Why Christian Movies are so terrible~Jared C. Wilson


Last month, while out at the movies, my wife and I happened to see trailers for two new movies produced by and for the Christian market — “faith-based films” they call them these days. Both trailers distilled their respective stories down to about 3 minutes of earnest dialogue snippets, tear-streamed dramatic moments, and inspirational footage of sports (basketball in one, track in the other). Throughout both trailers — which we saw on two different days before two different movies — the audience was audibly laughing. I was cringing. The paint-by-numbers aesthetic of the new wave of Christian movies persists in making the faith appear trite, inauthentic, corny, and — worst of all, as far as the culture goes — uncool.

Why despite all the gains made in technology and budgeting can’t Christians make good movies?

I know, I know — people always try to come up with exceptions. But there aren’t any, really. Every now and again some well-meaning brother or sister will say to me, “This one’s different. You gotta see it. It’s not like the others.” And then it is. It painfully, painfully is. Why does it seem like the only good “Christian movies” are the ones made by the world’s artists with Christian themes (The Passion of the Christ, Silence, etc.)? Some thoughts:

Read entire article here

Advertisements

Movie Review: The Christmas Chronicles


Director: Clay Kaytis
Producer:Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Mark Radcliffe
Writer: Matt Lieberman, David Guggenheim
Cast: Kurt Russell,Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Oliver Hudson, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Lamorne Morris, Martin Roach, Vella Lovell, Lauren Collins, Steven Van Zandt, Goldie Hawn

Plot: It’s Christmas and two siblings may cause Christmas not to come! Santa’s sleigh has been wrecked, the reindeer are scattered, and Santa is in jail for boosting a car! Can Kate and Teddy Pierce save Christmas and break Santa out of jail? Will Teddy believe once again in Santa Claus? Will Kate’s wish come true and they become a family once again?

You may be seeing some familiar storylines present in this Netflix movie and you are probably wondering whether you want to invest in another Christmas schmaltz fest where the meaning of Christmas is reduced to being a family again. And I don’t blame you at all. This isn’t “A Charlie Brown’s Christmas” or “A Wonderful Life”. This isn’t even the “Santa Clause”. And if that is what you want then this isn’t the movie for you.

But if you want to see Kurt Russell take Santa Claus and make it his then this is the movie for you. Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t a great movie, this may be a movie that needs viewing in the satellite of love with three robots in the first row. But Kurt Russell will make you enjoy this Santa Claus. He takes the mantle of Santa Claus and gives it a truly unique spin on it. The concert scene alone is worth the time.

So if you’re in the mood for some schmaltz, and Kurt Russell as Santa Claus check this movie out on Netflix.

One last thing there is some profanity used in the movie, I am not talking about “F” Bombs but there is some of a minor sort, although I wonder how any profanity can be minor, so be aware if children are present.

I am giving this movie two stars out of five.

Movie Review Mondays


So being the observent group of individuals that you are you’ve probably notice that it has been awhile since I have posted a movie review.

Well there is a simple reason for this, most of the current crop of movies don’t interest me or are crap. Or skubulon if you prefer a biblical term.

However, that doesn’t preclude me from reviewing older movies something that I have done from time to time. Especially movies from the “golden age” of Hollywood. Which is a completely subjective since my “golden age” probably doesn’t correspond to a professional movie reviewer.

Also I have decided to do a few single sentence reviews every now and then such as:

Of the second season runs of the Netflix/Marvel franchise Daredevil has consistently been the best of all of them and has continued that into the third season.

Now this saves space, lets me be pithy something desired in a blog author or so I have been told.

And with that in mind another bit of pithiness. I noticed that Netflix has the four gospel accounts ( Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for those of you who go to Joel Osteen’s church) each being a word for word telling from the accounts with a video more or less acting out the words. These are rated TV-14 which I find odd. What is in them that suggests anyone under fourteen needs parental guidance, it could be the brutality of the crucifixion, and the whipping. But judging from what I saw in John I find that hard to believe. Perhaps, it is the words themselves that prompt the rating? Have to think about that.

Lastly I, and most of the internet no doubt, learned that Stan Lee died today. I can’t comment on the status of this man’s soul as he stands now before the righteous Judge. No one can. However, it is worth saying that many a lonely day in my youth was brightened by reading the adventures of Captain America, Hulk, and others. And it was Stan Lee and artists such as Jack “The King” Kirby, Steve Ditko, and John Romita that brought a little joy into my life. Excelsior!

