Posts Tagged ‘Movie Review’

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.

#30 – Top Money Makers of the Decade – Kung Fu Panda

January 9, 2010

GI JOE THE RISE OF COBRA: Question Entertainment Christian movie review

January 2, 2010

Director Stephen Sommers said “this is not a George Bush movie — it’s an Obama world. Right from the writing stage we said to ourselves, this can’t be about beefy guys on steroids who all met each other in the Vietnam War, but an elite organization that’s made up of the best of the best from around the world.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_of_Cobra

The Polar Express

December 22, 2009

What Is It?

The movie is based on a children’s book about a doubting boy who travels on a magical train and finds that, if he believes, that there really is a Santa. The story is stretched over an hour and utilizes a new computer animation technique. Actors have little sensors put all over there face and body. Then their performances are digitally entered into a computer and rendered as the computer characters. This allows Tom Hanks to play 5 characters including the child we follow throughout the film.

How Was It?

The animation was well done, but a little creepy. The people are almost real, but just plastic enough to be strange ( not to mention that they never blink). There are several scenes where things just degenerate into first person roller coaster effects. I found out that it was originally presented in IMAX 3D , which would make this repetitive effect a little less pointless.

The plot feels very contrived. There are several other kids added who each have “life lessons” of their own. Songs are trite and pointless. There is a moment with the train conductors looking for some part of the train (that causes another roller coaster screen) that is almost genuine cartoon fun. For the most part though, this is just numbing animation that tries to be deep, but mostly becomes confusing and contrived.

On top of it all, the charming “Classic Christmas” motif was nice until they shattered it with a weird cameo by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as a rock singing elf.

Tom Hanks is a good actor, but the others….

Was It Good For Kids?

There is nothing particularly vulgar about the film.

You can check Screenit.com to see what exactly happens on the screen.

I have had kids tell me they liked it, but not have a lot to say about why. The issues here may be much more in the dizzying spiritual ideas that make as little sense as the rest of the poorly contrived plot. So without further ado ….

What About Spiritual Issues?

This film seems to have a lot about “belief” in it, not “believe in anything” but ” belief” for the sake of “belief” itself. The child does not believe in Santa, so he is whisked off to learn the power of “Belief.” At the end (spoiler) there is a bell that only those who “Believe” can hear. The boy learns to hear it and as he gets older, though most can no longer hear the bell , our hero can for his entire life.

The idea that belief is a power that needs to be applied for no reason, is not one that goes with the Bible. Our God is a specific being that gives proofs from the logic of the Bible to the wonder of creation. Our faith is not blind but educated. We can know God is there and our belief grows out of trust. Although some of the statements from the movie, if taken out of context, are true, it is still offer s you a “belief” in nothing.

The only time that the there is an object to of the belief is when a homeless man asks if the hero boy believes in ghosts. Though the boy says “NO”, he learns to believe in them as he is talk s to one who gives him aid throughout the rest of the film.

Still this is just Belief as the idea that you know something is real. Not belief in the sense that you have put your trust and hope in it.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is just the slow moving, overly analysed and specialized humanism that Writer/Director Robert Zemeckis brought us in Forest Gump. There are a lot of good holiday films. This is not one of them. Though your children may be willing to be quiet for the time that the film is running, there are much better options for kids’ films. People will continue to say that they find “Christian Themes  in this film, but that is because they are not paying attention. They heard a word they knew and instead of seeing how the film was defining it, they inflicted there own definition on the movie. I can not see how this can be healthy or worth while.

#31 – Top Money Makers of the Decade – The Incredibles

December 21, 2009

We have taken the list of the Top Money Makers of the Decade and we are doing the “Question Entertainment Lightning Round”
I hope you like it. Let us know your thoughts.

See them all at http://www.youtube.com/user/1ThessFIVE21and22#p/c/A4E6B15329949FF4

The Incredibles

Hoodwinked

December 17, 2009

What Is It?

