Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Ultimate Life (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about faith based film "The Ultimate Life" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



 Because the world has been clamoring for the Hallmark TV movie version of “There Will Be Blood”
“The Ultimate Life” is a story of wealth and priorities as seen through the journal of Red Stevens, a successful Texas oil tycoon whose grandson is trying to figure out the best way to run his late grandfather’s foundation and It’s obvious right from the beginning this is a movie with a message. A message about money, family, ambition, and how to squeeze in every possible faith based movie cliche moment into one two hour span. OK, that’s a little harsh, especially when the movie is presenting such a powerful look at where greed will inevitably lead. So lets focus on the good part first.
The Ultimate Life really does have a lot of great things to say. The best thing about it is that its willing to show plainly the pain that a misplaced love and passion for the pursuit of money can cause. For example, there is a beautiful scene where Red’s grown kids are presented with a large sum of money and their response is heartbreaking as this father deals with what his actions have taught his kids about wealth and value. It’s a lesson well worth hearing in a culture that still seems to value the dollar more than the person holding it. It’s an excellent message to share, I just wish it had been shared with excellence.
But unfortunately, “The Ultimate Life” suffers from the same lack of quality that most moralizing movies seem to. The acting is at best mediocre and the story is so full of cliches that you wonder if they actually used a checklist to make sure they got them all in. Flashbacks? check. relationships in jeopardy? check. Crisis of faith? check. Abandonment of Family? check. Eventual resolution with sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns? Check, check, and can we count really pretty horses as unicorns? Ok then, CHECK! My point is, once again, that as valuable as the story is if you don’t tell it well you’ve lost me. And “The Ultimate Life” just doesn’t hold it’s own against the films that surround it on the marquee. And just as an aside, I often hear these movies defended as doing their best on a low budget, but you only have to look as far as a movie like “Fruitvale Station” to see that you can make a powerful quality film with an important message and story and not need to break the bank to do it.
Overall, The Ultimate Life has a message well worth hearing I just don’t think its worth hearing in this form. I give it a C-
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