Sharknado: Equal Parts Shark & Tornado

Posted: January 9, 2014 by jperritt in Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

PHvf6lEANnmQyD_3_mOn New Year’s Eve my wife and I watched the chipper Kathy Lee and Hoda take a look back at 2013.  They highlighted  sports stories, viral videos, and celebrity gossip that was most tweeted and talked about.  Among the top stories of this past year was the B-film, Sharknado.  Let that sink in a minute.  Of all the events in the world over this past year, Sharknado was considered worthy enough to discuss.  The truth is, many of us may laugh at that reality (myself included) but should we?  In a sense, I think we should feel some level of shame and embarrassment over that truth.

For those of you who are out of the loop on the whole Sharknado craze, let me catch you up.

Sharknado, as you can tell from the artistic poster, tells the story of a hurricane filled with sharks (I guess Sharkicane didn’t have the same ring to it).  A freak hurricane sweeps across the sea and sucks up sharks that are flung upon Los Angeles.  As we know, sharks gotta eat, so they chomp at victims as they fly through the air.

In it’s initial showing on the SyFy Network, it was viewed by 1.37 million viewers, which was somewhat small.  By it’s third airing (that’s right, the aired it 2 more times) the film reached 2.1 million viewers, which broke records for SyFy.  Much of the popularity can be attributed to the number of tweets about the film, and now SyFy has announced a sequel which has been creatively titled, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

And why was Sharknado so popular?  Why was it mentioned as one of the most talked-about films of last year?  Why was it tweeted about millions of times?  And why did it break network records?  Because it was horrific!  It was’t just bad, it was awful and it was popular for being awful.  I must admit that the horrific nature of this film actually makes me want to see it.

This is the dilemma I face as a Christian, though.  I’m not so much concerned about viewing the shark violence, I’m concerned about viewing something that seeks to be awful.  Should Christians laugh at something that’s striving to be so bad it’s laughed at?  Aren’t we to praise hard work?  Aren’t we to strive after excellence?  If that’s true, then I find it hard to watch something that doesn’t strive for much other than being awful.  Not to mention the fact that the filmmakers are solely pursuing money.  Let’s face it, they didn’t make Sharknado to lose money.  And they also didn’t exercise much mental effort to make Sharknado.

So what does this say about mankind?  Here are a few things it tells us about much of humanity (much, not all):

  • People laugh at mediocrity.
  • People are okay with wasting their only life.
  • People often don’t use their time wisely.
  • People are typically mindless when watching movies.
  • People often don’t live with an eternity in mind.
  • People really like sharks.
  • People really like tornadoes/hurricanes.
  • People like violence.
  • People will settle for less.
  • People struggle with exercising self-control.

What do you think?  Am I being too harsh?  Too pessimistic about mankind?  Maybe so.  I should probably start taking shark-filled tornado disaster movies more seriously.

desolation_of_smaug_poster_largeI got the chance to go see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opening weekend with my father, and, I must say, I really enjoyed it.  After being a bit disappointed in the first installment, I had lowered my expectations a bit.  I was better prepared for the liberties taken by Peter Jackson in this sequel than I was with the first.  So, while it was different from the book, and while there were some disappointments, I still enjoyed it.  Although it was a bit darker than the book, it did seem to be more on par with the LOTR films.

One small aspect I wanted to focus on today was the dialogue of the film.  While I was a bit disappointed in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I didn’t hate it.  And, one of my favorite parts, was not the battles scenes, or even the scene of riddles between Bilbo and Golum, rather, it was a line uttered by Bilbo to Thorin.  Although it wasn’t a line in the book (at least, I don’t think it was), this is what Bilbo said:

Look, I know you doubt me, I know you always have. And you’re right… I often think of Bag End. I miss my books, and my armchair, and my garden. See, that’s where I belong, that’s home. That’s why I came back… ’cause you don’t have one, a home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can.

Bilbo’s line should resonate with anyone.  Home is something we understand, home is something we all long for, and home is something that has been taken from all of us.  This place is not our home, for the Christian, our home is in the next life.  Therefore, I thought that line was the greatest part of the film.

That being said, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, didn’t have a great line.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some good lines and the dialogue wasn’t necessarily weak, but there wasn’t a “home line” like Bilbo’s from the first one.  And, in my maturation process, I have found that the dialogue is what really matters.  Words are of utmost importance.  Not the great CGI, and it is great.  Not the creative, stylized, action, even though that’s fun.  But, words.  Words are what resonate with me, and I would venture to say that is what should resonate with any Christian.

