Writer(s): Paul Munger, Sheila Munger, D. B. Hansen, Elizabeth E. Hansen
Director(s): Paul Munger
Producer(s): Paul Munger, Sheila Munger
Starring: Ashley Bratcher, Joseph Gray, Kendra Carelli, Brett Varvel, Kate MacCallum, Ella Dane Morgan, Bill Barrett, Sheilah Munger, Martin Peña, Giselle Torres, Chandler Macocha, Sterling Hurst, Mimi Sagadin, Jeannie Garcia, Joe Bunner, Rusty Martin Sr.?, Rusty Martin Jr.?
Plot Synopsis: Two expectant couples that are best friends face crushing upheavals in their lives which force them to make life-altering choices.
When the American dollar literally collapses overnight, a family is attacked by desperadoes and is forced to take their gun supply and survival gear into the woods behind their house in order to fend for themselves in the elements. However, the men who gunned their father down are still in pursuit (for some reason), which forces the family to either band together or tear each other apart as they try to defend themselves and survive in the brave new world of looting and living off the land. What will become of them all?
Production Quality (1.5 points)
It’s clear that the money that was donated by people (so that they could be listed as executive producers on the credits) was mostly well-used and not only spent on guns and weaponry. Video quality and audio quality are good, and since the film is mostly filmed in the outdoors, this definitely helps things. The soundtrack is also passable. However, much of the camera work is shaky and dizzy in the name of being action-oriented. Also, most of the indoor scenes are unnecessarily dark and poorly lit. Further, the editing is extremely choppy, which makes things hard to follow, but there are likely other factors to this problem, such as the plot.
Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)
From the get-go, the story makes zero sense. There’s no reason why the world would immediately descend into chaos basically in one day due to the sudden collapse of the dollar. How did it happen? What led to this extreme result and knee-jerk looting? This idea is too big and expansive to focus ninety percent of the plot on a collection of characters wandering around in the woods with guns. Did we mention that this movie is OBSESSED with guns? It holds nothing back in being outright propaganda that’s desperate to both create further political divide and garner the attention of powerful lobbying organizations. These concerns aside, there are tons of characters in The Reliant, and while flashbacks are used throughout, it’s not enough to make up for other problems, such as awkward conversations about vague things that are occurring in the world outside the forest, shoehorned Christian concepts, cheesy survival concepts, and outright fundamentalist messaging. Much like Unplanned, there was much fake outrage about The Reliant‘s so-called undeserved MPAA rating, but once again, the rating was actually justified due to the high amount of needless violence without proper balance. Regardless of this, the characters of The Reliant have extremely steep arcs and lack proper motivation for their actions as things just randomly happen one after another, and the plot lacks clear direction or purpose other than to shove certain worldviews down viewers’ throats. Hence, this section’s negative rating is given due to propaganda and due to total pointlessness.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
Throughout nearly every scene, the cast members of The Reliant are coached to exhibit extreme emotions, including a lot of yelling and screaming. Though there is some potential despite these annoyances, dramatic and tense scenes are totally butchered either with awkward line delivery, off-beat emotional delivery, or general uncomfortability with the given roles. In the end, there is little good to highlight in this movie.
After the screener was provided for this film, one of the creators strongly requested that they be given the chance to “approve” this review before it was publicly posted. Surprisingly, this was the first and only request we’ve ever received for this to happen. Moreover, it further shows the amount of control that’s surrounding this movie and reflects the mentality behind its creation. Films like The Reliant have a clear agenda to push on their audiences and purposely make themselves lightning rods for controversy with the hopes of garnering attention from certain groups. There were no attempts in this movie to craft a meaningful plot based on accessible characters, so even if the creative team had the best message in the world, it’s still not correctly packaged. In the end, there are just too many issues here to discern any amount of potential there might have been in this half-baked idea.
Producer(s): Patrick Johnston, Elizabeth Johnston, Paul Munger, Brian Bosworth, Kevin Sorbo, Eric Jellison, Tim Schmidt, Doug Yeary, Betty Yeary
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Eric Roberts, Brian Bosworth, Mollee Gray, Jenn Gotzon, Julia Denton, Kevin Wayne, Ian Lauer, Blake Burt, Josh Murray, Kiera Strauss, Brian Friday, Marisa Hampton, Tyler Sanders, David Benham, Jason Benham, Tim Schmidt, Nicole C. Mullen, Rusty Thomas, Nico Zahniser, Jesse Boone, Jonathan Bocinsky
Plot Synopsis: When the dollar collapses, widespread rioting and looting ensues, and five children tragically lose their parents in the chaos. Armed with a couple of their father’s weapons, they are able to survive in a stretch of woods on the outskirts of their burning town. Facing starvation and threats from encroaching gangs, they begin to doubt God’s love. Will God answer their prayers, or must their faith remain blind to facts?
