Posts Tagged ‘God’

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[Note: This was originally written at the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but never published.]

Star Wars seems to be everywhere you turn. It’s on the major news outlets – CNN, Fox, & NBC. It’s on endless magazine covers. It was on your children’s Christmas lists (and possibly some adult’s lists as well).   It’s even on theological websites.

The release of Star Wars: Episode 7 was historic and Rogue One continues to reign at the box office. It’s impossible to measure the impact this franchise has had on the cinema. Notable directors and actors state that their initial viewing of this film was a watershed moment in their life. The science fiction genre was not a money-maker at the box office until the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Thus, all the hype.

Iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, & Han Solo returned to the silver screen for the first time in decades. Even the beloved Millennium Falcon was back in action. While Rogue One gave us a list of new characters, familiar sights and sounds from the previous installments were present. Almost everyone’s back…except for the originator of the aforementioned Star Wars world, George Lucas.

The Original Creator

Last year there was an interview with George Lucas stating that those in charge of The Force Awakens didn’t want to involve him. For those who are unaware, Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion. Box office records show that it was a wise investment.

However, the very man who invented Luke Skywalker (initially called Starkiller), wasn’t even consulted. The man who wrote A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…sat back and wondered what was happening to the galaxy he thought up. George Lucas, who avoided major studio influence on his initial films by funding them with his own money, placed his creation in the hands of another.

Some may dismiss this thought and say, Well, Lucas did sell the rights. After all, why should we feel sorry for a man who’s counting his billions. However, there would be no hype, there would be no Force Awakens or Rogue One, had there been no George Lucas. One could even argue that there would be no Harry Potter, Hunger Games or film adaptation of Lord of the Rings literature had there been no George Lucas.

After the release of Episodes I-III, fans were ready for a change. Most despise these installments of the franchise, so it was clear that there had to be a marked difference with Episode VII and the ensuing Star Wars films. Here’s where I feel sorry for Lucas, however. It’s his story. It’s his world. It’s his cinematic vision. Yet, the movie-goers feel like they own the Star Wars universe. How dare George Lucas take this story in this direction! What was he thinking when he created Jar Jar Binks?! Why in the world did he cast Hayden Christensen as Anikan? So, I feel a bit sorry for all the criticism and down-right anger Lucas has endured from fans.

If it wasn’t for him, we would never have Episodes IV, V, & VI! He created them for movie-goers to enjoy – and enjoy they did. Yet now, we are ready for him to get out of the way and let us enjoy our Star Wars the way that we want it!

Don’t get me wrong, I was envisioning ways Jar Jar could be killed off in each ensuing episode. I was disappointed in all of the previous episodes, but I think in critiquing films sometimes we miss the humanity of the people we’re critiquing. We critique Star Wars as this thing that’s out there and forget there’s an image-bearer attached to it. I really wonder how Lucas feels.

Think about it. You can’t turn a television on right now or get on the Internet without seeing something about Rogue One. You can’t go anywhere without hearing how much critics and fans love this one immensely more than the prequels. Yet, somewhere is George Lucas hearing all this. Somewhere George Lucas must be thinking, I gave fans so much. I gave them Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, Chewbacca, & Han. I created one of the greatest villains the cinema has ever seen in Darth Vader. I collaborated with John Williams to create a musical score that would transcend time.

What is the man, George Lucas thinking about all this?

It was this thought that got me thinking about the human condition. We are so selfish. We are so spoiled. We are so self-centered. Everything is about us and for us. We wake up looking in the mirror at a god we can’t wait to serve. Everything revolves around the person we see in the mirror and it better serve us.

The True Creator

As much as I appreciate George Lucas’ work, I am not imparting god-like status to him. Yet, he is a “creator” that has now witnessed his “creatures” rebelling against him. He did a great deal for those who are a fan of his Star Wars universe. They loved and worshipped him and now they’ve rebelled. There are definite parallels here to fallen mankind.

The true Creator gives and gives so much to this fallen race. In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve anything they could want or imagine.   Yet, Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator. The One who gave them the very hands that reached for the forbidden fruit wasn’t enough. The One who blessed them with the very taste buds that tasted the fruit witnessed those bestowed gifts being abused.

