Archive for October, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Q&E Review Show

October 28, 2008
Advertisements

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (DVD)

October 24, 2008

What Is It?

This is the monster movie classic from 1941. It has a cast of big stars that your kids (and maybe you) will not recognize. The “Father of the Bride” Spencer Tracy plays the good doctor and the monster that haunts Ingrid Bergman & Lana Turner. It was directed by Victor Flemming after his 1939 hits “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With The Wind.” Shot in black and white, this film looks and sounds wonderful on the new “re-release” DVD that also includes the 1930’s version.

How Was It?

This was a good film, but I think I would have been more impressed in 1941. The story was strong and interesting. Unfortunately the pacing of the film is just a bit slow. Mr. Hyde becomes more “monstrous” as the film goes on. Each time he changes, it’s uglier. This is a poetic choice, but at the beginning, it’s hard to understand why Dr. Jekyll’s friends don’t see the amazing resemblance between him and Mr. Hyde.

Is It Good For Kids?

First of all, it is in Black and White. Most kids today have not been exposed to “good” black and white films, so most are turned off by it. Secondly, it is not as fast as most are used to. Finally, the issues are very heady. As “Mr Hyde”, he has weird fantasies that are decidedly adult in there symbolism. Then it is a monster move with murder, ugly creators, and screaming women.

http://www.ScreenIt.com does not have a break down for this film.

How about Spiritual Issues?

This is one of the most exciting parts of the film. The film starts in a church and ends with a Psalm being recited. Dr. Jekyll is trying to control the sin nature of the human soul with chemicals instead of God. (This is clearly stated at the beginning of the film.) When the Doctor realizes that he has an evil nature that he can not control, he dedicates all his time to breaking the bond in his soul to separate out his warring factions. The result is the personification of both halves. He names his evil side Hyde (or Flesh) and becomes him to indulge in sin. The sin starts at fantasies and watching “daring” shows, but then escalates to full consummation of evil.  The problem of the soul is truly revealed when the Doctor decides to stop becoming Mr. Hyde, but then finds himself changing without the chemicals. He has not suppressed his evil, he has fed it, and now it is literally a Monster he can not control.

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you are willing to come back in film history, it is an interesting and fun movie. Here we see that trying to live your life separate from God produces monsters, and the monsters may be us.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

October 23, 2008

What Is It?

Leaving Chicken Run and several TV ads (I like the one with the sheep), Nick Park returns to the characters that that won him critical acclaim and Academy Awards, namely the cheese addict inventor whose intelligence is overshadowed by his dog (not that he is a total idiot, it’s just that the dog is that smart). Their Clay-mation adventures are everything we love about cartoon humor as well as fun genre parody. They have done sci-fi, mystery, and action/adventure; now they move to the big screen with classic horror.

There is a terrible monster lurking in the town. Wallace and Gromit, now humane pest control, must protect the prize vegetables of the town from the Were-Rabbit!

How Was It?

It was not the gem that each of the shorts are. Still I find that, in retrospect, I thought there were a lot of funny and creative things. Maybe it just doesn’t slap you in the face the way we Americans are used to. I very much liked the fact that it was based on 1940’s and 50’s horror films and started with the idea that monsters are created when God and nature are rejected. Still it was never truly frightening, but more “referenced” fear if you will.

Is It Good For Children?

There is nothing explicitly frightening or inappropriate. Though the symbolism is still there, it is more parodied than veiled. We see mutilated vegetables, dripping with exposed innards and we hear about them being molested. You can check Screenit.com for a breakdown of everything on the screen.

What About Spiritual Issues?

The idea that the rejection of God could result in the genesis of monster is a fascinating one that I am always excited to see explored. The town seems to revolve around the church. The vicar is shown as focusing too much on his own vegetable garden, but then sees this “sin” as linked to the appearance of the monster. He is also the expert we go to if we need to stop a monster. He has a case filled with all kinds of “monster stoppers”. There is also a fun scene where a bunny seems to go to heaven. (Though that is not the case)

Any other issues?

