Oscar Watch • The Revenant: Vengeance is God’s, and God Ain’t No Pacifist


Though we don’t have the Oscar nominations yet, I labeled this as one of my 2015 Oscar Watch commentaries because after seeing it, I am confident of two things: 1. The Revenant will receive an Oscar nomination for best picture and best director, and 2. Leonardo DiCaprio will win best actor for his gut wrenching performance as the frontiersman Hugh Glass.

Alejandro Inarritu directed this vast, weighty, sprawling epic that tells the story as much through visual and visceral filmmaking as through its dramatic exploration of the primal urge for revenge. Yes, it is brutal, but it is also beautiful. And I don’t mean “beautiful brutality” as in a Tarantino film. I mean the fearful symmetry of life that is the fallen splendor of creation.

Inarritu interweaves words, visual, audio and emotional drama into a masterpiece of storytelling tapestry. This is the kind of movie that shows you the real fullness of what film can do that other media cannot. Something I have not seen in a while. As you watch the brutality of winter trappers fighting with local American native tribes over pelts, you sense, you feel the power of man against the elements and man against man, that these early Americans had to overcome. The bear attack is at once truly terrifying and yet profound in its incarnation of man vs. nature.

In the world of filmmaking, you have the “arthouse” movies that are so obsessed with being “creative,” that they result in boring pretentiousness. And you have the “Hollywood machine” movies that seek to be a drug fix of action adrenaline that can be empty and shallow. Inarritu manages to transcend both and bring it all. Action, beauty, art, human depth and story. He did it with the Oscar winner Birdman last year, an existentialist exploration of our search for significance, and this year, he just might do it again with The Revenant.

The reason I am so impressed with Inarritu is because he is like Terrence Malick with a good story. Although I don’t often agree with his worldview, I do appreciate his filmmaking as a unique and creative voice in cinema (See my commentaries on his thoughtful films 21 Grams, and Birdman).

In The Revenant, he wrestles with the universal moral dilemma of revenge vs. justice. Bad revenge movies celebrate vigilanteism – or retribution outside the law (see my reviews of on The Punisher, Walking Tall, Sin City, A Time To Kill) Good revenge movies sympathize with the universal human desire for justice against criminals, especially murderers, but also deal honestly with the spiritual reality that revenge destroys the soul of the vigilante. (see my commentaries for Man on Fire, The Equalizer).

The Christian worldview proposes that God achieves justice, or in other words, his vengeance against criminals, legally through the state, not through personal vengeance outside of the law (Romans 12:19-13:5). Capital criminals deserve to die, but by the hand of the state and within the law. Of course, self defense is also a legitimate means for righteous violence (Exodus 22:2-3). But the main point is that certain evil men deserve to die, but if you do not achieve that justice through legal moral means, it will destroy you, and turn you into the very monster you seek to punish.

The Revenant brings in this spiritual dimension into the discussion in a way that other revenge movies sometimes miss. Hugh Glass is a man between worlds, a white man with a child from his marriage to a Pawnee woman, now dead. Don’t worry, no spoiling yet. This cinematic world has a fairly good balance of viewpoints within it. Yes, the Indians think the white man stole their land and their animals, but they also steal land and animals from each other, as well as from the white man, and the Indians kill each other as well. So there is no pristine “noble savage” nor thoroughly evil European here. All flawed, all human, too human.

At one point in the film, Hugh meets a Pawnee Indian whose family was wiped out by the Sioux. Hugh cannot understand why he is seeking to find more of his people to settle with rather than seeking revenge on the offending warriors. The Pawnee tells him, “Revenge is in the Creator’s hands.” This becomes a thematic challenge to Hugh’s own personal journey of revenge. And the moral issue that is addressed with thoughtful poignancy through the movie.

The villain, John Fitzgerald, played masterfully simple and real by Tom Hardy is an atheist, and fellow trapper who is guilty of atrocities. At one point, he tells a story about a fellow who found God. That fellow looked up in the air, and then climbed a tree, and found God. And God was a squirrel. So he “shot and ate the son of a bitch.” This is a brilliant encapsulation of the mockery of the atheist worldview and it is villainous pretentions.

Keep reading to find out how the ending embodies the moral theme of the movie… Continue reading

Christ’s Descent into Hell (Part 1)

One of the most difficult and strange passages in the New Testament is 1 Peter 3:18-22. It’s oddity approaches that of Genesis 6:1-4 that speaks of the Sons of God mating with the daughters of men in the days of Noah and breeding Nephilim giants that lead to the judgment of the Flood.

