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Laramie Movie Scope:

Christian sci-fi DVD has some impressive bells and whistles

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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July 30, 2002 -- "Deceived" belongs to that sub-genre of science fiction-like Christian films that is almost a genre of its own these days. While the production is a little rough and around the edges, the DVD has a nice package of extra features, much better than the usual direct-to-video fare.

The story takes place at a remote observatory, where a search for extra-terrestrial intelligence is under way. A signal comes in. That sets in motion a deadly chain of events. Two groups converge on the isolated observatory, determined to use the alien signal for their own purposes. One is headed by media mogul Emmett Shaw (played by Stewart Bick), assisted by tech geek Jack Jones (Judd Nelson of "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back") and project director Smitty Turner (Michelle Nolden) who Jones happens to be carrying a torch for. Jones wants to put the signal on the Internet for the whole world to share. The other group is led by Col. David Garrett (academy award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. of "Resurrection Blvd." TV series). The military wants the signal kept secret because it has the power to increase certain telekinetic abilities, and could be used as a weapon. One of his soldiers, Lieutenant Vasquez (Ramona Milano) has her deadly telekinetic powers enhanced by exposure to a similar alien signal.

Also along for the ride are TV reporter Kara Walsh (Deborah Odell) who sees the signal as the scoop of the century, and the portly Reverend Jeremiah Fletcher (Jefferson Mappin) who thinks the signal is the voice of God. After some investigation, it is determined that the source of the signal is in doubt, and some people exposed to the signal become more violent, or succumb to other base instincts. It is beginning to look like exposing the whole world to this signal isn't a very bright idea.

The script is uneven. At times, it is very good, at other times it is clumsy. The basic story is pretty strong, but the dialogue seems stiff and awkward. The acting is generally good, anchored by Gossett and Nelson. Director Andre Van Heerden ("Vanished") does a good job with the film, keeping the story moving. The scenes that were cut should have been cut. That is one thing about direct-to-video movies, you don't have to cut them short just so they can be shown one more time each day in theaters.

While the quality of the film is not up to the standards of a big budget Hollywood release of comparable subject matter, like "Bless the Child" or "End of Days," for instance, it is not bad for what was probably a fairly low-budget movie. It compares favorably to better-known Christian films like "The Omega Code." This is a genre of films that Hollywood has little interest in making. It is hard to find a Hollywood film about religion where the battle between good and evil is won by good, let alone find one where Christianity is portrayed in a positive light. There is a market for these kinds of films. The film was shot in Canada and features several Canadian-born actors. The story does not rely heavily on special effects. Rather it is more character-driven and story-driven. Unlike many films of this genre, it is not an apocalyptic story, but it has some apocalyptic overtones. Films of this quality should advance the genre of Christian films with science fiction-like overtones. The movie rates a C.

The DVD has some nice features. One I liked was a default setting of subtitled director's commentary on the deleted scenes. That way, you can see what the director is saying while you hear the sound that goes with the scene. You can also turn off the subtitles and substitute the director's commentary soundtrack, or turn that off as well. There are a whole bundle of extras, including bloopers and outtakes, featurettes on the making of the film, including "Did You Know?" "What Were the Writers Thinking?" and "Sets and Locations." There are also extensive cast and crew biographies, and a variety of trailers for this and other films produced or acquired by Cloud 10 Pictures, a Christian film production company. In addition to the usual English 5.1 surround sound there is English Stereo and Spanish Stereo soundtracks. The DVD rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2002 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)