Sarah Miller hates her life and wants to escape the clutches of her mother’s abusive boyfriend, but she has no way out. However, a concerned friend and her fellow college student intervene when she acts strange in class, and they are able to rescue her and help her to start a new life at a shelter. Sarah is also introduced to Unbridled, a horse therapy center for troubled girls, where she bonds with a stubborn horse. However, when he mother’s boyfriend comes back for revenge, will she be able to survive?
Production Quality (1.5 points)
Though the production of Unbridled begins somewhat rough, it definitely demonstrates care and effort. There is some shaky camera work throughout the film, likely for dramatic effect. However, video quality is fine, and audio quality gets better as the film goes on. Sets, locations, and props are excellently constructed and utilized. There are some slight ministry ‘product placements’ throughout, but it means well. One caveat to raise in this production is the very awkward editing throughout. Some scenes lag on too long, while others are cut short. Still other scenes appear to be unneeded. However, despite the issues, this is a great beginning production for the Moving Visions team.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
As this storyline is based on true events of real people’s struggles, it definitely has its share of positives. One of these is its excellent use of underlying philosophy that is manifested in well-crafted dialogue. Thus, this creates believable characters who have unfortunately realistic struggles. There is also a great portrayal of trauma and mental health in this film, as well good research on the under-explored world of horse therapy. However, this plot also has its share of drawbacks. These include some cheesy horse story elements and a lot of unnecessary sidebars and rabbit trails that are underdeveloped. There are also some concerning plot holes and a lot of scenes that have been read into very much in order to be fully understood. Thus, some organization of this otherwise good content was definitely in order. However, it is still likely worth your time to see if only for the good cause of the film.
Acting Quality (2 points)
The acting and casting of this film is somewhat of a mixed bag, as it contains many familiar faces of Christian film. For one, Eric Roberts is just too much, even though he is appropriately cast as a creeper. Jenn Gotzon-Chandler is awkward at first, but she gets better as she goes; the same can be said for Rachel Hendrix. T. C. Stallings is always good, but he has his moments of over-playing. Tea McKay is a great lead and has a lot of promise for the future. On the whole, this is an above-average effort that shows great potential for the future.
Unbridled is a rare caused-based film that is worth recommending because it presents a real issue in a way that is not extremely obvious. The creators of this film clearly knew how to portray real people and their struggles. However, a series of rookie errors kept this film from being all that it could be. Nonetheless, this is certainly not something that will hold them back in the future, as we believe they will get better as they continue on. With a few production tweaks and an improved story presentation, the Moving Visions team is going to go great places in the future.
Grace has had her share of heartache when it comes to romantic relationships. She feels like men have played games with her heart, even though she desperately wants to find the right man to spend the rest of her life with. She looks to her parents for guidance, but she also wants to be her own woman. After she finally hits rock bottom when a man treats her in a way she does not feel is appropriate, she decides to make changes in her life and to stop seeking men. Little does she know that true love could be right around the corner.
Production Quality (1 point)
The production of Princess Cut is its one redeeming quality, but that still isn’t saying much. The video quality is clear and the camera work is passable, except for in-shot zooming. The editing is decent, but the sound quality is the biggest detractor here. Many scenes are obviously overdubbed because of the lack of a boom mic. Some sound is hard to hear and there are quite a few musical montages that cover up what could have been valuable dialogue. Also, the sets are severely limited; too much content takes place off screen. In short, we realize that Princess Cut had a very small budget, but it seems like more could have been done here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
There is an underlying philosophy in this plot that is slightly commendable, but there are so many negative issues. Good principles of dating are talked about, but they are also forced down the throats of the audience through robotic paragraph dialogue. Also shoved in the viewers’ faces is a far right Christian-ese worldview based on patriarchy, matronly women’s roles, anti-psychology ideals, and self-help books. The female characters are portrayed as empty-headed and clueless. ‘Bad’ characters are over-the-top strawmen. As previously mentioned, there is no real dialogue that builds the characters—most of the time, the characters seem to be reading self-help books verbatim. The plot is choppy and leaves out many key parts, some of which are made up for with extremely awkward and strange dialogue. Intended humor falls flat. In summary, this plot contains only a small amount of positive amid a conglomerate of strange philosophies and robotic characters.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
We felt like there was some potential in this cast—Rusty Martin Sr. and his son has both demonstrated good acting skills before—but it was not tapped in Princess Cut. Ashley Bratcher seems like a good actress, but she is not given any help. Unfortunately, most of the line delivery is emotionless and very stodgy. If coaching had been employed, the acting quality could have improved.
It’s great that more independent Christian film-makers are making movies and are able to make them, but what is the cost of these sorts of films? Princess Cut portrays Christians as living in their own bubble, owning a farm that the men run while the women slave away in the kitchen all day and knit. People outside of this bubble are portrayed as bad, and psychology is a definite no-no. Yet at the same time, the Bible is not given near as much attention in this film as self-help book product placements. What type of philosophy is exactly being espoused here? It is wonderful to portray healthy dating, but if you’re looking for that, we highly recommend Old-Fashioned, not Princess Cut.