Perhaps its oddity is tied to the fact that it is most likely connected directly to Genesis 6 and therefore of particular importance for the Biblical Cosmic War of the Seed.This 1 Peter 3 passage is notorious for its difficult obscurity and lack of consensus among scholarly interpretation. Views are divided over it with a variety of speculative interpretations to pick from. So, let’s take a look at it more closely with an attempt to clarify its meaning.

 1 Peter 3:18–22
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

The context of this letter is the suffering of believers for their faith under the persecution of the Roman empire (3:13-17). Peter is encouraging them to persevere in doing good despite the evil done against them because they will be a witness to the watching world just as Christ was in his suffering. He then launches into this section as an analogy of what Christ did for us in his journey of suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension.The questions begin to pile up:
When did Christ go on this journey? (v. 18)
Who are the spirits? (v. 19)
Where did he go to proclaim to the spirits? (v. 19)
What did he proclaim? (v. 19)
Where is this prison that they are in? (v. 19)

I believe the answers to these questions are very much in line with the storyline of the War of the Seed. I will try to answer the first three in this post and tackle the last two in the next one.

When Did Christ Go on His Journey?

When Christ “went” to proclaim to the spirits in prison, it says he was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went…” In the original Greek, “he went” does not contain a notion of direction as in ascent to heaven or descent to hell. It can only be determined by the context.[1] So let’s look at that context.Some scholars interpret this being “made alive in the spirit” as a reference to the physical resurrection of Christ from the dead, repeated later in v. 21. As Bible commentator Ramsey Michaels says, “the distinction here indicated by “flesh” and “Spirit” is not between the material and immaterial parts of Christ’s person (i.e., his “body” and “soul”), but rather between his earthly existence and his risen state.”[2]

Scholar William Dalton argues that the idea of being made alive in the spirit was a New Testament reference to the resurrection of Christ’s physical body by the power of the Holy Spirit, not a reference to Christ’s disembodied soul.[3] He writes, “General New Testament anthropology insists on the unity of the human person. Terms such as “flesh” and “spirit” are aspects of human existence, not parts of a human compound. Bodily resurrection is stressed, not the immortality of the soul.”[4]This venerable interpretation sees Christ proclaiming to the spirits as a resurrected body, sometime before he ascended.

Another scholarly interpretation is that Christ’s journey of proclamation occurred in a disembodied state between his death and resurrection. While his body was dead for three days, his spirit was alive and in Sheol. This understands the flesh/spirit distinction as a conjunction of opposites. “Put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” is not talking about the fleshly death and fleshly resurrection, but a fleshly death and a spiritual life. The “spirit” in which he was made alive in this view is not the Holy Spirit, but rather his disembodied soul in the spiritual realm. That “spirit” then corresponds to the “spirits” to whom he proclaimed in the very next verse (v. 19).

This view that Christ’s soul or spirit went down into the underworld of Sheol between his death and resurrection is the most ancient and most traditional view, as attested in the Apostle’s Creed.[5] The Greek for “made alive” is never used of Christ’s physical resurrection in the New Testament, but it is used of the spiritual reality of the believer “being made alive” in Christ (Eph. 2:5-6).[6]Christ suffered the spiritual death of separation from the Father when he died on the cross (Isa. 53:4-6; 1 Pet. 2:24; Matt. 27:46). How the second person of the Trinity can experience separation from the Father remains a Biblical mystery. But in this interpretation, it is Christ’s disembodied spirit that makes the journey to proclaim to the spirits, not his resurrected body.

But whether Christ proclaims in his resurrected body or in his immaterial spirit, the next question arises, who are the spirits to which he proclaims and where are they?

This will be fascinating to you… Continue reading

Antiviral, the Movie: The Horror of Celebrity Worship.


On Netflix Streaming. Sci-fi horror about the near future, when drug companies create a new way for fans to get even more intimate with their celebrities: injections of viruses directly from sick celebrities into their obsessive fans.

The story follows Syd March, who works for the Lucas Clinic, that creates cultures of pathogens directly from the blood cells of sick celebrities, and sells them to fans who seek to have the very cells of celebrities fuse and mutate with their own in a twisted form of identification. Lucas Clinic custom designs the molecular structures of the sicknesses so they are not contagious and therefore not transferable. They want to maintain their patent and profits after all. It’s positively diabolical and absurd in its notion, yet, not far from the truth of the spiritual sickness of our culture of celebrity worship. Indeed, watching this film, I actually think it is quite prescient of where we are going as a culture.

One more gruesome corollary of this dystopian future is that celebrities also sell their normal body cells to be clone-cultured and grown into slabs of meat, that are also sold and eaten by the adoring public. It’s quite literally a science-justified form of cannibalism, since the cultures are not persons, but just meat made from their cells. Of course, its all done in a very clean and white environment, so the hideousness is hidden behind the veneer of “safe science.”

