Recommended for it’s morality, but not so much for it’s story. I say this because, like the first movie, this one reaffirms the traditional notion of heroism and moral character. For this, I applaud. The problem is that it is very preachy and it is done within a predictable typical comicbook movie plot. How many times am I going to see another “growing ball of energy that is going to destroy New York.” Maybe I’m being too nitpicky because you gotta go exaggerated for comic books. But I guess that stuff is just boring to me. Big FX effects and wild action are boring compared to the personal emotional and spiritual conflict. Now, this movie has that personal angst. In fact, it has it OVERKILL. Too much of a good thing, as they say. This one reiterates the excellent theme of the first movie, that with great power comes great responsibility. Problem is, they spell that phrase out a couple more times in this movie as a way to pound it into our heads. And if that isn’t enough, Peter tells his aunt the whole backstory that we already saw in the first movie where he passes by the criminal who kills his uncle. And then has a vision of talking with his dead uncle in heaven, or at least, somewhere in the ether. This is all just too much. I liked Petey explaining to the aunt, but everything else was too much corn. The other problem I have is that I don’t think you should have the same moral or theme in both movies. That becomes redundant and derivative. The Matrix had it right at least in this aspect, that the first movie was all about questioning reality. Instead of repeating that theme, in the second movie, they focused on a new and equally thoughtful theme, that of freedom and determinism. Another cool theme in Spidey 2 was, as Aunty says, “Sometimes, to do what’s right, you have to give up the thing you love most, even our dreams.” Very powerful and pure. Peter has to give up a normal life with rest, a girlfriend, and any time to himself, if he is going to do good. Another cool theme was that heros are examples for us of courage and self sacrifice, and that we all have the capacity for being heros, not just extraordinary men. Problem is, Aunty has to spell this out to us in a two page monologue to Peter, where she preaches, “There’s a hero in all of us. Heros are examples for us of self sacrifice and courage.” The delivery was just too pedagogical, too on the nose, “this is the moral lesson of the story.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe in strong moral themes, and like I said, I like Spiderman for it. But you know, Christians are always getting lambasted for “preaching” their moral messages in films, for spelling out what we are supposed to learn. And they are flippantly condescended to as prosletyzers. Hey, I’ve criticized them myself for such pedagogy! Well, what’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. I want to hear those same criticisms objectively applied to a Hollywood movie guilty of the same thing. This theme of finding the hero in each of us is further extrapolated by the concept of the consequences of our choice. If we choose to do the right thing, then we will become the hero, if we choose the wrong, we become less capable of such heroism. As Auntey concludes in her preachy sermon to Peter, “It’s wrong that we should be half ourselves.” That is why Peter starts to lose his spider powers. Because the more he struggles with wanting to be normal, wanting to NOT save the world, wanting to just have his own life, unhindered by the problems of others, the more he loses his spider powers that help him to save others, in other words, his inner heroism decreases the more self oriented he becomes. The more his personal sense of identity is confused, the less able he is to help others. The more he feeds the self, the less capable of heroism he becomes. Again, this is a tremendous moral, but it just seems a bit too contrived to the original story. I thought his powers came first and with those powers came responsibility. Now his responsibility comes first and then he gets his powers after. Oh, you mean I too can be a Spiderman, if I just CHOOSE to do right? Ah ha! Again, true, good and beautiful, but again, not as intrinsic to the reality, so it doesn’t hit me emotionally or spiritually. Okay, okay, I forgive them, because they had good intent. It’s just not as powerful to affect me because even though the theme rings true to our humanity, it does not ring true to the story. But hey, it’s just a comic book movie, so give ‘em some slack. I gotta say that I really thought the scene in the first movie where Spiderman holds an entire cable car with his web was just so ludicrous that it turned me off. Yet, I think I have found a scene to match that ludicrous in the sequel. When Spiderman must stop the runaway train by spinning webs to hold the car back and sticking his feet in the ground to stop the car. You know, Spiderman is NOT Superman, okay? There has to be some limit to his strength and invulnerability. Sticking his feet into train track studs while going 60 or 70 miles an hour in a multiple ton train car would snap his legs right off. And holding onto the webs to stop the train like a slingshot would rip his arms off. Now I can accept a little bit of exaggeration for a movie, but when you go ridiculous just cause you have to top other stuff, then you create this kind of outlandish absurdity. And then, when Spiderman is so exhausted he can’t fight Doc Oc on the train, the people carry his body over their heads in a Christ pose. You know, they should outlaw that analogy in film. It was original when they did it in Cool Hand Luke 30 years ago, but it’s been done to death. Please don’t resurrect it! – no matter how good the intentions.
