Movie Review: Jurassic World

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Jurassic World is a luxury resort where, over the past years, people have come to see real life dinosaurs. Sure, they were once extinct, but, thanks to a little genetic DNA manipulation, scientists can whip up any dino they please. People are getting bored now of regular dinosaurs- as is the case of humanity. So, in order to keep attendance up, a new dinosaur is bred.

This dinosaur is the “stuff of nightmares” as the owner calls it. So we are introduced to some characters we are supposed to care about, a park where everything is going great, and a Indominus Rex that is smarter than everyone else.

Thankfully, it is in a cage. Until it gets out and starts killing stuff. Surprise surprise… I mean, seriously, what did you expect to happen?

Moral Messages

Two brothers/nephews are introduced in this movie, and they are the typical set. The hyper excited younger and the the girl chasing/depressed older. While their relationship is, at best, tolerable of each other, the various events with dinosaurs escaping bring them closer together and result in them sharing real, personal fears with the other. Likewise, Claire gets a wakeup call in the horrendous events of the Indominus Rex escape. She realizes her nephews and family are so much more important, that once they are reunited, she doesn’t let them out of her sight. The pain of divorce is touched on as well, giving this film a minor, yet solid approach on family values.

“Assets” are the parks main priority. As well they should be, as these assets are the dinosaurs people come to see. What appears to be forgotten, is these assets are living, breathing, and thinking creatures. Claire disregards this point that Owen brings up, saying “extinct animals have no rights.” Later on though, it is made clear through a dire scene that these animals may not have a human soul, they certainly have life, and should be cared for as such. Many relationships of man and beast in this movie asked excellent questions about the dominion of nature vs. being submissive to it. Ultimately, a well struck balance was found and was lacking in the typical progressive agenda which we find in other films.

How do you live a happy life? Claire is asked this question in the midst of her business speech. A man simply states “The key to a happy life is to accept you are never in control.” A quote like that should not be forgotten, especially in a movie like this. How true it is that man has no control over anything, and this is emphasized in Jurassic World. The people who try to hold onto everything and manipulate every situation often wind up unhappy (or dead), while those who live Hakuna Matata style wind up with that Disney happy ending.

Content Cautions

What would a Jurassic movie be without the carnivorous violence? A dinosaur zoo- that’s what. While I personally think that kind of movie would be awesome (Please Pixar?), apparently Hollywood disagrees. In the couple of hours we sit through this movie, all kinds of voracious violence ensues. The Indominus Rex kills her share of humans. We see several munched up off the ground waist up, others are clawed and impaled, some are crushed with her tail, and yet others are simply squished by her huge feet. She picks up a tourist filled glass ball with people inside and attempts to break it open. The death count by her savagery is easily exceeds three dozen, most of whom are military personnel who signed up to stop escaped assets such as herself.

But it doesn’t stop there. The aviary is broken open by a crashing helicopter (all men die in said copter), and the Pterodactyls wreck havoc upon the civilians trying to escape the park. Many are grabbed and dropped in the air. Others are pecked to death. Some even are impaled by beaks of Pterodactyls who have been shot down by the park security. Unfortunately, one woman in particular is not only hoisted in the air by the flying beasts, but fought over by two of the dinos… only for the Pterodactyl and the woman to be eaten whole by a huge Mosasaur (Whale-type Dino).

Let’s not forget the Raptors. Those wolf-type creatures who are way too smart for their own good. This results in messy blood spattering deaths in not only the woods, but also in the lab where the raptors track the last of survivors down. In one particularly gruesome scene, a man’s arm is bitten in half, then the rest of him attacked.

Finally, in case the CGI Dinosaurs eating people wasn’t enough, we are treated to a full our monster mash of dinosaurs battling and beating the complete life out of each other. It is a terribly spectacular fest which leaves you in awe of not only what we can do with technology, but also what it might have looked like thousands of years ago had these beasts met.

Expletives are proficient with about a dozen S and D words, A man is called an A, another mention of a B word. God’s name is used in vain seven times.

There is one extra-marital kiss, and a crude reference of mating with another.

Closing Thoughts

It truly is remarkable how a single movie can alter the course of the film industry. Jurassic Park did that in 1993. This long awaited sequel by the fans of the original is nothing short of a beautiful and well told CGI spectacle teasing back and tipping the hat to the “glory days” of the first movie. This film delivers on all fronts when it comes to a telling a quaint and simple story, while feeding the masses’ bloodlust for more bone crunching, more explosions, and more dino action.

While there is so much more to be dug up in Jurassic World, that is where the flick leaves us. Instead of exploring greater into the depths of some pretty heavy themes that are merely touched upon… We are given humans being juggled and torn apart by pterodactyls. The same old themes in the old movie are resurrected, and once again, trampled.

While themes of family bonds are showed to us by the two brothers, nothing lasting is established. Claire and Owen wind up together, against all odds of complete clashing of persons throughout the entire film (spoiler alert). The film isn’t such a “clever girl” to be honest, while it could have been. All the musings about life control and the state of nature disregarded as the Indominus Rex takes the screen.

