Movie Renovation: Meant to Be

See original review here.

 

Production Improvements

The only major production improvement that should be noted in Meant to Be is the need for more organized editing.  In this film, scenes tend to be tossed here and there in a confusing fashion.  However, the editing can only be improved as the plot content is improved.  Thus, a more organized plot would have likely led to improvement in this area.

Plot and Storyline Improvements

Meant to Be is one of the most creative and most frustrating films we have ever reviewed.  Without spoiling the major twist at the end, it should be noted that this twist is mostly unexpected, especially after sitting through the boring and purposeless first half of the plot.  This is where most of the audience will be lost, so the most effective thing that could have been done in this situation would have been to make the first half of movie a good film on its own without having to rely on the twist in the second half.  This would also cause misdirection and make the twist even more surprising and out of left field.  As it is, Meant to Be seems to be rushing to get to the twist, and character development is sacrificed in the process.  We need to know what these characters care about and what their motivations are, and this can be done through substantial dialogue.  If these characters would be able to stand on their own apart from the twist, this would have been a truly great film.

Acting Improvements

Step one: take out Dean Cain.  Further, the jury is still out on whether or not Bradley Dorsey should be acting in his own films.  Other cast members in Meant to Be were underwhelming in their performances, so more improved acting coaching might have helped this section improve.

Conclusion

Bradley Dorsey has some great ideas, but he often stunts their full impact by getting in his own way.  The best thing he can do at this point in his career is to work with a team approach.  He may need to step back from acting in his films and work collaboratively with someone to bring his creative ideas to full fruition by developing deeper characters.  In the end, while it is unclear what his next steps are, if he heeds this advice, he could soar to new heights.

Advertisements

Taken by Grace [2013] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

While Shawn and Carrie Everett are trying to reconnect as a couple on a camping trip, they are suddenly approached by a mysterious man who talks cryptically to them before pulling out a gun and threatening them to take him where he wants to go.  As Shawn and Carrie agree to help him and as the man continues to babble on about various topics, they begin to get a picture of what this man is all about.  They eventually see him as a desperate man, not a criminal, and concoct a plan to try to intervene in his path of destruction.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

How is it possible that certain PureFlix movies have better production than others?  In Taken by Grace, there are few production problems to mention.  The camera work is good, and the video quality is clear.  Audio quality passes the test of authenticity.  The suspenseful musical score is highly effective.  Even though there are few sets, they are used well.  The only major production issue is, of course, editing.  Too many scenes feel cut short and unfinished.  Overall, while this film would have greatly improved with better editing, it’s still a production effort to be proud of.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

In this highly dialogue-driven psychological mystery, Bradley Dorsey does not disappoint when it comes to creativity.  Most creators could not handle writing long dialogue scenes for just a handful of characters sitting around in vehicles talking, but the philosophical and psychological elements win out.  While the characters could have been developed better, they are adequate enough.  Unfortunately, there are some typical mystery pitfalls, such as easy coincidences and ‘leads’ that are stumbled upon.  Another major problem is that there is too much wasted time and jumping back and forth.  The minor subplots are underdeveloped and almost seem forced.  Even though the creative concept behind this plot is great, it’s not enough by itself; there needs to be something added to it.  Basically, though it has many great strengths, Taken by Grace is an incomplete idea that needs a remake.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Mental health problems are actually portrayed very well through some of the acting in this film, and are not completely overdone like you would expect from a PureFlix film.  However, sometimes emotions are forced and unbelievable.  We have to question whether or not Bradley Dorsey should star in all of his films, as he seems to always underperform his potential.  But overall, this cast isn’t half bad.

Conclusion

In typical Bradley Dorsey fashion, Taken by Grace walks the line between brilliant creativity and amateurish mistakes.  All the films he’s involved are rooted in a deep and profound concept that challenges Christian movie conventions and genres.  He always employs psychological elements that should be found in many more Christian films.  But little mistakes always hold back his ideas from being all that they could be.  As is the case with Meant to Be, Taken by Grace could have been an awesome Hall of Fame film with just a few things changed and with a deeper storyline.  We hope in the future that Bradley Dorsey and company will take that next step to greatness, because Christian film desperately needs it.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider

Plot Summary

Two years after the Rapture, the enigmatic Josh McManus has a mission to do good and to right wrongs, even when it seems like evil is winning.  His latest mission takes him to a strict and legalistic settlement that tolerates no crime in order to gain medical attention for an injured girl.  In exchange for both of their lives, Josh must carry out a dangerous mission: search for a mysterious and troublemaking vagrant known as the Shepherd and bring him back so the settlement leader, Drake, can exchange him to his superiors for more life saving supplies.  In route to searching for the Shepherd, Josh and his unwanted tagalong, Sofia, must battle multiple villains and come to grips with what they truly believe about Jesus and His plan for the world.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Despite previous production struggles, Bradley Dorsey and Gabriel Sabloff have greatly improved this franchise.  The camera work improves dramatically in The Black Rider, as does the sound quality.  The surroundings and sets are innovative and creative.  Gone are ridiculous special effects, including that weird lightning!  This would have been a stellar production were in not for a collection of small issues—no doubt White influences.  For example, the CGI that is used is very amateurish.  Action scenes are overall not produced well, and there are too many of them, which is an editing problem.  The scope of the plot is so vast that precious time does not need to be wasted on silly fight scenes.  Yet these such portions squeezed out the deepening of plot creativity.  Nonetheless, this is the type of production that Pureflix has been trying to stab in the dark for years.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

