Archive for April, 2009

SUPERMAN RETURNS

April 24, 2009

 

What Is It?

If comic books are America’s mythology, then Superman is our Zeus. He has been immortalized in every medium imaginable, but none so memorable as the films of Christopher Reeve. Now, Director Brian Singer takes his team that made X Men 1 and 2 so great, and brings back the Man Of Steel.

Here we find out that after Superman 2, our hero (Brandon Routh) went into space for years looking for remains of his home planet Krypton. This doesn’t matter at all, the point is, he was gone in the story like he has been gone in our lives, and our theaters, and now he is back. Of course the timing is great, because Lex Luther has also returned from his latest stint in jail. Now, in this tribute to all things great about the first 2 films (including a couple of plot references, the John Williams Theme music, a borrowed line, and borrowed footage to bring the late Marlon Brando back as Superman’s deceased Father) it’s once again time to “Look! Up in the sky….”

How Super Was It?

When the opening credits started, accompanied by that music, I was transported back to 5 years old. I remember all the grandeur and magic that was the Superman Mythos. Here it was again, and without losing one ounce of power from what I remember. If you have seen the original, and fear that it is more built up in your mind, they have compensate for that here. If you haven’t seen Superman before, this movie will make you wonder why you waited so long.

Beyond looking great, it flowed very well. It is interesting enough to keep going without having to blow something up every 5 seconds. It reminded me a lot of the “Incredibles” in this aspect. The acting? Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther seemed to have walked through the comic book on his way to the set. I would have liked to see more of him, but it wasn’t over done the way every comic book movie tries to recapture the Jack NickelsonJoker Experience“.

Yes, some of the best parts are in the trailer (especially the Lex Luther “come on, say it” line) But if you like the trailers, you will not be disappointed by the full product.

With all this great packaging you also get some ideas to think about that go a bit deeper than “Good vs. Evil” and “I wish I could Fly.”

As summer movies go, this has it all.

Is it Super for kids?

If your child is not scared by people in bloodless danger and is not prone to tie a bed sheet around his neck and jump from the second story window, then the visuals should be no problem. They do cut off the phrase “Holly Sh…” with a gun going off. (And yes, the big gun gets aimed at the big S on his chest.) Sadly, there were no explosions when Jimmy Olson took the Lord’s name in vain upon seeing Clark for the first time.

You can check the Super web page Screenit.com for a break down of everything that is on the screen.

There are some themes that may be harder to deal with. Lois Lane  (Kate Bosworth) has a son,  (Tristan Lake Leabu) and is only engaged to the dad. (James Marsden) This is not presented as even an issue. It also seems, despite her new relationship, she is actually still in love with Superman.

A bit weirder than that (BIG TIME SPOILER) the kid is found to be Superman’s son. Though it is never stated in this movie, it is alluded to that their relationship in the first 2 films brought forth this child. In Superman 2, Clark Kent gives up all his power to marry Lois. Then after realizing that the world needs him, he gives up his selfishness and dons his tights once more, using a Super kiss to make Lois forget there nuptials. I’m not sure that this explanation is better than the kid being a super love child.

Then….

What about Super Spiritual Issues?

If you have seen the ads, you have been prepared for this too. It has often been pointed out that Superman is the only son of his father in the sky who has come to save us. His fathers name is Jor-El (in Hebrew – Jor – the awe of El-God) and the name of the son is Kal-el, which in Hebrew means “voice of God.” He is then raised by a family that is not his own. All of this has been talked about and speculated upon, (in Godspell , Jesus himself wears a Superman shirt.) But here the movie brings the idea to the forefront.

First Lex Luther explains that he wants to be Prometheus, the Greek myth who brought fire to man, thus giving them technology. He leaves out the fact that Permethius “stole” the fire, which he also emulates. When it is pointed out that Lex is not a god, he retorts “Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don’t share their power with mankind.”

We find out that the Article Lois Lane is winning the Pulitzer prize for is entitled “Why the world doesn’t need Superman.” The discussion around the article all explicitly surrounds the idea that the world does not need a “Savior”. (Superman’s answer to this could be equated a bit to a heavenly vision of the workings of God. Paul, John and now Lois.)