Syd engages in some blackmarket moonlighting by injecting himself with pathogens that enable him to remove the copy protection on the virus, that he then sells to his shady contact. But when Syd injects himself with a deadly pathogen of famous celebrity Hannah Geist, he now must try to save his own life before he follows the young woman to the grave.

Coming from the son of David Cronenberg, one must be aware there will be some influence of dad on this filmmaker. Thus, it is all a bit bloody and physically repulsive at times, artsy and opaque at others. But the directing and acting is excellent, and the beautiful cinematography lent a powerful irony to the eerie darkness beneath the surface. I found it a quite truthful picture of the nature of celebrity worship and how it is a form of idolatry that leads to bizarre self-inflicted degradation on the part of the populace, as well as the willingness on the part of celebrities who are virtual and willing house slaves to those who “cannibalize” them.

This movie was weird, but it really had a profound spiritual truthfulness to it that remains an echo in my memory, long after I’ve forgotten whatever big stupid movie I’ve seen in the theaters this week has dissolved.

The Equalizer: Cathartic Violence in an Unjust America


Maybe The Equalizer is just a violent guys vigilante revenge flick.
But I doubt it.

I saw this a week or so ago. But it’s been on my mind a bit because it was such a good story. It got me thinking about vigilante movies and why they are so emotionally moving.

The story is about Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, an ex-CIA killer, who has gotten out of the Company, and is trying to live a normal life as a blue collar worker at a Home Depot like company. He lives alone and has OCD, which makes him a little too orderly, but without losing his friendliness for people. Denzel meets a young hooker, played my Chloe Grace Moretz, at the diner where he reads a book. Of course, he is an honorable guy and tries to inspire her to leave her world and live a better life. He tells her something to the effect of “We can do anything we choose to do to make our lives better.” She is abused by her pimps, who are Russian mob and so Robert tries to “buy her freedom.” He goes to the headquarters of the Russian mob and offers them all the money he has, $9800 to let her go. They laugh at him, and then attempt to put him out of his misery.

They should not have done that.

Robert kills them all, which starts a hunt by the big boss of those bad guys, and well, you know the rest. It’s all very formulaic. But it’s fantastic. I have written about revenge movies and vigilante violence as being immoral in posts on The Punisher, Walking Tall and Sin City, and my most detailed in reference to A Time To Kill. In Man on Fire Denzel’s character learns that he can only save the innocent with self sacrifice not revenge, which is also an ironic challenge to vigilanteism.

But what makes this a great moral movie is how they play Robert’s approach. He is not a vigilante killer who goes around and kills people he thinks deserves to die outside the law. He actually offers evildoers a face to face opportunity to right their wrong or to repay their victims. He confronts them with their sin and challenges them to repent. Then he only takes them out, when the bad guys, who obviously laugh at him and never repent, then try to hurt or kill him. So he is actually acting in self defense, which is completely legal and morally justifiable.

At one point we see that Robert is reading Don Quixote, and he says something like, “it’s about a knight in a world without chivalry,” which is clearly the theme of this movie. We have lost our heroic chivalrous nature because of our corruption.


It got me thinking: Why are vigilante stories so powerful? Why do they draw us in with such a strong cheer for the hero? It’s not because we just like to see violence. I believe it is because they are cathartic in giving us stories of justice in a society where justice is blocked by corruption. When our own society becomes so corrupt and unjust, normal law abiding citizens become so saddened and frustrated with the evil that goes unpunished. We long for justice that is not being served. So vigilante movies (And again, The Equalizer is not the immoral vigilante type) serve to satisfy that desire that evil will be punished.

And then I realized why this movie is so timely and resonant. Right now, we live in a society of widespread injustice and increasing polarization. Liberals say we have an unjust racist society, conservatives say we have a society that is peddling false racism as a dog whistle that creates reverse racism and justification for racist knockout games, flash mobs and riots. Liberals say we are denying global warming, conservatives that we are denying Islamic terrorism. Liberals say we need Big Government because we are so unjust, conservatives say we have a corrupt unjust Big Government with a president who is violating the constitution with Executive Orders, and using the IRS and FBI to persecute his political enemies and influence elections. Liberals would say our laws are unjust regarding immigration and gun control, conservatives would say we have a corrupt Department of Justice and a criminal racist Attorney General who violated the laws he swore to uphold with racist policies, defiant non-enforcement and criminal conspiracies like Fast and Furious. Both sides warn of increasing militarized police.

What do you think?

Maybe The Equalizer is just a violent guys vigilante revenge flick.
But I doubt it.

