Movie Review: The Lego Movie

The-Lego-Movie

The world of LEGO is an ever changing and creatively wonderful one. Until that is, President Businessman (named after a person “The Maker” knows) decides that all this change, unorganization, and general creativity is a bad thing. A very bad thing indeed. He steals the incredible weapon of power and plans to end the LEGO world as everyone knows it. Permanently.

Only “The Special” can stop this extreme power. It is up to him, Batman, Gandalf, Abraham Lincoln, and all the other master builders to stop President Businessman from his terrible plan. Thing is, “the special” is actually a ordinary construction builder. He has had only one original thought in his life. A double decker couch… And it is up to him to save the LEGO world.

Things I Liked

Emmet is the hero of this movie, even though he doesn’t meet any of the standard criteria. One thing he does have though, is optimism. This attitude spreads to the other master builders in the most disastrous of circumstances. He is honest and open with others about what he is feeling. Having lived life according to the rules, he has to learn what it means to be creative- which results in personal growth to a level that leads him to confronting the President.

While the master builders might be able to build a tank out of a saloon, what they lack in is teamwork. Each one wants to make the creation their own, which results in a cobbled together mess which usually falls apart. They learn, through Emmet, that instructions could in fact be a good thing, and that personal preferences are not as important and team goals. Through the film we see them overcome their selfish pride, and humble themselves into making things which are “Ordinary”.

Speaking of Ordinary, there is a very strong theme of “Believe in yourself”. Now before you roll you eyes about this overused message… Here, it actually has some bearing. See, Emmet followed the rules for so long, he had no identity inandof himself. Everything he did was because he was told to. This resulted in a person with no self worth because he had no self image. Through the movie, as Emmet learns more about himself, he realizes just how useless and boring he really is compared to the master builders. What he misses at first, then is taught (along with us) that “Ordinary” people are needed in this world just as much as “Master builders”. Everyone has a different ideas on how to do things, and it is those many ideas that make the world work.

It is also worth noting, The LEGO Movie is one of the most original films I have seen in a long time. It is incredibly animated and contains a story that has a strong pull and purpose. The creativity shown in the movie is super fun to watch, and makes you want to go home and pull out a bin of those plastic blocks to build what you’ve just seen, or something entirely new.

Things I Didn’t Like

Immature Toilet humor is found in various parts of the film. Butt, is used verbally, but also as gags when we see some mini figures making copies of their rear end. There is a TV show called “Where are my pants” where we see a yellow from the waist down mini figure looking for his trousers. Another “Naked” (yellow) figure is shown walking out the door for one second before realizing what he was doing. Also, a pirate makes a reference to how hard it is to wipe his rear with a hook.

Emmet is attracted to Wildstyle, which eventually builds up to the holding of hands. Not inappropriate persay, but needless in my opinion.

Other Things to be aware Of

As with any end of the world movie, there is going to be some violence. Indeed, in this plastic plated world- smash em up chaos is found at almost every turn. While none is to frightening or unnerving for the smaller kids, there are a few rather intense places to be wary of with young children. One instance is when a Character is about to be melted, another is when a mini figure is beheaded. (Then later appears as a ghost… floating from a string)

Otherwise, there is a rock-em-sock-em feel to the rest of the mishaps and conflicts which usually result in a pile of bricks, but everyone none the worse for the wear. President Businessman has an army of robots and drones which eventually pile up Phantom Menance style, but only after freezing several people in the city.

Closing Thoughts

Going into this movie I had no idea what I was getting into. I was expecting a rather dumb and pointless film with lots of lame attempts at humor, but mostly falling apart in the end. Instead, I was incredibly surprised. Let me first say this movie should have failed on so many levels. It is so absurdly, ridiculously, and eclecticly put together that somehow, someway, it works. It just works. Much like the Lego creations we put together as kids, they were crazy, random, and unorganized… yet in the end- worked. This movie is the same way.

