Kidologist.com: Karl Bastian's Personal Site and Blog
Archive for Movies
Stealing an idea from George Lucas, PIXAR decided to come out with a “prequel” to Monsters Inc., which I think was genius from a business point of view. Not only will families with kids flock to the film, but the college crowd who grew up on Mike and Sulley will too.
And flock they did! After missing out on not one but TWO sold out showings, we decided we’d better go an hour early if we wanted to get the best seats in the house!
Luke doing his first movie “camp out,” but well supplied!
I’ll link to the official Kidology Review coming shortly from one of our expert reviewers, but I wanted to post some of my thoughts.
First of all, TWO THUMBS UP! As people were coming out the showing before us, I asked, “Thumbs Up or Down?” After repeated thumbs up, I had to explain the ‘thumb system’ to Luke. LOL
NOTE: I AM going to include spoilers from this point forward, so if you haven’t seen it, stop reading after this paragraph, and just go see it. It’s a great film with super messages for everyone on friendship, forgiveness, teamwork, and as my blog title suggests, never giving up.
Secondly, (minor spoilers following) I love the theme of never giving up on a dream! Along with that came the message of HARD WORK, which is not taught very well or very often in our American “get rich quick” or “I’m entitled to success” culture. That’s why I’d give the movie four thumbs up if I had that many. (I’d probably be in the movie, then, huh?)
Mike is a little monster who, quite simply, isn’t very scary. But after an experience as a young monster early in the movie at the Scream Power Plant at the heart of Monstropolis, (I’ll leave that spoiler out, for those who chose to read on), he sets his heart and all his effort on becoming a Scarer at the Power Plant. It is his dream and life purpose. The movie quickly shows him studying hard and getting good grades to get into the college of his choice, Monsters University, rather than the rivals, Fear Tech or Scary University.
Despite all his hard work, and he works and studies harder than anyone else, his lack of “natural scariness” seems to spell nothing but failure. Rather than summarize the entire movie since you’ve either seen it or will, I will to get to my point. Through it all, Mike never gives up. There is one moment of despair where he almost does, but that is when reconciliation happens between Mike and his former rival, Sulley. As it turns out, Sulley had been depending on natural talent and a family reputation rather than hard work to succeed, yet he was seeing the same amount of failure.
Working together, they end up doing the impossible. As great as that is, it isn’t what I like the best about the film. There was something else I really liked, and I’m curious if others caught it.
In the process of doing this incredible “thing” at the end (still avoiding the details), they break some rules and to my surprise, they are expelled from Monsters University. I really expected them to be forgiven and allowed to re-enroll due to the amazing “thing” they did. The intimidating teacher I suspected of being evil the entire movie turns out to be just stern and intimidating. While she admits her surprise at their success, she doesn’t extend grace. They still have to leave the school.
Could the message, especially to to college kids,be that the ends do not justify the means? You may accomplish good, but you may still have to accept the consequences?
Then came what I loved most, and my Patriotic side nearly burst. Since they flunked out of Scare School, they decided to take on what was offered once as an insult: a job in the mail room at the Monstropolis Power Plant. It reminded me of Joseph in the Bible.
First, sold as a slave, he decided to be the best slave he could be, and in time was promoted to running the entire house of the captain of the guard of Pharaoh. His positive attitude, even as a slave, earned him that promotion. Then, when Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison, he didn’t pout and complain Again, be decided he would just become the best prisoner that prison had ever seen, and soon he was put in charge of the entire prison. In time, he rose to become the second in command of all of Egypt! His literal childhood dream came true.
That is exactly what Mike and Sulley did. They immediately set out to beat the “most mail delivered” record. And they did. Next, we saw through some pictures put up over time in Mike’s locker that they went on to be janitors and decided to be the best janitors ever. Then they served soup, and they put their hearts into that. Finally, there was an “Employee Scare Try-Out,” and they won. Their dream came true! It took time, hard work, and patience, but they DID became official Scarers!
That is a message MUCH NEEDED for kids today in our country. Hard work, patience, humility, determination, and dedication to a dream will in time product results!
Just like John D. Rockefeller, Mark Zuckerburg, Ansel Adams, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ty Warner, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, John Travolta, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Peter Jennings, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and even Abraham Lincoln, they fulfilled their dreams through hard work and focus, having never graduated from college! They didn’t expect anything to be given to them, they worked hard for it.
