Archive for the ‘ Drama ’ Category

God’s Not Dead

20140408-122053.jpgWhat would you do if you showed up at your new college, went to your philosophy class, and were ordered by your professor to agree that “God is dead”? What would you do if he told you that your refusal to sign would require you to prove in three lectures that God is not dead? What if your girlfriend threatened to leave you and your professor to ruin you if you took the challenge?

For Josh Wheaton, college freshman and dedicated Christian, there can be only one answer.

Take the challenge and tell the world that God is definitely not dead. In fact, He’s very much alive.

The Live

This is a film that clearly proclaims the gospel, along with the power and goodness of God. It doesn’t get too preachy, and does a pretty good job weaving Christianity into the story naturally. It also does a pretty good job of weaving a lot of different storylines together. Each storyline has a slightly different message to offer. Josh learns that God will bless his faith and his courage. A pastor learns that being faithful in the little things is just as important as “being on the front lines” and that God is in control of everything–even cars that refuse to start. A conflicted girlfriend learns to see herself the way God does, and that she doesn’t need attention from anyone to make her worthy. And yet not everyone learns better. A quintessentially selfish businessman exits the story the exact same man as when he entered it.

None of these morals hit the audience over the head too badly, with some of them even left to the viewer to figure out for themselves. Everyone doesn’t live happily ever after, but the central characters do discover God’s faithfulness.

The film is also technically excellent. The cinematography was artistic without trying to be too clever, and the filmmakers did a good job overall of showing instead of telling. The acting was superb almost across the board, and the emotion was portrayed powerfully. Together, these aspects create a film that definitely has the potential to inspire and get people thinking.

The Deadly

Unfortunately, the film had too many flaws for me to wholeheartedly endorse it as I wish I could. Almost all the characters are unrealistic and two-dimensional from beginning to end, making it hard to take their lessons seriously. All the atheists in the story are stereotypically and over-the-top bad, with one even remarking “I’m the meanest person I know.” One atheist is outright verbally abusive, to the point that I was honestly a bit scared when one scene left him alone in an elevator with the protagonist. Not only is this not true to real life (many atheists are kind people, and most mean people hide it a little better than these characters), but it gets a little tiring to watch after awhile.

To be fair, the atheists aren’t the only mean ones. One character’s Christian girlfriend angrily leaves him because what he believes to be the right thing to do might interfere with her plans for their lives. My question is why he didn’t see her selfishness previously in their six-year dating relationship, especially since it was obvious to me in the first ten minutes of the film.

But then, there are a lot of confusing or just plain absent motivations in this film. One major character has a sudden dramatic change of heart for unclear reasons… presumably because his girlfriend stood up to him and an eighteen-year-old kid humiliated him in front of his class. Other characters swing from one state of mind to the next with seemingly small reasons.

On a theological note, the idea of trying to prove or defend God is shaky at best. For one thing, the very idea that anything can prove God implies that something has higher authority than He does. For another, statistics and science cannot convince someone to believe. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Yes, He can use anything to touch people’s hearts for Him. But turning to reason as a basis for faith is troubling. We don’t believe because our minds are convinced, we believe because our hearts are changed by God.

I also found Josh’s answer to the question of why there is evil in the world concerning. Whether you believe in free will or not, his reply didn’t indicate that evil has any greater purpose in God’s plan, which is a very depressing point of view, and not one that I believe Scripture teaches.

The Verdict

From my criticisms, it probably sounds like I hated God’s Not Dead. I didn’t. I thought it had merit, and even that it was worth seeing. I think it has the potential to be used by God. I’m grateful for the courage that led the filmmakers to boldly and openly proclaim our King.

I was just disappointed to see that in the end, the story wasn’t able to shake off many of the stereotypes, bad writing, and unrealistic content that has tended to characterize Christian films. It accomplished a lot of things. I just hope that we’ll start seeing some Christian films with better writing in the near future.