The Creator of all these great graces witnesses his creatures’ disdain towards those graces on a daily basis. We complain about the weather. We’re dissatisfied with our job. The body we see in the mirror isn’t what we want it to be. We take the creation that was graciously given to us and complain. It’s not what we think it should be. In short, we think we deserve better.

This parallel breaks down, however, in terms of ownership. Lucas is the creator of Star Wars, but he sold the ownership. Part of his reasoning is that he wants this story to go on after he’s gone – he’s not eternal.

For the Christian, we have a Creator who is eternal and will not leave or forsake his creatures because of their rebellion, no matter how much they complain. This Creator did not sell his rights to his creation, rather he entered into it in order to ensure this rebellious race could enjoy life everlasting. And, we can rest assured that the next chapter in that installment won’t be a disappointment…especially if Jar Jar isn’t there.

 

 

[Note: This is being re-posted to foster thoughts on the pornographic film, Fifty Shades of Grey]

Since American Reunion makes the eighth installment of the sex-worshiping franchise, American Pie, we have compiled 8 reasons Christians shouldn’t watch it. Yesterday, we posted the first four, below we have the remaining four.

Sex is Idolized

The first American Pie was all about losing one’s virginity on prom night. That was the god of the four main characters. In one scene, the character actually prays that God would allow him to fornicate with a girl. Sex is still the false god of this newest installment. Sex is a good thing, but when it becomes the thing it’s idolatry. This is the first and greatest commandment. Love God first, not sex. This film feeds THE lie of this culture, that lie? “Sex is the greatest thing.” Sex is a good thing, but God is the greatest in all creation.

Lust & Pornography

One would be hard-pressed to find any film that didn’t cause you to lust, whether it was for food or possessions or sex, however, lust is a sin (Prov. 6:25, Job 31:1, Matt. 5:25, Col. 3:5). And if I were a betting man, there is no way you could make it through an American Pie film without lusting. The entire franchise is designed to make you lust. I’m surprised they don’t give you a money-back guarantee if you don’t. The bottom line is, this film was created to make you sin. While we are on the subject of lust, let’s just go ahead and call this a pornographic film. Compared to more raunchy films this could be considered a “soft” porn, yet it is porn nonetheless. Even though this film will not be as explicit as some porn, there are plenty of pornographic elements contained in the film. Pornography is clearly sin and is one of the most powerful addictions in our culture. Even though this film will have less graphic content, it will lead to more explicit content because porn can never satisfy. It destroys marriages, spouses, & children – it is not funny. Why take the chance of indulging in something that could be your end, and laugh at something that ruins so many lives?

Masturbation is Okay

The combination of lust and porn will bring us here. In the previews Jim (Biggs) exclaims that he doesn’t have much sex now that he’s married, therefore, he decides to “please” himself. However, his 4 to 5 year-old son walks in and catches his father masturbating to pornography – again, all played for laughs. This is wrong on so many levels, but let me just take one. God created sex to bind two people together, once married. Jim’s character is idolizing sex to such a degree that his own pleasure is more important than his union with his wife. Instead of drawing towards his wife, he is committing adultery with strangers on his computer screen…in front of his son. Hilarious…right?

One Final Thought

If you are still persistent and say, “As a Christian, I think I can watch this film.” My question for you is, “Will you be embarrassed?” If you were to go to the cinema and see this film and run into someone you know – parents, girlfriend or boyfriend, pastor, or grandparents – and they knew you saw this film, would it bother you? Chances are that it would. And if it would, that means there’s a certain level of shame and guilt attached to it. I would say that there is a certain level of guilt and shame attached to this film, because of the above mentioned reasons. If you say, ‘I won’t be embarrassed.” You should be.

