Closer to God: Jessica’s Journey (Movie Review)

Grandpa’s angry

Plot Summary

Jessica is struggling in her battle with cancer while her mother struggles to hold it all together emotionally and financially.  The last thing her Jessica’s mother expects is for her father—Jessica’s grandfather—to show up at their house unannounced in the midst of it all.  Her mother has no choice but to let Jessica’s grandfather watch over her daughter while she is at work.  Through it all, will they be able to mend their broken family ties even in the midst of the battle with cancer?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Closer to God is another one of those productions that has good effort behind it but not enough funding or creativity to sustain it.  As is usual for these types of productions, video quality and camera work are fine.  Audio quality is good, but there is virtually no soundtrack.  Sets and locations are quite cheap and limited to a few houses and vehicles.  Another common element for this sort of production is blasé editing, which is also true for Closer to God.  There are a lot of lagging scenes and confusing transitions.  Overall, this is an average production that could have been more.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

While based on true events, Jessica’s Journey follows the predictable progression of a simplistic disease plot.  It is less dramatic than this type of story usually is, but it is instead filled with a lot of activities of daily living and meaningless sequences.  The characters are somewhat flat and one-dimensional due to uncreative and non-starter dialogue.  Perhaps the most identifiable element of this film is the creepy grandpa character depicted above.  A majority of the story is him wandering around the house spouting unusual dialogue.  While there is a vague recollection of meaning in the ending of this film, the rest of it is simply too much for it to matter.  We are unsure what was trying to be insinuated by the grandfather character, who dominates most of the movie, but perhaps they had no control over this actor…

Acting Quality (1 point)

It seems like the grandfather actor has been set loose on this set with no real direction except to use annoying and overly-enunciated line delivery.  He overshadows the other cast members, some of which are fine.  However, casting Ben Davies as a character older than he is simply does not work at all.  Some emotions are overdone throughout this cast, but there is some positive here, yet not enough to compete with creepy grandpa.

Conclusion

Films like this are very safe and marketable, but they have no staying power.  They don’t make the difference they hope to make and they rarely return the money that is wanted.  They are especially bad when they are remembered for weird offbeat characters like the grandfather in this film.  Elements like that are all that is remembered of these types of films because they have no dynamic elements to truly affect the market.  Once again, this is another one to throw on the pile.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Maggie’s Passage (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Maggie hates the life she lives on the streets under the control of a pimp and other men who constantly use her for their own gain.  She wants to escape, but she sees no way out, until she discovers a Bible and learns what God really thinks about her.  As she flees her captors, she finds herself alone and on the streets again with no one to turn to.  Then she meets a woman who takes her under her wing and shows her the love of Christ.  Maggie must fully surrender to God and trust people again in order to find healing.

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Though it seems like the creative meant well in making this film, there are quite a few production errors.  Video quality and camera work are fine, but there are too many instances of poor lighting.  Outside sounds are sometimes too loud, as is the soundtrack, while other scenes are too dead and lack sound or expression.  Sets and locations are very cheap and limited.  There is not really any editing to speak of since there is really enough content to require editing.  While this is a commendable effort, the production of Maggie’s Passage is too underfunded.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This film depicts several unfortunately realistic circumstances and is thus thought-provoking.  However, it is sometimes hard to follow what is happening as there are a lot of empty sequences and vague narration that fill time.  It seems like this idea is not taken to its fullest potential as the backstory of the characters is started but not finished.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to connect with the characters because their development is unfinished.  Even though there is a lot of talking, there is not enough meaningful dialogue.  The plot relies on one too many coincidences and overall lacks focus and driving purpose.  There is hardly enough content to sustain this story into a feature length film.  Thus, more subplots, flashbacks, and complexities are needed.  In the end, it really does seem like the writers meant well—they just needed a little more direction to make this story all that it could be.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While there is some good in this cast and it seems like they mean well, they are sometimes too flat.  Emotions are sometimes too extreme and there is sometimes too much yelling.  But there are plenty of good moments, thus making their performances overall average.

Conclusion

Overall, it is clear that the creators of this film meant well and that it intends to share an important message.  The biggest problem is that Maggie’s Passage is it is mostly an unfinished idea, even though it has a lot of potential that is untapped.  The production is too underfunded to be effective and the acting is not coached enough.  It’s a shame that this film falls short of what it could have been.  It really deserves a remake because the ideas behind it are worth sharing.  Perhaps one day the ideas will be used again in a better way.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points