Tag Archives: Christianity

Now Playing: Denzel is God’s samurai in ‘The Book of Eli’

15 Jan

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The Book of Eli (R) 118 min. Directed by: Albert & Allen Hughes Written by: Gary Whitta Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Michael Gambon, Jennifer Beals, Ray Stevenson Cinematography: Don Burgess Original Score: Atticus Ross

3.5 marias

The apocalypse has never looked better or felt sharper than it does in The Book of Eli, the newest end-of-the-world thriller from the previously MIA Hughes Brothers.

Bearing the brunt of the movie’s gritty but hopeful through line comes Denzel Washington, striding through the ashy, barren wastelands of an America gone to permanent ruin. He’s carrying with him what he believes is the hope of humanity. Unfortunately, the opportunistic despot, Carnegie (played by a deviously bloated Gary Oldman) also desires it, and the rest of the picture develops into the modern American equivalent of a samurai movie. You can cite the western if you want, but Eli’s poise, resolve and code of combat suggest the bushido of a wandering ronin. Throw in brutal but fluid action sequences, an interesting and thought provoking spiritual subtext, and you have the best post-apocalyptic thrill ride since The Road WarriorContinue reading

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Has Uwe Boll made a good movie? See the trailer for ‘Final Storm’

3 Nov

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Well, here it is, the latest Boll movement. And y’know what? I’m legitimately intrigued by it.

We finally have a trailer for a Uwe Boll movie and it actually looks interesting in a non-trainwreck sort of way. The German maestro of stultifyingly sub-moronic video game adaptations and low-rent trash has seemingly made a movie with a somewhat original story and actual mood and atmosphere.

The Final Storm, or Storm as it appears in the trailer and promos, isn’t distinguished by its cast (Lauren Holly and Luke Perry aren’t exactly draws unless you are airing on Sy-Fy) but by its premise and a creepy visual style that screams psychological thriller or grim post-apocalyptic drama.

A farmer and his family start noticing strange celestial events like blood covering the moon and ominous portents of a biblical nature. Then, everything goes quiet and most of Earth’s population seem to be absent. Enter Perry as Silas, a man who may know more than he lets on and is adamant that this is the Christian end times after the Rapture and they have all been left behind. Faster than you can say Mike Siever, things are going crazy wrong and I felt like I was seeing excerpts from The RoadContinue reading

Vatican no longer troubled by ‘Harry’?

14 Jul

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Usually I’d be ignoring bits like this, as they don’t really matter much in regards to things. People will still see the new Harry Potter film, just as they saw all the others and those who did not because of a potentially negative or occult influence aren’t probably racing to reconsider the actual detriment or effect of a series they banished based upon the word of others. No, the only reason I’m actually linking to this story, which is little more than the Vatican acknowledging the actual value of the story that Rowling took the space of seven books to tell, is that it does show a refreshing sign of actual thought and open mindedness. At least as far as the topic of Harry Potter and Christianity is concerned. Continue reading

DVD Showcase: The Thinning Hairline Between ‘Knowing’ and Believing

7 Jul

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Knowing (PG-13) 121 min. Directed by:Alex Proyas. Written by:Ryne Douglas Pearson & Juliet Snowden. Starring:Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, D.G. Maloney, Lara Robinson.

cinemagrade A-

Is the universe governed by determinism or by random event? Do we as human beings exist in it all alone, or is there a greater omniscient force which rules over all of our lives? Are the worlds of science and religion exclusive to themselves, cancelling one another out, or are they simply different lenses through which we view the same events? And the greatest conundrum of all; is Nicolas Cage still capable of making a good movie?  Alex Proyas’ new thriller Knowing, which opened in theaters last March and hits Dvd and Bluray today, raises all of those questions and answers concretely only one. Yes, Virginia, Nicolas Cage managed to not ruin a movie. You will believe a man can stare vacantly and have just cause for doing so.  Continue reading

Girl in The Seat Next to Mine

25 Jun

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June 25th, 2009–

You know what the greatest thing about the movies, or any art form/sports activity, is? For me, it’s the people you get to share it with. I’ve been to bad movies that were wonderful experiences because I was with people I genuinely cared about. Conversely, have you ever watched a great film alone and then eaten the bittersweet pill of having no one to interact with afterwards? 

