Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi’ 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.

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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.

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.

Trailer Tuesday: Tomorrowland

Posted: October 14, 2014 by jperritt in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Tags:

Imagine a place where nothing is impossible.

Star-Wars-CastFor that past few months, Star Wars has been discussed quite frequently at the Perritt household.  If you remember, I shared my viewing of the first one a.k.a. Episode IV: A New Hope, with my children over the forth of July weekend.  Since then, we’ve watched Episode V, VI, I, & II – in that order (the correct order, I might add).  I don’t think my kids are ready for Episode III just yet, but we will watch it before we see Episode VII, Lord willing.

Since we are waiting on Episode III & VII, we have frequented the local bookstore and checked out just about every Star Wars book they have.  We’ve read Star Wars encyclopedias and I’ve learned more than ever about this world that has fascinated sic-fi nerd….I mean…fans for decades.  (Did you know Boba Fett actually survived the Sarlacc?  Crazy!)

Not only have we watched and read about Star Wars, we have become Star Wars.  That’s right, I’ve portrayed just about every character from time-to-time (and quite well, I might add).  We’ve made lightsabers out of pool noodles (just add duct tape), and because of that I’ve had many limbs severed.

So, with the anticipation of the newest SW installment and the constant dialogue about SW in my home, you will probably receive a few SW posts.  Yet, even with our excitement, there are plenty of haters out there.  People are already talking about how it’s going to be ruined or why they aren’t going to see it.  However, I’m not one of them.  I’m very excited!  And, I wanted to share a few reasons why you should be excited too.

J. J. Abrams

Relax, the two J’s don’t stand for Jar Jar.  Abrams has proved to us that he can handle reboots; e.g., Star Trek I & II.  In fact, I thought Star Trek: Into Darkness was the best summer blockbuster that year.  But, he’s not only shown us he can do reboots, he has shown us he can do reboots in a franchise that is adored by fans.  Add to that, the fact that he can handle sci-fi.  So, it’s a reboot, adored by fans, in the same genre Star Wars belongs.  What’s to worry?

It’s New

I know that newer doesn’t always translate to better, but you have to admit that some elements of Episodes I, II, & III were better than the originals (easy, I said some).  No one in there right mind would say that Obi-Wan and Darth Vader’s lightsaber battle in A New Hope came close to the lightsaber battle in The Phantom Menace.  Episode I clearly had the better fight scene, so why not expect this newer installment to possess better aspects than those previously released.  Think about it, we appreciate advancements in almost every professional field, why not film?  Not to mention the fact that we follow a King who promises to make all things new. (Rev. 21:5)  There’s something about newer that we should appreciate and long for.

The Never-ending Story

I know there are times when we want certain movies to end.  Pretty much any horror series needs to end – Saw, Friday the 13th, the Final Destination films, as well as, most films directed by Michael Bay.  But, there are some films we want to keep going.  There are those stories we just love and long to continue following, Middle Earth anyone?  I would put the Star Wars films in this category.  Say what you will, but these films have resonated ever since the first one made its way into the theaters in 1977.  These films have transcended generations and remained timeless classics.  And, this is what stories should be, right?  Think about it, stories weren’t designed to end.

God is the Creator of all that has ever been and all that will be.  He transcends time and is unchangeable so he is neither old nor young – he’s everlasting to everlasting.  His story will continue on into eternity future.  For those who have faith in his perfect Son, they too will continue forever in perfection.  Sadly, those who refuse to acknowledge him as King will continue forever in eternal torment.  Either way, our stories go on.

Therefore, never-ending stories resonate with us and that is why a story with intergalactic warfare continues to resonate.  If we’re honest, we don’t want them to end.  Yes, some of the episodes may stink.  Some may have silly characters we hope are killed off in the forthcoming episodes.  Some of us, however, will continue to enjoy finding out what happens in a galaxy far, far away.

Her?!

Posted: August 25, 2014 by jperritt in Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
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her_xlgSoooo…I hadn’t read the content of this movie before we received it on Netflix.  Some of you may have never heard of this film, but those of you who have may raise a questionable eyebrow towards this rental.  For those of you who may rent it (as well as, those of you who question watching it) just be sure and utilize the fast-forward and your eyelids.

My reasons for renting?  Joaquin Phoenix, Spike Jonze and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  Those are sincere reasons for my desire to watch it, but my occupation also supplied some.  See, I am a youth director and when I heard that this film is about a guy who develops an emotional attachment to an operating system, I thought, That sounds similar to some youth cultural trends I’m aware of.  Let me provide some info about the movie.