A computer animated cross between a Shrek-style twisting of faerie tales and a Pulp Fiction-style story line. Each character tells their story completely, then, we start over from another perspective. Each story is different, but intersects with the other characters and their stories. It’s fun to see things that didn’t make sense before explained later.

The story line is simple. The cops show up to find a tied up grandmother, (Glenn Close) a wolf (one of my favorite voice actors, Patrick Warburton) dressed in her clothes, a little girl in a red hood (Anne Hathaway of the Princess Diaries) and a woodsman (James Belushi) who has recently burst on the sceen with ax in hand. The police think that this mess of fairytale endings will be the key to discover who has been stealing the secret recipe books from all the good ie shops in the wood. Chief Grizzly ( rapper Xzibit , in a part that has nothing to do with hip-hop) just wants to book the wolf, but the frog (David Ogden Stiers) wants to get the real story.

How Was It?

I expected to find this movie lame. The ads did it no favors. I don’t know if this was helped by my lowered expectations, but I found it entertaining. The animation is nothing special (especially with Pixar running around) but the story is creative. I really enjoyed the interacting story lines. The pop culture references were good but not so overwhelming that it bogs down the plot . They more use popular movie/tv short hand in ways you would not expect to see it in a faerie tales. The plot is predictable, but fun.

Is It Good For Kids?

It is made for kids to enjoy with enough other things going on that adults will be ok ay (or have fun), too. There is never a moment where the joke is such that you will just hope your child will “miss it”. There is no cussing and all violence is very much good vs.bad or accidental and very cartoony. (Spoiler) We do find out that the grandmother has lied to her granddaughter about parts of her life. This is shown to hurt the relationship, but they do work it out. Beyond that, Red seems to be a “teen” character. She is updated to be hip Still yet , her shirt MAKES IT ALL THE WAY TO HER PANTS !!! Not only that, she’s going for the ultra hip – and ultra modest – bell

bottom jeans with a denim skirt.(Hopefully Red will be a good influence on Jasmine, Ariel, and those “Bratz” dolls.)

You can get a complete breakdown of what is on the screen at Screenit.com.

How about Spiritual Issues?

The wolf makes the statement “With God as my witness, you will learn to speak ” to the fast talking chipmunk. There is also a character who claims a witch has put a spell on him, but he then does something that proves there is no spell, but pretends not to notice so he can continue with his funny quirk .

The real lesson is “don’t judge a book by its cover” wh ich can have a spiritual application, especially if you bring up verses like John 7:24 .

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you have kids who would want a fun, bright film, or teens who are up late with alot of soda, this would be a good one to rent.

Hey , I was looking at the credits and noticed that the soundtrack was done by John Mark Painter. He’s from the band Christian band Fleming and John. This made me pay more attention. The Goat is voiced by Benjy Gaither (son of gospel singer Bill Gaither ) and the brothers who wrote and directed this film also hosted and edited (respectively ) CCM-TV, the short lived Christian music video show based on the magazine. It’s always great to see Christians put out something that does not make you want to gag.

I have since bought the Sound Track. It’s a lot of fun. 

Fleming and John’s Myspace page says:

 You can download a bootleg of their Awesome “Hoodwinked” Soundtrack here

PS

Did you know that Hercules Goes Bananas was the original title for Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s first film where they dubbed his voice to take care of his accent . I never thought I would see a movie with a HGB joke!

Hoodwinked DVD

Hoodwinked CD

Delusions of Grandeur

by Fleming & John

#34 – Top Money Makers of the Decade – The Passion of the Christ

December 11, 2009

We have taken the list of the Top Money Makers of the Decade and we are doing the “Question Entertainment Lightning Round”
I hope you like it. Let us know your thoughts.

See them all at http://www.youtube.com/user/1ThessFIVE21and22#p/c/A4E6B15329949FF4

The Passion of the Christ

National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets

June 4, 2009

What Is It?