Too many young people today expect to graduate from college and be given a six figure salaried career. They aren’t willing to work in the mail room, be the janitor, serve soup, or flip hamburgers – and be the best hamburger flippers their fast food joint has ever hired. That is the secret to seeing your dream come true. I am blessed to own and run my own business, but that only came after decades of mowing lawns, flipping burgers, delivering legal documents, valet parking cars, organizing plumbing parts, and being the best children’s pastor I could be while pursuing a God-given dream I had when I was 19 and a calling I received when I was 10.
I guess you could say, “Be Like Mike.” Pursue your dream, and if one door closes, find another way. And if God is on your team, you can only win, if you never give up! He will bring along the Sulleys in your life to help you, humble you, teach you, and join you in your quest!
BE LIKE MIKE!
PS: Stay after the credits. Our family were the ones who did… and it was worth it.
Last night I went out to see a movie. I’ve had a lot on my plate and many deadlines, and I just needed some “brain candy” as I call it. Unfortunately, my movie app was wrong, and Oblivion, which I headed out to see, was NOT out until today, despite my app giving me movie times last night. But after driving through a blizzard over ten miles to the theater that my app said was showing it, I decided I might as well see something for my troubles in getting there. The only movie remotely interesting to me that fit with the time I was there was The Host. This is NOT a movie I would have seen, especially since it was written by the creator of the Twilight series, a trilogy I am proud to say I’ve never seen, nor will I ever. (!) LOL However, I watched the trailer for The Host on my iPhone, and it seemed bearable. Driving home again in the blizzard suffering a #fail seemed pointless, and I had an AMC gift card to burn.
This blog post is not a review. I’m not going to say rush out and see it. But it was interesting enough. And I am going to give a few spoilers while not totally wrecking it, if you plan to see it, but I suspect most of my readers are like me – they have no intention of seeing it.
The basic premise is that aliens are taking over the bodies of humans.”We” are the hosts of these aliens. By the time of this film, nearly all humans are inhabited by the aliens, which is obvious by their blue eyes. However, as always, there is a remnant of rebels. The main character is a girl who died in a fall while running from the “Seekers” – aliens out looking for the few remaining humans. She was leading them away from a young boy she loved, the brother of her boyfriend. The aliens healed her and she became one of the hosted humans. However, she is a fighter, and throughout the movie you hear the voice of the original human girl inside the mind of the alien who now lives in the girl’s body. This all sounds gross, and it’s all a little confusing to listen to, but you get used to it. If you’ve ever had a conversation with yourself, it’s not much different.
The alien ends up being convinced by the human girl ‘host’ of the virtues of mankind as she leads her to the boyfriend and the younger boy. Of course, she is greeted with suspicion and believed to be leading other Seekers to find them, but trust is built and in the end, the new “alien girl” decides to give her life to allow the original girl to come back and be with those she loves. The alien, who has lived a thousand years on several planets, states that only now, having met this host and her “family” does she finally have something (someone) worth dying for.
Many times when I speak at camps, and even this past weekend at a boys retreat, I challenge young people to watch for this theme, even (and especially) in secular films. One of the most powerful verses in the Bible says,
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Why is it that, in so many movies, books, poems and love songs, we see that the Ultimate Gift is someone willing to die for another? Here it was once again. An alien, who was once sent to destroy and replace, is now willing to lay down it’s own life to give life and love back to another. It is just a softer version of Terminator 2, where the “terminator” in the end gives his life to save humanity. “No, there is another,” says the robot, after they defeat the T1000, “but I cannot self destruct, you must destroy me.” Remember that? (See also: The Gospel According to Darth Vader)
Over and over you will see this theme, even in those who do not believe, or are not even aware that Someone gave their life for them. Nonbelievers can’t help it. Deep down they want to be loved so much that someone would die for them. Every single person on earth can’t help it. They wonder, “Would anyone love ME that much?” And this theme pops up over and over again in our films.
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Some One does, and He already did.
Watch for this in films. Watch for it in books and love songs and poetry. Look for the great themes of the epic story of God to be found throughout modern and ancient literature. They are all there, for the Story of God is written deeply on the hearts of man, even those who do not know His Story (history) or choose not to believe it.
I have a formula of “10 elements of Great Story” that are found in all the great stories and popular films. I won’t blog it, (I don’t want to spread it around too much) but I do share it when I speak at camp or at other in-person events. It is was the basis for my own novel, The Order of the Ancient.
