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The Long Hard Road out of Hell
Monday, 25th August, 2008 Posted by Beren @ 22:54:46


The book I am reviewing today I doubt that many Christians have read. It is the autobiography of Brian Warner, a.k.a Marilyn Manson. A prominent artist, who has been outspoken against Christianity. His music has made plenty of headlines over the years and has certainly irritated a large number of Christians and people from conservative groups. It was primarily this that drew me to the book to learn more about him and his motivations behind his music and the persona he puts forh. I had seen him interviewed several times on youtube and other places, but the most notable interview I saw of his was within the Bowling for Columbine movie/documentary. Some people vocally blamed his music for the actions of the boys within that school, hence his interview. However, watching the documentary (and indeed other interviews) he actually seemed to come across as the person whose opinion I largely agreed with. And so this is where some of my curiosity to read the book came from.

Now the book is most definitely not for everyone, it does, unsurprisingly, contain quite a large amount of bad language and descriptions of various drug and sex acts. However, beyond this it does give plenty of insights into where he is coming from, and indeed what influences within his life have lead him to be who he is today. The first thing to note and say (for those who don’t know) is that a large portion of his work is aimed at attacking American pop culture. They are a shock rock band who are commentating upon the MTV/Soccer mum/fakeness of mainstream. Aiming to be non conformist in any way possible and pushing people’s buttons is his goal. Those who complain about them only open themselves to lyrical attack, which only increases his notoriety and popularity.

In reading through the book the things that gave the most insight, and also disgusted me the most (and were upon my thoughts a great deal during the days surrounding me reading the book) were the “Christian” influences in his life that have obviously resulted in him being such a vocal opponent of Christianity. He records several times when as was a child he came across what I like to refer to as “Kooky School Teacher’s”. I, like him, had several of these. I remember quite vividly a primary school teacher of mine screaming at the class, in attempt to cast demons out of us, and another who “prophesied” that one of my friends was going to grow up to be a rapist and a murderer in Bosnia. As unfortunate as these people are, and extremely unsuited to be in charge of a class room, as children, my entire class realised that the woman was a nutter and to be ignored. Marilyn Manson seemed to take his similar experiences to be normal Christian behaviour. He had other run ins with people who claimed to be Christians who made false statements to the police about events at his concerts which were total fabrications - and usually so far beyond what the band ever planned for any shows.

Is this an excuse for his opinion of both Christ and Christians? No. On the last day there will be no place for excuses. And indeed his response to these people shows his most obvious character flaw: Arrogance. Throughout the book he details his interactions with various different groups of people, and in the vast bulk of these situations forms his opinion of that entire group of people extremely quickly based upon a few small interactions with one or two members. Forming an opinion of a religion which has over a billion so members off a kooky school teacher and a few others is bound to give you a disjointed view of the group as a whole and the spiritual things relating to that group. His spiritual view is expressed within the book (p213) in these terms: "I believe I am God. I believe everyone is their own God." Which is not a new concept, but it does illustrate his spiritual state. It is virtually the classic description of what defines a sinner in Christianity. Which is possibly why he worded it as such.

An extremely obviously lesson that can be taken from this book is that Christians need to be blameless. Marilyn Manson has developed his views of Christianity, largely, from his interactions from Christians who were not acting as they should as true Christians. It has been famously said that the problem with Christianity is the Christians. And this is a fine example of a person who is vocally anti-Christian because of his interactions which Christians who were not behaving as Christ would have them behave.
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Movies Movies Movies
Saturday, 25th August, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 13:47:14
In usual blog fashion, the owner has missed a bunch of entries. For the last month I have been working 15 hours days, so while the bank balance is okay, the blog is not. So here is a brief comment on most of the movies I saw in break.

Knocked Up
I went along to see this film purely based on the hype about it. After seeing the trailer I wasn’t going to see it, then with it rating so well I felt the need to see it just to see what the fuss was about.

