Viggo Mortensen plays a diner owner, Tom Stall, in a small town whose act of heroism puts him in the news and reveals his whereabouts to the mob, who happen to know his true identity as a mob hitman on the run from Philly. The mobmen come after him and taunt his wife and kids until he fights back and returns to Philly to settle his score. This is Cronenberg, so it is graphic. It’s actually a rather redemptive tale of identity that contrarily wallows in gratuitous graphic physical pictures of violence and sexuality. I get the sense that this contrast of exploitation with strong moral underpinnings is more a reflection of Cronnenberg’s own struggle of two natures, one to the flesh and one to goodness, than it is a justifiable aesthetic of hard hitting morality. Anyway, Tom’s journey is one of rejecting his past of violence and embracing a normal life of mundane living – and enjoying it. This is the profoundly moral aspect of the tale. Unlike the sniveling regretful snitch in Goodfellas, who grudgingly lived a “normal” life under the witness protection plan, we see in Tom a hero who embraces goodness AS good, and kindness AS preferable. Quite a respectable irony in a movie like this. One is reminded of the haunted soul of William Munny in Unforgiven, who must become his old “evil” self in order to defeat evil. This is the same for Tom, who has an almost dual personality and turns it on and off, but with somewhat more control than Munny. The problem is that Tom did not CHOOSE his life of normality. He ran from the mob NOT out of a desire to change, but out of mere self-preservation because he screwed up a situation. He was hiding in normality, NOT desiring it. It wasn’t until he met his wife that he was redeemed in his character by love. So even though Tom has changed in some way, his current desire to be a different person is not equaled by a desire to right his wrongs or even pay for his sins, but rather by a desire to run from his past. (He blinded a guy with barb wire, which ruined his brother’s chances to move up as kingpin). So of course, his past comes looking for him in the form of the mob who wants payback (the blinded Ed Harris). So Tom must go back to face his mob past and ends up killing the men (in self defense) who want to kill him, thus atoning for his sins and returning to his small family life, begging his family to allow him back in. This very family that he betrayed with his secrets, but certainly without malice. Now, he proves he really does want to be a new man, because he comes back out of choice. So Tom’s redemption is in his seeking to be a new man of goodness, not evil, and he is tested by this and proves enduring in his intent. Perseverance of the Saints. But is Tom truly atoned for? What of all the men he killed in the past? Is it justice for their blood to cry out from the ground unavenged? Is this an example of grace? A man allowed to avoid payment for his sins? I think this is what unsettles me about the story. I see true grace as changing a man to accept responsibility for his past. I saw a news story about a man who was acquitted of a murder 25 years earlier, who after becoming a Christian went and confessed to the crime and did his time – 25 years later. Now, this is grace to me. This is true redemption, true change of natures. Forgiveness that makes a man courageous enough to face the legal consequences of his behavior in order to start anew, and out of love for the victim. Well, the movies don’t always work as well as real life I guess.
A great basic thriller about a woman, played by Jodie Foster, who accompanies her daughter and the casket of her dead husband home from Germany on a huge airplane. Jodie falls asleep and wakes up to discover her daughter is not only nowhere to be found, but no one remembers her being there. Is this all a delusion of Jodie’s or is there a conspiracy to sabotage the plane? Well, one very annoying element was the obvious red herring that they put in the film. A group of Arabs are made to look suspicious and then are accused by a Joe Average looking American to be terrorists plotting this whole thing, because Jodie remembered seeing them in a hotel looking at her earlier. Well, the trick here is to play off our prejudices and show that our biases blind us and that the real terrorist is yet again only after money. This is a cliché Hollywood gimmick that I remember even from the days of Die Hard. Hollywooders do not believe in true believers. They still actually believe (even after 9/11) that everything, even religion and ideology, is motivated by money. Now, the real sad fact is that all Arabs are not terrorists, but most all terrorists are Arabs. So what other movie or tv show other than 24 has portrayed this reality? None. Instead they make movies and tv shows that show how bigoted people react against Arabs unfairly accusing innocent people. While this is definitely a concern, it is clearly the LEAST concern in light of the actual thousands of innocent people being killed by ARAB TERRORISTS. Why do they suppress the truth? True to form, Hollyweird is more concerned about hurting criminals’ feelings than the innocent victims they murder. I reckon the real reason why they have no problems making evil criminals out of fundamentalist Christians while totally avoiding the reality of evil criminal Islamofascists is because they know that Christians won’t put fatwas on them and blow them up. Hmmmmm.