Gone Girl: Cynical Feminism Come of Age


Maybe Gone Girl is just a twisty “artistic” thriller.

But I doubt it.

Watching the first half of this movie has all the hallmarks of a good David Fincher directed thriller. Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne arrives home to discover his wonderful wife, Rosamund Pike as Amy is missing and there is little evidence of it being foul play. Ah, but there is a little evidence and it begins to mount in the direction of Ben’s guilt. We hear the thoughts of Ben Affleck as he caresses his wife’s head in a flashback with the double entendre allusions to him wishing he could crack open her head so he could understand the way she thinks. Okay, pretty on the nose, but makes the point of a good thriller that we must not be sure of the hero’s innocence.

It is not until the midpoint big twist of the movie that we begin to see this is not a standard thriller, but a “statement” about modern marriage, because characters begin to make unbelievable choices and the plot conveniently twists in additional unbelievable ways, all in the support of the storyteller’s “message” they are apparently trying to make.

SPOILER: Okay, look, I’m not interested in writing movie reviews. I want to talk about worldviews and meanings of movies and how they affect our lives. So I have to spill the beans. So don’t read me for movie reviews anyway.

Amy is a trust fund princess and Nick, the fast talking alpha male to replace her controlling parents. At the halfway point, we discover that Amy has constructed the entire scenario to look like a murder, so that she could punish Nick for losing his job and therefore self-worth and for his secret adultery on the side. Amy is on the run hiding her identity and even plans to kill herself originally, all to get back at Nick for ruining her life (a common feminist interpretation of how male dominance leads women to self-destruction). Nick gets a hot defense attorney and they begin to play the media image as they try to find Amy. Meanwhile, Amy ends up at the hideaway of a past stalker who was obsessed with her and is now rich himself. He is still obsessed with her and seeks to “help her” by controlling her and turning her into his puppet of pleasure, barefoot and lingerie laden at home. She finally plots another frame up of this creep and murders him.

There is a truth that Dennis Prager writes about and talks about on his Male/Female Hour on the radio. Feminists, egalitarians, leftists, metrosexuals, and other Christophobes will HATE me for saying this truth. But it is how God made us: What a woman most wants is to be loved by a man she admires, and what men most want from the woman they love is to be admired. What is a simple truism for those of us happily married (and not), becomes a kind of natural law against which this story struggles with all its soul like a rat trying to claw its way out of a cage.

Watching this movie, one can feel the palpable hatred that the storytellers must have for traditional marriage, seeing it as an oppression of women under the thumb of men who use them for their own pleasure and prop up of worth, while it smothers their own self worth. It depicts a marriage that starts out like all marriages, happy and blissful, but then over time, it dies down and crumbles. In this worldview, men are simple pigs who see women always in sexual terms and can’t pick their own ties. Women ruin themselves, just like Amy, by their desire to have a man to admire, so they try to create that man by picking his ties and put aside their own worth to try to prop him up. Can anyone blame Amy’s lack of choices by running from the slouch loser of Nick to the help of her past stalker, who is himself a cliché of controlling women through a patriarchal protection that is actually sick and twisted?

Like all good stories, Gone Girl tries to throw in some opposites for good ambiguity. So a male/female pair of grifters rob Amy when she is on the run, and they appear to be led by the woman, not the man. But then again, the man is a lowlife male who is easily manipulated into such things, another cliché of feminist narratives, just like Nick and just like the stalker. Men are easily manipulated because they are driven by their little heads. We also discover that another guy was unjustly indicted for rape charges by Amy in college because he didn’t turn out to be what she wanted. So she is a sociopath, but a sociopathic expression of a value in our society. But in this story, it seems that is what it takes to make the marriage “work.”

Families don’t get a good shake in this film. Amy’s parents use her as their story source to make millions writing children’s stories. And then borrow away the trust fund money they saved for her out of their guilt. The local woman with multiple children is the “stupid pregnant woman” that Amy manipulates to achieve her deception. And in the end, Amy comes back to Nick and offers him the opportunity for them both to stay together. She does this because she “falls in love” with him again when he pleads with her on national television with a secret message. He becomes that man that she can admire again.

The obvious absurdity that the storytellers have to get us over: Who would possibly reunite with a murderer sociopath? You’re right. No one in their right moral mind would.

In the end Nick chooses to stay with Amy and live the lie! The fact that she is a deluded scheming murderer is overridden by the fact that their marriage gives them both what they need, for her, an alpha male to admire, and for him, a woman who would do anything for his acceptance. I think this is a black comedy of sorts because that choice is CLEARLY NOT the right choice morally and therefore unsatisfying for those who want justice to prevail in a story. But that is the point of black comedies that show darkness win, I think the storytellers are trying to make the point that staying together in marriage with these beliefs requires the subjugation of a woman’s identity to a man’s strength that will drive her to do evil things to maintain that value.