[spoilers ahead]

Her follows the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely guy who writes letters for people who inadequately express themselves through the written word.  As the viewer meets Theodore, we discover that he is at the end of a relationship, but is unwilling to complete the divorce process by signing the papers.  He is a quiet, sad man, but still seems to be someone who possesses an inviting nature toward those in his world.  However, it is through this season of desperation that Theodore purchases the new operating system for his computer, OS1.  This OS1 – “Samantha” – is a bodiless entity (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) that fills the void in Theodore’s life.  She provides him companionship, organization, direction, happiness – pretty much anything our selfish heart longs for…for a while.

It turns out that many people have fallen in love with this new operating system.  In many ways, this system provides them everything they want in a relationship, minus the hassle.  You see, users can use the system as much as they want.  They can turn it on and turn it off, whenever there’s a need.  But, the user can simply pursue solace whenever they get tired of dealing with the needs of the OS – even though the OS is just an operating system that doesn’t truly have needs.

This film – although it will be super-weird for most people – is so prophetic.  To me, this film is a picture of our future.  As ridiculous as it seems, this is exactly where our pre-teens and teens are headed.  Think I’m crazy?  Let’s consider a few parallels from the film:

  • People are enamored with their digital devices.
  • People begin to long for the digital “life” over real life.
  • People are able to feed their selfishness through technology.
  • People are able to escape challenge/difficulty/sadness by their technology.
  • People are easily accepting what would seem absurd in previous epochs.

With all that’s been said, let me take a few steps back.  I am not a Luddite.  As Christians, we must appreciate technology and thank God for the technology He has created.  To be Christian does not mean living a life that’s anti-technology.  That being said, Her serves as a sobering reminder of true relationships and warns about the effects of technology on them.

One interesting aspect of the film came through the fact that Samantha and Theodore’s relationship became a bit rocky.  It started out great.  There was laughter.  There was joy.  There was shared interest, but then it got tough.  In other words, it was like every relationship on the face of the planet.  The interesting aspect came from the fact that Samantha became more complicated as she became more human.  She was constantly learning, constantly studying humanity; therefore, she seemed more and more human all the time.  However, this allowed her to pick up on intonation, as well as, express her own felt needs.

This movie tells us many things, but one thing it does tell us is that humanity is complex.  People are messed up.  There are no perfect relationships, but there is a deep need for relationship.  Because we are a people who still long for Eden, we don’t like conflict, we don’t like difficulty, we don’t like things to come at a cost.  However, because we are a people who still long for Eden, we need relationship.  Therefore, we are stuck in the already and the not yet of relationships – relationships will hurt us, but we need them.

Her beautifully illustrates this truth.  Until the return of King Jesus, we are destined for heartache.  We need others, but we will hurt others.  We long for fellowship, but fellowship will disappoint.  Her captures both ends of the spectrum quite well.  Again, many need to be warned about the content of the film – it is a bit much at times.  However, this film should (hopefully) provide a brief pause to the insane habits our ever-changing culture is adopting as normative.

 

 

dawn_of_the_planet_of_the_apes_poster_a_pDawn of the Planet of the Apes was an excellent film.  Personally, I have been surprised at how much I’ve liked the two reboots in the Apes franchise.  In terms of the sic-fi genre, these films have to be some of the best of their kind.  And, I would actually say that Dawn was better than its predecessor.  In my humble opinion, these films are taking a cult classic and turning it into a true classic, which is a rare feat to accomplish.

For starters everyone knows the special effects are phenomenal.  Even if you are one who doesn’t want to see apes carrying guns and riding on horses, you have to admit that the realism of the apes is unmatched by other CGI.  I will be shocked if this film doesn’t take home multiple Oscars in this category and possibly even some other Oscar nominations (Best Picture?).

In fact, you can tell the filmmakers are pretty confident about the special effects because of the opening scene.  They are so confident in their craft that the film opens with a close-up of Caesar’s (Andy Serkis) eyes.  They’re basically saying, Our special effects are so awesome, we’re going to open with a scene that highlights these effects.  And, we are going to get as close-up as possible so you can see how awesome they are.  The filmmaker’s attention to detail with the apes is something that should be highlighted and appreciated – ultimately worshipping the great Filmmaker behind the scenes.