Use great caution in possibly indulging these areas of sin for some cheap laughs. Christians have much freedom, because of our beautiful Savior Jesus Christ, but that does not give us license to let grace abound. Let me close with God’s Word in Romans 6:1-4:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

sleepyFriday is October 31st and that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  For some it represents a Satanic holiday, for others it represents Reformation Day, for a few it’s a day for them to dress inappropriately and not feel as inappropriate (it’s always inappropriate…just so you know), and for most it’s an easy day to score some candy.  So, whether or not you’re knocking on doors, hiding in your house with the porch lights off, or treating it as any other day…I hope you have a nice Friday.

One truth we cannot escape is the reality of seasons.  Pretty much anywhere you are, there’s been a change in the air.  For most, it’s a bit cooler and Fall has been ushered in.  Without a doubt, this has brought a certain feel into your life.  Maybe you like the Fall, maybe you hate cooler weather, or maybe you’re indifferent, but I would venture to say you are participating in this seasonal feel whether you think about it or not.

It could be that you’re simply wearing different clothes that have been hanging dormant in your closet.  Maybe you have filled your pantry with meals you only cook during certain times of the year.  It could be that you look forward to that pumpkin spiced latte, beer, or shake that’s only available for a limited time.  Or, maybe there are certain movies you watch and they revolve around the seasons.

Christmas is, most likely, the obvious time for seasonal flicks.  (You can check out our top 10 Christmas films here.)  However, I’ve received a few emails from Redbox and Netflix that seem to imply others have certain films they watch around this time.  Friday the 13th and Halloween are obvious favorites for people who liked to be spooked – and relish in gore, for that matter.

I, for one, always like to watch (at least part) of Sleepy Hollow around Halloween each year.  For starters, I grew up watching the Mickey Mouse version of Sleepy Hollow and have since been intrigued by the story.  I don’t know how others couldn’t be fascinated of a story about a headless horseman – am I right?  The first time I saw Tim Burton’s rendition of Sleepy Hollow, I thought it was very well done.  I also thought Johnny Depp did an excellent job – and this was years before his Pirates of the Caribbean fame.  However, I must say that I don’t enjoy the latter half of the film as much now and am a bit disappointed in some of the content.  So, I’m not recommending you watch it.

For me, one of the main reasons I enjoy the film is the cinematography.  It just seems to capture the feel of the Halloween season I described earlier.  There’s an eerie darkness throughout that seems to resonate with the overall sense of the season.  However, why is it that we have this feel?  Why do we eat certain foods and watch certain flicks during certain times?  Well, I think it’s because of the Garden.

You see, one of God’s many graces he continues to bestow upon us is the change in seasons.  Variety is the spice of life, because God knew what he was doing.  The same temperature, the same food, the same day after day after day, would become a bit mundane.  However, God – in his infinite grace – still blesses us with different feels associated with seasons, even though we sinned against him.  He still allows us to anticipate cooler or warmer temps instead of punishing us by making the weather a cool 50 degrees or a warm 80 every day until he returns.

In his grace, we still have different seasons and I think this is one truth that still reverberates with creation.  These seasons point to our infinitely creative God and we try to capture this feeling by capturing the seasons.  We capture the seasons with our meals, films, and traditions.  There’s something “pre-fall” about these feels and we long to hold on to them in various ways.  So, whether it’s the cool air of Fall, the warm sand at a beach, or clutching a cup of hot chocolate by a fire, enjoy the change and give thanks to the Creator of that great gift.

star-wars-one-sheet-style-aWhat could possibly be said about this movie?  It’s a classic?  It changed my life?  It’s the greatest movie ever?  All of those things are nonetheless true about George Lucas’s ground-breaking, trail-blazingin, sci-fi classic, but there was something truly special about watching it again this past weekend.  Let me back up a bit…

I grew up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones.  I had these movies memorized and, as far as I knew, these were the only series of movies that existed.  When I was younger I would dress up like Indiana Jones and I would quote these films to my fellow classmates on the playground…which explains why I didn’t have any friends (not true).  However, I remember (on more than one occasion) waking up my parents at night because I was traumatized by the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark – what kid witnessing Nazis melting wouldn’t?  All of this to say, I was a big fan of these series of films.

