Mayflower II (Movie Review)

Mayflower II (2021) | Full Movie | Rick Borger | D'Arcy Browning | Tree  Browning - YouTube

Plot Summary

Miles and Kate just want to live an average life no matter what the world is doing around them. However, Miles encounters a point of no return when his Christian brother shows him a secret spaceship that Miles’ brother intends to use to evacuate Christians from earth. The goal is for Christians to recolonize Mars with Christianity. What choice will Miles make???

Production Quality (.5 point)

Between cheap special effects, annoying sound effects, and bad audio quality, this production is a real doozy. Background sounds and echoes detract from the viewing experience, and cheap sets, locations, and props don’t effectively represent what they are supposed to portray. Acceptable video quality and camera work keep this section from a score of zero, but editing is very choppy, and all production elements worsen with time. Thus, only a small rating can be awarded here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

In this narrative, the writers used plenty of expository dialogue as to leave nothing to chance about what occurred in the plot. The story in and of itself is very fast-paced by trying to get to certain points, creating unrealistic circumstances, and leaving huge gaps in logic. Also, the persecution premise is absurd, full of evil characters who are bent on destroying Christians for absolutely no reason. Stock conversations do nothing to build characters, and Christian characters are ridiculously perfect conduits of Bible verses. In the end, with tons of off-screen content due to the low budget and a lot of silly coincidences, no points can be awarded to this section.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the acting in Mayflower II is just as bad as other aspects of the film. Whether yelling, screaming, or mechanically delivering lines, many performances feel phoned in. Emotions are not authentic, and a lot of cast members seem to lack conviction of what they are doing. Therefore, no score is warranted here.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the creators of this screenplay went into production with an agenda. In the years that we’ve reviewed Christian entertainment, we’ve never seen this successfully work. Doing this should not be the purpose of Christian creativity, and audiences know this, which is why movies like this one will soon be forgotten.

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

God’s Fool (Movie Review)

God's Fool (2020) | Trailer | Scott William Winters | Nathan Clarkson |  Laura Orrico - YouTube

Plot Summary

Frank grew up with a privileged life, but it means nothing to him. He’s tried to fill the hole in his soul with all kinds of vices, but nothing helps. Thus, when Frank meets a Franciscan friar one day, Frank’s life changes forever as he learns about the Franciscan order’s philosophy of life. Frank commits himself to live this life but finds it harder than expected as many oppose his new faith.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, God’s Fool has a pretty good production, including good video quality and audio quality. The soundtrack is quite intriguing, but the camera work is a bit inconsistent. Lighting is aligned with industry standards, and sets, locations, and props are acceptable. This section’s biggest drawback is its terrible editing as the film is presented in a very choppy way. Nonetheless, an above-average score is still warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite being based on an interesting idea, this plot meanders all over the place with no focus. One random thing happens after another, including a wild 800-year time jump after an extended prologue that seems initially disconnected from the main narrative. Stream-of-consciousness storytelling leaves the movie lacking a central focus. As a result, the characters are hard to relate to, and even though some dialogue sequences are interesting, it all needs to be deeper. The characters’ struggles are very detached and hard to relate to. While many conversations bring up good points, the back-and-forth interactions are poorly presented, causing the audience to be flooded with ideas without helping them feel the conflict. In general, too many events occur in this plot, and the “bad” characters don’t have good reasons for their actions. Although this narrative explores realistic church corruption issues, it’s all too detached and vague, leaving the viewer without meaningful impact. Thus, due to a small amount of potential, only a small rating can be awarded in this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the performances in God’s Fool come off as staged and overly measured. Emotional and line delivery are clinical and generally lack conviction. Accents are not culturally accurate, but costuming is authentic. Nonetheless, despite these shortcomings, the acting does improve with time, which is enough to warrant an average score here.

Conclusion

It’s clear that the creators of this screenplay meant well in what they were doing. They are trying to present an honest look at modern-day Christianity. However, convoluted storytelling and uneven acting detract from the film’s potential. A more focused narrative would have gotten the presentation off on the right foot. Perhaps, in the future, this creative team can build upon what they have done here to improve their craft.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

The Unlikely Good Samaritan (Movie Review)

Image result for the unlikely good samaritan

Plot Summary

Chris Jennings is a new pastor in a small Colorado town, and he’s desperate to prove himself to the people in the church because of his young age. However, this leads him to take drastic measures, including shunning an unwanted member of the church whom the other members don’t feel fits in with their demographic. Nevertheless, Chris is battling his own demons, and once he’s exposed, the religious people turn on him as well. Now that he’s down and out, will Chris ever discover God’s true call on his life?