I just thought it was interesting to see the element of sacrifice again in The Host last night. I wish more people would realize Someone died for them, and accept that Gift. If they would, more would be able to live the New Life that is offered as a result.
If you aren’t aware of Who I am speaking of, let me know, and I’ll fill you in.
I found the Lost Medallion! And with it, I traveled into the future and saw this movie that is coming out in theaters NEXT MONTH!
Here is my review, before the movie even hits theaters! Truly, the Medallion is powerful!
No worries, right before returning from the future, I replaced the Medallion to the place where I found it so as not to disturb the space time continuum – you really don’t want to mess with that! Last time I did, I nearly kissed my mom at a dance in the 50′s! McFly!
Anyway, I really enjoyed it. (Dare, I admit tissue needed at the end?)
It reminded me of The Princess Bride in that the story was written in response to requests from children (though not many people know the Princess Bride was written from a list of things the author’s daughter asked to be in a bedtime story) – In this movie, it was a group of gathered foster kids who asked for a story.
It also reminded me of Second Hand Lions in that while the sets and acting and effects may have been sub-par for a ‘realistic’ major motion picture, it wasn’t intended to be ‘realistic’ as it was a visualization of a story being told, and in that sense, it made it perfect. This isn’t to say the effects or acting were bad – it was quite elaborate and the settings were beautiful and exotic, just a little corn-ball at times in a fun way, similar to Second Hand Lions.
It also had tips of the hat to Indiana Jones in light hearted ways, but in the end, it was a movie with an obvious purpose: to address the need for kids to know they are special (a word almost over used).
The story teller is a man dropping by a foster home to drop some things off on his way to a play off game and after visiting with the host, an elderly woman, he conversationally learns a little about three news kids – each with unique needs. When he is mistaken as the Tuesday story teller, he gets roped into spinning a story, which he crafts using the names of the three new kids, each with character needs similar to their own.
Half way through the story, you see him glance at his tickets and you realize he has chosen to skip the game and continue his story for the sake of the kids who are glued to the story he is skillfully weaving… with the once withdrawn kids moving closer and engaging, much like the nephew in Princess Pride.
As for violence, there is one death that is a little awkward to the plot and seems a bit forced, but is planted in order to provide a parable for Christ’s sacrifice for us. An old man who was killed steps in front of the main character to save him. When asked why he would die for him, his dying words are, “Because a king once died for me.” The sudden attempt on the boy’s life by an otherwise comedic character seems a little out of place, but it serves the purpose of the parable as well as lightening the party who next must travel by water, a trip that would have certainly left the old man behind anyway. The primary villain kills a few of his underlings, but most of the violence happens behind a log or bush or is pretty tame.
While the story moves a bit slow at times and could have used some tighter editing, it has a message that is an important one that would be valuable for all children to view. I would especially recommend this movie to children who are in foster care – as it seems it would have a message of hope and value for them, when adults in their lives have let them down, God still has a purpose for them, and the message of “they are no accident” is rung loud and clear several time in this film. It is refreshing to see another movie produced with the goal of instilling positive messages to kids about their own value and God’s love for them. We need more movies like this.
The hardest line for me was the father who told his son, “Everything of value to me is buried in the ground,” referring to his deceased wife and the lost treasure, oblivious the message that communicates to his son – who is alive and standing right there. I would hope fathers watching would catch that blow, and ask themselves if their grief over life’s losses and their devotion to work ever communicates a lack of value placed on their children who are longing to be loved and valued by their dads.
The end has a very sweet twist I’ll save for your enjoyment that adds an extra special and unexpected heart tug outside of the Lost Medallion story itself, that adds value to the overall experience.
In short, support this film, and take your kids to see it in the theater. You’ll be glad you did.
Followers of my blog know I’m a Star Wars fan. People often laugh when they hear me say to my son in a deep voice, “Luke, I am your father.” He laughs, even though he doesn’t get the significance of the quote. Since he is only six, he hasn’t even sat through all the movies, though we have watched segments and he loves the original Clone Wars cartoons I have on my iPad before the freaky looking version came out that looks like a video game gone bad. (I’m not a fan of the current Clone Wars show – yuck!)
Tonight, Luke had trouble sleeping so he was lying on the couch down in my office while I worked and looking at all the items in my Star Wars ‘museum’ – and noticed I have a lot of Darth Vader figures and collectibles and asked, “Why do you like Darth Vader so much, when he is a bad guy?” Good question. I answered, “Luke, Darth Vader is the reason I love Star Wars so much – because Star Wars is a story of a bad guy who was saved because of the love of a son, a son named Luke.”
