Movie Review: The Prince Of Egypt(1998)

Again, in parenthesis, you can call this ‘favorites of the summer’ and possibly one of the best religious/spiritual film of all time. And if it so happens to be in the animated category then it really doesn’t matter what else can even come close because other than The Passion Of The Christ not many other Christian films come close. Like I had said in the LEGO movie review the animated genre has more going for it then you would even consider on the front end of things.
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Writers: Phillip Lazebnick, Nicholas Meyer

Directed by: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner

Plot: With this key phrase( in Hebrew the word is Yocheved) a woman says, ” My son, I have nothing I can give, but this chance that you may live.” And so most have heard the story of Moses but this is it. The Palace, the brotherhood and the rebellion. The audacity to confront the evil Pharoah and the same man that murdered a man out of his desire to see justice and to see peace be established to his own kind. Leading the people out of Egypt and with one very climatic scene of the dead sea splitting open this is one worthwhile musical/film.

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Other points to be noted: I have heard the story of Exodus my whole life. Stemming from early five to six years old hearing it in Sunday school. And a decade ago( when I really started reading the bible for myself) I really got into the bible and embraced all the stories of Old and New. Most Christians skim over the Old Testament or avoid it altogether because we don’t like what we see when we see God. We don’t like the “Old Testament God” that we say is so divided and so cut off from “grace” and “mercy,” but seeing the way God cares for His people Israel is a more relevant piece of knowledge then perhaps just kitschy Christian films that seem to center more on “being positive” then in actual telling the truth and preaching the Gospel.

The deeper meaning: the story is simple and the characters are complex. That is often times the power of complexity. It is not in the actual storyline where subplots and subtext fuel the main things, rather the beauty lies in the complexity of the people. I am more convinced now more than any other time in my life in watching films that the characters and the humanity that they offer is what stays with me more and most certainly it is in this film’s case. God will have a people fully knit to His heart and to His will. It is a grave mistake for us to look at events happening in the Middle East and to simply gawk over some warped idea that all that remains and matters today is some pseudo Gentile mission that is devoid of Israel. Jesus will remain in the limitations of a man and still be fully God but has not and will not change the fact that He is a Jew and is Jewish and is returning to the city of the great king called Jerusalem. It is a serious error to eliminate Israel from any form of Second Coming theology and even from any belief and teaching that effects the way that we live today.

It is also true that people have misunderstood or overdone modern day Zionism and have become ‘to concerned’ with bringing salvation to the Jews because they are so hardened and missed the first coming, so lets try really hard to make them not miss it a second time. There is a need for balance and for both perspectives but seeing this film inspires that God is for His people Israel and will continued to use them as his battle ax and He will do us until He makes Jerusalem the place where He rules and reigns from and disciplines the nations from there.

Favorite lines: She says, “God saved you to be our deliverer! She says you are Moses, you are our deliverer!”

“God will not abandon you, so don’t abandon us!”

This is must see for everyone and for sure anyone who claims to be a Christian.

 

 

Favorite Movie Of The Summer: Review For Wish I Was Here

It would be important for me to mention the content rule in watching films. There is always a chance in searching for great works of film and music that one may have to filter through superfluous darkness that sometimes does have something to do with corruption and enable the storyline to be more believable. However, I am more under the assumption that Hollywood requires a certain amount of swear words, violence and sex to be infused into the film. This can make things difficult for the Christian. It would be sound doctrine for lovers of Jesus and aspire to live pure and Holy lives. But I am also under the impression that fallen people who seek to impact the world with their stories through the lens of film can include not needed darkness yet compile brilliance in reflecting God. The Diablo Cody film Paradise(which I review back in November) tells very striking points about life, God and the pain and confusion that conservative Christians can go through. However, I don’t think it would ever be deemed a Christian film.

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Writers: Zack Braff and Adam Braff

Director: Zack Braff

Stars: Zack Braff, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Mandy Patinkin and Pierce Gagnon

Basic Overview:

In light of the opening paragraph I have to say that there was some displeasing moments in this film including heavy cussing and otherwise some sketchy sexual content but filtering through that there is very subtle yet bold strokes of genius in this movie. I have to make the same content advisory for Garden State(now 10 years old) and its ability to convey the post adolescent struggle of trying to be a man and trying to be a grown up. In fact, in the book Generation Me Jean Twenge actually outlines Garden State as a premiere example of what young adults can drift themselves into post high school. Garden State showed hopes of a young man that was not willing to live the rest of his life numb to hard stuff and numb to the pain. Rather, life is about facing what is hard and embracing all that it has for you. Natalie Portman’s character embodied this and also directly said it in the film toward the end. Life is..(and the world fills in the blank)..whatever you want it to be.

