Pieces of Easter {Backroads and Lillies} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

While high-power executive Alza Bennet is on her way to see her parents, her sister, and her niece and nephew for Easter, who car breaks down, which leads to a serious of disastrous events, including her being stuck with a reclusive country farmer as her only option for transport.  Since she has not seen her family in over a year, Alza is desperate to get there on time, but things keep happening that delay their trip, not to mention the fact that she and her driver cannot get along at all.  But slowly, Alza begins to see the joy of simplicity away from her fast-paced life, even though she hates to be inconvenienced.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Over the years, Kelly’s Filmworks has certainly improved their production quality.  In Pieces of Easter, video quality and audio quality are what they should be.  There are still some trademark Jefferson Moore artistic camera angles, but that’s his brand at this point.  The soundtrack is also random and cheesy and is seemingly made up of free music.  However, sets, locations, and props, are authentic and more diverse than usual.  Finally, the poor editing mostly holds this production back from being better.  Thus, it must be rated as average.  Though this is an improvement from the past, we still feel that they can do better.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Pieces of Easter is a better version of the typical Jefferson Moore two-character conversation plot because things actually happen outside of the drawn-out conversations, and they are actually less drawn out than usual and are broken up by some attempts at comedy.  However, not all of the comedy is funny and some of it is quite forced.  Though this storyline is a stereotypical fish-out-of-water plot, it is presented better and is likely as good as this type of limited story is going to get.  This is likely because attempts were made to develop the characters through dialogue, although they could be deeper.  The biggest drawbacks to this plot are the overly-plentiful dead scenes and goofy montages.  There are too many slow parts that don’t hold the attention and too many references to off-screen content.  Overall, though this is a nice try, it really doesn’t make it far enough.

Acting Quality (2 points)

With some slightly different than usual cast members, the acting is the strongest portion of this film.  However, some lines are still mumbled and some emotions are still over the top.  However, most cast members are placed in appropriate roles.  This overall rounds off a decent performance.

Conclusion

The Moores and the Kelly’s Filmworks team certainly never gives up.  They have been on a steady upward trend throughout their career.  Pieces of Easter is a far cry from low-quality productions like The Perfect Stranger saga and Clancy.  It demonstrates real effort to improve, which is encouraging.  With just a little but more work done on production, some continued casting quality, and more creative plots, this team will finally make their mark on Christian entertainment.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

1 Message (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Becca Norris had it all—money, success, and a boyfriend—until her doctor discovers that she has breast cancer and requires a major operation to save her life.  However, the operation leaves her changed forever, thus causing her boyfriend to become uninterested in her.  His departure sends Becca into a reclusive depression that no one, not even her family, can shake her out of.  Yet when her brother gets interested in internet research, Becca meets a man online who is interested in her as a person and who makes her think twice about shutting herself off from the world.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

1 Message falls into the typical mold of a Kelly’s Filmworks production.  With good video quality and overly artistic camera shots, this film is classic Jefferson Moore.  Audio quality is fine, but the soundtrack is a bit off.  There is basically only one set in this film, but the props are good.  Though this production tends to improve as it goes on, there is little to no justification for it being two and a half hours long.  There is a serious lack of editing in this movie that will cause many audiences to give up by the first hour.  In the end, this is an average production that needs some more fleshing out and cutting down in order to make it more professional.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As previously mentioned, it is mind-boggling that this film is two and a half hours long when there is certainly not enough interesting content to sustain this runtime.  The first hour or so of the film is incredibly boring and melodramatic as it confusingly conceals parts of the story for the second hour.  The first half includes a fixation on breast cancer and ‘genie-ologies’, as well as weird attempts at humor.  A majority of the ‘dialogue’ is people verbatim typing and reading stuff on the computer over and over again, which is incredibly boring and does nothing to build the characters, even though there are few of them.  Time is also wasted and filled with activities of daily living, including the characters lying around and sulking, which further stunts character development.  However, if you have the time and stamina, the story comes down to an interesting point if you can slog through two hours of useless content.  Basically, this film needs a serious redo, because as it is, nobody is going to give a care.