Despite the film having a lot of language, sexual themes (it is a story of the result of a one night stand after all), and a culture of heavy alcohol and marijuana use, I did think it was a pretty good theme. Using set theory I envisage that this film is in the subset where Wayne’s World / BaseketBall, Nine Months and The 40 Year Old Virgin crossover. It has a similar story line and general message of Nine Months, the jobless loser type character from BaseketBall, and the humour and writing of 40 YOV.

Now after reading that I am sure some people are like “so what is good about it?” Other then being genuinely funny, it also presents a male character who realizes that being a father is greatly important to him, and a female character who couldn’t even consider the thought of Abortion even though the father was a total idiot and it could ruin her rising career. Far two much of our society presents the opposite of these values, and its great to see a mainstream American comedy (more known for toilet jokes – which are also in this film) present these views.

Harry Potter
Now many Christians are very anti this series, and while I also would not give it to my future children to read without them first reading much of the fantasy works of authors like C.S Lewis and John White, I do see value in it. But that is a discussion for another day.

I thought the movie was very good, and probably rates as the second best yet done after The Prisoner of Azkaban. Although, to be fair, that is also the best book in my opinion, so that is also a factor. Luna’s character was absolutely perfect. I did think it was a shame that Ferenz did not any screen time. Generally I think it could have been 15 min longer and in that time had more of other characters in the Order (it is the name of the movie after all).

Simpsons
The movie that was a decade late should have been its title, but ignoring that, this 90 min episode returned to the goodness of the Simpsons from the first 7 or 8 seasons (the golden years). If you like the show, watch the movie you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t like the show, don’t watch the movie, it has nothing for you. The movie doesn’t try to bring in fresh viewers to the show; it is an example of a movie based on another form of media that doesn’t try to increase the popularity of the original. I wish the Lord of the Rings had done the same. Staying true to the original content and not aiming for bringing everyone else in is laudable.

Die Hard
This film was pretty much everything I expected it to be. It had the usual McClane vs the bad guy with the rest of law enforcement world off sitting around not doing a great deal. Which is pretty much what people love about this series, it is one man vs the rest, and as the story progresses he shows his incredible (read superhuman) resilience to violence upon his person. My personal favorite is the finial act of violence in the film which is iconic in the same way as “shoot the hostage” was for Speed. So basically if you enjoyed the other films you will enjoy this one, and vice versa. My only complaint on the film is the scene with the fighter plane at the end, even in a diehard film you can go too far.

Fracture
My wife is a John Grisham fan, and we went along to see this film because it appeared to be something up her alley. And it was, in my opinion the same sorta thing. It obviously isn’t quite the same as it isn’t dealing with a larger issue like a conspiracy relating to a pelican’s habitat or a healthcare scam or something equally preachy; but to me the script had about the same strength. The twist wasn’t overly great, and it did explain it fractionally too much (although not to the shameful level of the The Prestige), it was enjoyable to watch. Anthony Hopkins really did make the film though, his performance was good as usual, and one feels that without him the film could have been direct to dvd. So all in all, it is better suited to a night in on the couch, than a popcorn even at the cinema.

Obviously there is more I can say on these 3 films, but, well, insert excuses relating to time here.
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The Transformers
Sunday, 15th July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:03:02


Last week I went and saw Transformers. It was one of the first remake / re-imagining movies of recent times that I have been on board from the get-go. I was a Transformers fan as a kid, and knowing what special effects we have today I thought it was a great idea to make “that movie”. Although I was mildly sceptical that it might not live up to expectations, but was still there with bells on hoping to get taken for a great visual ride.

I loved it. Over looking a few minor annoyances the film was just what it should have been. A really fun, action movie, with stunning visual effects. The few moments when the weakness of the script showed itself can easily be for given. I rate the movie to be in the bracket of movies you watch when your 12-13 and just get your mind blown away. Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Independence Day: this bracket of films. All of these also had moments that when watching them now as an adult you sigh at some of the weaker script moments. But that really does fade away in the context that it really is being aimed at 13 year olds, and if you just relax and let it go you don’t really care. The film isn’t trying to get best writer.

