Insurgent – Not A Review


InsurgentAs you might expect if you read my post on Cinderella, I am choosing not to do a formal review of the movie Insurgent, based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth, because it’s been out so long, undoubtedly all the review-ish things that could be said have already been said. No point for me to repeat them.

Rather, I’ll give my rambling, disorganized thoughts as they come to me.

First, I was surprised. I liked the movie a lot more than I expected to. I was glad I saw the first in the series, Divergent, but I didn’t think it was particularly well done. I thought there were plot holes and unexplained world issues. This second installment didn’t have the same problems, I didn’t think.

I still didn’t find myself particularly attached to Tris. She’s lost her mother, her father, any number of friends, is being hunted down, turned away by other factions, abandoned by her brother, made out to be a liar and a criminal, but the person she hates is herself. I didn’t connect with her feelings, I don’t think.

Her self-hatred is an internal struggle that’s played out consistently throughout the movie, but I missed knowing what her external goals were. Mostly Four made the decisions and Tris went along, until she decided to turn herself in and until she decided to stay and open the box. Those were actually spur of the moment decisions instead of goals which she struggled to achieve. In fact, once she made up her mind to act, there really was no struggle preventing her from achieving what she had determined she needed to do.

So there really wasn’t a lot for me to cheer her toward. I wanted her to survive, but I didn’t feel as if I was in her corner, pulling for her to succeed—mostly because I didn’t have a clear idea what “succeed” would look like.

The theme of the story was crystal clear—forgive yourself. It’s a nice sentiment, but the thing is, our offenses aren’t only against ourselves. Tris had killed one of her friends—not out of anger but as a matter of survival. He was acting as a hypnotic drone and didn’t realize what he was doing when he followed orders to kill her. She defended herself and killed him instead.

Was she guilty of murder? No.

The thing was, many other people died, too, and yet it was this one death that haunted her because she knew this guy and called him a friend. His death, and all the others, had far reaching effects. Other people loved and needed him and the others. But the most important thing, according to the movie, was that Tris forgive herself.

So on one hand the deaths of all the others were devalued, and on the other, Tris’s sense of guilt was elevated to a position of primary importance. There was no confession, no repentance—only regret—and yet you know she would do the same thing again if put in the same set of circumstances.

In the end, “forgive yourself” is a false message, which we Christians know, because if forgiving ourselves was all we needed, then Christ didn’t have to die.

But He did die because the only way our actual sins can be forgiven is with the unblemished, spotless blood of the sinless Christ Jesus who became our sacrifice, once for all, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.

At the end of the movie, the big reveal informs the characters and the audience alike that the entire life lived in the city, divided into factions, was a grand, social-engineering experiment to see if they could achieve peace. Supposedly the existence of one individual, a divergent with all the traits of all the factions, was proof that the experiment worked.

I’m not sure how the social engineers figured that one out. It simply wasn’t true. The woman in charge planned to squelch the explanation of their existence in the city and kill the divergents who were supposedly the mark of success. The city, quite frankly, was a shambles. It was a ruins from one end to the other except where the faction headquarters were. I think they forgot “construction workers”—those social engineers—because everything was falling apart.

But I did like the movie. I did. It’s given me some interesting things to think about. 😉

Published in: on June 18, 2015 at 7:40 pm  Comments Off on Insurgent – Not A Review  
Tags: , , , ,

Exodus Movie – A Review


Moses004I was trying to think of some clever way to say, Exodus: Gods And Kings is a bad movie, but it honestly isn’t worth the effort. I suppose many people have already either seen it or made the informed decision to stay away. I, on the other hand, wanted to see this one because I missed Noah. Bad as the reviews were of the latter—or controversial—I still had wanted to make my own assessment.

Exodus wasn’t even good enough to be controversial.

Some time ago, I read a good article by Brian Godawa stating that Christians were foolish to think atheists could make good movies of Bible stories. They don’t believe in the truth of the supernatural as the Bible records it, so they will always mythologize it to fit their own tastes.

The problem is that in actual practice, “non-believers” by definition do not believe in the sacred story. Therefore, they will by necessity rewrite the story through their own non-believing paradigm, whether more subtly (Exodus) or more explicitly (Noah). Most people know this as “spin.” News flash: Every storyteller spins according to their paradigm or worldview. (“Can Atheists Make Good Bible Movies?”)

Based on that post, I was ready for the strange things atheist director Ridley Scott did with the supernatural events in the Exodus story—which, if you know your Bible, is present from start to finish. Well, let’s say I was ready for everything but the . . . ah, portrayal of God.

I suppose Scott was going for the antithesis to the cliched grandfather-ish image so often associated with God. His depiction was a boy about eight years old, with a strange accent. The problem was, this god was never clear what he wanted Moses to do; he never equipped Moses with the rod of God, never had him tell Pharaoh to let His people go. Rather, in the end, Moses declares the Hebrews are his people, not god’s.

