Producer(s): Jason Campbell, Tara Lynn Marcelle, April Kennedy
Starring: Chris Minor, Jenni Kennedy, Darwin Shaw, William McNamara, Kera O’Bryon, Matthew Lloyd, Micah Lynn, Troy Means, Mai Arwas, Bryan Michael Nunez, Timothy Goodwin, Gabrielle Diaz, Joe Estevez
Plot Synopsis: After a tragic accident, Jordan Travis is forced to quit his band at the start of their success. Empty and broken, he finds a job in the wine vineyards of Northern California. What follows, is a series of people and events that lead him back to his first love, and ultimate destiny, which can only be found in a ‘Divine Appointment’.
Anne Wells hates that her family has been forced to move to a podunk Texas town. Her father is a pastor who demands perfection from his family, and she hates him for it. Anne always does her best to get into trouble and to do whatever she wants because she wants to know if God really cares about her and what the actual purpose of life is. She escapes into her music, and her father escapes into his work as he runs from the ghosts of his past. When their family is faced with several life-changing decisions, which way will they go?
Production Quality (2.5 points)
It’s clear that this film has a professional production that was given a lot of care and effort, which is evidenced by good video and audio qualities, as well as skilled camera work. Sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-utilized, even if there are a few unnecessarily dark scenes. Further, the soundtrack is highly effective and engaging. The only drawback to point out here is some choppy editing, but this is also due to the large amount of story content. As a whole, this is a very respectable production.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
As Beyond the Farthest Star is based on good source material, it demonstrates a very profound understanding of the real problems facing real people, especially the struggles of people whose personalities are not appreciated by the church. This plot has an exquisite use of flashbacks to develop character motive and backstory, and the content of the flashbacks is extremely believable. Through the flashbacks and dialogue, there are excellent efforts to develop the characters and to develop the interactions between teenagers and adults. However, this plot is almost schizophrenic with its presentation because one minute, the dialogue is great, only to have it undermined with an out-of-left-field scene that makes no sense. There is a strange lack of understanding of certain aspects of reality, such as the acquiring of confidential documents. There is also a highly unnecessary religious freedom\persecution subplot to contend with that wastes tons of time and puts a damper on everything. Further, there is narration present throughout the story in the form of journaling, and sometimes it is tolerable because of its philosophical nature, but other times, it gets in the way and takes up valuable time. Thus, even though there is a large amount of content in this complex storyline, not every scene is used very well as some are unnecessary and contain some edgy content. Even still, there is tons of potential in this plot and in the people who wrote it because it’s not afraid to expose hidden ministry problems and to use unashamed small town satire. The message therein is excellent and very worthwhile, but there are too many dramatic scenes with no break, and the cheesy ending tends to fix everything, even if the climax scene is effective. Basically, Beyond the Farthest Star is a giant mixed bag of potential, some of which panned out, so it’s likely worth your time.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
For the most part, the acting of this film is sharp and adept as each cast member appears to comfortably assume their respective character roles. Emotions are believable, and line delivery is on point. There are only a few minor issues throughout that pertain to some overdone drama and seriousness, but this section rounds out a very respectable film.
Movies like Beyond the Farthest Star are both engaging and difficult to watch because it’s clear that there is a massive amount of potential with this type of idea. A movie about rebels from Christian families combined with hidden ministry problems is exactly what we need now, but there is too much confusion in this film that holds it back from reaching its highest possibilities. Even so, this movie is worth a watch this holiday season, and it bodes well for any future projects from this creative team.
Since Pastor Randy Michaels’ inner-city church is being shuttered by the ministry organization that runs it, he and his family are being reassigned to a small town across the country in Arizona. Though reluctant to go at first, the Michaels family arrives to meet strange and eccentric characters that pique their interest in the town. They soon find that they have a greater purpose for being there than they ever thought.
Production Quality (2 points)
As one of those secular-company-tries-to-make-a-Christian-movie-to-make-some-money gigs, Fishes ‘n Loaves: Heaven Sent, one of the most awkwardly-titled films ever, has a fine production. Though there is some random shaky camera work throughout, other elements are fine, including video quality and audio quality, even though the soundtrack is silly. Though some sets and locations are slightly limited, they are not all bad, and props are realistic. The editing is a pretty standard job, but then again, most of this film was taken from the inspirational film factory. Thus, there is nothing creative to speak of here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
This oddly-titled film rips off the old standby plot in which an offbeat pastor and his family gets reassigned to a struggling church in an eccentric small town in the middle of nowhere that’s filled with off-the-wall, goofy characters that are trying way too hard to be comedic. I’m just surprised there’s no save-the-church elements here. Basically, this so-called comedy is extremely forced and plastic, mostly due to very juvenile dialogue. There is really no conflict to speak of as the story meanders along in pointless and purposeless ways. Random things happen to check plot boxes and then the movie is mercifully over, leaving no impression whatsoever on the viewer. The Christian message that is forced in is very cheesy and unfeeling, which is no surprise considering this is a secular cash-grab. The only thing left to ponder is why this is even a movie at all.
Acting Quality (1 point)
Though there are some okay moments throughout that keep this section from being worthless, most of the time, this cast seems to be competing for who can have the most screen time. They are all very impressed with themselves, especially the lead actor, and appear to be auditioning for better roles in other films. A lot of them have questionable and weird accents and many of them look like they just got rejected from a Hallmark casting call. Again I ask, why is this a movie?
Whoever pitched this idea was probably rejected by Hallmark and possibly UP for total ineptitude, even by Hallmark standards. The rating does not reflect how empty this film really is. Were it not for the strangely high amount of funding, this film would be a total wash. Even so, it still takes its place in the basement of Christian film, so why bother with more money? Many audiences will see through this blatant and very poorly executed pandering to Christians.