Boring British stuff. Although it has my favorite character name of all time, Zaphod Beeblebrox. I just love saying that name. Anyway, this story is a road trip movie without much real heart to keep interest. I fell asleep during it. Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic highway, which is clever. But then the escaping hero jets around the universe with his hitchhiking friend meeting all kinds of strange aliens until he can finally get together with the girl he had a crush on. What makes this movie particularly distasteful is that it makes mockery of man’s quest to find meaning and purpose in life through transcendence and religion, in the tradition of Monty Python, and ends up concluding that it’s just in romantic love that there is any meaning. This humanistic romanticism is unsatisfying and insulting to the truth. It’s the attempt to satisfy man’s internal need for the eternal with the temporal. It doesn’t hold water and ends up unsatisfying, as are all naturalistic reductionist love stories. Woman and man cannot fill the need for the eternal God. The finite cannot meet the need of the infinite.
The antidote to Million Dollar Baby. Mark Ruffalo plays a guy grieving over the death of his wife, who moves into a flat, only to be haunted by the spirit of the previous owner, Reese Witherspoon, who has unfinished business of her own. Great little romantic comedy. It turns out that Reese is not dead, but is in a coma, and her spirit is just able to get out and commune with the guy. Only problem, she doesn’t remember who she is and so he helps her try to find out who she is by interviewing neighbors and co-workers. Of course, she finds out she was so alienated from everyone because of her obsession with her job that she never lived life to the fullest. And then the ticking clock is that they are about the pull the plug on her because she has been in a coma for 3 months and her brain activity is supposedly declining. Can they stop them from doing it so Mark has a chance to be with her? Well, Reese, who used to be all for such euthanasia, is now against it, because she sees that she still has potential in the real world to wake up and live life as she should. Ruffalo realizes that he thought she was dead, but really HE was dead, spiritually, that is, because he gave up on life because of his grief rather than moving on and growing. Of course, this is another bit of humanistic Romanticism, as the language for heaven (Like the title) is used as a metaphor for THIS life. And the love of another person is the highest expression of meaning and existence. As the Romantics say, “To love and to be loved” by another human is the highest existence. But I like the idea of facing our need for meaning in life by facing our mortality. And the moral compass here are pretty high, as Ruffalo refuses to be tempted by the Seductress next door, which is honorable and worthy.
Kind of Recommended with qualifications. A black comedy polemic about arms dealers. Nick Cage is an amoral arms dealer to whoever can provide money, regardless of cause. As he pursues his “American Dream” with the help of his brother, played by Jared Leto, his brother cannot take it and eventually dies trying to do the right thing. Now, I don’t entirely agree with the moral equivalency argument or worldview of the storyteller, Andrew Niccole, but I respect his storytelling and thought he did a great job of presenting his viewpoint, and made some great points with very witty words. Though I am not sure he realizes how contradictory he may have been about some of them. And the narration made it too heavy-handed and was a bit overdone. He has a great opening that follows the manufacturing, production and distribution of a single bullet from arms manufacturer all the way to the gun in some African rebel’s hands as he shoots it into the head of an innocent young boy. VERY CLEVER and very enticing of a creative point. The whole story takes the hero as an anti-hero really, who is only interested in money and contrasts him with others like a CIA operative who only sells arms to “take sides.” This CIA agent answers the charge that he armed both Iranians and Iraqiis with, “Did you ever think I wanted both sides to lose?” Some great dark comedy lines about the immorality of the heros’ alleged ammoralism: “You’re not a true internationalist until you sell guns to those who kill your own countrymen.” “I’m an equal opportunity merchant of death.” “The real weapon of mass destruction is the AK47, not the nukes,” because nukes sit in silos, but the body count of AK47s surpasses anything in the world. “Often the worst atrocities occur when both sides call themselves freedom fighters.” (Of course, calling yourself a freedom fighter is not the same as being a freedom fighter. Some really are and some really are liars.) Cage’s entire goal is to extricate himself from the responsibility of what he is doing by rationalizations galore. And part of that is his evolutionary worldview. He says to his brother who is outraged at how men can act cruelly like a pack of dogs, “You’re really just a two-legged dog. It’s part of being human.” But at the same time, he takes a toy gun away from his son and throws it in the trash, showing he doesn’t want for his own family what he foists on others. A particularly poignant moment occurs when Cage realizes