But while we are being honest, no one going this movie wanted a discourse on the morality of genetics now did they? Who is going to go see a movie where everything goes right in an abusive dinosaur zoo? No one in this generation, that’s for sure. So, if you want to see more things going wrong, more humans turning into snack food, and a really cool scene where raptors team up with Chris Pratt riding an old motorcycle… Yeah, this movie is for you.

Why You Can’t Change Your Gender

Man and Woman

(Content Warning: This post deals with mature themes of sexuality and sexual orientation)

Oh National Media, how we love thee for thy spotlight shining on issues here today and gone tomorrow. Directing our attentions by saying “Squirrel!” and the populous running to that story like a dog from Pixar’s UP. This most recent direction of Vanity Fair’s Magazine Cover has created quite the stir. The story isn’t surprising really, as it addresses fundamental questions regarding who we are.

You Can Change Your Biological Sex

While the U.S. is in awe of the physical change that has been wrought in and through this individual, fiery arguments have developed as to what to call Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Who he is. What his legal name now is. And so forth and so on. What is not disputed by either parties, is that he is biologically, now a female.

Thanks to science, it is possible to accomplish incredible things. Biological 3-D printing is opening up transplants with the possibilities of no patient rejection. We understand more of our creation than ever before. But with that understanding in a fallen world, we’ve seen twisting of application of science- like the person we see today.

Ever since Roe v. Wade, society has operated under the impression that people have rights over their own bodies to any extreme. Scripturally however, this body-owning mindset could not be further from the truth. We are but stewards of the physical shells in which we have been given. Granted, from a Christian perspective, this truth is simple to grasp. It is communicating this truth to the world is what has been and always will be- a difficult task.

You Can’t Change Your God-Given Gender

The truth of the issue is that each one of us was created by God with a specific gender in mind. That is, one’s soul apart from their biological shell. Society would say the first is dependent upon the other. The Bible says otherwise. In heaven it is said there will be women and there will be men. Yet, we will be as brothers and sisters. Will who we are in heaven be determined by our current biological setup when we die? Of course not.

One can certainly be a male or female anatomically. Yet, that can in no way determine whether our soul is that of a man or a woman. Our God created soul transcends the mere body in which we live. Our body will eventually be cast away and rot like everything else in this world regardless of whether or not we change core bodily functions or appearances.

That’s why a person can change their bodily appearance all they want, yet still be like what Christ said- a tomb inside. They are still that same lost, desperate, and hopeless individual. Trying to find meaning in things which will not satisfy. Trying make an impact in a manner which won’t last.

I’d challenge you not to get lost in the physical particulars like so many have, but to look deeper into the personal struggles which this person and so many others face. We have a huge opportunity here to be shining examples of Christlike compassion and boldness. Let’s not squander it arguing about what bra size Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner wears.

Movie Review: The Imitation Game

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Secrets are heavy burdens, and no one knows better than Alan Turing. A Brilliant Mathematician, Turing applies to the British state during WWII so that he can help crack the German “Enigma” building a machine which thinks like a human.

Problem is, most people don’t believe a machine like that could even exist, nor do his teammates like him. At all. As time passes however, Turing succeeds, and in that success he gathers more secrets. Finds out more lies…

And it is only a matter of time before the truth is exposed.

Things I Liked

Perhaps the noblest thing found in this film is the result of cracking the German code. Instead of using this knowledge to benefit the team in personal ways. They painfully disregard this desire and instead use Enigma to break the Germans down piece by piece. It was shown that historians estimate over 14 million lives were saved by the use of the broken code as basic intel.

Turing is shown as a flawed man with a huge difficulty to function in social settings. He cares not for people, but for puzzles. This was presented neither as good, nor bad, but rather just who he was. We see this personality solve the puzzle which ended the war, but also damage the relationships around him. I enjoyed seeing a man shown not in a heroic or unheroic light, but rather one who simply lived in this way, allowing you to judge for yourself what was right.

Don’t burn me at stake for this, but I also enjoyed seeing the fact that just because a person has a perverted sin- that is in this case, homosexuality, it does not mean the person doesn’t have feelings or should be cast out as one without a soul. Because of the hateful treatment Alan Turing receives due to his sin, it ultimately destroys him. Not to detract responsibility for his own life, but there is something to say also about the lack of love shown towards Turing and the effect it has upon him.

This film is masterfully acted in every sense of the word. Cumberbatch takes the screen with a riveting performance which is remarkably unforgettable.

Things I Didn’t Like

Perhaps the greatest thing which I disliked in the film is the not-so-subtle pokes at society and their treatment of people who are homosexual. This film does not preach, but rather profess through story, that we need to accept people “wired” in this way just like any other normal human being. While in one sense we should love them just like any other person Christ calls us to love, we cannot support a lifestyle of sin such as this- just like we cannot support a lifestyle of alcoholism, gambling, etc.

With this content being brought up so much in the movie. Innuendo is proficient throughout the film. Male parts are especially dwelt upon in bar conversations. While in other instances flirtatious “come-ons” are implied through various forms of communication.