Therefore, showing any of these films to my children was going to be a momentous occasion.  My oldest children are 7 and 4, and they have asked a good bit about Star Wars.  We’ve checked out some SW books at the library and they have some cousins that are pretty obsessed (in a healthy way) with the SW franchise.  While I felt that they were too young for the Indiana Jones franchise (remember the melting Nazis), I felt that they could handle the adventures of Luke and Han with my edits (earmuffs) along the way.  And, since there were so many classic films on TV for the Fourth of July, I thought we would have our own classic celebration in the Perritt household.

So, the iconic title and John Williams’ score exploded on the small screen in our living room and my children will never be the same.  We cheered, we clapped, we were excited to see Darth Vader, as well as, the good guys appear in a story that continues to prove itself as a classic.  All of that to say, it was special.

I enjoyed Sarah holding on to my arm with concern for the rebel alliance.  I loved seeing Samuel smile to see storm troopers and Darth for the first time (not sure if I should be concerned that he likes the bad guys…I like them too).  What was really unique about this experience of Lucas’ classic was that I sort of experienced it for the first time again.

At every moment of concern for the good guys, or each victory of Luke and Han over the villains, I would watch my children witness it without prior knowledge.  I loved waiting in eager anticipation with Sarah, I applauded with Samuel as the Millennium Falcon dominated starships twice its speed.  To put it simply, I shared in a timeless piece of art with my children.

Why is that such a joy?  Why has SW hung on for so long?  Why do countless adults and children still turn to this story for pleasure?  Well, there are many elements we could point to.  Good vs. Evil.  Darth vs. Obi-Wan.  Luke vs. Han.  Whatever it is, this film will continue to live on from generation to generation.  And, I guess the only reason I’m turning this into a post is simply to highlight God’s grace.  I know I could make some parallels, but I just want to be thankful.  God doesn’t owe us anything.  Yes, the gift of his Son is paramount to all gifts.  But, a dimly-lit living room playing a classic sci-fi film with my kids is pretty good too.

Eli Roth is Pretty Sick

Posted: June 30, 2014 by jperritt in Horror
Tags: , , , , ,

green-inferno-poster-900My first exposure to Eli Roth came through one of my friends comments about Roth’s film, Cabin Fever.  This friend of mine could handle movie violence a bit better than I could, so he thought he would be just fine.  After watching the film, he summed up his thoughts in one word – Sick!  After pulling a bit more out of him, he stated the film was simply over-the-top gross and he could hardly handle it.

Without either of us knowing who Eli Roth was (the director of CF), we were introduced to a common component in his films – graphic violence.  Well, this film seemed to put Roth on the map, so he has continued to write/direct/star in many other films.  Not only do his films contain graphic violence, they typically contain graphic nudity, as well as, disturbing acts of torture.

Another series of films that seemed to bring his name back into the lime-light were the “torture-porn” films, Hostel Hostel 2.  These films (which I have not seen but heard/read much about) contain sick acts of torture occurring to unsuspecting tourists.  Basically, any horrible thing you could think of (and some you couldn’t think of) are depicted in these movies.

And now, the reason I am bringing him up today, is because of two forthcoming films he’s associated with – The Green Inferno The Sacrament.  Roth is directing TGI (he also co-wrote the screenplay), and only producing TS.  Although both films have differing plots, they are similar in their sickening depravity.  And they both prove how utterly disgusting Eli Roth’s heart and mind are.

sacramentNow, some of you may think that I’m being a little harsh on Eli, but I’m simply using his words.  In the trailer for TGI it states, “From the twisted mind of horror master Eli Roth”.  In other words, all this talk is only assisting him in his PR tactics for his films (you’re welcome, Eli).  Roth loves his twisted mind.  He loves that he’s known for being sick.  He loves it so much, he ensures it’s going to be used in the marketing of his films.  To say it another way, being twisted has become his identity.

While I do want to discuss the term “horror master” associated with Eli Roth, I’ll only say a couple of things because I want to focus on his twisted heart.  The term horror master needs to be associated with directors that put thought and care into their craft.  Anyone, I repeat, anyone can use graphic violence and disturbing torture scenes to get a reaction out of an audience.  Roth could more accurately be labeled “gross-out master”, but horror master is a bit of a stretch.  Back to twisted ol’ Eli.