I’d give this one 2.5 stars out of five.

After Earth

After-Earth-2013-Forest-ViewThousands of years in the future, man no longer lives on earth. They live on foreign planets. Full of terrible creatures and inhospitable conditions. The reason for this? Pollution of course. Destruction of the natural resources resulted in a planet barren and uninhabitable. However, Earth is a fighting planet, and through the course of thousands of years, it has regrown and rebirthed. Earth remembers what killed it for centuries- Man. So now, everything has regrown and evolved to do one thing.

Kill Humans.

So the humans live on other worlds, relying on the Rangers to protect them against fearsome beasts. The greatest of these beasts is the Ursa. A creature who cannot see, but hunts through sensing fear in its prey. They are deadly, as one look at them and instant your heart would jump into your mouth. Kitai’s father, has been the only one to “Ghost” or to be completely without fear in the face of certain death, and has killed many- protecting the remaining mankind. Kitai desires, and longs to be a Ranger like his father, but events of the past and decisions of the present have kept him from realizing this goal.

When his father invites him on a spaceship ride to accompany him on a mission, he accepts. But something goes terribly wrong, a space storm hits their ship, and they must crash land, then survive, on one planet.

That Planet, is earth.

Things I Liked

Cypher, Katai’s father, is man respected in the world, but not by his son. When he comes back from a trip, we see the divide between him and his family. His wife offers some excellent advice, when he voices his displeasure at being so distant from his son. “Katai doesn’t need a commanding officer, he needs a father.“. The next day, we see Cypher put that advice into action. He not only intentionally pursues and builds a better relationship with his son throughout this film, but also listens to and supports his wife in a sensitive way. Cypher is humanity’s best and most reliable solider, but he also has a heart who loves his family. That’s a real man.

Katai deals with many emotional wounds of the past, mainly the fact his sister was brutally mauled and killed by an Ursa when his father was away. He witnessed it at a very young age, but lived because she kept him sealed in a special case of glass. He feels guilt, anger, and confusion because of this event. He lashes out at his father, but Cypher always is there to firmly challenge him on what he thought. Never does Cypher tell him whether he was right or wrong. He treats his son like a man, and makes him figure it out for himself. To get past his fear, and to live decisively.

In the end this results in an incredibly display of father and son love and commitment to the other. It is the largest theme of this movie, and is portrayed in an excellent manner.

A solider, who just lost a leg, stands himself up to salute Cypher to show respect.

Things I Didn’t Like

There are a lot of graphic images of humans being killed, or have been killed by the Ursa. This includes men being impaled through the chest, mauled and thrown, and crushed. After the ship crashes, we are shown many dead bodies strewn throughout the wreckage. Later we see the other survivors, who left the ship, dead- impaled on trees. We see a pile of dead monkey bodies, limbs, and other appendages strewn across a clearing after a predator has done its work.

Cypher sustains some serious wounds in the crash, and he has to do some bloody work on himself to survive. This was more gruesome than the actual battles shown with the Ursa, as the blood flows freely on screen.

Kitai also has to face many dangerous things on earth. He is bitten by a leech and has to inject himself with serum to survive. He fights with a straight Sythe, which he uses to cut animals who would attack him. W In a dream he sees his sister with a bloody and beaten up face, who then warns Katai to wake up. The image is short, but creepy nonetheless.

Closing Thoughts

Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed. ~Cypher~

While advertised to be a survival action flick, After Earth delivers a surprisingly rich and message driven plot. One often lost in Science fiction movies. The movie shows a type of “Rite of Passage” for Kitai. He must deal with and face his past guilt. His indecision, his anger toward his father, and his pride in his abilities. Through the journey of recovering a rescue beacon, he learns being a Ranger is more than just following orders and Having skills. It is a matter of Character.