OK, this may not be a big issue, but the “bad” guy is a hunter. It is repeated adnauseum that Wallis’ pest control is better because it is “humane”. No one is ever seen, nor talks about eating anything besides vegetables and cheese. It would not surprise me if Nick Park was a vegan. It’s not bad to be a vegan, but the Bible did tell us we were allowed to eat meat…

What Is Your Recommendation?

This movie is well done. It’s not a laugh riot, but it’s good. The “don’t hurt animals no matter what” thing was annoying. I still would be willing to see it again, maybe now that it has come out on DVD… and enjoy a nice burger while I wach.

Talking about Porn in the Fireproof

October 22, 2008

Expelled on DVD Today

October 21, 2008

I just wanted to let you know that:

Comes out on DVD Today!

You can read our full review here.

Let us know what you think.

Fireproof – Video Review

October 20, 2008

Check out Fireproof on DVD

Thank You

October 18, 2008

I just wanted to thank the people leaving comments – that helps a lot.

I also wanted to thank life with court for not only blogging about us but saying wonderful things.

inCHRIST

christopher

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything – A Veggietales Movie

October 13, 2008

What Is It?

It has been years since the asparagus incarnation ofJonah hit theaters, but here is the follow up film based on side characters (sort of) from the first. Pa Grape (Phil Vischer), Larry The Cucumber (Mike Nawrocki) and Mr. Lunt (Phil Vischer) play George (Pa), Elliot (Larry) and Sedgewick (Lunt), three guys who work as bus boys at a Pirate themed dinner theater. After being fired, they find a blinking electronic ball that sends them back hundreds of years to the time of Pirates. (Luckily they happen to be dressed in their pirate costumes.) Here hey have to overcome their individual issues to follow the clues and save the Prince from the King’s evil exiled brother.

How Was It?

I went with my daughter Eowyn. We were one of three families in the theater. When I giggled at a reference to the soap opera “The Days of Our Lives” I brought the grand total of laughter up to “1 giggle”. This was a lack luster comedy where everything had the feeling of “haven’t I seen this before?” If you have a background in film (by which I mean you have seen more that 15 movies in your life) you will pretty much know what is going to happen by the end of the first 20 minutes. This flat, yet contrived, plot line is then accented by jokes that feel like the script simply said “insert obvious cultural reference here.”These references then have no joke connected with them. We are just supposed to think the irony of a kids movie quoting Pacino, in
Scarface” is funny, which unfortunately, it isn’t. Even Mr. Lunt running from a mob of living cheese curls, is just not as wacky and fun as you would expect. By the time they are running from giant rock people you just do not care.

Still there were two bright spots. During a useless montage of the pirates “not doing anything” (seriously for 2 minutes 31 seconds.. nothing) they play a new Newsboys song (Yo Ho Hero) with lyrics written and sung by Christan Music Legend: Steve Taylor! The other spark of genius comes when the credits start and are interrupted by Mr Lunt saying they forgot to show a part of the movie. The following 2 minutes is the Brilliant Veggie wackiness that we have been waiting for the entire film! (Ironically, that song clip is on the
Pirates web page! under “Video” and then “A Look Inside”)

According to IMDB.com, the script was written before Johnny Deep ever dawned a Captain’s hat. This would explain why there are none of the expected references to the Caribbean. Hold on. This film was a pirate movie by people who had done great things in the past, but a contrived plot and the ruining of great characters made it painful other than 2 really cool scenes…. maybe this IS “Pirates of the Caribbean 3!”

Is It Good For Kids?

There is nothing here that is new for the Veggies. The biggest caution would be for children too young to understand repentance and personal growth. It would be necessary to point out that the character’s attitudes through the bulk of the movie was wrong, and the right way to respond was when they repented and changed their behavior.

You can see a complete break down of what is on the screen at Screenit.com

What About Spiritual Issues?

