Saving the Tin Man (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

As one teenager lies in a hospital bed waiting for a heart transplant, the lives of several families around the small town are impacted in different ways.  One family waits for the father to return home from prison, while another prays for their son to live.  The pastor’s family wants to know why he is rarely home, but all of them want to know where God is in all of the pain as they try to medicate their hurts with many different things that will not satisfy.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

The opening sequence of Saving the Tin Man is interesting, but it’s still a bit confusing.  However, the soundtrack is definitely creative, even if there is a lot of shaky camera work and poor lighting in the beginning of this production.  There are also some weird sound effects and some moments of randomly bad audio and loud background noises.  Flashbacks are also of an odd quality, and the editing has a strange penchant for cutting to the characters being talked about.  There are also quite of few awkward and even abrupt cuts and transitions.  Nonetheless, there is definite improvement throughout in all production areas, which is enough to earn this section an average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though this story tends to be a bit vague and artistic, it portrays the realistic struggles of the characters, even if they are a bit hard to access at times due to the fact that there are many of them.  In fact, this plot has a hard time deciding on which character to wants to focus on, and thus elects to present their stories in an odd overlapping fashion.  This makes the film very fractured and disjointed, and the sheer number of subplots hurts character development and makes dialogue too shallow.  Also, the Christian message is a bit too trite at times.  However, there is plenty of potential in this plot, and the ending is fairly though-provoking.  With a bit more organization, this could have been a great film.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Portions of this section show an amateur nature, such as strange makeup work and some out of place line delivery.  Other lines seem like they were done in only one take, while others are overly robotic and practiced.  However, most mistakes are near the beginning and are mostly ironed out as the film proceeds.  Thus, the acting becomes much better in the second half of the film, thus earning it an above-average score.

Conclusion

Movies like Saving the Tin Man are frustrating because it seems like they have the potential to go further than they do.  Most of the time, movies like this one appear to be rushed, which prevents them from being all that they could be.  With some improved production quality and a more focused plot, this film could have gone further.  However, it will be interesting to see what this team does next.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

Maggie’s Passage (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Maggie hates the life she lives on the streets under the control of a pimp and other men who constantly use her for their own gain.  She wants to escape, but she sees no way out, until she discovers a Bible and learns what God really thinks about her.  As she flees her captors, she finds herself alone and on the streets again with no one to turn to.  Then she meets a woman who takes her under her wing and shows her the love of Christ.  Maggie must fully surrender to God and trust people again in order to find healing.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Though it seems like the creative meant well in making this film, there are quite a few production errors.  Video quality and camera work are fine, but there are too many instances of poor lighting.  Outside sounds are sometimes too loud, as is the soundtrack, while other scenes are too dead and lack sound or expression.  Sets and locations are very cheap and limited.  There is not really any editing to speak of since there is really enough content to require editing.  While this is a commendable effort, the production of Maggie’s Passage is too underfunded.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This film depicts several unfortunately realistic circumstances and is thus thought-provoking.  However, it is sometimes hard to follow what is happening as there are a lot of empty sequences and vague narration that fill time.  It seems like this idea is not taken to its fullest potential as the backstory of the characters is started but not finished.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to connect with the characters because their development is unfinished.  Even though there is a lot of talking, there is not enough meaningful dialogue.  The plot relies on one too many coincidences and overall lacks focus and driving purpose.  There is hardly enough content to sustain this story into a feature length film.  Thus, more subplots, flashbacks, and complexities are needed.  In the end, it really does seem like the writers meant well—they just needed a little more direction to make this story all that it could be.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While there is some good in this cast and it seems like they mean well, they are sometimes too flat.  Emotions are sometimes too extreme and there is sometimes too much yelling.  But there are plenty of good moments, thus making their performances overall average.

