Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

passengersPassengers accomplishes something reminiscent of Cast Away and I Am Legend – the need for fellowship.  While audiences felt sympathy for Tom Hanks and Will Smith being secluded on islands – one a tropical island, the other Manhattan island – Passengers increases this feeling on the final frontier.

When we first meet Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) he’s just waking up from hyper-sleep…90 years too soon.  Not only is that just a tad too early, but he’s the only passenger, out of five thousand, who woke up too soon.

As he slowly gets acclimated to life on the spacecraft, Avalon, he quickly realizes he’s all alone.  His terrified reaction to this realization reminds us of the importance for community and fellowship.  Not only is this feeling enhanced when it’s set against the backdrop of the vastness of space, but it’s increased by the understanding that other humans are aboard the Avalon.  This presence of humanity only seems to taunt Jim’s solitude.

Jim gets a glimpse of humanity as he encounters a bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen), only to discover he’s a robot.  To Arthur’s credit, he does a superb job of acting human.  Just one example, Arthur constantly polishes glasses at the bar, even though Jim is the only customer aboard the ship.  When confronted with this truth, Arthur explains that it’s designed to comfort those he’s talking to.  Instead of staring into the eyes of Jim as he shares deep struggles, the distraction offered by polishing the glass comforts the patron.

Arthur even offers some advice to momentarily alleviate Jim’s predicament, “Quit trying to control everything.”  While this could be interpreted as a biblical truth – pointing to rest in God’s sovereignty – it becomes license to indulge.  Jim is all alone, but he has carte blanche access to every restaurant and drink available to Avalon guests.  Arthur’s advice grants reprieve to Jim’s loneliness, but it is short lived.  The emptiness of self-indulgence is on full display as Jim’s party comes crashing down.

The Moral Dilemma

As Jim reaches the end of himself – and the partying he enjoyed – he discovers a passenger that catches his eye.  He learns her name and tracks her down through the ship’s video log.  What begins as curiosity, becomes infatuation.  Jim watches the videos Aurora has left and begins to fall in love with her.  Sitting beside her sleep chamber, watching videos of her – simulating something of a date – Jim realizes his curiosity has only left him in greater misery.  He’s so close to human contact, and yet, so far away.

As he seeks advice from Arthur, he realizes the dilemma he’s created for himself: Wake a woman up too early and ruin the life she desired on another planet or continue to live and eventually die in isolation. One thing is for certain, neither is an appealing conclusion.

Movie-goers with a heartbeat understand this to be a true challenge for Jim.  Perhaps there are many who would claim, I’d never be that selfish.  The filmmakers, however, present such a clear picture of isolation and loneliness, one can’t help but feel Jim’s dilemma. 

One of the most poignant scenes in the film occurs from Jim’s discovery of a spacesuit.  As he sees the headless suit, he beings to embrace it and try to hold the hands of the suit.  For a fleeting second, he’s reminded of what it’s like to embrace another.  It is a powerful illustration of our need for community and displays the inner-wrestlings of Jim’s heart.

The Unintended Truth

This film does such a good job of communicating mankind’s innate desire for community.  Being created in God’s image necessitates community.  As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect community with themselves, humanity is created with this desire for community – it’s hard-wired into us (Gen. 1:26-27).

An equally deep truth, and stronger theme in the film, was seen in Jim’s choosing of Aurora.  On the one hand, we understand that perhaps he was drawn to her beauty and then her personality through the video log, therefore, his choice of passenger is easy to grasp.  On the other hand, why didn’t he choose another man?  A buddy to hang out with?  A guy he could have played basketball or lifted weights with (he does both of those things on the Avalon)?

I was fascinated by the fact that Passengers unintentionally, most likely, illustrated one of the earliest truths of Scripture – It is not good that man should be alone (Gen. 2:18).  Just as Adam spent some time in the Garden of Eden and discovered he did not have a helper fit for him, Jim discovered that he needed – not just another image bearer – but a female.

Jim’s portrayed as a capable man in the film.  He’s a mechanic so he can fix things, he seems to be in good physical shape, he’s athletic, but he’s still incomplete.  He needs a woman.  Yes, another man would offer him community and fellowship he longs for, but there’s something about a female that’s unique.  There’s something she offers that man doesn’t.  The female is an image-bearer that bears the image of God in a manner man doesn’t.

