New Hope [2012] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When the Evans family comes to the small town of New Hope to pastor the church, they inadvertently walk into a hurting town that’s still lost and confused following the unexpected suicide of their basketball star.  The oldest son, Michael, suddenly realizes that he has accidentally filled the shoes of the late town legend, and immediately becomes a target for the angry best friend of the dead hero.  The Evans family and the town must together navigate the wake of suicide and determine how they are going to discover a new identity together.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For a little known independent film, the production of New Hope is decent enough.  The camera work is average and the angles are good.  The video and sound qualities are consistently above par.  However, the musical score is uninspiring and there are quite a few editing errors.  Scenes are cut off at odd times, some scenes are awkwardly placed, while others seem completely unnecessary.  While most of the surface issues are covered, there is simply too much amateurish editing for the production to be rated any better.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Dealing with life after the suicide of a family member and friend is an issue that needs to be discussed in the context of film, but New Hope is either too melodramatic, too inauthentic, or too inappropriate.  Dialogue is too obvious and dramatic, thus making extreme characters.  Michael is an okay character, but the others are not accessible.  There are too many screaming matches throughout.  There is a generally offbeat flavor to New Hope, like there’s something the characters aren’t saying out loud.  There is also some inappropriate content that doesn’t belong in a supposedly family-friendly movie, all in the context of a bizarre and forced romantic subplot.  Overall, this plot meanders along with emotional outbursts, picture taking, and basketball games, without really accomplishing anything.  The end is very rushed and the implied scenes during the credits are absurd.  In short, there is little to be positive about here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

The story here is much like the production quality—it’s good, but not good enough.  Some actors and actresses perform well while others do not.  Emotional delivery and line delivery are inconsistent.  Costuming is average.  Overall, this is just average.

Conclusion

New Hope had the right idea to try harder on production than most Christian films, but it never found its story identity.  The plot is a vague idea that it slapped together with sports elements and a pathetic attempt to be edgy.  The bottom line is that the creators rushed ahead too quickly and didn’t think this movie through.  We feel that the resources could have been used more appropriately, as will your time in watching this film.

 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

 

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Abel’s Field (Movie Review)

 

Plot Summary

Seth McArdle didn’t ask for his mother to die or his no-account father to leave him to take care of his two younger sisters.  Despite his pleas, Seth’s brother refuses to help him or have anything to do with him.  Therefore, Seth must attempt to successfully complete high school instead of drop out like his father did, and hold down two jobs in order to barely support him and his sisters.  What’s more, the football coach and his quarterback son both hate Seth’s family, prompting Seth into a fight that lands him with a third unpaid job working under an eccentric maintenance worker named Abel.  With the bank calling to collect on the overdue house payments, Seth feels like his whole world is crashing down around him.  He must either choose to ask for help or resort to desperate measures.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

For a little known production, Abel’s Field puts many independent Christian films to shame.  The video quality is professional, and the camera work is also good, including great sports action scenes.  The sets, locations, and props are also well-placed and well-utilized.  It seems like a lot of time and effort was put into this slightly obscure film, even though the budget was not as much as some films that are much worse than it.  The editing is effective and artistic, and this production is overall a surprisingly error-free one, which is something we definitely need to see more of.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Abel’s Field is a very unique character-driven biopic that conceals key twists and character motives until the right moments.  While many portions of it are fairly slow and may not hold the attention very well, the storyline patiently unfolds through subtlety and good dialogue.  It’s actually rare to see this type of dialogue in a film like this one, even though some efforts could have been made to hold audience attention slightly better.  However, the characters are still accessible as people, and their struggles can be related to.  The latter half of the film is better than the first, and the ending has several interesting twists and turns that make for an enjoyable experience, even if the plot is not as good as it could have been.  It’s a nice, simple film with a good message.

Acting Quality (3 points)

This movie is both cast well and acted well.  Kevin Sorbo manifests arguably his best role in playing a character that suits his acting strengths.  Samuel Davis is excellent, as are the supporting actors.  It would have been easy for the acting to have been bland and wooden, but this is not the case.  Emotions are realistic, and line delivery is on point.  Thus, there are no negative acting elements.

Conclusion

With a better budget and a smidgen more time spent on the plot, Abel’s Field could have been higher rated than this.  However, this movie is a testament to the fact that it is possible to make a quality film with only a limited budget.  The plot is does just enough to be interesting, and it is filled with realistic characters living out realistic lives.  Abel’s Field fulfills the formula of great production and great acting combined with a plot that does just enough, so it will be interesting to see what this creative team produces next.

 

Final Rating: 7 out of 10 points