We see flashbacks of ships blown to pieces and other war related scenes. People are punched, slapped, and kicked a few times in the heat of frustration. A boy is trapped in the floor by bullies and not released until a friend finds him.

Profanities of the D, A, and B words are used a couple times. God’s and Christ’s name are taken in vain a half dozen times.

Closing Thoughts

Now you decide; Am I a machine, am I a human, am I a war hero,or am I a criminal?
~Alan Turing~

This is the question Turing asks a detective who has put him on trial. One we ultimately are asked as well in this film. While this movie may be a war drama regarding the development of the machine that breaks the german code, it is more about the life Turing lived and the decisions he made.

To watch him live a life completely and utterly alone is one which is heart wrenching. Joan tells him in less than ladylike terms that, after he solves Enigma, it won’t fill the hole in his heart. How sadly true this is. Turing was a brilliant mathematician. Yet, with all of his intellectual capacity, all of his accomplishments, he lived rejected by the world due to his sinful sexual desires and obsessively selfish state.

In his gross ineptitude for relationships however, We get to know and care for Turing in the film. Rarely does a work so masterfully capture and portray a man’s life such as “The Imitation Game” does. We want Turing to be happy. So badly do we want to see a happy ending. But it isn’t, because Turing missed that one thing which would fill his heart. Love. Not a twisted temporary worldly love, as the movie suggests. But a real, genuine, Christlike love which only belief could offer to him. Where there opportunities in Turing’s life to find this? I don’t know. What I do know is Alan Turing’s life ended as depressingly as it was lived. That as the things of history and earth pass away, as his works are eventually forgotten.

I couldn’t help thinking as I left the theater “What a tragic, heartbreaking waste.” What a waste of a machine, who put his gifts before everything else. What a waste of a human, who never found the love of Christ. What a waste of a war hero, who spent two years of his life solving a puzzle which saved millions of lives. What a waste of a Criminal, who had sins like the rest of us, but punished more harshly because of the society in which he lived.

What is not a waste however, is the application we can learn from this movie. That is, no matter the intelligence of the person, the situation, the past, or the sin. There is a person living an empty life. And we have the key to fill it. Let’s not waste that opportunity, and leave the person to have the same fate of Alan Turing. Because that, is a losing game.

Why We Are All Sheltered

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As a former Homeschooler, I still get the “Sheltered Question” occasionally. Sometimes it crops up as a social aspect, other times it is my lack of knowledge regarding the latest cultural fad, and others it goes back to simply not knowing this random famous song. Society claims we, the Homeschooled Christian, are sheltered and to be honest yes. Yes we are. But here is another truth.

Everyone is sheltered from something- be it good, or bad. 

This realization fully hit me back when I worked for an Autobody/Repair shop. Some of the nastiest stories and language I ever heard came from that place. Stories of orgy, drunkenness, blasphemy, flat out immorality, and perversion of the simplest phrases. These people were sheltered though too. Obviously not in the ways of the corrupt and lost world to which society entreats us to join, but sadly, in the joys of life which I had lived my life under. Joys of strong family, peace in life, and an eternal hope.

I grew up sheltered under the Umbrella of the Christian walk. An Umbrella that provided everything I needed in life to not only be happy, but to live confidently and with conviction. What a contrast it was to see another sheltered individual under the umbrella of the world; beaten, torn, tattered, and pulled about whenever the wind blew in the slightest. It was heart breaking at times, to see the miserable lives they were living, stumbling about in the storm of sin, and even acknowledging their lives, to put it in family friendly terms, “Stunk”.

How about we stop apologizing for and being embarrassed of our sheltered lives?

What perplexes me to no end now, is why we often refrain from sharing our umbrella with those who need it. When we see that person stumbling in the storm, getting soaked by their worldly decisions, why not offer our shelter to them? Why not say “Yup! I may not know your shelter, but I do know mine. Why not give it a try?

Know I’m not saying we should be completely culturally irrelevant in the world which we live. There are two ditches- Knowing nothing, and knowing everything. Both, per usual regarding extremes, are flawed. We must seek out things in culture which we can turn to Christ, like Paul did with the Romans. But we must also rest confidently and assuredly in our own sheltered nature of Christ, and not use “cultural relevance” as an excuse or crutch. I praise the Lord I grew up in the Sheltered way that I did. If more of us pondered this intently, we’d have a lot less apologies, and a lot more outreach. Because the only shelter really worth being under, is Christ’s.

Movie Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings

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Brotherhood. Moses and Ramses know all about that. They should- they grew up together, have fought together, and have ruled together under the pharaoh. The time has come though for a new pharaoh to rise to the throne, and Ramses does so in a manner of his father and his father’s father… the list goes on. In this new transition, Moses is shown and told some disturbing things. How he is not truly Egyptian. How he is not royalty.

Taken aback at these claims and the way Ramses treats him under such, he has no option but to flee in the desert, where he meets his wife, starts a family, and meets a bush on fire, yet does not burn. He has been Told to free his people, the Hebrews, from Egypt. Who told him this?