My Luke sat up. “Wait, you mean, THAT’s Luke’s father?” – and so the conversation began. It wasn’t that he didn’t know I’d always been immitating Darth Vader – but it kinda hit him that the bad guy was the good guy’s dad. I explained that Luke was separated from his dad when he was little, and he was told that Darth Vader killed his dad, so he hated Darth Vader. I went through a quick summary whole first movie, saving the princess and all, and how he watched as Darth Vader then killed his mentor Obiwon, and that made Luke hate him even more. And how in the next movie Yoda was training him to become a Jedi so he could fight Darth Vader but when his enemy captured his friends he ran off to save them, and battled him and it was only then that Darth Vader told him this incredible truth – that he didn’t kill Luke’s dad, he WAS Luke’s dad. My son was spell bound. We talked about how all of America was talking about this revelation when in happened in 1980. (Not until The Sixth Sense did a movie have such a great surprise, and this was still bigger.)
But then we talked about how Luke had every reason to despise or hate his father, but instead he chose to love him and feel pity for him. He even told his dad so. Even when his dad stopped believing in himself – “It is too late for me, son” – Luke never gave up on him! Luke even gave himself up in the third movie and let himself be captured to go and face Darth Vader and his even more evil boss, the Emperor! (Now Luke was on the edge of the couch.) There, the Emperor told him of the trap that would kill all his friends and that Luke would have to join the evil side, like his dad, or be destroyed. The Emperor wanted Luke to kill his own father. But Luke refused. He loved his dad, even though he had done so much bad. He refused to fight him – only defending himself as his father attacked him under the Emperors orders. But then Darth Vader got Luke angry. He told Luke if he didn’t turn to evil, he would go after Luke’s sister, and that got Luke upset and then Luke attacked Darth Vader to save his sister – he defeated Darth Vader and even cut off his hand to make his light saber fall away! Darth Vader was defenseless! Now Luke could have killed him if he wanted. Did Luke do it? No. He was good. The Emperor ordered him to kill his father and take his place – but Luke did the most amazing thing, he threw down his light saber and said, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” He spoke of his father like he was good. He spoke of the time when his father was a good Jedi, of the time when his father would have died to do the right thing, and chose now to die doing the right thing, as his father would have done long ago. He wanted his dad to see that he had raised a good son, willing to die for good, even though he himself had failed, he had succeeded in having a good son, a son willing to die for him.
I asked my son, “Would you die for an evil man?” My Luke said, “No way. I might die for a good person, but not for a bad guy.” And I said, “That is the whole point! The Bible says that a man might die for a good person, but no one would die for a bad person, but here Luke is willing to die for his father who is one of the worst men in the galaxy, the second in the command of the evil galactic Empire – out of love for him. And Darth Vader is seeing this display of love, and what do you think is going through his mind as he lays there thinking, he could have killed me, and I deserve it, because I was trying to kill him! And now he is going to die so that I can live?”
My Luke says, “He must feel very loved.” I said, “I bet he does.” The drama only intensifies from there. The evil Emperor comes down, and says, “So be it. Jedi.” (Said with condescending disgust.) “Only now, at the end, do you understand. If you will not turn to the dark side, then you will be destroyed.” It was, in truth, the Emperor, who was not understanding that a plan of Redemption was unfolding right before his very eyes. This master of evil was unable to see the conflict boiling up within his apprentice, Vader, whose murder he had just ordered – a plot that had been foiled by love. The Emperor bellows to Luke, “Your feeble skills are no match for the Power of the Dark Side!” When in truth, this act of sacrificial love by this young Jedi would prove more powerful than all this powerful master’s evil schemes!
And then the Emperor begins to electrocute him with that powerful blue lightening from his fingertips. Darth Vader rises and keeps looking back and forth between his son who is suffering in agony and this evil leader who is killing him realizing he has a choice to make. Save his son or stay with this evil Emperor, who would have had his son kill him. I’ve always wondered if this was when Darth Vader woke up and realized he would be replaced as soon as his leader found a stronger Number Two, despite Vader’s fierce loyalty.
The Emperor pauses, only for a moment, to say, “And now, young Skywalker, you will die.” During the final burst of lightening, Darth Vader looks back and forth a few more times, as if to antagonize the suffering audience some more, before making his choice. Finally breaking from his frozen state of inaction, he bursts into motion, lifts up the Emperor and tosses him over a railing and down into a reactor shaft where falls, wailing as he plummets, until finally, he dies.
