When Matthew Stevenson vandalizes a church out of anger over his parents’ pending divorce, some are ready to press charges against him. But when the woodcarver, Ernest Otto, whose work he damaged learns about the boy, he decides to take a different route. Otto invites Matthew to come help him in his wood working business as payment for what he did. Though reluctant at first, Matthew is glad to finally have someone to talk over about his family’s struggles. As their relationship grows, things begin to change for Matthew. He must learn that Christianity is more than just words, and that those who claim the name of Christ must ask themselves ‘What would Jesus do?’
Production Quality (2 points)
What a difference a third movie makes (sometimes). Gone are shaky camera work, dark scenes, and inconsistent audio quality. Instead, The Woodcarver offers a more palatable production experience, one we wish every independent Christian film would at least try to offer. The sets and locations are down to earth and realistic, albeit slightly limited. The surroundings are mostly realistic. The soundtrack isn’t much to get excited about, but this is a minor issue. There are a handful of minor errors that keep this production from being all that it could be, but above average production is a huge accomplishment for this odd film franchise. We always wish it were better, but sometimes we can’t ask for much more than this.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)
In a complete detour from the previous installments in this trilogy, The Woodcarver introduces a completely new cast of characters and finally dispenses with ‘the drifter’. The same underlying concept of ‘What would Jesus do?’ is still present, yet it is ten times more meaningful than before. Rather than multiple meandering and meaningless subplots, this film focuses on one meaningful subplot about a struggling family, something many viewers can relate with. The characters are more relatable than the other characters in this trilogy, even though the plot is little bit simplistic. It’s a shame that the characters are not deeper than they are since there are few of them, but effort was certainly put into this plot. The dialogue is pretty average, but in the Christian movie world, when there’s no glaring errors, that’s great. Overall, we would have liked to see a deeper, more meaningful plot, but sometimes sticking with the safe route of avoiding huge mistakes in the way to go.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Trading John Schneider for John Ratzenberger paid off. Though it’s small, this cast really isn’t half bad. Sometimes emotional delivery is a little off, but it is better more than not. Line delivery is solid throughout. There is an obvious presence of acting coaching here, which is a huge change from the rest of the trilogy. Overall, this is a much better job.
As we mentioned before, wouldn’t it have been much better to save the resources spent on the first two films and put them toward this one film to make it the best it could be? Couldn’t have one of two of the better subplots from the previous two films joined this film’s plot to create a potential Hall of Fame work? Which is better, two terrible movies and one average one or one great movie? We maintain that quality is always better than quantity. Sure, we need lots of Christian movies on the market, but just think of a world where movies like The Woodcarver were the norm, not movies like the first two WWJD debacles. That would be truly something to behold.
Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points