God.

Things I Liked

While Moses departs from the standard Exodus representation of his character. He remains true to the essence of person. For the most part. Early on, instead of rebelling at the bush and calling, he rebels later in assembling his own little army and strike force. God appears later, after the failures of such a force. In more eloquent words He essentially asks “How’s that working for you?”. Moses eventually learns the lesson of submission and humility, and begins a walk with God which is excellent to behold.

The Hebrews as a whole, are shown to have an unwavering faith in God until the Red Sea, like shown in Exodus. Throughout the beatings, the plagues, and freedom they continue to hold fast to the prophecies told to them, and share them with Moses who is their deliverer. Even after the wonders of the plagues though, we see them begin to squabble amongst themselves and question Moses’s decision. I was glad they left both parts of this in the film.

The plagues portrayed in this movie are by far the best ever shown or captured. They even reference how each plague smacked the face of an Egyptian god. What is also laughable, is how the Egyptian priests attempted to explain away the plagues with science, to no avail. Much like what some scientists do today.

The cinematography and costumes in this piece stood out like none other. It is indeed a beautiful work to behold and seeing what Egypt could have looked like at the height of power…. Stunning. To say the least.

Things I Didn’t Like

In the beginning of the film, Moses and Ramses attack a Hittite war camp. People are stabbed, crushed, and cut down as the attack ravages the Hittite camp. In a similar a violent scale, Moses and his band lead attacks on the Egyptians to little success. Moses murders two Slavemaster Egyptians.

The Hebrew slaves in Egypt are shown to have little care and much brutality forced upon them. Families are hanged as public warnings. Dead slaves are left to rot in the sun. Countless slaves are beaten. We see scarred backs and broken spirits at times that make us wince in the inhumanity of it all.

While Just wrath of God is shown marvelously through the Plagues. The suffering which ensues is by no means enjoyable to behold. Perhaps the greatest difficulty is seeing the last plague take Ramses’ son’s life. It is a powerful and painful moment that was captured with the greatest of precision and tastefulness. Even in knowing that Ramses fully deserved the punishment given him, the pain which we see result from his disobedience against God still hurts. Like it should.

Closing Thoughts

“We must kill the firstborn lamb, so we may be passed over. If I am wrong, pity the lamb. If I am right, we will praise Him for all eternity.”
~Moses~

Director Ridley Scott has returned with yet another blockbuster film that has turned heads and gotten people talking. One of the most well known bible stories of all time, Moses has been the subject of many a film. From the classic four hour Charlton Heston version, to the animated dreamwork edition… This new dramatic piece adds to an ever growing list. While Scott takes many artistic liberties in this film, there are a few core natures that the biblical account contains that must, in my opinion, be retained to preserve the essence and purpose of the story. and in these natures… This film really does come together in a roundabout kind of way.

Stunning visual presentation aside, looking at the core themes of the Moses story, the majority are preserved in this unique and sometimes uncomfortable approach. We see when Moses takes things into his own hands, things fall apart. However, when God steps in, things go according to His plan. We see an excellent interpretation of the passover. We see a God who is vengeful throughout the liberation of his people, and in the end, we are shown as the comforter and caring God that he is of His people.

Many have expressed a profound distaste for the fact God was shown as a boy, and the attitude the boy has. In some ways I agree with the choice. But more is the outcry against His personality shown, rather than the boy himself. Sometimes we forget that God indeed does have just wrath and does not have to be accountable to anyone. What Ridley does in this movie is capture that- perhaps to an extreme. I did appreciate that in the end, we see a kind and loving side of God walking with His people.

While by no means perfect, this film has much to offer to Christians, and to the people who do not know him. To often I think we Christians expect a perfect replication of the biblical story, and anything less than that is blasphemous. What is unmistakable and undeniable though, that films like this spark public interest in the Bible itself, like an earlier film called “Noah“… and that one wasn’t even that great. And honestly, call me weird. But any film that gets people into the legit word of God is one worth recommending. For we all know that the Word of God is far stronger and more potent than an film Hollywood can put out. So here’s to more biblical adaptations- even when they may not be as biblical as they could be.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1)

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Ever since Katniss shot that arrow in the arena, the world of Panem and the districts was changed. No longer will people tolerate the mass injustice of the government, nor will they accept the rule of a man who is a heartless and ruthless deceiver. A rebellion has sparked, and it needs fuel to bring it to full blaze.

The Mockingjay, is that fuel. Who better to be the Mockingjay than our very own Katniss? While the ideal object for propaganda amongst the rebellion and against the capitol, Miss Everdeen herself is not as open to the idea. She hates the leaders of the rebellion for not keeping their promise made to her before the quarter quell, and before she agrees to anything, she has some terms of her own.

Agreements are made, propaganda is released, and people all over the districts begin to rally to the cause of liberation. The games are over.

War, has begun.

