Knocked My Socks Off!
I have seen a slew of "Christian" genre-based movies, and I confess, I have been quite critical of them. Cheesy-lines, unbelievable plot, low-quality camera-work (director issues usually). I've always thought that the actors themselves did a fine job with what they had to work. My issues have always stemmed from the screenwriting and directing faux pas'.
That said, I did not go into this with high expectations. I went in expecting the quality of prior "Christian" movies. Kind of like I do when I watch a movie based from a book. I don't expect it to be exactly like the book, so therefore, I'm not the critic who will complain that it not the book.
This blew me away!
Acting: So good you don't feel like you're watching actors, if you know what I mean. And that is good!
Script Dialogue: Lines are not cheese-filled, but true to characters and the dialog feels genuine and like the words you would hear actual people speak... not just cheesy cliche's. If there are cliche's, they are only there because they are the ones that we actually use in "real life." And let me tell you, as a continuous student of language and linguistics, people use cliche's and tired figurative language or euphemisms more often than they think they do!
Plot: It moves along at a wonderful pace and in a logical way. You do not feel as if you wish they'd "get to the point already;" or as if, they "rushed that scene" and so therefore, it doesn't work for audiences. In fact, although I am known for always looking for a slow spot to "exit to the ladies room" because of my large-diet-Dr. Pepper-movie-going-tradition, I was so engrossed in this film that I didn't even notice that I REALLY had to go until it was all over!
Camera work/directing: One of my peeves, tell-tal signs of a low-budget movie for me, is camera angle, lack of close-ups or scenes being filmed from just one angle. This movie does NOT have those. I did have trouble at first with the (only my personal opinion) too-many closeups; but I was soon (within just a couple of minutes) so engrossed in the story and the characters that I forgot about that tiny flaw. This particular issue is something that I have noticed in other blockbusters. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that as you watch it, you do not "feel" as if you are watching a "low-budget" film at all! And that, if it actually IS made with a low-budget as this was, is AMAZING! For that to happen, the directors, actors, and all involved, HAVE to be uber-talented.
Yes, this is written with a lean toward a certain audience. But, when I read reviews that say that, all I can think is, "And your point?!" You see, every book, film, or written article is written with a particular audience in mind. You learn that in third-grade language arts! So, in order to review a film objectively and without bias (which is actually humanly impossible even if you use a rubric as I did) you have to review the film itself and not the message with which you may or may not agree with.
Bottom line: It is a really good family movie, convicting at times, yet encouraging, challenging and thought-provoking.
You will laugh, cheer, cry, be angry, then laugh and cheer again.