Mission Improbable [2016] (Movie Review)

Mission Improbable (2016)

Plot Summary

The lives of several substance abusers and a pastor who lives a luxurious ministry lifestyle suddenly become interconnected as God leads each them down different paths to the same place: a Christian substance abuse rehab. They all have different motives and different reasons for being there, but by the time it’s done, none of them will be the same. However, when each person’s past comes calling, how will they respond?

Production Quality (1 point)

One of the most glaring problems with this production is that it’s over-extended and cannot adequately portray what it’s meant to portray. This is evidenced by very cheap and limited sets, locations, and props, as well as poor lighting throughout. The audio quality, both indoor and outdoor, are also both inadequate. While the video quality is mostly fine, there are a lot of strange camera angles. Also, while the editing is mostly fine, this is overall a very cheap production that really has no place in this era of Christian film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

While this film seeks to portray unfortunately realistic circumstances that can be found virtually anywhere in America, it does so in a very tone-deaf manner. Substance abuse is a real and serious issue, but this movie treats it solely like a spiritual issue (there are spiritual components, but not only that) and does so in a very legalistic and unrealistic fashion, such as implying that praying and becoming a Christian immediately cures substance abuse. However, there is a refreshingly honest look at church problems, even if the bad characters are total strawmen, especially the ‘bad’ women. It doesn’t help that all of the dialogue is painfully forced and has a very archaic style and tone about it. As such, the conversations do nothing to build or grow characters even though there are very steep character arcs that come as a result of reading Bible verses, which are also highly unrealistic. In the end, everything is magically fixed when the characters act as the plot wants them to act. Essentially, this is a worthwhile topic to explore in film, but screenwriters need to do so in the context of actual research about and\or experience with substance abuse rather than the total ignorance this film displays.

Acting Quality (0 points)

To top things off, this film contains some of the worst acting of the past few years. This poor quality includes weird scenes of cast members talking to themselves and is most represented by the very awkward and overly-practiced tone of the acting. Many cast members seem self-impressed for no reason and demonstrate tone-deaf emotional and line delivery. Elsewhere, emotions are extremely forced to the point parody. In the end, this film has very little going for it.

Conclusion

Nearly every movie starts off with a good idea. One of the most error-prone areas of Christian film is converting that good idea into a movie that’s worthwhile, high-quality, and accessible by several different audiences. If a film can’t be understood or can’t properly relate to people, there’s really no hope for it. This besetting sin of Christian film is an overall symptom of problems facing the church: American Christians, as a generalization (there are always exceptions), have difficult time understanding real people because they don’t know them very well. Until this changes, Christian film as a whole won’t change on the large scale.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Sense of Urgency [2017] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Izzy already has a strained relationship with her parents, but when she finds out that they have lied to her all her life about her being adopted, she decides to take a road trip to see her biological mother without them knowing.  However, she quickly finds out that her road trip is not what it seems as things go from bad to worse.  A nightmare scenario suddenly unfolds as she finds herself a hostage in a desperate situation.  Though she has resisted the Christian faith for years now, she begins to change her mind when faced with death.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Sense of Urgency is unfortunately a fairly cheap small time production that had some obvious funding shortfalls.  This is evidenced by a weird light filter that plagues the film and gives the video quality a bizarre gray look.  The soundtrack is also generic and fairly loud at times.  The sets, locations, and props are mostly pedestrian, and audio quality is somewhat inconsistent.  While the camera work is fine most of the time, there is some weird lighting in some scenes.  There are also cheesy special effects to contend with, and the editing is choppy in some places.  Overall, while there was some effort here, this production needs a lot of work.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The surprising thing about Sense of Urgency is that the core idea of the film is actually slightly interesting.  While the beginning of the movie is hard to understand since random things seemingly happen, there is some potential for the development of flawed and accessible characters with slightly complex back stories that cannot be typically found in the inspirational world.  However, a lot of this potential never comes to fruition.  Nevertheless, this plot idea is interesting enough as a suspense idea and would probably benefit from some sort of remake.  Even so, this good effort is unfortunately not enough as some of the characters are too cheesy, such as the villain and the Christian characters, and some dialogue is too forced and expository for the moment.  The conversations need to build characters better, and the circumstances need to occur more naturally rather than out of necessity for the plot.  Further, the Christian message needs to be less childish, and the ending doesn’t need to try to fix everything.  Overall, this was a nice effort, and it offers some slight hope for future projects.

Acting Quality (1 point)

As this cast is mostly composed of inexperienced members, the acting is unfortunately pedestrian and basically below average.  This is due to forced emotional performances and line delivery that needs some work.  At times, the cast members are not very convincing in their roles, but there are also moments of potential and more natural performances.  Perhaps they can continue to improve their craft with better coaching.

Conclusion

Overall, Sense of Urgency does what we ask of struggling film makers: when the budget is low, focus on the plot.  While this storyline is not the most creative in the world, it demonstrates potential and is definitely something to build off of.  It’s almost always better to depart from the average inspirational fare that crowds the market, so trying a different type of suspense plot can help you stand out.  However, what is much better is learning to portray real people in more natural ways without the message pushing.  If you get this right, God will send the funding at the right time.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

In Gramps’ Shoes (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ty is a 65-year-old retired grandfather, and he is passionate about running.  He is also passionate about praying for his estranged daughter, whom he has not heard from in nearly twenty years.  Therefore, when he suddenly hears from her one day, he is overjoyed.  She reaches out to him for financial help, so he agrees to move in with her and her teenage children to help be a father figure for them.  However, they are skeptical of Ty at first; will they be able to come around and trust God?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Its small budget aside, In Gramps’ Shoes has an unacceptably poor production.  While video quality is fine, the camera work is too stationary, and audio quality is very static and low quality, especially with the terrible outside sounds.  The soundtrack is very generic and almost non-existent.  Further, the indoor sets are fairly cheap and limited, even though the outdoor locations are okay.  Finally, there is basically no editing present in this production.  Essentially, though this production was relatively simple, it’s still low quality for no good reason.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Basing a movie around an annoyingly perfect Christian protagonist who fixes everything he touches is never a winning formula for a movie, but that’s what In Gramps’ Shoes has done.  This is done through very obvious and forceful dialogue that shoves cheesy messaging down your throat, even though the storyline is very vague and meandering without any clear purpose or direction except to force good-ole-days fundamentalism on you.  The non-Christian characters are total strawmen, and the Christian message is very trite.  Too many sequences of this film are just characters sitting around talking about what their characters are supposed to represent rather than using the dialogue to develop the characters.  At that, this film is far too long to have no substantial content or ideas contained within it.  Thus, it’s basically a complete waste of time.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Full of typical Rossetti cast members, this group acts very robotic and overly practiced a majority of the time.  Some cast members are downright annoying, and there is a lot of poor teen acting throughout.  There are some slightly positive moments that keep this section from being zero, but on the whole, like the rest of this film, it’s all very low quality.

Conclusion

It seems like the only purpose of awful films like this one is to push an unpopular message or personal agenda.  We apparently needed another movie like this, so here it is.  In the more modern era of Christian entertainment, low-quality films like this one are unacceptable and mostly unwelcome, unless they have a really good plot to share, which is certainly not the case with this film.  Thus, In Gramps’ Shoes should be forgotten.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points