Archive for the ‘teen’ Category

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

March 23, 2010

What Is It?

In this version, A 19 year old Alice, escaping from a public Marriage proposal, Falls down a rabbit hole to learn that it has been foretold that she will defeat the Jaberwalkie and set the land free from the oppressive Queen of hearts. Thus Tim Burten sets out on his quest to show us how he would have done “Lord of the Rings.”

How Was It?

This is a “re-imagining” sequel of sorts. The characters are mostly from Louis Carol’s books but if Mr. Burton half watched the old Disney cartoon, then skimmed the books looking at the pictures a lot … it would have been enough to come up with this movie. This is not a criticizer of the movie at all. The world Louis Carol’ builds in his books is imaginative, but the story is terrible.

This movie on the other hand, is a fun magical adventure through a land that is familiar in a way. Curly trees, Danny Elfman soundtrack, and a great Johnny Deep performance still come together with fantastic costumes and sets to make this unmistakably Burton. Still this film has heart and follow through that is sometimes missing or lost amidst the layers of his “cool pop-goth stuff.”

The other thing Burton does well is assembling a cast. Everyone fits well in their parts and with each other as well as seeming perfectly natural amidst this CGI enhanced fantasy world. The characters themselves are very creative with the perfect mix of classic archetypes and witty characterization. All of this goes together, seemingly with out effort, to create a fun movie.

Did you pay the extra $3 to see it in 3D?

Yes I did, and I’m glad. When they were in the real world at the beginning, the 3D effect reminded me of the 3D in an old view master slide. The people seemed flat but cut out and seperate from the background. It was a little less natural than Coraline 3D which was stop frame animation. When you got to Wonderland though, it was all worth it.

Is It Good For Kids?

The hard part about many of Tim Burton’s films is his mixture of child hood playfulness and fairy tale fun with dark and sometimes horrific elements. Labeling Tim Burten’s work as “Kids Films” would be like trying to put the original Grimm’s fairy tales in the same basket with the Disney cartoons they inspired.

Alice in Wounderland has Monsters and danger. The action is less harsh and more whimsical than the Narnia Movies, though This film does more things for the shock value of the action. Early on a monster has it’s eye plucked out by mouse with a needle  (mallyumkin carries a hat pin that she borrowed from the hatter*) and there was a scene where Alice crosses a mote on stepping stones that are actually the heads that have been “offed” by the Queen of Hearts. Both things have zero gore but conceptually could be disturbing.

Some parents may be concerned by Alice’s criticism of social norms. It really is a healthy skepticism of following popular fashion but could translate to younger children as simple rebellion.

We do see a married man kissing “another woman.” This is shown as offensive, but may not be “punished” fully enough for everyone’s liking.

But on a good note… Despite Alice contently changing sizes and her clothing staying just the same size, she is always filmed with modesty, even if it takes a 6 foot shrubbery to do it.

What About Spiritual Issues?

Tim Burton has explained that his childhood included being sent to church because it was the thing to do and finding nothing but empty hypocrisy there. This has translated into an insulting and belittling of Christianity in virtually all of his movies.

Oddly enough, that criticism is not only absent here, but the story at points seems to parallel Biblical concepts. Most notably is a scroll that foretells Alice fighting the Jaberwakie on the frabjous day. At one point Alice goes to save the Hatter and her bloodhound companion is afraid that this course of action will not be following the prophesy. At this point I feared that it would turn into some heavy handed message about not letting others tell you want to do, even if it’s sacred writings. Actually, where they went with it was that the more she did what seemed scary because it was the right thing to do, the more she became who she was meant to be. We are also told that her going to save the Hatter actually put her more in line with the prophesy. Prophesy was not something that could be deviated from. 2 Peter 1:19-21 This concept also made me think about Gandolf’s explanations of fulfilling prophesy from the end of “The Hobbit.” (Of course, the fact that their rendition of Louise Carol’s Jaberwalkie illustration looked just like a illustration of Eowyn fighting the ringwraith further put me in the Tolkien frame of mind. )

We also get the Absalom (Hebrew for My father is Peace) the Caterpillar giving a lesson in death being the entering into another world of life

Then there is the spiritual lesson of Alice’s belief. She feels that her defeating the Jaberwalkie is impossible. So she starts reciting all the “impossible” things she has found to be true in this world. We would be well advised as Christians to follow her lead. The next time something God wants you to do seems “Impossible” start listing off “Impossible” things you know he has done from His word and your life.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is a fun movie with a few good things to talk about and nothing very bad to say. It even shown that living in a fantasy world is not a way to live your life. Though marketed for everyone, it’s clearly made for hip teens and above but told in the classic story book format.  Alice is worth checking out.