Things I liked

This film is full of people seeming to grow up in the face of absolute necessity. Katniss remains petty about Peeta due to her obsession (dare I call it Love?) with protecting him, but when push comes to shove, will do anything to save those she deems worth protecting. This is especially true of her friends, family, and civilians caught up in this rebellion. Her loyalty and faith in Peeta is undying, though everyone else has said he is lost. Katniss is not a hero in any way. She is a person caught in a war she doesn’t want, and just wants to get out of it alive and well with those she loves.

Other characters come to the plate and hit home runs of their own. Prime learns about her vanity and selfishness, then strives to overcome it. Gale surprises all by putting his life on the line for people whom he doesn’t even like. Finnick painfully reveals truths to the world about what the capitol did to him that are humiliating, ditching the arrogant persona about him. Even Peeta, residing in the capitol, makes an effort to protect the rebels.

The theme of hope continues in this film moving from Katniss, to the rebels. The hope and believe in something more. To be free from unjust and merciless rule. This hope turns common folk into self-sacrificing soldiers who stop at nothing, even death at gunpoint, to further the ideal of freedom they all seek.

The power of propaganda shines through Katniss and the films the rebels shoot for public broadcast. We are shown the way media has the strength to shape the opinions and minds of the people viewing these messages. A warning to some and opportunity to others is most applicable in the current society in which we live today.

There is no profanity or crude language in the movie at all. Even a war movie too. Props to the script writers for keeping it clean, yet keeping the dialogue powerful without such unnecessary coarse language.

Things I didn’t like

With Civil war, comes death, destruction, and pain. We see all of this shown in a personal way through the eyes of people, rather than a documentary type feel. Men and women are gunned down by the Peacekeepers many times. Bombers level buildings with people inside. The rebels eventually retaliate with bombs and explosions of their own crude making. Perhaps the most gut wrenching scene is when we are shown a roadway bombed to bits, with hundreds of charred bodies in various forms of death, all who were clearly fleeing the city which was destroyed. Blood is kept to a minium.

Gale and Katniss kiss, again. Finnick kisses Annie as well. It is implied that Finnick’s body was “sold” to ladies in the capitol to do with as they please. This greatly affected Finnick and we see that come to light when he begins to tell his story.

Closing Thoughts

Remember Katniss, the things you love most, will destroy you. Remember it was I who told you that.
~President Snow~ 

Mockingjay (Part 1) begins the final chapter of the hunger games saga. With one last film left to go, the end of this deadly drama is near. We started in an arena where kids are made to kill each other by the government. In this vile place we learned that this government is indeed worth rebelling against, and that point has been further emphasized as the plot has progressed. In the Second film, we are show through Katniss’ actions that Panem is not only vile, but corrupt in not even keeping its own law. Here at the end, we learn a final thing about this government which is being rebelled against. That it is is not only unjust, but also merciless.

With this true Panem revealed, we watch Katniss begin to work with the rebels as a propagandist symbol. That is, only after her immature and selfish terms are met. This symbol, the Mockingjay, inspires people throughout all the districts to no longer stand for the injustice and cruelty they have endured. They rise up, and Panem begins to try to quell the rebellion the only way they know how- brute force.

This reveals some ponderous themes in a film which I was told, “only gets worse as you go on“. Over and over Hope and sacrifice is shown to be one of the strongest of virtues. Katniss disregards her orders to “stay safe” and risks her life without thinking to try and save civilians. We see common workers, motivated by something more that just survival, act in ways that sacrifices themselves, but strikes at the heart of the capitol.

If you follow this series because you like Katniss, I’ll admit, you are going to be disappointed in her. She acts immature 90% of the time and things only of herself and Peeta. Widen your gaze though, and start to look at the uprising occurring against murder, corruption, injustice, and the lot. You’ll begin to see a new light breaking in between the cracks of the districts into something truly great.

President Snow told Katniss the thing you love most is what will ultimately destroy you. This is perhaps the most poignant quote of the movie. It is also, quite true for anyone. Anywhere. What we love is what we will suffer for. What we will sacrifice for. What we will die for. Misplace that love, and you misplace your life. Ultimately we see in this film people living according to their loves. Whether it is an ideal, a person, or power. What will be interesting in the last, is to see what Love the author has chosen as right to pursue, and how that is adapted into film.

Mockingjay Part 1 continues the positive slope of these films, and whether it continues or not in the last, demonstrates beautifully the terror of civil war, the power of hope, and the destruction (good or bad) love brings to one’s life. I eagerly await the finale, hopeful myself, it does not destroy itself.

Movie Review: Interstellar

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The world used to be a great place. Full of life, vegetation, and advancement. Then the blight came, and wiped out everything. Except corn and the human race. With that devastating disease, technology became useless, internet and the like was cast to the wayside, and farming became the world’s main focus, for without food, everyone starves.

Most are content to live with the way things are, but some, refuse to accept life as it is. Cooper is one who dreams of something better. “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.” He declares to his father disappointedly, wishing that mankind would embrace that spirit of exploration once more.

Then, something happens that leads him to a place where they will be sending out one more expedition. An expedition through a wormhole to find a new planet and place where humans could again thrive. A new world full of opportunity and new life. He takes the offer, and begins a trip across galaxies to find something better for his family and for mankind.