The abysmal non-plot of The Beginning of the End seems like a distant memory after viewing The Black Rider.  There is a unique psychological edge to this plot and creative concepts that give the film deeper meaning beyond car chases and gunfights.  An entire new cast of characters is introduced, and it actually works.  A new world is introduced two years after The Sea of Glass and Fire, and it’s better than before.  But this new world is a double-edged sword—it’s too big for the scope of this film.  If more of this world had been explained in The Sea of Glass and Fire, we would have a framework to understand, but this did not happen.  Foreign plot devices such as the ominous ULC are forced upon viewers without explanation.  However, the city-state government system works well in this apocalyptic setting and gives the movie that epic backdrop David A. R. White has been searching for.  Moreover, there are other speculative concepts that are introduced and not fully explained.  Yet the gospel message is philosophically communicated far better than ever before in a Pureflix movie, and all without forcing the message down the audience’s throats.  There is unfortunately still wasted time on childish fighting scenes.  The escapades of Josh McManus, a surprisingly good character, border on unrealistic and sometimes coincidental.  Some of the many villains in this movie are laughable, while others are believable.  Each character is crafted through mostly effective dialogue.  The ending of this plot is also a double-edged sword: it both introduces a key psychological element and confuses the audience.  It both isolates the viewer and makes them want more.  Any further discussion is beyond the scope of this review, but the bottom line is Dorsey and Sabloff really have something going here, something that needs to be continued.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Hands down, The Black Rider is David A. R. White’s best acting work to date.  Bradley Dorsey also contributes an excellent role to the film, perhaps his best.  Unfortunately, there is still some cheesy acting from certain cast members.  Kevin Sorbo in a thrift store disaster getup and sporting a fake insert-ethnicity-here accent is just too much to bear.  Action acting is still B-grade.  Other small issues plague an otherwise great casting job, such as that dumb sheet the Shepherd wears.  Otherwise, costuming is fairly responsible.  Line delivery is sometimes effective and sometimes forced.  Emotions are mostly believable.  In short, everything about this film is give and take: for every cheesy element, there is an excellent element, and vice versa.

Conclusion

The Revelation Road saga is a cinematic freak of nature—a film franchise with a redemption arc of its own that closely mirrors the rise of Josh McManus, the surprising crowning achievement of David A. R. White’s acting career.  Nonetheless, The Black Rider is a constant tug of war between the C-grade action of The Beginning of the End and the psychological creativity of The Sea of Glass and Fire.  The third installment suffers from the wasted time of the first two installments, where this time could have been used to build a better backstory instead of shoving in all into one movie, intending to fix a broken series in one stroke.  But The Black Rider is proof that broken sagas can be fixed.  Therefore, we are surprisingly anticipating the release of Revelation Road 4.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

Meant to Be [2012] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After a negative turn of events in his life, Nathan Burr begins to search for meaning in life.  Recalling his younger years of living with foster parents, he decides he needs to search out his birth mother, who he has never met.  His search takes him to a mysterious hotel where he finds surprising wisdom from the hotel’s aging maid.  But he also finds more questions than answers.  Linda Dickson is a social worker who has guarded a terrible secret all her life.  That’s why she jumps at the chance to help a girl escape from a domestic violence situation.  Little does she know that her world is about to be changed forever.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Starting off, the limited budget of Meant to Be must be accounted for.  The sets are pretty good; the video and sound quality are great.  The camera work tends to be a little too artistic at times, but it seems to work well more than not.  The biggest error here is the confusing editing.  Some scenes seem to cut too quickly and some seem to drag on too long.  This is likely due to the low amount of plot content, but it is overall produced fairly well.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

As mentioned, the plot is very limited in scope when it could have been very broad.  There are really only two and half subplots, but it didn’t have to be that way.  Some movies have little room to work, but this one had a mansion.  Though there are few characters, they seem unfinished.  The dialogue is inconsistent.  At first, this plot doesn’t seem sustainable at all.  But more than halfway through the film—if you stick it out—Bradley Dorsey introduces a huge twist that completely changes the audience’s outlook.  This is perhaps the best twist ever in the PureFlix movie.  It makes up for a lot of the movie’s errors, but it also shows just how far the movie could have gone.  Nonetheless, the twist is genius and makes it worth watching.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, the average to poor acting quality also detracts from Meant to Be’s creative premise.  Some of the actors show great potential with better coaching.  Dean Cain seemed like an unnecessary addition to the cast.  Overall, the acting has a lot of potential that was not tapped.

Conclusion

This movie had a mountain of potential—it could have been a nearly perfect film.  It does receive an x-factor point for presenting an important social issue in a very unique and creative way.  We desperately want this movie to be remade, or least the idea to be allowed to be used in a different movie, one with more and better characters, a more complex plot, and better actors.  Bradley Dorsey show great potential as a movie maker, and we anticipate his future films.  He needs a better crew to surround him and to support him in his excellent ideas.  He has a corner on the Christian psychological thriller market if he takes the chance.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points