Secrets in the Fall (Movie Review)

Secrets in the Fall- Official Extended Trailer - YouTube

Plot Summary

After being stuck in school for a snowbound night, a group of teenagers became friends for life. Now, they’re working together as counselors at a Christian camp. However, not everything goes smoothly as some campers don’t want to be there for various reasons. Will they all be able to wok together to make the week memorable?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Beginning with a cheap found-footage feel, this production doesn’t live up to professional standards. Background noises and shaky camera work don’t help matters. While video quality, sets, locations, and props are okay, there’s not much soundtrack to speak of. Editing also contains concerns, including lagging scenes, awkward fadeouts, and weird sped-up portions of the film that confuse the audience. Despite some slight production improvement with time, this section can’t receive any more than an average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

From the get-go, the narrative is filled with convenient exposition that shoves information into the viewers’ faces. When this finally stops, the dialogue is somewhat acceptable yet could use some work. Although this screenplay is a sequel, characters are one-dimensional due to lots of blank scenes that accomplish nothing. Additionally, the high number of characters crowds out the runtime, causing many subplots to get lost in the shuffle and characters to get neglected. As a result of wasted time, character arcs are too steep as shortcuts are taken to force lessons upon the audience. Though there are some good attempts at making the “bad” characters neutral by giving them reasons for their actions, which is the tiny shred of potential in this story that keeps it from receiving no points, there is still not much focus or purpose in this narrative. Characters undergo very self-aware growth without experiencing circumstances that would promote these behaviors, which is unrealistic. In the end, the Every New Day creative team often tries to craft character-based plots but continue to lack key elements that are needed or success.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the acting of Secrets in the Fall is mostly generic due to there being nothing special or terrible. Line delivery and emotions are standard. Thus, with no positive or negative standouts, this section receives an average score.

Conclusion

Secrets in the Snow had a good amount of potential, but this follow-up seems forced and unnecessary. Sequels should build upon what was previously accomplished, but this movie takes a step backward. It seems like that the Goodwins have noble intentions with their creations, but they have taken a quantity over quality approach. Perhaps it’s time for them to take a step back and focus on producing fewer screenplays that contain more meaning.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Maggie’s Christmas Miracle (Movie Review)

Image result for maggie's christmas miracle

Plot Summary

Maggie has always hated Christmas ever since her father left the family during the holiday season.  Ever since then, she’s sought to control everything around her, especially her young son’s life.  However, when his grades begin dropping, she is forced to entrust him to the care of an after-school tutor, but Maggie soon finds that she isn’t like what she expected from a tutor.  Will she decide to open up her heart over the holiday season to love again?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As expected, Maggie’s Christmas Miracle is a typically fine Hallmark production with good video quality and camera, as well as good audio quality.  The soundtrack is predictably generic but not as bad as usual.  The sets, locations, and props are fine, but the Christmas decor is expectedly overwhelming and beyond belief.  Further, the editing is average, and thus, everything in this production is standard and expected from the Hallmark assembly line of Christmas films.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Though Hallmark movies are always better when using source material, especially from authors like Karen Kingsbury, there are still plenty of typical elements in Maggie’s Christmas Miracle.  While Karen Kingsbury characters run circles around typical Hallmark fare, there are still a lot of cheesy feel-good elements throughout this plot.  However, the dialogue is mostly good enough to develop character motive and personality, even if the plot is extremely predictable with a cookie-cutter romance plot where two people who don’t like each other at first are thrown together at Christmastime.  The story includes all the expected turns and conventions, and all of the stereotypes are too easily fallen into.  Since this is a character-based plot, we needed to see deeper character growth than this, and we also would have liked to see relationship twists and turns that were more based on past and present personality and behavior issues rather than on unrealistically stupid miscommunication problems (see The Bridge).  Unfortunately, the story gets worse as it goes on as cheap Christian messages are awkwardly inserted and end up hurting any good portions of dialogue there may be.  Essentially, the source material is helping this plot to be more than it would otherwise be, but there’s still a lot more that could have been accomplished here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As expected, the casting and acting of this film is mostly professional with typical Hallmark elements, such as some overdone makeup.  For the most part, the line delivery and the emotions are natural, but there are some portions that are a bit too sappy.  However, as a whole, this cast is professional enough to know what they’re doing and to produce an above-average performance.

Conclusion

If Hallmark only used books and true stories as source material from here until eternity, the channel would be a much better place for it.  However, this is highly unlikely to happen.  Even still, there is enough good in Maggie’s Christmas Miracle to make it a passable holiday film to watch if you want a safe, benign movie that’s not too old and not too cheesy.  Also, if you like Karen Kingsbury novels, this film is definitely for you.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Christmas Edition (MTASBTNEWOT Christmas)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  For now, here’s a collection of Christmas films that fall into this category.

 

It’s very hard to explain

Beverly Hills Christmas

This is barely a Christmas movie at all except that it’s based on the typically bizarre magic premise you find in many knockoff holiday films.  Dean Cain and a Meryl Streep lookalike star in this movie that’s filled with wacko works-based theology and abstract vague fantasy lingo and concepts.  Apparently some dead woman has to get into heaven by making her spoiled brat daughter act good, so she decides to bring a nice kid back to life by shooting lightning into his skull even though Dean Cain told her not to touch people.  It’s a shame this off-the-wall movie wasted a decent character arc and a remotely interesting idea.

 

Look, a rose!

Natalie’s Rose

Also barely a Christmas film (or a Christian one), this time about a horse named—guess what—Rose.  Basically, this movie wastes an hour of your time on farm footage and sitting around talking before coming to the shocking conclusion: the horse is a “special” horse that turns into a rose.  [ENTER GIANT FACEPALM HERE].  No joke.  The production is terrible and most people won’t even make through the entire slogfest to see the main character having hallucinations about glowing horseback riders at night.  How this garbage gets made is beyond us.

 

DAX!

The Heart of Christmas

When you use kids with cancer as props and parade vain Christian actors and actresses in front of the camera in some kind of lame attempt to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in a shameless commercial soliciting you for money, we don’t have much respect for you.  Sure, St’ Jude’s does some great things and helps families in need, but can’t we just have a normal movie without all the advertising, drama, and pageantry?  They didn’t even try to make this true story a realistic plot.  It’s really shameful when you have characters telling you to make donations.