The acting is all pretty good; I am now looking forward to seeing Shia Beouf in Indy4. The visual effects are the best done in a movie to date, which really makes it worth while seeing on the big screen. Michael Bay (Director) has done a pretty good job this time around, I do find that his movies are very much hit and miss. This one is one of his Hits (with the Bad Boys Films and the Rock). There are some really good funny moments. Although the hacker sections were rather poor, but that said I am a PhD in computer security, so I am very accustomed to this.

From a Christian angle the film is for the large part a rather harmless sci-fi flick with invaders from outer space. There are one or two moments of sexual humour, but it is not spread throughout the film. Further, while there is loads of action, the vast bulk is against robots, and so the gore factor really is extremely low. There is very little bad language in the film also.

So overall I heartily recommend it to everyone who enjoys a good solid action movie from time to time, this is definitely one worth catching in the cinema.
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Blades of Glory
Tuesday, 3rd July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:06:57


Last week I snuck along to the latest Will Ferrell flick: Blades of Glory. Will seems to be having a great time playing the series of ridiculous roles he has had over the last few years. The characters he has played have all been absolutely plump with material to make fun of: News Anchor, Nascar Driver and now Figure Skater. If you loved Anchorman and Talladega Nights then this movie will rock your world. It is my favourite of the three. Although this may have some bias as I have always found the concept of figure skating to be very humorous.

The opening few scenes of the movie are somewhat instant classics, both involving Jon Heder's character. One as a small child at an orphanage skating unbelievably well to Con Te Partiro (Link to Song on YouTube), and the second is as he is competing in a peacock outfit, releasing a dove at the end of the performance. Both scenes basically tap you on the shoulder and say “This film is gonna have funny costumes and lots and lots of cheese”. And it delivers. The costumes frequently bring more then a smile, and the cheese factor is so extremely high at times resulting in me almost choking on my tongue from laughter.

While the movie really does have quite a simple concept, I did not find it getting very tried as it progressed. The movie is not overly long, and as there are a few different elements to the plot, you don’t find yourself looking at your watch for the time.

The only real criticism I have for the movie is that at times the crudeness level got a bit high. And this is somewhat expected with an American movie of this type, and I must say that it was a lot better in that regard than many other films of its genre that have come before it. But when you see a few moments like that in a row and you ponder to yourself “I wonder what a British or Australian writer would have put there” it does take you out of it.

However, all in all, I do recommend the movie, and especially to those who find the concept of figure skating to be somewhat ridiculous and have a hearty taste for spoof material. Overall I would rate it a solid 3/5. Certainly more enjoyable then Pirates 3.
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Oceans 13
Tuesday, 3rd July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 17:29:50


I have been extremely busy of late and as such didn’t review Oceans 13 nearly soon enough after seeing it. So here are a few short thoughts of what my feelings are regarding the latest of the 2nd sequels.

As a brief note of context to my thoughts on the series, I thought the first movie was brilliant. Lots of fun, not too much George Clooney, and it had some good bits of humour sprinkled throughout. The second movie I thought was pretty poor. Too much George. Too big a twist (what is the point of a twist that basically takes 20 min to explain? It was just lazy film making). The laser dance while attempting to be funny, was about as fun as a belly smacker off the 10 m dive tower (for the person). As such I was semi surprised to see a third movie. The quest for more money film had already not been received too well. But I guess it hit the money and that is why we got 13.

So going in I was sceptical at best. But walking out, I was pretty happy. The movie is much better then the first sequel, although I don’t think it is as good as the first film. It is back to being more of a pure heist film, and a simpler plot (than the second movie, its obviously more complex then your average movie) which is great. Although that said, one does feel that there are multiple holes in the plot, but with the fun that is had one tries not to look too closely at this.

So if you enjoyed the first film, and would like an entertaining pop corn flick, that doesn’t have any violence or language, which will make you smile (not laugh) numerous times throughout, I recommend this film to you.
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Amazing Grace
Wednesday, 20th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 19:19:36


The other week I was able to get to see Amazing Grace at an advance screening. It’s set to be released in late July across Australia, although in has not yet been confirmed as to whether or not it will get on any screens in Tasmania. Hopefully it does, and preferably not only in the Hobart cinema as its so awful. But, we will see what happens.