If this was not obvious enough, Superman flies through the sky remembering the words of his father “Even though you have been raised as a human being you are not one of them. They can be a great people Kal-el, they wish to be, they only lack the light to show them the way. For this reason above all, there capacity for good, I have sent them you, My only son.”

(Do we have a capacity for good? Do we want to be good? Do we need to be given an example of good to be good, or do we need to have our evil removed by sacrifice to provide for Jesus to indwell us and be good through us? Romans 3:10-12 & 8:6-7 or just read all of Romans.)

Toward the end (Spoiler) Lex Luther attacks Superman with a shard of Kryptonite, stabbing him in the side.

Of course (Bigger Spoiler) when Superman chooses to throw the Kryptonite laden land mass into space, thus saving America, he does it knowing it will kill him. As he drifts away from the land mass, his legs fall and his arms extend in the pose so familiar to church and movie goers.

Though at the time, it is unclear how it will end (Huge Spoiler) Lois finds the empty room that once housed the dead son of Jor-el.

What Is Your Super Recommendation?

Well, the movie is great, but there is more to a movie than how well done it is and how much fun it is to watch.

This film does continually raise the question “Do you need a savior?” and that is a question that more people need to be asking. In the film, those who say “no” are either homicidal men focused on greed, or Lois trying to hide her own need from herself.

Now, I don’t think it is offering a literal man in blue tights as a savior, and it does use a lot of Jesus symbolism. So the question becomes, are they pointing back to Jesus, or are they using Jesus and Superman to tell you to keep your eyes open for the next savior to come around. I don’t think that it goes far enough in either direction to give you anything more than to say “you need some sort of savior.”

I would be just fine with this if (spoiler) we were not dealing with this bazaar love triangle and pseudo divorce/dead beat dad thing.

Yes, Christ used the story of Jonah as pointing to His own death and resurrection, but Jonah’s negative actions are condemned in the story. The hardest thing about this movie is the morally ambiguous actions of Superman when everything else he does is categorically “good.”

Then there is the idea that we could be good, not by dealing with sin, but simply by being inspired by some one who is good.

If you are going to bring your kids, I would read the “spoilers” or see it first, and be prepared to discuss the issues this film raises and only sometimes resolves.

Still, if one of your friends have seen it, maybe he will have a question that you can answer with the Answer Himself. For that reason I would welcome this return.

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The Day The Earth Stood Still Q&E Review Show

April 22, 2009

ABIGAIL ROONEY’s jewelry from http://www.liasophia.com/abigailrooney

Day the Earth Stood Still

2 disc DVD

Day the Earth Stood Still

3 disc DVD

The Day the Earth Stood Still

3 disc Blu-Ray

I am Legend

April 21, 2009

What Is It?

Will Smith stars in this book adaption that seems to be, from the credits, more of a remake of the 1971 film adaptation, Omega Man, with Charlton Heston. This is a big budget thriller about a man who is the last living, healthy survivor of a world wide plague. He hunts deer and plays golf through the abandoned streets of New York that are starting to turn green with weeds and grass. Beyond the loss of all human companionship, the down side to this, is that the virus has turned the world’s population into zombie vampires who can only come out at night and feed on any blood they can get. While living in this frightening situation, with his dog, Robert Neville (Smith) is continuing his research to find a cure for this disease. When not studying his infected rats or protecting himself from zombie vampires, he goes to the video store to return one movie and rent another while having small talk with the mannequin patrons he has apparently set around the stores, as shoppers. Sort of a more thought out “Wilson” (Castaway).

How Was It?

This is what I call the “Thinking Man’s Shallow Movie”. Somewhere between the amusement park ride films like “Cellular” and “Collateral” and the spiritually deep “Exorcism of Emily Rose” lies “I Am Legend.” Right up front the movie lets you know that very often, something is going to jump out at you. By stealthily waiting for the moment after you though it would happen, even after you have figured out this formula, it continues to keep you tense and make you jump, however, this is not just a cheap walk through a scare house on film. Though the story is straight forward, the presentation of the information keeps you engaged and thinking… while waiting for the next thing to jump out at you. (Aerial shots become a welcome “breather”) There are also great touches like having the movie “Shrek” showing on Nevil’s TV, and the scene between Donkey and Shrek actually explains the scene you are watching.

