Posts Tagged ‘I robot’

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

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….

I Robot

November 14, 2008

i-robot

What Is It?

  • First Law:A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human
    being to come to harm.
  • Second Law:A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders
    would conflict with the First Law.
  • Third Law:A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not
    conflict with the First or Second Law.

The year is 2035. The world looks like ours with more technological advances. The biggest advance seems to be that it is very common for people to have robots as a personal assistant. In this setting we have a sci-fi cop film. Sort of CSI meets Disney World’s Tomorrow Land. This fast paced robot-mystery focuses on detective Spooner (Wil Smith), a loner in vintage 2004 “All Star” sneakers. He has never trusted robots, but now that his friend Dr. Alfred Lanning (Babe’s James Cromwell) is dead, Spooner rejects the theory of suicide, and takes in a robot to interrogate on murder charges. Spooner then takes on the system where most people believe that the laws programmed into each robot makes it impossible to accuse a robot of harm.

How Was It?

I’m not at all a Will Smith fan. This marks the first thing he has done that I have enjoyed since he came out with the “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” album in 1988. (I don’t recommend the album now.) This was a fun and intelligent film with a good script, good performances and special effects that are well done, but not over the top. It’s exciting but does not feel like your typical FX film.

The film was nominated for an Oscar for its special effects, but lost to Spider Man 2.

Is It Good For Kids?

The danger in the film is real, but the robots are friendly looking. Unlike the Orks in “Lord of the Rings” the presence of tons of the enemy coming after the main character is exciting but not disturbing. Their action ends with some blood. They are also dealing with the issues of suicide and murder through out the film. At one point you do see the basic shape of the female lead while she is showering behind a very steamy glass door. (I believe this was to compare her “humanity” to the robot in the next room.)

The problem that most people will see with “I Robot” is that the main character, though not shown as the moral compass of the film, cusses a fair amount. He even tells a kid “Go home and stop cussing, you’re no good at it.”

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

How about Spiritual Issues?

Right off the bat the female lead (Bridget Moynahan) tells Spooner that because of the three laws the idea of a robot that can kill some one is a impossible as the idea of a man who can walk on water. Spooner replies “There was this one guy, a long time ago…”

There is also a reference to the robots being like Frankenstein. Like most classic horror monsters, the story of Frankenstein was about a man who tries to be God, and going against God produces a monster. Considering all the other symbolism that matches up, I believe that the classical and religious implications of the statement were intentional. This is the start of an underlying comparison between the story of Jesus
and the plot of I, Robot. Being a bit of a mystery the rest of this section will be a MAJOR SPOILER.

It is discovered that the dead scientist has a Bible in his desk that Spooner finds and spends a good deal of time looking through. The Bible is one of only 2 things he finds in the apartment before it’s destroyed. It seems that the scientist had been held captive by the robots he invented and used the story of Jesus as his influence to concoct a plan to “save” all humanity for the robots.

The laws of the robots only bring about death and slavery (like the laws of Moses). The robots have decided that they need to hold the world hostage and even kill some humans because statistically it will keep the humans safer.

The main robot in question is named “Sunny” (Alan Tudyk) and refers to the scientist that created him as his “Father”. The robot is designed to be more human and able to choose to follow the laws or not. It’s also seen that Spooner is part robot and part human. And the Scientist had himself killed to set off these events and save humanity. Thus he sacrificed himself and this trinity brings about the physical salvation
of the world. In the movie The Matrix, Neo is a Christ Figure. From his Baptism to his death and resurrection through the power of Trinity, he follows the story of Jesus. the Matrix used there Christ Figure to bring a “New Message.” (Galatians 1:8)   Unlike the Matrix, I, Robot is using the story of Jesus as a map of how to
save people. Thus the Jesus symbolism here points back to Jesus. We also see Spooner’s Grandmother, shown as just an all around wonderful woman, wanting to go to church and carrying a Bible exactly like the one Spooner found. (Just incase you didn’t yet know what that book was.)

Finally it turns out that Sonny did kill the scientist, at the scientist’s orders. So the line about “a robot that could kill a human is like a man that could walk on water” more clearly points out who Sonny is emulating.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I would definitely recommend it if you have non-Christian friends who like it. Watching it and being able to point out the Jesus symbolism is both interesting, and potential for opening up questions and discussion about the most important things in life.

The only thing that prevents me for whole heartedly recommending it simply for personal entertainment is the fact that the cussing comes so prevalently from a character that we are supposed to like and root for. This may be one of the very few times where one of those “remove the bad words from your TV” devices might be a good idea…. but still you are going to get the line about the only reason not to cuss is because “you’re not good at it.”