  The business trip turns out to be something he never expected to happen and this is compounded when his wife goes into labor and begins having complications.  In route home, Michael becomes stranded in the middle of nowhere and feels like all hope is lost until he begins to remember the faith he has easily forgotten about.  Will he be able to reconcile his past hurts and help those around him before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Though the budget and the team were limited in what they could do with this film, it’s obvious that they were trying to create a quality production with what they had available.  The highest marks go to the excellent video and audio quality.  Camera work is also highly professional and the soundtrack is adequate.  The sets and locations are limited, but they are utilized fairly well.  However, some scenes have poor lighting and there are generally not enough extras.  Yet the editing is fine and rounds out an overall above average production effort.  It’s clear that this team cares about what they are doing, so it will be interesting to see what they create in the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The biggest downfall of Love Covers All is its simplistic storyline, though it does have a meaningful message.  The writers did the right thing with a limited and pedestrian storyline: craft authentic and believable characters built on great developing dialogue.  The dialogue is one of the main saving graces of this film—without it, the story would be nothing.  The life circumstances the characters experience are very realistic and accessible, and the Christian message hits home.  However, we would have liked the plot to be a little more complex and creative than this.  But still, this is a non-typical storyline that deserves recognition.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

This is a very strong casting job that lifts the film away from total mediocrity.  With recognizable Christian actors and actresses, each character is cast very well.  There is clear acting coaching present here as they deliver their lines and emotions with only minor errors.  This is a job well done.

Conclusion

The Praise Pictures team, like many budding creative teams, it poised to take the next step.  They have the production and casting skills necessary to create a top film—now they just need a bigger budget and more complex plots.  As a side note, the Christian message of Love Covers All is quite profound and we hope it is transferred to another film.  In short, there is so much potential here that is just waiting to be brought out, so we can’t wait to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points