that the CIA dealer had his uncle killed and is now in the position to kill the CIA dealer. The evil Baptiste, to whom Cage is selling arm, gives him the opportunity to shoot the CIA dealer dead, but he can’t. So Baptiste says, “So you want him dead. You just don’t want to do it yourself.” The ribald hypocrisy of Cage’s character is the point of the whole film. The fact is, money as a motive is NEVER without morality. This man who claims to divest himself from those whom he arms to kill others is responsible for his part in the evil. And he knows it. The fact that Cage does not learn his lesson but continues on at the end, even after losing his entire family and life, is not cynicism, but the challenge that this continues on in our world unless we put a stop to it and take responsibility. Now, it appears to me that Niccole has a specific anti-gun agenda that goes beyond the actual proven argument of the film. I say this because of his conclusion at the end of the film that the “Biggest arms dealers in the world” are the US, Germany, Britain and a few others, and these same big five are on the security council of the United Nations. As if this is some kind of irony or indictment against the US. But he wallows in a problem here because all his film has really proven if you look closely is that we should morally choose the right people to arm in wars. Niccole suffers a logical non-sequitur: he concludes that the gun is the cause of the evil, not the evil men who do the killing. The fact is, his story proves to me that the U.S. SHOULD arm the defenders of democracy or freedom or the United States, NOT that we should get rid of guns and somehow this will stop the bloodshed. Close to a million people were machetied to death in Rwanda in the 1990s. They didn’t need the guns for their atrocity and it didn’t stop them, not having them. In the story, Cage says, that some people say that evil prevails when good men do nothing, but “what they oughta say is, “Evil prevails.”” This is a cynicism from our deluded hero, but it unwittingly makes the point that his story simply proves NOT that we should not deal in arms but that we should support and arm those who ARE on the just side of a war or situation. Since our selling of arms is morally responsible, then, like the CIA agent, let’s only arm those who are on the right side against evil in a particular conflict. Of course, the relativist makes the moral equivalence argument that tries to halt all commitment to all causes. The fact is, a country may have some evil aspects to it, but if in a particular war, it is on the side of justice, then in THAT particular war, it is on the right side and should be supported. In a way, Niccole, wittingly or unwittingly makes this argument when he shows that Baptiste is an evil man who engages in atrocities and should not be armed, or should be armed against. Arming his enemies is therefore morally right if they fight to stop such evil. And yes, as the movie makes the point very cleverly that one revolution often overthrows the tyrants only to replace them with new tyrants. But the fact that one evil sometimes replaces another evil is not an argument against stopping the first evil. The point is whether or not one evil should be fought against or not. We cannot always determine what an ally will end up doing. I would contend though, that the issue is more complex than I would like. For instance, in arming the mujahdeen in Afghanistan to fight the Russian communists in the 1970s, we were arming enemies of the U.S., that would eventually end up using those arms against us. NOW THAT is cause for qualification and concern. The same goes for allying with the Soviets in WWII who turned around and used that advantage to fight the Cold War against us. But I understand that the argument is that we ally with non-allies only against a greater threat. But I am not entirely convinced of this argument. Especially since we are now eating the fruit of having armed Bin Laden’s kind during the Afghanistan conflict, and they then used those same arms against us. So, I recognize that the issues can be complex. But certainly cannot be reduced to the naïve simplistic formula that gun themselves are the problem (As Niccole evidently does by showing the homicidal maniac, Baptiste blame the lack of discipline in youth on MTV, rather than the gun he is swinging around and using to arm the youth of his country). This kind of faulty anthropology that blames the weapon for the evil denies man’s essential evil, ultimately leads to slavery. Because man will always be evil until the end, so if we don’t take that into account in our political or sociological theory of how to fix the problem, we will only lead to the slavery of the good by the evil who WILL NOT STOP doing evil. Therefore the provision of weapons defense is necessary. We must just make sure that they get into the hands of just causes. The fact that men use knives for evil does not negate the manufacture of knives because not only are they used for good, but for good self defense against evil men. The fact that evil men use guns for evil is NOT an argument against guns, it is an argument to arm good men or good causes against evil. I suspect that based upon the context of the movie, this is not what Niccole intends. It is, however what I think he ends up proving. Niccole