It’s possible that the author is trying to show that our male and female natures taken to an extreme can become self-destructive. But if that is the case, then I think the story fails because it does not depict a proper balance of those natures against which to judge the extreme. The result of this kind of one-sided depiction is a generic statement about those natures as being all bad.

I am a sinner who needs God’s grace daily, and I don’t have a perfect marriage. But I can say that a happy marriage is not achieved by turning men into women (ie: metro girly men), or by demanding egalitarian equality of power (which is itself power-driven), or by denying our male and female natures (which is self-delusion). Rather, it is achieved through self sacrifice and dying to one’s self. It comes from a woman being loved by a man she admires and by a man being admired by the woman he loves.

Maybe Gone Girl is just a twisty “artistic” thriller.

But I doubt it.


Transcendence Movie: The Idolatry of Transhumanism

transSci-fi Thriller about a scientist who uploads his consciousness to the internet and threatens humanity with the next step of evolution.

This movie, starring Johnny Depp as the scientist Will Caster, starts as a promising Michael Crichton type warning of the danger of AI technology, but ends like a bad TV show about unbelievable eternal love with his wife Evelyn, played by Rebecca Hall, and a ludicrous non-battle with government armed forces of about ten men.

The first half of this movie is fascinating and thoughtful as the spectre of AI and Transhumanism is raised for debate. AI is Artificial Intelligence and it is the belief that consciousness as self-awareness can be achieved by a sufficiently complex machine such as a computer. In this view consciousness is simply a property of matter that “emerges” out of a complex system. In other words, when a machine or biological organism becomes sufficiently complex, it becomes self-aware and therefore conscious.

Transhumanism is a currently fashionable “movement” that believes we can transcend our humanity by hybridizing ourselves with machines such as computers. One such way of achieving transcendence is to upload our consciousness into a computer. Both of these beliefs are based upon the materialist assumption that there is no “spiritual” component or soulishness to humanity that transcends our material bodies. Consciousness is ultimately reducible to brain synapses and chemicals.

In this story, the antagonists are a Luddite type technophobic terrorist group who fears the tyranny of machinery to steal our humanity and ultimately control us as slaves. So they engage in terrorist attacks, which includes attempted murder of Will Caster, as one of the heroes of AI research. They don’t kill him right away, but the discovery of a radiation affected bullet means Caster will die in weeks. So he does the untested: He and his wife, with the help of Max Waters (Paul Bettany), do the first uploading of a human consciousness to a computer – Will Caster’s consciousness.

Max becomes the questioning character, our stand-in for the troubled person who sees the dangers but also sees the potential good that technology accomplishes. He becomes captured by the technophobe terrorists and soon joins them in their quest to shut down Al Gore’s wonderful internet.

But what soon becomes manifest is that when Caster’s consciousness is uploaded to the internet, he gets access to the world of information and “evolves” quickly into the god that he sought to become.

And this was the one thing I liked about an otherwise poorly executed movie. It illustrates the very universal nature of mankind to seek godhood. As Max says, “Survival isn’t enough.” AI Caster will seek to gain control of all information by his very nature, and ultimately end “primitive organic life” by replacing it with eternal machinery. This “next step of evolution” is clearly genocidal.

Early in the film, an anti-techy says to Caster, “So you want to create a god. To make your own god.” Caster replies, “Isn’t that what mankind always does?” And of course, the god that Transhumanism seeks to create is the godhood of the human. And this reveals the ultimate and inescapable religious nature of atheist humanism. That is, man is a religious being in need of worshipping the Creator God. But when he denies that god, he replaces it with himself, and he seeks to achieve eternal life through his own “transcendence,” of his finite humanity. But such godhood always requires control over the more “primitive humans” who do not agree with such enlightened wisdom. (Talk about a Scientific Inquisition). When the AI Caster gets his wife to buy a small town and build a huge scientific research center underground to expand his “power,” it is no coincidence that the town’s name is “Brightwood.” “Bright” is the nomer that the dull-headed new atheists have called themselves.

The film shows this religious atheism in full swing when Caster evolves in his intelligence to the point where he can use nanotechnology to heal people from their sicknesses almost instantly, like Jesus. In other words, “miraculous.” One of his healings is of a “man born blind,” which brings to mind the famous story of Jesus healing a man who was born blind in John 9. So he gets a following of such people to become his willing followers, who have become “networked” to Caster’s AI system and can operate independently, but can also act collectively as one. And the ultimate goal of such godlike power is expressed in creating life through 3D printing technology, which is what Caster seeks to do.