Conclusion

Overall, it is clear that the creators of this film meant well and that it intends to share an important message.  The biggest problem is that Maggie’s Passage is it is mostly an unfinished idea, even though it has a lot of potential that is untapped.  The production is too underfunded to be effective and the acting is not coached enough.  It’s a shame that this film falls short of what it could have been.  It really deserves a remake because the ideas behind it are worth sharing.  Perhaps one day the ideas will be used again in a better way.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Bells of Innocence (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When their small plane crashes in a weird little town that appears to be controlled by a Satanic cult, three men try everything they can think of to escape the madness as their townspeople, especially their creepy children.  But they find themselves taken captive by them and saved only by a mysterious man who appears to have power over the evil in the town.  He tells them that he has brought them to the town for a purpose—to drive out the evil and save the children.  Will the men be able to dig deep and find faith in the midst of evil?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As some production elements are fine while others are definitely not, Bells of Innocence is mostly an average production.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are fine, even though there are some overused and cheesy sound effects.  The soundtrack is average.  Sets, locations, and props are pedestrian.  There are too many montages and choppy sequences designed to waste time, but by far the worst production element is the use of very stupid and cheap-looking special effects that are supposed to be ‘horror-themed’.  They put a huge drag on the movie and make it seem like a joke.  In short, it feels like this film was just slapped together for the sake of having a horror plot featuring Chuck Norris.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As we have mentioned before, horror is extremely difficult to pull off properly.  It must be done with the right motives and must never be taken lightly.  Bells of Innocence appears to be taking the issue lightly with this very bizarre idea that has a fixation on creepy children.  The premise is extremely juvenile and eye-roll-inducing.  As the writers try very hard to make this a ‘scary’ horror plot, it only comes off as desperate, wacky, and outright ridiculous.  The characters are completely empty and the villains are beyond cheesy.  Dialogue only serves the purpose of dumping information on the audience.  There are too many leaps in logic and time jumps for there to be any shred of sense or understanding of what is happening.  If you were wondering, this is another failed horror effort.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Who knew that there was a movie cast that included David A. R. White, Carey Scott, and Chuck Norris all in one package?  This collection of jokers is simply too much, considering the already absurd horror elements present.  Everything they do is overly dramatic and cardboard, like usual.  There are some other cast members too, but they are mostly irrelevant, like this movie is now.

Conclusion

The White\Scott\Norris collaboration has collectively and independently tried a little bit of everything to sell Christian movies just for the sake of being called Christian.  They dabbled into all kinds of different genres to cover the Christian entertainment market with their products.  It matters little at this point what their actual return was, because the legacy they left in their profit-seeking wake was a laughingstock and a blight on Christian film.  Hopefully, as new film makers are succeeding in the market, we can move past this unfortunate era of movies that produced garbage like Bells of Innocence.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

Birdie and Bogey (Movie Review)

EVERYBODY’S HAPPY!!!!!!!!

Plot Summary

Pro-golfer Danny O’Connor loves his daughter Birdie, which is why he makes the unorthodox decision to make her his caddy in a tournament.  She begins to have a positive effect on his game, and he inches closer to his dream of playing on the PGA tour.  However, their dreams are tested when a disease threatens their relationship and puts their faith to the test.  Will they be able to withstand the trials before them?

 

Production Quality (0 points)

It is very confusing as to why this film was ever produced, because despite the big names behind it, the quality is quite low.  Video quality is grainy, especially in bright outside scenes, and camera work is shaky.  Audio quality is medieval, including loud outside sounds and a clanky soundtrack.  Sets and locations are underwhelming.  When it comes to the editing, there are far too many sports and scenery montages.  It seems like hardly any effort was put towards this production due to its cheap quality, which begs the question, was this film a necessity to make?

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Birdie and Bogey follows the predictable storyline of a typical sports plot and is saturated with golf content that isolates most audiences.  Other than golf references and training sequences, not much really happens in this story.  The premise of the film is very thin and flimsy, and the Christian message is very plastic and shoehorned in.  What little dialogue there in in this movie is very childish, and the characters therein are so over-the-top happy and sappy it’s enough to make you sick.  The end is very predictable and anti-climactic, if you make it that far.  Basically, we are unsure of what this film’s creators were really trying to convey here, but whatever it was, it never came through in a way that made any sense.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Just like the overly sappy characters, these cast members also act as fakely Hallmark as they can.  Their performances are very juvenile and over-the-top, obviously lacking in proper coaching.  Emotions are plastic and overly enthusiastic.  Also, the makeup jobs are atrocious.  In short, this is another example that causes us to ask why.