I am not a Will Smith fan, but after “I Robot” and the excellent performance in this film I may be coming around. We see his family and quarantining of NY in flash backs, but Smith is able to be just as touching when saying good-bye to his wife (Salli Richardson) and daughter (Willow Smith) , as he is discussing his birthday with his dog.

My heart rate was still noticeably “up” after we had left the theater.

Is It Good For Kids?

Outside of one little freak out with the word “hell” used as an exclamatory and not a noun, there is no cussing, no sex, no inappropriately dressed people, and no messages you would need to shield your children from. There is a character who uses “God” as a cuss word, but the response to the line is an explanation about God, Himself.

What is concerning for children are the “hives” of sub human zombie vampires coming to kill the main character. Where this may not cause your children to have incorrect world views, it could keep them up with nightmares. (In the theater, I did see a boy, probably around 8-10 years old, and his mom leave after the first couple of scenes, seemingly at the boys request.) It does not contain overt amounts of gore, but the Zombie Vampires are gross to look at and there are a couple of disturbing scenes with the dog, including a Zombie attack, that would be upsetting for children to see.

For a complete break down of what is on the screen, check out Screenit.com.

-Under “ProfanityScreenit.com has more words than I caught. I’m guessing they occur during the flash backs of people trying to escape New York before the military quarantines the city. Thus, it would be in the background amongst confusion and noise and not said by a character we would find influential. They also say that it only had 3 “jump scenes”. I think they lost count.

What About Spiritual Issues?

In the beginning of the film you see Neville drive by a bunch of posters with the hands from the Cistene chapel and the words “God Still Cares.” Then on his refrigerator is a magazine cover with his picture and the word “Savior?” It seems he added the question mark himself. In the flash back scene Neville’s wife prays for him (specifically to God) with his daughter before they part. In one scene Neville points out that “God didn’t do this, we did.” A wonderful attitude about God versus our evil decisions. All of this sets you up too look for this “unseen character” to intervene throughout the film.

Neville does talk about “Bob Marlie” in one scene. The things he says about him fit into the film and help explain the main character. They play “Three Little Birds” through the movie and “Redemption Song” in the credits. The slight problem here is that the things they say about Marlie are true but they leave out that he was also an evangelist for a cult that believed in the Old Testament and that the then King of Ethiopia was the promised Messiah and not Jesus. The movie itself leaves no room for that interpretation of Messiah but I though it worth noting. Neville does hold up a Bob Marlie CD and proclaims it “The best album ever.” The CD is “Legend”.

(SPOILER!)

He meets another survivor (Alice Braga) who is going to a refuge that God told her is out there. She believes that God had orchestrated her meeting with Neville.

(Even MORE of a SPOILER)

The movie ends (seriously, don’t read this part if you are going to see it anyway.) Robert declares that he can now hear God, sends out a vile of blood that will “save” man kind and offers help to sick people who instead try to kill him. If all of this is not Christ like enough, Robert ends up giving up his own life to ensure that the blood will save humanity. (Making him a “Type of Christ” and “The Freedom Bringer” When the refuge is found, the doors of the compound are open to reveal a beautiful country town (in contrast to the urban jungle of NY) with the main street leading to a church. Ultimately this film offers many clear pictures of the Gospel.

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you can handle some tense action and enjoy a good thrill ride, this movie offers it all, without the immoral baggage.

Even more than that, if you bring a friend with you, this film brings up many opportunities to discuss the One who gave His blood for us to save us from only half living, in pain and evil

I Am Legend

The Other Side of Twilight

April 20, 2009

We did already review Twilight(and the vampire it’s all owed to… Dracula) but we did focus on the movie and book. As we mentioned, there is another side to this whole thing, that is “The Twilight Phenomena.” Like “High School Musical”  or “the Rocky Horror Picture Show” there is a life outside the confines of celluloid. Pop Culture Christ just did a very good article on Vampire Obsession looking at the swirl of passions flowing around the twilight series.

In other Spiritual/Entertainment/Twilight news, MuteMath, a main stream band with Christian members, some of whom are from Earthsuit, has released a music video for their contribution to the Twilight Soundtrack. You can see that over at Drive By Media. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t end with footage of the van almost hitting Bella from the movie.

And of course, if you missed it, of just need to see it again, we have our take on Dracula and Twilight itself with the Twilight Q&E Review Show.