The story of Dawn is fairly simple, but still intriguing and kept me immersed in a post-apocolyptic San Francisco.  One criticism was the fact that the apes believed that the human race was now extinct.  One ape remarked that it had been 10 winters since they had seen a human, however, the viewers discover that the humans are about 15 miles inland in San Fran.  How had the apes not seen them there in 10 years?  Wouldn’t they have run into each other at some point?  Even though this was a bit puzzling, it’s not a deal-breaker for me.

One aspect of the film I found to be interesting was the fact that humans truly weren’t the main characters of the film.  As I said, the opening scene of the film is the apes and this continues for some time.  Several minutes into the film, and I felt like I was watching a Discovery Channel special on apes…that were dominating the world and could speak.  It felt similar to watching Star Wars: A New Hope.  If you remember, much of the beginning of that film has little to do with humans.  The main characters are two robots fumbling through space.

The filmmakers did well to cause the movie-goers to identify with the apes.  We witness an ape birth early on in the film.  This causes us to see the apes as more human than they are, and it accomplishes our love towards this “race”.  We are also drawn in to love the apes through other relationships, like Caesar’s instruction to his son, for example.  The fact that I had to keep telling myself, They’re apes, was a real accomplishment on the filmmakers part.  However, I think most people bought into the lie this film sold us.

And, it is this lie that gets us to the real hero in the movie.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this film.  I thought it was extremely well-done, and its excellence only assisted with the lie this film is selling.  That lie?  Apes and humans are equal.  The movie made them so human-like that movie-goers were rooting for them.  We were hoping that Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Caesar would bring their mutual “Trust” to bear in the lives of their races.  Why couldn’t apes and humans learn to love each other?  Why couldn’t we accept the fact that there are some irrational/bad humans and some irrational/bad apes and learn to work together?

At the end of the day, however, the apes can talk as much as they want but they will always lack one essential aspect of their created being.  They aren’t image-bearers of God.  And, because of that, they do not have a soul.  I don’t care if they can ride a horse, fire a gun, bake a cake, or talk – they are apes.  And, while we may have bought into a joyous reality of apes and humans living in harmony, at least one human didn’t – Dreyfus (Gary Oldman).

Some people see Dreyfus as the villain.  The irrational human who isn’t progressive enough to imagine a reality of apes and humans frolicking in an open meadow.  But, he proves to be the only rational thinker when he exclaims, “I’m saving the human race.”  He realizes what we know to be true.  He asserts what was commanded in the opening chapters of Genesis.  That command?  Humans are God’s image-bearers and they are to have dominion over creation.  Therefore, as human-like as the apes could be, a future of equality among these creatures should go against our grain.

Even though we get sucked up into the story of apes evolving into a more intelligent species, we must not forget that mankind named them “apes”.  They are inferior.  They are not created in God’s image.  I am not asserting that there was some hidden agenda by the filmmakers of Dawn.  I’m not even saying that this message kept me from enjoying the movie (again, I thought it was excellent).  I’m just saying, a man risking his life to kill a bunch of talking apes is a hero in my book, as well as, The Good Book.

 

Second-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Poster-High-ResCombining two aliens, a tree, a talking raccoon, and a man sounds like a recipe for a bad joke. To be completely honest, that is exactly what I thought Guardians of the Galaxy would be—a likable and well-executed joke. “It’s a Marvel movie, so it can’t be that bad,” I said to myself, expecting a box office disaster all the while. The results are now in, and I was wrong. Guardians had a huge opening weekend ( $94 million); and, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the film. It is the ultimate summer blockbuster and one of the best Marvel movies to date. That being said, this post will be a little different than my usual fare. First, I want to provide a few bullet point thoughts about why this movie is so much fun. Then, for something a little more serious, I’ll focus on the team of guardians themselves and attempt to show what sets them apart from other comic book superheroes.

  • Pop Culture references. Kevin Bacon, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the MacGuffin, and The Giving Tree are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head. Oh, and if you stay until the credits are over (which you should always do in a Marvel movie), you just might get a glimpse of … I won’t ruin it for you.
  • The soundtrack. Aside from being a tremendous amount of fun, the hits from the ’70s and ‘80s remind us that, unlike the majority of characters in the film, protagonist Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)—who goes by the name Star-Lord—is an earthling. The soundtrack also provides seasoned (i.e. older) audience members with something familiar, which is important when you’re dealing with an ostensibly campy movie about a talking raccoon and tree.
  • Genre blending. Comedy, action, romance, and heart-warming moments: Guardians has it all, deftly blended and served in perfectly portioned bites.
  • The thinking audience. Guardians spends very little time explaining its intergalactic politics to the audience, and it is all the better movie as a result. Instead of giving us a five-minute monologue or title card sequence explaining the backstory, the filmmakers assume that their audience can connect point A to point B. That’s a rare thing nowadays.