Dr. Albert Mohler of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary gave an excellent sermon on the importance of words at the 2012 Together for the Gospel conference.  As he looks to Scripture, we see how vitally important words are.  We may say, actions speak louder than words.  Believers may even exclaim, preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.  But, we must understand that words speak much louder than anything else.

While there is no doubt that our actions make many exclamations, it is words that have greater importance, because we are created in the image of a speaking God.  God has been speaking since scene one and it is by words that all things have their existence.  Jesus Christ became the living Word and we have it all recorded in the special revelation of Scripture; i.e., God’s Word.

It may be somewhat of a harsh title to this post, but I thought it conveyed the message I wanted it to.  I did enjoy The Hobbit 2 (much easier to write), but I felt the dialogue was lacking a bit.  What about you?  Did you think the dialogue was lacking?  Do you think the action is more important than the words of a film?  If so, simply type some words in the comment section below to assert the significance of actions over dialogue.

home-alone-movie-posterNothing says Christmas like a young brat beating up on two criminals.  When you really take a step back and consider the story of Home Alone, it is a bit strange that it has become a holiday classic.  It is an annual tradition in my house, but it’s one I don’t allow the kids to see just yet (I don’t want to get my hand burned on a doorknob or my face smashed with an iron anytime soon).

Why did this movie catch on?  The movie had a $15 million budget and grossed over $285 million at the box office, not to mention the fact that the sequel did pretty well too.  But, why?  Why did so many line up to see an irresponsible family accidentally leave their child at home and pummel two wannabe criminals?

Well, we know Kevin McCallister [Macaulay Culkin] was a tad on the rebellious side.  He did call his mother a dummy and attempt to kill Buzz, his brother, at dinner.  Even though we all might wish evil upon Buzz, the disrespect to the parents is inexcusable.  Instead of Kevin repenting of his rebellion, he embraces it and wishes that his family would disappear.  Even when his mother challenges him, he exclaims, “I never want to see any of you jerks again!”

Little did Kevin know, his wish would be granted.  Lost power, a frantic household, and a misplaced neighbor in a roll call, all lead to Kevin being home alone.  At first Kevin rejoices in his newfound freedom.  Screaming through the house, shooting pellets at action figures, eating rubbish and watching junk, with absolutely no one to stop him – this is the life!  Or, so he thought.

The junk he’s watching turns out to be a little unsettling, the basement is a bit on the terrifying side, shopping for the essentials can prove to be challenging, and, if you’re not careful, you can end up becoming a shoplifter.  Not to mention the fact that, two clumsy criminals have their eye on your house.  It turns out, however, that all of Kevin’s pinned-up anger towards his family has found a useful outlet in Marv [Daniel Stern] and Harry [Joe Pesci].

In the end, Kevin learns that his rebellion hasn’t made him any happier.  In fact, those he felt like he could not live with, were the only ones who made life worth living.  And, this is ultimately something we can all identify with.  Not only do the themes of family resonate with each of us, but the theme of rebellion definitely does.

Every human being on the face of this earth is rebellious.  The people who dished out over $285 million at the box office tell us that, as well as, the television networks who air the show each year and those of us who watch it.  We are born with rebellious hearts that can only become hearts of service through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.  What Home Alone teaches us is the fact that we ultimately need our hearts broken.  It isn’t until we taste of our rebellious hearts, that we realize how empty self-service truly is.  And, if the lesson learned by Kevin is never one you can echo, you too will find yourself all alone.

Trailer Tuesdays: Best of 2013

Posted: December 17, 2013 by jperritt in Uncategorized

IMDb posted this last week and I thought you may be interested to see their list of the top 10 trailers of 2013.  Below is the number one trailer.  Click here to check out the full list.

Devil-Poster-Short-4-8-10-kcDevil was a movie that surprised me in many ways.  I was surprised that the gore was minimized.  I was surprised at its overall quality. And, I was surprised it was a movie which was ultimately about faith, repentance and forgiveness.

Being a youth director, I’m often on the lookout for movies that would be good to watch in a group setting.  I want to find films that are fun to watch, while containing some great biblical parallels.  Unfortunately, many of the movies that are explicitly Christian are heavy on the cheese factor.  However, there are also those films that go a bit too far and have content unsuitable for a youth group setting. Devil is one of those films that’s right on the fence.  While it definitely contains violence, it is minimized.  Each time a person is killed by the Devil, the lights go out so the viewer doesn’t see exactly what happens.  Even the aftermath isn’t maximized as some movies tend to do.