What is most sweet about this learning process, is his dad guides him through the entire process. Even though Kitai is at odds with him, and Cypher shows barely any love for his son, in the end, they work as a team which each learns from the other. They sacrifice for the other and work towards the common goal- working out disagreements and distrust. It was great to see a semi-accurate development of a father son bond, with respect going both ways by the completion of the journey.

This movie is also devoid of innapropriate sexual content, foul language, and over the top ridiculous special effects. It tells a uplifting story of boy and father versus the wild. I will say, the battles of boy vs beasty are quite intense, and there are some graphic images of dead animals, and people killed by the Ursa. This is what earned the film the PG-13 rating, and you should be aware of that if you check this one out.

To put it simply, After earth is everything it should be, and hardly anything it shouldn’t. Strong positive messages about the importance of family over careers, concepts of fear- how misplaced it is, and the growth of a boy into a man is something not only to applaud, but also to support and reflect upon.

Remember the Titans

remember_the_titansBased heavily on a real life drama, Remember the Titans is a story set in 1971 Virginia, amidst the tension of forced integration between black and white schools.

Denzel Washington plays coach Boone, a no-nonsense taskmaster sent to Williams High (the white school that the black school is integrating into) to replace the leadership of the much loved white coach Yoast. Despite their difference in coaching styles, and the less than ideal circumstances in which they are placed, these two men must battle their own pride and bigotry in order to lead their team of athletes not only on the field in victory, but also through the turmoil of life and a divided community.

Positive Elements

I’m really not sure where to begin because honestly, this is one of the best movies I have seen in years. I’m not sure how this beautiful movie (and the real-life story) managed to evade me for so long!

Remember the Titans is a spectacular, powerful film that shows virtuous behavior, projects an old-fashioned respect for discipline, teaches integrity, honors the Christian faith, and depicts real character-building lessons throughout the movie.

We see coaches stand up to corruption and make choices as to whether they want to be men of integrity, or whether they are willing to compromise what is right in order to get what they really want. We see an injured player refuses to wallow in self-pity. We see boys become men, learn about real friendship, undergo tremendous personal growth—even minor characters experience growth.

The real focus of this film (character-wise) centers on the shoulders of Coach Yoast and Coach Boone, two men who were as extraordinary in real life, as they were in the film. However, this movie was filled with many other great characters, especially when it came to the boys on the football team. However, my favorite duo (besides the coaches) were Gary and Julius, two young men that start out the movie with nothing but hatred towards one another for the color of their skin, but quickly learn to respect one another and become much more than just fellow teammates. These two boys also provide great opportunity to discuss the type of team leadership that’s necessary to bring guys together for a common cause.

Negative Elements

This film has no drug content, no sexual content, no crud humor, and next to no violence (other than the typical bruising that comes with the football turf). In fact, the only negative elements to this movie are as follows:

According to Walt Disney Studios chair Peter Schneider, Titans underwent severe rewrites after the script was brought to him. In the original script, every third word was the n-word, every fourth word was the f-word, and every sixth word was the s-word, which didn’t fly. Before the film was given the okay by Peter Schneider and the two real life coaches, Boone and Yoast, all that remained were less than a handful of mild profanities.

In addition to the profanity, Remember the Titans obviously has some racial issues surging through it. A brick is thrown through Coach Boone’s house window. His wife hurries the children into another room while Coach Boone grabs a rifle and prepares to shoot the trespassers. Nobody comes in, though; all we see is a car speeding away. This is not the only instance where racial violence is shown, but it should be noted that this movie does not support racism in any way. It boldly decimates the dividing lines between segregation and has several powerful scenes that deal with the negative effects of racism.

Controversy

Since seeing Remember the Titans I have had several people say that they are surprised I saw the film due to the fact that it portrays a homosexual character. Because I know this is the reason why many people will not see this movie, I thought it was worth addressing in its own category.