But the temptation for omnipotence with such “transcendence” becomes clear. And no matter what someone does in the name of “helping humanity,” absolute power corrupts absolutely, and so it does with Caster. But in a “nice” totalitarian way. He never becomes a “monster” like a Hitler, he just goes about his plans to abolish and replace human organisms in his amoral quest for so-called evolutionary perfection. It actually reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength, where the villain had the same goal of scientific purification of humanity. It is our Brave New World that appears to be amoral which is actually immoral in cloaking genocide in scientific terms of forcing a humanity that doesn’t know better, to become better against it’s own wishes. But of course, the better is defined by the one in power.

Paul Bettany’s character begins as a great foil as he struggles with the realization that he had believed all those years that consciousness was reducible to electrical brain impulses. And he then realizes that the illogic of human emotion can reconcile what a machine cannot reconcile. (Rather than “human emotion” the storytellers should have used morality to counter logic without restraint. This was a wasted powerful moral moment) He tries to get Evelyn to realize that whatever the AI Caster is, it is NOT Will Caster. It never was.


SPOILER ALERT: Unfortunately, then the movie breaks down into ridiculous plot elements and unbelievable character choices that makes it lose steam. Instant self-sacrifice by Evelyn occurs, which no matter how noble in itself, is not believable when it is not precipitated by a believable motivation and cuts against everything that was being shown in the character. The worst of it is the ludicrous government force that is marshaled to stop Caster’s little scientific complex that will rule the world. It was like 10 mercenaries, with a few canons lobbing shells onto the solar panels that powered Caster’s scientific paradise, and the pacifist mind-controlled followers of Caster who are accompanied by scary music but who never to do anything other than just walk up to the violent mercs and just look at them. It was so ridiculous, I was thinking, did they lose 10 million from their budget at the last minute, so they couldn’t do the big battle finale?

And then worst of all, this threat to the entire world is stopped by a little virus that worked instantly to make all the power in the world go dead, except for the lights in the underground complex until the good guys could get out. A little virus that this amazing AI that has evolved way past all computers in the world had no protection against. Just ridiculous.

Oh, no, wait, there was one more worst of all. After this entire story of proving that the “singularity” notion of humanity without limits leads to tyranny and destruction, it all ends with a contrary ending that negates everything before it. We are shown that the AI Caster “always was” Caster after all (thus reversing Max’s belief and reinforcing the discredited notion that consciousness is uploadable and reducible to 1s and 0s). But also the absurdly Romantic notion that “everything Caster did, he did so he could be together with his beloved wife.” Awwwww, he wasn’t a bad dictator, he was a loving dictator!

Such good potential story lost.

This movie proves that mankind should not transcend itself because we do not deserve godhood, and do not have the requisite goodness of nature to handle it. (No, we need a God for that). but it also proves that a poorly executed story can ruin an excellent idea.

Parkland: The Passion of the Christ Kennedy – Boring Idol Worship Movie

True Crime drama about what happened the day JFK was shot based on Vincent Bugliosi’s book. On the fiftieth anniversary year of Kennedy’s assassination, it is no surprise a movie like this was made. In and of itself, I don’t have a problem with that. It remains the single most curious assassination in history for most Americans, and I admit that I was curious to see the details of everything that went on that day myself.

Unfortunately, a movie about historical details does not a story make. I concluded that the movie was a boring hagiography for Kennedy idol worship, because quite frankly there was NO STORY justifying the movie. It was just boring apart from the excitement surrounding the bloody murder and all. We see what happened that day in the lives of people surrounding the event from Abraham Zapruder, who shot the infamous 8mm film, to Oswald’s brother, to the key doctors and cops involved. But there was NO STORY.


I have to say on the positive side that it eviscerates the conspiracy theory which is itself a form of idol worship. Yes, one shooter, no cover-up, just honest internicene squabbles with incompetent government policy and workers on every level as well as a few chance events for a perfect storm. But I believe that conspiracy theories are literally god substitutes. For example, people cannot accept that such a nothing human being combined with unfortuitous chance events can ruin history so deeply. And when you don’t believe in a providential God controlling things, then you cannot live with the absurdity of such meaninglessness, so you create a “god” to fulfill that need for meaning behind events. In the case of conspiracy theories, it is actually an evil god, usually in the form of powerful people who have orchestrated it all for a diabolical plan. This gives meaning and purpose that they cannot live without.

Well this movie shows the very real and non-conspiratorial events that happened that day. Another reason why it is boring as a movie, because reality is often not a very well structured story. And conspiracies make for better movies; detailed real life is mundane.

