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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Step Brothers - A Review

Thinking of this movie the words of the Apostle Paul come to mind "When I was a child,I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put the ways of childhood behind me..." (1 Corinthians 13:11) Herein lies another one of Will Farrel's painfully crazy performances which seem to make no sense and yet once your in the thick of it, its so hard to look away! Personally this movie had a lot to laugh at and relate to but every good thing is also balanced out by something painful. Namely the swearing. As I walked out of this film I protested to my wife "You know, this movie would have been funny without the swearing!" I'm still not at a place in my spiritual development to put an outright ban on swearing in film. In my personal life this is something I try not to indulge in but in movies when an actor is portraying another character, say a soldier who has just had his legs blown off or the Lieutenant commander Data about to crash land the saucer section of the USS Enterprise I sort of feel that if it suits the character and the situation then it makes the movie more believable (as believable as Star Trek possibly could be at least). But in this case it was unnecessary, really, and it took away from the film. Will Ferrell plays Brennan Huff, a 40 year old who very definitely failed to launch and still lives at home supported by his mother until suddenly she meets Dr Robert and decides to remarry. Brennan finds himself not only acquiring a new Dad but a Step brother, Dale Doback, played brilliantly by John C.Reilly (who strangely reminded me of an old flat mate of mine). The rapport between them is one of instant murder, threatening to kill each other in their sleep. Predictably though, they become best friends and go from playing Karate in the garage to joining their beds together as bunks only for one to squash the other - you know, the sort of thing you did when you were 10. And there's the gimic - two fully grown men behaving in a way that only a preteen could. And although that should have been a painful premise there was something nostalgic about it which kind of adds to the films appeal. There aren't many moral aspects to this film. If you can get past the swearing its really just a good laugh but, and this may have been accidental, it does raise awareness of the growing problem that so many men reach adulthood not having a clue what they are supposed to do next. The two "boys" are forced to look for jobs and go about it in an incredibly childish way and after a day of failed interviews Brennan sits there in his tuxedo and asks Dale "How are you supposed to be an adult anyway? Am I supposed to walk around with my diploma in my pocket? What are you supposed to do?" And sadly its a good point. I've actually sat in a conversation with an ill prepared 21 year old who asked me pretty much the same question. So if the film says anything its that tough lovin and guidance really need to start while your kids are still kids! But this is a film review. Not an episode of Doctor Phil. So on that note, if you can get past the "F" words, the various references to adult magazines and occasional partial nudity of the Something About Mary variety then this is a very funny film but not for kids and not if you're trying to keep your head free of toilet humour!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Golden Compass - A Review