Just a side note, if you have a web page/Facebook/MySpace/etc… It would be great if you could re-post our Twilight review. You can use this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4d0DkjRzP8 on Facebook/Myspace/Wordpress and things like that. For regular web pages you can just stick in this code

 <object width=”560″ height=”340″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/E4d0DkjRzP8&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/E4d0DkjRzP8&hl=en&fs=1” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”560″ height=”340″></embed></object> 

Mix Music for the Very Young

April 19, 2009

I am a parent of children under the age of 3. Thus much of the “entertainment” I question is for them. There is a “kids book” post on its way, but for now… I make mix cds for them in the car. I want to use the cds to have fun in the car as well as exposing them to many stiles of music and giving them lyrics that are innocent to good for them. (Some times it’s just clips of things I think it would be fun if they started saying.) All while making sure it is nothing that will make me retch.

Thus it also ranges from kids music to “regular” music, so there may be something for everyone here.

This is the track listing of the disc that just went in the car:

Let us know what you think.

  1. Dragnet intro
  2. The Shortest Song in the Universe

    Rhinoceros Tap

    Sandra Boynton

  3. Joshua 24:15
     
  4. books of the Old Testament Song
  5. books of the  NewTestament Song
  6.  Gingerbread man by Tunebuggy
  7. klaatu barada nikto from

    The Day the Earth Stood Still

  8. The Cheese Rap
  9. Tiger by William Blake from

    Poetry Speaks to Children

  10.  William Blake by Erin Echo from

    When Worlds Collide: A Tribute to Daniel Amos
  11. Symphony No. 41 in C, 

    Baby Einstein 

  12. Gavotta. Non troppo allegro – Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  13. Barnyard Dance LISTEN

    Rhinoceros Tap

    Sandra Boynton

  14. Snuggle Puppy sung by Eric Stoltz LISTEN

    Philadelphia Chickens

    Sandra Boynton

  15. Lordy Child (Say ABBA) (Romans 8:15)

    1956 Soul Junk

  16. Books I like to read from

    Fascinating Creatures

    Frances England

  17. Frodo’s Song in Bree READ BY J.R.R. Tolkien! from

    Poetry Speaks to Children

  18. Elephant Swing by Beau Young from Wild Aninmalz
  19. Not much of a tail
  20.  Screen Door (Rich Mullins cover)

    Emperor’s New Band

    This Train

  21. Red Will Dye These Snows of Silver

    The Otherly Opus

    Joy Electric

  22.  Fur Elise, Woo 59 –

    Baby Beethoven

    Baby Einstein

  23. old testement bible dance WTB – Amnesia CD – Old Testament

    Walk Thru the Old Testament

  24. Gospel Bible Dance (This was a free MP3 down load. I am still trying to find the link again.)
  25.  Trust (Reprise) (Proverbs 3:4-6)
  26. Three Little Birds –

    You Are My Little Bird

    Elizabeth Mitchell

  27. But for You Who Fear My Name (Malachi 4:2)

    Welcome To The Welcome Wagon

    The Welcome Wagon

  28. Barve Strong Song

  29. Speed Turtle Brian Wilson LISTEN

  30. Blue Moo

    Sandra Boynton

  31. Conjunction Junction

    Schoolhouse Rock!

  32. The Four-Legged Zoo

    Schoolhouse Rock! 

  33. peoplego.mp3
    Moses: RAMESES!! LET MY PEOPLE GO!!

  34. may my toung be stuck up on the roof of my mouth (Colossians 2:20-22)

    1955

    1955

    Soul-Junk – 1955

  35. filled the hungry with good things

    Download MP3 from http://souljunk.com/

  36. What We Have Learned

    Veggie Tales

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

April 7, 2009

What Is It?

Another dark fairy tail from the man who created “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” Extremely stylistic characters, all with a Gothic cartoon edge, play out a tail of love life and death. The Van Dort family has a plan to marry there son into a rich family to raise there status. The Everglot family have been pretending to be rich even though they have lost there fortune. They plan to marry there daughter to anyone in an attempt to create another family to support their own. Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) and Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson) become the unwitting pawns in this Jane Austin-Esq social experiment which is simply the “Sub Plot”!