 

In addition to all of these really fun aspects, Guardians of the Galaxy invites more thoughtful consideration by giving us a group of unconventional heroes. Impolite, unpolished, and socially challenged, these guardians are like the mischievous stepchildren of Steve Rogers, the straight-laced Captain America. They are, in fact, antiheroes. Why, then, do we cheer for them, stand alongside them, and sympathize with them? The answer, in part, is that in our broken, fallen, and sin-stained world, our heroes often have more in common with the Guardians of the Galaxy than they do with Captain America (I like the Captain America movies, by the way). We all love a hero we can put on a pedestal and admire without fear, knowing that he or she will always do the right thing, will always save the world. That’s one reason Superman has endured for over 75 years. But in reality, heroes are often flawed and depraved and not near-perfect pictures of Christ. After all, any good that human heroes are able to do is solely because of God’s common grace in spite of human sinfulness. In this respect, Guardians gives us some of the most lifelike heroes we’ve ever seen.

So, if you’re going to see Guardians of the Galaxy, have fun, look for the Pop Culture references, and enjoy the soundtrack. Then, think about this strange group of heroes. You can leave the theater comforted by the fact that the sovereign Lord—not Star-Lord—guards the universe.

This post is a few years old, but decided to run it again because of Monday’s post.

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Hannibal Lecture, Norman Bates, & Darth Vader; three of cinemas greatest villains. According to the American Film Institute, these are the top three greatest villains of all time. The shark from Jaws, the alien from Alien, and the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also made it in the top twenty.

What is it about these villains that make them better than the average villain? Why is it when we think of Darth Vader, for example, that we think, Yes! He’s an awesome villain. For starters, he’s got the force, his outfit is pretty cool, and his voice/breathing has left a lasting impression on culture (thanks James Earl Jones). But, he also crushes a man’s neck in Episode IV, as well as, cutting off several other character’s breathing, ending their life. Is that good? Does that make him awesome?

We at Reel Thinking, recently composed a list of the top villains/henchmen in the James Bond franchise. It got me thinking, should we really cheer for the bad guys? What criteria do we use to judge whether or not a villain is a ‘good’ villain? Or, is it okay to like the villain in some cases?

According to AFI’s criteria, they state,

For voting purposes, a “villain” was defined as a character(s) whose wickedness of mind, selfishness of character and will to power are sometimes masked by beauty and nobility, while others may rage unmasked. They can be horribly evil or grandiosely funny, but are ultimately tragic.*

This is a carefully crafted definition, but ultimately it’s praising crafty, wickedness or, simply, in-your-face evil. Let’s consider each of these in turn.

Craftiness

The AFI definition states that the wickedness and evil is sometimes masked by beauty and nobility; i.e. craftiness. When I hear the word ‘crafty’, I think of Satan. In Genesis 3:1 we read that the serpent was more crafty than all the other animals. The serpent was wicked, yet there was something attractive about him. His evil wasn’t repulsive or Adam and Eve would have run in the other direction. His wickedness had an appeal, or beauty if you will, that made Adam and Eve run to him, resulting in the Fall of mankind. Therefore, we can say that evil sometimes possesses a certain level of beauty and appeal.

In-Your-Face-Evil

Some of the villains on the AFI list are those who rage unmasked or are considered horribly evil. Villains like Freddy Krueger, the shark from Jaws, and Terminator from The Terminator. We wouldn’t say that these villains possess a lot of beauty. I know a shark is part of God’s creation, so we can say they possess a certain level of beauty. However, if you were swimming in open water and you spotted a great white racing towards you, I doubt you would think – What beauty that creature possesses!

Some of the villains on the silver screen are pure evil. What is it about those villains that leave a lasting impression? They possess a certain level of power, justice, and wrath we appreciate.

Even though they may use those attributes in a dishonoring way, the attributes, in and of themselves, are godly. We know God as all-powerful, or omnipotent. He is just. And because of his holiness, justice and love, he is wrath too. All of these attributes, however, are only used in a beautiful way that makes his glory known.

Therefore, I think we can appreciate villains. We must be cautious in cheering for the bad guy or taking pleasure in these godly attributes being employed in a villainous manner. However, these attributes, pre-perversion, can help us better understand our mighty God.

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*http://www.afi.com/100Years/handv.aspx