I won’t say too much about the film as I am mindful of spoilers on a film that is not yet out. But I will say a few things. Firstly I really enjoyed the film. It’s probably one of the better period films in recent memory, and the fact it’s on someone that I admire (having lived near Wilberforce – NSW – as a child I knew who he was, and I am still a fan) makes it a real bonus. For comparison to another recent film that had a Christian character in the lead, ‘Luther’ disappointed me (and most Christians I know). On the whole it was not good story telling or movie making. Amazing Grace doesn’t suffer from this. It is a much stronger film, and still holds true to William Wilberforce as a person. So if you were likewise disappointed by Luther, you should find this a much more enjoyable film. If you thought Luther was great, then either you are about to have a real treat, or your taste in movies is… not the same as mine.

The movie covers a period of about 20 years while he campaigned for the abolition of slavery. Unlike other films which try to cover a large time period (Fellowship of the Ring’s first 20-30 min covers a larger time period but you don’t even notice) it does a pretty good job of expressing it. You definitely get the feeling that a sizeable amount of time passes, although this is impart to it non-linear story telling. Although perhaps my one criticism of the film is that often a time jump will occur without a subtitle like text saying what year the viewer is now in.

One of the things that surprised me about the film was that at time there were some genuine funny moments. The acting on the whole is also pretty good; Michael Gambon (as Lord Charles Fox) was extremely good. The film also expresses well the problem and the effects of slavery on the lives of humans in the time, but also the blind complicity of much of the populace.

So on the whole I recommend everyone see’s this that can get to a theatre to watch it (and I am sure it will also end up in Social Studies class rooms in the not too distant future). Supporting films like this is pretty important for getting more of this variety (christian themed films with good production quality).
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Shrek 3
Wednesday, 20th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:26:42


Last week I went to see my third second sequel of the movie season: Shrek 3. Having already seen Spiderman 3 (okayish.. but not great) and Pirates 3 (terrible film) I was rather tentative about how good this one was going to be. I was certainly hoping that the trend turned around with Bourne Ultimatum and Oceans 13 both just around the corner. And I must say that thus far it was the best 2nd sequel. Easily.

Now for context, I never actually saw Shrek at the cinema and was extremely surprised when I caught it on DVD. The second one I saw in the cinema and really enjoyed, although don’t think it’s quite as good as the first one (although Puss-In-Boots exactly what the doctor ordered). This third film I would probably rate as the weakest of the 3, but not by much. It sits right behind number 2 in my books. And really does justify it being made in the first place (which certainly can’t be said for Pirates 2 and 3 now that we have seen the whole story arc).

Just like the previous films there is a fair smatters of slapstick animated humour for the kids, and then a slew of jokes which will go straight over their head and have the adults smiling to themselves. I did also enjoy the way the story moved a little out of Fairy Tales and into legends, specifically Arthurian legend. It really is jumping to a group of characters that fits well, and is strong enough to keep the story motoring along.

If you enjoyed the first two films I would recommend the third on to you, it is more of the same fun, although while unlike Pirates, at the same time building on the characters, telling you more about them as people (or Ogres as the case maybe).
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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Sunday, 10th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 16:26:16


Last week I saw the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and since I saw it I have been trying to think of something positive to say about it other than the fact it has made money. And, the search has been rather fruitless. Looking around other reviews online I find that this comment at Apollo Guide sums it up pretty well.
“The first five minutes make it clear this is not a film for little ones. The rest of its overlong 168 minutes manages to also eliminate almost everyone else.”
The longer the movie went on the more and more I cringed and was shocked by how bad the movie actually was. Considering that is a very long movie, meant that I was thinking it was a bad piece of movie making for a long time.

There seems to be a few fundamental things wrong with the film. The plot is far too mangled for no apparent real reason (as it’s still predictable), and there so no real attachment built (in either of the sequels) to the characters. So by enlarge your attachment to the character’s is purely running on from the first film, and the tank is pretty much empty. So while the movie does look very pretty (another good point) you don’t really care what happens to any of the characters. Further, when action sequences appear, in which you already aren’t phased if they killed someone off, they don’t and the movie makes so much fun of itself there really is little to no substance remaining.