Proverbs 17:20a states, “One with a twisted mind will not succeed,”.  Again, Roth has become known as the twisted, violent, sex-crazed, horror director.  He’s built his identity around this content.  Basically, if you hear his name associated with the screenplay, directing, or producing, you can expect to see twisted sex and violence.  But, as the above Scripture states, he will not succeed.

You see, one thing Christians can agree with Roth on is that mankind’s heart is twisted.  Roth’s heart is twisted, my heart is twisted, and your heart is twisted.  And, what Roth has done, is tapped into that twisted nature.  There’s something intriguing about sex and violence to all of us (for starters, God created sex).  Yes, by God’s grace, some of us aren’t as drawn to these distortions as others, but there is still a sinful tug – a moment of curiosity – some of us feel.  He has realized this and exploited it for gain, but God’s Word says otherwise.  God’s Word ensures emptiness, destruction, and failure to those indulging in twisted wickedness.

While many in this world seek to exploit that darkness, God exploits grace.  He grants it to people who are undeserving.  He lavishes love on those who hate.  He grants compassion to those deemed as lesser by the world.  And he’s all about redeeming the twisted hearts of mankind.  Roth’s exploitation will only result in further emptiness, God’s, however, grants life and freedom to a twisted bunch of sinners like you and me.

after-earth-final-posterI know I’m very late to comment on this movie, but I just recently got around to seeing it. Many people bashed this film and said it was horrible. Critics and fans alike were more than disappointed in M. Knight Shyamalan’s work. And, after seeing the film, I would have to agree. I really like Will Smith and I really like Shyamalan.  Even though Shyamalan’s last several movies haven’t been up-to-par, he still has made some excellent films.  He’s just in a bit of a slump right now, and I think we can continue to show him some more grace.

That being said, there was a very interesting quote in the movie.  And, the filmmakers were very aware that it was an interesting quote, because it became the tagline of the movie and was also featured in the trailers.  The tagline reads, Danger is real. Fear is a choice.  This is taken from a lengthier quote Cypher Raige [Will Smith] says to his son:

Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.

Now, I need to go ahead and say that I don’t fully agree with this quote.  Fear is very real.  Fear is in our DNA and it is valid. God continually tells us in his Word that we are to fear Him.  Psalm 2:11 commands us to, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”  The Bible also tells us that fearing the Lord is the beginning of knowledge [Proverbs 1:7].  The fear of the Lord is better than great treasures [Proverbs 15:16]. So, we can see that the Bible affirms fear is a very real thing, not just part of our imagination as Cypher states.

I think the distinction here is between godly fear and worldly fear. From the quote above, it seems that it is describing worry or anxiety, not the fear God is commanding us to.  “The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future”, sounds very similar to what Christ said about worry and anxiety, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” [Matt. 6:34a] Worry is often stress or anxiety about something that hasn’t even happened and, most likely, won’t happen – as Cypher says; therefore, Cypher’s quote is very accurate in some ways.

Our worldly fears are often the result of these false stories we make up in our minds.  Stories that may never come to exist. When Cypher states that he began telling himself another story, he is referencing something referred to as “ghosting”. Cypher discovered how to stop fearing the future. This was important to the story because aliens called Ursa were attacking their planet.  These ursa were blind but could smell fear. Once Cypher learned to ghost, he could fight and defend himself without being attacked.  So, telling himself this different story, allowed him to ghost and fight his enemies.

This is very similar to the Christian life. We are all telling ourselves a story. Often times the stories we are telling ourselves produce worldly fear. Fear of others – what if they don’t like me, what will people think if I wear this, how do I look in other’s eyes when I say or do this – we feed these fears by telling ourselves stories. However, God has graciously given us his Spirit to tell ourselves another story. When we listen to the story accomplished through Jesus Christ, the story that tells us we are loved and accepted by the Father based on the finished work of his Son, it dispels our fear. So the Spirit (or for the sake of this post) the Holy Ghost gives us another story that indeed makes fear a choice.