Acting Quality (1 point)

With such a small cast, most errors stand out, unfortunately.  Though there is some good to be found here, there is also a lot of bad, including some very boring and dry emotions, ridiculously over the top attempts to be dramatic, and very measure line delivery.  Unfortunately, Kelly’s Filmworks films seem to consistently struggle in this department.

Conclusion

With a movie this long, there should have been plenty of positive things to say.  However, rather than making this a deep character exploration plot, time is filled with fluff and fake drama that ruins the good idea that is behind this plot.  We can appreciate the work of Jefferson and Kelly Moore, but they often get too lost in the artistry of film making.  They would do well to collaborate with different story writers so they can more effectively create films.  We believe that they mean well—they just need to take that next step.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

The Stranger [2007] (Series Review)

Seriously?

Plot Summary

You never know where Jefferson Moore is going to pop up and solve all of your problems.  Whether you’re looking for hope, having trouble with a professor, need some interpersonal assistance, need a boost of faith, or any other issues, Jefferson Moore is there to fix the conflict in less than thirty minutes.  If you look close, you might be able to see his robed cameos.  In short, this is basically a series for the sake of having a series.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

For the first of The Stranger, production quality is extremely poor, so much so that it barely warrants its creation.  The typical soft light obsession is present and lighting is very poor throughout, especially in the indoor sets.  Video quality is quite grainy, and audio quality is terrible, include a loud and clunky soundtrack.  There are strange and awkward zooms throughout as well.  Though the production improves in the middle of the series, it’s far too little far too late that does nothing remedy the past offenses.  Finally, there is no editing as all content is included.  As we will see next, that’s not saying much.  But essentially, the production of this series is so bad to start with that there is no justification for its existence.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Must like its copycat series The Encounter, The Stranger follows a formulaic and predictable model for each of its episodes.  Each one is full of meandering boring conversations and is based around a shallow story concept.  Not much happens as Jefferson Moore shows up to fix stuff, so you know exactly what’s going to happen just by reading the episode description.  The characters are empty and stereotypical—the dialogue carries an annoying Christian message and is full of platitudes and trite sayings.  As expected, there are also a lot of quick fixes to problems.   It makes it all the more childish that things are fixed in less than thirty minutes apiece.  In the end, there is little to no reason to write these juvenile and disconnected stories just for the sake of having a series in which everybody already knows what happens.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Much of this cast demonstrates forceful and annoying acting.  They exhibit unrealistic emotions and lazy line delivery.  While there is some good here, it is still overshadowed by unprofessionalism.  Also, as we have mentioned before, Jefferson Moore is basically Bruce Marchiano’s predecessor, and all that that entails.  Basically, this is just another lazy effort.

Continuity Quality (0 points)

When the same thing happens over and over again in a series of episodes, there is no hope for continuity.  With such a long list of disjointed characters, there are no story arcs or character arcs present.  This type of series may be easy to replicate, but it’s certainly forgettable.

Conclusion

After The Perfect Stranger and Another Perfect Stranger, was there really a need for a series about Jefferson Moore doing the same things that are in these movies?  As if the first two films were even interesting at all, now we get bonuses.  Of all the movies that could have been made into series, this was the one that broke through and got the funding.  For heaven’s sake people, please demonstrate some originality.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 14 points

Nikki and the Perfect Stranger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

One night, while Nikki is on her way to Chicago, she has a second encounter with Jesus.  She knows she desperately needs Him again, but isn’t sure what to do.  She’s at a crossroads in her faith and needs Jesus to help her understand what to do.  However, as usual, Jesus does so in a way that even she could have never expected.  So the real question to ask here is can you sit through another film of Jefferson Moore sitting in a cheap set while monologuing?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