The Di Vinci Code book and movie created a national hunger for historical treasure hunting and a large group of people who didn’t want to see it done “that way”. Disney saw the market and created a “safe” version that still involved Knights Templar and secret societies, but mostly dealt with American History instead of the more controversial religious kind. Then, according to IMDB.com, when the film came back as PG instead of the intended PG-13 they released it under Disney instead of Touchtone and advertised it as a family film.

This product stars Nicolas Cage as an explorer treasure hunter who knows everything about American History. Like Dan Brown‘s hero, Cage’s Ben (Franklin) Gates is caught in espionage that puts his historical knowledge to the test, while inadvertently turning several groups, including the US Government, against him. Thus, we get an Indiana Jones style adventure in America with more archeology and less adventure.

How Was It?

It was what it was. Nowhere near as good as the Di Vinci Code, though not as openly offensive. This is just a formula film that suffers in comparison to everything else it looks like, not to mention everything else Jerry Bruckheimer has done lately. (Pirates of the Caribbean, DeJaVu, all three CSI‘s)

Nicolas Cage is a fun actor and in films like this and Ghost Rider, he gives a “Wink Wink” performance that tells us “Don’t worry, I know it’s silly too.”

Is It Good For Children?

That’s the selling point from Disney’s perspective. Still the three characters that we are supposed to like use the Lord’s name as their cuss word of choice. There is also a long scene of two characters putting lemon juice on the back of the constitution. Obviously this is to dull to take the time it needs for the plot points, so they have the attractive blond woman (Diane Kruger) in a very low cut dress and spend a long time showing her leaning over the table. Younger children may also have problem understanding the “breaking the law because it is the right thing to do” theme. (That is discussed more in the next section.)

What About Spiritual Issues?

I don’t know a whole lot about the Mason organization, but according to this movie it is the best thing going and the true American religion, at least in the minds of all the founding fathers. (I’m not sure if that is good or bad or even noteworthy, but it was strongly presented in this film.)

Other than that, there are a couple of moral issues. First, Ben plans on stealing the constitution to save it. They do make sure he is pushed into a corner and has no other options, but this still may come off as situational ethics. The nice thing about this theft, is that Ben also plans, though he would prefer not to, on going to jail for a long time for what he had done. To some extent that is the attitude of Daniel and Shadrack, Meshack and Ebendigo in the Bible. Still, none of the Bible characters tried to negotiate out of the consequences and none of them got out of paying for what they had done. Ben of course sights the Constitution for justification of his actions and not the Bible story.

More problematic is Ben’s love life. His father (Jon Voight) sees his son with a lady and asks if she’s pregnant, and while she is not, and at that point is not even in a relationship with Ben, the viewer is left not sure if Ben lives his life such that the dad would have a legitimate reason to ask such a question. Later, Ben explains that his dad is a “prude” and and is so because he thinks Ben’s love life has been to “cavalier”, simply because he may have said “I love you” to more than one woman in his life. At the end of the movie (spoiler) Ben is living with the girl, but there is no mention of marriage and no one has a ring.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This silly movie was not made to be a family film and changing the ad campaign did not change the content of the film. With the fuzzy look at stealing and breaking the law, I would be very careful with young children and make sure you talked through the issues. Between the cussing, the possibly inappropriate relationships and a scene spent looking down a girls shirt, this film just is not worth it.

According to Screenit.com, the sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, has Diane Kruger showing “varying amounts of cleavage in various outfits during the film.” and “To distract a White House official…[Kruger’s Character] shows some cleavage and purposefully crawls on all fours in her skirt — pretending to look for a lost earring.”

Screenit.com also reports that they still use God’s name as their cuss word, that the justification’s for breaking the law is even more flimsy and that the girl Ben was living with at the end of the first film is in fact, just his girlfriend.

With the promise of another lackluster adventure with all the same negative themes and visuals amplified, I have decided that this series is mislabeled and I just stayed home.