After the towering ghoul of a pastor berates Victor with the booming yet eary voice of Christopher Lee, Victor stumbles through the woods trying to get his vows right. Upon the exact restoration of his entire vow he excitedly places his ring on a finger like tree proclaiming “With this ring, I ask you to be mine.”

Learning that you have to be careful with such declarations, the corps of Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) takes shape. With the ring on her finger and her dress in place (though showing a bit more of her decomposing ribs than she had once intended) Emily gratefully accepts Victor’s offer. Now stuck between two women and two worlds Victor’s world becomes much more complicated, and a lot weirder.

How Was It?

Now the animation in “A Nightmare Before Christmas” was stunning. Not only is the look of the whole thing macob ly beautiful, the technical advances are huge. To do a camera move in stop frame is near impossible. With that being said… “Corpse Bride” improves on “Nightmare“s stylistic and technical brilliance at least 10 fold. Even the difference in the color schemes between the two worlds is amazing. Not only that but “Corpse Bride” adds elements totally alien to “Nightmare” like a plot that makes it all the way to the end and, while we are there, an ending that actually makes sense. Though, with some characters you are supposed to see what is coming, I did not know which bride or state of being Victor would have been linked to until it was revealed.

Though this is an animated musical, it’s main audience is not little kids, but teens who buy shirts at Hot Topic. This parody of a children’s movie uses almost every line to deliver a clever pun linked to a visual joke. The music is great. (Danny Elfman is wonderful.) The song to introduce are decomposing bride is a bit like the Boogie Man’s theme, but it’s still all wonderful. To top everything off, Emily has her own Jiminy Cricket equivalent; The Maggot that lives in her head.. Waite, it gets better… The Maggot is a perfect rendition of late actor “Peter Lorie!” (How great is that?)

Is It Good For Kids?

This would depend on your kids. Like I said this may be advertised to kids but it was made of teens. I would think lots of children would be disturbed by the constant jump scenes and dead creatures showing off there demise. (There is a man who we realize was cut in half, the long way, when he splits reveling all his organs.) Many characters have knives and swards still in them, and disembodied limbs and eyes are not uncommon.

You can check Screenit.com for a complete break down of what is on the screen.

Still even if you child can handle such visuals with out nightmares or dark obsessions, The spiritual content is still worth considering.

What About Spiritual Issues?

First of all this wedding party gets many points right. There is a desire among the adult children to honer there parents even though there parents have poor motives. Love and Marriage are held up as good things. (Slight Spoiler) Victor even offers to give up what he actually wants to keep a promise!

Still the ideas around the afterlife are very contrary to Biblical descriptions. There is a slight chance the ending implies a “heaven” other than the lower world, but purgatory isn’t that appealing a belief either. For “the Corps Bride” The world of the dead is an odd combination of the Greek underworld, a Shanty Town, and a friendly local bar. None of this is very unlike Burton’s original look at how the other side lives, “Beetle Juice .”

Though all that would be enough to be leery of, Burton throws in one of his favorite archetypes… the evil Christian. There are 4 major baddies in this film. Not the least of them is Pastor Galswells. He is first seen being just horrible to the like-able Victor. Later when Victoria discovers the state of things, she goes to the pastor for council. He tells her he can help, then forcibly delivered her to her family telling them to keep her locked up. Finlay (spoiler) when the Pastor is faced with an assemblage of the dead coming to his church, The Pastor commands “Back, ye demons from Hell!” but is quickly proven powerless as the ghost pass him by simply commenting “Keep it down, will yer? We’re in a church.” So, Pastor’s are here shown as mean, creepy, incorrect, and spirituality impotent.

Once again, Burton holds forth lofty ideals of love, honesty, chivalry, and self sacrifice, but then denies the power to actually do any of it. In this case I think it would be wise to head the advise of 2 Timothy 3:5.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I would steer your children in another direction. Unless they at the point intellectually to be able to separate the thrill of the art from it’s message, so that the movie could be used as a spring board for understanding opposing views and prejudices against Christians as well as there ideas… I don’t see any value in exposing some one to this film.

You are much better off with the family friendlier Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Where Burton, Depp, Lee, and Bonham Carter all stick to ideals that we agree on with out inserting the “evil Christian” character to muddy the waters.

Though if you are going to see this film, do so with discussion and discernment, and rent the Maltese Falcon first so everyone knows who Peter Lorie is…

What Should My Family and I Watch During Holy Week?