There are references to God but there is no time with QWERTY at the end to spell it out for you. It seems to be left open for Parents and Sunday School Teachers everywhere to get to say “Do you know what that means?!”

(Spoiler)

The Father/King who does return at the end had a plan the entire time and meant to help everyone by it. The symbolism is a notch less obvious than Pilgrims Progress, but almost as silly. The antagonist of the story is the King’s evil brother. I could see where some people could twist this to be an endorsement of the Mormon theology of Satan being Jesus brother, but I do not see anyone bringing that up outside of self important religiously minded movie critics trying to over analyze a film to make you dependent on their reviews and recommendations. Ya, you know the type.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I have found that Veggie Tales is very hit or miss. They are very good at taking an existing story and packing it full of irony and gags or doing a short free form bit. They have no talent in coming up with their own story
and making it work. (Case in point: Jonah – Story taken from the Bible, Pirates – They made it up.) It would be a nice thing to support this outing, unfortunately it’s so hard to support a poorly done kids comedy. I would wait for the DVD in the hopes that the special features are funnier than the movie was. In the mean time
you can down load the MP3’s of Steve Taylor and The News Boys doing “Yo Ho Hero” and the ending Veggie song. (I mean download them legally from a site where you pay per song.)

The Dark Knight – Video Review

October 12, 2008

A Look at Horror, Monster and Scary Movies

October 11, 2008

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

 

We are in an odd season. Here we are celebrating things that “go bump in the night”. TV and movies have joined the festivities. So, with little hope of finding “Harvest Party the Movie”, what is a Christian to do?  

If we look in the Bible, what do we see in regards to evil and monsters?

From Cain and Abel to the martyring of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation, we see all manner of evil acts by all manner of people. The prophet Daniel sees a vision of monsters attacking the world, John sees a great dragon chase a woman to devour her baby.  Even the living creators that encircle the throne of God have a monstrous edge to them. So if the Bible does not shy away from evil, and even monsters like demons, dragons and Satan himself, what do we do with modern depictions of them?
 

First, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”   As Christians, it is not only our duty to avoid participation in evil, but to show evil for what it truly is.

Film writer/director Scott Derrickson told World Magazine “Horror is the genre with the most sensitive moral compass. No other genre defines good and evil better. No other genre allows for spiritual and religious  ntent more than horror…The danger of the genre is that it can easily cross over into exploitation”   So what is being shown to us in the movies?

In “The Screwtape Letters” CScott Derrickson.S. Lewis said that demons (the teachers of evil ideas 1 Timothy 4:1) either want us to believe that they do not exist or be obsessed with them. We see this in film today. Most movies that include monsters and images of evil are either harmless because we do not believe in “real” evil. Movies like Scary Movie” and “Casper” just use these images as something to laugh or cue at. Or, in “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas“, darkness is just there for goth teens to say “cool” under their breath. Then there is the other side, focused too much. Movies like “Freddie vs. Jason” and “Scream” present killings and evil in a pornographic manner for us to revel in.  

So do we ever see anyone get it right?

Movies that present evil as something hideous and terrible, and at the same time, not something to revel in? J.R.R. Tolkien said that the best “fairy” stories are not primarily concerned with the fairies themselves, but he people in the stories. The magical element helps us to see a bit of the human condition. The same is true of the best monster movies. It turns out that monsters of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s  were just that. The idea of many was that turning from God and His natural order produces monsters.

Dracula  was a parody of Jesus, an anti-Jesus who was stopped by the power of Christ. It was a graphic llustration of the biblical fact that those who are living in their sins are dead, though they live. (1 Timothy 5:6) Frankenstein was trying to take the place of God and create a person in his own image. Dr. Jekyll was trying to separate himself from his evil side without God. Instead he created and fed a monster who was a personification of his “fleshly lusts” (thus the name “Hyde”). Movies made about these characters don’t allways stick to the source material, and thus the original symbolism. (While the 1940’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde expanded on the Biblical symbolism, “Mary Riley” is  Jekyll and Hyde story that tones down the human nature – sin stuff.) Some just take the monsters and use them for cheap thrills with no real meaning (“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, “Van Helsing”).  