Recommended with Caution. This was an emotionally rich and moving story for me. First off, I absolutely loved the premise and couldn’t wait to see the movie when I read about it in development a couple years ago. An old man reads the same love story everyday to an old woman with Senile Dementia (at first, it was Alzheimers) only to realize that it is their love story. I may not be smart, but I know what love is, and that is one of the most gut wrenching heart tugging premises I have ever heard. So the story is about a romance that takes place in the 40s and ends in the present, 60 years later. Let me tell you, these modern kid movies about falling in love and teen and college romance, and young love etc. don’t know anything about the real depth and richness that love can achieve after a lifetime of devotion and commitment. Young love doesn’t hold a candle to mature love. And that is what this movie is about. It’s a classic Romeo and Juliet story about a girl, Allie, with rich Southern background who falls in love with a poor lumber worker, Noah. Of course, the parents don’t want it because they are raising her to marry wealthy. Allie goes back home to New York and Noah goes to fight in the war. They lose touch, and Allie falls in love with Lon, a high society guy who is everything her parents want AND what she enjoys. A rarity since she is so rebellious. But just when she is about to marry him, she realizes that she is still in love with Noah, and always has been. She may love Lon, but she is IN love with Noah. Just before the wedding, she goes back to visit Noah, to try to wrap up her past so she can get on with her life. But of course, she cannot because she is still madly in love with Noah. Her internal struggle is that she has always done what others wanted her to do in life and what she thought she SHOULD do rather than what she wanted to do. With Noah, she feels more alive and free than with anyone. He affirms her long lost love to paint. Something that fades in her wealthy world of high society. But what’s cool about it is that her wealthy world is not a cruel prison, as in the propagandistic Titanic, it’s actually a pretty good world, and Lon is actually a great and loving guy, but it’s just not her heart’s truest desire. This is a great premise, because unlike Titanic, this story is more real in setting up two worlds that are both good, but one is just best. So will she choose the best and sacrifice the good? Will she give up her security and choose the man who makes her come alive, but is of less means? Security and a good life versus poverty and the best life. The reason this is so dear to me if because I feel it is, in a sense what my wife did when she chose me. She did not choose a secure rich life, but she chose love and a man with passion and vision for what is important in life. At least, that’s what I’d like to think ☺. Anyway, another mature and wise thing about this story is that it shows that Noah and Allie are so passionate with each other that they are also passionate fighters as well. The good comes with the bad. Passion has a both a good and a bad side. You may experience higher highs with Passion, but also lower lows. This is scary thing for Allie, but Noah reminds her, “Of course, this isn’t going to be easy, We fight a lot. Because that’s what we do. It’s going to be hard. But we’ll work through it together for the rest of our lives. And I promise to love you forever.” And of course, they do, and we see that Noah’s love lasts their whole lives with devotion and dedication, even when she forgets who he is. So it’s not just about the fires of young passionate love, but about enduring devoted love, a real lacking in modern romances.