Why I loved it so much..

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Wish I Was Here now follows Aiden now  decade later struggling in his marriage and with his kids and still mourning the loss of his mother. Aiden is full of distance. He is not present. Hence, the title, Wish I Was Here. Aiden is not making it as an actor and the swear jar keeps adding the money because of his many cuss words he uses around his young kids. However, the pain of his distance is most felt with his complicated relationship with his dying dad. Gabe(Aiden’s dad) has cancer and is on the deathbed and could go at any minute. The opening monologue reflects on Aiden’s childhood ambition to play superhero. He pretty much says, ” I used to imagine saving the world..to those people out there..but maybe we are just the regular people, the ones who get saved!”

Aidan is trying to get his also at a distance brother Noah to come and join in helping their dad live his last moments. Mandy Patinkin as Saul, however, is so good and so disturbing all at the same time. Its clear to me that one of the clearest story lines of my generation revolves around man and his father and all that goes along with that. So many stories center on some form of ‘quiet desperation’ with dad and how a man really will be messed up his whole life if his dad was a total jerk and didn’t care. Aiden, however, seeks to find here by being there for his dad. Noah seeks to face the pain too even though he admits that he is scared and that losing his mother was the hardest thing he had ever been through and he didn’t want to go through that again.

Aidan makes his other indelible statement to his brother, saying, ” now we are actually called upon to do something that requires some actual bravery!” And Sarah(Kate Hudson) tells the dad that this moment will shape your sons for the rest of their lives..it will shape who they are as men.

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I cried a lot during this film. And its nothing I need to hide that I never had the best relationship with my dad, but one thing is for sure you only get one shot at this life. Every man gets once. Every man gets one shot and if he is lucky maybe you don’t die young and God lets you live even longer. I have to embrace hard things and hard people. Not because I am so much softer then the world around me, but because I am just as hard. I wish I was here all the time. All of me gets all the good and the bad that comes with being alive on this earth at this time in history.

So much of stories and films are about human survival and sometimes the hardest things we have to do usually involve those closest to us. Either saying goodbye to someone you kind of want dead and you kind of want gone, yet you know the love you have for them will not fade, even when they are gone. Learning to love yourself and loving your broken dad. Which for most of us is the situation in which we were raised in these are all things that make for excellent stories and for whatever reason Zack Braff makes this whole couple of sentences work. Aidan says, “we are finally called upon to do something great we spend our whole lives wanting to do something great and now requires some actual bravery..and he says to Noah and you go and hide..(Aidan then)  says the only problem with hiding in a fish bowl is that everyone can see you!”

I also like that Aidan quotes T.S. Elliot and the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock..Aidan says ( from the poem) .“Time yet for you and time for me!”

Come out of hiding and face the inner man in you that maybe didn’t get dealt the best situation with maybe not so healthy parents and live life. Don’t wish you were here, simply just be here. See this film! The for certain highlight of the summer in terms of going to the theater and seeing a movie. Heavenly Father is also a very well crafted song to add to this soundtrack that Bon Iver specifically wrote in response after he saw the film all the way through.

Movie Review: The Guardians Of The Galaxy(2014)

If you have been following this blog at all this summer you know that I have reviewed everything that I have seen in theaters with the exception of Zack Braff’s Wish I Was Here that I will do soon. Wish I Was Here was by far the best movie I have seen in a long time and top five best of this summer. BUT..and a really big BUT..Guardians steals the show for a multitude of reasons. No, I have not read the comic but at this point in loving the whole entire Marvel universe it probably would be a good idea. Real fans of any story love the book and hold all the details of the characters in close scrutiny. The reason most people are disappointed with the movie version of a book or comic is usually because of the effort and the time you invest in the book..point is..its never the same.

