HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Lyfe's Journey
HTS Overall Score:65
I have a certain reticence about Dove.org faith based films. Not because I have anything against Christianity or other faith inspired films and concepts. In fact it’s quite the opposite, as being a person of faith myself I wince whenever I see another “Christian” film as they tend to be butchered badly in the doctrine or else just poorly acted. I guess you could say that it’s a case of being close to the subject matter at hand and liking it to be done RIGHT. “Lyfe’s Journey” is another in a long line of Dove.org movies release by Alchemy Entertainment, and is the second movie in as many days from the studio that has actually rather surprised me with a decently entertaining watch. Sure there are some moments of forced conflict or strained religious messages, but they are much fewer and farer in between than I expected going into the film.
David Lyfe (Keith Robinson) is a man that has it all. He has a beautiful wife, Tricia (Angell Conwell) and a beautiful little girl. However Lyfe (yes that was a pun) throws him a curve ball when his great banking job decides not only force him to fire a whole group of people he cares about, but toss him out the door after the dirty deed is done. Stuck in L.A. after firing a lot of underserving people he ends up making a stupid stupid drunk decision with a beautiful and lonely woman at the bar which will change his life forever. Going home and struggling to find work is a stressful thing, but when you have this guilt over your head it becomes 10x more stressful. Well, that is until Tricia finds out and his whole little shaky house of cards comes crashing down as far as it can possibly go.
With Tricia divorcing him, David feels like he’s at the end of his rope. However whenever we think we’ve hit rock bottom we find out that there is still a ways to go. His one chance of regaining his job comes to ruin when he finds out that the hiring manager for his old job happens to be the HUSBAND of the same person that he cheated on Tricia with all those months ago, and of course he happens to find out who David is. Defeated, broke, and living in his car, David can’t really hit any lower than he actually is. Kicked around and beaten up by a total stranger over a misunderstanding, David comes face to face with God in the form of Reverend Taylor (Richard T. Jones) who gives David a second chance at life, even if that second chance may not be exactly what he had in mind for himself.
“Lyfe’s Journey” (can definitely tell there’s a bit of allegory in that name) is a movie that actually surprised me on initial viewing. Usually these movies are just STEEPED in overly pushy religious themes that totally are underscored by poor writing and directing. I can’t say that the film is a masterpiece or a rousing success, but the spiritual message is really left out of the movie until the very last 20 minutes instead of beating it over your head the whole time. We get to see the progression that gets David to where he is later on in life through his actions. The actions of his infidelity. The actions that not only keep him from old job, but keeps him from ANY job as God guides him to the place that he needs to be to piece back the shattered slivers of his life.
Yes, there’s still plenty of clichés and stereotyes. Especially dealing with the mano e mano faceoff between Amy’s husband and David, or the interactions between Reverend Taylor and David, but they are MUCH more subdued than expected. I actually rather enjoyed the movie as we watch David Lyfe go through some truly agonizing aspects of his life. The grounding factor of the movie was how well it attached itself to the fears and nervousness of a nation that is living in a severely diminished economy. Many of us can relate to some of David’s situation simply by the fact that we share the fear and experience of having to lose a job and struggle to find a new one. God has been gracious in the fact that I have never been homeless, but I certainly understand the struggle and agony of having your source of income completely cut out from under me and wondering where my next paycheck is coming from. My wife as has felt the same with her job and I’m certain that many of you reading have the same. It’s a terrifying concept and once that lends instant sympathy to David’s plight.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=62913[/img]“Lyfe’s Journey” comes to DVD with a very VERY nice like 1.78:1 MPEG2 encoded transfer. The colors are crisp and strong, with a very natural looking color grading system, including numerous blues, reds, and golds. The detail is exceptional for a DVD transfer and being that this is a budget release I was surprised how much fine detail was present on a 120 inch screen. There is little to no macroblocking and the black levels are intact with only some mild black crush present in the darkest of scenes. You can see every bit of facial hair on David’s face as well as his immaculate suit near the beginning shot of him going about the firings of his corporate masters. There is some softness to the image, but that is pretty standard for the low budget single layer type releases like these and I saw almost no artifacting, as I said above, so this release gets a solid thumbs up.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=62921[/img]Even though it’s a TV movie release, Alchemy almost ALWAYS includes a 5.1 Dolby Digital track, so being that there is only a 2.0 Dolby track is a bit puzzling. As you can expect, these types of films are never very surround intensive, so that may have been part of the decision making process in the mix, and the track resembles that image quite accurately. The dialog is clean and strong, with good presence in the front sound stage, but there is a lack of clarity that comes from having a dedicated center channel, even in a dramatic film. There is some LFE baked into the mains, but only minimally to accentuate the score when called upon. Some directionality as at play when you can hear a car horn from the right side of the front stage and then shift across to the left in a Doppler effect, but again, this is mainly just a two channel dialog driven film, so that’s what one should expect (as well done as it is).
“Lyfe’s Journey” is no masterpiece of cinema, but it is better than quite a lot of the DTV Dove.org movies released so far. That probably is in no small part due to the acting job from veteran actors Keith Robinson and Richard T. Jones, both of which have more mainstream acting under their belts to help the film out. It’s not overly preachy and despite a small niggle dealing with the daughter’s theology about “presence”, I was actually pleased with what I saw. Audio and video were about on par with the many other Dove.org films from Alchemy Entertainment and would say that it makes a decent rental for those of you who enjoy this genre.
Starring: Keith Robinson, Angell Conwell, Richard T. Jones
Directed By: Ryan Richmond
Written By: Corey Price
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: English DD 2.0
Runtime: 82 Minutes
DVD Release Date: January 5th, 2016
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