But that is the idolatry with which I think it ends up replacing the previous idolatry. Why bother telling the story for petty details of pain alone? Unless you want to maintain the fantasy Camelot glory of the man as they do in this movie by elevating the tragedy to godlike importance and blood sacrifice atonement. The blood in this movie made me think of The Passion of the Christ. And they never show the face of Kennedy with a kind of holy diversion reminiscent of how Jesus was avoided in Ben Hur. Even Jackie’s face is often avoided to keep her as a kind of Mother Mary Jackie. The terror and despair in everyone’s faces and lives throughout the whole movie made you think Jesus himself died and America lost its innocence and hope – which is exactly what Kennedy worshippers believe.

The real assassination of America’s innocence was the 1960s. We are still suffering the devastating effects in every area of life from that immoral rebellion.

Ironically, those Kennedy worshippers would damn Kennedy TODAY for being a politician whose policies were more like a modern liberal Republican than the current Democrat party of his heritage. OMG, the god Kennedy believed in less taxes and American supremacy abroad? Why that is as evil as the devil himself: George W. Bush! And to modern Democrats, that would make Kennedy a warmongering racist (of white privilege) since he was a white rich cracker and disagreed with Obama’s policies. Even worse, he was pro-life!

The laughable legacy of Kennedy worshippers is that they are still today actually spinning the story as if Kennedy was killed by a Right Wing “hateful city of Dallas.” These fools must not know that Dallas was a liberal potpourri and that Oswald was a Left Wing Communist who murdered a guy whose policies were more right wing than the Democratic Party would ever tolerate today! JFK would not even be allowed to speak at the DNC because of his political beliefs. Truth just doesn’t matter to idol worshippers.

Just their religion.

And the truth is, a far greater man died on that same infamous day in history. A man whose legacy really has changed the world for the better. A man who, while he doesn’t deserve idol worship, and he would decry it as well, he does deserve a higher recognition. He represented and served a true Camelot God and kingdom, but his death was overshadowed by a media obsessed idol worshipping kingdom of man. He didn’t live a life of wealthy privilege, and didn’t have a world of sycophants covering up serial immoral sexuality, selfish abuse of authority, and drug addiction. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a more worthy one.

That man was C.S. Lewis.

Now his is a story more worth telling.

House of Cards: Shakespearean Tragedy About the Political Pursuit of Power – of Democrats, that is

Netflix Political Thriller series. An amazingly written and directed series starring Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, a Democrat congressman who is withheld from a position in the new Democrat administration in Washington, and enacts revenge on those who betrayed him.

I get tired of all these series that are based on anti-heroes or worse, villains as heroes. But House of Cards is not one of them. At least not yet. It is Shakespearian in its dramatic quality and appears to me to be the set up for a tragedy on the level of Breaking Bad.

There is no bones about the storytellers showing us in the first scene that Underwood is a Machiavellian villain who is not a good man, when he breaks the neck of a dog that survived being hit by a car. Of course he tells us that he is the one who does what needs to be done, but no one wants to do it. But it doesn’t matter what his justification is; if you kill a dog you are evil. That’s movie and TV rules. ☺

And we know that we are going to be following the mind of a man whose sole ambition is power because he tells us so. He regularly “breaks the third wall” and talks to us the audience in asides to give us what is really going on in his mind. It’s a truly satisfying and clever storytelling technique that builds rich irony we could not know otherwise.

A subplot surrounds his wife’s own political ambitions mixed with humanitarian causes and the weird twisted agreement they have in their marriage that looks a lot like the Clinton arrangement, if you know what I mean.

Of course there are others whose stories we follow as well, like the young reckless congressman who is being used as his life falls apart, and the amoral journalist who spouts journalistic integrity about not revealing sources while sleeping with the congressman to get stories for her own advancement.

But here is the interesting thing —no, the fascinating thing. Though it is a series about politics, it is kind of apolitical in that it doesn’t seek to make specific political policy arguments like the West Wing or other courtroom shows these days. And it hasn’t made any political potshots at Republicans that I was aware of. It’s really more about the pursuit of power. In fact, everyone in the show is driven not by truth or justice but by different ambitions of power.


In the entire first season, it seems there was not a person who truly believed in any policy they fought for. They only fought for what was most convenient for their personal advancement or ambitions. Policies are mere means to their ends of power. Talk about the ultimate revelation of the true corruption of politics! The only one who seemed to have integrity, was a low level worry wart who was fired in the first two episodes for her moral convictions.

