30 September 2015 | ETO_Buff
Big Story on a Small Budget
I first want to dispel a prevalent myth about this film, and all other publicly released films that portray members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members (except "Meet the Mormons"): This film was produced by a privately-owned production company that is owned by a member of the Church. It was not produced or endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If it was, it would have had a MUCH bigger budget!
That being said, there are only two types of reviews on this film - very positive or very negative. Two or three people took the middle ground, but that's it. I enjoyed this film quite a bit, and found it to be very well-made with the limited resources the production company could afford, and I was impressed that a Mormon-cinema film actually went as far away as Kyiv, Ukraine to photograph the outdoor shots.
People who watched the film without any prejudice (Mormons and non- Mormons alike) saw a film about hope and forgiveness, and were inspired by it.
Those that hate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hate the film (shocking!) and saw it just so they could criticize any little pointless detail that they could find. In spite of the variety of their criticism, all of the negative reviewers have one thing in common as far as I can tell - they have never produced a film. They are also the ones that will find this review as not useful.
Some reviewers of this film called the plot predictable. Well, considering it's a true story and it was all over international news, it does't take a lot of effort to predict what was going to happen, does it? Maybe the filmmakers could have altered history, and changed the way things really turned out like in "Inglorious Basterds".
Other reviewers made the point that the story could have been told in ten minutes. Sometimes a filmmaker likes to give an audience a sense of how time drags in certain desperate situations, like in "Das Boot".
Some complaints are that the film is "preachy" or "too religious". Newsflash: It's about two men serving as missionaries for a church, and it's therefore their job to preach! Missionaries do that. On another Web site, some unnamed idiot from IMDb even criticized the Mormon filmmakers for making a film about Mormons, for Mormons, with Mormons in the cast, produced in a city with a 40% Mormon population. Maybe this person would have preferred that a Mormon make a film about Catholics, or Jews, or some other group that he doesn't know anything about.
A lot has been said about the actors being a decade or so older than the characters they portray. Personally, I'm getting tired of seeing Corbin Allred in every Mormon-cinema film that's released, but the fact is no production company outside of Utah is going to produce a film that gives a fair and accurate portrayal of Latter-day Saints, or the Church to which they belong. This film was produced by a company that's based in the Salt Lake City area, which believe it or not, is not a hotbed of acting talent, nor an entertainment Mecca. The guys that are cast in the film did an excellent job, and that's probably why they passed the audition. Get over it.
And finally, many bring up the fact that the film appears as if it was filmed on a low budget. Surprise! It was! In fact, one genius who's not in the United States decided that the apartment hallway looked like it was in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Actually, that scene, like all of the indoor scenes, was filmed in Draper, Utah.
The bottom line is, everyone that's curious about the film should see it. Those who are looking to find issues with it, will find issues, as with anything. Those who are looking for a story that is 95% accurate (according to the people that it's about) and a good example of an independent film, will be glad they saw it.