The List Reviews
Two of my buddies watched this film together, and after living through this terrible experience, we felt we needed to share this experience with anybody we could talk into watching this pile of crap. So yeah, we'd talk the movie up to people to get them to watch it. We'd always say that the ending is the best part, with a nice twist at the very end. That ensures that they watch til the end. I've probably got about ten or so people to watch this film based on my recommendation... and that's about ten or so people that seriously got BURNED!
Let me rip that apart real quick. First off, the greedy men weren't really enemies of god, they were just greedy men. How wanting money and power aromatically make you enemies of god, who knows. Second, "let's keep praying". Dude was praying for money. He was praying for an inheritance from his dad who he hated. So yeah, he just wanted money that wasn't his. Again, greedy. In the end after much much boring dialog where the man guy jumps into a redneck country accent only when he talks to the girl (who is probably his sister) who he falls in love with he decides not to use his magic powers to kill his sister and instead becomes good (but only because he is in jail and wants to get out). So.. yea.. I would NOT say 1) that dude was good guy. 2) This movie was a good movie.
I notice that common criticisms seem to be of the directing and editing and I have to agree. Some of the shots--including one of Renny looking at a closet, as menacing music plays, are so manipulative it's like watching a children's show. There are also a couple of scenes that literally just ended--including one of the villain Desmon in which he a) seemed to be doing something important, that should lead to more and b) seemed to be cut off in mid-sentence. At least I had read the book, so I knew what should have happened, but it was really odd...
The other problem that people seem to have with the film is that it is religious. Apparently people can't figure that out from reading a plot description and maybe I wouldn't have either if I hadn't read the book and didn't already know what it was about. Since I had read the book, though, what most stood out to me was how many religious references are LEFT OUT of the film. Jo's Christianity is all but left out (thanking God for barbeque doesn't really count), Renny's and Mama A's receive even less mention (but I like the way Renny's was portrayed, the direction of that scene being the polar opposite of Renny and the closet); I seem to recall even villainous Desmond being a church-goer in the book; and as much that they did show of Daisy Stokes, there was a lot left out.. Since Robert Whitlow is probably one of the most outspoken Christian authors I read, I was actually DISAPPOINTED to see so much of that actually stripped from "The List," especially since I believe he was involved in the screenplay. Maybe they thought it would reach more of a mass audience, I'm not sure, but it's amusing to read the mass audience complain about what is probably about 1/5 of the religious content that was in the book..
Odd directing and pared-down religious references aside, I did manage to enjoy "The List." The actors (90% I had never heard of) were good and not too terribly different from how I pictured them in the book (I think the movie character of Bart was a lot better looking than the book character was described, but most of the others, Mama A especially, were pretty spot-on, actually) and the story was movie and really did work a lot more for a movie than I expected. It was nice to see Robert Whitlow's words "come to life" and I am hoping he decides to continue with that, because he has a couple of books ("Jimmy," and "The Trial," which I think actually may be in the works) that would really adapt well as movies, so I hope to get the chance to see them.
The beginning scenes setting up the origin of The List are hard to read and shot at several awkward angles to give it a 'something's up' feel.
The scene where Renny is discovering his dad's study wins the Paper Plate award for Pointless Use of a Suspenseful Orchestra Hit, as the moaning and whispering suspense builds to a climax of.... nothing. He turns on a light and there's nothing there. It is quickly moved on from, as most things are.
There are so many more things that are so out of place. (Did I just see a tightened shirt wearing Renny run slow motion through a hospital hallway, knocking stuff out of doctors hands?)
As for the faith aspect, I think they could have done better. There are PLENTY of really good true stories involving spiritual matters. The sinister nature of The List could have been beefed up more, but I wonder if it would have made it less believable to the unfamiliar audience. Then again, it might have been the suspense that could have saved the movie. The romance sure didn't save it...