The Chosen, Season 2 (Series Review)

Producer of Bible-Based TV Show 'The Chosen' Shares S2 On-Set Update

Plot Summary

After Jesus launched his public earthly ministry and took it to the next level by going to Samaria, the disciples thought that everything would be easy for them. However, things don’t pan out the way that they expect as they struggle with group dynamics, dark pasts, and outside opposition. In the end, as Jesus prepares for a sermon that will take His ministry to the next level, the disciples have to come to terms with what their new life means and what the Messiah has come to truly accomplish.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Many aspects of the production of Season 2 have greatly improved from Season 1, most notably the camera work, sets, and locations. However, for the most part, this talented team retained the authenticity and grittiness that was captured in Season 1 despite having more to work with. Camera work, video quality, and audio are all top-notch. Sets, locations, and props are realistic and culturally accurate. There are virtually no editing problems, so the only minor nitpick here is the fact that a few key moments are lacking the soundtrack that has come to be one of the core tenets of The Chosen. It’s unclear why this was the case, but it takes the wind out of the sails in certain circumstances. Nonetheless, this is another top-quality production that’s worthy of a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

It’s undeniable that the writers of The Chosen put much effort into making sure that the narrative is engaging and as accurate as possible. Season 2 is full of relatable and deep character arcs that portray the human experience and progress in realistic ways. Dialogue and conversations are excellent although slightly lacking some of the philosophy that we grew to love in Season 1. In Season 2, we get to watch a plausible interpretation of how the disciples might have interacted and how outside groups like the Pharisees and Romans may have approached Jesus in His early earthly ministry. There’s no doubt that the creators took the storytelling of the series to the next level by building intrigue and backstory for the outside events that were likely surrounding Jesus’ earthly ministry. For the most part, all characters are depicted as nuanced and motivated by various factors rather than all good or all bad. Further, the world-building in this season is superb as the writers demonstrate firm commitment to exploring and portraying the first-century Jewish culture in which Jesus lived. The main contention in this section that prevents a perfect score is the somewhat disjointed ending to the season. Some leaps in logic are taken to force a certain point, and the core philosophy of the show is temporarily abandoned just so certain moments can happen. This conclusion seems out-of-place compared to the rest of the season, which is disappointing since it’s the last thing that is seen. Nonetheless, there is still plenty to celebrate in this season as this plot is still very high quality.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

For the most part, The Chosen, Season 2 picks up right where the first season left off in the acting department. Sporting an extremely talented cast of culturally authentic members, the learned accents enhance the realistic experience. Nearly 95% of all performances are very strong, including emotions and line delivery in key moments. However, there are a few missteps that keep this section from being perfect. For instance, Noah James is expected to do a lot more than his acting range allows him to do, which is a drag. Other scenes are obviously one-takes due to extenuating circumstances, so this is an unfortunate fact. In the end, however, this section still receives a very high score due to loaded talent.

Continuity Quality (3 points)

The writers of The Chosen are clearly skilled in establishing setups and payoffs in their narratives. In Season 2, character arcs and storylines are also superb. No scene is wasted, and logical reasons are given for why things happen. As previously mentioned, the world-building of this series is unparalleled as the viewer is drawn into an authentic experience in first-century Judea. There are virtually no errors in this section.

Conclusion

The Chosen, Season 2 receives one x-factor point for attention to detail and making everything count. However, unlike the first season, this follow-up seasons does not receive the other x-factor point for rewatchability. It was evident during the lead-up to this season that Season 2 would be one that sets up many future events, and this assertion was definitely true. Set-up is necessary, but it doesn’t always produce rewatchability. Nonetheless, we respect what is being done here since it will hopefully make future seasons even better. One word of caution that we have to offer is that, much like Jesus’ ministry in the series is becoming more popular, as The Chosen increases in real-world popularity, especially among the Christian elite, the creative team will face an even more daunting task of avoiding the accidental creation of an echo chamber. We love The Chosen and everything that they are doing, and there were many enjoyable moments that make Season 2 worth your time (and land the season on the Hall of Fame). Because we care about The Chosen and the team behind it, we feel the need to offer a small warning about the future of this series: don’t let it go the way of all Christian projects. Stay committed to being different and doing what God wants you to do.