Here is a quote from someone who saw the film and felt that Sunshine’s character promoted homosexuality: “Sunshine’s shower scene where he kissed another player in an attempt to seduce him was disgraceful. Disney’s attempt to include this behavior on a equal social level with racial concerns was disgusting and obviously in an effort to normalize and encourage acceptance!”

Now, I would like to point out that Sunshine does kiss another character in an attempt to “pay back” an offensive comment made earlier by the character getting kissed (Gerry). However, it was not sexual in any way, but rather locker room tomfoolery used to put Gerry in his place (though I don’t condone this use of tomfoolery).

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the character of Sunshine was not gay. When his father (a military man who has served with black men on the front lines and therefore he and his son “sunshine” have no tolerance for bigotry and racism) brings him to training camp, Gerry yells “hey you fruitcake!” Gerry makes this comment because Sunshine (who’s real name we never learn) shows up to camp with long blond hair (he and his Father just transferred from California where Sunshine liked to ride the waves).

Now, the thing to remember about this movie is first of all, the time period. This is the south in the early 1970’s. Long hair on a young man back then insinuated that he was a hippie, a drug addict, or gay. Therefore, upstanding young men like Gerry would not associate with someone who looked like Sunshine because of the association his hair carried. It was another form of discrimination, essentially.

Coach Boone offers Sunshine a place on the team for two reasons. 1.) he’s got good skills, and 2.) he comes from an environment that doesn’t tolerate racism, which would be a valuable asset to the team, especially considering their struggles with the topic. However, coach Boone has one requirement. Sunshine has to cut his hair, which he willingly does.

Sunshine is not gay. He’s not a hippie. He’s not a drug addict. He’s actually a really good kid, as everyone later learns when they give him a chance, and he stands up for what is right.

The incidents with Sunshine (who was a real person) are just another way that the filmmakers are trying to deal with prejudice on all levels. Even prejudice within one’s race, as was the case with Sunshine. And, just like with the racism, Sunshine was not who he was said to be, anymore than the black boys on the team were who the bigots said they were.

Conclusion

Remember the Titans is a must see movie. I was not only inspired by watching the actions of this team who not only changed their school, but also their town, but I also felt a huge amount of pride. Pride that good men still exist and they are still willing to stand up for what was right. As I began to watch documentaries on Coach Boone and Yoast (who are still very close even today in their old age) I found myself impressed with the filmmakers, too. They chose to listen to the stories told by these two men and truly portray them. As I listened to the two coaches talk about their boys and the struggles they went through, I could see the close parallels between their stories and the movie’s depiction of those stories.
There were many struggles involved with making this movie. Many people did not want it made. Others didn’t believe in the film and thus cut the film’s budget to the point where the movie could no longer be produced. But the men and women behind this film believed in it, and they believed in the story that needed telling. Several of the actors, including Denzel Washington, took heavy pay cuts in order to get the film back into production. And the end result was an amazing movie that earned its place on my favorite’s shelf.

If you watch this film, I promise you that you and your family will Remember the Titans.

The Penny

This movie was made by an Independent company called Filmweavers. This was the company’s first feature length film and won an award at the San Antonio Christian Film Festival.

This story is about the lives of six people. Throughout the film, we see their lives gradually being twisted together to a climatic finish. Each have their own struggles and trials they are facing, based off of choices they have made in the past. The plot thickens to the finale when they are brought together and discover that Providence knew what He was doing all along…

 

Things I Liked

This being a independent Christian film, there are many applaudable morals presented in the movie. Strong father leadership, caring in the family, the acknowledgement of God, and Evil being presented in a light that is not glorified or shown as something to be desired.

No cussing or swearing whatsoever.

Having seen a lot of “christian” films, this one was very good relatively speaking far as acting and production goes. The plot was tight, actors seemed pretty natural, those it did feel forced at times, and the camera work was decent as well.

 Things I Didn’t Like

There is some violence in this movie. A man is shot, A hostage is handled pretty roughly, and guns are held to the head and pointed at people a lot.