 

You can see a biblical use of monster symbolism in the vampire flick “The Addiction.” Here being a vampire is only the full realization of your sin nature. A philosophy student (played by Lili Taylor) deals with the problem of evil in the world as she fights her longing for blood now that she is a vampire. She goes through every philosophy of dealing with her sin nature from Buddhism (with Christopher Walken) to Hedonism
(one of the grossest scenes in the film). Finally (Spoiler) with quotes from “R.C. Sprol” she takes communion and Jesus Christ is the answer to vampirism and our sin nature.  

 

In “Deceived” a group of scientists, clergy, and military men are trying to contact aliens. Here they are trying to use these communications from the aliens as a source of salvation outside of God (though the more they interact with the alien’s messages, the more they are driven to horrible and sinful acts from greed/lust to
murder).  (Spoiler) The source of the transmissions is demons and Biblical salvation is the only way to protect yourself from its influence.  

 

In M. Night Shyamalan‘s “The Village” the people are surrounded by woods where horrible creatures live, but  he movie is really an experiment in human nature. It explores the question: “Is society the cause of evil, or is man inherently sinful?”.

 

In his earlier film, “Signs“, the monsters are aliens in the sky. As Mel Gibson and the rest of the cast worry and wonder about the creatures’ existence, M. Night’s movie asks the question: “If there is something evil coming to you, is God there to take care of you?”.  

 

Aforementioned filmmaker Scott Derrickson invites the audience to consider if it’s possible that a spiritual world could exist in the courtroom drama/demonic thriller “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.  

 

Then, on the other end of the scale, there is the Frank Perettie adaptation of “The Hang Man’s Curse“. A highly trained Christian family takes on a school that is plagued by cult activities and its curse. The feel is on a par with “Buffy/Angel” style production and speaks to the issues of suicide and the sanctity of life.

Also from Perettie, The Visitation is a “direct to video” horror… e r… creepy film. A Midwest town is put on the map when miraculous signs start invading their benign existence. From supernatural healings to the likeness of Jesus’ face in the stained tile of the bathroom wall, everyone is touched by the accompanying message : “He Is Coming.” Revival meetings start. One pastor (Randy Travis) believes this may be demonic. One former pastor (Martin Donovan) believes this may be linked to the ritualistic murder of his wife. One mom  (Kelly Lynch) is fearful her son (Noah Segan) is in danger and the son, along with most the town, believes that a messiah has come for them… and maybe he has.

 

You could go back a couple more years to “Bless the Child.” Here a little girl is anointed by God to lead many to Him. Thus a demonically powered cult (with a “new age” cover) tries to destroy the girl. It’s a b movie with
it’s heart in the right place. The problem with this one is that it is not clear if the girl is a “type” of Christ Biblically pointing to Him with similarities) or a “new Christ” (blasphemously replacing Him).

 

Finaly, we have “Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Here we get a ghost story with pirates, and Johny Depp… how cool is that. Once again, going against God creates monsters. There are plenty of refernces to Biblical Christianity to say we are going with that world view. The Pirates have stolen gold from heathen gods, and now, they have wealth and power, but no pleasure. The greed for wealth has poisoned everything else, creating creatures that are not dead, but they are not really living. There is also
a great conversation that goes in very well with Matthew 6:21.

What is Your Recommendation?

Maybe this October 31, you will want to have a little “truth about evil” film festival while you and your friends enjoy popcorn and snacks, as you hand out full-sized candy bars (with invitations to your church youth group and “Do You Want To Know God Personally” books strapped to them) to any spooks that happen to interrupt, as they pass by. Who knows, a “Hey, whatcha watchin’?” may turn into one of the most important conversations of their life.