What I didn’t like about the movie was the fornication. Unfortunately, they played up premarital sex too strongly as something that is right to consummate their love. The fact that Allie had wild sex with Noah right before she was going to be wed to another man shows an abysmal lack of character that most people simply do not have a clue about. A person who will follow their passions rather than do the right thing makes for explosive drama but not for quality character in real life. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for passion and going with your heart and dream, but it is simply selfish to elevate passion as the ultimate arbiter of goodness or right. Sometimes we must do the right thing even if our passions tell us not to. A woman of character and trustworthiness would have broken off the engagement and saved the sexual consummation for marriage. You can be very passionate and still do the right thing. I know, because that’s what I did. After all, if she would be unfaithful in her engagement because of her passions, upon what basis could either of them trust the other in their marriage when temptation comes along for a new passionate tryst? The reality of life is that passion always wanes, temptations will surely come, and then what do you want, the person of passion or of character? Also, I am so tired of how romances overwhelmingly tend to be stories about how the chaotic Existential “against the rules” person “frees up” the musty, uptight person who is bound by society’s rules. Just another humanistic, modernist prejudice. In real life these Existential thrill seekers who live for experience and passion without rules most often end up destroying relationships and marriages because after all, if they live for the moment and think “doing the right thing” is oppressive, then why do we think they will stick around and work through problems when problems inevitably and ALWAYS DO arrive? Life, and commitment is hard work, and rewards come from sticking to the right thing, not following your heart, as it turns every which way. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) But in this story, though Noah is portrayed as a man of passion, he is shown to be a man of promise as well, in that he builds the house he promised to Allie even when he thought he lost her. When she asks him why he did, he replies, “Because I promised you I would.” And he writes to her every single day for a year even though she never gets the letters and doesn’t reply. So I think there is balance here that warrants respect for this mature understanding of love that balances passion with devotion and promise. It’s just too sad that in the real world, there are far too many men of passion who do not have character and devotion, and so end up destroying so many lives by ending up passionately unfaithful. Another touch of Romanticism that I did not care for is the elevation of this human love as the ultimate love in life. They say “our love can make miracles.” So they end up dying together in bed, a “miracle of their love.” While loving a spouse for an entire life is certainly one of the highest loves to experience, it is really empty and vain to me if it is not rooted in a higher love, a transcendent love of God. This is the only eternal love that can give human love any real value. Without the love of God, all human love is just tragic foreplay to death. When you know the love of God, you understand how much human love pales in comparison, but at the same time how human love is given its true ultimate value in being rooted in something higher. Self-evident truth: Man is not God. So no matter how hard we try to deify human love, we are unsatisfied. As Augustine said to God, “Thou has made our hearts restless till they rest in thee.”
Not Really Recommended. Story of a smelly old loser gym owned by slacker Vince Vaughn, being overtaken by high tech infomercial Exercise Emperor Ben Stiller. So the slobs of Joe’s Gym join the Dodgeball circuit to win the money they need to keep their pit alive. Vaughn sleepwalks through this lazy slacker with a heart of gold part that he has made so popular. Looks like he’s bored with it. But Ben Stiller is excellent as the body worshipping self-deified health obsessed entrepreneur. Some GREAT jabs at the whole self-worshipping culture that has grown up around the exercise industry. Shows the true fleshly nature of ascetic lifestyle. Favorite joke in the movie: when a crippled Dodgeball hero played by Rip Torn is training the losers. He has them run across a highway busy with speeding cars and says, “If you can dodge traffic, you can dodge balls.”
Recommended, but not highly. There is just something magical about Tom Hanks to me that makes everything he does so appealing as the everyman. Which is why, if this was some other star in the movie, I would have considered it somewhat plodding. This is a story, about a traveler, Viktor Navorsky, from a small Eastern European country who is stranded at JFK airport because his country erupts in civil war which makes it cease to have national status, and therefore places Viktor unable to enter the United States or to fly home because of legal technicalities with international passport laws. He is a man without a country. He then ends up living in the Terminal for almost a year, while the head of security, played by Stanley Tucci relentlessly hounds him as the antagonist. And of course, Viktor falls in love with a stewardess, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Viktor’s cute little anecdotal experiences with some of the airport personal make for some humorous, if not very believable, episodes. The themes behind this film center around waiting for life to happen versus making your life through your choices. Not bad. The stewardess is a woman who can’t extricate herself from an adulterous relationship with a married man, because she keeps foolishly hoping against hope that he will divorce his wife. Men can be pigs – but boy, women can be stupid. Of course, he won’t leave his wife, and she wastes her life waiting. Until she meets Viktor, who loves her for who she is and treats her with the respect she needs. One of the cool things I liked about this film was its unusual point about character. The stewardess never can give up her hope for the married man. She keeps going back to him, and therefore loses Viktor in the end. Viktor moves on when his country is back together. It is a bittersweet ending, but a good one. Viktor is too good for this woman, and we see that the romantic emotions of love are not the highest value, but character is. Very unusual for a romantic comedy for the boy NOT to get the girl. But another cool thread carries the film, that of grace, and loving the unlovable. Of course, the airport personnel are quirky characters. Anyway, when the security head discovers that several of the airport personnel are good friends of Viktor, and that they each have reasons to be fired, he uses this against Viktor to try to get him to go home rather than stay in New York and achieve his ambition of fulfilling his father’s dream of getting a famous Jazz singer’s autograph. If Viktor does not go home on the next plane, the security head will fire these guys and deport one of them back to India where he awaits charges of assault and battery. The Indian guy, with the name Gupta, was a fugitive from his own country. And Viktor became one of his only friends. Viktor sacrifices his dream to protect his friends. But when Gupta finds out about this, he basically turns himself in to the police with a diversion and allows Viktor to go and get his father’s dream autograph. Gupta gets himself deported. Now the security man cannot stop Viktor cause he has nothing over him. It’s a perfect picture of grace. Gupta is shown grace by Viktor’s sacrifice, the innocent for the guilty, so Gupta responds with repentance and accepts his own responsibility for his past actions. Very powerful grace and atonement theme. Those who respond to grace (Gupta) find redemption, and those who do not (Stewardess) continue on in miserable lives.
