Joseph and Mary (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Joseph was tasked with being the earthly father of Jesus, the Messiah, while Mary was chosen to be the biological mother of the Savior.  However, they were just ordinary people who wanted to follow what the Lord wanted for them.  They watched as Jesus grew up before their eyes, and they were also apparently preoccupied with the life of a random rabbi who was their friend.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

As a new Bible production, Joseph and Mary is mostly respectable.  It’s clear that care was given to the authenticity of the production, even though the sets are somewhat limited and reused a lot.  Nevertheless, props are appropriate, and the outdoor locations are great.  This film checks all the typical boxes of good video quality, audio quality, and camera work.  The soundtrack is adequate.  The only other problem to raise is the choppy editing that poorly handles the large amount of content in this movie.  But in the end, John Patus and the others at Leif Films are definitely improving over the years.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

So you want to make a movie about Joseph and Mary, yet you decide to use at least half of the runtime depicting an otherwise interesting story about a fictional rabbi who shadowed Jesus in the Lord’s early years.  This is a fine idea, but why not make the movie primarily about the rabbi?  Joseph and Mary are almost supporting characters in this story.  There is also unnecessary narration that hurts character development.  The healthy construction of the characters is also hindered by the rapid passage of time that follows the same characters as they keep meeting in the same places over several time periods.  There is also a tendency to hit the high points of the story rather than to settle down and let us get to know them as people.  The stoic and overly formal dialogue certainly does not help.  However, this film is an interesting perspective on the early years of Jesus through the eyes of a flawed and accessible character that is not Joseph or Mary.  Yet this good idea is somewhat soured by the strange ending sequence that leaves the audience wandering what this movie is supposed to teach us.  In the end, the Leif Films team is usually closed to good things, as evidenced in The Apostle Peter: Redemption, but they can’t seem to get there.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, there is not much good to say about the acting of this film.  For one thing, it is very poorly cast and lacks authentic cultural cast members.  Kevin Sorbo, a generic white guy, really has no business playing Joseph, besides the fact that he is awkward in this film.  Rather than being too BRITISH, this cast is too American.  The costuming is also somewhat cheesy, yet there are a handful of good moments that keep this section from being nothing.

Conclusion

Bible films are almost always problematic.  If the production isn’t a problem, it’s the casting.  If not that, then the plot suffers.  There are so many variables that have to be aligned in a Biblical film; after all, they are historical accounts.  Thus, they needed to be treated with more care.  We can’t have any more of these Bible plays coming out because even Christian audiences are getting tired of that.  We need dynamic authenticity, but perhaps the Leif Films team will keep trying and find the mark one day.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

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The Masked Saint (Movie Review)

 

He’s a saint
What is he here for again?

Plot Summary

When Chris “The Masked Saint” Samuels retires from ‘wrestling’, he follows God’s call on his life to pastor a church in a small Michigan town.  However, when he and his family arrive, they find a much different situation than they expected.  The church is struggling to stay afloat financially and is controlled by a power hungry rich member.  What’s more, the town is wrought with crime and victims are downtrodden.  Chris doesn’t want to just sit back and watch everything happen, so he takes it upon himself to become a masked vigilante on the streets, in order to stop crime before it happens.  But as Chris becomes more and more successful, he finds himself at a crossroads: will he live in his own strength or will be turn to God for help?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For a debut independent Christian film, The Masked Saint has pretty good production quality.  The video quality is clear and the camera work is a little above average.  Audio quality is mostly passable, but some scenes are much louder than others.  The soundtrack sounds like it’s from a Hallmark movie about a small town.  The props are quite professional looking, but therein lies another problem.  It seems that too much money was spent on the production of the ‘wrestling’ scenes and not enough was spent elsewhere.  Thus, the editing is terrible and greatly isolates the viewer with awkward transitions between scenes that have little to do with each other.  As we will see next, this movie is plentiful with subplots but barren with coherency.  While the production is average, it’s still not money well spent.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The Masked Saint is a collection of loosely associated ideas, including a ‘wrestling’ sports redemption storyline, a stereotypical struggling small church in a ‘bad’ neighborhood subplot, and a mysterious vigilante who helps victims of crime idea.  The creators attempted to ram these concepts together in a lame fashion, which leaves the audience scratching their heads as to what they are supposed to be watching.  As the empty characters leap from one thing to the next, events happen with no real basis except for the fact that the writers wanted them to happen so the movie could continue.  The good ideas that are hidden somewhere in this nightmare are either burned out too quickly or not emphasized enough.  There are too many gaping plot holes, and dialogue is forced and awkward, including some flies-over-your-head attempts at comedy.  Also, we definitely need to talk about the long and useless fighting scenes that dominate the film’s runtime and that look more like cage fighting than wrestling.  There is so much fighting that we can’t even catch our breath to get to know the characters before another sports music montage occurs.  Basically, there were too many cooks in the kitchen that produced this mind-bending multi-course meal.  They needed to stop and think about plot continuity before proceeding.

Acting Quality (1 point)

With a semi-professional cast, The Masked Saint really had potential.  Sometimes the acting isn’t that bad, but too many times, it is.  Some cast members are inconsistent in the way they act and deliver.  Attempts at comedy are especially awkward.  Basically, this cast could have been something, but nothing panned out.

Conclusion

Essentially, The Masked Saint is a collection of smashed together ideas and cause of collision of insanity.  It’s a total train wreck and must have been a headache to storyboard (if they did).  Any good intentions here are lost as the creators are unable to communicate what they are trying to do.  Crashing The Rev, Brother White, and Beyond the Mask together into one film is definitely not a good plan.  The fact that much of the content—save for whatever you want to call the fighting scenes—is not particularly original gives us reason to think this film wasn’t really justifiable at all.  In the end, it’s just another unfortunate installment in the endless saga of failed independent Christian films.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points