Alice in Wonderland

*Thank you Emily.

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Christopher’s Top Picks of the Decade (1/1/2000-1/1/2010)

January 28, 2010

It took all month but here are

Christopher’s Top 20 Picks (with 3 “Ties and an Honorable Mention) of the Decade

(1/1/2000-1/1/2010)

  1. Lord Of The Rings (1 movie in 3 parts)
  2. The Passion of the Christ
  3. Unbreakable
  4. tie – DISTRICT 9 Pride and Prejudice 
  5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose  
  6.  Signs
  7. To End All Wars
  8. The Village
  9. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe 
  10. Lars and the Real Girl 
  11. Luther 
  12. B000JLTR8QM. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water
  13. Napoleon Dynamite
  14. In The Bedroom
    Note: “The Bedroom” in the title refers to a compartment of a Lobster Trap
  15. Man On Fire
  16. I Am Legend
  17. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
  18. Phone Booth
  19. tie Nanny McPhee Up
  20. tie Danielson a Family Movie (or, Make A Joyful Noise HERE) Food Inc

Honorable Mention

Bella theatrical one sheet

Bella

Fireproof

This film was not the best done, or the most moving. Several films not on this list were better films. (The Spider Man films, Inglorious B——-s, Juno, Iron Man and even  Twilight, were all better films.) Still, a church got together and made a good film with a great message, and I think that should be applauded.

Juno

December 9, 2009

What is it?

This seems that someone put “Ghost World”, “Napoleon Dynamite” and an after school special in a blender with just a touch of “The Gilmore Girls” and came out with the kind of delectable diner treat you wish your local 5 star restaurant would serve.

Juno (Ellen Page) is a 16 year old girl living with her dad and step mom. With all the other problems of being a middle of the social ladder teen aged girl, Juno is pregnant. As all public high school educated teens are taught, she first considers abortion. She then decides to give it up for adoption to a couple who are unable to have children of their own.

Whatever this character driven, dialog heavy style of movie making is, I believe Juno makes it an official genre and someone with more clout than me will need to name it. (And once it’s named it can be beat into the ground until we all long for the days when we were not sure how to describe films like “Trust” and “Napoleon Dynamite”).

How was it?

With small town feel, quick witty dialogue, and a track team of maroon and gold clad skinny guys that just all run by every once and a while, this film has great texture and superb story telling.

It is rare to find something fun to watch, though still very emotional. I was unaware that Jason Batman was making a comeback. (I have not seen him since “Teen Wolf Too”) but he is excellent as the cool half of the adoptive yuppie couple (with Jennifer Gardner as his better half). There is a lot here that just seems like general silliness, but has big plot and symbolic payoff, later in the film. Each part is played superbly, the light banter never trivializes, and a cast of odd ball characters never seem distant or made up.

Was it good for Kids?

I did not find this film offensive for the sake of being racy, but no one bothers to take the edge off any of subject matter or the word choice. There is a lot of cussing, though it doesn’t “feel” like “that kind of film”. The consummation scene is very tastefully done and never shows any images that are in themselves wrong to look at. Still it is quite clear what is going on and in what state of dress the characters are in. If, by some chance, you missed it, characters explain it repeatedly later on.

If you are considering this film for your kids, please read what Screenit.com has to say about the content.

What about Spiritual Issues.

When Juno tells her parents that she is pregnant and going to give her baby up for adoption, her step mother (Allison Janney) says that the baby, for this family, will be a miracle “from Jesus”. It may be just thrown in to make her seem odd, but by this point in the film, we are so comfortable with the idea of taking these characters seriously, the line seems to just mean what it says.

When going for an abortion, Juno is met by a fellow student (Valerie Tian) who, in broken English, explains that God does not want her to kill the baby. It all seems silly on the way in, but after she realizes that what is inside of her is alive, all the warnings move from quirky banter to a poignant cry for life.

There is also a joke about adoption and Mosses. They use Mosses as an example of a closed adoption though technically it was accidentally open.

Other than that, there is no direct reference to spirituality, but there are many themes that should make Christians and moralist very happy.

The major theme here, seems to be, responsibility and understanding of your roll in your phase of life. When you add up everything they show us –  sex is fun and has a lot of emotional results, but it’s for married adults and makes babies. Abortion and condoms are shown as pathetic solutions that only trivialize the issue and could only truly be endorsed by the “far gone” among the teen population. Juno does act maturely in dealing with the situation, but this is not “Papa Don’t Preach”. Juno even tells her dad (J.K. Simmons) that she has spent the day, “Dealing with things way beyond my maturity level.” So she looks for loving adults to raise her baby. She goes to her parents for advice. The one time she blows off her step mom’s warning she finds that it was a mistake not to listen.