In light of the differences between genders, I must tell viewers that there is some sexual content in the film.  While nothing is explicit, the film illustrates the sexual desires males and females have ingrained into their being.  I want to be sensitive and warn others of this content, and, while nothing is too explicit in this film, I wish they would have toned it down a bit.  At the same time, we are talking about one man and one woman secluded in space for a long time.  While Christian viewers may quickly look upon those scenes with understandable disdain, we also – I would suggest – should recognize the biblical truth of sexuality that’s being communicated onscreen.  I’m not condoning the content, but the truth.

As the film approaches its ultimate climax, Jim looks at Aurora and says, “I need your help.”  Jim, a very capable man, needs the woman and, as the film illustrates, Aurora needs Jim.  The man and the woman need one another to accomplish the task before them.  Ultimately, it is one man and one woman that keep civilization aboard the Aurora continuing.  Without the two of them coming together, the entire crew would not survive.

God’s Passengers

While so much of our culture wants to distort Scripture’s view of biblical manhood and womanhood, I feel that Passengers gives viewers a pretty accurate portrayal of what we find in God’s Word.  God created humans to be in fellowship.  God created male and female after his image.  God taught Adam he needed Eve.  Adam recited poetry as he first lays eyes on the beautiful creature he calls ‘woman’.

This side of heaven, our community and fellowship is imperfect.  Sin brings division among males and females, it brings division among races, and sin brings death which ushers in the most painful form of isolation to those left in its wake.

Truth be told, we are all passengers.  In this grand narrative called life, we are reminded that we aren’t the main characters.  The life we’re now living is not ours, but Gods.  He owns all things, even our stories.  While we are significance because we bear his image, we are merely passengers along for the ride.

JWWhen I was 13-years-old I took a trip to the beach with my family. As any teenager headed for the beach, I was looking forward to a week of playing in the ocean. On one particular rainy day, however, my family was forced to come up with a ‘plan B’. That plan? Visit the local Cineplex.

Little did I know that this visit to the theater would be unlike any other. We went to see Jurassic Park – a film I knew almost nothing about and didn’t remember viewing a trailer prior to my entrance into this dark theater. As the images began to display on the silver screen and I was transported to Isla Nublar, I lost most consciousness of my being present in a movie theater. Rather, I bought into the notion that I was running for my life from raptors and a hungry T-Rex. I laughed. I screamed. I saw it again…and again.

Fast-forward to 2015 and not much has changed. Even though the visitors of Jurassic World have turned out for a new attraction, raptors and a T-Rex are still headlining this motion picture event. Just as Claire [Bryce Dallas Howard] states that attendance spikes with the release of a new attraction, little did the screenwriters know how true this would be of the newest installment in the franchise.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park [1997] and Jurassic Park III [2001] were colossal disappointments to the fans of this franchise, as well as critics, but the release of Jurassic World has showed us that no one was ready to leave this story. JW has absolutely shredded box-office numbers. It had the largest opening weekend of any movie ever, had the largest follow-up weekend, and reached the $450 million mark faster than any other film. The Avengers: Age of Ultron reached $450 million in 54 days, while JW reached it in 15 days…wow.[1]

While I thoroughly enjoyed this film and think it is an almost perfect summer movie, I think it’s interesting to ponder this movie in our larger cultural context. Again, no movie has accomplished what JW has. Week-after-week it continues to gross large amounts of money and remains number one at the box-office, but why? Is it because people love dinosaurs? Probably. Is it possibly because people have more time to visit the theater in the summer? I’m sure. However, could it be that in the midst of our gender-confusing, marriage-redefining culture, America still has an audience that longs for male leadership? I think so.

One of the aspects I appreciated about JW, was that it wasn’t afraid to have a leading man. Currently, filmmakers seem to unswervingly pursue strong female leads – The Hunger Games and Divergent series, are some recent examples. While I am completely fine with strong females leads, as is God, (see Esther and Abigail as a couple of examples), I was ready to see a film that wasn’t afraid to have a man as a strong leader. I was ready to see that man portrayed as a character that was right. I was longing to see a man that wasn’t made to look like a fool for the majority of the film. I was ready for Owen [Chris Pratt].

Unless you’ve been lost at sea, you’re unfamiliar with the now-household-name Chris Pratt. Even Colin Trevorrow (Director) and Steven Spielberg (Creator/Producer of Every Movie) state that they got a little lucky in the casting of Pratt. In fact, they actually cast him prior to the release of the uber-hit, Guardians of the Galaxy. In an interview, Spielberg jests that they both looked very smart for casting Pratt, even though they – as well as America – had no clue how big Pratt would become.

