Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

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Avatar >Review

January 21, 2010

I got the chance to see my first movie in almost a year, and I chose Avatar to see what all the fuss was about. What I found was that it was a great movie experience, but not a great movie.

For the three of you who are yet to see it, the film is set on the alien moon Pandora. Corporal Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is brought there to control an ‘avatar’, a body of the native Na’vi people, to try and persuade the natives to move out of the way for a mine.

My favourite parts were where Sully learned the way of the Na’vi. To get an insight into this fictitious native culture was a fascinating experience, with absorbing colours, customs and panoramas. It was my first non-IMAX documentary 3D film. I didn’t find the 3D all that amazing, but maybe that’s the point. It certainly added the sense of depth that James Cameron was aiming for. However, much of the film’s storyline was clichéd. The characters lacked complexity, the acting (apart from Worthington) was predictable and the storyline lacked originality. There is also a distinct lack of subtlety in dealing with themes of economic exploitation, the environment and even the war on terror. This is certainly a groundbreaking film in terms of the special effects and technology, but little else.

However, what was interesting was seeing Cameron’s view of god on Pandora. The Divine for the Na’vi people was wrapped up in Pandora itself. It is the spirit of the land which controls the life on the moon. But when Sully calls on this god to help in their time of need Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) states that, “Our great Mother doesn’t take sides. She protects only the balance of life”. How different is this from the God of the Bible? That god is not personal with whom you can relate to. That god is not loving, only coldly concerned for the balance of life, i.e. the environment. It is also a limited god as she is only located on Pandora, otherwise she would have saved earth along time ago. In contrast, the God of the Bible is personal, willing to know and relate to us by his word. He is not limited in that the whole universe is his. And he is loving, demonstrating his love in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He has taken our side, the side of those who trust in him for forgiveness. As much as I am all for caring for the environment, I would not want to swap the God who knows and loves me for the Mother of Pandora.

See this review on Ferver.net

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Our baby has Happy Feet!

April 26, 2009

Katie & I were watching Happy Feet yesterday, and during the film our baby kicked and rolled more than any other time we’ve felt it. It must have happy feet too!

Happy FeetBut what a bizarre movie? At first it’s like Spicks and Specks as I guessed all the song references. Then it moves to a world of aliens, and oracle, misguided religious leaders and scary ‘penguins escaping for the jaws of deaths’ scenes, all with a pro-environmental agenda. But to do all that in a mix of song and dance was spectacular but peculiar.

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Thursday film release

April 22, 2009

A few weeks ago, Katie & I saw a preview screening of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This film opens tomorrow (23rd April). My review can be read here. David & Margaret each gave the film 4 stars.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas >Review

April 6, 2009

We scored free tickets to see this film, but its impact was long-lasting.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a story of Nazi Germany seen through the eyes of eight year old, Bruno. He and his family move from his luxurious home in Berlin to a country estate after his father is promoted in the army. From his bedroom window he can see what looks like a farm but is a concentration camp with his father at its helm. Bruno meets a boy of the same age on the other side of the camp’s fence and the two develop a friendship.

In the film, we are presented with the horror of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, seen chiefly in the father’s actions and attitudes. Bruno slowly develops an understanding of the prejudice towards and the harsh treatment of the Jews.

The story juxtaposes Bruno to his elder sister. She is swept up with the Nazi cause; swooning over soldiers, hanging on every word of her history tutor and holding to her father’s beliefs that the Jews were the enemy and subhuman. Bruno on the other hand is too young to let the propaganda sway him away from the reality of the humanity he sees.

The film is short and uncomplicatedly shot, yet the innocence of Bruno is stark compared to the actions of his father and the suffering of the Jews. This is aided by the brilliant acting of Asa Butterfield as his character goes through the journey from innocence to awareness.

Apart from the terror of the Nazi regime, the thing that struck me was the normality of much of life in Nazi Germany. People were still holding parties and children were playing and going to school. Whenever I get a glimpse into life in Nazi Germany I sometimes ponder if I would have recognised the evil that I was in, or would I have been a patriot and supported the cause. The film certainly shows how ‘natural’ evil can be and how good can sometimes not be recognised. It strengthens my trust that I only see the true good that God is the work of his Spirit and by God’s grace. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas left me saddened by the injustice in the world but all the more longing for the day of justice to come with the return of Christ.