At a party some guys get drunk and shamelessly hit on some girls. One attempts to land a kiss, but the girl smacks him away. So, not fun to watch, but I appreciate the fact they showed drunkenness as something not to be desired. The daughter is extremely rebellious and demonstrates disrespectful actions. She faces consequences eventually, but for a younger audience, this should be noted.

The main thing that got me in this film is the Policeman, out of desparation, breaks laws he is supposed to uphold by entering an apartment without permission. These actions get me the most because it is shown as “justified” sin. He knows it is bad, but to futher the “greater good” he can do a “little” sin? Not biblical.

Closing Thoughts

I went into this movie expecting something of a “Sherwood Pictures” film. Not only did I get that, but I finally saw an action type film that glorified God and had you on the edge of your seat till the credits. The story is deep, the script-writing brilliant (and funny at times), and the production value quite impressive based off of their $20,000 budget.

Only word of caution is for the less mature of kids, I would be careful about letting them watch it. A lot of the action happens at night, and the one guy getting shot is extremely dramatic. Use discernment if choosing this and you have younger kids with you.

This film is a keeper in my book, I hope you will support the makers of this movie and purchase a DVD of this flick. It will be money well spent, and you will never look at a penny the same way.

Ever After

ever_afterI know, I know, it’s just another Cinderella story, what with the legendary glass slipper, the eligible prince, wicked stepmother, horrible step sisters, and the orphaned girl who spends her time among the soot and ashes of the fireplace longing for true love—but that is where you would be wrong. While Ever After does have all these elements, it also has so much more going for it.

Danielle is the kind-hearted step daughter who, despite her oppressive environment, generally maintains a sweet spirit and desire to please the only mother she has ever known. Her stepmother. But when her stepmother sells off one of the family servants, who has loved Danielle since her infancy, in order to pay the step mother’s debts, Danielle knows she has to do something. So, posing as a baroness, she boldly goes to the castle to purchase back her grandfatherly friend and, while securing his freedom, lands herself in a boatload of trouble!

In enters Henry, the prince of France, who is being forced by his father (with the hopes of grounding his son a bit more and giving him a direction in life) into either choosing his own bride, or be forced into a contractual marriage with Spain. But once Henry sees the lovely Danielle stand up for the life of her friend, he’s intrigued by the spitfire and begins to pursue a young woman who doesn’t want to be pursued, for fear of being exposed as a servant.

Positive Elements

Danielle really is forbearing under the vilest of circumstances. While I have heard it said by some (admittedly by those who have not watched the movie themselves) that Danielle is extremely feministic, I would argue that she has many character traits worth emulating, especially in regards to her family.

Rodmilla (stepmother) is a beast, and openly favors her oldest daughter (while shunning her younger daughter, raising her just barely above her stepchild). Depriving Danielle of any love or pride, she is constantly fault finding and scheming to ruin Danielle’s chances of a happily ever after, due to her jealousy of the girl and the love her father had for her. And yet, through all of this, Danielle continues to serve her stepmother, longing above all else to find love and acceptance in her arms. It is only until the end, when Rodmilla’s feelings are made most clear, that Danielle begins to stand up to her stepmother.

Life lessons abound like dozens of sound bites throughout the film, and it extols things like loyalty, trust, friendship, religious faith, the love between a father and daughter, chivalry, mercy, and one’s obligation to use power and position for the good of mankind.

Negative Elements

Danielle is something of a tomboy, though as she ages she becomes much more comfortable with her femininity. She is a rather forceful young woman when it comes to defending herself and others, and she isn’t sitting around waiting and pining for Prince Charming, which may turn off some people. In fact, when Prince Charming comes, he has some foibles, and Danielle is more than willing to call him on those, challenging his complacency and views on life. For me, this is a positive element, but to others, I know it can be an issue.

The only real issue with the film is its language. There is a scene where the s-word is used strongly, and there are several exclamations where the Lord’s name is used in vain, one of which is very startling as it is shrieked by the wicked and impatient stepsister.