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[Warning: This post contains spoilers]

Promised Land tells the story of a multi-billion dollar organization named, Global, and their attempts to tap into natural resources in a local small town. Steve Butler [Matt Damon] and Sue Thomason [Frances McDormand] are the two Global execs sent in to lovingly sucker the people into signing off their land. Things are going smooth for Global until Dustin Nobel [John Krasinksi], an environmentalist working for Athena, steps in and begins to sway the townspeople. Dustin is also a small-town guy with a personal story of Global’s destruction to his farmland.

Promised Land reunited Matt Damon with Director Gus Van Sant, who directed Good Will Hunting. It also gave Damon and Krasinski the opportunity to co-write the screenplay together. PL wasn’t as straight-forward as I thought it would be. Yes, it may be fairly predictable at points, but there was a bit of a twist. As Dustin and Steve continue to fight-it-out among the townspeople, it becomes clear that Dustin has falsified his story – losing credibility among the townspeople.

In Steve’s final confrontation with Dustin, he’s puzzled as to why Dustin would create this false story. Steve in essence says, “We’re a $9 billion dollar company. You know we would have found that information out.” Through their interaction, however, Dustin slips up and discloses some information he didn’t intend. This reveals the fact that Dustin is actually working for Global, but was posing as an environmentalist with a false company. This is not only a shocking discovery to Steve, but a humbling one as Dustin basically tells Steve, “You think we’d let you do this on your own? We let you do exactly what we wanted you to do. You were in control of nothing. You’re at the big boys table now. You did a good job, though.”

Global had been watching Steve the entire time. Steve thought he was a big-shot, he thought he was in control, and he thought he was moving up the Global ladder. But, Dustin just revealed to Steve that there’s an entire level of Global he wasn’t aware of. In essence, Steve was just a little child – a puppet – in the hands of Global.

Well, Global did control a lot, but they couldn’t control Steve from speaking the truth to the townspeople. He confessed to all the lies and did the nobel thing Dustin “Nobel’s” character was pretending to do.

This did get me thinking about control. How much of our lives do we really control? We can make plans, come up with a schedule, but how often do things go the way we plan them? Steve thought he was in control, but it was someone else controlling him. Global, however, thought they were in control, but couldn’t control the convictions of Steve.

Dustin’s line did make me think of our sovereign God and how he controls all things. While we are not puppets, or robots, walking around the earth, we can ultimately only do what He allows us to do. He is, in fact, ordaining all things that come to pass. He is working through all of the evil we commit. Just as Dustin and Steve were spreading lies and cheating people, God works through the every day lies of individuals and ultimately brings truth in the end. He is the one who’s in control. He is the one exercising His common grace in the lives of wicked people. And, He is the one who will bring the light of the Truth to bear in the end – the consummation of the true Promised Land.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Poster-HD-WallpaperOkay, I know Star Trek: Into Darkness has been out since May and that makes it ancient in this fast-paced culture, but I just got the chance to see it. This film had all the necessary ingredients for a summer blockbuster: spectacle, intriguing story, great acting, humor, tension, sacrifice and sex (more on that in just a minute).

First off, let me just say that I continue to appreciate the work of J. J. Abrams. He has a knack for cultivating a nuance to the action/sci-fi genre while still bringing a certain level of nostalgia into his pictures. He has consistently accomplished this in his films and television series – Super 8 being a prime example. All of this to say, I am very hopeful with his forthcoming Star Wars films.

Back to Star Trek, it was such a satisfying film. The visuals were very impressive – everything from the exterior and interior design of the various spacecrafts, to the futuristic details of San Francisco and London. [Side Note: San Fran gets abused this summer. Alcatraz is destroyed in this film and The Golden Gate Bridge is demolished in Pacific Rim.]. The creativity, however, does not solely reside in the visuals but the various scenarios the characters find themselves in. One of the highlights is Captain Kirk and Khan’s outer-space-free-fall to board their “enemies” ship. The human minds which cultivated that idea from a sheet of paper to the illuminated silhouette on the silver screen explicitly points Christians to our amazingly, creative God.

