Derral Eves, executive producer of The Chosen, announced this week that the much-loved series is slated for seven seasons! The subsequent episodes will be filmed in Parker County, TX – Capernaum Village, etc. – and will portray the entire life of Jesus. Click this link to watch, share, and support the show! https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen
When Jesus first began His earthly ministry, He had already chosen those He would minister to and use to transform the world around them. They came from all walks of life: lower class fishermen, upper class religious leaders, well-to-do tax collectors, and lowly street prostitutes. Regardless of background or belief, Christ determined to use regular people to carry out His work…however, it couldn’t happen until they had life-altering experiences with Him.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
The highest independently crowdfunded effort in entertainment history has certainly paid off. There’s no question that a lot of hard work was put into making this first season, and it shows in nearly every aspect of it. Though the perspective camera work is a bit rough at first, it definitely gets better and isn’t noticeable at all in later episodes. Similarly, the lighting is realistically dark in many scenes, which was hard to perfect at first, but again, it greatly improves as it goes on. Other than the poorly animated opening sequence that has a great idea behind it, there are no other problems to point out in this nearly flawless production. The sets, locations, and props feel very realistic and authentic as the series creators demonstrate a clear commitment to looking at the characters in accurate cultural contexts. Video quality is crisp throughout, and audio quality is seamless, including a very engaging and creative soundtrack that reflects historical themes. As a whole, this production is a reflection of how this series is a much-needed breath of fresh air in the industry, and thankfully, the positive qualities didn’t stop with just this section.
Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)
It would’ve been very easy to spend all the time on making the production worthwhile after all the money and time that was invested in it, but Dallas Jenkins and company refused to settle, yet the storyline is a major reason why this series will transform Christian culture and even reach outside the church. The reason why it’s so transformative is because it demonstrates a profound understanding of the real people who encountered Jesus and portrays them in very accessible, down-to-earth ways. These Bible characters are no longer “heroes of the faith”–they are imperfect people with backstories, motives, flashbacks, and personality tendencies just like us. Not only do they feel like everyday people, but the writers also wisely chose to focus on them in their cultural contexts as a heavy emphasis on Jewish tradition is subtly explored. The use of flashbacks to build character motive and backstory is also highly effective in helping us understand where they’re coming from and why they do what they do; this is often a missing ingredient in most depictions of Bible characters. Besides the characters being so well-developed, their subplots are interwoven very well as their stories realistically cross back and forth and creatively weave together to prepare for the next steps. Further, the psychological themes and artistic concepts of the series are presented in very natural ways without forcing too much on the audience while still being creative. In the end, there are many more positive aspects to highlight about this season (more than can be listed here), which is a very surprising feat in Christian entertainment. There’s no doubt that this is the best Christian series season to date, and it’s the first one to be inaugurated into the Hall of Fame.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
The casting and acting of The Chosen show a commitment to cultural authenticity in more ways than one…where a fully cultural cast member couldn’t be used, correct accents were taught and coached, which adopted a model similar to the one used in Nativity Story. No matter what, dedication to effective coaching is evident as the cast members showcase subtle talent in their line delivery and emotional portrayals. While there are some minor costuming issues, it’s nothing much to write home about, and we can’t wait see how these recurring cast members will continue to shine in future seasons.
Continuity Quality (3 points)
Never before have we seen a Christian series (other than some parts of A.D.) that actually tries hard to interweave its subplots in ways that make them cross at appropriate times and keep the audience engaged in what may happen next. These are actually storylines you want to follow as the character arcs bend at realistic times and flow dynamically into each other. While it can be difficult to interest a Christian audience with familiar Biblical accounts, The Chosen sets up great backstories for well-known stories and provides great reasons for why things happen the way they do. In the end, there’s no question that this is the best Christian season to date.
Hence, The Chosen, Season 1 wins two x-factor points for re-watchability and for presenting important content in very audience-friendly ways. Dallas Jenkins and his team have established themselves as the future of Christian small screen entertainment, so your support of VidAngel is greatly appreciated (go to the link to watch the first season)! The more we support Christian entertainment that’s actually worthwhile and worthy of promoting to the people we know, the more likely it is we will see a real change in both the field and the culture as a whole. If you’ve already supported this first season, make sure to tell a friend that it’s well worth their time and money. We expect great things from this crew in the coming days.