One scene in the movie I did quite enjoy (although I know many didn’t) is the first appearance of Johnny Depp in the film. That said it also doesn’t seem to quite fit the rest of the film, and could very easily have been a deleted scene and no one really would have noticed.

So to wrap up this brief review, Pirates really isn’t very good. #2 and #3 Pirates rank up there with Matrix #2 and #3 as movies that were the quest for more money that did not add to the original film, and only left one with a bitter after taste. Catch it on DVD or TV if you feel a need to see it. But try not to spend much money on it, it currently ranks as my worst movie for the year.
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28 Weeks Later
Saturday, 2nd June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 16:09:30


Last Week I fed my zombie craving with an outing to see 28 Weeks Later. I had not previously seen 28 Days (have since ordered the DVD) and so was not entirely sure what I was letting myself in for. Some friends said they liked the first movie, others said they hated it. So I went in with a very open mind, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Now, as a brief comment to context in my tastes: I am a zombie movie fan. I love the original George Romero movies, the remake of Dawn of the Dead is probably the best movie remake ever done. Shawn of the Dead is an instant classic in my books. I also own the Dead Rising video game. The Walking Dead comic series is also awesome reading. So really if that list of items make your skin crawl this movie is probably not for you.

The movie, from a film making standpoint, is going to not be enjoyed by all. It actually does some things that are a little unconventional. Its certainly not a film to take an epileptic to (I am no expert but in the way the action sequences are cut and massive flashing of light and dark at times it is rather jarring and chaotic. This was obviously the intention). The first action sequence really drops you into the deep end rather fast. And if this was a normal Hollywood flick (as opposed to being from a smaller Fox spin off studio going for the more arty/alternative feel) one feels that they would have toned it down I am glad they haven’t as the brutality and the shock of the event that takes place really does setup the rest of the film. And then gives the lead actor (Robert Carlyle in his best role since The Full Monty) some real emotions to then play with from an acting/drama point of view later in the film.

As a whole I enjoyed the film, and will probably pick it up on DVD in the future. But there are two things I will highlight that I loved about the film and one thing I hated. The first is more sorta general, in that the movies real strength is that it isn’t the same as other zombie films in the way the zombies act. (Yes I know that they are infected with the rage virus and thus not the same as George Romero’s Zombies, but they are trying for the genre. And the fact that they are different is the point) They actually aggressively go after people. They are fast. They aren’t the docile zombies. This actually makes them much scarier. Second is that the film is mostly about living with the fallout from a Zombie situation. Yes other movies have touched on this, such as Land of the Dead, but I think this is just about the best version of this in film. The comic The Walking Dead is a much better version still, although that is in print not film.

Now the fact that the things I loved about this movie were general, and the thing I hate is a plot element shows not only that they have made a good movie, but they failed to kick it up into the Film category because of lazy script writing. Basically the plot is and the film is all going well, and indeed it continues well after it, but the turning point in the plot is when a civilian with military access gets access to a zombie in quarantine and gets infected. It takes you right out of the film, and simply not believable that the military with all these strict protocols elsewhere else through the film would allow this to occur. Further the problem is created could probably have been created in plenty of other ways without this lazy bit of writing.

From a Christian point of view, this film has a lot of graphic violence in it. There is also a fair amount of language also. So if this is a concern I recommend you don’t see the film. However, that a side there are several ethical issues brought up in the film, and indeed are the centre of the bulk of the story though the film if you pay attention to it. Is the one more important than the many? What if that one is a child? At what point is it okay for the military to act upon a civilian population “for their own good”? Most are very sticky questions, and its films/literature like this that provides a context for such debate without there being real lives on the line, while also being graffic/shocking enough to illustrate a scenario.
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Spiderman 3
Tuesday, 22nd May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 19:14:53