Very Highly Recommended. Possibly one of the best films ever made. Okay, I wrote the screenplay so I might have a tiny conflict of interest here ☺. Here is what Gene Edward Veith said of it in World Magazine:
COMING SOON TO A THEATER near you: a World War II drama featuring Kiefer Sutherland, one of the movie industry’s hottest stars. It is rated R. It is a product of Hollywood. And it is one of the powerful cinematic expositions of the Christian faith.
To End All Wars might have been pitched to the mainline filmmakers as Chariots of Fire meets Saving Private Ryan. Fans of the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, the true story of an athlete who refused to run in the Olympics on the Sabbath, will note the same Scottish accents, a similar soon-to-be church worker positively portrayed, and comparably high production values. But whereas Chariots of Fire, for all of its virtues, never got around to mentioning the gospel, To End All Wars amounts to a sustained meditation on the core of Christianity: Christ dying for sinners, and what that means in the most extreme trials of life.
To End All Wars is based on the true story of Ernest Gordon, the long-time chaplain at Princeton University. Mr. Gordon, who died just a few months before the film was completed, was a captain in a Scottish Highland regiment in World War II. When the Japanese took Singapore—in those early days of the war when Japan was sweeping away all opposition—Mr. Gordon was captured. He spent the next three years in a Japanese POW camp, enduring hardships, brutality, and spiritual challenges that became for him a crucible of faith.
The film, based on Mr. Gordon’s autobiography Through the Valley of the Kwai, does not shrink away from the torture, degradation, and cruelty of the Japanese camp. It also dramatizes how evil breeds evil, even in its victims: Allied prisoners, struggling to survive in this dog-eat-dog environment, start adopting the values and behavior of their captors.
But then, to hold on to whatever shreds of their humanity are left, a number of prisoners remember their old vocations and decide to exercise their callings in the teeth of the most hostile surroundings. A former university instructor organizes a philosophy seminar, and prisoners get together, in the mud and squalor of the camp, to discuss Plato’s philosophy of justice.
Another prisoner had been an actor. He forms a troupe to perform plays by Shakespeare (which he had thankfully learned by heart). A group with musical talents carves recorders out of bamboo, making themselves into an orchestra that plays Bach.
They also form relationships with their guards, some of whom are transfigured from stereotyped villains into genuine human beings.
But the brutality reasserts itself. Prisoners are punished and pushed into betrayals, compromises, and impossible moral dilemmas.
The issues they had been learning about in their “Jungle University” are tested. What is justice and can it really be achieved in a sinful world? What does it mean to love one’s enemies? How could Christ take other people’s sins upon Himself? What does it mean that Christ died for sinners, atoning for them and granting them free forgiveness?
The movie climaxes in a shocking, yet unforgettable scene of redemption.
You can buy the movie at Amazon.com by clicking here.