unveils some insightful problems and issues, such as the fact that when the US leaves a field of operations, it is often cheaper to leave the munitions when it leaves than to take them with them and dispose of them. This is a problem with the dismantling of the USSR in the 80s, which ended up having Russian arms sold by black market operatives. Yes, these show the morality of fiscal choices, but they do not prove the immorality of weapons manufacturing or supplying. Also, Niccole conveniently avoided showing that it was REAGAN who stopped the Cold War, not Gorbachev as he shows it to be. But he does have a guy shoot a picture of Reagan, showing Niccole’s hostility against this greatest hero of the 20th century. Interestingly, a scene where the Interpol agent chasing Cage tells him he will do everything he can to delay Cage, even if it is by just one day, because that one day prolongs the life of the innocent who are killed with his guns. Well, I don’t suspect that Niccole realizes that this is the exact same argument of pro-lifers who block abortion clinics. Would he support those pro-lifers as well? Seeing the effect on kids is very strong here, whether it is seeing the innocent kids killed by the wars or those who are drafted into armies before they are mature enough to be a soldier is a strong and effective argument here. NOT against the sales of guns, as I suppose Niccole intends, but rather for arming those who fight against such evils. So, while I don’t buy Niccole’s complete worldview about the nature of evil residing in the existence of weapons, I still consider some of his points to be powerful reminders of the morality of all behaviors, including Capitalist ones. But I would qualify that with the moral necessity to fight evil and violence by arming the good against the evil.
Not Recommended. Story of a political lobbyist of some kind (Ralph Fiennes) who seeks to discover why his wife was killed in an accident only to discover a cover up by drug companies who are using the poor in third world countries as guinea pigs for drug experimentation. The film is visually creative and acted well, but was boring as a story. They revealed the twist about the drug companies experimenting on the poor at about the half way point or less and then failed to reveal anything beyond this for the rest of the picture, unless I missed something when I dozed off, but I don’t think I did.
Highly Recommended. This is a story based on an allegedly true story that occurred in Germany in the 1970s. It’s been updated to today and place in America. It’s the story of a trial of a priest charged with negligent homicide in the death of a young girl, Emily Rose, in the midst of her exorcism. In our modernist world of naturalism that presupposes the negation of the categories of the supernatural, this movie is a welcome counterbalance to Enlightenment pseudoscientific bigotry. I enjoyed the unpredictable mixing of genres, horror and courtroom drama. A legal and logical examination of the issues punctuated with the terrors of supernatural experience. Which makes this movie very postmodern. A story that counters reason with experience, and experience is forced upon the rationalism of modernity as something that CANNOT be ignored any longer. Our precious naturalistic assumptions about reality and proud rationalism are just not adequate to address all of reality. This is of course, the good side of postmodernism in challenging modernity. The dark side of the pomo worldview, well, I’ll talk about that in a moment. I know the director and he has said he is a postmodern Christian. So this is a conscious attempt to break through the ignorance and prejudice of modernity. The heroine, played by Laura Linney, is the attorney who defends the priest and she is an agnostic who decides to use demon possession as a defense in a court of law, not because she believes it to be real, but because her client does, and that this is, in an HONEST court of law, a legitimate consideration, the sincerity of the believers. To assume that the girl’s death (by self-inflicted and other bodily injury) MUST be negligence because “as we all know” demons are simply religious fairy tales, is itself an ignorance of prejudice. And this is exactly what the prosecutor embodies when he claims that a witness’s testimony of demonic possession should be struck down on the basis of “silliness.” And of course, most audience members at that point would agree with the prosecutor. How can we allow this kind of “faith” testimony in to our system that is supposed to be based on fact? And that very assumption is perhaps the most revelatory ignorance of the modernity we are current victims of: The assumption that EVERYTHING has a natural cause in physical chemicals. As the defense lawyer proves, even science itself is based on faith. The very claims of Emily’s demonic symptoms being reducible to psychotic fits of epilepsy are shown to be NOT FACTS, but beliefs or guesses of so-called medical scientists. Because the fact is, science and medicine are not only based on faith commitments, but they are merely observational interactions with symptoms. Much of the time, they have no clue how or why a drug is working, they are merely creating explanations that they BELIEVE is the reason. Thomas Szaz has written extensively on the fraudulance of the medical drug