In good and (mostly) clean fun, We are shown Toy Story style what the LEGO world would look like to the mini figure eye. It is a marvelous and color filled feast full of chuckle worthy one-liners, minimal toilet humor, and a few good themes to boot. You aren’t going to have any life changing “aha” moments watching these LEGO people figure out how to save their world, but you will have fun watching the little revelations they have.

It is no award winning stud, but isn’t any knock off either. The LEGO movie is a truly original and humorous look at the good and bad of creativity- or lack thereof. Well put together, albeit a bit unorthodox, it will find you laughing, groaning, and nodding along with the characters as they discover the power of “ordinary” people, teamwork, and thinking outside the blocks. ;)

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Commercialized Love- American Edition.

Annual-Obligation

The following post contains immense amounts of sarcasm.
Proceed with caution.

Ah, Valentine’s Day. That special day where you give a special someone a special gift to make them feel especially loved. Nothing says “I love you” like being randomly and spontaneously romantic on a pre-determined National Holiday of romantic demonstration. Nothing says “I love you” like giving a box of unhealthy fattening substances in the not so similar shape of a vital organ. Brings a new definition to “Eat your heart out?”, doesn’t it?

Call me an eeyore, cynical, or just a plain scrooge, but America’s celebration of love on Valentine’s is about as artificial as flavors found in Fruit Loops. Love isn’t even advertised to be celebrated through achievements, experiences, or struggles. Rather it is done through chocolates, fancy meals, and overpriced flowers(Nothing Says “I love you” like killing beautiful flowers, shoving them inside a vase where they slowly die of malnourishment, which results in rotten vegetation less than a week later. ) That’s not a confirmation of love, that’s a bribe of affection. 

What irks me most isn’t the misunderstanding about what love is- we’ve seen that messed up for years now. Valentine’s day preys on every person’s inmost fear- the fear of rejection. Whether we see someone alone, married, or dating there root message, and fear, is the same: “This person may not really love you… they need to buy you gifts to prove it!” Gifts don’t take away that fear though, because that isn’t real, perfect love.

Perfect love casts out fear. I’ve said it before and again, because it is worth saying. Having a day to celebrate love, based on fear, simply doesn’t work. Unfortunately, that’s what an American Valentine’s Day has come to represent. Every scenario in this holiday has the other questioning the motive. No present = They are not thoughtful. Regular Present= Ordinary view of me. Big Present = Do they think they have to buy my love?!… The list goes on.

Now I’m not against the principle of Valentine’s Day- that is, to celebrate the gift God has given us called “Love”. I’m simply against how our society approaches it. I’m all for showing that you love someone more than usual during certain times… but not because Society says “This is the day to do it“. If your faith and love in someone is shaken because they didn’t get you the right thing this V-Day… Maybe, just maybe, the gift isn’t the problem.

Or, I could be completely off base and not realize that large boxes of chocolates and dozens of flowers do indeed solve all of life’s relationship problems.

What do you think?

What walking does

This is so good. Too often we get so busy we forget to slow down… Take a minute to read this, it will do you good. :)

Stuff Makes Stuff

Earlier this week, I changed my Facebook cover photo to a picture of Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch in the 1962 film version of “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Why him? Because Atticus Finch is awesome. That’s all you need to know for now, but more on him later.

I think a lot of people think I had a pretty heartbreaking 2013, and yeah, there were a lot of really shitty moments. But through all of the bad, there is one particularly sad night that I remember, and that’s the night I finally watched the series finale of NBC’s The Office. There was so much emotion that hour of television brought out of me; I was just so sad to see it go. Maybe it represented something, but after you become so attached to people like that, and then know they’re leaving forever…I don’t know. It’s pretty beautifully sad. I bring this…

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Flashback: The Bike Ride of Lake Salateeska

LakeSalla

Summer Camp. One of the first places you spend long periods of time away from your parents. The place of bad cafeteria food, Cabin Leaders, and memories which stick with you the rest of your life. Lake Sallateeska was a summer camp I went to as a young boy. I would go with my RA group (a bunch of guys) for a week there. We would have bible studies, do activities, and make general mischief as well.