Not really recommended. This was a movie with potential. A potential that was wasted on agenda. It coulda been more balanced with some good insights, but unfortunately… It’s the story of a feminist woman, played by Nicole Kidman who makes TV shows for a woman’s network, shows that elevate women over men and make men look foolish. Even destroys one man’s life in a reality show. When that guy shows up at the annual sweeps week presentation trying to kill her, the network fires her and she has a nervous breakdown. Her loving husband, played by Matthew Broderick, quits his job at the network in sympathy with her and they move to the country, trying to start a new life away from the insanity. They move to Stepford, a small out of the way town saturated with women who look like incarnations of housewives from the Fifties, happy to always look pretty, and to please their husbands at all times. And that’s what this movie is, an attempted attack on 50s traditional values, very much like the movie, Pleasantville. Hollywood has a hate affair with the 50s. Just the idea of women staying at home, raising the family, supporting their husbands, has just got to be fraudulent to these people, because they cannot conceive that a patriarchal society can have anything good in it. It is intrinsically evil to them. The movie starts out with a flurry of TV commercials from the 50s with women dancing around in dresses and displaying kitchen appliances with wonder over the credits. This sets the stage that this era is the one being attacked. This is the absurdly unreal worldview to them. Of course, how real are commercials anyway? Even the acting of that era looks overdone and melodramatic. Does anyone really think current commercials represent real life NOW? People have always and continue to look silly and stupid in commercials because they are by nature circus acts. Even 10 year old commercials look outdated and funny. So this is a definite poisoning of the well. But it is a clever poisoning I must admit. Anyway, the Stepford wives exist solely to please their husbands in looks (They’re all blonde and busty), service (They caddy for their husbands in sun dresses) and uplift them (constant compliments), in short, they are robotic, soulless and controlled by their husbands, the ultimate adolescent male fantasy, which is why the men are cleverly shown in their “men’s club” playing with remote control cars. This is all very clever and a witty, thoughtful commentary on control in marriages. The problem comes in with the political agenda. This evil control is linked to religious faith in yet another attack on Christianity. The Stepford women are shown patronizing a Jew played by Bette Midler while mentioning “their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Also a Homosexual becomes a Stepford wife for his partner and turns into a “gay Republican with a bad haircut.” He also mentions his Christian faith in Jesus, and is patriotic. And of course, special mention is made of the fact that there are no multiethnic people in the town. All cliché stereotypes of conservative Christian culture. There is no way on heaven or earth that a Hollywood movie could ever get made actually mentioning the phrase “my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ” in a positive context. This is a known fact by Hollywood filmmakers. But if you link the person saying that phrase to evil, then you can have that phrase as clear as day (as illustrated also in Saved). Why? Anti-Christian bigotry is alive and well in Hollywood. Also, traditional values, like those espoused by one of the robots, “my priorities are my husband, my family, my home,” are also the evil enemy to these people. Let’s face it, this movie is not about the wrongness of control in marriage, that could have been a great universal theme that Christians would agree with, but it really is an attack against biblical Christian marriage roles. The filmmakers are not trying to say that control is wrong, they are saying that men as heads of families is intrinsically controlling and wrong. At the end, when it is revealed that the real villain is not the head of the men’s club, played by Christopher Walken, but is actually his wife, played by Glen Close. Turns out Walken is a robot himself, and Close is not. She is actually a throwback from the Fifties who is trying to turn things back to those days. In other words, the worst villain is not so much the men who try to force women into this role of submission, but the WOMEN who believe in and support patriarchy values themselves! So, be aware, Christian women, this movie is ultimately an attack piece on YOU, not merely men. The fact that you would choose traditional values and stay at home to raise your children and support your husband, makes you as evil as the monstrous men you support. Now, there is a tiny attempt at balance at the end, but it fails because of its weakness: Broderick ends up not turning Kidman into a robot, and they reconcile and we see Kidman on Larry King, but she now has blonde hair like Broderick liked, but its still short, like how she wanted it, so that is a compromise. And she has a bit more color in her wardrobe, unlike the black that she always wore and Broderick hated. This was good, but not strong enough in my opinion. The essence of good marriage is compromise on BOTH SIDES. And that’s what could have been a great theme in this movie.