If all this was not amazing enough, we also find that adults who decide that they want to revert back and act like teenagers are likewise in the wrong, and may do even more damage than kids who mess up by trying to take on adult life to early.

I cannot remember the last time I left a movie theater having been told that if you are a kid messing with sex is not good for you and if you are a married adult it is your responsibility to stay with your spouse even when it is hard because you are acting like a spoiled child to run out when the going gets tough. OK, I cannot think of any movie that had all that.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is a great movie that is hard to recommend. Though all the messages I talked about are there, I question whether the intended audience will pick up on it and clearly see the values it promotes. On top of that there is a lot of crudities and unsavory language to get through to get to the amazing message. Though most of the language comes from teens who are supposed to be shown as immature, will kids and teens be able to make that leap?

My recommendation is to know that this is not the “family” film that some are touting it as, but if you do chose to follow Juno for 9 months in only 92 minutes, you will have plenty to talk about, and a lot of great things to discover starting with a nice example of a family that talks to each other.

Twilight Saga: New Moon extras Question Entertainment Christian Movie Review

November 30, 2009

 

Twilight Saga: New Moon Q&E Review Show

November 26, 2009

Check out all of Question Entertainment’s TWILIGHT Video, Reviews, and Info

 

Help MAKE A Movie!

September 22, 2009

As most of you know, the film “To Be” is in script form and we are planning to make the movie. I’ve been in contact with a couple people who have experience in getting independent projects off the ground.

 Recently, one of those individuals had this to say about the film.

“I sat in on a reading of the script and thought it was fantastic, funny and would appeal to teens like no other Christian film I’ve yet to see. It’s titled TO BE. Here’s a brief summary: Graf Dorin feels alone, empty and dead. He thinks that ‘To be or not to be,’ are more options than he has ever had. Tormented at school, he finds comfort in the campy horror films of the 1920’s – 1950’s. Graf wonders if he himself is simply one of the Undead-a vampire-and sets out to uncover the truth. During his quest for truth, he is befriended by Roselin, who lets him know that he is ‘dead in his transgressions and sins’ and can be ‘alive in Christ’ through the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice. Vampires are the current top media attraction for teens right now, and will be for a few more years, so I think it’s extremely timely in addition to entertaining. It’s edgy and quirky enough that teens, believers or not, would check it out.”

 Best Selling Author, Jeremy Robinson http://www.jeremyrobinsononline.com/

I have read over the script again, myself, and I still believe in the story and I think it is worth pursuing. I am putting together a package to start shopping the film around to investors.I am editing together some “Test” scenes that we shot to show to investors with the script. You can see them online at

http://www.youtube.com/tobethemovieofficial

 and

http://www.tangle.com/dialtoneproductions.

 It would help a lot right now if you would watch the videos, rate them, comment on them and share them with others. I am very excited about this new opportunity and I hope you will be as well.

inCHRIST christopher

If you would like to help in with a donation of any amount, we will start shooting as soon as we know we can afford to make the movie.

Napoleon Dynamite

September 13, 2009

What Is It?

This is a low budget independent film about kids in school, so uncool they are almost cool. It’s an hour and a half of semi-random events befalling Napoleon and his two friends as life just happens to them. They bumble through school, family life and social orders, coming up with little less than very quotable lines and catch phrases

   How Was It?

After that description of “what is it” you may think this question is unnecessary, but… It was hilarious. If you watch the film knowing it’s tacky for the sake of tacky and that it’s character driven to the almost total exclusion of plot… you will have a fun time, and at the end you will start saying things like “sweet bike” and “gosh” (with a sharp tinge to it.) Reports say this film cost about $14,000 to make and then earned around 48 million before being released to video.

   Is It Good For Kids?

The film is very clean. There is a section where the unlikeable Uncle Reco hands out 3 fliers offering Herbs to enhance a woman’s figure, and illustrates briefly with 2 cooking pots. Later the leading lady of the film explains that she is just fine the way she is and doesn’t need anything like that to be accepted.

You can check www.ScreenIt.com for a complete break down of elements shown on the screen.

Though it does not relay anything that would be harmful for kids, its delivery and style would probably bore younger kids. This film is relay geared toward teens and up who want to root for the anti-cool and laugh at well crafted meaningless silliness.