Final Rating: 13 out of 14 points
When his wife and kids are tragically murdered by local racists, Bob Collins decides that God doesn’t care about him anymore and gives up on his faith. His brother and family continue to try to get through to him, but all to no avail. Jake Knight was there the night of the murders and feels guilty about the part he played, even though the corrupt sheriff has pardoned them all. All of their lives must intersect as they come to grips with the harsh realities of life—and the power of forgiveness and redemption.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
With a modest budget behind it, Gallows Road definitely demonstrated effort in production. The video quality is good throughout and the camera work is above average. Audio quality is fairly good and the soundtrack is interesting enough. Sets and locations are slightly limited and there are some inconsistencies throughout. As with most independent productions, the biggest problem relates to the lack of editing. The plot meanders too much with no direction. Scenes are disjointed and appear to be unrelated to each other. This will be discussed in depth next. Basically, the tools are here to make this a great production, but they are not used, thus causing it to be stuck at average.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
In an endeavor to be too big of a plot, Gallows Road falls flat. As previously mentioned, there are too many subplots that have very loose connections to each other. There’s actually nothing inherently wrong with the subplots themselves, but they need to be synthesized and fleshed out better than they are. There are actually quite a few profound ideas hidden among this frustrating plotline, but they easily get lost. The characters of these subplots are intriguing, but we hardly have a chance to get to know any of them as the story skips around so much. The premise seems a little bit thin at times and needs to be bigger and bolder. The message of Gallows Road is actually quite powerful, presenting important issues such as broken families, bitterness, racism, and addiction. Yet these themes needed better packaging in order to drive their point home. The ending is slightly interesting, but again, it needed more thought put into it. To sum things up, Gallows Road is sitting on a gold mine of content that failed to be mined. Some parts are enjoyable, while the rest of them are extremely frustrating.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Despite having the creepiest cast member of all Christian film, the acting of Gallows Road is the strongest part of the film. A few other cast members definitely need to be replaced, but otherwise, there is a lot of positive here. Emotions are mostly believable and line delivery is effective. Costuming is culturally appropriate. In short, this is a great acting performance that should be common place in Christian film.
The trailer for Gallows Road is ten times better than the film. It also paints a deceiving picture of what the plot is actually about. Nonetheless, it had the potential to become a major small town epic by tackling local racism, prejudice, and addiction at the gritty level. But alas, it became another film that fell short of its full potential. It seems like this idea should have been put on hold if the resources were not available to make it as big as it should have been. The subplots need expanding and synthesizing and the overall feel of the movie needs to be more epic. If there’s such a thing as Christian movie remakes, please remake this one.
Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points
Freddie Steinmark was trained all his life to play college football. When he finally gets his chance at the University of Texas, he takes the opportunity to let his work ethic stand out. He tries to make a difference with everyone he meets, all the while planning his future with his girlfriend. But as Freddie drives to be better and better, although the team improves around him, his health begins to deteriorate. He tries to shake it off, but the day finally arrives when he can no longer ignore his poor health. Freddie will have to make tough decisions and remember why he got to where he is.
Production Quality (2 points)
With obvious funding and professional equipment, My All-American sports clear video quality, great camera work, and good audio quality. The props that are used look very realistic and specific to the time period. The sets and surroundings are fairly diverse, if somewhat too varied, as scenes jump all over the place. The soundtrack is okay for a generic inspirational sports film. Action sequences are executed very well, but choppy editing plagues this movie. As previously mentioned, the film jumps all over the place and leaves the audience extremely confused as to what is going on or what may happen next. This will be discussed in depth next, but the main point here is that a lot of money was spent to make this film look good, but it’s clear that the effort was only ever meant to go skin-deep, so to speak, as the project has little substance underneath the pretty lights.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
This was a very good idea for a film based on a true story, but far too much content is crammed into a small time frame. Trying to cover a character’s several years before college plus his four years in college in less than two hours calls for dizzying time jumps and information-dump dialogue that creates cardboard characters. One minute, characters we barely know are in high school, then they are teleported to college one fall, then suddenly it’s spring, then we watch an interlude to discuss the historical time period in an obvious fashion, then it’s back to fall and all over again. Thus, there is far more telling than showing, since there’s not enough time to show everything the writers want to shove into the plot. The main focus of the film is sports action sequences, which definitely have their place, but their constant presence leaves little room for character development. Non-action sequences of characters talking are head-scratching in that we are not provided enough context; we cannot appreciate them or their struggles because of the breakneck pace of the storyline. As a side note, there is minor inappropriate language throughout for some reason. The bottom line is that the creators never intended to make this a movie of substance—they just hoped to make a quick buck off of the inspirational audience.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
Despite the presence of ‘big name’ actors and actresses, no care was given to coach them or guide them. Some cast members show potential, but they are not properly developed in their skills. Emotions cannot be felt or appreciated. Line delivery is sloppy and forced, probably because there’s not much time to say things in preparation for the next scene. Like the rest of the film, this area is half-hearted for a reason.
With the rise of successful inspirational films, mainstream creators are trying to dip into the cash pile. My All-American is one of these movies that is strictly designed to make money at the box office by marketing it alongside more popular inspirational films. They invest only in production quality and one or two ‘big name’ cast members and let everything else fall by the wayside. In their opinion, audiences only care about a nice looking feel good movie, but we beg to differ. Movies like this one are a waste of your time and only designed to get your money. But Christian film makers can take note: unless your production quality is as good as half-effort films like this one, you’re also wasting your time.
Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points