Things I Liked

Cooper is the star of this film, and is an awesome dad. We see him interact with his kids in a loving, intelligent, caring ways. Before he lifts off into space, the moments he shared with his daughter and son are simple, yet powerful. Instantly you can tell that everything he does, he does for his kids. When he leaves them, he knows he is making the ultimate sacrifice in knowing he very well may never see them again. Something he is willing to do, because it is best for humanity, not considering himself.

There was no inappropriate sexual content. Thank you, Mr. Nolan, for sticking to the story and not superfluous sexual promiscuity.

Things I Didn’t Like

Flight members lie, and eventually kill, to ensure their survival or to do what they consider best. One crew member is swept away in a wave (we see him facedown in the water later), another dies in an explosion, another dies being sucked out to space. There are some fistfights where a crew guy gets his helmet cracked and begins to suffocate.

Profanity makes its appearance a few times. The f-word is dropped once. Other words such as a–, b—–, and d— are used maybe once or twice. God’s and Jesus’ name is taken in vain three times.

Closing Thoughts

And now these three remain. Faith. Hope. Love. The greatest of these… is Love.

Interstellar touches on virtually every aspect of humanity. The good, the bad, the truth, the deceit, the love, the fear… Everything. It is fascinating to watch how some men justify decisions, how some heroes we find are not that heroic, and how the power of love drives a man to do anything for his kids. It is an exploration of man just as much and exploration of the universe. Probably moreso, because the exploring of the universe stopped off at “Wormhole” and got left in the station of “Theoretical (more like maybekindasorta) physics”.

This film tries to be brilliant in the world of science fiction, it really does, but using theoretical physics, which is quite honestly ridiculous, to explain key points in story progression distracted from the actual plot itself. That, and also tossing every known fact about black holes into the wastebasket made for a plot with great characters and messages, but a delivery that was illogical and almost laughable at times. While Nolan may be a master at mental thrillers and crafting puzzles, it is clear from this film, that science fiction is not his genre of strength when choosing a setting and context.

While some I have talked to about this film said the characters were absorbing, I found myself like a few others- detached and not truly feeling for those exploring the farest reaches of the galaxy. The shallowness of the characters was something which truly disappointed me, because there was so much potential for more. Everyone seems to be emotionally constipated with often clunky dialogue about love, past choices, and more. The only relationship truly engaging and convincing is with Cooper and his daughter Murph, they desire more than anything to see each other again, and we do feel that, and identify with it.

I consider myself to be a Nolan fan, or at least, have enjoyed immensely the work he did in the Prestige or the Dark Knight Trilogy. Here it seems though, he bit off a little more than he could chew. This film ultimately lifts off with grand and glorious aspirations of faith, hope, and love. It then sadly though, gets lost in the space of plot holes and black holes. It is like the movie could not decide what it wanted to focus on. At times it felt rushed, like Cooper leaving earth so suddenly, and other when it dragged on in the oh so forced monologues in space.

I’m not saying this is a terrible movie, nor am I saying it is engaging. Interstellar starts to show us a majestic, and beautiful approach to the universe and the humanity in it. Sadly though, winds up leading us nowhere in particular with the focus shifting in nebulous ways without ever settling on any one thing in particular. Or even settling in general.

Where God is lacking, humanity makes up for it in every way in this film. This truly boggles my mind, as the whole film has this reverent feel to it as soon as space it entered. It like the film knows that space is something to point to worship, they just wind up pointing at the wrong thing- human intellect, rather than give credit to a Divine Supernatural entity. This approach of trying to explain everything through flawed scientific principles is perhaps what deflates the work more than anything.

Interstellar is truly an ambitious work, while not entirely original. It may contain astounding cinematography, quite a few “stars”, and some sound messages on faith, hope, and love… I found this film to be more about how amazingly brilliant man is, can evolve to be, and is a mockery to the genre of science fiction in general. Those two main devices, like a black hole, sucked the remaining light from the film to where the only thing surviving was a remembrance that man doesn’t need anyone but man, and that given enough gravity, anything can and will happen.

Why Conviction Isn’t Enough

Walking in the Spirit Conviction

I’m finding more and more people living “According to their Conviction” these days. It seems to be the new phrase that has replaced “I’m free in Christ” or at least, become a matching phrase meaning the essentially same thing. Many people live according to conviction.  This is good, as we are free in Christ to live apart from sin. We are to be free from this sin, not to desire things which are unlawful, and yet also not live with a spirit of legalism. The one extreme “I can do anything I want” to the other extreme “I must still keep the Torah to be clean” are flawed mindsets which must be overcome if we are to properly live walking in the Spirit.

Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  ~Galatians 4&5~

So often in our lives though we mix up, or at least do not properly reconcile, what it means to live according to the “Conviction of the Spirit” Paul speaks of in Romans and Galatians. There are clear evidences of what living according to your heart’s desires looks like. There are also clear evidences of what Spirit given Conviction looks like. What we must not do, is be deceived into thinking our sinful heart’s desires are biblical convictions given by the Holy Spirit.

