Pass the Light (Movie Review)

Review: 'Pass the Light' could use a less-shiny lead actor - Los Angeles  Times

Plot Summary

Steve is tired of the divisive nature of politics, especially since a local election is heating up as a representative is trying to use the Christian faith to divide group of people from each other. Thus, Steve decides that it’s time to do something at school, in the community, in the political world, and at home. To do this, Steve launches a massive campaign to remind everybody of what the Christian faith is really about.

Production Quality (2 points)

It’s clear that the creators of this film focused on professional production quality. This fact is evident in the video quality and camera work. Sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-utilized. The only drawbacks include uneven audio quality and inconsistent editing. Nonetheless, this section deserves an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The writers had several good ideas and agendas in creating this screenplay. They raised excellent points about legalism in Christina culture, but the writers bit off way more than they could chew by trying to cover too many concepts at once. As such, there are many random subplots that generate too many characters for the audience to keep up with. Sometimes, it’s hard for the viewer to keep up with the stream-of-consciousness storytelling style, and time is filled with lots of empty montages that could have been replaced with real character development. As they are, the characters are a mixed bag. The protagonist is basically perfect and able to fix everything. The antagonists are a bit extreme, and a majority of the characters are difficult to connect with due to the crowding-out nature of the narrative. For the most part, the political premise is quite unrealistic although the politician characters are okay. In the end, an overwhelming amount of issues are easily fixed in magical fashions, which stunts the potential of this plot. Nonetheless, there were plenty of good discussions about the problems in modern Christianity, which warrants a small score.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

For the most part, the acting in Pass the Light is professional. Most cast members put forth commendable efforts, including good line delivery and emotions. However, there are a few small moments of some actors and actresses trying too hard and generally putting forth over-the-top performances. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to prevent a high rating in this section.

Conclusion

It’s evident to many that there are problems within established American Christianity. However, taking all of the issues on in one movie is not the right way to get your message across. Additionally, crafting an unrelatable protagonist will alienate most audiences. In the end, Pass the Light was based on a number of good ideas that crowded each other out and didn’t really help solve any of the concerns that the writers raised.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

The Pledge {Doughboy} [2011] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Tory’s parents decide that they are going to move from bustling New York City to podunk West Virginia, he is angry that they are taking him away from all he knows.  Once in West Virginia, he can’t find anything to do, so he accidentally gets into trouble by vandalizing a war memorial.  As punishment, the judge sentences him to community service at a veteran’s home, even though his parents are anti-war.  Tory hates the work at first but soon finds that he can find meaning and make a different no matter what.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Much like A Christmas Tree Miracle, The Pledge has a random commitment to quality production—sometimes it has it while other times it does not.  For example, the audio quality is sometimes good but sometimes quite poor.  The soundtrack is average but camera work and video quality are fine.  Sets and locations are also on par.  However, there is too much reused footage and the editing is generally all over the place.  In the end, it all comes out as average, but we have to wonder what this team is trying for.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Also like its Christmas counterpart, The Pledge wavers between being very meaningful and being very satirical.  One moment the dialogue is dripping with obvious tongue-in-cheek sarcasm while another moment we are being shown the realities of post-combat trauma.  We have no idea what the writers were going for here, but they had a lot of good ideas that were unfavorably mixed with unusual comedy.  There is plenty of plot content to work with here, as well as a lot of interesting characters, but we don’t get to know them very well as too much dialogue is pedestrian.  There are tons of opportunities for deeper development here that are not tapped into.  In the end, we feel that this film could have been far better than this and are disappointed that it didn’t go all the way.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While too many cast members are quite dry and boring and others outright smart alec or borderline crazy, they do tend to get better throughout the film.  Emotions range from being flat to believable.  Line delivery is also inconsistent.  When all is said and done, the acting comes out as average.

Conclusion

The Route 40\Flyover Films team is extremely hard to figure.  In their two films, they demonstrated great plot potential but also showed a lot of disingenuous sarcasm.  What exactly are they going for?  We may never truly know.  All we know is that The Pledge had potential, but it was never brought out.  While there is some meaning to be gleaned here and some parts are enjoyable, we just don’t know what to make of it all.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

A Christmas Tree Miracle {Random Acts of Christmas} (Movie Review)

How'd I get stuck with this guy?
How’d I get stuck with this guy?

Plot Summary

When well-to-do David George is laid off from his job right before Christmas, he and his wife agree not to tell their three children until after Christmas to see if he can find a new job.  But as his job search becomes more and more fruitless and the money begins to run out, the George family begins to find themselves running out of options.  Confused and frustrated, they are forced to vacate their house and seek shelter elsewhere.  Though they are at the end of the rope, little do they know that things are about to turn around for them.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Everything about A Christmas Tree Miracle is a mixed bag.  While the video quality is sometimes blurry and outside scenes are not shot very well, the camera work is mostly okay.  Audio quality is good, but the obligatory Christmas soundtrack is wearing.  There are actually quite a few sets and locations used, but some of the outside ones seem fake.  Finally, the editing is just okay yet falls short of what it could be.  There seem to be too many useless scenes and the first half of the plot is spoiled before it even begins.  In all, this is an average production effort that should have been better.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Essentially the Christmas version of Stand Strong, A Christmas Tree Miracle sports a surprisingly complex plot, even though it has many bizarre undertones and random twists and turns.  For example, sometimes things happen just because they need to happen.  One of the main characters is a creepy and schizotypal Santa Claus figure.  Though some plot occurrences are believable, others are just too far outside of reality.  If the writers wanted this movie to be meaningful, why does it have such strange elements?  The storyline oscillates back and forth between potentially interesting and laughable.  Elsewhere, there is too much annoying narration throughout.  Though the characters have some basis of believability, they seem unfinished and at times cartoonish.  Overall, there is just a general feel to this movie that you can’t really put your finger on.  It almost makes you want to like it, but it’s just too silly to be good.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Like other parts of the movie, the acting is sometimes tolerable while other times it is smart alec and over the top.  Some cast members come off as trying to make fun of the film.  Others are more professional.  Emotions are inconsistent but line delivery is mostly on par.  Basically, just another average effort.

Conclusion

A Christmas Tree Miracle is one of those odd movies that seems better than its rating.  Yet we cannot in good faith rate it any higher when it has so many goofy elements and logical inconsistencies.  The idea is interesting and might even be worth a remake.  The creators seem semi-genuine in what they are doing and produced a good amount of content to back it up.  However, this film just isn’t up to par with what it should be.  They should have spent less time on quasi-fantastical ideas and more time trying to bring this story into the real world.  But perhaps they have better things in store for the future.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points