I recently watched the movie Legion, a 2010 apocalyptic supernatural action movie. In the movie, God has lost his faith in humankind and has sent his angles, led by the Archangel Gabriel, to wipe out humankind. The Archangel Michael “disobeys” God’s command and instead comes to Earth in an attempt to thwart the coming apocalypse. His goal is not to save all of humankind. Rather, Michael’s goal is to save the life of one, unborn child because Michael still has faith in humankind.
On the theological front, he movie itself was not very good and suffers from a serious lack of a basic understanding of the Bible. But then, would a theologically sound movie do well at the box office? Probably not.
The question then remains, should Christians watch movies that distort the biblical narrative? I personally do not have a problem with it. As I was writing my thoughts down, I looked up what others have said about the movie. Pretty much the only thing I could find were negative reviews coming from Conservative or Fundamentalist Christians. Their answer to my question was unsurprising: No, don’t watch this movie. They characterized the movie as blasphemous, heretical, mixing Spiritual symbolism with the demonic and an intentional distortion of the Word.
Aside from one quote at the beginning of the movie, the Bible wasn’t referenced throughout the rest of the movie. In my opinion, the movie did a better job pulling out themes: eschatology, love, sin and faith. The reviews I read picked up on these themes. They also picked up on Michael’s “rebellion”. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Michael was not rebellious, but rather passed God’s test. As he states in the movie, Gabriel did what God asked; Michael did what God needed. I guess it’s all in how you interpret the movie. I think that this is a point that other Christian reviewers missed. Throughout the Bible, God regularly tests humans. It’s not too farfetched to think that God would also test the Angels. Why do I think that it was test? For starters, God rewards Michael at the end of the movie, where as Gabriel, the Angel who “listened” to God was not rewarded.
This was a fun movie to watch. Fun, but not great or even good. The main reason I watched the movie was so I would have a better idea of what was going on in the tv series, Dominion. The show takes place 25 years after the movie.
Cropped image of shooting for Transformers with the vehicle for Optimus Prime. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are approximately two good things about this movie. One, we get to see the Autobots on the big screen again. As one who grew up watching the cartoons, became devastated when Optimus died, and then found a new love of them when my son started to take notice of the toys — well, I really like see Optimus Prime, the robotic Stoic sage, on the movie screen. The second best thing about this movie is when the credits rolled.
You would think that a movie about giant metal robots from outer space wouldn’t have so many plot holes, but it does. From the lack of mentioning the Witwhickys to the dreaded misuse of fan favorite Bumblebee — to even more ethnic characters serving nothing more than to act their stereotypical parts — this movie franchise has repeated the same tired elements to produced a remarkably long and dull movie. And usually without explaining much of anything. The wooden characters do exactly what we expect. There is not one honest surprise in this movie. Even the humor was little more than recycled B-roll.
I am done with the program-error hindering Bumblebee’s voice. Honestly, it’s been almost a decade — fix the stupid voice program! I am sick of the lack of meaningless villains. I am done with the series.
And who was it that thought John Goodman as the stereotypical American-veteran-of-a-Southeast-Asian-conflict as an Autobot was a good idea? They must have mined Platoon, Hamburger Hill, and Apocalypse Now for every cliche and inflection they could so that Goodman wouldn’t have to actually have a personality.
One of the biggest highlights of the entire movie was when an unfortunately filled movie theater let out a groan when the movie turned into a propaganda piece for the Chinese Government and their continued quest to exert control over Hong Kong in a parental fashion. For no explicit reason, we get cut shots to Beijing where, after a Hong Kong security guard demands (in English) that the central government be called, the Defense Minister states, “We will always defend Hong Kong at all costs.” Thanks, buddy. Didn’t know that. I don’t even really know why it is in the movie except the fact China now bankrolls numerous Hollywood blockbusters.
Overall, this movie is a dud. It is symptomatic of Hollywood’s aversion to anything new. What is lost in dialogue is made up in language surely stretching the almost meaningless PG-13 rating. What we once held dear in our childhood, these characters sustaining us and sometimes impart wisdom when we would not have received any, are destroyed and transformed into propaganda and little more than continued panhandling by inflated movie studios.
