Posts Tagged ‘horror’

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.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

January 21, 2010

What Is It?

The final chapter of the sea bound series has all the characters reunited and ready to have there loose story ends woven into a still frayed Jolly Roger. The title speaks more of the end of an era than the map, though both are represented. Just as promised in the last film, Norrington (Jack Davenport) has teamed up with Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) to destroy all the pirates and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), is leading the crew of the Black Pearl to retrieve Jack Sparrow (please excuse me, Captain Jack Sparrow) (Johnny Depp) from Davy Jones Locker. As promised in the ads, they save Jack right off and then get to the fighting.

How Was It?

The last installment had a decent story but seemed a bit flat with action and performance. This time around the action and performances are really wonderful, which is almost enough to carry the dismal attempt at a story. The line that summed up this film was “Do you think he plans it all out before hand or do you think he’s just making it up as he goes along?” This could have been directed at the film makers as much as Captain Jack Sparrow.

You begin to wonder if the development of this film was simply eaves dropping on a group of teens saying things such as “dude, it would be, like, so cool if she just grew, like, super huge… oh yah yah yah and then she could, like, turn into, like, a million billion crabs! Dude that’s cool!” but the joke is, they are right, it is very cool. Ideas like two pirate ships, gunning it out from there apposing corners in a whirl pool is just pure big budget brilliance.

Still, the lack of a solid story insures that the journey to next action sequence is now just a dull tour through a thematic wasteland. And where the supernatural in the other films was used as posts to hang slightly veiled commentaries on human greed and lust, they are now little more than make shift mooring rings to keep the convoluted plot from going to far a drift. The only time the super natural elements even matter to the story (spoiler) is when the film makers kill off major characters for the shock value and then bring them back to life for the sole purpose of keeping the wide eyed spectator happy.

(Then there was just some nonsense about Jack talking to imaginary versions of himself. I think one Johnny Deep performance is more than enough to fill the screen.)

Is It Good For Kids?

I think there was another meeting where some one said “This is the last one, so we no longer have to make it so that families feel comfortable enough to come back to another one.” This then gives way to things like a crusty Jack removing and licking his own brain and (spoiler) a marriage consummation where we see the lady in a long shirt and one boot and the gentleman kissing her knee. (Ok, that would not be that bad, they are married, except the sensuality of the kiss coupled with the lady’s “pleased” reaction make it something that many parents will be uncomfortable sharing with their children.)

I don’t think there is anything “sinful” about the violence or the sexuality in this film, but even if the other two installments were perfectly fine for your children, you will still want to examine this one and judge it on it’s own merits.

You can get a complete break down of what is on the screen at screenit.com.

What about Spiritual issues.

This is the biggest down fall of this installment. Where the others gave quite Biblical explanations of the make believe supernatural, this one just plays with the elements with no thought to their meanings. Then death is played with to the point where it becomes a non-issue. Death is the point where you meet your final judgement, to be welcomed in or sent away. The last two movies held onto that, even when judgement was preceded by a 100 year stint before the mast of the flying Dutchman. The new “he’s dead, no he isn’t” story line, not only creates spiritual confusion, it takes away all the punch and importance of a human life ending.

Then there are the pirates themselves. The other movies seemed to suggest that maybe some one learned something about honor and right and wrong. Here debauchery is celebrated at the end instead of Honor causing even pirates to rise above it all.

(Spoiler) The other sad message in the film is the romanticizing of a marriage that at the end literally amounts to the husband and wife only seeing each other once every 10 years. Though it is moving to see a woman who is willing to accept so little of her husband to be able to get any of him, it seems just cruel of him to take advantage of such emotion. Marriage here is reduced to a one day in 10 year rendezvous. Though the movie seems to imply this will go on forever, only one character is immortal, thus he will get, at most, a weeks worth of time with this woman, while he is demanding the sacrifice of her entire life for his pleasure.

What is your recommendation?

There are the building blocks of a fun summer movie here, though they are teetering on one another. This is not “Return of the King” where we have had two films to build a plot and are now able to have the final battle for the whole film. This story is autonomous of the other two and simply the further adventures of the same characters. If you have a big screen and a decent sound system, there is nothing here that can’t wait for DVD, but still it’s not the brilliantly acted movie fun, with a touch of real meaning, that the first film was. As much as I longed to see these characters again, I wish they had stopped while they were ahead.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

January 16, 2010

What Is It?

The sequel to the very popular supernatural swashbuckler featuring the power house heart throb duo of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. The first film was fairly entertaining pushed over the edge to very entertaining by the over the top avant-garde performance of Depp.

Here Will (Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) have there wedding postponed when both are arrested for there helping Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) escape in end of the last film. Through a bunch of odd events, the three are re-united running from Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman. Thus, inviting you to strap yourself in for another amusement park ride of a summer movie.

How Was It?

It’s fun. Not as good as the original, but why? The story is not as well developed as the original. The character development is not there, you know the characters and there is nothing different from the first. But there biggest cinematic sin; not just putting the camera on Johnny Depp and letting him go. Here he’s more of a garnish than the main flavoring, as he was in the first one. (Did no one read the 8 billion reviews saying “Depp made the movie”?) Here the special effects are more prominent. Anytime Johnny begins to get going, they move on to monsters.

Is it good for Kids?

There are a couple of things to watch out for. First there are a couple of dresses that are a bit to low cut. However, the big problem is the gross monster factor. The beasties here are not as cool as the skeletons from the first film, but they are much more monsters. I would be careful showing this to your child even if they were ok with the first film.

You can check Screenit.com for a complete breakdown of what’s on the screen.

You may want to also look for some images of the monsters as well.

What About Spiritual Issues?

This is the nice part of it all. In the first film there were references to God being sovereign over the weirdo spirituality of the story. The pirates had been cursed by the heathen gods and it’s commented that they will fight until the final judgment. The pirates curse itself even went well with the Bible. They had gold and power, but the pleasures of there ill-gotten gain were unattainable. There are also lines from Captain Jack Sparrow that go perfectly along with the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34.

Here the story itself does not lend as well to any meaning. Still there are even more explicit references to God. One of the pirates from the last film is now looking into the Bible because now that they are not immortal they need to think about there mortal souls. Then there is service on the Flying Dutchman. Davie Jones offers people to serve on his ship for 100 years to postpone God’s judgment and punishment of your deeds. (As Bono says, art about “running from God” puts God at the center.) While making this offer one sailor who is praying and clutching a crucifix thinks it’s better to take his chances with God.

There is also some plot points with Jack’s compass that move back to the earlier mentioned Bible passages.

What is your recommendation?

If you are going, realize it’s not going to be as good as the first one. Plan to stay through the credits. Talk to your kids about the afore mentioned “Treasure” and the good and bad actions of the characters, as well as, the idea of trying to escape from God, at best, only postpones the inevitable.

Have fun, and some good conversation.

ps

Stay for the end of the credits.

There is Nothing New Under the Sun (Even in Sunny Hollywood) [almost Wordless Wednesday]

February 4, 2009

The other day my wife and I went to the movies and saw these four posters all hanging in a row.

all

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening Q&E Review Show

November 30, 2008

B001DZOC6Y

 The Happening

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.

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.