Final Rating: 11.5 out of 14 points

The Crossroads of Hunter Wilde (Movie Review)

The Crossroads Of Hunter Wilde - Full Movie | Mike Norris, Abel ...

Plot Summary

In the aftermath of a world war that left mutants and ISIS rebels roaming the earth in search of their next victims, Hunter Wilde fights to survive and protect those close to him. However, when a new threat emerges that he has no idea how to fight, Hunter does what he typically does: run away. Will he be able to rekindle his faith before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Despite seemingly having adequate funding, this production fails to meet quality standards. This includes background noise that sometimes conflicts with spoken audio as well as a loud and generic soundtrack. The sets, locations, and props don’t effectively portray what they’re supposed to portray. Also, the camera work is wild, including poor shots in action sequences. The video quality is mostly stable throughout, however, and the editing is average. Despite some less-than-inspiring special effects, some elements of the production do improve as it goes on. Nonetheless, it’s only enough to earn a middle-of-the-road score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Besides the fact that this film is based on a ridiculous premise and bizarre plot elements, it also contains a really bad and slightly incorrect portrayal of the spiritual dimension. The writers seemed to be obsessed with sensationalism, shock, and awe as well as fixated on pro-prepper messaging that seems to want the world to descend into chaos so that they can do whatever they want. Despite being a large-scale idea, the story is based on clunky narration and stock footage. It’s also full of forced drama and purposely creepy supernatural elements. In the character department, the so-called protagonist almost always saves the day via unrealistic action sequences. Other characters are built on forced cardboard dialogue and awkward conversations that make everything drag out. The villains are extremely cheesy, and the narrative decides what happens to the characters and what random things they’ll do without good reasons for doing them. Things only get more ridiculous as they go, mostly due to the fact that the movie confuses itself with wacky inter-dimensional subplots and terminology. The concepts of other realms are extremely difficult to grasp, and the screenplay’s questionable view of spirituality tends to play fast and loose with reality. In the end, this is a pointless storyline full of madness and nonsense.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Between overly theatrical emotions and forced line delivery, the cast was seemingly coached to be very serious for no good reason. Too often, tones and feelings don’t seem to appropriately fit the situations. Makeup is also an obvious problem, and the villain acting is laughably ridiculous. In the end, despite some okay moments that keep this section from being zero, the acting tends to worsen as it goes forward, which rounds out an overall absurd creation.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to understand what the makes of this film were really going for. Mixing a dystopian premise with muted political overtures, much like The Reliant, is basically a losing formula from the get-go. Combing this with poor production and acting aspects sends this movie down to the basement of Christian entertainment. However, the market is thankfully changing for the better, which will no longer allow screenplays like this to exist.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Cowboy & Indiana (Movie Review)

Cowboy and Indiana" movie set to premiere June 8 in West Monroe

Plot Summary

Tyler Hughes used to be a big-time rodeo cowboy, but he got down on his luck through a series of bad choices. Now, he’s in and out of court, which where he gets sentenced to be a special mentor for “troubled kids.” Accompanied by his former girlfriend-turned-social-worker, what could go wrong as Tyler plays white savior for a kid from the “other neighborhood”? Also, several other characters do some stuff with bull riding in this incredibly long film.