BUT, this movie does not need the comic book background. Not that it is not important but this film pulls off everything you love about the comic and the characters

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Director: James Gunn

Writers: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

Stars: Chris Pratt, David Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Josh Brolin, and Vin Diesel as Groot

Plot Overview: Guardians flashes back to the capture of Peter Quill as a little kid in 1988 losing his mother and planning to live with his grandparents. He then gets taken up into the spaceship. Here we find him as an adult going through the Galaxy as Starlord. Ronan and Thanos are the evil Lords of the galaxies(I am sure the comic has more about that). Quill realizes the orb he has stolen to make some extra cash could potentially destroy the present universe he lives in. In all attempting to make better lives for themselves the Guardians all end up in a space prison together where Rocket the brilliant misfit of a fox helps get the crew out. Drax, who is huge and full of revenge toward Ronan, Groot, Gamora, Rocket and Quill form the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Full of non-stop humor, snappy one-liners, brilliant looking special affects and much action worthy fighting sequences lead me to put Guardians at the top of the list for Marvel’s Avengers. And knowing that after Winter Soldier and Guardians all is building up toward a much exciting Avengers 2.

In the end the Guardians get their crimes erased for saving the world and go on to redeem their “loser like” lives  by trying to do some good.

Very hilarious moments and lines:

Besides an awesome soundtrack there were many hilarious moments that( in the history of me seeing films in the theater) haven’t had to many laugh out loud moments.

Peter’s reference to Kevin Bacon in Footloose was pretty awesome.

Rocket trying to steal a guys fake leg and a dude’s eye is priceless and totally messed up.

Drax not paying attention to the plan was actually very well crafted.

Peter’s awe inspiring line: “life takes more than it gives, but today it is giving us something..a chance to give a crap!” Actually makes me believe that Chris Pratt can do both funny and serious and not to mention getting totally ripped for the role.

Gamora saying, “I have lived most of my life surrounded by my enemies..it would be an honor to die with my friends!”

When Peter does the dance off for Ronan to “ooh child things are gonna get easier” and Ronan says, “what are you doing?” Peter says, “I am distracting you, you terd blossom!” One of the best moments of the film.

When Peter asks the Nova headquarters for help and relays the message he says, “We believe we are total butheads but not one hundred percent..( a word not worth, ahh..repeating) but you just had to be there for that line.

When Drax ask if he could rip a guy’s spine out if he gets mad at that person..Rhomann says that would be murder..the worst crime of all!..priceless.

In conclusion, good can come from the most unlikely of sources. Heroes have the choice to do good or bad and through bad and through being deemed “unlikely” or even called a “loser”. That is what we love and that speaks louder to average people who can feel very bored and not very awesome. So, see it and laugh and buy the soundtrack.

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Movie Review from my phone..heroes in a half shell

It’s either Turtles or heroes in a half shell but I should really know since I just watched this film less than six hours ago. I am blogging this from my phone. Editing my summer adventures recently have given me a new sense of appreciation for the people in my life.

It may feel that you don’t know all of my story and bits a pieces of it have come forth in the past year. I have intentionally left out many things but can tell you one day you will know.

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This summer has been my first in the much heated Pomona. My experience at the movies usually coincides with joining the summer fever and for the most part all the big releases have been hit.. Seeing everything is never the goal but with some serendipity it has almost happened this summer.

Reviews can be so negative and I mostly mean Rotten Tomatoes and it’s very overtly high expectations. This doesn’t mean I disagree with what reviewers have to say but I still side with child like faith and go against the grain of most I know that squash the awe and beauty of a sunset. The believer in me brings out the best in others because living fully alive is the only way to live.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been around for decades now and I can clearly remember watching the cartoon, playing the video game and watching the three live action less special effect driven movies in the nineties.

This film attempted to retell the story and the inception of the almost Bruce Banner Frankenstein experimentation of mutant Ninjas and leader of the pack, Splinter.

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Basic Breakdown:

Eric Sacks in front of the public of New York City is a humble, public servant, ready to extinguish evil for the sake of “keeping the whole city safe,” but secretly he in kahooz with Shredder( the infamous leader of the foot clan). Sacks used to work with April O’ Neal’s father when they both thought their harvesting of mutant turtles was  a total flop due to a fire. Truth be told the reason why the building burned down was because April’s father found out what Sacks was really up to. April is desperate for a power house of a story and finally gets it when the Turtles break Splinter’s commands and surface above the ground.

The Turtles with the help of April and Vern are able to stop Sacks and resurrect Splinter from the dead with the same chemical combination that created them in the first place. Skating down a snowy mountain in a truck and fighting Shredder on a tower that is about to collapse..well, it doesn’t surprise me that this is the way many action sequences turn out now..it works for this film.