For if we mix the Spirit’s conviction with our heart’s desire, then we will stray into sin over and over. Because we all know, the heart is incredibly deceitful. 

What are the evidences then? How can we be sure that we are walking that straight and narrow path of honoring Christ with our whole being? Well, one reason I love Paul, is he was a list guy. Like me. In the book of Galatians he outlines in detail, what evidences of the spirit and heart (flesh) look like.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions,factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 

Honestly, the evidences are quite clear. One I think is the most prevalent or at least, see most often, is selfish ambitions. Selfishness can be contrived and drawn up in many different ways to look like it is in fact, not so. Which takes us back to the core of ourselves- what does the heart look like? Is it meek and submissive? Is it selfless and honoring to others? We can only truly know our hearts when we line up our actions and true desires with scripture’s standards.

Which brings me to the last bit of this post… What are our standards? What does it mean to live according to conviction by the spirit practically? Remember that passage when the Priests came and questioned Jesus? (paraphrasing here) They asked Him incredibly insincerely  “Great teacher, what is the greatest commandment?” to which Christ replied brilliantly, per usual, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. The second is like it- love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these rest the rest of the Law.” There, in plain black and white, is our standard. Is what we are doing in Love of the Lord, AND in Love of all others. It is such a simple, yet quite challenging truth. If what we are doing is out of a genuine Love for the Lord first, then others. You will be following the commandments the Lord has set in place.

Finally, here’s the bottom line I’ve concluded about this topic- If a conviction does not align with greatest commandments, you’re doing it wrong. And that wrongness should be changed- not based on what feels right, but what is known to be true. Then, and only then, will one be able to live according to the convictions Paul speaks of over and over. Convictions serving not the flesh, but the Spirit, glorifying Christ.

Movie Review: The Judge

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Family Dysfunction.

In a nutshell, that’s what the Palmer family has felt with for decades. Hank is at the center of it all, ruining his brother’s baseball career… constantly fighting with his father (the Judge- as his sons call him)… and dealing with a crumbling marriage. So, when the big shot lawyer gets a call that his mother passed away, he has to go back to the small town from where he grew up, and meet everyone again. Things go terribly, as anticipated. Just as Hank begins to leave, he gets a call from his brother, saying their dad, the town Judge, is begin accused of murder.

Hank wants to defend his dad, but his father is having none of it. Both are to proud to admit they need each other, and we watch this drama play out in this moving piece. Simply called- “The Judge”.

Things I Liked

Dads are so important in our lives, and especially so to sons. Above anything else, this movie shows us how crucial they are, and how much sons, even if they don’t show it, love their fathers. Everything the Judge does was in the best of interests for his son. But due to his method of always justice and never mercy, Hank feels like his father never approved of him. “I didn’t need juvenile detention!” Hank cries at one point in the film “I needed you!“. When we finally see their relationship resolved, it is a touching thing to behold.

When the Judge is accused of murder, he insists that he stick to the simple truth of his account. Hank on the other hand, being the slick lawyer from New York, insists that they spin it the story to the Judge’s favor. The Judge refuses, and we see the consequences of the choice to remain honest not only just, but also rewarding in the end. Rarely is such respect for truth shown in a movie these days, but this one definitely commended the fact of “The Truth is more important than the consequence.”

Another amazing theme portrayed here is the power of forgiveness between brothers. Ever since the day Hank ruined his brother’s baseball career, their relationship was shattered. Years of bitterness between the two has resulted in the two unable to even carry on a conversation without them bursting into argument and cursing. An event happens though that eliminates that bitterness, and allows for forgiveness, and when that happens we see brothers begin to interact in the way they should.

Pride is the greatest divider in this movie, and every single guy in the Palmer family has a bucketful. We see what power it has to divide, but moreso the power humility has to mend. When each man humbles himself, we not only begin to see relationships begin to heal, but they become to make decisions which are selfless. It is so true “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted”, and it was great to see this message shown.

Things I Didn’t Like

This film’s R rating comes from its proficient use of profanities and strong language. When Hank and his dad get into arguments, filth flies. While it is purposefully, and realistically, used to convey the anger and pain in the family, the easily two dozen uses of the F-Word is flinch worthy regardless the context.

Hank makes out with two women, and each clip is about 5-10 seconds in length. He also kisses the girls many times, even though he is married. There is sexual innuendo regarding both genders. Hank pees on another lawyer in passive aggressive spite. Another time Hank gives his mentally challenged brother his wallet, and he simply states “There’s a naked lady in here.” We don’t see the pic, but Hank says “Yeah, it’s a fun wallet.

Perhaps the saddest message of the movie is Hank’s dying marriage. In all the greatness we see resolved with his family in Indiana, we see him cast his wife by the wayside. In a heartwarming car ride with his young daughter, she speaks a statement that hits us right in the gut. “It happened to Betsy, it happened to Rachel… I guess I never thought it would happen to me.” Even in the clear view of how destructive Divorce is, especially to children, Hank tosses it away because he ultimately believes he can’t be happy with his wife (who did cheat on him) again.

