Posts Tagged ‘Will Smith’

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.

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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.

The Village - Movie Wallpaper - 01M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film, After Earth, isn’t really “wowing” people at the local theater, but it’s moved people to discuss his body of work. I, for one, have really enjoyed his films. I didn’t care for Lady in the Water or The Happening, but I thought The Sixth Sense and the three films that followed were excellent (I didn’t see The Last Airbender and I don’t care to).

Some people gave up on Shyamalan after The Village, but not this movie-goer. Not only is The Village one of my favorite Shyamalan films, it is one of my favorite all-time movies (probably in my top 15 if you were wondering). There is much to discuss about this movie, but one of the aspects of the film I wanted to zoom in on today was the character of Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix).

I specifically wanted to discuss the masculinity Hunt’s character possesses. Since there is so much redefining of marriage and gender roles currently taking place, I thought his character could bring some helpful clarity in a culture of confusion. At the outset, I would like to assert that this character is one of the best examples of a man we have had in recent history at the cinema. And, quite possibly, one of the greatest examples from film history, putting him right up there with Atticus Finch.

Even though Ivy Walker is a great female lead of strength, and possibly performs the most selfless act in the film, Lucius Hunt possesses a certain level of servitude that’s an example to the entire village. He serves Finton by sitting in the watchtower through the night, he brings wood to August Nicholson after the death of his child, and he always holds the hand of Ivy when danger is present.

There is also a certain level of humility and gentleness he possesses, two attributes that seem to be absent from current trends in “manhood”. When he sneaks into the woods, resulting in danger being brought to the village, he quickly and boldly confesses his wrong. This act moves the strongest elder of the village to say, “You are courageous in ways I will never know.” This courage continues as he fights to know the truth of his mother’s black box and the origins of the beasts in the woods. Ivy even asks him how he can remain so calm in the midst of danger, to which he replies, “I don’t worry about what may happen, only what needs to be done.”

His gentleness and timidity gives me a picture of Paul’s true son in the faith, Timothy. Gentleness, it seems, is something that is opposed to the culture’s definition of manhood, as well as, notions of “biblical macho-ism”. Timothy was a strong man who stood up for the truth, but was on an opposite end of the spectrum from Paul and even Titus. However, Paul includes gentleness as a quality overseers and deacons should possess (1 Tim. 3:3). Lucius was one who didn’t “bounce about” like the other boys, and spoke with a gentleness and respect to others. And, the portrayal of his gentle character in the film actually comes across as strength, which the macho-men might disagree with. Many may view gentleness as passivity, but that is not the case with Hunt. The one scene that best shows this is the dialogue he shares with Ivy Walker, as she persistently presses him in order to discern his feelings for her.

Ivy Walker: When we are married, will you dance with me? I find dancing very agreeable. [pause] Why can you not say what is in your head?

Lucius Hunt: Why can you not stop saying what is in yours? Why must you lead, when I want to lead? If I want to dance I will ask you to dance. If I want to speak I will open my mouth and speak. Everyone is forever plaguing me to speak further. Why? What good is it to tell you that you are in my every thought from the time I wake? What good can come from my saying that I sometimes cannot think clearly or do my work properly? What gain can rise of my telling you the only time I feel fear as others do is when I think of you in harm? That is why I am on this porch, Ivy Walker. I fear for your safety before all others. And yes, I will dance with you on our wedding night.

In our age of confusion over males and females, characters like Lucius Hunt are quite refreshing. It’s sad to say that the cultural shifts which are taking place may bring a certain scarcity to portrayals of men like Lucius Hunt. It is a challenge not to feel some level of discouragement with our current state of things. However, there is great security and comfort in the fact that one Man has come and is coming back to bring full redemption. Not only a redemption that turns enemies into children, but a redemption that brings true beauty and distinction to the design of men and women. In all of our examples of biblical manhood, let us not forget the purest example we have, Jesus Christ.

This weekend two ‘unoriginal’ films are being released, Men in Black III, and The Chernobyl Diaries (I understand that TCD is not a sequel or part of a trilogy, but it follows the reality/horror genre of The Blair Witch Project, Quarantine, & The Paranormal Activity franchise).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure both of these films possess creativity and there are other sequels and trilogies that are excellent (check out our posts on Top 10 Trilogies part 1 and part 2), however, both of these films are based off of pre-existing content.

I honestly don’t have a problem with sequels.  There are good ones and there are very bad ones.  The story of any film takes some level of creativity to make, so we should be cautious of knee-jerk critiques.  Yes, many sequels are simply money-makers for studios, but many people who critique these films have never actually made a movie, so that truth should keep us humble.

I for one, enjoy reboots and sequels, because it gives filmmakers the ability to improve their craft, tell a better story, or develop a character more deeply.  As I have posted before (here and here) I think there is a deeper longing to be re-created.  Everything gets old and worn out, therefore, we long – just as the filmmakers do – for this idea of being recreated.

All of that being said, there is also a chance that Men in Black III and The Chernobyl Diaries are simply trying to make money.  Therefore, what every box-office-watching movie producer knows, is that these types of films have made money, and money is very important to them.