However, I think many Christians shutter that I would ever consider showing this film to students.  But, they don’t shutter because of the violence or language.  They shutter because I would consider showing a film called Devil to teenagers.  They shutter because many Christian don’t like to talk about the Devil.  They shutter because the Devil is just plain awful, so why watch a movie about him?

Well, not only do I want my students to watch Devil because it is ultimately about faith, repentance, and forgiveness, but I want them to be reminded that the Devil is very real.  I want them to have the reminder from Peter which says, “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” [1 Peter 5:8b]  Oh yeah, that verse is quoted at the beginning of the film – imagine that, quoting Scripture at the beginning of “secular” movie!?

You see, I’m afraid we may have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Yes, Satan is the king of liars, he is the father of darkness, and yes he is pure evil, but abstaining from films with his depiction can make him seem mythical.  Tim Challies had a recent article (which was in reference to a sermon) entitled Do you have a personal relationship with Satan?  As the article states,

We need to believe that Satan exists, that he is powerful and that he will stop at nothing to hurt, hinder and destroy us. He is not an idea. He is not a theory or hypothesis or explanation. He is real, and it is crucial that we remember and believe it.

This is ultimately why I want to show this movie to our youth.  The Devil just seems like a fairy-tale to many of them.  Not only does this movie bring the realities of the Devil’s prowling home to us, but the realities of what hanging on to our hate does to us.  The movie communicates the power of forgiveness and the freedom that accompanies it.  So, this is why I wish I could show it to my students. I wish they could be scared by the realities of Satan.  I wish they could see the illustrations of repentance.  I wish they could see the power of faith that frees one from the Devil.  And, I wish they could see how a film can bring the realities of Scripture to bear in their hearts in a fresh way.

But, the movie is PG-13 and has violent and scary images, so it’s probably best to avoid such a film.

Trailer Tuesdays – Godzilla

Posted: December 10, 2013 by jperritt in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Django-Unchained-wallpapers-1920x1200-2I put off watching this movie for a while, because I honestly thought I might not be able to handle it.  However, I had been reading some literature recently that discussed slavery, and it increased my desire to go ahead and watch it.  While I knew the film wasn’t striving for historical accuracy, I was interested to see Quentin Tarantino’s take on it.

I must admit, Tarantino is by far one of the most brilliant storytellers of our time.  His movies are profoundly interesting, as well as, unique, which says a lot considering the movies that frequent the cinema.  That being said, his movies are typically filled with filth, thus the conflicted conscience.  Although I enjoyed aspects of Django, it wasn’t one of my favorite Tarantino films.  The latter half of the film lacked the creativity of the first half, plus the violence was a tad excessive.

In reference to the violence, I am not suggesting that Tarantino should have sanitized a dark part of our nation’s history.  I am saying, however, that the amount (and frequency) of blood that sprays out of a gunshot wound, could have been downplayed just a little and still remained faithful.  There was so much gun-violence, I almost felt sick by the end of the movie.  And, I must admit that part of my sickness came from my dark heart.

You see, I am disgusted by the way that white people treated African Americans while this country was coming into existence.  Words like disgusting, horrific, and wicked barely seem to do justice to the way white humans, created in God’s image, treated black humans, created in God’s image.  Anyone who attempts to lessen this truth, truly needs to check their heart and repent.

That being said, it seemed that the film swung too far in the other direction.  Confessing my heart before you, I took pleasure in seeing white slave masters “get what they deserved”.  I enjoyed seeing Tarantino rewrite history and punish some of the evils that took place.  However, gunshot after gunshot after gunshot aft….you get the point….I became disgusted.  I was disgusted at all the blood, I was disgusted at all the brokenness, and I was disgusted at mankind’s idea of justice.

Tarantino is correct in recognizing and exploiting the wrong that was done.  Where he is wrong is assuming that the multiple violent killings of a bunch of white people, by a former slave, brings about some vindication for what was done.  While there is no doubt that Django’s killing of these men brought about some sense of justice, there was still sadness, death, bloodshed, and mistreatment of slaves.  To put it another way, all of Django’s killing didn’t bring about any reconciliation between races.  Whites still hated blacks and vice versa.

Sadly, even a gifted writer like Tarantino can’t rewrite history, but there is One who came to give us hope for the future.  It is true that we must live with the sins of our past, but those who are in Christ do not bear the weight of them in the future.  And, while the buckets and buckets of blood from the film can do little more than add emotion to a movie, the blood of Christ brings reconciliation to every tongue and tribe and nation [Rev. 7:9].

Trailer Tuesdays – Robocop

Posted: December 3, 2013 by jperritt in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

The latest trailer for the 1987 remake.