Movie Renovation: Love’s Enduring Promise

Image result for love's enduring promise movie

Image result for love's enduring promise movie
Pa needs me!

Production Improvements

Love’s Enduring Promise has great production quality, with realistic sets, a picturesque location, and great camera work. As our founder pointed out, the main issues here are some choppy editing and the usual unrealistic makeup jobs. Otherwise, this is the strongest area of the film. It is obvious that Michael Landon Jr. is a talented producer. However, as women had little to no access to makeup out West, and only took baths once a week to save water, there is work to do in the area of makeup and costuming. Additionally, after further observation of the book series’ content, I believe this book and the others should be joined together to make a TV series. I believe this is the only way all the content and the many characters could be included. In short, this book should never have been a standalone film.

Plot & Storyline Improvements

Where to begin? Michael Landon Jr. has drastically altered the book content in this film, so much so that it barely resembles the original story. First, he pieced together some obscure sub-plots in the final chapters of the novel – Missie went on a date with a man named Grant Thomas and eventually married Willie – and created his usual love triangle between Missie, Grant, and Willie. He purposely ignored the fact that Missie also went on dates with one of Ma Graham’s (Sarah in the movie, oh wait she’s not in this movie, another inaccuracy) sons for some time before going out with Willie, and that it took some time for her and Willie’s relationship to develop. Next, the core incident in the film – Clark cutting his leg with an axe while chopping firewood – never existed in the book. In the novel, there was an obscure sub-plot where Clark had a logging accident and cut his foot. This laid him up for a couple of weeks, but he was never unconscious or in critical condition. In the movie he has an infected limb and potential gangrene, in the book he had a cut that was stitched up, big deal. Finally, in the book Clark and Marty have three children together after becoming a real husband and wife. Arnie was one of their sons, but Landon Jr. forgot Ellie, Luke, and their adopted daughters Nandry and Clae. Nandry and Clae were adopted from a neglectful neighbor who was leaving to pan for gold and was easily convinced to give up his children. While the book content is a bit of an information dump, it would make several great episodes in a TV series. Considering that Landon Jr. has had much success with this in the past, I am flabbergasted as to why he didn’t think of this from the start. People are far more likely to watch TV than go see an obscure inspirational film. This is the main way in which he could have improved the plot and storyline quality. 

Acting Improvements

Again, there is so much bad here it is hard to know where to start. Dale Midkiff is a terrible actor, Katherine Heigl’s promising performance in the previous movie has declined considerably, and the child actors are grating. K’Sun Ray needed serious coaching to come off as anything but a whiny little kid, and it was not given to him. Arnie is barely in the film and has a forgettable performance at best. Logan Bartholomew is awkward and does not accurately portray the Willie character. Finally, January Jones shows potential as Missie, but delivers a mostly blank performance and needs coaching. Landon Jr. could have improved this section by giving Katherine Heigl a chance to improve, and recasting everyone else.

Conclusion

In conclusion, because of all the glaring errors here, this movie deserves a remake. The original book content is worth it. Janette Oke should be a part of the filmmaking, especially the casting. The screenwriter should use the content in the book to create a TV series and make very few alterations. There is enough content to make an entire season out of each book. As seen in When Calls the Heart, screenwriters can build an entire episode around much less! Filmmakers looking to make a historical romance TV series, look no further than this book series for content!

Love’s Enduring Promise (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Years after Clark and Marty Davis settled into their new life together, their family is prosperous and successful.  Missy Davis is a young woman now with a job and a mind of her own.  All seems well until tragedy strikes—Clark receives a serious injury in a wood-cutting accident, which sends the entire family into a search for answers and hope.  While taking care of Clark and praying for healing, Marty and Missy must work the fields in order to have the crops done in time for harvest.  At the end of their rope, they suddenly receive help from an unexpected source.  Little do they know that God has been watching over them all along and will allow them to be a part of His special plan.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Michael Landon Jr. and Hallmark, in this installment, continued to showcase production superiority over other Christian films of the era.  Love’s Enduring Promise has realistic sets and locations and great camera work.  The video and sound quality are solid, including well-filmed outside scenes.  The costuming is pretty good, with some minor issues regarding period authenticity.  The only other caveats to raise are some poorly created special effects and inconsistent editing.  At the beginning, the movie makes sense, but it becomes very rushed and choppy at the end, as will be explained next.  Nonetheless, the Love Comes Softly series, at this point, was still produced well.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