Also, divorce is joked about rather casually by Henry’s parents. Although we see that, in the end, they really do care for one another, and they are willing to work through their issues, they often make quips to each other about their issues.

As for costuming… there are a couple of issues with the neckline of the courtier’s dresses, including Danielle’s (when she’s gussied up). One scene in particular was a bit unnecessary when we have a pan down to look at a brooch on a woman’s bodice. It is brief, but still irked me.

Conclusion

Scenic landscape, very cool costumes, good acting, and a nice twist on the Cinderella story make this an enjoyable film to watch, especially for how little content issue there are, and how counter-cultural Danielle’s attitude towards her aggressive stepmother is. People can say what they like about the film, but my entire family enjoys Ever After, and will continue to do so, I am sure, for years to come. I think it is a movie worth giving a chance (be sure and check out the things you have previously heard when viewing it). If you don’t like it, no harm done, but if you take the chance and watch it, you might find that you actually enjoy the ride.

Kingdom Of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven Movie Poster

Baliam, a blacksmith, is approached by crusaders (one being his father) to join them in their quest. After first refusing to do so, certain immediate events after that refusal force him to change his mind.

He joins his father, who eventually knights him to take his place, in the few crusaders who were loyal to the king. These men’s focus is peace and honor. Something other knights, led by an evil lord, do not have or wish at all.

Baliam finds himself in the middle of feuding knights, confusing loyalties, and Jerusalem on the brink of a war with the muslims. He must choose and decide for himself, what God’s will truly is and then, stand against the men who are against God.

Things I liked

Baliam, played by Orlando Bloom, has all the qualities one would expect from a good lord and knight. He despises injustice, desires peace, is honest to the point of admitting murder, is humble and asks for forgiveness, and speaks his thoughts in a simple way. He has flaws, like all well developed characters. When a decision came that was extremely utilitarian in its purpose, he choose the one that was biblical, not otherwise. Baliam is a hero in this movie I felt good rooting for. Ultimately he is selfless in his actions and patient in his example. A true model of a good knight and lord.

The king of Jerusalem has an extreme illness that is killing him, and early on in the movie, has has a conversation with Baliam. The quotes regarding faith versus religion, convictions, and God’s will are incredibly artistic and spot on. One time the King says “You see, none of us choose are end really. A king, may move a man. A father, claim a son. But remember even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say but I was told by others to do thus. Or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice.” Baliam holds true to this quote throughout the movie.

Another instance Baliam is talking to a priest, as jerusalem is about to be invaded:

Priest: “we must flee the city on horse”

Baliam: “And what about the people?”

Priest: “It is unfortunate but it is God’s will.”

Baliam: “You’ve taught me a lot about religion priest.”

All throughout the movie we see the evil crusaders using “God’s will” as an excuse to serve their selfish desires, and ultimately, like proverbs says, they are themselves destroyed by their evil passions. We also see a clear distinction between faith in God and practicing religion, and how religion is something to be avoided and despised.

Things I didn’t like

The king has a sister, Sybilla, who likes Baliam and Baliam likes her. She is promised to marry the lead antagonist, a rude, arrogant, and generally unlikeable lord who is set to become king. She is against this, and in one scene, we see her come to baliam’s house. They kiss, and she spends the night at his house. Much is implied through that scene. While there is some remorse afterwards, it is more because of they fact they cannot marry, as opposed to the actual sin.

For those of you who don’t know, Ridley Scott directed this movie, and he is known for a violence in films that is not at all appealing. It is bloody, dirty, and at times, horrific. He does this to show the glory in war is not all that it is cracked up to be. How much we are reminded of that in this movie. I cannot begin to tell you how many people die in this movie. There is an epic battle scene near the end of the movie, much like you would see in Lord of the Rings. Blood flows, splashes, and squirts freely.