culture as well as psychotherapy in The Myth of Mental Illness and Pharmocracy. So the doctors notice a certain drug results in suppression of symptoms, so they theorize that the problem is therefore reducible to physical origins or causes. But the defense gives an entirely legitimate counterfactual that the drugs suppressed Emily’s mental and physical capacity to withstand the demons, thus contributing to her death. What Derrickson does extremely well here is to fairly portray both sides in the courtroom. In fact, he does this so well, that when each side presents its case, you find yourself changing sides in what you think the answer is. This makes for truly good drama. What I liked about the demon possession was how “realistic” it was. That is, it was not driven by gory special effects but more accurately the kind of effects that have historically been connected with real possessions. And that could be explained through medical physiological explanations as well. Even though there are the usual multiple voices, strange contortions, etc. Scott does the opposite of typical demon possession movies. Rather than the white eyes with a tiny pupil, he has an enlarged pupil which was totally scary in a new way. Surprisingly, there are no foul cuss words that I remember coming from the demons, as is the usual fare with horror movies of demons. Thus proving you can be scary without the foul language. Scott’s scare tactics were all based on simple old techniques of suspense, the shadow we barely see, the noise in the hall, whispering voices. But he does it so well that once again it proves we don’t need more gore and pushing the envelope of impropriety to be scary. The whole moral of this story is simply spoken through the agnostic lawyer’s summary that this is a story about “possibilities.” A story that makes us consider the reality of the supernatural to widen our understanding of reality. It is not the “believers” who are blind to reality, it is the proud anti-supernaturalist, who assumes so much by faith that he doesn’t even realize it. That he doesn’t see the demon right in front of his face. Of course, this isn’t presented with a propaganda approach because in fact, most every demonic encounter is presented in flashback, testimonial form, complete with some variation, thus reminding us that even this is not absolutely certain. Although I would argue that experience gets a stronger edge here. Which is of course the weakness of postmodernism. The strength of the modernist prioritization of rationality does prove the fact that experience can be interpreted differently depending on one’s worldview, AND ALL PRESUPPOSITIONS ARE NOT EQUAL. Some are provably wrong. And that people can be deceived because of their presuppositions. Let’s face it, the history of medicine does show that certain religious beliefs DID blind some people to the truth of infectious diseases etc. So the good that anti-supernaturalism brought was the unveiling of much superstitious ignorance and even charlatanry. But of course, two wrong extremes don’t make a right. The sword cuts both ways in blindness, and Christianity is the only true balance that started modern science and medicine by acknowledging the lawlikeness of God’s ordered universe without ignoring the spiritual side. But I digress. I like the idea of via negativa, “way of the negative,” that is, proving God’s existence by proving the existence of evil supernatural. If there is an antichrist evil spirit, then there is the ultimate Good Spirit of God. One Roman Catholic nun reviewing the movie said that this fear orientation is a medieval means of getting people saved. But of course, this is more autobiographical of that nun and her postmodernity than it is the Bible. So Jesus was medieval when he used fear to scare people into the kingdom? (Matt 10:28; 5:22; 5:29; Luke 12:5) In fact Jesus used fear so much as a motivation in his parables about wailing and gnashing of teeth and eternal darkness etc. that I would wonder if this nun, and those like her, even read their Bibles (assuming she even has one.) And was God himself an irrelevant medieval peasant when he commands us to FEAR him over 200 times in both Old and New Testaments – more than he commands us to love him? Well, I would certainly NOT say that fear is the only draw to salvation, but it is certainly a part of the BIBLICAL GOSPEL, though it is not a part of the modern or postmodern gospel. We SHOULD fear hell and love God. Both fear and love are equally ultimate truths in the Bible (sometimes described in the same paragraph or sentence – Matthew 10:26-31). But at the end of the day, one simple movie CANNOT CONTAIN the entire Bible in it’s theology. There are plenty of movies available that do express love as a motivation to salvation (Bruce Almighty). We need some that deal with fear too. So there. What I didn’t like about the movie: Well, there are some serious theological issues I have with it. I do not argue that these are reasons NOT to see it or reasons to reject the movie, but simply reasons for discernment and disagreement. You don’t have to agree with everything in a movie to see the value of it. And it doesn’t have to be theologically perfect to accept the good that it does bring in context with the culture. First, a very minor thing (not theological) was that I thought the appearance of a