Not only is Luke saved, but Darth Vader as well. When Luke says, “I must save you,” Darth Vader answers, “You already have.” Vader does not physically survive the ordeal, perhaps due to his battle with Luke or the lightening when he lifted the Emperor, but his redemption comes from his choice to save his son and turn back to the good side, and the evidence in the world of Star Wars, is his being seen with Obiwon and Yoda at the end of the film in their ghostly jedi forms from the after life. Indeed, the faith and love of a son, brought salvation to a man everyone else thought was unreachable.
I’m not really a science fiction fan – I enjoy other science fiction films, but the reason I love Star Wars is primarly the story of the Redemption of Darth Vader. There is a lot more to it than I even have gotten in to in this post. (Note that fact that Darth Vader could sense Luke’s presence on the Moon of Endor and the Emperor could not! The Emperor asked, “How do you know he is there?” Vader answers, “I sensed his presence.” – “Strange that I could not,” responds the Emperor. Not strange at all, he didn’t love Luke!)
My Luke and I ended up putting in the DVD to watch the end of the film – and then looking up Romans 5:6-8 and John 15:13
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I may pretend to have Jedi powers when I open automatic doors at the grocery store or open the garage door, but the truth is I am powerless. And I’m not a righteous person. I’m not even a good person. But God’s demonstrated his love toward me by having his Son lay down his life for me. He could have killed me for my sin – I deserve it as much as Darth Vader, for disobeying God. There is no one righteous enough to merit salvation. The real evil Emperor, Satan, has invited me to rule my own life at his side – but Jesus defeated him on the cross, dying in the process, for me.
Star Wars teaches us that there is NO ONE beyond hope. There is good in everyone – and we ought never give up hope on anyone. Love can conquer anything and anyone and that evil will ultimately be defeated by the Power of Love.
The Hobbit came as a delight to me. I knew it would be visually stunning and the music would be sweeping and amazing to listen to… but it also rose above the usual fluff of meaningless formalistic drivel that passes for entertainment today.
While much credit must be given to the author, Tolkein, Peter Jackson has done wonders to bring it to life, and capture the wonder of this timeless story. I am not one who is bothered by the three movie approach, but looking forward to it.
When I go to a movie, I ask, What is the Message of this story? What are the timeless truths? What are the transferable principles to real life? What drove the author to write the story? Why did the movie maker create this? What can I learn?
The Hobbit is loaded with life lessons that should not be missed. Some are obvious, others are more subtle – the subtle ones are the more powerful ones.
In this post, I’ll start with the obvious: The Lure of Adventure.
Bilbo, forgetting his Tookish roots, has settled into a life of comfort because of the culture in which he lives. It is not a bad culture, but a simple one. Then, Gandalf arrives to change all that, as Bilbo says, “In those days I was always respectable, and nothing unexpected ever happened.”
“Good Morning,” is Bilbo’s greeting as the wizard approaches. To which the wizard responds to catch him off guard,
“What do you mean? Do you mean to wish me a good morning or do you mean it is a good morning whether I want it or not? Or perhaps you mean to say that you feel good on this particular morning? Or are you simply stating that this is a morning to be good on?”
Thus begins the breakdown of Bilbo’s simple life. Next comes the uninvited quests, the knowledge of a quest, and the introduction of a contract which includes details of “incineration” and even funeral arrangements! It is more than this little hobbit can bear. He is certain Gandalf has made a mistake in choosing him to join this motley crew, and tells him so!
The wise wizard challenges him, after he says he just wants to sit awhile…
You have been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me, when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young hobbit who was always running off in search of elves and wolves, and staying up late and coming home after dark trailing mud and twigs and fire flies. A young hobbit who would like nothing better than to find out was was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps, its out there.
What are your doilies or dishes? What things keep you from adventure? Do we get content in life? Do we avoid “adventure” when it comes our way because we become complacent in our comfortable life? Are we afraid to take chances because of the risks involved? As Gandalf admits, safety is never promised. He tells Bilbo there is no promise of coming back, other than that that he will not be the same. Adventure changes us. However, he offers him something better than safety, when he says,
“You will have a tale yourself to tell when you come back.”