Perhaps even more disturbing however are the individual killings seen in 2-3 minute clips early on in the movie. In just anger, Baliam slaughters a preist, running a sword through the man and pushing him into the smithy where he burns to death. In a forest ambush, we see a group of a dozen men shot in the chest, neck, and heads with arrows. Some keep fighting however, while looking like bloody pincushions. We see blood flow freely here as well. In the aftermath, we see the corpses, awaiting to be buried.

Other violence includes men being hanged, heads mounted on pikes after a battle, and in one battle, a slow motion sword hack that gets a man in the neck. A peaceful Arab emissary is knifed in the head as a response to war. The evil knights kill innocent civilians…. and more. Never is this violence glorified or approved of. Much like in Lord of the Rings, it is present because evil men wish it to be and are using people to serve their purposes. It is there though, and not at all enjoyable.

Words such as B—–d, H–l (out of context) are used, and God’s name in vain are used a few times.

Closing Thoughts

“What man is a man that does not leave the world a better place?”

This is a question the Baliam asks early on in the movie. Indeed, it seems all his actions revolve around this quote, and wanting to leave the world a better place. Not because he has something to gain, but because it appears, he values his conscience being right with God.

This movie shows, in my opinion, a man who rises above the worldly and petty bickering, stands against (for the most part unless it involves girls) temptation for selfish desires, and uses his title to work in a way that will make peace. Even when everyone else turns against him. Evil, is shown for what it is, and then justly punished… And a pretty solid worldview on what God is, what people make him out to be, and a positive view on faith in God rather than religion is shown. It is a war movie with a commendable hero and a just ending.

So if you can handle the bloody and gruesome violence of war brought by the antagonist, and want a full and satisfying story… Check this one out.

The Dark Knight

dark_knight_movie_PosterThis second part of the Batman Trilogy, as directed by Christopher Nolan, introduces Batman’s arch nemesis.

He comes in without a story, an intro, or a motive, and offers to the mobs, who have been crushed under Batman’s and Jeff Gordon’s rule, that he will kill Batman. All they have to do is chalk up half of all they have.

So desperate to be rid of Gotham’s knight and hero they agree, and so sets in motion the most twisted and vile actions of Gotham’s newest super-villain.

The Joker.

 

Things I liked

The reoccurring theme of the Dark Knight, if it could be summed up in one word, would “Sacrifice”.

Batman, once again, is a light in the darkness of Gotham. He keeps his rule of “no killing”, even when faced with the temptation and perhaps, justification to do so. He is Gotham’s “White Knight”, who takes all guilt upon himself for the good of the city.

Harvy Dent, a statesman who does not succumb to the the threats of the Joker and the Mobsters sacrifices his career for Batman, he chooses to fight crime not to get votes, but because it is right. He is the hero which the public people of Gotham grow to love, and as such, the Joker grows to hate.

Another man familiar with sacrifice is Chief of Police Jeff Gordon. He faces death many times, and is prepared to give his life for ordinary citizens, Harvy Dent, and even Batman. He puts his position at stake by providing the help Batman needs, and stepping back when is necessary.

When we see a man act in a manner which is extremely selfish, and we see him almost lose his life over that action. Anytime a person acts for himself, the consequences are quite bad. Save for the Joker, he didn’t get that memo.

Lucius Fox and Alfred are two men who serve as mentors to Bruce Wayne. They speak some profound wisdom in the movie in dealing with the Joker and acting in a manner which is good for others and not self. The Civilians of Gotham also choose to stand up against the Joker, and don’t participate in his final social experiment.

Things I didn’t like

The reoccurring thing I didn’t like can be summed up into one word. The Joker and his murders.

The violence in The Dark Knight is not of blood, gore, and mass killings. They are mental, the camera looks away, and try as you might not to, makes you imagine what happened behind that closed door. The Joker puts is best.

“Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can’t savor all the… little emotions. In… you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are.”