This entire film would simply be shallow spectacle, however, were it not for the acting. An area the cinema has definitely refined has been the level of acting that frequents this genre. Acting and story were typically sacrificed some years back, but now they are just as central to the special effects. The ensemble cast that comprises the U.S.S. Enterprise is as well-developed as their acting. Not to mention the twists that add a deeper level of drama for the audience/characters.

Sacrificial Love

The theme of sacrifice throughout this film [spoilers]. In fact, the verse that continually came to mind was, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” [John 15:13]. This film constantly portrayed characters willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of another. Spock does so in the opening scene, Bones is willing to explode for Carol’s sake, and Kirk willingly pursues death to save his entire crew.

Obviously the greatest example we have of this is Jesus Christ, which makes various portrayals something that should be applauded because they point us to the greater sacrifice.

Summer Sensuality

And of course, no Hollywood film would be complete without exploiting the human body. This is one aspect of the first Star Trek film, as well as, this one that bothers me. There is one completely unnecessary scene that hints at sensuality and a second scene that shows a women undressing.

Two thoughts come to mind when addressing sex making its way into almost every film – one negative and one positive. Negatively, this shows how uncreative Hollywood can be. I was, earlier, praising Abrams for his creativity, but the only thing creative about showing a woman undressing is how a filmmaker creates a scenario where that becomes a possibility in a space-action movie. This is simply cheap, exploitation employed to sale tickets.

Positively, although Hollywood and filmmakers put cheap sensuality in most of their films, they are drawing from a deeper truth that should be appreciated. That truth? Sex is powerful. Why is it powerful? Because God designed it to be. As we know, human sexuality is designed to draw a man and a women together in marriage. However, when it’s exploited from that context, it is still powerful, but it is being abused by its misuse of power.

Concluding Thoughts

Star Trek: Into Darkness is currently the highest-rated summer blockbuster this year (putting it above Man of Steel and Iron Man 3!), and I think it is well-deserved. It is really everything you are looking for in a summer movie. Even though there is an abuse of power, there is still truth that is being highlighted. And, let’s not forget the theme of sacrificial love that’s throughout. While Hollywood will continue to exploit powerful truths, let us not forget we worship a God whose hands are not tied. He is reigning and ruling over every filmmaker and every truth, no matter how much we try to exploit it, will ultimately bring him glory.

Now-You-See-Me-Official-Movie-TrailerWhat do you get when you cross Ocean’s Eleven with David Copperfield? Now You See Me. Except for the fact that Ocean’s Eleven had an excellent cast and was created as Steven Soderbergh was hitting his peak. Don’t get me wrong, NYSM had an ensemble cast and had a certain style to it, but it was 46% good. I say that because that is the rating according to rotten tomatoes and, I must say, it is pretty accurate.

Now, before you think this is simply going to be a post bashing a certain movie, just hang on a minute. NYSM is a unique film. It’s unique from the standpoint that you can’t simply dismiss it. People often want to say a movie was good or bad, but remember, this movie was 46% good, so we can’t simply label it as bad or good.

The cheese factor was pretty high in this movie. It had many cheesy parts and for some reason those scenes were consigned to Henley Reeves [Isla Fisher] – flying around in a bubble is always cheesy, even if you are a magician.  However, simply casting Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman make the film a bit more reputable, not to mention, Mark Ruffalo playing detective Dylan Rhodes. Even Jesse Eisenberg playing the same role he always plays didn’t bother me all that much.

As you can guess from the trailers and tagline – Come in close, because the more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you – there is a twist at the end of the film. And, even though you know one is coming, it is a pretty good twist. Far-fetched but somewhat believable, as far as movies containing magician-thieves are concerned.

Therefore, exiting this movie with some youth, I was a bit cautioned about giving my final verdict. Was it good or bad? My somewhat vague answer was, It was fun. In many ways it possessed your typical action/thriller/caper levity, but it still engaged the audience and kept you wanting to see the end. It’s a film I probably won’t see again, but one that is enjoyable to discuss with a group (which is exactly what we did) if nothing else, simply discussing all the loopholes in the plot.

