Two Steps from Hope (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Rebecca and her family have always lived a so-called perfect life and have all the money and success they could want, but when tragedy strikes their family one night, they immediately turn against each other in their pain.  Rebecca, mistreated by her mother, turns to alcohol and contemplates suicide, but she is stopped by a childhood friend who won’t give up on her.  He invites her to a Christian camp, where her life is changed forever.  Will her family be able to work through their pain and find hope as well?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Although this is a 2017 production and although there were plenty of people working on this project, the production is still low quality.  Resources were not as limited as most independent films are, yet there are still a lot of issues, such as shaky camera work and odd lighting.  Video quality is fine, but this is really the only good element to point out here.  The soundtrack is uninspiring.  Sets, locations, and props are too cheap and limited.  Finally, there is no editing to speak of since the story appears to be presented at face value with no real twists or turns.  In the end, with the amount of people that were involved here, the quality should have been higher.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The same principle goes for the plot—when there are more than five screenwriters on the film, the plot should be high quality and complex.  Yet once again, this is not the case for Two Steps from Hope.  Though the story has a good message and seems to mean well, it has too much forceful and heavy-handed messaging.  It is too melodramatic and it unfolds one tragedy after another, even though it does deal with some unfortunately realistic issues and circumstances.  Dialogue is okay throughout, but it needs more development and less drama.  Thus, the characters are also unfinished.  Furthermore, there is one too many montages in this film and the ending leaves something to be desired.  In summary, this creative team definitely has the tools to succeed, now they just need to apply them better.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The acting is the biggest detractor in this film.  It’s painfully obvious that no coaching was present here as there are a lot of truly awful performances.  Emotions are very forceful and over the top.  Line delivery is sometimes whiny and unsure, and other times it is stilted.  Essentially, this cast needed a lot more assistance.

Conclusion

It’s commendable to make a project like this utilizing the skills of a lot of different people, yet their skills are not completely manifested because the talent is not fully tapped.  What they likely would have benefitted from was a lot of consultation and mentorship from more experienced film makers.  In order to make a great film, there is no shame in asking for help from the more experienced.  The finished product being quality is always worth it in the end.

 

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points

 

Healed by Grace [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Riley Adams is a talented dancer, but when she is involved in a car accident, her life changes forever.  Now partially paralyzed and being forced to relearn speech and motor skills, Riley feels like her life is over since she can no longer dance like she used to.  However, she soon discovers a special form of physical therapy involving horses that changes her entire perspective on life.  Through the newfound therapy, she not only finds a new lease on life, but a new chance at faith and love.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

With obviously limited resources, Healed by Grace is plagued by cheap production problems.  Video quality is grainy and camera work is shaky.  The sets and locations are fairly limited, but the usage of props is pretty good.  The soundtrack is okay, but we would have liked to hear something more dynamic.  There is really no editing present here; if there had been editing, this production probably would have improved.  However, there is care and thought put into this film, making it stand apart from your average sloppy and thrown-together Christian movie.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Despite its obvious production flaws, Healed by Grace demonstrates heart and effort.  The creators actually seem to care about what they are doing, despite their limited resources.  The plot’s message is very touching and realistic.  Though the plot is slightly simplistic, it’s based on a believable premise and is a generally interesting idea.  The dialogue is pretty good and the characters have interesting arcs.  Though there is little content here, the writers did the best they could with what they had.  We would have liked to see a little more complexity, but it’s definitely a good start.  Some things happen off screen, obviously due to budget constraints.  The ending is authentic but we would have liked to see a little more.  Overall, this is a great starter effort with room for improvement.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though the cast is very amateur, they are trying harder than most.  They demonstrate a willing attitude to act well, even though they sometimes fall short.  It’s not easy to effectively act like you are disabled from a car wreck, but the main actress pulls this off well.  Line delivery and emotional delivery are average.  Costuming is realistic throughout.  Overall, this is an applaudable effort.

Conclusion

In summary, Healed by Grace is a true-to-life story that is accessible by Christian audiences.  Though many facets of the film are amateur, the creators still show that they care about what they are doing rather than just slapping a horrible film together and sticking the name ‘Christian’ on it.  It’s hard to make independent Christian films, especially starting out.  What’s important is that you, as a Christian film maker, give it your best effort and leave the results up to God.  If He has called you into film making, He will give you the resources you need.  You just have to be faithful and do your absolute best.

 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points