Closing thoughts: The Turtles live on even if the reviews are bad. The zippy one-liners and the pizza loving appeal to maybe more so the Millenials(already 14 years old now) and that is totally okay. When I read Story by Robert McKee in 2009 I did heavily agree with him that what we see every year in the movies is the best of the best that writers can offer. The same guys that crafted Mission Impossible 4 wrote this movie and sure its not the same as that film but it still can be successful. Due to its much impressive opening weekend( I saw this on Sunday August 10th) they want to make a comeback sequel, so there you go..you can’t always listen to the much overly cynical Rotten Tomatoes.

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(Shredder)

The world is craving super heroes and always will. The world is also craving original stories. So its okay if you get a not so epic film that does a little bit of both. In the meantime you can look forward to Interstelller for love is the only thing that will transcend space and time.

Keep in mind that this generation sells out more easily not so much for awesome scripts and stories but for great special effects and not all the time does that work but it does in this case.

Some funny one-liners

“Angel Cake..I totally did not get the ending to Lost!”

I guess that is all I really remember besides realizing that Donatello is a nerd, Mikey is the goofy one with the sense of humor, Raphael is the alpha male trying to fight for control of the group and Leonardo is the truest of leaders for the group.

 

Movie Review: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes(2014)

The preparation was laid in the post called Humans verse Apes and now the actual review is here.

I slightly miss the midnight showings and especially when they are over summer but I don’t miss going to bed at 4am and feeling dazed and confused the next day. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes marks the second installment of this reboot( or maybe its called something else) and in the way that this film ended its possible that the Apes and the humans will go to war again.

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(Home, Family, Future!)

 Director: Matt Reeves

Written By: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Mark Bomback

Stars: Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Andy Serkis

Plot/Overview: Set in the distant future after the Rise Of The Planet of the Apes. Caesar, his son, his newborn son and his closest of Ape comrades have dominated San Francisco. The humans are left to bare minimum resources and are simply just trying to survive. When one of the idiotic humans(Kurt Acevedo) freaks and shoots an Ape Caesar( the fearless, yet empathetic leader) warns the humans to never return to their territory. Violence ensues and the Ape you hate the most, Koba, also makes it look like the humans are shooting Apes(after the humans gave the Apes all their guns). Koba becomes the most hated of the Apes standing not just in opposition to the humans, but also to Caesar and the other Apes. The conflict becomes about who will survive and how both the humans and the Apes misunderstand each other. Both seem to have the choice to do good or to do bad. Koba shoots Caesar and Malcom’s girl, Keri Russell, fixes him back up. Both species learn to care for each other while having the option of destroying themselves and each other. Spoiler: Gary Oldman dying was insanely insane and sort of sad.

The deeper meaning:

I think most of us, given that it is summer 2014, have seen it all. In films especially there is this unspoken notion that pretty much everything has already been done. However, in the midst of cliches and similar stories and settings we still pay to see some of the same elements repeated over and over with different actors playing the characters either with complexion and credibility, or totally bombing at superficial characters. Here’s five things this movie does that takes the cliches and really works it:

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1. Its not just an action movie. The action is sweet and so are the special effects. The Apes look very real and don’t look so fake when juxtaposed with the humans. This movie has a real conflicted story in the midst of action. Its more than action.

2. It is cliche to do a film about the extinction of the human race. How many times does that happen? But, this movie really makes you question the point of human surviving. Are human people that rule America really worth saving..I mean, if it came down to that? Yes and no. You hate the humans that hate the Apes and you also hate the Apes that hate the Apes. What you are trying to figure out is if its possible for both to exist and love each other.

3. Science does not outweigh the will to survive. In one sense you could say that it is genetic for us to kick in our survival senses if our bodies and minds are put in that situation. This film plays off this tension. What the humans did to the Apes was for the purpose of making more money off a product. Its possible that the Apes were already smart. I think that is the point. Without enhancing them to make them smarter, it is possible that they would be where you see them in the film. That is a very good way to create the conflict. It makes the war and the violence something to question.

4. Humans don’t always get to win or do they? The survival genre does usually end with humans getting the upper hand. Many die along the way. Oliver Stone’s war genre showcases this in the context to Vietnam and war, but this same device is all over films. When Malcolm and Caesar both acknowledge that they tried to reconcile this is also something to question and is another tension. Its evolution verses the dignity of people. Even if a person hates another person does that make killing okay? Even if all the Apes hate Koba is it right for him to die? Again, they use the tensions and not just the action.

5. Lastly, this movie is just super well done and super well played out by all the actors. I can’t help but think that Mark Bomback( who helped write this movie) is more than just an action guy and more than just one of those writers that is good at making the action awesome. I would like to believe that everything is intentional in what you see. And sometimes intention is a rarity.