What tales do you have to tell? Too many people merely arrive at death safely and have no tales to tell of a life of adventure! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by one of our most famous presidents who died reading a book – he was always learning -
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” – Theodore Roosevelt
So the The Hobbit addresses adventure from two sides – it asks both, are you are willing to GO on an adventure? But it also asks, have you invited anyone to join you who otherwise doesn’t seem ready? Have you called someone to see something in themselves that they are unable yet to see by themselves? That is what leadership is all about. It is being the wizard to a hobbit. So you may be the hobbit who needs to GO, or you may be the wizard who needs to CALL. Only you can answer that. Sometimes we are one or the other in different life situations.
If you are the wizard, notice how Gandalf played his hand. He laid out the challenge. And then while Bilbo slept, the party left. The offer was made, but he did not force Bilbo to go. They left the house better than they found it, and went on their way.
Bilbo awoke to an empty, clean, and quiet house. Gandalf made him feel the emptiness of his life – he was confronted with the pointlessness of his now old life, and he knew if he didn’t run after them now, he would regret it forever. And run he did!
His first pull back to his old life came when he realized he had forgotten a small comfort of home – a handkerchief, but his new guide had to remind him he had made a choice, and life would now forever be different.
You will have to manage without pocket handkerchiefs and a good many other things, Bilbo Baggins, before we reach our journey’s end. You were born to the rolling hills and rivers of the Shire, but home is now behind you, the world is ahead.
Whenever there is a cultural phenomenon like Hunger Games, what is seldom asked is why so many people are drawn to the movie.
There has been a great deal of discussion over whether the movie is a good or evil and what the deeper messages of the books and film are, but when James Cameron’s Titanic broke all previous records, the block buster sales taught us a lot more about a woman’s desire to find a man willing to die for her, than it did about a famous ship’s collision with an ice berg. What does 450 million dollars in three weeks tell us about our culture? Money spent to see a young girl defy a culture devoid of morals and that devalues human life? Especially when the young people flocking to see the film live in a culture nearly devoid of morals and that ever increasingly devalues human life? It’s a bit ironic!
Perhaps the young people we are wringing our hands over (who are a product of today’s adults, by the way) are not as ignorant and naive as we think. Perhaps they see what is happening in the world around them and they are hungry for a savior? Have we gotten so out of touch with our culture today that they can’t see the Church and Christ as the Answer? Have we become so like the world that they see no difference? (Statistics would suggest so.)
May there be Katniss Everdeens among our young people willing to stand up to the World, who might discover the real Christ and find that they can fight the World, not lose who they are. May they discover that they can be in the World, but not of it, and make a real difference! May what they Hunger for be found in Christ – even if the Church and those who profess Christ have let them down and failed to reflect Him accurately.
Perhaps the popularity of this film reflects not a love of violence but an awareness that not all is well in our culture and what entertains the adults above them. Could it be this film reflects a hunger for someone to stand up against it all and say, “Enough is Enough. No more.”
It ought to be us, but it may need to be a new generation of youth must rise to lead the charge. Hunger Games may just wake some up. Wouldn’t that be a twist?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
See Also: Hunger Game Titled Wrong?
“A little bit of hope,” the President says, is what is needed, “but not too much.” Just the right amount, he says, is far better than fear for controlling the masses. This is one of the many messages of the Hunger Games, a movie that blew away Twilight on its opening night, and in its second week, has given a beating at the box office to Mirror Mirror and Wrath of the Titans combined.
What is so powerful about this movie? Young people are flocking to the movie, and others, like myself, are going to see what all the fuss is about. The plot, at its simplest description, is revolting to many – randomly selected kids killing kids in a nationwide politically motivated reality TV show to keep down any future rebellious uprisings. At a deeper level, it is symbolic of the loss of innocence of our generation. While it was difficult to watch, I found it no more violent than the average video game I’ve seen even Christian kids playing. (A statement of fact, not approval.) What makes it especially difficult is that the audience is drawn toward rooting for the main characters, but for these protagonists to “win,” they must kill other children. The fighters, or “tributes,” are given a mentor who is a previous victor of this game. His first bit of advice, given while drunk (since even he seems to understand the grim nature of what is to come and the unlikeliness of their success), is simply, “Embrace the probability of your imminent death; and know deep down in your heart, that there is nothing I can do to save you.”
I’ll leave story summaries and deeper analysis to those who can do it better (See Glen Wood’s Review), but for me, I am glad to have seen it so that I can get a glimpse into where our culture is, and where it is going. I did not find it as shocking as I expected it to be. The plot was not overly original; there have been many films of this nature. Claude Van Damme’s Hard Target used homeless people, for example, and there are many others with a “kill or be killed” plot. What made this different, of course, was the introduction of young kids and the nationwide reality TV show.
