Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Singing with Angels Review
I first saw this trailer a few months ago in front of some other faith-based movie. I can't remember which one it was, but honestly it looked terrible. Yes, there can be great movies that have bad trailers, especially if it's for a small movie like this, which is why I decided to give it a shot. Because I almost didn't. My biggest question going in was what is this movie? Is it a documentary about the Motab? Is it a docudrama? Is it a movie inspired by the true events of someone who was in the Motab? I really didn't know. The advertising didn't even really make that clear. Turns out this is purely a work of fiction and is definitely not a documentary. Is this inspired by true events? I think it might be. But the movie didn't say anything about that, so I don't know. Either way, we are telling the story of a woman who made it into the Motab and her experiences with her family during her tenure there. There's a lot of different directions that they could've taken this movie, but unfortunately the direction they took was a surprisingly boring and uninteresting one.
Was this a movie showing the behind-the-scenes of how to get into the choir? Kinda. Does this show what life is like in the choir? Kinda. But not really. It's just a story about an average family. It's like if someone who was actually in the choir starting filming their average, normal life for a few weeks and edited it into an 94 minute movie and made you watch it. Yeah this movie covers five years, but you get my point. Speaking of editing, the flow of this movie wasn't good. It felt very choppy and all over the place. Some of the shots were good, but they just weren't put together very well and they didn't feel super professional. They had a lot of shots of temple square and the tabernacle that the choir practices in, but they looked like they were shots that were taken directly from Music and the Spoken Word or General Conference, if you know what I mean. And every time we bounced back and forth through time, we had to fade into black and white. If I'm being completely honest, I was so bored for the entire movie and the fact that the production of the film looked very low quality and homemade made it even worse, especially with a lot of the editing and story-telling choices.
Sure, you could chalk a lot of these issues up to this being a very low-budget film and forgive it because of that. But I can't do that because I've seen plenty of low-budget films that are fantastic. You wouldn't know by watching them that they had little to nothing to work with. Last year we had an LDS film called Once I was a Beehive that was fan-freaking-tastic and I'm sure their budget wasn't super high. So it's no excuse. This looked like a low-budget film and the screenplay was bland and uninteresting. The acting in the movie was fine. Our biggest name in the movie was Scott Christopher, which if you are up to date on your LDS movie culture, you should know exactly who he is because he shows up in like everything. Most notably he plays the investigator Kyle Harrison in The Best Two Years. He did a good job in this movie. As did the others who are lesser-known. But they just weren't given anything to work with here. But hey, this is a Motab movie, so if the music is great then we can forgive the rest, right? Ha. Ha. Ha. Yeah, nice idea. Like I said, there's almost no Motab in this movie. And I'm not convinced that anyone in this movie actually sang. It felt like they were lip-syncing to dubbed over Motab music.
In the end, I really feel bad writing this review because I know that there was good intentions with this movie. There is a lot that you could do with a Motab movie. Make it a musical drama. Make it a concert movie. Make it an actual documentary where we interview past and current members of the choir. Make a full movie out of that five minute scene we got in the middle of this where we told the story of how the Motab saved a guy's life. Any of these would've been an excellent option. Instead we get a fictional movie about an average family with almost no conflict whatsoever until the very end and almost no Motab music. It was a very disappointing experience. I've seen a lot of great LDS films in the past. I've begged people to go see these films. But this time I am going to beg you to stay home and save your money. Don't see this in theaters. This is the type of movie where if it's on sale at a Deseret Book for a dollar or two, it might be worth picking up and playing as background noise on a Sunday evening when you have nothing else to do. But even that's a stretch as it might be more enjoyable to listen to a Motab CD or re-watch an actual Motab concert. My grade for Singing with Angels is a 5/10.