So, go see it and add to the list..

Apes Verse Humans..in getting ready for the Dawn

In my post of my favorite top ten movie moments I mentioned the Tim Burton/Mark Whalburg Planet Of The Apes that was in theaters 13 summers ago. That means that I was 15 years old working at McDonald’s working on draft one of the original Ruckus Journal. Tim Burton tried to resurrect the story and I don’t think it was maybe as bad as others would say. Tim Burton is one of those very esoteric kind of guys that I think makes things that are more cool and entertaining inside of his mind, rather then what people really want to see. But, as I prepare for the early showing of the new Dawn of the Apes I reflect a little on evolution, war, humans and what I see the main message to be.

Three summers ago marked the redo and reboot of The Planet Of The Apes. Tim Burton could have made a sequel and using Marky Mark actually wouldn’t be a bad idea. It did end with Abraham Lincoln having some kind of Ape face which then added a very cliffhanger suspense to everyone and that would involve some warped time travel.

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The 2011 Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes combined some rather moral and ethical questions all centered around the ever so faulty relationship between human DNA and the capability of Apes. In ignorance humans assume they are the top of the food chain. We overstay our welcome here on planet earth and don’t welcome any other foreign deity or  any half breed human or any kind of Alien. This is the train of thought for all these films. When humans get invaded and humans are threatened then humans do whatever they can to survive and defeat the “enemy.” In politics the enemy is the Middle East or Russia or some kind of terrorist in between all of that. Thanks Jack Bauer!

But for the Planet Of The Apes franchise the message is that we don’t get it. We don’t get the powers of science and evolution and in one sadistic way and for the entertainment factor us humans get what they deserve. The scientist that take their discoveries all to help others. If you remember James Franco’s dad that got cured from his impending memory lapses. And the humans take it and try to be the not so selfless mercenaries. It all becomes about medicine and science making a profit out of something that is compromised and dangerous.

This explains the pride you have seen in Jurassic Park and soon to come Jurassic World. This thinking is the source of many science fiction films.

Apes verse humans. Could it really happen? Can evolution actually backfire? Or who is the one to blame? Us not so perfect humans can easily mistreat nature and animals. If Micael Vick almost loses all he had worked for by setting dogs to fight each other then it seems that it does matter how we treat animals. The undertones of Noah( just released in March) had some interesting undercurrents of taking care of the earth..even more so then recognizing the creator Himself.

You don’t have to paint your face and go to war but I think its clear that Hollywood is always in the time machine and wants to try to predict bits and pieces of “the end of the world!”

I know the end of the story. I don’t know if Apes are part of the end-time plan but I know the humans, well Jesus died and bled for them.

If God Is Everywhere, Then Where Am I?

Most of us have heard this verse in Romans 11:36 “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” Paul is concluding his wonderfully complex expounding of Israel and the church. That’s a whole other post for another time. But what has been striking me recently has been the awareness that God is more aware of us then maybe we are of Him. When I say ‘awareness’ I simply mean the conviction deep down that God is of, to and through Him are all things.

All things( for the purpose of this post) means all stories and all sounds. It means all expressions and all the colors paint their strokes to point to the unknown. Everyone and everybody, whether male or female, or young or old has the longing towards God and towards love. So, when we read that God is in all things and around us and that ‘His invisible attributes’ testify to Him, then that also means all movies and television and all music. It means that the artist has been given the dreadful and wonderful task of telling a story that relates to people. Exaggeration and reality all collide as the streaks of hope, pain, suffering and purpose present themselves to all of us. This is a huge subject that I intend to expound on as time goes forward. But as you are reading movie reviews know that this truth of ‘TO, THROUGH, AND OF’ are what it is pointing to. We all have the longing to see God in what is out there.

This doesn’t mean we should look at and hear just anything. I do believe in purity of both the eyes and the ears. I believe that the trigger for much immorality can be what you allow your eyes to look at. Usually it means what you allow yourself to see on purpose, rather then just what you see at work and at the grocery store. I do believe in the eye gate, but I also want to contend to put the God lens on a little bit and see Him everywhere and in everything( given the proper boundaries). When you start to go down this path of not just believing that you are encountering God at church or in a sermon or when you listen to Christian radio, then you start to realize that you can actually encounter God no matter the time of day and no matter your physical location.

Enter into the story. God’s story.