Posts Tagged ‘monster’

Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock

August 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock. (1899–1980)
For thous of you unfamiliar with this genius, Hitchcock had no morals, he did not believe in them. Still he loved drama and he loved story and though that they did not work with out morals. (To paraphrase) he said that to create drama, you draw a clear moral line and then have a character obviously cross it (in an entertaining fashion). Now, when there is a moral law and you break it, there must be a consequence. You are now waiting for the consequence and that creates drama. It’s funny how, as a creator he mirrored his CREATOR much more than he did as a creation. Still, not all of his films end up on the moral high ground, but he did make some of the best films ever and many of them at least land on the right foot. I suggest you start with films like Vertigo, Rear Window, Notorious and Rope. I would avoid films like “The Trouble With Harry” that were supposed to be funny because he didn’t include the “moral line.” All he accomplishes here is to prove that yes, he needed the moral line to create great film.
If you want to go modern, I would not bother with the remakes but check out M. Knight Shamalon’s “Signs” From the opening music you can tell this is a tribute to Mr. Hitchcock and from the raw genius and strong moral lines, it is a fitting one.

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.

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.

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.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Q&E Review Show

January 21, 2010

Wolverine mp3

The Anatomy of a Monster CDs

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.

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.

Dracula

March 31, 2009

What Is It?

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

How Was It?

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

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

Is It Good For Kids?

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

What About Spiritual Issues?

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

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

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

What Is Your Recommendation?

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

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

What Parts Were Ripped Off By Lesser Authors?

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

hmmm … I wonder…. Oh well….

Dracula by Bram Stoker

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.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

October 23, 2008

What Is It?

Leaving Chicken Run and several TV ads (I like the one with the sheep), Nick Park returns to the characters that that won him critical acclaim and Academy Awards, namely the cheese addict inventor whose intelligence is overshadowed by his dog (not that he is a total idiot, it’s just that the dog is that smart). Their Clay-mation adventures are everything we love about cartoon humor as well as fun genre parody. They have done sci-fi, mystery, and action/adventure; now they move to the big screen with classic horror.

There is a terrible monster lurking in the town. Wallace and Gromit, now humane pest control, must protect the prize vegetables of the town from the Were-Rabbit!

How Was It?

It was not the gem that each of the shorts are. Still I find that, in retrospect, I thought there were a lot of funny and creative things. Maybe it just doesn’t slap you in the face the way we Americans are used to. I very much liked the fact that it was based on 1940’s and 50’s horror films and started with the idea that monsters are created when God and nature are rejected. Still it was never truly frightening, but more “referenced” fear if you will.

Is It Good For Children?

There is nothing explicitly frightening or inappropriate. Though the symbolism is still there, it is more parodied than veiled. We see mutilated vegetables, dripping with exposed innards and we hear about them being molested. You can check Screenit.com for a breakdown of everything on the screen.

What About Spiritual Issues?

The idea that the rejection of God could result in the genesis of monster is a fascinating one that I am always excited to see explored. The town seems to revolve around the church. The vicar is shown as focusing too much on his own vegetable garden, but then sees this “sin” as linked to the appearance of the monster. He is also the expert we go to if we need to stop a monster. He has a case filled with all kinds of “monster stoppers”. There is also a fun scene where a bunny seems to go to heaven. (Though that is not the case)

Any other issues?

OK, this may not be a big issue, but the “bad” guy is a hunter. It is repeated adnauseum that Wallis’ pest control is better because it is “humane”. No one is ever seen, nor talks about eating anything besides vegetables and cheese. It would not surprise me if Nick Park was a vegan. It’s not bad to be a vegan, but the Bible did tell us we were allowed to eat meat…

What Is Your Recommendation?

This movie is well done. It’s not a laugh riot, but it’s good. The “don’t hurt animals no matter what” thing was annoying. I still would be willing to see it again, maybe now that it has come out on DVD… and enjoy a nice burger while I wach.