Archive for March, 2009

Dracula

March 31, 2009

What Is It?

This is the classic vampire story that started it all. There would be no Edward Cullen with out Bram Stoker. (Of  course there would be much less of Edward Cullen if it was not for Edward Ferrars in Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility, but that’s for a different post.) In Dracula, a young man from England in 1897 travels to Transylvania to help a native Count purchase homes in England. Soon it is discovered that the Count is a monster bent on conquering England.

How Was It?

There is a reason that this book is still around after all these years. It is written as if it’s a collection of diaries, news articles, letters and other papers. Throughout them, the story unravels and reveals mysteries and some very interesting characters. Not only Dracula himself, but people like Renfield, the psychologically disturbed mental patient who eats live creatures in an attempt to consume lives.

Then there is Van-Helsing, the professor whose knowledge of the occult is powered by his infectious trust in God. The story of the vampire is very well developed, yet still has a shadowiness to his character.

Is It Good For Kids?

Younger children will find this hard to read. If they can get through it, the horror elements as well as the sexual symbolism won’t sit well with less mature kids. It will either be disturbing or confusing.

What About Spiritual Issues?

This is just an incredible part of this book. Dracula is eventually presented as a false Christ. His heart is evil; he takes the blood of others in a twisting of communion. He even has a disciple whose desire for a faith is fully selfish. The symbolism is in no way veiled. Renfield, the asylum doctor, and especially Van-Helsing link all the activities to the Bible. The truth of God is the measure used to evaluate the spiritual actions distorted by the count.

Van-Helsing continually refers to the grace of Christ and contrasts Dracula’s evil with God’s power. He knows that God’s goodness is the only cure for evil and is the reason that they can take up arms against this “devil”.

There is also a fair amount of symbolism within his evil. There is nothing immoral to read, but the taking of blood and devouring of lives is often connected to sexual sin. Not only in the act of taking blood, but in the consequences as well. Men are destroyed and women are linked to the one who has taken advantage of them. This is a beautifully written moral tale in which God is the answer and the turning from God is what creates monsters.

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you can stomach some dark situations, you should read this book. It’s a classic work that most everyone has had some connection with, but few know what a great story (with such wonderful ideas) awaits them in this tome. The true gothic tail is something much greater than all the flimsy retellings it has inspired.

It may also give you an opportunity to discuss with others the issues that Mr. Stoker deals with, starting with the nature of evil and leading all the way to the person of Christ.

What Parts Were Ripped Off By Lesser Authors?

 don’t know if “ripped off” can be proven, but there is a character who receives a scar on their forehead from the story’s ultimate evil character. When Dracula is near, the scar begins to hurt

hmmm … I wonder…. Oh well….

Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Twilight Q&E Review Show

March 30, 2009

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The Watchmen Q&E Review Show

March 13, 2009

Transformers

March 7, 2009

transformers_movie_poster_optimus_prime

What Is It?

Transformers, of course, is a movie based on the Hasbro toys (and subsequent Comic Book, Cartoon Show, and animated movie) from the 80’s. They are simply the coolest toys for boys, ever. Now that all the little boys who saw these “robots in disguise” as the testosterone filled ‘Holy Grail” of Toys’R’Us are in their 30’s*, Director Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg are aiding the Transformers in their own journey into adulthood.

Where the original story line had Earth as the last place to harvest “Energon”, the power source to keep their world going. This one has Earth as the hiding place of the “All Spark” which can be used by the Autobots (good guys) to rebuild their planet or the Decepticons (Bad Guys) to power their army for intergalactic domination. With the plot out of the way, this is a movie about vehicles that turn into giant robots and fight each other. What cooler toy could any grown up little boy hope for.

How Was It?

Transformers is simply the most incredible special effects film I have ever seen. You know that you are looking at a special effect only because reason tells you that alien robots do not exist and do not change into your car. Other than that, the effects are seamless. Added to the realism is the camera work, which sways toward “documentary style.” The fight scenes are wonderful, and they give you the feel that the World’s Greatest Camera Man happened to see giant robots fighting, grabbed his gear and yelled “I’m getting this!” If you have time to think during the onslaught, you will no doubt think things like “I have never seen anything like this.” The action is so good you will not notice the near complete lack of plot or even the glaring problems with it’s logic. Still the movie makes no pretenses about things like that. Like the little boys with their action figures, they come up with enough of a plot to get to a couple of hours of fighting, it’s all you need.

If you have been part of the fad in the past, you will be thrilled to know that , Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime, reprises his role for this movie. Autobots have blue eyes and Decepticons have purple. The first transformation has the sound effect that you remember, people say “More that meets the eye”, Megatron, while being voiced by Hugo Weaving, tells off a whiny Starscream, guilty of failing again, and finally the Megatron vs Optimus Prime battle starts with the declaration “One shall stand, one shall fall”

Is It Good For Kids?

The violence is almost non-stop once it gets going. Though there is nothing too horrible, humans are threatened and you have to assume casualties, though none are shown. The violence is always bad guys attack because they are evil and good guys protect because they are good. Beyond that, parents may be concerned about the language. They use all the tradition swears, but seem to find the most fitting to be taking the Lord’s name in vain.

There is also emphasis on teen sexuality. Our human hero Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is a teen boy who would like to date the hot girl Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox). Mikaela is unable to find a shirt that covers her and thus the camera man actually holds still, prior to panning, on a couple of occasions. There are also several comments that range from a robot determining Sam’s choice of activities based on his pheromone level, a banter scene where Sam is so flustered he can not say anything that is not a double entendre , and a bizarre scene where Sam’s Donna Reed style mom (Julie White) gives her theory on why Sam would lock the door to be alone in his room. She then comes up with cute code’s like “Sam’s happy time” because the boy and his father (Kevin Dunn) seem uncomfortable with the technical word. She finally excuses herself by explaining that she had been drinking. The reason the door was locked was to keep his parents from realizing that he was finding clues for alien robots. The consummation of the scene is when Mikaela pops up from her hiding place. Mom tells Sam that she is beautiful and gleefully believing that he was simply locking himself in his room with a girl he snuck in, the parents are properly satisfied and leave.

The movie ends (Spoiler?) With a shot of Sam laying on the hood of his car with Mikaela on top of him. (This is all just a little creepy when you realize his car is one of the personified characters.)

What About Spiritual Issues?

This film starts off with an explanation of the “All Spark” which is the inanimate object that created their planet and brought them to life.It is later shown as giving life to a cell phone. This gives a bizarre version of evolutionary creationism. Like “The Force” the “All Spark”  allows the story to have a spiritual dimension and power in a totally godless version of reality. With the “All Spark” as creator, God is used only as a substitute word for supposedly more offensive cussing and Jesus himself is simply the punch line to Sam begging his teacher to raise his grade.

The idea of self sacrifice is pointed out in the dialog with the oft said mantra “Without sacrifice there is no victory” and though a good Pastor could use this to start his sermon next week, it’s not enough to put the movie on strong footing.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is a movie about vehicles that turn into robots and fight. To that end it is excellent. To that end I want to revive my 20 year old semi-dormant obsession and put on my Autobot t-shirt while I listen to the sound track, get myself a tie-in lunch box, see the film a couple more times in the theaters and wait patiently for it to come out on DVD.  Unfortunately the thin plot is spiced with anti-God spirituality and glorified teen sexuality. Thus I will instead leave the shirt dormant and move on.

* of whome I am the chief