All of that to say, “46% good” is a pretty accurate assessment of the movie. It’s not good and it’s not bad, it’s fun.

As far as the theological discussion goes, there are always topics and parallels to discuss. We could discuss our culture’s desire to always have a scene of sensuality present. We could also discuss the film’s themes like the depravity of man. There is some room to ponder “The Eye” as the all-seeing God and the magicians aspiring to fellowship with the Master Magician.

But, the theme that resonated with me the most, was the theme of revenge. Ultimately, this was the foundational theme of the entire film. [spoilers ahead] Dylan Rhodes ends up being the mastermind behind the entire scheme. It was his father that drowned in failed magic trick, which was due in part to Thaddeus Bradley’s [Morgan Freeman] work of exposing magician’s tricks. Since Rhodes was orphaned at the age of 12, he spent his entire life trying to get revenge on Bradley and indeed does exactly that some decades later. For Rhodes, his entire life was devoted to this. It took years of planning and involved many players, and it was ultimately successful. This made me think about God’s master plan.

One could easily say that the Bible is about revenge. God created a people, made a promise to commit himself to those people, they rebelled, and we are waiting for this revenge to finally take place. He is bringing justice on the Devil and all those who have not bowed the knee to him. His plan is one that has taken years to unfold, but a thousand years is like a day to him [2 Peter 3:8]. His plan involves many players, but he is not dependent on them. Revenge is such a theme in movies, because it is such a theme that resonates with us. We all long for justice to come and God promises us that it will. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says The Lord.””

Rhodes was a son that brought revenge on his enemy. God, too, has a Son who’s bringing revenge on the last great enemy.

epicI’m assuming the creators behind the movie, Epic, thought the alternate title, Mediocre, wouldn’t sound as catchy, even though it more accurately describes what I saw. I don’t want to come across as being too harsh on the film. As I have mentioned before, there is a certain amount of creativity that goes into every film, and Epic certainly possessed some creative elements. However, there was a lot of “old hat” to be viewed.

We took the junior high of Pear Orchard to the film and a PG animated film is always a safe bet when taking teens and pre-teens to the movies. Many of the youth enjoyed it and there were elements of the film I enjoyed. Aziz Ansari playing a slug named Mub was hilarious. I laughed almost every time he had a scene.

One element I appreciated came from a line that was repeated throughout the film – “Many leaves, one tree.” Ronin explains that this means their people are all individuals, but connected and because of this, “No one is ever alone.”

The entire film is about the Leafmen, and their community, fighting against the “rot”. Mandrake is the evil villain, bringing about decay and making the statement that, “The forest belongs to the darkness.” Mandrake and his rioters of the rot make a clear distinction between good and evil and leave us with a similar truth we find in Scripture. There are those forces of evil that are warring against creation, bringing about darkness and decay to this creation.

Creation is currently wasting away, and, to put it bluntly, we are all rotting. Every human is wasting away because of this darkness that has effected creation. But, as is affirmed in the movie, we are not alone. While the decay and rot of sin is apparent in our hearts and minds, we have brothers and sisters in Christ to guide us along the treacherous journey. We too can say, because of Christ, that we are many leaves connected to the same tree.

In many ways the tree and leaves metaphor is another way of saying, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ.” [1 Cor. 12:12]. And this section goes on to say, that each member of the body has distinctly different gifts and are to be appreciated. There is a distinct unity that takes place in this body. “But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” [1 Cor. 12:24b-26]

The uniqueness of this body, lies in the fact that the Head is Jesus Christ. The parts are all unique because God has bestowed unique gifts on each one, and if this body lacked a head, it would be lifeless. However, Christ unites the body and brings life and honor to the members.

While this life does continue to experience the rot, just as in Epic, we can have great assurance that we are not alone. When one member of the body suffers from depression, loss of a loved-one, cancer, or any other saddening result of the fall, the rest of the body suffers with them. God is so gracious to give us others to carry us along. But, his ultimate testimony of love came from the gift of his Son, who took the rejection of the Father so each of us could be part of this family. And that is an epic story that has no end.