April 6, 2009

Easter is coming in a few short weeks! As the non-Christian world grabs onto parts of our traditions, they still come up rather bunny-centric. Still, if you check your local listings, the Bible seems to be dusted off and handed to the network scheduling department this time of year. From the looks of some of their productions, it seems most just flipped through and looked at the pictures, where others seem to do a decent job of portraying the messages in an accurate way.

Now the first thing to realize is that movies are a different medium than a book. Things will have to be changed just to make the jump. On top of that, the Bible is not usually stories, but histories. Thus, to make a film, the story must be extracted from the history. With this in mind, a fun family night might be reading the Bible account and then watching the movie. (Sometimes we would do the Bible account over morning devotions beforehand .) Then we discussed what was changed and why. Most changes are made for dramatic interest, to simplify for a modern culture (like Moses’ 2 brothers in  Prince of Egypt: ). If there is going to be a problem with the changes, it’s often that they try to remove the supernatural from the story (“Peter and Paul” with Anthony Hopkins) or try to make God into the universal force for good in all men (“The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston).

I am always up for a well done Bible story, (I recommend Testament: The Bible in Animation) but moving toward the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead, you may want to focus on Jesus himself!

There are some very good films with Jesus; there are also some awful ones.

Of course The Passion of the Christ” is the obvious front runner. Picking up the story of Jesus in the Garden as he prays for the cup to be taken away, this is the struggle between the ultimate powers in the universe. Casting Jesus in the mode of sacrificial superhero, he battles to give up his life for the world, as Satan tries to stop the sacrifice. This is intermingled with flashbacks from Jesus’ life that become much more poignant when put in the framework of his death.

Then there is the Campus Crusade funded “Jesus Film” that goes almost word for word from the gospel of Luke. This is not as well done a film. It’s more a well done book on tape with nice pictures. (You can see the movie on line.)

Friends of mine who are now going to work for the “Jesus Film” ministry have just told me about the next development. The “Visual Translation” of the Jesus film will use the vocal tracks and then add all new music and sound effects for an anime version of the film. This new version is being headed up by director Barry Cook and you can see animatics of two of the scenes on their web pagehttp://whoishe.org/animationproject

I personally love The Miracle Maker“. This is the story of Jesus done by an amazing Russian Claymation team and an English group doing traditional animation used for flashbacks and whenever something spiritual (like the casting out of demons) happens. The story is sewn together by the struggles of a religious leader and his sick daughter. Will he let her suffer, or will he bring her to Jesus to be healed? This film spent months in the theaters in England . Here, it was shown once on ABC family before going to DVD; how sad.

You can now watch the Miracle Maker on line at Hulu.com

This may also be a good time to introduce your family to “Godspell: A Musical Based on the Gospel of St. Matthew .” This very quirky (read – “Weird”) offering from the 70’s has a group of thrift shop sheik hippies called out of the world of New York to act out the parables through the streets and monuments of the city that doesn’t sleep. They often move events to offer thematic continuity and artistic comment. At one point Jesus faces the “Pharisee Monster” who hits him with all the questions that are sprinkled throughout the gospels. This confrontation ends with an artistic representation of the cleansing of the temple. In the stage show the Resurrection is incorporated into the curtain call. Here we are told it will happen in the closing songs and then see New York go back to its life without taking notice of the gift it has been given. (There is also the unintentional irony of the song “All For The Best” and it’s big finial on the twin towers.)

Of course if 70’s hippy rock is not your thing; The Jesus story is narrated and serenaded by the Man in Black himself in Johnny Cash’s Gospel Road.

Taking one step away you have “Ben Hur”. Tied for having received the most Oscars ever, this swashbuckling Charlton Heston classic shows a man’s spiritual journey to forgiveness set against the backdrop of the Gospel story. This is a great movie for people who know the story of Jesus. You will see more of the story by filling in the blanks.

In “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, ” we have Jesus interjected into a fantasy world . Here we see the sacrifice of Jesus illustrated in thematically graphic and personal terms. We can all relate to selling out all we should love for brief personal pleasure or “sweeties”. It is wonderful to see Jesus as Lord of everything, even the imagination of man, in the character of Aslan.