So last week I got along to see the latest installment in the Spiderman series. With a title like this it makes the review process much easier as I don’t need to explain what the movie is or who is in it so much, and I can jump straight to what I thought. However, before I tell you what I thought of the third film, I will briefly say what I thought of the first two. Number 1 Spiderman I absolutely loved in the cinema the first time I saw it. Sure I hated the acting (if you can call it that) of the Aunt and Uncle (not to mention the Power Ranger-esque Green Goblin), but the fact Tom dies early on relieves much of that annoyance. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to see the film again, so I did. The second time in the cinema to see it I had a very great urge to poke myself in the eye with my finger purely for entertainment value. The second time through the movie to me felt overly long, and boring. The second film I promised myself I would not watch it twice at the cinema, and until this day I have not seen it again. As a result my thoughts on the second film are very positive. To me it was much better than the first film, although the Aunt still was painful. The train action sequence was amazing. And so I was ready for the third installment.

The most recent Spiderman film leaves me with several feelings. The first of which is that the movie wasn’t actually about Peter Parker the photographer, but a cunning demonstration of a Sin wave. The movie was great multiple times. The movie was total rubbish multiple times. It was basically a roll coaster between the two. I think this is the result of trying to make the movie everything to everyone. There was moments of great action (the first fight was great, and the best in the film), moments that fitted into the movie The Mask (not a good thing, what was that doing here), there were the required romance moments that are reminiscent of teenie-bopper flicks about high school romances, and then there were the comic book moments. In amongst all that there was obviously a good smattering of stunning visual effects, which in themselves alone justify seeing the film.

In the mad cram to fit in as much as possible into the film, they have created the problem of having too many villains in the film in my opinion. Sandman is the best in the film, and is great in the first half. However, his “reappearance” in the second half really is pitiful. Its almost like they have said “how can we ruin this great action sequences and general feeling we have with this guy?” and then set about doing it. Don’t get my wrong, the very final moments (I won’t spoil here) are fine, it’s the action component before it that was such a let down. Further Venom as a whole felt pretty clumsy. In my opinion they should have done Venom better (I can’t say how without spoiling things) and left Sandman in the first half of the film.

From a Christian perspective the movie is fairly benign really. There is no swearing, nudity or gore. This film is aimed for a wide a market as possible. Which as a result really means it also doesn’t have much substance other then a simple love story and a hero who has o find strength within himself (obviously no calling on God for assistance).

So my overall recommendation is to check it out, its not really bad, but its not really good either. An entertaining way to relax for a few hours and not use ones brain.
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The Host
Saturday, 12th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:04:18

Last week I went and saw the Host, a (south) Korean scary monster type movie. Going into this movie I wasn’t expecting it to be that great. I have never been a huge fan of the mysterious killer monster genre. I am still yet to be bothered to see Peter Jackson’s re-imagining of King Kong. So I really was not expecting to enjoy the movie very much, however I found myself very pleasantly surprised by the film. And over the last week and a half I have been telling everyone I have seen to see this movie.

The movie is without a doubt a solid monster flick, but it also has so much more. The main characters feel like they could probably fit into an ensemble comedy movie that stands by itself minus the monster. The setup for the movie, and then many references to the American military throughout the film, also add enough material to label the film a political commentary. So with such a rich depth of elements in the film and with many genuine funny and scary moments, the film really does rise above most other movies in this genre. The movie also does away with a lot of the normal Hollywood gaff that makes such movies predictable. Overall this movie is like a breath of fresh air.

The characters in the film really are quite well written. They are a very believable normal family that certainly has many conflicts within itself, but when some person (whether it is a massive monster or the military with their scientists in plastic suits) tries to come between them they defend each other fervently.

There is some fairly cynical commentary of American within the film, including the implied creation of the monster as a result of pollution caused by a U.S military base. This part of the plot is in reaction to an actual spill that occurred in the year 2000. Further comments are in relation to the past usage of Agent Orange, although in the film referred to as Agent Yellow. In relation to these things the director said the following: "It's a stretch to simplify The Host as an anti-American film, but there is certainly a metaphor and political commentary about the U.S."