   How about Spiritual Issues?

Though there are no spiritual issues raised (there are almost no issues raised, period). The writers do come from a Mormon background (and have worked on Billy Graham Films as camera men). This seems to have no influence on the film, other than to keep it clean.

   What Is Your Recommendation?

I have already put a “Vote For Pedro” bumper sticker proudly on my guitar case. (That will make more sense after you see the film.) If you want a film you don’t have to think much to enjoy (which is rare) and you are a big enough person to realize they are just having fun and not trying to insult your intelligence… then rent this film and sit back with some junk food and friends and laugh.

Here is a Taste Of Napoleon from David Letterman’s Top Ten List

Napoleon Dynamite

South Park

August 30, 2009

spblucWhat Is It?

A guy once hired two other guys to do a video Christmas card. The result was a bunch of sloppy construction paper cut out kids. They meet Jesus who has them bring him to the mall, where he picks a fight with Santa. The kids realize that it’s better to be Jewish because the meaning of Christmas is presents, and Jews get 8 days of it.

This video circulated until the guys were offered a series on Comedy Central with the same construction paper kids. Now we can watch them, almost daily, be rude, be nasty and kill Kenny (in every episode).

How Is It?

Lots of people like this show, so I guess it hits an audience. Still it seems like a bunch of kids who have just realized that their parents are not listening. So they can impress their friends with crude words and gags that you know you are not supposed to use in polite conversation. Of my short sampling, most of the stuff I saw was purposely stupid. The “Passion of the Jew” episode just recycled the popular criticisms of the Mel Gibson film. The Passion of the Christ movie helps one kid realize that Jews are evil so the child dresses like Hitler. The Christians are stupid so they all follow the kid thinking his German curses are Aramaic praises. Later a pastor explains that Passion plays were invented simply to increase hatred of the Jews. (This gives viewers a feeling that they have researched the issue, and now know what they are talking about.) Meanwhile the other kids go to meet an insane Mel Gibson to ask for their money back for this terrible film. Sure, maybe they are being rebellious by dissing Mel, but really they are just kissing the boots of the rest of Hollywood. The “Christians Rock Hard” episode is actually amusing criticism of the easily criticized Christian music industry (Christians only listen to it because they are told to or because it says Jesus enough, even when the references are pointless or incorrect.) The South Park movie…. I got through 15 minutes of the insulting of Christians and Jews, kicking a baby for fun (because that’s so naughty, it’s funny) and the kids bribing a homeless man to get into a movie with poorly done cartoon kids cussing like mad. (I guess that was supposed to be ironic.) I hear I missed Kenny dying and going to heaven (which is just a bunch of naked women) and Saddam Hussein sodomizing Satan (a pun I suppose). This is not the deft social criticism of “The Simpsons“, this is just crude for the sake of giggling at things that should not be said by kids.

Is It Good For Kids?

Not only is it going to teach your kids all kinds of things that you don’t want them doing or saying, it’s also done very poorly. So, on top of everything else, it will lower their wit and help develop bad taste in entertainment.

What About Spiritual Issues?

There are a ton of them. The kids are always making fun of Christianity and Judaism. Though their criticism of Christian pop and punk music may well be true, without the other side, it’s just propaganda.

Worse than that is that Jesus and Satan are regular characters. Satan is powerful and mean. Jesus is a skinny wuss with a lisp. At one point Satan challenges Jesus to a boxing match. Jesus can’t hit, but Satan takes a dive and wins a ton of money by being the only person who would bet on Jesus. This is not the all powerful ruler of the universe. This is not even the man consumed with zeal for God who makes his own whip before dismantling a makeshift mall. (John 2:15 & 2:17)

What Is Your Recommendation?

You know, if someone in class was drawing mean pictures of your buddy, you wouldn’t like it. Here we have Jesus as a wussy fairy, and Christians everywhere list this as one of their favorites.

Even without Jesus and the constant insulting of faith (Jude 1:10), it’s still inappropriate, and just inappropriate for the sake of being inappropriate.

The opening “warning” says that, due to content, this show should not be viewed by anyone.

This is the only entirely true statement offered by South Park.

If you still want this kind of entertainment, I would suggest either watching “The Simpsons“, which is at least intelligent and funny, and often pro-family on top of being rude and anti-Christian, or finding some poorly disciplined 12 year olds who think their parents can’t hear them.

Twilight – Book vs Movie + New Moon Question Entertainment Extra

August 7, 2009

twilightandnewmoonpp1

Question Entertainment Extra: Watchman Revisited – Christian Movie Review

July 30, 2009