I met a family member of the author at my viewing of the show and have extended an invitation to do an interview with Suzanne Collins, who wrote both the books and the film adaptation. While I won’t hold my breath, I would love to know, beyond the basic plot/story, what message she was trying to communicate. What trends does she see in our country and culture that concern her? It is easy to jump all over “kids killing kids” in a movie and get irate, but do we give the same passion to the REAL killing of kids happening around us? Do we get equally upset by the desensitizing of kids to others by the way we idolize those who are attractive, or smart or from certain economic classes or races? (This is addressed in the film by the way those who are free look down on those in the districts from whom the ‘tributes’ come.) Do we get worked up about sex trafficking and child abuse and kids who are home alone so their parents can work more than necessary to acquire the “American Dream” while these kids are essentially abandoned? Do we get worked up over the promiscuity of girls trying to live up to what the world says they need to be in order to be loved or desired? Are we equally concerned about the drug use or crime of boys trying to impress each other and feel powerful and successful because that is what the media and entertainment world say is what it means to be a man? It’s always easy to get worked up over a movie because it’s a stationary target – whereas these other things are more fluid and moving, and (gulp) we are guilty of them as well. We wouldn’t want to shoot ourselves by shooting at them.
Yes, Hunger Games is violent. Our culture is violent.
Yes, Hunger Games has people obsessed with reality TV. So is our culture.
Yes, Hunger Games shows a lack of value for human life. Bingo.
Maybe Hunger Games is should have been titled Mirror Mirror?
Join the Discussion about Hunger Games on Kidology.org
These are words that get tossed loosely around the Church between the donuts and Sunday bulletins. They are often just technical jargon we all must learn to speak in order to fit in with little impact on hearts and souls. We can hide hurt behind smiles and speak the church lingo without really understanding the depth of what these words were meant to provide.
But there comes a time in everyone’s life when the meaning of these words is transformed from church jargon to life-saving concepts that truly save a person from self-destruction and despair.
It may be the discovery of a painful truth, a deeply hurtful choice of another person, or a sinful choice for which the consequence was far greater or faster than one imagined. Suddenly Grace is sought. Forgiveness is desperately wanted. Healing is needed. But it can seem to be a thousand miles away.
Such is the story behind the movie October Baby. It opens in select theaters MARCH 23rd, and it is well worth your time to go see, even if the topic doesn’t appeal to you initially. The story is one of a young girl struggling with Asthma and Epilepsy who discovers at age 19 that not only is she adopted, but she is an ‘abortion survivor.’ These are two words most people have never even seen next to each other. Against her parents wishes, she heads off on a road trip to discover the truth about her past. The movie is beautifully filmed, superbly acted, and has an engaging sound track. While the story itself is touching (and a bit romantic), the underlying message was of greater significance to me.
While the website for the film offers lots of help for teens and woman who are certain to be impacted by the messages related to adoption, abortion, recovery, etc. – and this is a good thing – I found the overall message of grace and forgiveness to be the most moving aspect of the film.
Forgiveness is needed in several directions throughout the film – to be given and received. Too often we are focused on wanting to be forgiven and forget we need to give forgiveness. Or we realize we need to forgive someone but fail to realize that they need to hear that we forgive them.
As an adoptive dad, I loved the underlying message of this movie that every child needs to feel wanted. More parents need to take the time to make sure their children KNOW they are loved and wanted unconditionally, regardless of their mistakes and failures; that nothing threatens that love.
This is a movie worth going to see. First of all, just from a cinematic point of view, it’s not one of those lame Christian movies. (Thank goodness.) While the topic may seem “heavy,” the producers did an excellent job of keeping it fun, romantic, and engaging, with a bit of detective work on the main character’s part and some family drama It’s not too preachy, and it accomplishes its purpose without insulting the audience by spelling everything out for them like most poorly made Christian films do. Secondly, it draws you into the story and characters while never creating any real antagonists – just real people dealing with real life. Things are tied up in the end, but not too perfectly to make it unrealistic.
Lastly, I get tired of Christians complaining that no wholesome movies are made anymore, and then when those rare movies do come out, they don’t go see them, opting for the DVD release instead. Then they go spend their money at the box office on the movies that supposedly offended them. If you truly want to see more wholesome movies at the box office, dollars are the only way to vote for them. So visit a theater on March 23rd, and go see October Baby!