And he does use the knife. In terrible, mesmerizing, and horrifying ways. He tells stories. Stories of how he got the scars on his face. You are drawn into the 30 second tale of family abuse or a broken marriage. And then… A swift movement and the camera cuts away. Letting your depraved heart fill in all “those little details”.

Many people are shot, some villains, some police officers. We see a men hung, dressed like batman, hanging from the Gotham bridge. Another hostage is “played with” by the Joker on a News Station. The Joker blows up buildings, cars, and more. He sets on fire a pile of money with an accountant strapped to the top. He kills a man with a pencil through the eye. A man is blown up with a bomb implanted in his stomach. We see a man’s face catch on fire, and a full closeup of the damage afterwards in gruesome detail. A young woman is killed with a bomb…. And that is not even all of the examples.

There are about a dozen profanities, God’s name is used in vain, and so is Jesus’ a few times as well.

There are a few low cut dresses shown, as Bruce has to maintain his public image of a reckless and dumb young guy.

Closing Thoughts

I’ll say this now. These thoughts are going to be long and many. The Dark knight is a complex movie of many themes to consider. There are no plot spoilers though.

What is perhaps most disturbing about the Joker isn’t the fact he uses a knife, enjoys killing, or does not recognize a moral compass. What is most disturbing, is he understands man’s natural state of depravity, and he embraces it.

“These people’s morals, their code. It’s like a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you, when the chips are down… These… “Civilized” people… They’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve.”

We see and read here the Joker understands man is flawed and naturally evil. However, he rejects the hope there is something better, rather, chooses to live without a spiritual mask, and be who he truly is. The result is a man whose methods are so disturbing and evil, it makes you ask “Is that really inside me?”

If the motive of the Joker could be fleshed out, I would say it is making Batman see how society and even himself are living under a self placed spirit of delusion. That they are being “clowns” in their nice little societies, putting their faith in Laws and Rules.

“You have all these rules and you think they’ll save you! The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.”

Instead, he advocates anarchy, because that is living in reality, not hiding who you really are.

“I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!”

This movie without doubt shows there is evil in the hearts of man and in the world. What it fails to do is provide the viewer with equal confidence of there being “good” in the world as well. This actually isn’t surprising though, as Christ is absent from the movie. Without Christ, there is no good in man, and honestly that is what we see in the Joker and in many other characters.

The sole redeemer is Batman, who plays the role of of the literary “Christ Figure”. He sacrifices for those he loves, his name, and his well being to save the people of Gotham. Not from physical destruction, but a societal one. He takes the blame, for which he has done no wrong, in the form of a lie. A lie in which does not serve or protect himself, but ultimately serves and protects others.

The Dark Knight is a mesmerizing, horrifying, and thought provoking film. I cannot think of another movie which demonstrates man’s natural state anymore clearly than this one, and does so in a manner so well done. What is no joke however, is the lack of hope, which I expected to be shown in the Dark Knight Rises. The fact is, the Joker, and his ideals are all but disregarded in the third movie, which leaves the lack of good still in question. Ultimately we know good will conquer evil in the end, and there is Good in this universe, which is the Trinity of God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

This is where The Dark Knight falls so terribly short. Instead of combating such a terrible evil with a greater good, the evil is allowed to win. Maybe not on the script, but it definitely does in our mind. Making us imagine and feel murders, while watching the Joker gleefully go on his merry path of heartless destruction, is enough to turn anyone’s stomach sour. Then the best we see our hero do, the Batman, is take the blame for an action the Joker did? It is heroic, but hardly a victory. In fact, one could argue Batman still lost, because the Joker got his way and killed the Batman, just not physically.

Evil triumphs over good in this movie, which is something I can neither advocate nor recommend. The Joker plays masterfully from his hand, while Batman desperately claws for any card which will give him a hand to play. That hand never comes, because it was the Joker’s game all along. Batman was just the inexperienced opponent to make the game interesting.