Production Quality (.5 point)

As a 2019 production, it’s kind of hard to believe that this lower level of quality is still being tolerated. One of the most distracting part of this film is the shaky camera work that hardly ever stops moving and even goes diagonal at times. There are also a lot of weird camera angles and even some blurry video. Sets, locations, and props tend to be cheap, and lighting is fairly inconsistent. Audio quality is okay except for the background sounds. Further, the editing is poor as there are quite a few very abrupt and awkward cuts. In the end, though there’s some slight improvement throughout the film, this production is unfortunately very low quality.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The Unlikely Good Samaritan contains concepts similar to that of Confessions of a Prodigal Son, which was Clarkson’s freshman film, yet the sophomore effort surprisingly has more concerns than the first. In this second installment, there is a lot of blank and stale dialogue throughout the first three-fourths of the movie, which leads to a glaring lack of character development. At first, hardly anything happens except for wasted scenes that take up time but accomplish nothing; the interactions among characters seem unnatural and overly scripted. While this storyline is a commendable look at real issues plaguing the church, it loses most of its audience in the first half hour due to general boredom and unrealistic portrayals of life. However, by the last fourth of the plot, there’s actually some great flawed characters and a lot of potential in the central idea behind the story, but it’s all presented in the wrong way. The ending is actually fairly realistic and comes from a unique plot twist, but hardly anyone will make it this far into the film. In the end, this concept would have likely worked better either as a short film or as a series.

Acting Quality (1 point)

In the beginning of the movie, similar to other elements, the acting is fairly awkward and unnatural, but they also don’t have many good lines to work with. Some cast members are fine and would have been better with improved development and coaching. Many emotions throughout are very wooden and forced, yet the acting overall tends to get better as it goes, in keeping with the themes of this film. However, since there’s fairly significant improvement by the conclusion, it begs the question why it was so bad in the beginning. In the end, The Unlikely Good Samaritan is a mixed bag that doesn’t do enough to pull itself up from the mud.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that Nathan Clarkson has a lot of good ideas. This fact is evident in his two films, but in this era of Christian entertainment, we need to see more. Collaboration is likely the only path forward for lone ranger creators; we can no longer afford to make movies on our own. God admonishes Christians to work together and to have each other’s backs, so if we accept feedback and ideas from others as well as ourselves, something great can happen. Clarkson’s concepts are creative enough to warrant remakes, so perhaps series-making is in his future once he’s able to work in a team approach. Many entertainment makers have the world at their fingertips if they will reach out and work together.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Confessions of a Prodigal Son (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Sean Matthews couldn’t wait to strike out on his own and get out from under the confines of being a pastor’s son.  When given half of his inheritance with the stipulation of staying in school, Sean heads off to USC to live the party lifestyle.  He feels like he can do whatever he wants—that is, until he meets Ali, a girl who seems immune to his usual manipulation.  Thus, he pursues her in the hopes of winning her over, even though she is not interested in having a relationship.  They become friends and she changes Sean’s outlook on life.  When Sean comes to a crossroads, he will have to decide which path he wants to take.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Confessions of a Prodigal Son starts out fairly rough, like many freshman productions.  There is a lot of shaky camera work at first, including odd artistic angles, such as filming through crowds and from behind objects, as well as a lot of close-up shots.  However, this seems to improve as the movie goes.  Video quality is relatively stable throughout, but audio quality is another inconsistent factor, as it goes from cheap to quality over the span of ninety minutes.  The soundtrack is too loud at first and some audio is overdubbed, but these issues seem to work themselves out later.  Unfortunately, sets and locations are slightly cheap throughout the movie.  The editing is actually somewhat creative as the story is presented in a semi-out-of-order fashion that enhances interest.  Overall, this production seems to be a learning experience for the Lighting Dark team, which is perfectly reasonable, considering this is their first film.  The good news is that they will likely improve down the road.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The one thing we can say for Confessions of a Prodigal Son is that while the story is somewhat overused and predictable, at least it is presented in a creative and unique fashion.  This rendition of the famous parable will stand out from others because effort was made to be artistic and different.  At first, the narration seems too heavy-handed, but it becomes more justifiable later.  The portrayal of addicts is spot-on in this film, even if the solutions are little shallow.  There seems to be a lot of edgy content simply for the sake of having it and some important issues are treated too simply, probably to fit the story into the designated runtime.  Some characters are cheesy and have character arcs that are too steep, yet there are times when they are surprisingly well-crafted.  Though the messaging is somewhat obvious, it is still at least partially meaningful and is packaged in an artistic fashion that shows potential for the future.  In short, this movie is not all bad and stands out among others like it, which is all we ask for of new film makers.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Like other elements in this film, the acting begins fairly rough and inexperienced.  There are some mumbled and slurred lines, yet there are also some overly-enunciated lines.  However, these issues work themselves out over time, like the other issues that were previously pointed out.  Emotions are mostly realistic throughout the film and line delivery certainly improves in the second half.  Overall, it is encouraging to see improvement throughout a movie rather than consistent negativity.

Conclusion

Confessions of a Prodigal Son is a mixed bag that carries with it the potential for greatness.  This is normal for a first-time film, as are the early production struggles.  If production and acting had been consistently professional and if the characters had been a little deeper through better dialogue, this film would have likely been Hall of Fame.  We are always encouraged to see new film makers that are trying to do the right things, so we anticipate greater things from the Lighting Dark team in the future.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points