I’ve been very blessed over the years to have a great number of friends and family who have shared in not only the movies, good and bad, but all the other vital and important parts of life. And of all those irreplaceable individuals, for the past 6 years one has been a friend, a guide and a fellow movie geek to put all others to shame. She’s my wife Jennifer, and she is not only the most precious person in the world to me, but one of the most knowledgeable and passionate film fans I know. Continue reading

Movie review: Angels and Demons pits science and faith against pulp

21 May

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cinemagrade c+

Ron Howard’s adaptation of Angels and Demons might be based off of a Dan Brown novel and linked to the controversial The Davinci Code, but the film itself couldn’t be more tame. I never saw Code because of the film’s absurd premise that married blasphemy with popcorn thriller–no thanks. Add to that the fact it was poorly recieved and that Tom Hanks seemed to be letting his toupee do all the heavy acting and you had a perfectly crafted ball of “I could care less.” Now along come the follow-up adventures of Robert Langdon and I was surprised to find myself intrigued by the trailers. The film itself is a fun little bit of escapism, eschewing anything heretical or antagonistic and instead focusing on jaunts into underground tombs, perusal of old libraries and sequences where dark matter threatens to swallow the Vatican if Tom Hanks can’t stop it. It’s all pulp and no edge, and strangely that’s the biggest problem.

Ron Howard does a nice job of making an old-school matinee thriller with great set pieces, tons of atmosphere and a few action scenes that do the work of raising the adrenaline. On top of the film’s handsome design and straightforward pacing, it focuses most of it’s energy on art, architecture and research. It makes the librarian tactics of Langdon as appealing in their way as Indiana Jones’ punch and kick method of info gathering. I imagine that Angels and Demons will have the most impact on dvd, where it can play a sunday afternoon after dinner and tantalize with it’s historical head-scratchers and it’s Six-Degrees of Renaissance Painters game trivia. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t have much value in andof itself but can inspire art gallery outings, interest in historical writings, and maybe even a trip to Rome. It’s more of a travelogue of ideas than a fully formed story.

The plot? Well, it boils down to a rogue faction known as the Illuminati(dude, it’s ALWAYS the Illuminati) striking out at the Catholic Church at a time when the Pope has passed on and the current power in the Vatican is being overseen by the Camerlengo, played gamely by Ewan McGregor. The pope himself was actually murdered by the order and they have broken into the Hadron Collidier and have plans to unleash its fury at the end of a killing spree that will claim the four preferati(potential candidates for the Papacy) and throw the Church into darkness. All of this is being done to avenge themselves for persecution that their ancient order of scientists faced at the hands of the Vatican. Langdon, the Camerlengo and token femal sidekick Vittoria Vetra, who was working at CERN when the Illuminati stole the anti-matter, are now racing against the clock to uncover the clues hidden around Rome and in the Vatican’s dark past. As in most movies like this, everything comes down to big pulse-pounding conclusion that requires the characters to think fast while stopping to deliver helpful speeches about historical events.

Most of all that works. It’s exciting and I had a good time while I watched it, but there isn’t so much as a single bit of distinguishing character work for anyone who isn’t Langdon and even in his case, it amounts to only a few scenes. No matter, the spice of the film actually comes from it’s propping up of science and faith as mysterious, enticing and sort of wondrous. Most might think Brown’s work is anti-Church, and that might be true, but it relies on the mystique and tradition of Catholicism for its power and atmosphere. The same is true for the realm of scientific discovery, which could only be adored more if this were directed by Spielberg. Howard displays the same sense of reverance for the lab at CERN as he does for the church’s  hallowed cathedrals. And all of that makes sense. The intersection at the heart of the story is the one between faith and science. Instead of drawing out that tension and conflict, as the far superior Knowing recently did, Angels and Demons only uses it as window dressing between chase scenes.

Angels and Demons makes for a perfectly swell matinee feature that will likely draw an older audience who might be tired of stuff like Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s just a shame that the movie doesn’t work on any other level than as an A to B rote thriller. It has a compelling centerpiece, but it doesn’t even reach the cohesiveness of National Treasure. The movie’s best scene takes place early on when the Camerlengo asks Langdon if he believes in God. Langdon says he is an academic and that he believes it is beyond his mind to determine the existence of God. When the Camerlengo questions what he feels in his heart, Langdon remarks that “faith is a gift, and that his “heart is not worthy.” It’s an interesting scene, and one whose complexities could have been useful throughout the film. I would have gladly given up a few scenes of Langdon thumbing through books or escaping ridiculous death scenarios for its inclusion.