Production Quality (2 points)

Production is easily Cowboy & Indiana‘s strongest suit. Camera work, video quality, and audio quality are all professional except for some slightly inconsistent filming techniques. Lighting, sets, locations, and props are all acceptable, however. The soundtrack is somewhat interesting, and the only issues with this section pertain to editing. This aspect is a bit uneven at times, but it’s not enough to pull this area below the average mark.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Besides being a white savior plot, the premise of Cowboy & Indiana is so trumped up that it doesn’t even seem legally sound or realistic. This causes some subtly racist undertones and a lot of patriarchal message-pushing that treats women like they’re incapable of making decisions without men around. In addition, the characters are very thin due to poorly developed dialogue and conversations, wasted scenes and sequences, excessive sports montages, and silly coincidences that make the story go where it wants to go. This narrative steering creates very steep character arcs that aren’t justified and strip the movie of any central purpose or themes. Despite some good flashbacks and acceptable dialogue in the screenplay’s second half that keeps this section from being zero, it’s just too little, too late. By the time the conclusion rolls around, it seems like the writers tried to make up for lost time by forcing things forward at a rapid pace, which produces a rushed epilogue with tons of expository dialogue that patches everything up at a breakneck speed. Needless to say, the small amount of positive in this portion just isn’t enough.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

At least the acting of Cowboy & Indiana is basically average. There’s nothing too bad or too good about it. Emotional and line delivery are just right down the middle with some being less than acceptable and the rest being fine. Overall, however, this rounds out an underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

It’s clear that this film was based on a lot of random ideas, some of which were better than others. Nonetheless, there are just too many eyebrow-raising elements here, such as the shaky legal basis. The veiled racism and patriarchy are also obvious concerns to contend with. Even without these problems, the sheer amount of content is simply overwhelming for anyone. Thus, during the creative process, it’s better to slow things down and invite God into the situation to see if you’re even meant to move forward with your project.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

The Chosen, Season 2 (Spring 2021)

Filming Fall 2020 and Winter 2021; releasing Spring 2021

Writer(s): Ryan Swanson, Tyler Thompson, Dallas Jenkins, Kurt Gebhards

Director(s): Dallas Jenkins, Adam Drake, Mitch Hudson

Producer(s): Chad Gunderson, Justin Tolley, Derral Eves, Ricky Ray Butler, Earl Seals, Matthew Faraci, Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson

Starring: Jonathan Roumie, Shahar Issac, Paras Patel, Noah James, Elizabeth Tabish, George Xanthis, Abe Martell, Giavani Cairo, Jordan Walker Ross, Joey Vahedi, Yasmine Al-Bustami, Vanessa Benavente, Brandon Potter, Kirk B. R. Woller, Lara Silva, Kenneisha Thompson, Vanessa DeSilvio, Maz Siam, Shaan Sharma, Ivan Jasso, Amber Shana Williams, Noé de la Garza, Yoshi Barrigas, Austin Alleman, Joseph Campbell, Alaa Safi, Nene Nwoko, Elijah Alexander, David Amito, Josh Zagoren, Luke Dimyan, Charan Prabhakar, Aalok Mehta, Anne Beyer

Plot Synopsis: Season 2 of the groundbreaking new series follows Jesus and His disciples during his earthly ministry outside of Capernaum.  The season overall focuses on group dynamics between the disciples and introduces at least two more key characters.  Jesus and His followers encounter both love and hatred as a result of their newfound popularity.

***CONFIRMED SPOILERS BELOW***

Overarching Season Themes: People finding their place in Jesus’ earthly ministry and the group dynamics of the disciples

Returning Characters: Jesus, Simon, Andrew, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, John son of Zebedee, Big James, Little James, Thaddeus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Thomas, Ramah, Eden, Photina, Neriah, Shmuel, Yussif, Tamar, The First Paralytic, Quintus, Gaius, Rivka, John the Baptizer, Barnaby, Shula

New Characters: Philip, Nathanael, Simon the Zealot, Melech, Rebecca, Chedva, Gershon, Nedim, Kaphni, Yanni, Atticus