From a Christian perspective, if you compare the movie to a hollywood monster movie it is far more wholesome. If you directly compare it to Hollywoods latest monster flick "Snakes on a Plane" (which in itself was quite humourous), The Host has virtually no swearing that I can recall. Further, there is no nudity or sex scenes. The Host does not resort to such things to please the audience, and results in not only a better movie, but a much cleaner one.

So, to sum up: go see this movie before you see the American rip off version which won’t be a patch on the original. While I usually also watch American versions of foreign films, The Departed released last year was the first one that I have seen (of many) that was actually better then the original.
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Shooter
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:26:37

Empire magazine said that this movie is best enjoyed after 3 beers. The guys sitting behind me in the cinema seemed to take their advice and brought along a six pack for the event, despite the cinema not being one allowing alcohol. However, the boys were probably quite happy with themselves as Shooter is the perfect movie for sitting on the couch at home with 3 or 4 mates, a few beers and a whole bunch of pizza.

Shooter is the story of a one man A-Team that is made up with the talents of Rambo, Macgyver and Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper’s character in Saving Private Ryan – The Sniper Guy). In the film he takes out people from well over a mile away, gets up close with a machine gun and knife, while also employing home-made napalm as a distraction when needed. Take all those elements and mix it a plot reminiscent of Conspiracy Theory (Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts), and basically you have shooter. Oh and a fair portion of red neck jokes too. It really was a very entertaining film that doesn’t even attempt to take itself seriously.

Mark Walhberg doesn’t really light the house on fire with his performance like he did in The Departed. But he also did not let the movie down in any way. Danny Glover likewise wasn’t turning in his greatest performance, but was indeed great fun to see on the big screen again. So all in all a fun movie if you aren’t expecting any great depth or an overly realistic plot. But there are some great lines and movie moments to laugh at.

From a Christian perspective the film does have plenty of violence in it, along with a fair smattering of language. It is not overly non-Christian in any other way. Now, while it does indeed stretch the truth to form its conspiracy in its effort to complain against the corporate military structure in America. It is worth noting that the agenda of said military structure is often furthered by the candidates that some Christian groups support. So while it is not the most acuate portrayal that situation, it is acting as a reminder to people that choose to support need to be well rounded morally in all area’s, and not just vocal in a few issues that tweak our interest on a local level.
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300
Wednesday, 25th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 22:17:35

Last week I finally got around to seeing 300. It had been delayed a week or two by the friends I was going through not being able to go previously. Which considering that I am a massive fan of the comic was a little annoying. If anything it may have resulted in building up the film in my mind even more. Which, having said that you can now assume that yes I did find it as somewhat of a disappointment.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I think the movie is really good. And I recommend that everyone catches it in the cinema as it really is the prettiest movie I have just about ever seen. They really did stick extremely close to Lynn Varleys artwork from the comic. That alone will guarantee that I will purchase the DVD when it comes out. It is great to see a comic that has translated so well to the screen artistry. Sin City is really the only other one that they have been so bold with that side of things.

But appearance of the film aside, very little else of the film really left me going “Wow” (with exception of some of the fight scenes that were flawlessly choreographed). The film follows two stories: Leonidas and the 300, and his wife back at home. The Leonidas story line really was quite fine. There were several cringe moments with hammy acting + poor writing. And a few of the Persians characters were kinda uninspired/tacky. But certainly passable for a movie of its type. David Wenham and Gerard Bulter were both great to watch in their different ways. The remainder of the film is where the wife story line is spliced into the battle story line. Basically this has Leonidas wife back in Sparta trying to rally support, to get the real army to head out and join him. I am mindful of giving spoilers, but let me just say this: that it felt like something out of Days of Our lives. And that I would happily pay more money to buy a shorter version of the film on DVD without that plotline. It was altogether lazy writing and cliché.