I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on opening night with seven other grown men and had a great time chompin’ pop-corn and watchin’ Indy crack his whip and knuckles again after a 19 year break from the silver screen. How was the movie? Fun. Was it spectacular? Nah.
But I’ve actually been getting a kick out of listening to and reading all the negative reviews of the movie. While I agree with most of them as to whether the movie is on par with Raiders or Last Crusade (Temple seems to be nearly universally hated) – I’ve got a different take on it.
Like Star Wars Episode I, which came out 20 years after the last Star Wars film, Indy 4 was doomed to be criticized by those who loved the first three. (or at least two of the first three.) Interestingly, Episode I was met with mostly whining and complaining by all the twenty or thirty-something year old men (like me) who saw their first Star Wars film when they were a boy, but was loved by all the young boys who saw it. Hmmmm. Could it be it wasn’t really made for us grown ups? Yes, I hate Jar-Jar, but is Chewbacca really that much more believable or sophisticated? Would we really have loved Star Wars so much if we’d been our current age, then? My dad doesn’t seem as obsessed with Star Wars as I am, and he saw them all with me. I wonder why. Oh, yeah, he saw them as a grown up.
Which brings me to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The issue isn’t that Harrison Ford is too old. The issue is that we are. He did a remarkably great job doing an older, worn out Indy who could still crack a joke as well as a whip. In fact, he probably brought the most spark to the film. Indy 4 (a much easier to type title) had a no-win challenge. If it did what could be done 20+ years ago, we’d say it felt dated and didn’t take advantage of modern technology. If it did take advantage of today’s technology, then we’d say it lost the feel of the original films. Either way it can’t live up the expectation of being an Indiana Jones movie of the 70′s or barely 80′s. We want the movie to do to us NOW what the originals did to us then… too bad. We grew up. That’s one of the costs of growing up. We start to criticize and analyze too much. When we were kids, we just went to the movies and got lost in it. Those were good times.
My parents left me in the theater ALL DAY when Raiders came out. We were on vacation – I’d come to the doors at the front of the theater and signal thumbs up or thumbs down if I was going to stay in and watch again, or if I wanted them to pick me up. (In those days, they allowed you to pay once and stay and watch as many times as you wanted.) I stayed all day and watched it as many times as it showed that day.
So, yes. Indy 4 lacked the magic I hoped for – but I don’t blame the movie. I blame my age. But it was a fun film. A little far fetched at times, but, hey! It’s a movie! Ever hear a kid complain that a movie was too far fetched? I thought it was less scary, less gross and had less sexual humor than the earlier ones – and all the adventure and mystery for the most part. Realistic? Not a bit. Just the way a movie is supposed to be.
I’d love to be a kid again, but if I can’t, the next best thing is going to a good adventure movie. Pass the pop corn.
(You can read the official Kidology Review by Pastor Marty Martin on Kidology.org, he covers the Christian concerns angle so I didn’t bother here.)
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I had another Veggie Marketing sighting when I went to see National Treasure 2. (my first sighting) This was a framed poster in the theater – pretty cool!
The movie hits theaters on January 11th! Let me encourage you to take the family and GO SEE IT! It is a great movie, but besides that, we need to show Universal that good wholesome, even Christian, movies are worth investing in! If this movie doesn’t do well in theaters we risk losing the argument that “Hollywood” refuses to produce good movies and help them in their argument that they don’t because people don’t go to see them. Do your part and support the film in the theaters so the market will be encouaged to make more clean wholesome fun entertainment for the kids of America!
Allow to me share an excerpt from what I wrote to Phil and Mike to thank them for participating in the Veggie Pirates Q and A on Kidology:
The Pirates film is FANTASTIC and I am praying that God will really use this as an opportunity to show the secular media world that Good entertainment is a worthy investment. I hope that many people will see it in the theaters to boost its success.
I know that the “Christian market” is tricky… – thanks for doing what it takes to communicate Truth to a lost but entertainment hungry world.
You two are star players in my opinion of meeting the enemy on his own turf and giving Truth a good name where it really matters – shining light in the darkness – and providing laughs at the same time. It’s actually rather profound what you are accomplishing.
As I mentioned in my review, this is a very fun film and well worth the cost of admission. For a ton of fun supporting materials about the movie, visit the Kidology Veggie Pirate Page!