cloaked figure in the distance was not at all consistent with the heart of this story. It was out of place and a bit too melodramatic and literal. Secondly, the heroine starts as an agnostic and ends as an agnostic very clearly, which makes this an unsatisfying story in terms of character. It is an elementary necessity of good storytelling to take the hero from one pole to another, the character arc. If a hero starts out an unbeliever, they need to in some way at least, end with a seed of belief. If they start a believer in something, they must end up skeptical of it. If they start selfish, they should end selfless, and on and on. This is the stuff of great storytelling. By the hero’s journey, the truth of the story is incarnated. So the audience can journey with the hero. So to have a hero that does not change is not only anathema in storytelling, it is unsatisfying. But not only that, I would argue it is counterproductive to Derrickson’s own worldview of Christianity. It is fine to have some characters not change, but NOT the hero. They must change or the audience is left hanging. This is perhaps where Scott’s postmodernism gets the best of him. His story INCARNATES the suggestion through the heroine’s lack of change, that religious beliefs are not important, what IS important is her professional ethics. Because this is where she does change, in her ethics. But Agnosticism is not a viable or even good worldview. So if the heroine would have at least made an indication that she saw the world differently now, that would have been enough. I’m not saying she should “accept Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior,” but merely that her life is truly changed because of her journey. But alas, the only thing she changes in is in her professional ethics, and this is no doubt good. Yes, she quits a bad legal firm and shows character, but the real issue of the movie was NOT the politics of the legal system (that was a subplot), but the reality of the supernatural. In simple terms, she starts ignorant and ends ignorant. Not a satisfying story. One theological difference I have is that the very heart of the Roman Rites of exorcism do not have biblical foundations. Now, I’ve talked to Scott about demon possession and he claimed that there is so little in the Bible that we cannot make dogmatic claims either way. While I acknowledge there is certainly freedom in this area to service the story (I do so in my upcoming supernatural thriller), I nonetheless am persuaded that what the Bible DOES say about it, little as it may be, is still truthful and relevant. And in the only place where exorcism occurs in the Bible is Acts 19, where the sons of Sceva were exorcists and they had no power over demons who ended up beating them up. It seems that everywhere in the New Testament, demons are simply cast out in the name of Jesus Christ by faithful believers (sometimes requiring prayer, but not ritual). I suppose you could make the argument that this movie supports that because they never did exorcise her. She died after all! On the other hand, I certainly admit that ritual is more cinematic and dramatic. In fact, one executive reacted to my movie, that has demons cast out of people, by saying that they cast the demons out too easily. Well, that was because we have been so conditioned by the Roman Ritual view that we don’t realize it is more real (Biblical) for believers to simply cast them out! Anyway, I do acknowledge that the priest does eventually call on the name of Jesus Christ in his attempts and am surprised that the studios let Scott do this. Another major concern is with the entire purpose of the demon possession. It is portrayed as God’s intent to show the world the reality of the supernatural through having one of his believers (supposedly) possessed by a demon. But it is one thing to have demons taunting believers, that’s true. It is quite another to completely disregard the reality of the Holy Spirit that is supposed to be within the believer themselves! Believers in Jesus Christ possessed by a demon is simply and seriously unbiblical (1 Cor 6:19). A contradiction in terms and reality (1 John 4:4). As are visions of the Virgin Mary which is supposedly how she received this purpose. Talking to the dead is strictly forbidden by God (Deut 18:11; Isaiah 8:19), so it strikes me as odd that this is portrayed positively in the movie, as if God does communicate through this means. It could be argued that there was no indication that Emily was a true Christian, but this doesn’t square with the context of the movie. It is certainly strongly implied that she is. And another important element is the arbitrariness of the possession. There is no indication of how the demons were able to get into Emily. The history of demon possession indicates that demons do not willy nilly enter people. There has to be some occultic or pagan involvement or opening up to the dark side. The Exorcist did this extremely well by having the child play with a Ouiji Board. But in Emily, they just take her without provocation or invitation. Too arbitrary storywise to be satisfying. You know, it’s interesting, I wouldn’t be as picky if this was fictional, because fiction is intended to be metaphors or parables of something else. The reason I would be so picky is because this is claimed to be based on a true story.