From a Christian perspective, this is a film that depicts an ancient battle. And as such it has a lot of very well choreographed violent sword battles; often with hundreds of Persian soldiers being slaughtered. Further there are moments where the result of violence on civilians is shown and is likewise just as gory as the battle themselves. Battle aside; there is a sex scene, and some nudity. So generally speaking it really is not a film for people troubled by such things, and certainly not for children.
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Wild Hogs
Friday, 6th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 14:10:19

Last week I went and saw a movie that I really wasn’t expecting to catch at the cinemas, but some friends wanted to catch it, and so I went. The movie was Wild Hogs. My thoughts going in, and indeed when I first saw the trailer 6 months ago was “oh dear… what rubbish” and “I bet every funny line in the movie is in this trailer”. So as you can tell, I was well primed to not enjoy the movie. But, when walking out of the film I realised that I had just spent the previous 90 min smiling and laughing on a fairly regular basis. It was by no means a great movie, but it was a bit of fun.

The film is very reminiscent of City Slickers. You have the friends, in a mid-life crisis setting, heading out away from their big city lives. In wild hogs you have Martin Lawrence (plumber come wanna-be Writer), Tim Allen (dentist), John Travolta (deal maker) and Willam H Macy (programmer). I am really not a fan of John Travolta or Tim Allen, however I do enjoy Martin Lawrence and Willam H Macy in most things; so actor wise it was evenly poised. Willam H Macy was by far the best of the lot, but even the two whom I don’t normally enjoy watching did not irk me too greatly. The love interest is played very well by Marisa Tomei, and Ray Liotta also performs well as the token bad guy.

The movie is full of plenty of somewhat juvenile jokes and cliché moments, but that is really to be expected in such a film as this. The thing that was probably more surprising was the level of homosexual jokes that were spread throughout, often involving a gay highway patrolman that they stumble across several times in the film. But beyond those there are plenty of jokes relating the jobs and the somewhat ridiculousness of the trip and the situation they find themselves in. So while this is certainly not a movie any critic is going to rave about it is one that will make you smile at jokes you might normally not admit to smiling at, which in and of itself probably make it a good movie for a dvd night with friends. Especially if shown after a more substantial film.

From the Christian perspective, as I have already mentioned there is a fair amount of homosexual jokes in the film, along with some crude heterosexual ones too. This is probably the main downer for the film as there isn’t a great deal of swearing in the film, or violence beyond the expected slapstick in a film of its nature. If it had not been for the level of sexual related jokes it could have been a great movie for the whole family, but it results in one that isn’t for children.
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Hot Fuzz
Thursday, 29th March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:27:47

There are two movies that I am especially looking forward to this year. One is a New Zealand flick called Black Sheep, the second is a British film called Hot Fuzz. Last week I went to see the later of these. It was fantastic.

Hot Fuzz is from the same people that made the great horror zombie spoof Shawn of the Dead a few years ago. Shawn is one of my favourite movies. I really can’t go past a good spoof, and Shawn was nigh on perfect. So needless to say I had massive expectations for Hot Fuzz, and I am glad to say that it delivered.

Hot Fuzz stars Simon Pegg (Shawn from Shawn of the Dead) as a big city cop who is too good. So good he gets transferred because he makes the rest of the police force in London look bad. So within the first 5-10 min of the movie he finds himself in the most crimeless place in all of England. The picture perfect town. A place where there hasn’t been a murder in 20 years, although, there does seem to be plenty of accidents. It is these that the story rides on as Simon’s character investigates these.

The movie does a great job at spoofing action and crime investigation shows of sorts, as one expects. Although I do quite enjoy the fact there are two levels of these sorts of jokes. There are the really overt jokes, where they even mention the source film (the American source material in 995 of cases) where as throughout the rest there is an endless list of little things that have been drawn from the likes of Midsummer Murders and Heart Beat. It is these subtle jokes which are there for those who have seen British TV shows that make the movie. They are pure gold.

From the Christian angle this film is, when boiled down, an action film that does in places depict purposeful and accidental violence; and sometimes quite graphically. My wife who does not like Shawn of the Dead because of the gore, but she did not have a great issue with the content in Hot Fuzz. Although it really didn’t appear that different in some respects to me. Its possibly a difference in sense of humour, and this one being in a context she enjoyed. There is also a fair amount of language through out the film. So be sure to go in expecting this.

Basically this is a movie that is a must see for the year, so if you have the stomach / sense of humour for it, then I recommend that you catch it.
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