And that leads to one of TWO MAJOR PLOT HOLES that could have been fixed and made the movie better. FIRST: When the heroine, Kidman is confronted by Broderick and the other men to turn her into a robot, they argue with her. This is the classic “confrontation scene.” She appeals to Broderick that if she was a robot, then she wouldn’t love him from her will. This is great, but she fails a greater opportunity. This confrontation with the heroine and villain, in a good story, will have the heroine recognizing that though she thought she was different from the villain, she really is not so different, and in fact is guilty of the same kind of evil that the villain is. Then she makes the choice to change in order to not be like the villain. But the writer or director never followed this path. When she argues that what Stepford is doing in controlling women and ruling over them is bad, they should have pointed out to her that what she did on her TV network is the same thing. She attacked men, made them less than women and ruled over them. Ironically, the film sets it up this way in the beginning, but it never took the opportunity to pay it off at this most crucial moment. If they had, it would have been a more balanced movie with worthy, less agenda driven lopsidedness. It would have been saying that feminist control is just as bad as male control. But alas, they could not possibly make that actual connection that the story structure demanded, because that would violate their religion. But here is a perfect example where following story structure would have challenged their own extreme views. Therefore, when Kidman decides to submit to the “treatment” and be robotized, it comes out of nowhere in the movie. She gives in out of being forced, not out of a self revelation of her own evil. It doesn’t jive with her character as created. There is no way she would just give in because that is not how she is ñ unless that revelation would have hit her to the soul that she was no different than the men in her attempt to control. Then her choice to submit would have been met with her husband’s decision not to turn her into a robot and the perfect balance would have been achieved: woman submits, but man loves her with Christ’s love (Ephesians 5:22-29). Ah, so close and yet so far. ALSO, they build up this whole thing as women being made into robots. One robot woman spits out money like an ATM machine, all the women move like robots when controlled by a remote control, and then the heroine sees the robot body that will replace her on a table. So the movie sets it up that they are going to be killed and replaced with a robot. But then, Walken shows an entirely unnecessary commercial that shows the process is actually placing computer chips to control the thought process of the brain. So it’s mind control, not a robot. Then what in the world is the robot body for??!! This is an unforgivable cheat on the part of the filmmakers. They set it up as one thing and then just turn it into another with no reason whatsoever. Unforgivable. A movie that had great potential squandered on the altar of feminist agenda.
Not Recommended. Boy, Action movies with heros who are fearless, invulnerable and seem to exist for the sole purpose of looking cool and spouting witty retorts in the face of certain doom are just plain boring. That’s what this movie is. I don’t have a problem with the coolness and the retorts, but when that stuff is everything to the movie then forget it. As soon as Riddick walks, just willingly walks, right into an encampment of the enemy (which he does a couple times) and without an iota of fear, knowing that he’s going to just waltz right out of there when he wants, they lost me and I’m never coming back. This is star glory at its worst. Making gods of celebrity actors. I ain’t gonna worship. David Thowy, who wrote and directed the original excellent Riddick movie, Pitch Black, as well as this one is a good writer-director. But I can’t help but think that this movie is just another example of what happens when big money gets involved in trying to make a sequel to a great little independent movie. The Independent movie is often great because they are forced to be creative with less money, focus on the story, and usually maintain creative control in the hands of those who should have it, the filmmakers, not the marketers and executives. That is the case with Pitch Black. It was a very good sci-fi flick. Riddick is not. Of course, the special effects are good, though I am tired of movies with big sweeping panoramic energy surges or Ghostbusters/Matrix type global explosive devastation. It drains the human interest out of the story. And this one is a very confusing story. The Necromongers are Knights of Nee, I mean Knights of death who are “crusading” to convert or kill whole planets. Problem is, they do not explain the faith with any real substance. They just use the language of faith, like “faith” “doubt” “believe.” Now, obviously in today’s context it is highly ironic and indeed stupid to make a movie about “Crusaders” who are obviously made to look like Catholic knights when they should be looking like Jihad warriors. News flash, people, Crusading Christians are not a problem in this world. Haven’t been for a 1000 years. Another Anti-Christian allusion against the politically acceptable villains of today, Christians. I mean it certainly isn’t the “Religion of Peace” and submission that we have to worry about in today’s world, who are attacking and killing millions of infidels in places like the Sudan, Nigeria, Iraq and on and on, no. It’s those bloodthirsty “convert or die” Christians. Okaaaaay. Ironically, I can’t help but think that if they were to make this movie relevant by making these Necromongers more like Jihadists than the outdated anachronistic Crusaders, why, that might actually put the lives of the filmmakers in danger from “religion of peace” reprisals. Better to reinforce bigotry against the peacemakers of the world than give up the criminals. After all, it’s only a movie, certainly not something worth dying for. And certainly not worth paying eight dollars for.