Latest X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer Shows Off Storm, The Sentinels And Peter Dinklage) (Photo credit: BagoGames)
I’ve stated this numerous times, in numerous ways, while wearing numerous capes — I am not a Marvel Comics guy. My son is, however. He has left the fold of Star Trek for Star Wars and DC for Marvel. I am trying to be okay with that, but I thought I had raised him better. Nevertheless, I allow him to drag me to the late shows on Thursday to see each and every movie. Well, something like that.
2011’s X-Men: First Class was a surprise hit. I truly enjoyed it because it was for the uninitiated as much as it was for the true believer. Much of the central cast as returned for the sequel-tie-in-reset-reboot of the previous Bryan Singer films. Indeed, Singer, embroiled in a bit of a controversy at the moment, has returned to helm this one. He missed the third X-Men movie, seeing as he was directing the failed relaunch Superman Returns. With him comes the older Professor X, Patrick Stewart (my son thought he looked like Captain Picard), and the older Magneto, as well as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in a non-cameo rule this time around. Indeed, at times it felt like a sequel to last summer’s The Wolverine.
It was an action movie complete with time travel, superheroes, and philosophical dilemmas. How do we as humans seeks to preserve ourselves amongst a changing society. The storyline, taking place at the end of the Vietnam war, fits neatly into this paradigm of the fear of change. In something familiar to many today in religious circles, the fear of change produces what we might understand as a fundamentalist and legalist reaction to anything “impure” so that what was once a noble endeavor to restore humanity becomes the killer of our species. The only thing that saves us, and the characters, in the end is the saving of a life, even a life so wretched and diseased none of us in the theater would’ve been upset to have seen it snatched away.
There is some language, the (somewhat-)nude Mystique (played by the ever annoying and childish Jennifer Lawrence), heavy amounts of violence, and some adult humor. The cast, except for Jennifer Lawrence who should stick to the Hunger Games, and only the Hunger Games, does a remarkable job of acting like the parts are theirs. James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart are a great, time stretched, couple playing the same person. The former’s younger Prof. X is powerful reminder of sacrifice and love while the latter is able to show exhaustion, fear, and loss. As always, Michael Fassbender’s performance steals the show. If it were possible, he should have his own staged play, as Magneto, where he gives philosophical siliques.
Reason has more than one side. That which is reasonable and fair has to have other considerations than simply an “imposition” which is what “reasonable” is when it is one sided. A very poor constructed sentence, but it depicts exactly the mistake many are making today when they claim that “modern changes in societal rules and even laws” cannot be challenged by those who have benefited for centuries by the old ways even if it has been proven for centuries that the old ways have worked well and may not require changes.
Christians, and all kinds of conservatives, or other derogatory names one wants to use for this group not only have the right, but the duty to, and in fact, are doing society a favor, when they contest, protest and manifest against the rapid changes in society today because some of these changes have no track record of benefiting humanity. It seems that scholars and scientists will always appeal to history, evidence and a track record of fact to ascertain that whatever issue they are attempting to establish is feasible and that its implementation will be of a benefit to all. Except when it comes to issues where religion and/or tradition is involved. Then, who needs evidence, who needs history, who needs facts? It is almost as if they have made up their minds: “If it is religiously or traditionally prescribed, then it is wrong; let us change it”, even when in fact, there is history, a time span as old as history itself, that the old ways have worked so far.
No, this is not to say that we should not change and modernize society and make if fairer and comfortable to all! This is simply to say that it is fair for Christians and all kinds of conservatives to struggle with the idea of change for “change’s sake” in that which they perceive to be a threat to what they have known as the best for humanity in general. Not always stating that something is wrong is purely a religious exercise. Although I acknowledge that more frequent than not it is a religious exercise, some are sincerely concerned whether the recent changes in society, such as marriages, rules about “respecting other cultures to the point of surrendering to them” may not be solely basing their concerns on religion. People can protest for other reasons and it is fair and good that they do so when changes are in the process of proving itself as useful to society as it is for a group within that society, who, because of factors beyond our understanding, decided to impose their view of society upon all others.
I am a firm believer that one cannot legislate religious beliefs, no matter how well intended they are. Equally, I am a firm believe that one, or a group, cannot legislate their religious unbelief on others. In both counts protest is fair and acceptable. A great scholar is all over social media spreading the notion that Christians are attempting to legislate their beliefs upon society. Well, the facts belie such a scholar, who is not and cannot be a scholar in predicting the future consequences of changing society on society itself! Non-Christians are indeed imposing their beliefs, rather, their unbelief upon Christians with the aggravating circumstance that they practice such imposition against the will of the people of the community they choose to impose their unbelief. I am fully aware that we have to check if an acceptable degree of legal fairness is being afforded to all citizens and not only those who would prefer that tradition would remain as it has been for ages. However it is not by winning in courts that the imposition occurs; the imposition occurs when business, people who exercise their individual conscience, religious or not, have to comply with the peripherals of their victory and now have to act totally contrary to what they have held as truth functioning and comfortable to their own life styles all these years. So, by imposing, forcing, people to comply with their wins, those who win by the act of a single often non-elected office of the court, with his own biases and prejudices, reverse the issue of unfairness and begin themselves to act unfairly. Again, the facts have proven that Christians and other conservatives are adapting to the world that now surround them, but they should not have to live as a blind man by the road side taking whatever others dish out to them; they can rightfully establish limits. Certain services and profession when exercised to a person or group imply endorsement of that group or person. If you do not understand that you have never been in business, and your position is fully understandable. The refusal, however, of a businessman to provide services that automatically imply his endorsement and participation in that which he does not agree should be expected and understood and such understanding would be reasonable!
By now most presume to know that about which I am talking. No, for your surprise it is not only the issue of gays; it is also the celebration of America, American values, supposedly Christian symbols (that are not really Christian), and those that are indeed genuine Christian symbols, the liberation of drugs, and now some ridiculous rulings, which are too ridiculous to mention. People of faith and out of faith who want to preserve a certain heritage without waiving, who love to wear shirts that extol the quality of their military relatives, American Flags, etc. who feel threatened by lawsuits and other artifices of the “indignation industry”, and yes, those who do not agree with abortions and the gay issue, should not now, all of a sudden, be forced to comply or else. What is reasonable? If we want a fair society, then lets offer fairness rather than demanding it and in the process progress in an environment without hostility and division, and such environment is not a fertile ground for corrupt politicians, but not having corrupt politicians coming out of every sewerage is a fringe benefit of this new world of fairness! That is expected and reasonable!
Thus far, I have been somewhat unimpressed with the movie fare this season, but it has changed. Tonight, I had the pleasure of viewing Godzilla, another remake of the Japanese monster movie genre. Unlike the Matthew Broderick version, widely panned version (I liked it), this one does feature Japan, Japanese actors as central roles, and gives sufficient homage to the mythology.
You should know the basic premise, at least of the basic monster and his battles to protect humans. In this installment – and I hope there is more – Godzilla fights the Mutos (x2). Each creature is as realistic as a prehistoric fantasy can get. Unlike the creature in the previous installments, this one has to take several cameras to feature, giving it a rather huge feel on the screen. And I mean huge. Plus, the screams. Oh the screams. After the first big reveal, I was not alone in letting out the breath I was diligently holding.
And that was not the only audience reaction. Not only were both shows sold out, but they audience was completely quiet except for brief moments of hilarity and a moment or two of compassion with the characters on screen. I have yet to attend such a showing that someone didn’t say something stupid or try to act the part of the jester – not this time. This time everyone was intent in watching the movie.
The plot was relatively free from holes, the characters better than most, and the sense of impending doom pretty real. Plus, there is this character you are supposed to hate that turns out to be the hero. Oh, and they feature Yucca Mountain, God, and speak about the arrogance of man controlling nature. It is not heavily thematic in the human-religious sense, just a lot of pain and destruction.
Plus, you get to see San Francisco leveled.
My only problem is the recasting of Jesse Pinkman. I don’t get it.
If your younger children can handle it, take them. I don’t remember a lot of profanity, there isn’t a lot of visible death, but the violence is rampant and loud. Oh the screams, oh the loud screams.
These things fairly regularly pop up on my FB page. I am fairly certain that all of you have seen a few of them as well. Like if you love Jesus followed by if you deny Me before men I will deny you before God…Share and God will bless you, etc. I know, it is just a FB post…then again, it probably reflects how a lot of us see God and see Christ. Why is the church in decline? Why is there such division? My guess, because we have no idea who Christ is and even less of an idea about His dad. These silly FB posts like this demonstrate it I think.
Spider-Man vs Beer Belly (Photo credit: Niccolò Caranti)
I’d like to other vomit the words on the screen, or go to my nearest Dictionary of Overused Hollywood Clichés and just lay them across the screen. I have a feeling this is what Orci and Kurtzman did. The only thing worse about this movie was the film score. I mean, Hans Zimmer was attached to this! Hans Zimmer. I’d trust that man to score Heaven.
I admit that Spider-Man is not my favorite character, although he’s one of my top Marvel heroes. I don’t know much about his backstory or his gallery of rogues, but I do know what looks and sounds good on screen. This was not it. Yes, there were the essential elements of the Gwen Stacy storylines. And yes, the Green Goblin character formation was just a bit better than the Sam Raimi version. But in the end, the gaping plot holes, the overly done cliches, and the choppiness of the final piece overruled any sympathy I could have for the characters. I just wanted someone to die.
About 10 minutes after we are introduced to the villain, he suddenly has a cool nickname and a solid delivery. Why? No idea.
The last 10 minutes of the movie was the only consistent part, the only well-written part, in the entire movie. It was the part few minute with heart and soul. I don’t know the literary source, of the Q, of this section, but it is the only bit you need to see. Everything else seems like a placeholder between the first movie and the next one. Indeed, the same thing that gives resolution to the Gwen Stacy plotline is the mirror of the overconfidence and the overstuffed plate of the writers/directors. They had to let something go.
It was the movie.
The dialogue was expected. The music felt like it was the 70’s. I mean, they tried to give Spider-Man a theme song. A fricken theme song. And honestly folks, how many times did we have to hear the word “amazing?” We get it. It is the amazing Spider-Man.
So, Sunday I went to the theater to see the newest Captain America movie. I highly recommend it. It has some humor, it is genuinely fun to watch and is even a pretty good piece of social commentary on the dangers of mass data collection and to much power in the hands of to few people. A good watch and worth the price of admission. I remembered a few things about Captain America and reading the comic books as a child that I had forgotten as well. Things that actually matter and, oddly enough, lessons that helped shape the ideas and attitudes of a young boy.
The first thing that I remembered was Captain America’s greatest power. It was not the shield, even if he is the only person to be able to make a shield look cool, it wasn’t the training or even the super soldier serum. It was, simply, that he believed. Captain America believed that the world not only could be better than it was, he believed that it should be. He didn’t just fight the notorious super villains, he fought bigotry, racial injustice, drug addiction. He helped soldiers deal with PTSD, he saved prostitutes being victimized, he helped criminals who wanted to reform. He did the right thing no matter the cost. Most importantly, when he made a mistake, he didn’t just say he was sorry, he made amends and made things right. He believed that everyone around him could be more than they knew, then he inspired them to be.
The second thing I remembered, is that when he corrected someone, it never seemed condescending, it just seemed like he cared. One of my favorite lines in the comics has Captain America falling on top of an F-15 fighter jet canopy. The pilot exclaims “jeezus!” Captain says, “Just keep flying son and watch that potty mouth.” That is just who Captain America was. He wasn’t nasty, he wasn’t mean, he just reminded you to that you could be better and encouraged you to be better.
The last thing was that he knew what he was fighting for. He had seen and experienced things that caused him to be driven and not to give up. “Ninety percent of the casualties of World War I were soldiers. But half the people who died in World War II were civilians… Half of sixty-one million. I know why I’m fighting, I don’t want to see World War III.” and “There’s a difference between fighting against evil and fighting for the common good. I’m not always able to choose my battles… but effective immediately, I’m going to make an effort to choose the battles that matter. Battles against injustice, against cynicism, against intolerance. I will still serve with the Avengers. I will continue to defend this nation from any and all threats it may face. But as of today, I am not a “super hero.” Now and forevermore, I am a man of the people. Together, you and I will identify and confront America’s problems. Together, we will figure out what we are and what we can be. ” Captain America.
I really do encourage you to go see the Captain America movie. Like I said, it’s a fun watch. While you watch it though, don’t think of Captain America so much as a superhero, think of him as an idea. An idea of what we can be, and should be. A reminder that we can be better than we are. A reminder that, even if we don’t realize it, there is much more at stake than us and what we want. A reminder that we should be so dedicated that we could say the following: “These are dark and desperate times. I know that some of you are afraid. It’s alright. It’s perfectly natural. But I want you to know that I am not. I am not afraid to die this day because what we do here is necessary. It may seem impossible, our enemies may appear to be endless, but that doesn’t matter. Because there is no one else. Look at me. I believe in an idea, an idea that a single individual who has the right heart and the right mind that is consumed with a single purpose, that one man can win a war. Give that one man a group of people with the same conviction, and you can change the world.” Captain America, Let’s be a people with the same conviction. Let’s stop talking about changing the world, and actually go and do it.
Noah is the first major, at least modern, representation of the tragedy, the horror, the genocide that is the Great Deluge enshrined in our biblical text. Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Emma Watson, Darren Aronofsky’s personal epic details the unknown, archaic past in such a way as to throw all of the bloody details about an adolescent god in your face.
In the lead up to this release, Ken Ham and other fundamentalists went on a bender, arguing and urging their followers to not see this movie. It was even banned in some countries. Yes, there are moments of real science-turned-myth, but I suspect the real reason Ham and his ilk wish to avoid this movie is not the nebula that becomes our sun, but the very real, and plain sense, portrayal of a God who creates a wonderful world, but after a series of misfortunes — actions he could have helped his creation to avoid — he simply abandons them to their own free will devices. After ten generations, he decides it is time to judge them. During the meantime, he has no contact with the line of Cain and only spotty, questionable contact with the line of Seth.
Believers are often faced with the questions we so avidly see displayed on screen. How could this wonderful creator, without cause — and indeed, he is more guilty than his creation — cause such destruction? In what little dialogue there is, it is not Noah that defends the murderous God, but the equally repugnant Tubalcain who maintains that he as a man was created in the image of God. It is only from the antagonist we hear the familiar refrain. Therefore, he will take what he wants and he will decide who lives and who dies. He is, after all, created in the image of the very Creator who is now deciding who lives and who dies. Noah, for his part, is pictured as a caring man, full of compassion for plants, animals, and his family. Noah, filled with compassion, defends God, even to the point of complete annihilation of the human race — by his hand.
In one stark image we are allowed to see the true horror of the story. Underneath the oceans of water there lies the whole of humankind, including women and children. We are reminded near the end of the movie that many who died were “good.” Yet, it was not these who were pulled to the surface and saved, but the animals. And Noah. The same Noah who spends many months plotting to kill the innocent in the name of his God.
It is not the actual science of our creation, overlayed with the myth of Genesis 1, that will startle the earnest believer. Rather, it is the poignant reminder that God forsook his Creation for 10 generations (according to Scripture) only to murder even the innocent.
The sources used in the movie does include Genesis, but so too the apocryphal along with some added Hollywood flair. There is a gritty feel to the movie, as needed. The dialogue is sparse; however, it is not so much the amount of dialogue in the movie that is important as the amount of dialogue from the movie that will remain.
But, even with all of this, there is a message we can grasp and it is just as powerfully deep as the other message is repugnant. It is that God will provide if we find the love hidden in us. Further, and something that warms my heart, the writers get eschatology correct.
“In the latest episode of Emory Looks at Hollywood, Associate Professor Jacob Wright explores interpretations and the origin of Noah’s story in the book of Genesis. Wright is a professor of Hebrew Bible at Emory’s Candler School of Theology.
The new Paramount Pictures movie “Noah” stars Russell Crowe in the title role of this biblical tale.”