I was listening to Chuck Missler recently and he made an interesting comment about how throughout the Bible the Devil always seems to use the eye's to attract people to sin - when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good.. she took some and ate it... this is true of this film. It is disturbingly attractive. The cinematography is beautiful with vast ice wastelands, a sea voyage and fantastic blimps that carry the characters over magnificent cities, even the CGI doesn't do much to take away from the film. But like the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil I'm afraid The Golden Compass, though tantalising will do more damage than good... and here's the scary part - this isn't just a religious rant from a lunatic fundamentalist! Philip Pullman the writer of the Series "His Dark Materials" upon which the film is based summed it up for me when he said "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief " In the beginning we discover that there are multiple universes all connected by a substance called "dust". In the particular Universe this story is set we discover that Human Beings each carry their souls outside their bodies in the shape of an animal known as a Daemon. The World is controlled by a power known as The Magistarium which pretty much tells everyone what to do and what they should think. Lyra Belacqua is the young heroine who lives in a University which supports free inquiry and funds an expedition of Lyra's uncle Lord Azreal (for some reason this made me think of the Smurfs) to the North where he intends to prove that the substance called dust connects us all to the parallel universes and may also provide a way in which one can travel between worlds, worlds so different from our own where people may not have Daemons, Daemons may not have people and God forbid there may even be worlds without the Magistarium! So off he goes on his great quest to rid the world of this totalitarian religious body while his niece is forced to go with the elusive Mrs. Coulter, of the Magistarium, to be her assistant. But she soon discovers that Mrs Coulter is heading a group called The Gobblers who are stealing children and taking them North to a place called Bolvanger where boys and girls are being experimented on by the Magistarium who are desperate to find a way to separate children from their Daemons. To help her in her adventures Lyra has been entrusted with The Golden Compass, a devise which tells her the truth about every situation. That's the plot summary in a nut shell but there is an interesting side plot in which we find Iorek Byrnison, an exiled Polar Bear Prince who has been banished from his Kingdom by the evil and underhanded Ragnar Sturlusson. Lorek is helped by Lyra who uses The Golden compass to locate his armour so he becomes indebted to her to help her in her quest to save her friends who have been dragged off to Bolvanger... When Lyra is kidnapped and taken to Ragnar Lorek is forced to return to his previous home to rescue her and a terrible confrontation between him and Ragner ensues... Pullman has been reported as commenting that C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia were religious propaganda so it is no surprise that critics of this story have noted its parallels with that series. Only in a negative sense. The Magistarium is very obviously The Church, in particular the Catholic church and the children being dragged off to secret places is a shameless indictment of past indiscretions individual members of the clergy have been found guilty of committing. I say individuals because Christ himself taught that should anyone lead a small child into sin it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned! This film would have you believe that it was Catholic dogma to abuse kids! The daemons at first made me think about the demonic realm and fallen angels but it is very clear in this story that they are meant to represent ones soul. Mrs Coultar explains about the "dust" that "Many years ago our ancestors made a terrible mistake and allowed dust into our world" which feeds into the children through their daemons. It becomes apparent that the "dust" is a metaphor for our sinful nature. It is interesting that this dust links people to other worlds that would be heresy for them to travel to. In plain English our "sin" links us to levels of experience not open to us under the restraints of the Church. The film implies that we don't need religious authority telling us what we can and can not experience because it is all good. Perhaps most shocking of all though is the blatant allegory Lorek Byrnison shares with no less than the Devil. In the way that Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia represents Christ, Ragnar the evil polar bear king is our Jesus portrayed as a vicious tyrant who forced the Devil... sorry, Lorek into exile. Am I being paranoid? You decide - during the big fisty cuff between the two Princes Lorek hurts his ankle, Ragnar the bear blars down at the seemingly defenseless Lorek "Is that all? IS THAT ALL?" to which Lorek swoops up and with his sharp claws rips off Ragnar's lower jaw which goes flying off into the cheering crowd of grumpy polar bears. Lorek is now King... So what you may say? One of the earliest prophecies about Christ is the seed of the woman which God states to the serpent "...will crush your head and you will strike his heel". I think it is more than a coincidence that the roles of the Devil and Christ are reversed in this depiction where Lorek, AKA The Devil is the one who crushes the Kings head when he rips out his throat with his own teeth. Still not convinced? Jesus is the Word of God, Lorek rips off Ragnars Jaw, thus shutting him up for good. Its true that throughout history the Devil has tried repeatedly to break God's word, he tried it by removing the Messiah at Calvary, he tried it (and still does) by the countless times he has tried to exterminate the Jewish Race. The Devil knows if he can break God's word then he has won. Obviously he can't because God knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning but in this film he succeeds. If you're still not convinced then at least remember this - not only is Pullman a supporter of the British Humanist Association but he is also an Honorary associate of the National Secular Society. He even made this comment about Richard Dawkins' anti christian rant The God Delusion: "It is so well written, in fact, that children deserve to read it as well as adults. It should have a place in every school library—especially in the library of every ‘faith’ school" Many Christians have grabbed their pitch forks and flaming torches at the likes of Harry Potter but I promise you - this film is far more destructive. Its one of my convictions that as a Christian you are free to see it but be prepared to be able to explain the themes and allegories to your children and make sure you chew over them yourself. Movie Trailer For Another review of this movie check out The Compass Points In The Wrong Direction by Richard Fangrad.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull - A Review