Not Recommended. Boring. Stupid. The heros are so soulless and uninteresting, you actually start to have sympathies for the muggles, who really can be more interesting. Who’s the muggle now? Oh, one cool thing, the Hippogriff FX, that was cool.
Highly Recommended. Great antidote to the communist agitprop fake-umentary of Fahrenheit 9/11. A true documentary that shows stories of Americans across this great and diverse land, from a Cowboy in Wyoming to a Black Jazz musician in New Orleans to a polio victim who runs the Marathan in New York, and others. Just literally showing the heart and soul of America. Not political or agenda driven, just capturing the diversity of hard working individualists, entrepreneurs and average Joes. Fascinating. One criticism was that the diversity focused mostly on blue collar, lower income, rural, or small business types. There’s gotta be some white collar, big business, Wall Street, or upper class Americans that aren’t reducible to greed, power, and privilege, don’t ya think? After all they are just as much a part of the diversity that is the heart and soul of our beautiful country. Oh yeah, more on the community too. Individualism may have wrought much good in this land, but it has also wreaked much havoc. We’ve lost much community but we need to see and elevate the pockets of it where it exist because therein lies some hope.
Not Recommended. This movie is bitter bigoted hate speech against Christians. Hysterical witch-hunting for “Christian witches.” But in the interest of not succumbing to the same imbalanced criticism against the movie that the movie propogates against evangelical Christianity, I will first note the positive. Every criminal has some good traits. The story is about a young girl, Mary, at a Christian school who tries to “save” her boyfriend from turning gay by sleeping with him. When she gets pregnant, she has to hide her shame and deal with the “queen Christian” in the school, self-righteous Hilary Faye (An obvious reference to Tammy Faye Bakker) played by Mandy Moore. Mary hangs out with the rebels, a crippled non-Christian, and the lone Jewish girl at the school who is there only because her other choice was homeschooling. She eventually gives up her evangelical faith for a humanistic faith in herself and her feelings. These filmmakers have clearly had some experience either in the Evangelical subculture or know some who are in it, because it captures some of the bad side of it rather well: prayer as a weapon of gossip, “God told me” baloney, Jesus as a cover for every kind of selfish pursuit, Jesus marketing, frauds, hypocrites etc. I actually agree in part with the critique that Evangelical subculture has become a fraudulent marketed substitute for secular culture with the same selfishness covered over in platitudes and rationalizations. The Christian subculture with it’s Christian versions of everything; Christian schools, Christian books, Christian music, Christian T-Shirts, and even Christian vices has become a pathetic pseudo-reality that too often fails to address the real evils of society. The panacea for all problems is “Accept Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior.” Well I agree with the filmmakers here. There is a form of this kind of subculture that exists and it is wrong. However, that subculture is not necessarily real Christianity and aye, there’s the rub. In this movie, all Christians are portrayed as hypocrites, losers, liars, and frauds. There is not a single authentic biblical Christian in the entire movie against which such exploitation is measured. Someone who lives out the teachings of Jesus with compassion yet a hatred for sin; loving, but righteous. Therefore, the filmmakers are not critiquing the abuse of Christianity, they think that twisted version IS Christianity. That is how you sniff out bigotry and propaganda in a film like this. And in the end, the homosexual, the handicapped kid, the Jew, the pregnant girl are all aligned against, the “Christian” lead, a self-righteous Fem played by Mandy Moore. Of course, there are no black people there because Christianity is, according to these filmmakers, not for them either. In other words, cast the Christian as against these special interests and “diversity” so they will hate Christians too. It appears that Christians are one of the few acceptable people groups to hate and attack in this country. Imagine a movie that focused on the homosexual community that showed all the homosexuals as either hypocrites, losers, liars or frauds. They’d be attacked by the ACLU and GLAAD and branded as sexist hate-mongers. Imagine a movie that focused on a school of African Americans that showed all the blacks as either hypocrites, losers, liars or frauds. They’d be attacked by the ACLU, and the NAACP and branded as racist hate-mongers. Imagine a movie that focused on a