Add in the fact that a disbelieving Moses first encountered God after he’d been injured in an avalanche. Throughout, there’s the lingering suggestion that Moses was simply delusional.

But I could handle that and chalk it up to a lesson about how atheists view a Bible story filled with God’s presence and the miraculous.

This movie, however, did not succeed as a movie either. What was it, a love story? No. The romance was fleeting at best. Was it a brother versus brother story as we’re led to believe at the beginning? Well, not really. Moses did not confront Pharaoh before each plague and demand that he release the Hebrews. And there was no great conflict between the two at the end. In other words, there was no resolution to their conflict.

Was it a coming of age story? That might be the closest, but it’s a bit odd to have such a story about a forty year old man, though Moses looks much younger in the movie and only passed nine years in the wilderness after he fled Pharaoh’s palace.

That and any number of other things took some getting used to. For instance, Moses consulted a map when he led the people from Egypt—no cloud by day or pillar of fire by night to lead the movie Hebrews. And when they got to the Red Sea with no visible crossing, Moses was sure he’d made the worst mistake of his life. Of course a way opened, but not on dry land. I kept wondering when the dry land would appear. It didn’t. The sea just got shallow enough for them to wade across.

Not only did the movie lack focus, which in the real version is centered on God’s actions on behalf of His people in answer to their cries to Him for relief from the oppression under which they suffered, but Scott’s version of Exodus was paced far too slowly and dragged on far too long.

All this to say, I’m glad I only paid $2 to see the movie. It was worth that much, but I couldn’t recommend it to anyone thinking about buying the DVD. Unless you simply want to see how an atheist mind handles Biblical truth, this movie really isn’t worth the time it took to watch it.

Published in: on February 9, 2015 at 7:38 pm  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Catching Fire – A Unique Point Of View


catching_fire_coverLast Friday I went to see Catching Fire, the second movie based on Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. I have a unique perspective on the movie because, unlike the majority of people who have seen, or are planning to see, it, I have neither read the books nor seen the first movie.

Consequently, my opinion of Catching Fire is largely formed by the movie itself. I say “largely” because I have been a party to more than one discussion of the Hunger Games books, and therefore have some familiarity with the direction the story is taking.

Nevertheless, my view is probably as untainted as is possible to get in this communication age in which we live.

First, I liked the movie a great deal and found myself thinking about the story long afterward. True, I was thinking about writing a review, so in some ways, my dwelling on it isn’t a sign of affirmation. However, I think the more I’ve taken a closer look, the better the movie gets.

When I walked out of the theater, I was captivated by the fast action and very aware that I didn’t really know the main character, Katniss, at all. She was a pretty girl, sensitive to others, even tenderhearted. But she had some steel inside her, which is why she was able to win in the games.

That steel inside, or backbone, was also the thing that the people saw and admired, together with her caring. She felt the way they felt, grieved with them, and cared about those they held in esteem. She was someone they could rally around.

But that’s it. I don’t know Katniss beyond those points. She loved her sister and apparently her childhood friend and sweetheart, but also her companion and fellow champion. She didn’t seem conflicted by loving two guys at the same time because her life was reduced to survival.

Yet oddly, it was Peeta who pointed out to her that she needed to live for her family and for the guy who loved her rather than sacrificing herself for him. She, it seemed, was all too willing to die for him, though he had no family and no one apart from Katniss to love.

I guess that made me think she was a bit shortsighted. And in the end, when it’s apparent that others have realized she is a symbol of hope to the nation when she herself is unaware of it, my thoughts of her limited vision are born out.

In many respects, Katniss mostly wanted to escape, not fight, the system that oppressed her and the nation. She tried to get Gale to leave with her before she was called back into the games. She entered intent to take no allies apart from Peeta. At one point she said she didn’t have friends, and that wasn’t true, but it showcased her desire to keep people at arm’s distance as a way to protect herself from the pain of seeing them die, or of having to take the blow for them.

In many ways, Catching Fire is an issues movie. Yes, the action is filled with tension, but the real question isn’t will Katniss survive. It’s what will Katniss decide to do? Will she step up and seize the role that her nemesis, President Snow, fears she will take?

In the end, she doesn’t. She actually becomes a symbol without meaning to and with others manipulating events around her to bring it about.

I’m left, then, with disappointment. The people want hope and they have it, but not because the heroine has chosen to side with them or to lead them. She’s thrust into the circumstance of being a leader of a cause, just as surely as she was thrust into the games. She thinks about one person at a time–her sister, Peeta, the other competitors–but in fact, her actions have far-reaching impact on many, many others.

In the long run, I’m glad I saw the movie, and if the third in the trilogy came out tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’d make every effort to see it. But at this point, I don’t see Katniss as a character I care for deeply. I don’t know her well and don’t believe she is trying to accomplish anything of great significance. If she could, I’m sure she’d escape with Gale and be done with the whole thing. But she can’t.

So the new question is like the old one: what will Katniss do now?

A worthwhile movie which is generating some thoughtful conversation.

%d bloggers like this: