Angel studios is one of the most ambitious movie studios out there. This past summer they gave us the mega indie hit Sound off Freedom, which I still haven’t seen yet. The most impressive thing about their new Christian multiverse movie, The Shift, is not the actual film itself but the tag at the end of the movie where the star Kristoffer Polaha (Wonder Woman 1984, Jurassic World Dominion) comes on screen encouraging others to buy tickets to their movie for other people, by scanning the QR Code on the big screen. This is a cast and crew that really believes in their film to be a source of inspiration for other people. Is the QR code worth scanning to give tickets for other people? Is it worth going to see yourself?
The Shift is a sci-fi retelling of the biblical story of Job. Kristofer plays Kevin, a man who ends up meeting a man called the Benefactor, played brilliantly by Catholic actor Neal McDonough (Captain America: The First Avenger, Arrow) who is the Devil fleshed out. Neal is easily the best part of this movie with his charismatic villainous persona. The Devil (Benefactor) wants to recruit Kevin so he can use him as a Shifter. Shiters have devices that enable them to travel to parallel worlds. What they specifically do on all these worlds seemed a little unclear to me. They seem to exist so the movie can happen. All the other Kevins on all the other worlds have said yes to The Benefactors (Devil’s) offer of fame and fortune. Accept this one.
Ol Scratch the multiverse hopper takes good Kevin to a dystopian world to discuss the offer of a lifetime to him, where all the townsfolk are terrified of him. He even shifts some poor waitress named Tina, played by Rose Reid (Surprised by Oxford) off to a psych ward dimension.
She ends up playing a import role later on, giving good Kevin a choice that will alter his future forever. After expelling the Benefactor through a prayer to God the father, Kevin ends up being stuck on that world trying to find one of those devices worn by a shifter so that he can return home to the love of his life, Molly, played by Elizabeth Tabish (Angel Studio’s The Chosen).He ends up befriending a guy named Gabriel on the Dystopian world played by Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things) whom he gives scripture to. Gabriel is more then he seems to be at first and plays a key role in the film.
Some of the highlights involve a machine that allows Kevin to see into other realities of where his doppelgangers are, a couple who ask Kevin to teach their two young girls about the bible, a bunch of Gabriels at the same time, Kevin squaring off against a bad Kevin, a interesting scenario where the dystopian police corner Kevin in a room that ends up being in another location when he goes into it, and the one with the police when he exists it. I’m not sure I explained that correctly. The best theological aspects of the film are the little girls singing ‘This Little Light of Mine” and the Benefactor asking the question “If God loves you, why does he allow me to do this to you?” It was also good to see Kevin actually praying to God, but it also seemed to spring up out of the character with only some hints he was a believer. There was a prayer uttered by some hindus in the Marvels in which Nick Furry said “We need all the prayers we can get. Amen Amen.
I don’t object in the least to Christian faith being displayed loud and proud cinematically. Some of Angel Studios upcoming films, Cabrini and Bonhoeffer look amazing.
And The Chosen is A class entertainment. But the not over the top but obvious Christianity in the film doesn’t mesh with the Sci-Fi multiverse storyline. The Benefactor is supposed to be the Devil. So why does the Devil need man-made devices to bring him to different worlds? It reminds me of the Star Trek 5 where Kirk and the crew supposedly meet God and God wants a starship which prompts Kirk to ask “What does God need with a starship?”.
Kevin is on a mission to get back to his wife Molly. But he is also on a mission to spread the gospel on this God forsaken world. Both missions don’t flow together well storywise. There is another plot point that is brought up and sort of glanced upon so it can make a point later at the end of the film. It is a plot point that should have more of a spotlight on it. It should have actually been one of the main focuses of the film, but alas it cast aside for the other two missions that I mentioned and there is a unsatisfying resolution, actually no real solution to that particular plot point they bring up that doesn’t really impact the movie in the way they are indicating that it does. I think the whole movie could have been better had it left out the unmentioned plot point. I think the film would have been better had the Christian points been made even more allegorical then they were. The Benefactor should have been made more like Kang in the Marvel multiverse. Powerful, cunning and evil without being a supernatural being who needed human technology to do his evil mischief.
I actually liked the sci-fi multiverse that was set up. I liked the overall characters and the love life between Molly and Kevin and The Benefactor as the main villain. I disliked the supernatural biblical motifs cause they didn’t flow with the world that had been created for the film. To be honest I didn’t like some of the weirdness of the academy award winning multiverse movie Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, but liked the sci-fi, action oriented aspects of the film. If I want a faith fueled drama there is The Sound of Music or A Man For All Seasons. If I want a multiverse story there are the first few seasons of Sliders or Into the Spider-Verse. I suppose you could have a good Christian multiverse movie. Instead The Shift gives you an OK one.
Should you see it yourself? I wouldn’t say go out and see it nor would I say avoid it either.
Should you buy a ticket for someone else? I would buy them a ticket for Cabrini instead and maybe the upcoming Wonka.
Because it was $5 movie night I stayed and watched The Marvels, which I thoroughly enjoyed and didn’t understand all the hate directed towards it. I liked it better than The Shift. The Marvels had some of the best choreographed fight scenes with the 3 main leads switching places with one another everytime they used their powers. It had a world where the language was only in song. The inhabits of the planet couldn’t understand you if you didn’t sing. Accept one guy who was bilingual. It had some touching moments between Captain Marvel and Captain Rambeau who hadn’t seen each other for some time. It had alien cats that ate people to save them from a disaster. It also had some great post credits scene, one that took place in another world that opens up the MCU to a wider expanded universe. Also Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan is such a fun actress to spend time with in a movie. A fun time at the movies in my opinion.