Episode 1, Thunder: Jesus and His current disciples enter Samaria and meet up with Thomas and Ramah. Jesus preaches to the people about the parable of the lost sheep, and many believe in Him. Rama’s father Kaphni, after talking to Jesus, gives his daughter permission to travel with the group. After introducing them to everyone in town, Photina invites the whole group over for dinner, but her husband, Neriah, doesn’t know what to think about this. Jesus and His disciples stay at an inn for the night, and they spend several days in Samaria. The Sons of Thunder (John and Big James), after tilling some soil for a disabled farmer, are mistreated by some of the townspeople, who throw rocks at them for being Jews. After being spit on, John and Big James demand that Jesus let them call down fire on the Samaritans, but Jesus tells them that their work is for future generations. Elsewhere, Thomas takes issue with Matthew being in the group due to Matthew’s former tax collection work. Simon and Matthew continue to feud with each other.

Episode 2, I Saw You: Matthew begins to find his place among the disciples, despite the fact that some of them don’t like him. Philip and Nathanael are introduced as characters since John the Baptist refers Philip to Jesus, which prompts Philip to talk to Nathanael about the new Rabbi. Nathanael, an architect, has just gone through a career failure and is skeptical of Jesus. This career failure is related to a building collapsing, and Nathanael believes it’s due to his overconfidence. By the episode’s conclusion, Philip brings Nathanael to Jesus, Who invites them to follow Him.

Episode 3, Matthew 4:24: Based on its titular verse, this bottle episode depicts the current disciples taking turns helping Jesus with the many who are coming for healing. Many of the disciples are tired from their journey and previous work, so as they rest, they discuss what has been happening in the past few weeks. Mary the mother of Jesus joins the group at the beginning of the episode. Mary the mother offers unique insights of her perspective on the situation.

Episode 4, The Perfect Opportunity: This episode includes some type of mid-season cliffhanger where success is within the grasp of the characters yet also far away. It presents a well-known Bible story in a fresh way and somehow involves a wedding and the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda. The episode begins with a montage of scenes depicting a character’s early life, possibly that of the paralytic by the pool. The paralytic is friends with Simon the Zealot. At some point, Simon the Zealot is tasked with assassinating Atticus but is distracted by his friend’s sudden ability to walk. Sometime during this episode, some of the characters enter Jerusalem. Either in this episode or after it, Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand in a synagogue, which draws the ire of Yanni and other Pharisees, who plan what they will do about Jesus.

Episode 5, Spirit: A character goes to a place of ill repute, which may have something to do with Mary Magdalene facing someone from her dark past. At some point, not necessarily in this episode, Jesus and John the Baptist have a long conversation about Jesus’ future ministry. Also, not necessarily in this episode, Shmuel and Yanni begin looking for Jesus by interviewing people in various areas. Yussif also begins looking for Jesus but does so in more covert ways and not necessarily in this episode.

Episode 6, Unlawful: Matthew and Simon son of Jonah search for Mary Magdalene in Jericho. On the Sabbath, Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand in a synagogue. Also on the Sabbath, the disciple group picks heads of grain to eat, possibly to deal with a food shortage. John the Baptizer is taken into Roman custody.

Episode 7, Reckoning: If Jesus and His current disciples return to Capernaum by this time, He will have encounters with Quintus and Gaius. In this episode, it seems like, for some reason, that the disciples are split up into pairs of two each. Andrew and Philip try to stop Tamar and the first paralytic from preaching about Jesus. Yussif is somehow involved in this. At some point, not necessarily in this episode, Jesus gives Matthew the text of the Sermon on the Mount before Jesus delivers the sermon in person. Shmuel and Yanni go to a wailing wall in the city of Tiberias.

Episode 8, Beyond Mountains: This episode focuses on a big moment that takes Jesus’ earthly ministry to a new level. It presents a well-known Bible story in a fresh way and very likely involves the Sermon on the Mount. Also, a character wonders if there’s more to life than what he’s currently experiencing. The disciples are struggling with forgiveness and other painful events that have happened throughout the season. Nathanael and Thaddeus construct a stage for Jesus to deliver the Sermon on the Mount from. Eden and Tamar are present at the Sermon on the Mount.

