1 Message (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Becca Norris had it all—money, success, and a boyfriend—until her doctor discovers that she has breast cancer and requires a major operation to save her life.  However, the operation leaves her changed forever, thus causing her boyfriend to become uninterested in her.  His departure sends Becca into a reclusive depression that no one, not even her family, can shake her out of.  Yet when her brother gets interested in internet research, Becca meets a man online who is interested in her as a person and who makes her think twice about shutting herself off from the world.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

1 Message falls into the typical mold of a Kelly’s Filmworks production.  With good video quality and overly artistic camera shots, this film is classic Jefferson Moore.  Audio quality is fine, but the soundtrack is a bit off.  There is basically only one set in this film, but the props are good.  Though this production tends to improve as it goes on, there is little to no justification for it being two and a half hours long.  There is a serious lack of editing in this movie that will cause many audiences to give up by the first hour.  In the end, this is an average production that needs some more fleshing out and cutting down in order to make it more professional.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As previously mentioned, it is mind-boggling that this film is two and a half hours long when there is certainly not enough interesting content to sustain this runtime.  The first hour or so of the film is incredibly boring and melodramatic as it confusingly conceals parts of the story for the second hour.  The first half includes a fixation on breast cancer and ‘genie-ologies’, as well as weird attempts at humor.  A majority of the ‘dialogue’ is people verbatim typing and reading stuff on the computer over and over again, which is incredibly boring and does nothing to build the characters, even though there are few of them.  Time is also wasted and filled with activities of daily living, including the characters lying around and sulking, which further stunts character development.  However, if you have the time and stamina, the story comes down to an interesting point if you can slog through two hours of useless content.  Basically, this film needs a serious redo, because as it is, nobody is going to give a care.

Acting Quality (1 point)

With such a small cast, most errors stand out, unfortunately.  Though there is some good to be found here, there is also a lot of bad, including some very boring and dry emotions, ridiculously over the top attempts to be dramatic, and very measure line delivery.  Unfortunately, Kelly’s Filmworks films seem to consistently struggle in this department.

Conclusion

With a movie this long, there should have been plenty of positive things to say.  However, rather than making this a deep character exploration plot, time is filled with fluff and fake drama that ruins the good idea that is behind this plot.  We can appreciate the work of Jefferson and Kelly Moore, but they often get too lost in the artistry of film making.  They would do well to collaborate with different story writers so they can more effectively create films.  We believe that they mean well—they just need to take that next step.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

Another Perfect Stranger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Nikki’s original encounter with Jesus Christ, her daughter Sarah grew to resent her mother’s new faith commitment.  Now, over ten years later, Sarah plans to rebel against the faith of her parents by going to make her own life at a far off art school.  As Sarah takes a trip to visit the school, she is ‘coincidentally’ sat beside a mysterious stranger on the plane (multiple times).  The more she talks to Him, the more she begins to feel her heart soften.  What will she learn before she reaches her destination?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Though the production of Another Perfect Stranger has improved from The Perfect Stranger, that’s not really saying much.  Video quality and camera work are the most marked improvements; audio quality also shows steps in the right direction.  However, the soundtrack is quite stock.  Sets are still severely limited, but the most is made of them.  The Kelly’s Filmworks team still has a weird obsession with soft lighting that becomes annoying.  As for the editing, there are too many filler scenes and too much wasted time.  Essentially, while things are progressing in the right direction, it’s still difficult to see why productions this simplistic are so hard to nail.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

For starters, this title is stupid.  Naming a sequel movie ‘another something’ is so cheesy, but in this case, it’s not even true, because it depicts the same Stranger from the first installment, not a different one.  Anyways, Another Perfect Stranger begins with a useless recap of its predecessor, as if we missed something.  Once again, this second installment is full of uninspiring dialogue that speaks of lots of off-screen content and creates convenient plot turns.  Though this movie is again about two characters talking on a wide range of topics, we still don’t really get to know them very well.  With so few characters, these should be deep characters, but they only seem vague in the end.  However, their conversations do improve throughout the film and there are some good points raised, even though there are a number of odd comments and asides that seem out of place.  But what this plot really comes down to is the fact that there is simply not enough plot content to sustain it, as it is basically a stuck-on-a-plane plot that doesn’t involved the Rapture.  We want to like it, but just can’t find many reasons to.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Jefferson Moore, like Bruce Marchiano, has a Jesus complex; however, Moore might be a better actor than Marchiano when all is said and done.  Other cast members in Another Perfect Stranger are okay.  There is some over-acting, but emotions are overall believable.  Line delivery is mostly average.  Overall, this is an average effort with a small cast.

