Written by Hombre Divertido
This faith-based film was distributed to churches for preview purposes prior to its release to the public on November 2nd by 20th Century Fox. This also allowed for many people to pray for its success, as it is bound to struggle without divine intervention. Like a preacher who is trying too hard and eventually loses his audience due to overselling the message, I Am is over written, over produced, and far too often over acted.
This story of the impact of not abiding by the Ten Commandments, and the implications there of, is extremely loosely played out in modern-day Southern California in a film that tries far too hard to look like C.S.I. (Christian Scene Investigations).
It is clear that writer, director, and actor John Ward had the best intentions, and certainly the technical ability, but just because you can does not mean you should. The philosophy of keeping it simple seems to evade Mr. Ward here as “I Am” attempts to weave multiple stories together, and fails on too many fronts. Said stories, which include a terminally ill billionaire (Christinna Chauncey) who wants to be cryogenically frozen, an up-and-coming lawyer/politician (John Ward) who is dating a woman (Amy Holland) with an illegitimate child, an aging rock star (former Major League Baseball star and one of the producers of the film Todd Zeile) who is tormented by the death of his son, and several others that are not as clearly defined, fail to come together in any logical fashion and leave the audience trying to understand how they are tied to the commandment that is displayed on the screen as the story progresses. The ending reveal of the mysterious character is far too obvious in comparison to the web of stories woven throughout.
Getting any film made these days is an accomplishment, and having it be faith based is even more challenging, and thus Ward and his team are to be commended. They would most likely agree that if the film reaches one person, they have made a difference. Hopefully, Ward and his team will continue in their efforts, and perhaps next time focus on the simple aspects of storytelling and attention to detail (the city is Marina Del Rey not Ray), and less on what our current television-watching society thinks is entertaining.
The DVD includes an opening introduction by Ward and Zeile in which they express a hope that the film will prompt conversation. The film is sure to leave the audience talking, but it may not be the specific topics that the filmmakers had hoped for.
Recommendation: I Am looks flashy and has a good soundtrack and thus may feed an audience starving for such fare. It also may frustrate most audience members, but said frustration may lead them to ask important questions. Ultimately, the film lacks continuity and is full of one-dimensional overdone performances. Sadly, in the case of I Am, you shouldn’t.