I make a qualification. There are two women who seem to believe in their causes moreso than others: Underwood’s wife, Claire, played with perfection by Robin Wright, and an activist she hires. But by the end of the first season, they engage in unjust immoral and illegal actions to further their own interests as well. Claire brings food from her privileged class fundraising party out to the protestors outside her event. But of course we see it is only a photo op to look compassionate and make the protestors look bad. And the activist maliciously initiates a lawsuit based on politically correct lies of “social justice” to get revenge on Claire for firing her. An ironic revelation of how social justice is revealed as a weapon of social injustice. In other words, their commitment to a cause is a self righteousness that they use as a weapon of – you guessed it, POWER. In fact, one suspects that Claire like a Lady Macbeth (or Lady Clinton), has her own diabolical purposes that drive her façade of social concern.

One might say this is a cynical show about politics. A very cynical show.

Or, one might say it is a revelation of the truth behind the Democratic Party.

Yes, I know I said that it is apolitical on the surface. And yes, I know the storytellers are all, no doubt, Democrats, and I don’t suspect that is their intent to dump on the Democrats at all. And I know the show is only beginning. But so far, if you think about it, they could have made a show about Republicans doing all this evil and corruption, which is the usual spin, but they didn’t. They chose the Democratic Party.

Which works best because it is the Democratic Party that is essentially the party of the pursuit of Power.

One could say House of Cards is the Anti-West Wing.

Think about it. Of course there are individual corrupt Republicans and big government Republicans as well. And the RNC is full of cowards who bow to political correctness and compromise their values or even seek power. These are the inescapable results of a fallen world of corrupt individuals everywhere. But the Republican Party, as a party, is philosophically founded on creating smaller government and less government for more personal freedom for people to take care of themselves and each other. The party was created to fight slavery, for God’s sake!

The Democratic Party philosophy, on the other hand, is based on building bigger government and expanding government control, and creating more dependents on government handouts to get votes, which is more power and control over people’s lives. Its very essence is Power, for gods’ sake! (That is, for the sake of being gods).

So the RNC is based on smaller government and less power, while the DNC is based on bigger government and more power. Yes, there are evil people in each party, but this series, so far, is a lens into the actual philosophy of the DNC and their corrupt systemic mindset of POWER.

Let’s see if they try to spin it around as the series goes on, but for now, it was refreshing to see a Hollywood political TV show finally speak the truth to Power.

The Counselor: Nietzsche at the Movies, or Shakespeare without Redemption

Crime thriller. After watching The Counselor, you get the feeling that you need to take a shower. And not because it was a guilty pleasure, but simply because you’ve wallowed in a nihilistic worldview for an hour and half that ends in despair and offers no way out of evil.

It tells the story – and not a very clear story – of a greedy lawyer, the Counselor, played by Michael Fassbender, who gets in way over his head when he gets involved with drug traffickers and his deal goes awry. He is portrayed as a man who has finally found true love with the beautiful Laura, played by Penelope Cruz and buys her a diamond he cannot afford, which is the symbolic impetus for him stepping over the line into big illegal money.

A couple of his criminal “friends” tell him not to do it because he is too naïve to handle it. (This is not the same as a moral injunction to do the right thing.) Of course the deal goes wrong when someone steals the shipment from Fassbender’s connections, and all those connected with him are hunted down to pay.

The thing about it is, I went to this movie because of the A-list director, Ridley Scott, and the A-list cast of Fassbender, Cruz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz. I was disappointed. Sure, because of Cormac McCarthy, it had some of the most lyrical existential dialogue ever in a thriller or crime movie (albeit, some of it out of place and self-important). But in the service of a nihilistic worldview, such lyricism becomes verbose mockery. McCarthy’s cynicism here amounts to self-righteous platitudes.

There is a scene where the ruthless Cameron Diaz visits a priest for confession only to mock him. But the scene was out of place and confusing and didn’t make much sense other than to show her mockery of religion. And that same religious commitment in the innocent Laura made her ignorant and a victim to the strong.

On the surface, I should like this movie because it is kind of a two hour movie version of Breaking Bad. That is, there is heavy lyrical poetry spoken throughout about how our decisions make us who we are and our actions have consequences. (I forgot my note pad, so I didn’t get any of them down. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to anyway, because there was so much of it and quite complex at times). But what I picked up from it was the added notion that we cannot undo the bad choices we’ve done. There’s no going back. No second chances. Our choices set in motion an inevitable ending of despair and death.

Now, on the one hand, for those without God, I would quite agree that there is no hope, just death in this life (I would add: Judgment after that). And yes, the world of crime and evil never ends well, and even ends in destroying innocent people, which is a moral truth in the right context. But a story that ONLY shows the dark and the evil and shows no good in contrast, no hope for redemption spurned, no possibility to change, is a story that communicates there is no hope or redemption.

That is nihilism.

That is not worth an audience.