Movie Review: Only the Brave


Director: Joseph Kosinski
Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Michael Menchel, Dawn Ostroff, Molly Smith, Jeremy Steckler
Writer: Ken Nolan, Eric Warren Singer
Based on: GQ article No Exit by Sean Flynn
Cast: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, Jennifer Connelly, Andie MacDowell, Thad Luckinbill, Geoff Stults, Scott Haze, Ben Hardy

Only the Brave is based upon the lives of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots an elite group of firefighters, whose method of containg fires is to use a controlled burn in the area before the fire which deprives it of fuel.

The movie shows the lives of the firefighters, how they became Hot Shots (controlled burn experts), and the Yarnell Hill Fire that took all but one of the lives of the Granite Hill Hot Shots.

The movie is rated PG-13 so there is adult language and content, there are some F-bombs, as well as partial male nudity, and smoking of marijuana. This doesn’t detract from the obvious heroism portrayed by these men as they fight to save the lives of the people in the path of the fire ultimately losing their own lives.

At the end of the movie there is a tribute to the firefighters who lost their lives.

On a side note Mike Rowe, the guy behind the show Dirty Jobs, has a new show on Facebook called Returning the Favor. In it he visits the site of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot memorial. Click on the link below to watch what happens.

Returning the favor: Honoring the Brave

I give this movie 3.5 stars out of 5 I would definitely recommend seeing it.

Movie Review: The Incredibles 2


Director: Brad Bird
Producer: John Walker, Nicole Paradis Grindle
Writer: Brad Bird
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowel, Huck Milner, and Samuel L. Jackson

Fourteen years ago Pixar introduced the movie goers to a family of superheros who couldn’t be heroes anymore.   But when faced with a challenge once again donned their costumes to fight against evil.  And there it left us hanging.  Would Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl be allowed to come out of retirement?  What about the laws against superheroes?  Not to mention did people really want the return of superheroes?

Pixar takes up the story from where it left off fourteen years ago and answers all those questions and more!  In Incredibles 2  a multimillionaire sees the Incredibles and Frozone  fighting the giant robot that was  attacking the city and is excited to see that the supers have returned.  And contacts Frozone .

The millionaire’s plan is simple using Elastigirl  generate good publicity for supers and get the law changed.  And that is exactly what happens.  Elastigirl goes out crime fighting while Mr. Incredible, Bob,  stays home and tries to be both mother and father.  And surprise, surprise he is doing a good job until they find that the baby, Jack Jack, has a plethora of super powers!  Because of the importance of what Elastigirl is doing they hide from her that Jack jack is super which causes Bob to be stressed to the point that the kids call in Frozone.  When Frozone sees what is happening he tells them that they need professional help.  So Bob takes the baby to Edna.  Edna is fascinated with the baby and takes him off Bob’s hands which allows him to get the sleep that he has missed,  Bob returns to Edna’s, (and the sequence of the baby and Edna has to be seen to believe it is great) to find that she’s designed a super suit that practically neutralizes the baby’s powers and makes him easier to handle.

At the same time something is up with the villain that Elastigirl is fighting.  Everything isn’t what it seems and Elastigirl is trying to find out who is behind the curtain pulling all the strings.

This follow-up to The Incredibles is great and excellent family fare I give it five stars.

Movie Review: Pixar’s Coco


Director: Lee Unkrich
Producer: Darla K. Anderson
Writers: Lee Unkrich,Jason Katz,Matthew Aldrich,and Adrian Molina
Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, and Edward James Olmos

In which I take Pixar to task for their ancestor worship.

Coco is about a boy named Miguel Rivera who lives with a family of shoe makers who seems to hate music. There is no singing, mariachi playing, no radio, nothing. All music is banned. But Miguel loves music. His greatest wish is to be like the greatest singer/actor in all Mexico, Ernesto de la Cruz, who died tragically while filming a movie. He decides to play in the festival for Day of the Dead with a guitar that he has kept hidden from his family but is discovered and the guitar is destroyed. While at the family’s ofrenda he damages a picture frame with his great-great-grandmother, his great-grandmother (named Coco) as a little girl, and his great-great-grandfather whose head in the picture has been torn off but is holding the famous guitar of Ernesto de la Cruz.

Seeing this he decides to steal the guitar from Ernesto’s tomb because he decides that based on the picture he must be the great-great-grandson of Ernesto de la Cruz and he has a right to this guitar. But stealing from the dead on the festival of the Day of the Dead has consequences, and Miguel has been turned into a ghost. Now normal people can’t see him but the dead can.

