Believe Me Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Zachary Knighton, Miles Fisher, Alex Russell, Sinqua Walls
  • Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Virgil Films
  • Release Date: March 3, 2015
  • Run Time: 93 minutes


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            There is a solid foundation of successful faith-based films within the Christian community, but these safely constructed movies made by Christians for Christians tend to inspire little thought. Not only are they shoddily made and too often starring Kirk Cameron, they shy away from any real discussion in favor of ‘safe’ entertainment that won’t offend. At the same time there is usually a spiritual message or theme that the audience is pounded with, using all of the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Then there are the Hollywood imitations, which try to imitate this success for a sincere cash grab. Oddly enough, there are very few independent Christian filmmakers trying to insert their beliefs into more subversive content, though I would consider Believe Me a sincere effort to do just that.

     

            Filmmaker Will Bakke has previously tackled documentary filmmaking, mostly using his college buddies as subject matters in discussing the relevance of religion in their lives. This is his first attempt at narrative filmmaking, and it is grounded in a fairly clever plot. When college senior Sam (Alex Russell) suddenly discovers that he is short the money needed to pay tuition through graduation, he comes up with a brilliant scheme to grift his way into financial stability. Sam convinces his three roommates and drinking buddies (Sinqua Walls, Miles Fisher, and Max Adler) to join him in a plot to scam the gullible and generous church-going crowd with a fake ministry in Africa. 

     

            This fake charity is convincing enough to attract the attention of a large traveling cross-country ministry, led by a man named Ken (Christopher McDonald), with a daughter attractive enough to make Sam question what he is doing (played by Johanna Braddy). The film also co-stars an array of talent, including Zachary Knighton as the vain worship leader with rock star ideals, Christian rapper Lecrae as Dr. Darnall Malmquist, and Nick Offerman in an all-too-brief appearance. Coincidentally, the direction for these actors is one of the film’s weakest points. While Bakke’s ideology has transferred well from documentary to narrative fiction, his abilities as a director are still somewhat amateurish. The film has moments of brilliance which are lost within a sloppy screenplay and leading actors whose comedic reach often exceeds their grasp. Regardless, Believe Me is light-years ahead of the content coming from Sherwood Pictures or Kirk Cameron.

     

            The Blu-ray release probably does more to highlight the shortcomings in the technical aspects of the filmmaking, from off-focus shots to sub-par sound. The film itself is uneven, with some scenes looking far better than others. The special features on this high definition disc include a handful of extra footage, from deleted scenes to cast outtakes. There is also a trailer gallery.

           

     

    Entertainment Value: /10

    Quality of Filmmaking: /10

    Historical Significance:  /10

    Special Features: /10

     

     

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