One again, video quality is the only redeeming element of this very low-effort production.  Camera work is also fine, but there’s really nothing to it as the main sets are an SUV and a diner (lol).  Besides there being awful lighting in these sets, Nikki and the Perfect Stranger includes the Kelly’s Filmworks specialty of overdone soft lighting.  In addition, there is a cheesy use of special effects throughout.  Finally, even though this film is less than an hour long, there is tons of wasted time that is designed to make it longer.  This movie barely had justification as a short film, much less a fifty-minute one.  In short, this is just another pile of utterly wasted funding.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Again seriously?  Why do we need a third installment in this already boring and barely justifiable series?  And why name it such a stupid title?  Didn’t we do this already?  Yes, we did, as we are reminded through heavy-handed narration and rehashing of The Perfect Stranger and Another Perfect Stranger.  This third film is full of more silly, meandering dialogue designed to kill time.  The ideas therein are quite simplistic and only exist because this film was forced to happen.   Any issues raised seem very trite and manufactured.  Though we now have a second movie of Jefferson Moore talking to this character for more than 30 minutes, we still don’t get to know Nikki all that well—she is a distant and vague idea that never materializes into a real character.  In the end, there is very little to note here since there is very little content to review.  It’s very easy to spit out fifty minute films about Jefferson Moore talking to people in close quarters, but what does it accomplish?

Acting Quality (0 points)

At this point in the saga, the acting has greatly digressed to where it seems like none of them are trying or they are trying too hard.  Jefferson Moore is slowly morphing into Bruce Marchiano.  The other cast members are very robotic and overly practiced.  No emotions can be felt.  This is really just another disappointing mess.

Conclusion

As it turns out, Nikki’s Second Encounter (this movie’s new title lol) is the worst one of them all.  With hardly anything going for it, there was never any justification for its creation.  Creating another saga installment for the sake of creating it is just the sort of thing Christian entertainment does not need.  The ideas behind this saga are noble and interesting, but execution is everything.  Even the best idea can be ruined by poor presentation and untapped potential.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

The Perfect Gift {The Perfect Christmas} [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Maxine is a spoiled girl who doesn’t like the fact that everyone always does something else on her birthday, which happens to be on Christmas Day.  Her mother is overworked and barely has time for her, so she takes Maxine help her struggling pastor neighbor at church.  At the church, Maxine meets a mysterious but kind drifter who is helping the pastor fix things up for Christmas.  As Maxine spends more time around him, she begins to change and have a new perspective in life.  As people continue to attack Christmas, she becomes a strong defender of the day, even though it’s also her birthday.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

It’s clear that not much care was given to this production.  The video quality is quite poor and many camera shorts are very tight.  Also, outside scenes are glaring and loud.  Audio quality is equally poor, including a Christmas soundtrack that is blaringly loud in some parts.  A lot of props look very cheap to the point that cast members can barely use them.  Sets and locations are nothing wowing.  As for editing, there are too many wasted uncut scenes.  Yet there are also abrupt and awkward transitions between some scenes.  Basically, this is an amateur effort that did not pay off.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The entire premise of The Perfect Gift is the typical ‘war on Christmas’ mantra, including tons of asides about characters being ‘persecuted’ for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and such.  The giant strawman is made of the so-called ‘anti-Christmas agenda’, including terms like ‘winter tree’ and ‘winter gala’. Besides these juvenile false conflicts, nothing else really happens in this plot.  It’s very boring and does not hold the attention.  Many occurrences are unrealistic and all the characters are quite childish.  Odd and offbeat dialogue peppers the movie and makes it an unintentional comedy.  Perhaps the most perplexing part of this film is the fact that the Jesus character—who is also the creator of the film—has an impassioned speech at the end that actually raises several good points regarding the alleged conflict between atheists and Christmas.  Yet Jefferson Moore, the creator, does not seem to actually believe what he is saying, since he inserted so much red meat into the movie about people being anti-Christmas.  Overall, The Perfect Gift is both low quality and confusing, an odd combination indeed.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the story does not get any better here.  The few cast members that there are come off as either very obnoxious or totally dead inside.  Line delivery is awkward and emotions are childish.  The makeup work is amateurish.  Basically, there is not much good to say about this film.

Conclusion

Jefferson Moore seems to have a good heart and some slightly interesting ideas.  He can probably be credited with writing the original plots that have characters encountering Jesus in everyday circumstances.  But with such low production and acting quality, The Perfect Gift will have very little of the impact that it’s intended to have.  Fixing these two areas would be a good start to improving this film.  It really seems like Moore needed some help with this film and it’s a shame to see some of his ideas go to waste.  Perhaps there will be better things in store for the future.

 

Final Rating: .5 point out of 10 points