A Heart That Forgives (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Two foster brothers have taken very different paths in life—one has become a successful pastor after leaving his criminal lifestyle behind, while the other one remains in the criminal lifestyle.  Yet they remain in contact with each other as the pastor prays for his brother.  However, not all is as it seems as the pastor engages in some questionable means to keep his ministries alive.  With so many people affected, will those involved be able to find redemption and purpose in all of the confusion?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

In keeping with their recent increase in production quality, Poorchild Films crafts a mostly average production in A Heart That Forgives.  Video quality is fine, but there are some head-scratching sequences of randomly poor lighting.  Audio quality also has some odd moments, where background noise covers up lines, which is a throwback to Hiding in Plain Sight.  However, the soundtrack is adequate, as are sets, locations, and props.  Yet the editing is somewhat disorienting and confusing.  All in all, this production is a mixed bag, thus turning out an average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though there are a lot of interesting and creative ideas somewhere in here, as is the case for a myriad of Christian films, the subplots are all over the place and are quite disorganized.  The characters have realistic tendencies, but they need deepening.  The dialogue is okay, but it could use some more development, which in turn would help the characters.  There is too much message-pushing, especially through the use of sermons, and not enough natural messaging.  The storyline overall is too predictable and uncreative, thus warranting a low score.

Acting Quality (1 point)

The cast of this film returns to the level of Hiding in Plain Sight, with awkwardness and a lot of unsureness.  Lines are often too forceful, while emotions are overly dramatic.  There are also come cases of extreme fidgetiness, as well as too many sequences of cast members talking over each other.  However, there are some good points here that keep this section from being all bad.

Conclusion

Poorchild Films always seems to be hovering just on the edge of relevance.  Their movies are neither bad enough nor good enough to draw much attention, but they also can’t be counted out completely due to their efforts at production, plot writing, and casting.  But there is always a handful of things that keeps them from being relevant.  But they will likely keep churning out movies, and perhaps they will show slow improvement over time and will finally hit the mark one day.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Steps of Faith (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Faith Houston believes God has called her to move to Texas on blind faith and try to get a job at a Christian horse ranch that ministers to troubled kids.  Though her family is against it, Faith plunges ahead into unknown territory to see what God has for her.  However, when she arrives in Texas, she soon discovers that not everything will be as easy as she thought it would.  Yet she perseveres and finds out what God really wants for her life.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Much like A Man Called Jon, Poorchild Films has discovered better production quality as of late.  Video quality is clear and camera work is great.  Audio quality is fine and the soundtrack is as good as can be expected.  Sets, locations, and props are realistic and diverse.  Really the biggest issue to point out here, of course, is the editing.  Some scenes are too choppy while others lag too long.  But in the end, this is a nearly model production that they should be proud of.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Yet also in a similar vein as A Man Called Jon, and especially Hiding in Plain Sight, Steps of Faith, though it is ninety minutes long, just doesn’t contain enough content to sustain a feature-length film.  Even if there was more content here, it is still a very basic and predictable storyline that contains very flat and boring characters.  Dialogue is very uninspiring and uncreative.  The least a writer can do with this type of formulaic story is make the characters accessible, but this does not happen.  Instead, time is wasted on pointless sequences and forced comedy that’s not funny.  In the end, Poorchild Films needs to seriously invest in some screenwriting.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Much like their other films, this movie recycles a lot of familiar cast members, yet some of them show improvement from other performances.  Emotions are mostly believable and line delivery is pretty good.  There are just some minor errors throughout that add up, as well as the dry comedy.  Overall, this film hovers right around the average range.

Conclusion

In the end, it still appears as though Poorchild is getting better at what they do—if they continue to improve in each area, they could be onto something great very soon.  If they seriously invest in some better screenwriting, then they are on their way to greatness for sure.  The day that plots of Christian films overall improve is the day that the entire industry is turned upside down.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points