Not Recommended. This is a movie based on the famous short story about time travel by Ray Bradbury about time travelers who go back into the prehistoric era and step on a butterfly, which changes the entire course of history. I love this premise of the “butterfly effect” and I love time travel movies which are all about changing bad choices in the past to avoid the bad consequences in the present. A worthy premise. But this movie, even though it had a budget of 80 million looked very B-movie with terrible cheesy blue screening and a B-plot rip off of Jurrasic Park but with evolved Baboon-reptile creatures instead of Raptors. There are a lot of deus ex machina moments like the subway collapsing on the sea monster just as it is about to eat Ed Burns, the hero. Oh, it’s not all that bad, it’s just a B-style execution. But worse than that, it is an atheistic evolutionary fairy tale that is deeply dissatisfying. The idea is that when they disrupt something in the past, they don’t affect the future right away, but rather time waves occur bringing instantaneous change every day or so, that climbs up the evolutionary ladder. So, the time travelers kill a butterfly, but when they get back, everything is the same, until a time wave occurs and the vegetation sprouts around the city, taking it over, then some animals start appearing that evolved because they never went extinct supposedly. And of course, it becomes a game of survival until the hero can get back in time to stop the moment where the butterfly was killed. It all just felt like gimmicks and scare tricks rather than an actual intense story. Oh, and the humans turn into fish like amphibian creatures, what a hilarious laugh. But here’s the real goofy kicker: The angry female scientist who rants and raves about scientific responsibility to the greedy capitalist business man who is using the time machine to make money. She is all morally indignant and yells that “If you mess with this time travel, you mess with the whole of evolution,” and she tells the hero, “You have to set things right.” As if there is a right and wrong in evolution?!!? Hello?! There is no right or wrong in evolution, people! There is just change. To make a moral judgment on people meddling with evolution is ludicrous within the evolutionary story. A gazelle thinks it unfair that a crocodile kills and eats it. So, the crocodile thinks Gazelles have no rights. So humans kill off species and devastate rainforests. So do fires and parasites. So what? These atheist evolution stories make all these moral judgments of human behavior as if there is some kind of moral system they are supposed to be following other than their natural drive to destroy, exploit, and eat. Meddling with time travel cannot be wrong upon atheistic evolutionary presuppositions. Evolution is simply the universal fact that everything changes, sometimes slowly, often times through cataclysmic destruction. So a volcano destroys an entire ecosystem. Do these self-righteous self-appointed guardians of evolutionary morality yell and complain to volcanos about their moral responsibility or how about the plague carrying insects that wipe out whole populations or all the animals that make each other go extinct? Then why in HELL are they griping at man when he disrupts the ecosystem? He’s just another animal in the chain of being who adds cataclysmic effects into the equation. How is that wrong or immoral in a universe of matter in motion without morality or right and wrong? There is only survivors and change. So, man kills off a species and then another survives in its stead. So what if man kills everything? The bacteria and viruses will survive and evolve into new organisms cause that‘s just the way it is. So man eats up everything like sharks, I don’t see anyone protesting shark behavior. So humans trample over the environment like a herd of elephants. I don’t see anyone protesting Elephants. If man is no more special than any other animal in the great chain of evolutionary being, then you made your bed of genocidal atrocities, now sleep in it.