As previously mentioned, the first half of the movie is interesting and it feels like the audience will really be able to get to know Janette Oke’s characters.  However, once the major conflict is easily resolved, the plot meanders from there and comes to a predictable and forced conclusion.  Besides this, this film is an inaccurate adaptation of original novel that does not improve upon the original plot.  There are too many plot holes and unnecessary characters that only provide filler time.  The inevitable romance seems forced; it’s hard to really appreciate what’s going on because the characters are too shallow. While the dialogue is okay, the characters need to be deeper.  There is some real humor, but the Christian message is forced and not meaningful.  In short, this plot had a lot of potential to be different and interesting and to package a profound Christian message into a movie with authentic, accessible characters, but it only comes off as half-measures.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

The cast size increased for the second installment, but the quality decreased.  There are only a handful of good actors and actresses; the child actors are not coached well.  Line delivery is overly dramatic, like every line is supposed to be a deep spiritual truth.  But at the same time, emotions seem shallow.  Unfortunately, low quality acting derails an otherwise above average film.

Conclusion

Janette Oke’s beloved series has a mountain of good content where deep characters and realistic frontier struggles are concerned.  However, Michael Landon Jr. and team did not capture what they needed to capture.  Love Comes Softy could have been an epic saga, but we are only left to wonder what could have been.  Most audiences will be fine with Love’s Enduring Promise, mostly because of the era it was released in, but it needed something more.  In the future, we hope that this movie genre is redeemed from ‘just okay’ status.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Love Comes Softly (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Taken to the unknown Western lands of America by her husband Aaron, Marty Claridge doesn’t know what to do when her husband dies in a tragic accident.  Alone in a strange land, she accepts the offer of a widower named Clark Davis to marry him for convenience until she can go back home to the East.  As she struggles to cope with her own loss and deal with Clark’s spirited daughter Missy, who is still dealing with the tragic loss of her mother, Marty slowly realizes that she will miss the Davis home when she has to leave.  She will have to decide what will prevail—her heart or her head.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

For the most part, Michael Landon Jr. knows what he’s doing when it comes to production.  This was during the heyday of Fox Faith and Hallmark, and it is easy to understand what set inspirational semi-Christian films like this one apart from movies in its genre before it.  The video quality is clear and outside scenes are filmed well.  The camera work is professional.  Care was taken to make the surroundings and props authentic to the time period.  However, the musical score is stock and the editing is just average.  Too many events take place off screen, things that could have set this movie apart from other romances.  But in the end, the production is likely this film’s greatest asset.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Adapted from the first novel of Janette Oke’s famous series, Love Comes Softly is an intriguing plot.  This film is likely the most accurate to the original story of the whole movie franchise.  A marriage of convenience plot is not that uncommon, yet it was common for the frontier settlement time period.  Other authentic historical factors are captured.  The dialogue is good, but not great, but the characters are at the very least believable.  But with a simplistic commonly used plot, character deepening is greatly needed.  Unfortunately, Love Comes Softly, though it had the runtime to accomplish this, did not do it.  This is why the plot comes out of just average.

Acting Quality (1 point)

This was a small cast and was far better than many Christian film casts of the time, but it still was plagued with errors.  Some characters (as we will see later from Michael Landon Jr.) are too done-up for the time period, i.e., too much makeup and manicures.  But compared to later, Love Comes Softly was great in this area.  Yet other problems remain.  Only two or three actors are truly good.  Katherine Heigl and Dale Midkiff are okay in their roles, but they needed refining.  Once again, in a small-scope, simplistic plot, acting is essential, and this cast was only marginal.

Conclusion

Love Comes Softly marked the beginning of an era for Michael Landon Jr., Hallmark, and popular author Janette Oke.  Oke captured believable, seemingly common historical characters in her novels and brought them to life for audiences to enjoy.  However, the film franchise did not necessarily do this.  Love Comes Softly is a strong enough beginning and demanded stronger follow-ups.  But if you are looking for a well-produced, semi-typical Christian romance, this is the film for you, and you will not be disappointed.

 

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points