There are many stories which came from this camp. The time we chased a cabin leader around with a snake… The time a guy intentionally set off a fire alarm… The time where cabin cleanup turned into cabin mess-up… The time where a kid caught a 30lb carp (meant to clean the lake- not be caught)… The time where if you paid $1, you could have your head shaved… The kid who could open soda cans with his teeth… The time a kid was stranded in a canoe because he dropped his paddle into the lake (that was funny)… Late nights of Spades, Indian Leg Wrestling, Pizza, and songs… The list goes on and on.

While most of these memories are rather… lacking in maturity value, they provide great laughs and fond memories of being with guys just having good clean fun (ahem, for the most part). Regardless, there is one event which we did each year that holds particular value in my mind. On a certain morning of the week, a group of guys would go on a bike ride. 30 miles to a cool old convenience store, then 30 miles back. Now, for a older person, this wouldn’t be a challenge at all. For a kid in grade school… It was a bit more difficult. Immensely difficult actually.

The first year I went and did the bike ride, I didn’t think I was going to make it. I lagged behind the whole trip, and by the end pulling back into camp- could barely walk. There was a reason for this though. I didn’t use the gears. In case you didn’t know, gears on a bike can be changed based on the incline and terrain of the ground you’re riding on. I was told, after the ride, that gears can save you immense amounts of energy, because you’re using the bike power, instead of your own power.

Well, I tucked this information away so I could use for next year. Sure enough, time rolled around and the bike ride came up again. The first half of the trip, I was still pretty bad. Why? Because I wouldn’t stop changing the gears. I’d flip them high, then low, then middle… I was trying to figure out what worked best, and not really waiting to see what worked and what didn’t.

We stopped for a break, and the leader biker spun his tire. It was a bike in the same class as ones from tour de france, so for 20 min we watched it spin and spin and spin…. Then I remember him saying “You know what I like most about bike riding? It isn’t a struggle. You’ve got ups and downs… Dirt and Gravel… But if you’ve got a good bike under you- and you trust it to do the work, the ride may be tricky, but always manageable. Kinda like life.”

My first thought was “I need a better bike.” That wasn’t the case though. Keeping what the leader said in mind, I did my best not to fight the bike. Instead of changing gears every 30 seconds, I waited for as long as 20 minutes before adjusting. As I did this, I learned that low gears are good for the ups, and high gears are good for the downs. I was beginning to understand, and therefore trust my bike. When we headed back, because of my new understanding, I was able to finish the ride with the front group, and my legs didn’t hurt hardly at all. Sure, I was tired, but not exhausted to the point of not being able to walk or move a few hours afterward.

Upon reflection later that night, I learned from the leader that our walk with Christ is very similar to that bike ride we take every year. The harder we try to make Christ fit into how we think is best on our race, the more tired we will become. Some might even give up, like some did on the ride. However, the more we understand and trust Him, the easier our travel becomes. Not because the terrain has gotten easier, but we know more fully how to approach it. This is perhaps the greatest lesson I took away from this summer camp all my years of attending. Who would have thought it would have come from something as simple as a bike ride?

Please, Don’t Act Extraordinary

Image Source: weest.org
Image Source: weest.org

Ah the incredible and extraordinary things in this world- The Great Blue Hole in Belize with a 400 foot drop into the earth, The Redwood Forest in California with trees reaching ages of over 2,000 years, and many other places. There are countless insects, birds, and reptiles which we go look at having extraordinary features and abilities. We can look at space and ponder the wonders of a black hole, or imagine the size of of the universe in which we live.

But without doubt, the most extraordinary thing in all of creation, is the only thing God called “very good”. That is, man.  Creation just is extraordinary. According to my understanding, it doesn’t try to be better or more impressive- it just exists. Man however, is the sole creation which has the potential to better himself spiritually and relationally with eternal value. Some of the time however, all that is done is a well played act.