Turns out that the afterlife has its bureaucracy too. Because Miguel winds up in the government offices that handles such things. Miguel has been cursed by stealing from the dead, and not only that but by damaging the picture on the ofrenda his great-great-grandmother can’t cross over to the land of the living to be with her descendents. This is very important. So when Miguel is brought into the office he is told that he must return to the land of the living before sunrise or he becomes a ghost forever. And the only way to return is for one of his relatives to bless him. Well his great-great-grandmother is upset with him and but says she will bless him but with conditions. And the conditions are no music. Miguel refuses the blessing and goes in search of his great-great-grandfather Ernesto de la Cruz, who because he is a singer knows he will bless him and allow Miguel to sing and make music.

On the way Miguel meets a skeleton named Hector who played with Ernesto. Hector offers to help Miguel if Miguel helps him by taking his photo and placing it on the ofrenda of his family. And then Miguel learns a dark secret if a person’s family forgets a dead relatives in time that spirit will disappear into non-existentance. It is only by having the pictures on the ofrenda and the relatives seeing them can a dead spirit survive in the afterlife.

Now knowing this Miguel trys to help Hector, get the blessing of Ernesto de la Cruz, and avoid turning into a ghost forever.

Now it is without a doubt that Pixar has accurately portrayed the traditions of the Mexican people regarding the Day of the Dead. Which is worth while in itself. But as I was talking with my daughter about this film she brought up some interesting points. In this depiction of the afterlife there is no justice. Good, bad, everyone “lives” in the same place. The poor lives in run down shacks while the rich have there mansions. It is implied that the offerings on ofrenda may have something to do with the quality of afterlife but nothing is certain. But whatever afterlife this is it isn’t the biblical one. The punishment for their sins appears to be non-existentance. But if you are a murderer and your family keeps your picture on the ofrenda you are assured of continuing on. Plus what happens if you have no family? Sorry even if you were a saint on the earth you end up with non-existentance.

I would also invite the readers to look into the traditions regarding the Day of the Dead how the family places food and gifts on ofrendas, which are just altars for the dead. This isn’t Christian teaching regarding how we are to remember the dead.

Lastly I would say that watching Pixar’s Coco would be good to learn of the Mexican culture but at the same time you need to point out what the biblical teaching is regarding what happens when people die.

Pixar Coco gets three stars with reservations.

Movie Review: Avengers Infinity Wars


Producer: Kevin Feige
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira,
Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt

So my son and I went to see Infinity Wars. I will admit that I wasn’t really sure about going to this movie. I have been burned out with superhero movies for some time now. And I wasn’t sure if this was the one that was going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back or if I could get just one more in and not burn out completely.

So I survived and now on with the review.

So Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, is a power mad Titan who has a malthusian view of how the universe should be run. Because there is a finite amount of resources in the universe and because the amount of “people”, “sapient beings”, “intelligent life” or what have you exceeds the resources in order to achieve balance half of all the people in a random pattern must be eliminated.

So Thanos has been traveling from galaxy to galaxy wiping out half of the inhabitants as he does all the while searching for the infinity stones. For once he has all the infinity stones he will be able to snap his fingers and immediately cause that what he calls balance will happen and every inhabited world will have half of their population gone. To this end Thanos has created a gauntlet and as he obtains an infinity stone he places it into his gauntlet and gains the power of that stone.

So of course it is very obvious that some of the infinity stones are on Earth while others are on other planets and or places. Because of that the film basically has three sections. One section involves Thor and half of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The other section involves Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Spiderman and the other half of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The last section involves the rest of the Avengers sans Hawkeye, Bucky aka the Winter Soldier, and the Black Panther along with the nation of Wakanda’s fighters.

Because of the way that this movie is made there are two obvious things. One to really know what is happening you have had to watch all the MCU films until this point.

Two because frankly no other studio has attempted something like a ten year interlocking film franchise this movie has some obvious flaws but the flaws can be overlooked when you consider this is part of the ultimate goal of the MCU films.

So is this a great movie? No, but it is enjoyable and you will be surprised at some of the things that happen.

I am giving this movie three out of five stars.

Balcony Closed


Kinda burned out on movies so shutting the door for now. Trying to get more reading in so look for book reviews.

Movie Review: Atomic Blonde


Producer:Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, A. J. Dix, Kelly McCormick, Eric Gitter, Peter Schwerin
Director: David Leitch
Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Based on The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Bill Skarsgård, Sam Hargrave, Roland Møller, Jóhannes Jóhannesson, Daniel Bernhardt, and Barbara Sukowa

It’s rare when I don’t find something good about a movie and this one heads that list. Google gave me a rent a movie, any movie, for ninety nine cents and I went and rented this movie. I want my money back.

This movie violates one of the major rules regarding action flicks don’t be boring. And when Charlize Theron was fighting oh yeah it was interesting but the maybe five minutes total of that couldn’t compete with the incredibly boring rest of the movie.

So don’t bother, if someone gives it to you free use it for target practice.

I am giving this a negative five stars