I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there’s a certain likability to Pratt. Even though each character he portrays carries with it that indefinable likability, he also carries a nuance that makes each character unique. Owen makes you laugh, but he also brings a seriousness to scenes which displays he’s no one-trick pony.

As we meet him in JW, it’s obvious he can train dinosaurs, is willing to take risks to save others, likes motorcycles, and has some romantic history with Claire. Even though Claire is a strong woman, his leadership doesn’t falter under her authoritative tone. As he states, he appreciates her need to make tough decisions, but doesn’t relinquish his place of authority when it comes to being a dino-expert.

Owen proves to be a constant “everyman” throughout JW. He was right about the dangers of genetically-engineering dinosaurs. He was right that setting up play-dates with the indominus rex was, “Probably not a good idea.” He was right that going after said dinosaur with non-lethal weapons would result in death. Even when he’s being attacked by a hybrid-pterodactyl and Claire must come to his rescue, he doesn’t relinquish the lead. Owen is the leader. He’s the protector. He’s bravery encompassed. In short, he’s the hero.

In fact, he’s too strong – at least that’s what some in our culture are claiming. You see, some movie-goers may be okay with a strong male lead, just as long as the female is just as strong, or stronger. But, they are not okay with a solely strong leading man. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the blogs of feminists that are destroying JW. Quite simply, they hate it!

Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but I think JW can serve as – somewhat – of an accurate barometer for our culture. Genders are being called into question; the creation ordinance of marriage has been redefined; but humans still long for a prince in the midst of chaos. There’s something refreshing about a man entering into a broken creation and fighting to protect those under his care. Whether it’s the chaos of humans re-engineering dinosaurs, humans attempting to redefine marriage, or humans objecting to God’s rules laid out in the garden, we long for a prince to come and make all things new.

Or, maybe I just like dinosaurs…


[1] All these stats are according to boxofficemojo.com. JW currently rests at approx. $514 million after a $54 million dollar weekend and third consecutive week at #1 beating new-comers, Inside Out and Ted 2.

legend

This might sound strange, but I Am Legend has proved to be one of my favorite films.  Maybe it’s only strange to me, because of the low expectations I took into that film for my initial viewing.  I’ve written other posts on this film here and here, so check those out if you want a little more depth.  Today I’m simply musing about the “saddest” scene in the film.

[MAJOR SPOILERS]

As is this case with any film, the saddest scene is up for debate.  After watching this film multiple times with large groups of people, however, I’ve found that often times the audience is more saddened by the death of Sam (whose full name is Samantha….who’s also a dog) in comparison to the other sad scenes.

I too am sad at this scene, but is it the saddest?  I mean, Robert Neville (Will Smith) loses his wife AND daughter in the film.  Not to mention his own life.  This film is filled with death, yet it’s the dog that gets the memorable death.  Why?  Maybe it’s because Robert has to kill Sam?  Still though, I’ll take a dead dog any day of the week over my wife and children (which actually isn’t saying a whole lot, but you get my point).

On the other hand, I understand the sadness.  Most of us can identify with the loss of a pet.  And, while I still don’t mind losing a pet in comparison to a human (!), death is always an unnatural reality for Christians.  While humans are image-bearers of God and our death is more significant, the death of anything still leaves a big impact on creatures that were designed for eternity.

What do you think?  Why is Sam’s death such a big deal?  Did you find her death the saddest?  Let us hear from you.

Trailer Tuesdays: Spectre

Posted: April 14, 2015 by jperritt in Action, Adventure, Drama
Tags: ,

The new James Bond trailer has been out for a few weeks, but in case you missed it here it is.  Also, be sure and check back tomorrow for Movie Musings on “Quality Porn”.

Final trailer for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Posted: March 4, 2015 by Blaine Grimes in Action
Tags:

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 led 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.

Star-Wars-7-The-Force-Awakens-Sith-Lightsaber-PhotoUnless you don’t own a television, haven’t heard of the Internet, or have no soul, you didn’t realize that the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was released on Friday.  (If you did miss the trailer, check that out here and read Blaine’s post about a theology of movie trailers here).  To say that the trailer was released with much fanfare would be putting it lightly.  Sites crashed because of all the traffic from excited fans over-viewing the trailer.  At this point, over 27 million people have watched the trailer and several million checked out fake trailers that were released prior to Friday.  So, it is extreme to say that you have no soul if you haven’t seen the trailer, but it is accurate to say that Star Wars unites people.

I understand that a discussion about unity could be a little strange during this time of year.  For starters, we have just come off of rivalry week in football.  Football has been dividing people across the United States and some of the rivalries are even named after real-life wars.  However, this week has also shown us that people long to be united.