Highly Recommended. A brillianté documentary by Werner Herzog about a loser LA actor turned grizzly bear activist, Timothy Treadwell, who would go up to Alaska every year to spend time with the Grizzly bears of the National Park. This is the most sublime, compassionate, profound and ironic revelation of the complete moronic stupidity of animal rights activists, and by extension other environmental extremists. It is the portrait of a man descending into the depths of self-delusion as he becomes less capable of integrating himself into human social culture, and takes on the self-righteous mantle of “protector” friend and lover of the grizzly bear—all the way up until a Grizzly bear kills and eats him and his girlfriend. It is touching at times, as we see this sad and lonely man wax eloquent about his lack of a love life and inability to relate to women, wishing he were a homosexual to make it easier without any emotional entanglements. Or when we see his ex-girlfriend, a sorry case herself, pine on about how they started Grizzly People together and how much she misses him. Or when Timothy is able to befriend the local foxes, who do in fact become amenable to petting and following him around. It is at times, amusing, as when we see Timothy rant and rave about how he is the only one to protect these bears, and then we find out they are protected on National Park Grounds. Or when we hear local Park Rangers, scientists and mammal and bear experts talk lovingly yet pitying of Timothy’s delusion. Or when we hear Timothy talk about how lonely it is to be the lone man in the wilderness, and then we see him tell his girlfriend to stay out of the camera shot because he is supposed to be alone in the wilderness. Or when we see him do little cutaway segments of him running in the woods with different clothes on so he will have some action footage to cut into. And it is at times, deadly dark, as we see Timothy cuss and rant at the evil Park Services and the government and people, only to realize that this is indeed how hateful animal rights activists are toward their own species, HUMAN BEINGS, in the name of love of animals. Or when we see Timothy’s dangerous ignorance of the nature and the ecosystem by hanging out closely to the bears and getting them used to his presense. By breaking through the distance that the bears have had with humans for thousands of years, Timothy actually endangers both humans and bears because it makes the bears more aggressive toward humans. At times, it is pathetic, as Timothy weeps over the death and destruction of animal life because of his naïve belief in the harmony of all things with the earth. What he completely disregards is what Herzog explains is the “murder, death and chaos” that is the very essence of nature. This kind of idealistic youthful zeal amounts to pure stupidity. And at times it is downright absurd, as animal rights activists are, when Timothy claims some kind of special connection and relationship to the bears while we see close ups of the bears dull expressionless eyes, showing complete disregard and maybe even annoyed tolerance of the pathetic little human annoyance. And through it all, Herzog is subversive in showing the irony and ignorance of Timothy, but mostly through letting Timothy just speak for himself. The ignorance and irony is self-evident. Yet, Herzog is not mean-spirited. Through it all there is a sense of loving concern, respect for good intentions and sincerity. And that’s what makes this so penetrating and honest, and the finest cinematic debunking of the lunacy of animal rights activism ever. These people are sincere, sincerely deluded in thinking themselves saviors of animals with relationships akin to human relationships. The truth is, nature is red in tooth and bear claw. And that gets me to my big gripe about all environmentalism and animal rights activism. They all, usually believe in atheistic evolution. They believe man is not transcendent or special in being created in the image of God, but merely another animal on the evolutionary chain of being. MAN IS JUST ANOTHER ANIMAL. There is no such thing as moral absolutes in an ever-changing universe. Morals are mere social constructions, but they are not actually true in any sense of actual obligation beyond force or power. So if there are no transcendent moral absolutes, and man is just a mere animal, then WHY OH WHY PLEASE TELL ME, DO ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ALL SCREECH WITH MORAL ANGER AT MAN’S ACTIONS AS IF MAN IS DOING SOMETHING WRONG IN HOW HE TREATS ANIMALS? There is no moral absolute wrong in this worldview! Where does it say in the DNA of the universe that man is supposed to do something other than by his nature? There is no such thing as moral right and wrong absolutes, according to evolution, so you cannot say man is doing WRONG when he treats animals in anyway at all. The Great white shark eats cute little seals, the black widow cannibalizes her mate, the male lion and Grizzly bears, (as illustrated in this movie) kill their own young to be able maintain their power or fornicate more with the females, AND HUMANS MAKE OTHER ANIMALS GO EXTINCT. So what? That’s all part of nature. The second you place some kind of moral obligation on man to behave a certain way towards animals, you have just denied evolution and said that man is higher than other animals because he is obligated to some absolute moral standard that all other animals are not obligated unto. If evolution is true and man is just another animal, then man does by nature what he does, JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER ANIMAL does by nature what they do. You cannot criticize man’s behavior, you can only observe, just as scientists observe the behavior of grizzly bears and great white sharks. Moral judgments and criticisms of human behavior have no place in the evolutionary metanarrative. Now, it just so happens that God has revealed in his Word moral obligations, one of which is to not abuse animals and to be responsible stewards of creation. So with every breath that an animal rights activist or environmental activist spews hatred at God, but then proclaims some sort of moral obligation about proper treatment of animals, he is denying evolution and stealing from Christianity, while at the same moment outwardly denying Christianity. We have a word for this: Hypocrisy. Oh, and another one: Depravity. (Romans 1:17-24)