God, Where Are You? (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Sony Boone, a famous professional boxer, inadvertently kills his opponent in a fight rage, he is immediately disgraced and barred from the world of professional sports.  Thus, he loses everything he holds dear: his career, his fiancé, and his worldy possessions.  Driven to the streets as beg a homeless person, Sonny is suddenly offered a free meal at a mysterious diner by a mysterious man named Malachi.  Malachi offers Sonny a second chance at life, but Sonny is extremely skeptical at first.  Will Sonny give God a chance to turn his life around before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

At the beginning, God, Where Are You? is just like the other cheap productions put out by Lazarus Filmworks, such as Daniel’s Lot and A Letter for Joe.  This include poor audio quality, a random use of black and white, and some dark scenes.  Also, the camera is sometimes focused on the wrong things while people talk off screen.  However, the other camera work is fine, and the video quality is stable throughout.  The sets, locations, and props are surprisingly good and appropriate, and the soundtrack has an interesting feel to it.  Though there are odd quick cuts throughout the film, as it goes on, there is concerted improvement in all areas.  Even though it started out rough, this film is a milestone for the Lazarus team in production quality.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

At first, the story is hard to follow as it seems like everybody in this plot’s world is obsessed with a random disgraced boxer who’s now a homeless guy.  Things are rough at first through some obvious dialogue and forced situations, but this storyline is a definite improvement of their past failures, A Letter for Joe and Daniel’s Lot.  The middle of the film is very interesting as it contains a very good message and interesting psychological elements.  However, sometimes it is based too much on coincidences, and the premise is a bit vague at times.  There seems to be an odd underlying attitude that is difficult to quantify, and the big inevitable twist at the end is sort of predictable.  Though problems are seemingly easily fixed in the end, this story gets an E for Effort and shows that any creative team can improve despite previous failures.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For this cast, the Lazarus team looked outside of their circle of friends and found some professional cast members that make this one way better than previous casts.  However, there are some overly practiced and forced lines, as well as some overdone emotions.  Nevertheless, they are definitely trying to make this a well-acted movie, and there is concerted improvement throughout in this area as well.  In the end, this is at least a marginally enjoyable movie.

Conclusion

All we ask of Christian film makers is that they use the resources God has given them responsibly and efficiently and that they show improvement over their careers.  Surprisingly, the Lazarus Filmworks team has done this in God, Where Are You?  Though there was a time when it seemed like they would never break through, they flipped the script and tried something different.  Now they have a chance to use this film to become even better movie makers in the near future.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

Ring the Bell (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Rob Decker is a successful sports agent who has his eyes set on capturing another prize: Shawn Hart, a top high school baseball recruit who resides in a small rural town.  When Decker personally travels there to try to scoop up the young athlete, he finds that he is up against more than he thought.  He also discovers a long lost athlete whom he tries to convince to come back into the sports world.  But instead of making converts of his own, Decker finds himself questioning his very purpose in life due to his encounters in the small town.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

It is obvious that the creators of Ring the Bell were going for a film that looks good on the surface, but has no substance.  The video quality is clear and outdoor scenes are filmed well, with consistent lighting and sound.  The camera work is solid across the board, but this is the extent of the movie’s overtly positive qualities.  The soundtrack is very stock and only adds the movie’s cheesy image.  The editing is very choppy; it feels like this movie is a collection of random scenes glued together.  It jumps along, hitting high points and movie the plot along at breakneck speed.  But the plot itself is an entirely different story.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Ring the Bell is a typical stuck-in-a-small-town with an extra large dose of cheesiness.  Typical Southern backwards characters populate the plot, but they are all more absurd than usual.  There are also the typical ‘off-beat’ personalities who make themselves too well known to the audience.  There’s also the town pastor, who serves the purpose of inserting awkward theology into the film at opportune moments.  Then there’s the female lead who has long debates with Decker about what really matters in life, including hashing both of their life stories after knowing each other for a few days.  All of the dialogue is forced and robotic.  As previously mentioned, the plot does not flow well at all and it is hard to get a bearing on the true meaning of this movie.  The only positive thing we can detect in Ring the Bell’s plot is its clear presentation of the gospel for whoever is paying attention.  Otherwise, there is little to nothing to be excited about in this film.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Barring a few cast members, the acting is overall very in-your-face and extremely obvious.  Emotional delivery is overdone; some actors are like walking commercials.  Steven Curtis Chapman is a really nice guy, but it feels like he was forced to be in this movie with no help.  In short, there is simply too much negative in Ring the Bell.

Conclusion

Ring the Bell falls into an overflowing recycle bin of Christian movies that should have either never been made or greatly reworked early in the pre-production process.  Were all of these films combined into a handful of excellent movies, the Christian movie scene would look vastly different than it does now.  We at Box Office Revolution hope to change this trend by promoting more quality films and by pointing out how low quality films could have been better.  Unfortunately, Ring the Bell is one of those screenplays that had very little potential from the beginning.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points