Conclusion

There are simply too many films on the Christian market like this one that have already been forgotten by most audiences and remain forever locked in the basement of Christian film.  We’ve said this before and will unfortunately continue saying this: making a film for the sake of making a film is never a good idea.  Just because you have a little bit of funding doesn’t mean you need to use it up on a knee-jerk movie.  Take your time, think about what you’re doing.  Make sure you have a good plot and the proper equipment and a cast who can at least be coached.  It’s simply not worth it to rush things.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

A Greater Yes: The Story of Amy Newhouse (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Amy Newhouse had it all—a great family, a boyfriend she loved, and a mission from God.  She knew what God wanted her to do and believed she had a future in the international mission field.  However, God had other plans for her as Amy was diagnosed with cancer.  Through these trials, she had to learn to trust in God’s sovereign plan and to discover the new ministry God was giving her, even when His plans didn’t make sense.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

A Greater Yes was made right as the new era of Christian productions was beginning, so it is still a bit raw in parts.  Camera work is okay, as are video and audio quality, although all of these could have used a little ‘sprucing’ up.  The soundtrack is fairly stock, which is disappointing because a story like this needs a meaningful soundtrack to drive the point home.  Sets and locations are fairly limited, thus making for a somewhat cheap feel to the film.  Editing is also poor and leaves a lot to be desired.  There are too many musical montages that take away from useful content.  In the end, while it’s clear that the team of Bradley Dorsey, Marshal Younger, and Clayton Miller meant well, this was just at the beginning of their careers.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

We love it when true stories are brought to life in film, but it seems like this plot did not really do the story of Amy Newhouse justice.  There is too much heavy-handed narration and off-screen content that takes the place of character-building and otherwise meaningful content.  The story also jumps all over the place, thus making it hard to follow.  While there are many realistic elements that can be connected back to real life, these characters need to be deeper so that we can connect with them better.  Their dialogue is too shallow as it is and needs fleshing out.  Overall, A Greater Yes has a powerful message that has great potential—it simply needs to be packaged differently.

Acting Quality (1 point)

This cast clearly meant well in their performances and were not putting anything on, as opposed to the practices of other PureFlix casts.  However, these cast members are sometimes too awkward and robotic in their emotions and line delivery.  They would have likely benefitted from improved coaching.

Conclusion

Every film maker has to start somewhere.  For Dorsey, Younger, and Miller, this was the start of a great career.  It’s better to try something rather than try nothing, especially if you are going to learn from your mistakes.  Though A Greater Yes was a meager beginning, it has a meaningful story that many will enjoy.  It is also clear that this trio did learn from their rookie mistakes (especially Younger) and have gone on to do great things.  It just goes to show that if you honestly want to make a difference in film, find the right people to work with, and are willing and ready to improve with each new film, the sky is the limit for you.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

I Am Gabriel (Movie Review)

Yes, this happens in this movie

Plot Summary

Promise, Texas is a sad town with little hope for the future.  That’s why an angel boy named Gabriel is sent there to fix everything up.  There are several townspeople who wish miracles would happen, and there are others who believe miracles are impossible.  So Gabriel has to show off what he can do in order to convince them are turn them back to God (?).  Will he be able to convince everyone before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

For some reason, this production was invested in.  While the camera work and video quality are fine, there is not much else to redeem this film.  The original soundtrack is okay, but sometimes the music is far too loud.  In an attempt to be dramatic and spiritual, the special effects used are cheesy and childish.  Sets and locations look very cheap and there is generally a lot of wasted time in this film as the story jumps all over the place and demonstrates horrid editing work.  In the end, this is a big disappointment compared to the work EchoLight usually produces.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Since this story is filled with heavy-handed melodrama about how hard everything is in the small town, the viewer cannot appreciate the struggles of the characters since they seem so manufactured.  Despite attempts to be ‘interesting’, this plot is very slow and flat and full of wooden dialogue that forces the plot along.  Though there may be some good messages somewhere in this mess, they are made juvenile and silly by the stupid ‘magical’ miracle elements and the child angel premise.  Finally, after jumping from thing to the next and fixing most of the problem subplots, this plot culminates in the dumbest ending ever.  In short, I Am Gabriel started in the horrible position of having no potential and became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Similarly, this cast starts off already skewed by throwing John Schneider, Dean Cain, and Carey Scott into one movie together.  Thus, the cast lives up to its expectations by being very amateurish and robotic, with quick and forced line delivery.  As a side note, makeup is as ridiculous as the childish angel costuming.

Conclusion

What is the point of even making a movie like this?  A child angel plot is doomed from the start, as is any story including juvenile miracles and quick fixes.  EchoLight should be ashamed of distributing this type of movie because it only makes them look silly.  Movies like this contribute nothing to Christian entertainment and only further create a laughable image of Christian film.  But hopefully that image is changing, slowly but surely.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points