Closing Thoughts

“You, and you alone are responsible for your actions” ~The Judge~

Watching this drama with the greats such as Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duval, one will quickly see this movie is not about a courtroom. This film is about family, and lawyering merely the means to make it interesting. Garnering a rightly deserved “R”, some critics from Rotten Tomatoes are calling it “Cliche”, “Predictable”. and “Old Fashioned”. In some ways, they are right. We are not entreated to any groundbreaking ideas or amazing plot twists. Since when however, did old fashioned become such a bad thing?

Because honestly, old fashioned this tale is. It is an unashamedly raw story about a dad, his son, and the bitterness they’ve carried with them all their life. It deals with real life issues we’ve all faced or seen. It touches on timeless themes of forgiveness, fatherhood, pride, and loss. Masterfully portrayed in a “Mayberry” small town setting, we harken back to the days we consider to have been more simple, more innocent.

We all know though, the real world is not simple, nor innocent. This is what we are reminded of and shown between Hank, his dad, and his family. We see them tear each other apart through words flung mercilessly at each other. We see the pain of what bitterness does to a brother. We see the love of an imperfect father, and the longing of a full grown son to just be accepted my his dad. The family is hurting, crying out for forgiveness, but that reconciliation is stifled because of the pride which they all have.

Until something happens which rocks their entire world. Their mother’s death wasn’t enough, so another act comes along which finally, breaks Hank and humbles his father. Then, and only then, do we begin to see the light which this film contains.  It is often said the night is darkest before the dawn. The saying is certainly true in this movie. Once this light starts to shine though, you just can’t put it out. We are shown the beauty of forgiveness, the power of truth, and the peace of acceptance.

While the film is far from perfect, and obviously so. The immoral content though, is not what the film left me dwelling upon. It left me dwelling first and foremost on how blessed I was to have such an amazing father, but moreso a Christ centered family. I rejoiced in the forgiveness shown, what the decision of a man’s choice to remain honest yielded, and was moved to tears by what a humbled man will do to reconcile a relationship.

The end of this film is not one which leaves you warm and bubbly. Nor is it one which leaves you feeling lost and empty. It is an end which shows that life is painful and relationships hard, while at the same time showing no relationship, even one decades old, is to far gone for reconciliation. Sometimes though- it is a long, painful, and soul shattering journey to get there.

Movie Review: Left Behind (2014)

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Intro

As many of you I am sure are well acquainted with with Left Behind books, and perhaps even the older movie with Kirk Cameron, I am departing from my original reviewing structure, and giving general thoughts on the film as a whole.

General Thoughts

Funded by an independent Canadian filmmaker, Nicholas Cage returns as Rayford in the classic story of those Left Behind from the theoretical Rapture of Christ. Chloe and Buck Williams return too, dressed up and better acted, this trio takes stage in the beginning of the end of the world.

The premise is pretty much the same in terms of story. Christians are crazy, the Rapture happens, and things fall to pieces. All of this is drawn out as long as possible it seems in this film. And hey, 30 min into the movie and we are still being told how wacko Christians are and how sensible Chloe and Buck are. Unlike the book, which dwelt on this in the first few chapters, the entire film spans just a bit of the book, dramatized to the core with cliche bible shots and awkward conversations about “Believing” (though, never specified as to what to believe.) Overall, I have to say the original film trumps this one when it comes to telling a story. Yes, the acting is painful at times, but at least there is progression of plot.

Content-wise, it is clear hollywood has gotten its fingers in the film. Multiple closeups of a stewardess’s perfect form and legs, Chloe’s midriff baring and cleavage showing clothes, and other shots gratify the apparently obligatory sensualization of the female form. Some minimal innuendo find their place in the film as well.

Even in the midst of the poor dragging plot, perhaps the absolute worst part of this film is the cloudy and watered down message as to what exactly is means “to believe”. Sure, we are told that Christianity isn’t as crazy as it seems, but the movie never really explains what Christianity is. Now, I definitely understand that an “altar call” is not necessary in every Christian film. For one as specific as this though, one would definitely helped clear the waters. Instead of this though, we get passing glimpses of the bible, and no true examples of conversion. Chloe and Buck don’t really seem that phased by the end of the world- boy are they in love though.

All of this to say, the redeeming factor in the movie is the absolute terribleness of the second coming for those not in Christ. Regardless of one’s eschatological views (Fancy word for “View of Christ’s Return”), we can agree that if you aren’t saved when Christ comes back, you’re in trouble. This alone, IMO, did not redeem the film as a whole, but is certainly the main message. Which leads me to my conclusion…

Of all the topics in the world of Christendom, few have gotten more films dedicated to them than that of eschatology. And few more in the world of Eschatology than the “Left Behind” series. In the long line of just badly done films, I have to say this is one of the worst of the Left Behind lot. This 2014 remake is quite simply a better acted, more drawn out, and watered down version of the original- which wasn’t that great by its own right. Left Behind does not come across as a uplifting call to grace, but rather a fear mongering, fire insurance faith which results in a implicit flawed view not only of our trinity, but of the gospel itself.