In the book, Popologetics (P&R 2012), author Ted Turnau takes an in-depth look at such topics as pop culture, worldview, entertainment, & apologetics, to name a few.  This is a book everyone needs to read, especially those that follow this site.  It’s an excellent work that is very helpful.  In the book he states,

the entertainment industry is always probing to find out what the public likes, chasing popular tastes.  That is why there are so many sequels and why Hollywood studios bank on ‘star power’ to draw audiences.  They are risking money, and they want to reduce the risk by investing in names and stories that have already proved themselves at the box office.  In other words, for popular culture to succeed, it must connect with us, with our worldviews.  It must reflect back what is already there. (pgs. 20 & 21)

Turnau is on to something.  For some reason MIB3 & TCD have resonated with our culture.  That is why studios are making these movies; they will make money.  Watch the box office results after this weekend.  Even though TCD might not make as much, it will make money.  It is filled with no-name actors (cheap), therefore, the out-of-pocket costs will be less than what is received at the box office, most likely.  That movie can be made fairly cheap.  MIB3, on the other hand, is not cheap, but studios will spend a bit more because Will Smith has proved himself summer, after summer, after summer at the box office.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of why these films resonate with audiences.  So this is what I want you to reflect on, what is it about Will Smith fighting aliens in a comical sci-fi film and college students getting attacked by nuclear fall-out victims that makes people buy a ticket?  Is it simply because we like to laugh or be scared?  Is anything wrong with simply being scared or laughing?  What deeper Truth are these films hitting on that resonates with audiences?

Will Smith’s name has been synonymous with summer blockbuster for years now.  This weekend, the third installment of the Men in Black franchise will be released.  Will his success at the box office continue?  Is this going to be a worthy film?  We’ll have to wait and see.  For now, let us hear from you.  Are you excited about it?

Through the years Will Smith has put out some very entertaining movies. His first big budget film (which made him a summer movie action star) was Independence Day. That movie came out on my birthday, so we got a big group together and watched that film – it was amazing!

Men in Black I & II (MIB III is set to be released in 2012), i,Robot, and Bad Boys I & II have also been some of the big budget films Smith has attached his name to. I have enjoyed most of these, so I was expecting to see the typical big-budget-Smith-film filled with his one liners – “Welcome to earth!” (After punching an alien in the face) – when I purchased my ticket for I Am Legend. However, there was a little something different about this big-budget-Smith-film.

Yes Legend did have a big budget ($150 million to be exact), but there was a deeper layer to this film that made it somewhat atypical to the box-office blockbuster we are accustomed to.

[SPOILERS: You can skip this paragraph and go to the next, which doesn’t give away key plot developments] For starters, all of the parallels to light and darkness – a clear theme in Scripture – are clearly communicated throughout I Am Legend. The creatures in the film are actually humans that have been infected with something, which makes them love the darkness – those creatures parallel sinful mankind. Blood is the cure for the virus and one man gives his life to save mankind…hmmm…sound familiar? Not to mention the title of the film I Am Legend – God calls himself ‘I Am’ in Exodus 3:14. The film also ends with the awesome Bob Marley song entitled Redemption Song.

These are just a few of the themes, there are many more that are clearly pointing us to Scripture. One interesting line I wanted to point out in this post is a statement Dr. Neville (Smith) makes in reference to the spread of the virus, “God didn’t do this. We did!” Our gut reaction to this statement, may be an objection because we know that God rules and reigns over all things. However, applying this to our sin, which is represented by the virus, this is a correct statement.

In our understanding of the doctrine of sin, we know God DID NOT create sin. God created Adam and Eve posse peccare – able to sin/able not to sin. They both rebelled and sinned against God. Prior to this, however, there was another fall, that is, the fall of the angels. We do not know much about this from Scripture, there are some references to it (see 2 Peter 2:4 & Jude, also the existence of the serpent in the garden implies there was an earlier fall). Although we don’t know much about this, we know the fall of the angels was similar to mankind’s fall in that rebellion was at its core.

Some people argue with the notion that, God created all things [mankind & angels] therefore by implication, he is the author of sin, but this is incorrect. While I say (along Herman Bavinck) that sin remains a riddle, we would be completely wrong to say that God created sin, for many reasons, one of those being that this would completely go against his character. God is a holy and good God, and because of this he hates sin. Therefore, there is nothing in his being that would give him a desire to create sin.

While he is not the author of sin, we would also be wrong to say that the origin of sin caught God of guard. Augustine put it this way, “The works of the Lord are great, well-considered in all his acts of will” – that in a strange and ineffable fashion even that which is done against his will is not done without his will.” And since I’m quoting, let me do it once more. Anthony Hoekema sums things up well:

Sin is therefore against God’s will but never outside of or beyond God’s will. God permitted the Fall to occur because in his omnipotence he could bring good even out of evil. But the fact that man’s sin does not occur outside of the will of God neither excuses nor explains it. Sin will always remain a riddle.

Even though God did not create sin he did give us a cure, but we (and those in I Am Legend) chose to pursue another cure – a man-made cure. By doing so, this caused a deeper, darker virus to become more widespread, which caused people to hate the light. We, quite often, choose many others ways to cure us of our sin, but they end up causing us more pain and frustration.

I’ve heard many people say that we all struggle from gospel amnesia, which is true. We forget that our ultimate cure for every pain in life is the good news of Jesus Christ. We look to money, possessions, friendships, status, job security, 401K, and endless other things to cure our dark hearts, but none of these ‘cures’ will last. The only Cure for our dark heart is the Light of the world and we are reminded of this in the last line of the film which says, “Light up the darkness.”