Praise Band: The Movie (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When a church feels like they can’t appeal to the young people, the lead pastor blames their faithful adherence to only singing songs from the hymnal. As a solution, the pastor decides that it’s time to start a controversial praise band by hiring a young whippersnapper to teach them the newfangled worship songs that the kids might like. Will they be able to use music to bring the youth back to the church before it’s too late?

Production Quality (.5 points)

Praise Band is a strange experience, beginning with the production, which included weirdly blurry video quality and even odd sepia-like tones. Loud background noises distract the viewer as the soundtrack sometimes overpowers audio. Tight camera shots focus on cheap sets, locations, and props while strange lighting provides an annoying backdrop. When it comes to editing, there’s unexplained sequences of dead time that are punctuated by awkward fadeouts. In the end, despite very slight improvement with this section over time, it’s not enough to warrant a higher score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 points)

The entire premise of Praise Band is that all a church needs to do to grow its numbers, especially among younger populations, is change its music style. While this does reflect an idea that was popular among churches at the time, it’s still silly to base a movie off of it. What’s more, generic and pedestrian dialogue creates vanilla characters that can’t be easily related to. Despite some slight potential in a half-hearted comedic exploration of how much certain churches refuse to change, the robotic nature of the characters takes the wind out of the sails. The humor is also too muted even though there’s hardly any actually content in this narrative. It lacks a core purpose and a centralized direction as random things happened until a sudden conclusion comes about. Overall, this story just seems like one of those vague, unfinished concepts that was forced to be a film without much thought put into it.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Surprisingly, the acting is actually the strongest area of this screenplay although it doesn’t get past the halfway mark. It’s not all bad or all good, but at times, the lines and emotions seem overly practiced. There’s also not a lot of positive to make up for the vanilla nature of the casting. Therefore, this nature rounds out a very poor effort.

Conclusion

Early in the modern era of Christian entertainment, films like Praise Band were nearly all there was for faith-based audiences to watch. Thus, the good thing is that now, there are more options for viewers in this genre. Current and future creators can learn from the mistakes of the past as we look toward the future.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

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Season of Miracles (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

In the year 1974, when an autistic player joins a local baseball team, the transition is not as smooth as it could have been because the old team wanted to keep things the way they were. However, the coach intends to make the situation work, so the boys must learn to accept each other’s differences and unite against a common foe: their closest rival team. In the end, the season turns out in a way none of them could have ever dreamed.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Season of Miracles is a mixed bag in the production category. While there is some odd lighting in the indoor scenes, as well as randomly blurry video quality, the outside scenes are actually better in these areas. Even still, many scenes have an odd vintage look to them, which may or may not be purposeful. There is also some inconsistent audio quality throughout film, including some overdubbed parts, and action shots have shaky camera work. However, with the exception of the soundtrack, which remains generic throughout the movie, the production overall improves as time goes on, especially when it comes to the filming of action shots. By the end of the film, the production seems right on par with standard, which is why it did enough to achieve an average rating.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As a whole, it’s unfortunately hard to discern the actual purpose behind Season of Miracles. It’s commendable to explore the treatment of special needs people in previous decades, but this intention doesn’t really come through very well since the plot is mostly filled with lots of baseball montages and tons of random characters that the audience can’t really relate to due to the lack of adequate dialogue. Deciding who and what to focus on as the story progresses is a difficult feat to accomplish since it’s tough to differentiate between some of the characters. There are many, many stock sports scenes and training\game sequences that steal valuable time away from the central storyline, whatever it may be. Further, the Christian message feels extremely forced and entirely based upon awkward platitudes while the non-Christian characters within the plot are total strawmen. In the end, despite the potential this story has with the special needs subplot, there just isn’t enough here, and the overall experience is too vague to justify a higher rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the acting in Season of Miracles is average, but there are some oddly awkward moments with the adolescent and child cast members that probably required further coaching than they had available. The younger actors and actresses seem too earnest at times, but by far the worst element of the acting is the fact that a Caucasian cast member appears to be playing a Hispanic character, which comes off as very offensive. However, there are some other good performances that balance out these concerns and bring the score up to par.

Conclusion

In the end, there may be a lot of good intentions behind films like Season of Miracles, but there are too many pitfalls that comes with them. There are a handful of issues that could have been easily solved through more collaboration, which is truly the tale of Christian entertainment. Lack of purposeful cooperation across multiple different creative teams is what keeps potentially interesting movies like this one from being all that they can be. There have been many missed opportunities like this one in the recent years, but hopefully, we are entering a new era of Christian creativity where collaboration and following God’s plan for what should and shouldn’t be made are the guiding lights.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points