An Extraordinary Standard

Being extraordinary is all based upon a standard. This standard can rise and fall with society, personal values, or even new records/rules. These days, it is so easy to look extraordinary by doing what you are supposed to in work, school, or at church. Basic expectations like getting good grades, showing up on time, or memorizing a bible verse make one look like an extraordinary person…

When in reality, that’s not extraordinary at all. That’s just acting enough above society’s expectation mark, that one stands out and looks impressive. We’ve all been in that boat. In those situations, we aren’t being extraordinary. We are acting for society.  It is so easy to go a little above the bare minimum, look amazing to others, and sit there on our pedestal. Why do we do this? Why do we limit ourselves to what is expected and a little bit more?

I would say, because we have a faulty standard… or we are lazy. Anyone can act extraordinary, not many be and do extraordinary.

Being… Not Acting

Being extraordinary means going above and beyond the call, according to scripture. It takes work, exertion, and struggle. We have to find a standard which is uncompromising and unchanging. Believe it or not, that standard comes from the one who created the person desiring to be extraordinary. It is clear and simple- Whatever you do, Do it for the Lord- not for man. Don’t play the act of doing a just a little above the call, go above and beyond to your limit!

When you constantly do this, keeping your heart in doing it for the Lord, I’d venture to say not only will you truly be an extraordinary person being worked through by the Holy Spirit… But you will also see some pretty extraordinary fruit as well. It isn’t easy to be sure, but as will all things- those worth pursuing are often the most difficult, and most rewarding.

The Winner of the Creation Debate

Creation-debate

Last night two brilliant minds went at it with the world watching. Watching, to see which idea is more credible- Evolution, or Creation. Both sides were presented very well, and fairly through the course of the debate, and both ideas presented clearly and effectively. In the end though, when it came to declaring a winner, a quote among social media circles has gone around and around… Each side using it to declare that the winner was indeed the person they initially agreed with.  The quote is this:

Moderator: “What would ever change your mind?”
Ham : Nothing.
Nye : Evidence.

In this simple question, we see boiled down the essence of not only the debate, but also the two world views contained therein. For Ham, Creation is an undeniable Truth proven through the world around us and by scripture. He recognizes the fact that Faith is necessary for this belief, and that faith is the core of his belief. For Nye, Evolution is a proven concept. And until something disproves it, that is where his belief will lie. Thing is, Evidence of Creation is hardly conclusively proven through hard evidence. Therefore, he too actually answered nothing- just in a more acceptable way.

Neither man entered this debate expecting to change another’s mind. And I would say 99% of viewers watched with a presupposed, concrete view of how this universe originated.  If they agreed with Ham, they thought he was brilliant and Nye baffoonish. If they agreed with Nye, they thought he was devastating, and Ham ignorant.

See, public debates based upon worldviews and ideas rarely change minds. That isn’t their point. The point of a public debate is to get people talking. Get them thinking. Get them discussing with others about theses ideas so important to humanity. If all one gets out of a debate “Yes! The guy I agreed with was so right!”, then I must say- you completely missed the point. Few things convince a man more of his position than hearing an “expert” he agrees with side with it. The point isn’t in “Who won.” Because there is no winner in something like this.

The point is to find someone who watched and discuss it. To discuss and explore both sides whether you agree with them or not. Specifically, as Christians, to give a defense of the hope we have in us. Not to smack someone upside the head with why they are wrong, but to explain why we hold to what we believe is right. Anyone can tear at another side, but to build up your own? That takes conviction and knowledge- two things which take time and effort.

So whether you were in the Nye Group or the Ham Group. Talk to someone about this topic. Focus on why you believe what you do, and explore why the other side believes as they do. I say the Truth always wins in the end. It is our job to seek it out, whatever your starting point may be.