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The Dark Knight

February 28, 2009

After Heath Ledger’s Oscar win, I thought it was time to give The Dark Knight another viewing. Even on DVD, the action and darkness of the film still comes through strongly (especially watching it late at night). Much has been written over Heath’s performance which is so menacing, but so captivating. In fact the performances of the entire supporting cast raise the film above a typical comic book movie. Along with the well crafted actions scenes, the film creates suspense through delving into chaos and anarchy, and depth through its treatment of good and evil. It is those two themes which will receive comment below.

“Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order and everything becomes chaos…you know the thing about chaos – it’s fear.” The Joker’s motivation towards creating chaos is what makes The Dark Knight such an unsettling experience. Common criminals can be somewhat understood in their greed and arrogance, but the Joker creates the fear of the unknown; fear of disorder. He is right to observe that chaos leads to fear. However, put Jesus as king of the world, and chaos is replaced with order. God is a God of order and control. We have comfort rather than fear when face with chaos as we can trust that God left nothing out of his control and has a plan for our world. This is acutely felt when faced with the prospect of death. Nothing is more out of our control and so fear is the only option for those who don’t know Jesus. But he has promised a future of order, with all things under God and so beyond death is not chaos for those who trust in him.

**Spoiler Alert**

The tension between good and evil within a character is explored with great effect in the film. The goodness of the human spirit is appealed to as a sign for hope, as seen in the Joker’s failed ferry experiment. The hope of Batman and Gotham city was ultimately placed in Harvey Dent. However, this hope is a false hope as Harvey loses his ‘white knight’ morality. In the end, the city can only hope is the fake memory of Harvey, without the world knowing the truth of his actions. Although the film points to the human spirit to trust in, even the best of us fail. Only the Light of the World stood up to be a person to trust in, as he lived a consistent life of moral integrity, and is able to bring life to dark humans through his death on the cross.

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The Oscars

February 23, 2009

Talent, Praise and Faith

The new-look Oscars ceremony has ended this year and Slumdog Millionaire came out on top with 8 awards. Favourites Heath Ledger and WALL-E were winners, while the upset came when Sean Penn edged out Mickey Rouke for Best Actor.

Here are some observations from the ceremony:
Talent –
What a performance from Hugh Jackman! On such a large stage (physically and metaphorically) there is such a demand on the entertainer to fill it and he did. It was such an enjoyable experience to be spared the cringing of past comedians and to watch quality musical numbers. Bring back Wolverine next year!

Praise –
Another new addition was having five previous winners in each of the acting categories return to introduce each nominee. They did so with great praise, not only for the performances, but also for the talent and personalities of the actors behind them. The tears in the best actress nominees’ eyes reminded me of the power of praise, particularly when it comes from those who are respected and esteemed by the recipient. I’m certainly going to use that as an encouragement to praise when praise is due, particularly to Him who made the world and all that is in it.

Faith –
Best Actress, Kate Winslet, as part of her acceptance speech said “I’d like to thank those who had faith in me.” It occurred to me that faith (as opposed to blind faith) is not a forgotten, foreign concept. For Kate, faith meant that those people saw who she was, trusted in her and her abilities and supported her accordingly. Faith in a Christian sense is seeing who God is, trusting him to restore us to relationship with himself through Jesus’ death on the cross and to respond accordingly in dependence and obedience. Faith is alive and well, but who you put your faith in makes all the difference.

Finally – Did you notice how many awards (including the screenplay categories) were cut from the telecast? I wonder if it was Channel Nine compensating for a late start so it wouldn’t have to cancel Underbelly. Anyway, it meant an earlier bed time for me!

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Top 5 films of 2008

February 21, 2009

Well to get the ball rolling, I thought I’d put up my top 5 films for last year.

1. The Dark Knight – Viewers of At the Movies agree with me
2. In Bruges – Who would have thought Belgium would be cool?
3. Australia – No, I didn’t jump on the “it sucked” bandwagon
4. Juno – The screenplay deserved its Oscar
5. WALL-E – Because two robots showed the humans a thing or to about love

Let’s see what I will see this year…

P.S. Stay tuned as on Monday I hope to post my top 5 songs for last week.