I feel that if making a bad sequel was a criminal offense then both Spielberg and Lucas would be serving a lifetime sentence. Although the death penalty would be too harsh for these once great film makers it would be too kind for the feature itself. I don't think anyone would miss this movie if it walked off a cliff or got trampled by a herd of angry Star Wars fans. Seriously this was for me the most anticipated film of the year. I longed for the Indiana Jones that captured my imagination when I myself dreamed of robbing graves and finding buried treasure as a young 6 year old lad but alas, what I was served with was what I like to call the "Gospel According to Steven" wherein our saviours will ultimately be skinny grey men from a galaxy far far away as seen in E.T, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and that painful mini series Taken. All that said, there was nothing in this movie that was obviously offensive and if you had never actually seen an Indiana flick before then you might be lucky enough to enjoy it because there is no shortage of action. However I did take my 8 year old nephew to see this installment and I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake because there are a few scenes that could be quite scary, my favourite being the giant man eating ants that drag a man into their butcher shop of Doom underground... Crystal Skull is set decades after the Last Crusade where we we find Indy held hostage by the Russians who breaking into a top secret military installation in Nevada use our hero to locate a certain relic retrieved from a famous crash site we've all come to know as Roswell. In good true Indy fashion he gets into fisty-cuffs with a few of the Reds and makes his daring escape to a small town full of mannequins. Then a siren sounds and it takes Indy 10 seconds to realize that he has stumbled upon a nuclear testing site. Thanks to a nearby lead lined fridge he escapes with only a cut lip and the humiliation of being brushed down in the buff by hard bristled brooms which seem to be all a man needed to defeat nuclear fall out in the 1950's. Back in civilization Indy finds himself a victim of a McCarthy style witch hunt because of his involvement with the commies and is forced to take long service leave from his teaching position where we find out that Marcus Brody and Henry Jones senior have long since passed away and have been replaced by photographs on his desk. As he departs he meets up with a young angsty James Dean type teen called Mutt seeking Indy's help to find their mutual friend Harold Oxley who has gone missing in Peru while in search of the Legendary Crystal Skull of Acapulco or Eldorado or whatever... Obviously from the long paragraph I've just written you can see that this is a long winded tale which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't end with (spoiler alert) putting the said skull back onto the crystal skeletal remains of an ancient alien who was one of a counsel of 13 who taught the ancient Mayans how to plant crops and set booby traps. If you think you can sit through nearly two and a half hours just to see Kate Blanchett evaporate and a flying saucer smash its way threw an ancient South American monument then be my guest. They also somehow manage to squeeze in a wedding and a ridiculous scene where Mutt swings through the jungle at the speed of sound with a group of angry monkeys. Then, as if we couldn't see this one coming, Mutt discovers that Indy is in fact his long lost father and then has to rescue him from the dark side... or am I getting my movies confused? You just can't tell any more with these guys... Lots of fun - yes. Lots of good old fashion Indiana Jones - No. It was a terrible shame to see Spielberg depart from Biblical subject matter. The first and third movie (not the second) had a certain reverence for something truly sacred. (even though the Holy Grail isn't really scriptural it was still linked to Christ). The spiritual elements in those movies was enough to spark more than general interest in the Bible whereas this recent addition reduced the supernatural and mysterious to the material and unbelievable. Although it does prove an interesting trend prevalent in our culture today and that is the massive turning away from the Christian Faith for belief in Eastern Mysticism or from a belief in God to a belief in just about anything but God. (Matt 24:10) For a great analysis of this film and its implictions check out INDIANA JONES AND THE SPINNING OF TALES By Amanda Robertson. If you find yourself curious about what the Bible may have to say about Alien's and their influence on our culture today then check out