Finally , we can look at movies that offer us “types o f Christ.”A “ type” is a character that has their own story but , when you stand back from the details, you see the story of Jesus. In the Bible, characters like Joseph ( who is sacrificed by his family, and then goes on to become ruler and savior) and Jonah ( sent with a message to a foreign land, sacrificed, “resurrected” 3 days later to offer repentance) are types of Christ. Jesus even references Jonah as a type in Matthew 12:38-41 Matthew 16:4, and Luke 11:29-32 .

Fiction writers have also used the “type of Christ” to allow their story to point to Jesus. This is very popular with film makers. Just check out the trailer for the recent  “Superman Returns”.

In the film (or film series, depending on your point of view) “Lord of the Rings”, there are three characters that point to Jesus. In “Fellowship of the Rings” you see Frodo and the Ring. The Ring is the force of evil in the world. Frodo, though it is not his to deal with, takes the evil of the ring on himself and bares it in order to destroy it. In “The Two Towers” we re-visit the sacrifice of Gandalf. We are reminded that he gave himself to save his friends from a demon (another symbol of evil) and was then sent back to be with them in the battle. Thirdly in “Return of the King” (as if that title isn’t a dead giveaway) we see Aragorn enter into the realm of those living in death because they refused to follow the king. He enters death to give the people an offer : You may follow me and I will set you free from this death. His later rule as king is a nod to the second coming of Christ.

In the 1954 Marlon Brando /Karl Malden classic, “On The Waterfront”, a local priest realizes that Jesus would not stand by and let mob bosses and crime ruin the people he is supposed to be serving. In a wonderful speech we are told that when people are killed for doing what is right, it is a crucifixion. This sets us up for a “ type of Christ” I call “the freedom bringer.” (SPOILER) At the end of the movie, Marlon Brando’s character has decided to stand up to the mob. The result is that they take him out back, with all the waterfront workers standing helplessly aside, and beat him within an inch of his life. This is where we see an illustration of the resurrection and the people set free. This is also the movie with the famous “Could have been a contender” speech.

Will Smith‘s “I Am Legend” is a dark film about zombie/vampires. It is being released on DVD in time for Easter. This may seem like an oversight, but it may have been a part of a marketing plan. By the end of the film you realize that the Zombies are symbolism for a people infected with evil who need the blood from a sacrificial savior to release them from there torment. (You can read my full review here.) I have heard that the DVD has two versions of the film. I have seen the theatrical version and can not comment on the alternate version.

You can also see acts that artistically bring to mind Jesus ’ sacrifice in movies like “To End All Wars” , “Man On Fire” , “Meet John Doe” , and “I Robot” . “I Robot” has the entire trinity, but unfortunately also has weirdly pro-cussing messages.

Unfortunately, some films will use the connection to Jesus to bring a “new” message or to suggest Christianity to be wrong. Where The Matrix’s Neo, Star Wars’ Anakin , and “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” all have used the character of Jesus and even some of his words, they are not there to point you to Jesus , but away — or beyond — him ( as some of the film makers may tell you) .

What Is Your Recommendation?

As part of your family time this season, it would be great to find one of  these films that would be appropriate for your entire family. Then, do not just watch it together. Afterward, talk about what the film was saying about Jesus. Who in the film emulated the person of Jesus? What characteristics did the character share with Jesus and what was different? And what do I notice about Jesus that I may not have seen before or have not though t about in a while?

This is just another fun way to have film watching do more than just fill a couple of hours.

For more – Check out the Q&E Extra – The 6 Jesuses of Film and Literature

Knowing – Fatmime Guest Review!

April 5, 2009

Even though I like Nicolas Cage, I have not seen the movie “Knowing.”  Mostly because, before I could get to the theater I saw this review from Rene AKA Fatmime….

So I though I would pass it along, so you, like me,  could save your $14 and spend your time with a better movie, like….

Coraline Q&E Review Show

April 5, 2009

Twilight Movie – The First Blog with news about the Twilight Saga…from the books to the movies

April 3, 2009

twilight-movie.org – The First Blog with news about the Twilight Saga…from the books to the movies*; has some great news about Twilight! They Reported that Question Entertainment was talking Twilight!

OK, I (and probably all of you reading this) already knew that, but it’s very cool of them to share us with the rest of the Twilight world.

Thanks twilight-movie.org!

 

*This claim has not been evaluated by the FDA