After I watched the Star Wars trailer, I saw a recommended video (which I cannot locate) of people reacting to the trailer’s release.  It’s shocking to see people flocking around a make-believe story.  People were dressed up like villains and heroes to show their love and support of Star Wars lore.  One person in the video even remarked, This is heaven.

I know this is a nerdy confession, but I was a bit giddy about the SW trailer being released.  I watched it multiple times and then I shared my excitement with my children, as well as, many people online.  It was exciting to watch people share their enthusiasm.  It was fun to see people anticipate the year-long release until the film (Lord willing, I’ll be there opening night!).  It was truly heaven-like.

In a sense I agree with the comment from the video about the SW convention being a taste of heaven.  You see, God’s plan is to unite all things in heaven and earth through the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:10b).  As creatures made in his image, we long for this unity.  Conversely, division is an uncomfortable, abnormal thing.  If you notice, even among the rivalries, people attempt to have a “friendly rivalry”, but that’s something that’s wrong-headed to the Christian.  I’m not saying that we can’t attempt to celebrate rivalries or that rivalries are wrong, but I am saying there is nothing – in Christ – that separates.  We are all united by His blood.

And, as weird, nerdy, and cheesy as it may sound, I got a taste of that unity this week through the SW trailer.  It was a feeble, fleeting taste, but it was a taste of unity.  An excitement that was shared among tribes, and tongues, and nations.  An anticipation for young and old.  If you think this is far-fetched or just plain silly, be there opening night in one year’s time and you might just say, “This is heaven.”

shrunkA few weeks ago we decided to pop in the Rick Moranis’ classic, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.  If you are like me, this is a childhood favorite.  I saw it in the theaters and then re-watched it time and time again.  I even remember my mind being blown when I went to Disney World and discovered they had a playground resembling the movie (Disney really is magical, isn’t it?!)

All of this to say, I was anxious to see how my adult thoughts and emotions would align with those from my childhood.  For example, I gave extra sensitivity and care to my daughter as she wept over “Anty’s” sacrificial death – I, too, fought back the tears…when I was little, of course.  I remember the Lego the kids lodged in over night, the bumblebee flight, and the big Cheerio – “Dad!  Don’t eat me!!”

Something I didn’t remember was the strife between the husbands and wives in this film, which trickled down to the children.  I realized that the children were literally shrunk in the film, but they were also figuratively shrunk, as well.  The two fathers, Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) and Big Russ Thompson (Matt Frewer), were men that were consumed with themselves.  (I also need to add that Disney remains consistent in degrading men – they are both buffoons.)  Wayne is a scientist who ascends into his laboratory (attic) to the neglect of his entire family.  While I’m sure he loves his children, he often doesn’t even make conversation or eye-contact when interacting with them.

Conversely, one could say that Big Russ gives too much attention to his boys – specifically, the oldest, Little Russ Thompson.  In fact, one could say that Big Russ harasses Little Russ.  Big Russ is obsessed with his former athletic prowess and pushes his son to be just like him, without a care for the lack of gifts his son may have.

Therefore, Wayne and Big Russ have both “shrunk” their kids, in a sense.  It isn’t until the kids are literally shrunk, that the two fathers realize their errors and swear to change.

Sadly, we know this is true of our own lives.  While we may not possess a laser in our attic with the capabilities of shrinking our children, we often shrink them and their concerns for our own.  Because of sin, it turns each and every human inward.  Instead of being focused on others and their needs, we look to self.  Sin makes it unnatural to love others, which shows the significance of the first two commandments and our need for Christ.

Although Honey I Shrunk the Kids focuses on fathers, we know mothers fall into the category of selfish living as well.  The question for each of us is this, Are we more prone to the distracted, isolated Wayne, or are we prone to the overly critical, vicarious, mind-set of Big Russ?  How do you find yourself shrinking your kids?  If you have no children, how do you shrink others around you?  Bosses?  Employees?  Neighbors?  Spouses?  Friends?  Strangers?  Homeless?  Orphaned?  Widowed?

We are all well-aware that the current culture is one of distraction.  The primary distractions come from the screens we carry around in our pockets and purse.  And, when we’re not carrying them, we’re passing them off to our children to distract them for a moment’s peace.  Bluntly put, we are masters at shrinking each other.  Praise God, he was one who was others-minded.  He sent one who did not count equality with God as something to be grasped.  He was one who looked out for the interests of others.  And, He was one who became nothing – or, shrunk – to ensure a bunch of “nothings” could be called children of the Most High.