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sex & The City - A Review

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You could very easily call this movie "Sex" and no one would miss the "City" part. I can see an entire generation of boyfriends and husbands being dragged along to this film. There is a lot in it that appeals to the female species like a Fiance who buys his woman a wardrobe big enough to hide a family of refugees with a shoe rack the size of a small library! It has hand bags and dresses and lots of other stuff I can't remember because I was trying to see the time on my watch in the dark for most of the two hours I sat through it! Actually I lie I don't wear a watch but this film is looooooooooooong and unless you were a fan of the series there might not be a lot in it to appeal to you. The movie picks up where the series left off (don't ask me how i know this) - Carry Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, is living with her rich tall dark and Handsome "Mr Big" and seeking a new bigger apartment. When they find the perfect one the issue of who owns what becomes, well, an issue and before you know it they decide to get married (you could argue for convenience sake). Unfortunately Carry, being a popular sex columnist for a big girlie magazine, ends up with more than just a fancy wedding on her plate and the big day becomes "bigger than Big"... her man has a moment of panic which leads to his unintentional leaving her at the alter which plunges her and the rest of the cast into 6 or so months of doom and gloom. There are quite a few sub plots going on. Samantha Jones, notorious for her sordid sexual history is struggling to stay faithful while Miranda tries to deal with her husband's unfaithfulness while Charlotte is just all so happy... except for the bit where she has an involuntary bowel movement in Mexico... Oh yeah there is a lot of nudity in this film... and not just the "in passing flash at the beach" kind. It even goes so far as to show a male sex organ for long enough to trigger my gag reflex! It contains some pretty lurid sex scenes between a man and multiple partners giving credence to the films title. As far as adaptations go this was a good transition from TV to film but depending on your level of tolerance toward free love and glamorising sex outside of marriage then this film has a lot to answer for! I'm reminded of the words of King Solomon "Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers..." Proverbs 5:15-17. Having said all that, girls if you do think you want to see this movie DON'T take your boyfriends. So in a sentence this is a very secular and unhealthy view of love and relationships where sex is just another fun thing to do. If you want to watch a movie with your eyes wide open without feeling uncomfortable - this isn't the film for you! Trailer

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You Dont Mess With The Zohan - A Review

UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!

Well you might not want to mess with the Zohan but you can sure afford to miss him!

Sandler plays the indestructible Zohan, a modern day Samson-like character who eats Palestinian terrorists for breakfast with a side of Hummus. But amidst all the blood shed and violence he secretly longs to move to America to cut and style hair, and so whilst on a mission against his elusive nemesis AKA "The Phantom", he fakes his own death and defects to the US of A where he pursues his dream to make the world silky and smooth.

Unfortunately, the premise is funnier than the actual film. There is a lot in this movie that your average teenage market may find appealing but that's not necessarily a good thing. He ends up cleaning shop for a Palestinian Hair Stylist awaiting his golden opportunity to prove himself and when he does he wins hundreds of new customers but not because of his 80's hair do's... let's just say it all goes down hill from hair as he goes above and below the call of duty and takes on the role of a male prostitute!

If you like a good intelligent quip then this isn't the film for you. Most of the jokes center around overt sexual innuendo, and a great deal of phallic imagery. In fact the funniest bit in the whole movie is a game of hacky sack where the ball is in fact a domestic cat!

Obviously this film doesn't miss the opportunity to over simplify the Palestinian/Israeli conflict either with some wishful thinking, and that's about it.

After all the conflict in the Middle East can NOT be oversimplified as it has been in this film. But then again it is just a stupid comedy after all.

The good thing about this movie is it is not necessarily anti-Semitic, and why would it be considering Adam Sandler's cultural heritage? However it does paint a picture of a very sexually preoccupied Jewish Male. On the other hand it's not really anti-Arab either, it just provides a good tongue-in-cheek ribbing. Whatever that means.

In any case as I drove home afterwards I said to my fiancée - "I'm so glad I didn't pay to see that"! So save yourself some money, put that $15 you were going to spend on this film into your gas tank and wait for it to come out on DVD!


UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!