Conclusion

The Perfect Stranger saga is the definition of untapped potential.  The saga is based on a very simple idea that needs to be taken farther in order to have full effectiveness.  As they are, these films are just cute little Christian movies that people might smile about and then completely forget about.  Christian film makers need to strive to be dynamic and groundbreaking; we need to get out of our little bubble and go make a different with our movies.  An encounter with Jesus should be a difference maker, not another pedestrian effort.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

The Perfect Stranger [2005] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Nikki, a lawyer living a fast-paced life, gets a strange invitation to go to dinner with a man who claims to be Jesus Christ, she decides to take him up on the offer, if only to prove him wrong.  Throughout the course of the evening, as their conversation ranges on a wide variety of topics, including world religions and the nature God, Nikki begins to see this man for Who He really is, but will she let Him into her heart?  By the time the last course comes around, who will she surrender to?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

For 2005, this is a very poor production effort.  Though the sets are very limited and the budget seems adequate for this small scale of a production, the Kelly’s Filmworks team did not deliver.  Video quality is grainy and there is a lot of poor lighting throughout, including some cheesy-looking soft light.  Though most of the props are okay and audio quality is decent, the soundtrack is very cheap sounding.  The editing is very basic, but there is not that much content to work with here anyway.  In the end, this is a disappointing effort that should have been easy to execute.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As the original proprietor of the Encounter-style movie, Jefferson Moore was definitely on to something interesting in The Perfect Strange.  This was an original idea that had a lot of potential, yet we feel like it did not reach its full potential.  Though there are very few characters that have long monologuing dialogue, we don’t really get to know them all that well.  The portrayal of Jesus is pretty good, but Nikki just seems like a cardboard cutout.  She talks a lot without every really saying anything substantial to build her character.  There are some interesting issues raised in this plot, but the plotline is fairly linear and lacking in deep content.  It’s all very surface where it should be deep and concludes predictably.  Basically, where The Perfect Stranger could have been truly dynamic, it only scratched the surface.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This small cast is mostly average, yet they are the brightest spot of this film.  There are no real embarrassments or glaring errors, but they also seem like they’re holding back.  Jefferson Moore is fine as Jesus, but other cast members seem inhibited for some reason.  Emotion doesn’t really come through properly.  But in the end, this section is just average.

Conclusion

The Perfect Stranger is a good concept that needs deepening and more creativity.  Having two people talk over dinner about pertinent issues is not really the best way to present this otherwise good idea.  Monologuing becomes old and wearing, thus boring the audience.  Unfortunately, the entirety of this film doesn’t hold the attention very well, so important points will be lost.  Christian film makers need to make sure they are packaging their good ideas properly so that their messages can be properly conveyed.  This is the biggest movie lesson one can learn from this film.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

The Perfect Gift {The Perfect Christmas} [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Maxine is a spoiled girl who doesn’t like the fact that everyone always does something else on her birthday, which happens to be on Christmas Day.  Her mother is overworked and barely has time for her, so she takes Maxine help her struggling pastor neighbor at church.  At the church, Maxine meets a mysterious but kind drifter who is helping the pastor fix things up for Christmas.  As Maxine spends more time around him, she begins to change and have a new perspective in life.  As people continue to attack Christmas, she becomes a strong defender of the day, even though it’s also her birthday.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

It’s clear that not much care was given to this production.  The video quality is quite poor and many camera shorts are very tight.  Also, outside scenes are glaring and loud.  Audio quality is equally poor, including a Christmas soundtrack that is blaringly loud in some parts.  A lot of props look very cheap to the point that cast members can barely use them.  Sets and locations are nothing wowing.  As for editing, there are too many wasted uncut scenes.  Yet there are also abrupt and awkward transitions between some scenes.  Basically, this is an amateur effort that did not pay off.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The entire premise of The Perfect Gift is the typical ‘war on Christmas’ mantra, including tons of asides about characters being ‘persecuted’ for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and such.  The giant strawman is made of the so-called ‘anti-Christmas agenda’, including terms like ‘winter tree’ and ‘winter gala’. Besides these juvenile false conflicts, nothing else really happens in this plot.  It’s very boring and does not hold the attention.  Many occurrences are unrealistic and all the characters are quite childish.  Odd and offbeat dialogue peppers the movie and makes it an unintentional comedy.  Perhaps the most perplexing part of this film is the fact that the Jesus character—who is also the creator of the film—has an impassioned speech at the end that actually raises several good points regarding the alleged conflict between atheists and Christmas.  Yet Jefferson Moore, the creator, does not seem to actually believe what he is saying, since he inserted so much red meat into the movie about people being anti-Christmas.  Overall, The Perfect Gift is both low quality and confusing, an odd combination indeed.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, the story does not get any better here.  The few cast members that there are come off as either very obnoxious or totally dead inside.  Line delivery is awkward and emotions are childish.  The makeup work is amateurish.  Basically, there is not much good to say about this film.

Conclusion

Jefferson Moore seems to have a good heart and some slightly interesting ideas.  He can probably be credited with writing the original plots that have characters encountering Jesus in everyday circumstances.  But with such low production and acting quality, The Perfect Gift will have very little of the impact that it’s intended to have.  Fixing these two areas would be a good start to improving this film.  It really seems like Moore needed some help with this film and it’s a shame to see some of his ideas go to waste.  Perhaps there will be better things in store for the future.

 

Final Rating: .5 point out of 10 points