Cutback [2010] (Movie Review)

Dude…

Plot Summary

Luke Harris and his friend Casey have one thing on their mind as they finish up their last year of high school: surf!  But Luke’s parents are constantly pressuring him to grow up and choose a college for him to further his education.  Luke is focused on making the local surf team and beating out a new ‘popular’ guy—not to mention getting the attention of the girl he likes—but little does Luke know that despite his own plans, God has plans for him that he could never imagine.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Cutback is different from most Skipstone films, in that it is less artistic than usual.  Video and audio quality are on par, yet the soundtrack is far too loud and tends to be too ‘surf’ oriented.  There is also some shaky camera work in the action scenes.  Outside scenes are otherwise relatively fine, and the sets and locations are acceptable.  However, the editing leaves something to be desired as it falls into the sports film trap of including too many musical sports action montages.  The good news is that the Skipstone team’s production skills did improve after this effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Though Cutback is mostly a formulaic high school sports plot, there are some interesting twists and turns in the middle of the film that we did not see coming.  At first, the dialogue is far too ‘cool’ and ‘surfer-dude’, almost to the point of embarrassment, and this creates very cheesy characters.  However, this subsides as the movie goes on and they actually become believable characters.  As usual, Johnny Remo and team deal with realistic life circumstances that really make the viewer think.  The messaging of this story is quite good.  However, though everything overall improves by the middle of the film, issues tend to be resolved too easily.  Yet in the end, despite some errors, Cutback becomes a somewhat meaningful film.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This cast is fairly professional, though sometimes they seem unsure and\or lazy.  They also tend to play the whole ‘dude’ thing too much, but they are mostly fine.  Emotions are believable and line delivery is average.  Thus, an average score is warranted.

Conclusion

Like many Johnny Remo movies, we would like to see a remake of Cutback.  It has the tools for success, even if they are not always applied properly.  Remo always demonstrates a special creativity and ability to craft different types of films, but he is often hampered by a collection of small errors and some poor execution.  We believe he and his team have great potential for the future as they continue to become better film makers.  We anticipate what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

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Saved By Grace [2016] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Rick’s wife is tragically killed on Thanksgiving by a madman who hates Rick’s police work, Rick is sent into a tailspin for five years and is unable to cope.  So five years after the tragedy, he plans on committing suicide on Thanksgiving.  However, his act is interrupted by Grace, a mysterious woman who needs his help getting to her family on Thanksgiving.  Rick reluctantly agrees to help her and soon finds a whole new world of possibilities open up for him.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

Johnny Remo and Skipstone Pictures have come a long way from poor productions to this quality one.  There are virtually no production errors in Saved by Grace.  The camera work is professional and effective, and the video quality is clear.  Audio quality is great and the soundtrack is good, which is a trademark with Remo.  Sets and locations are also good—there are basically no production errors in this film, which is a huge step in the right direction.  If Skipstone keeps this up, they will be going places.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though the movie begins with an attention-grabbing prologue, it quickly slows down and tends to be a bit too melancholy.  However, the struggles portrayed throughout are realistic.  The dialogue is a mixed bag—sometimes it’s too obvious while other times it builds the characters well.  Flashbacks are used effectively, as is the trademark Johnny Remo artistic flair.  However, this movie is derailed from greatness by its very simplistic storyline that is based too heavily on coincidences.  It is very simplistic and linear as the characters go from one thing to the next for the sake of the plot’s progression.  We would have liked to see more content, deeper subplots, and further development in order for this movie to be all that it could have been.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Though this cast is small, it is very professional.  Each actor and actress is cast appropriately and delivers their roles effectively.  Emotions are believable and line delivery are flawless.  In short, there are virtually no acting errors, which is another major step for Skipstone.

Conclusion

Johnny Remo has always had an ability to create films that have unique feels to them, and this is true about Saved by Grace.  Where in the past his teams have struggled to post good productions and casting, both of these areas do not suffer in this film.  However, the lack of substantial plot content really keeps it from being all that it could be.  We know that this movie means well and was properly supported with the resources it needed, but in order to take the next step, the Skipstone team needs to invest more time in their plots.  Even slight improvement will land them on the Hall of Fame, so we look forward to their future projects.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

 

 

Full disclosure: We were provided by the creator with a copy of this film in exchange for a fair and honest review

 

A Letter to Dad [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Dan Donahue believes he has found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.  But as he continues to struggle with anger issues, he can’t help but feel that they are related to his lack of a healthy relationship with his father.  Therefore, he begins to write a letter to his estranged father detailing what he missed out on.  As Dan writes, his mind drifts back to his childhood and he wonders what could have been.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Exactly what is supposed to be happening with this production?  Is it a flashback within a flashback or a series of flashbacks?  Why are the sepia tones inconsistent?  This is possibly the cheapest looking production we have ever witnessed.  The camera work is deplorable and the video quality is from another century.  Lighting is very amateur throughout the film.  In some scenes, it is extremely hard to hear what is being said.  Some sequences are dominated by the silly soundtrack.  As for the editing, there is no way to understand what is even happening from one scene to the next.  Everything is out of context and obscure.  In summary, you can’t get any more poorly homemade than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The idea behind this plot—the fact that absent fatherhood affects children later in life—is highly important and must be discussed in movie form.  However, this is absolutely not the way to do it.  Much like Lukewarm, an important family systems issue is made a mockery of in A Letter to Dad.  There is no coherence in this storyline as the ‘plot’ meanders from letter writing flashbacks to other flashbacks to present day (we guess?).  Scenes are randomly strung together with no continuity between them and the viewer is left lost in translation.  Any meaning that is attempted to be conveyed goes over your head.  Dialogue is choppy and inconsistent, causing the characters to be empty shells.  There is really little else to be said—there is such little content in this plot that it barely registers any life.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Sadly, the bad news does not end.  It’s possible that this virtually unknown and tiny cast never had a chance without acting coaching.  There is literally nothing good to say here—the delivery of lines is awkward and emotions cannot be felt.  There are so few cast members that it just becomes glaringly obvious that so support is being provided to them.  Unfortunately, they likely wasted their time.

Conclusion

We sincerely believe that the motive behind this movie is pure, but the delivery is terrible.  This one would have been better off as a short film.  The good news is that it will have little to no impact in the movie industry, which means it won’t further contribute to bad publicity.  However, the bad news is that the time of the creators of this film was wasted and money was dumped down the drain.  Jesus spoke about counting the cost before undertaking a big project, and we believe it’s high time for Christian filmmakers to begin doing this.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points