Jewish school that showed all Jews as either hypocrites, losers, liars or frauds. They’d be attacked by the ACLU and the ADL and branded as Anti-Semitic hate-mongers. But I guess it’s okay to make a movie that shows all Christians as either hypocrites, losers, liars or frauds. The movie mocks good things as if they were bad. It paints gun owners as gun nuts, it mocks secondary virginity, recovery from destructive behavior, clean lifestyles, prayer, faithfulness in marriage, worship music, interventions, etc. The irony is that this movie is so bitter and unfunny that it will probably do terrible business. It rings with bitterness and hatred, not truth. I gotta say, how ironic it is for Mandy Moore, to act in a movie that mocks Christians, after starring in A Walk To Remember, that elevates Christian teens in a similar context of high school. Of course, authentic Christians would not endorse the silly and false Christianity presented in the movie. They would mock it as well. But the problem lies in the propaganda, the poisoning of the well, the special pleading. The answer the story gives for false Christianity is not true Christianity, but HUMANISTIC FEELINGS. Pretty much standard fare for Hollywood. Follow your heart, your feelings and that’s truth. I wrote an entire chapter on this in my book, Hollywood Worldviews. As an adulterous woman tells her preacher partner (of course, gotta have the sexually fallen preacher, another typical cliché of Antichristian agitprop), “Why would God give us these feelings if what we are doing is wrong?” The heroine at the end of the film says, “Life is perfect. There has to be a God out there – or in us. You just have to feel it.” Of course, the god that the humanist proposes to substitute for the Biblical God is a god called ME. God is in us, which really means “we are god.” The gay struggling with his homosexuality is affirmed in his feelings, the adulterers are affirmed in their feelings, the fornicators are affirmed in their feelings. Rebels are affirmed in their feelings. (Everyone is affirmed in their feelings EXCEPT the Christian. THEIR feelings are not legitimate). Sorry, folks, but I got a news flash. If your answer to an alleged self-righteous morality of restraint is “feelings,” without a moral standard to judge and restrain those feelings (since you’ve just denied moral restraint), then you’ve just disallowed any criticism of racists, child molesters, rapists and serial killers. They have feelings too. And their feelings tell them what they’re doing is okay, and who are you to judge? When you take away that standard of moral restraint, then stop griping about a society saturated with drug addicted kids, kids killing kids, pregnant kids, kid monsters without moral restraint. That’s all the result of your “feelings” oriented morality – or lack thereof. Here’s another whopping irony: The goal of the movie is to show the Christian subculture as homogenous, comformist, and the rebels are the heros, the ones who defy such conformity. The heroine asks, “Why would Jesus have made us all so different if he wanted us to all be the same?” Funny, last time I looked, this pluralistic culture we live in is the comformist homogeneity. Relative “gray” ethics is the hegemony. Christianity is not welcomed in the public square. Christians are the true counter-cultural force, the true rebels. I mean come on, normalization of sexual perversion on every level, abortion on demand, God out of government and schools. This is a post-Christian world, folks, and inmates have taken over the asylum. Think about it for a second, the “rebels” in this movie aren’t non-conformists, they are clichés of conformity carted in from what is the true homogenous society of dominant public schools. Christian schools are the anomaly. Christian schools and homschoolers are the true non-conformists in our world. TEEN REBELS are the real conformists, not the Christian. The Christian is the true rebel in this world, yet like usual, humanistic relativist filmmakers turn the truth literally upside down and try to make the victims guilty of the crime. Morality is the problem, not immorality. It is moral people that somehow are guilty of the consequences of the immoral behavior of immoral people. Christians cause teen pregnancy, abortions, sexual diseases and criminal behavior, not the true moral criminals. Such reverse logic actually prefers promiscuity, teen pregnancy, rebellion, adultery, as good and considers abstinent clean obedient kids to be the real evil. Can there BE anything more backward?
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
(Now, the anti-Christian would consider quoting a Bible verse to be self-righteous. But think again. Who is self-righteous – the person who points to God to define righteousness or the person who points to themself [their feelings] to define righteousness?)