Archive for the ‘ Mystery ’ Category

The Prestige

Prestige_posterAre you watching closely?

Every magic trick has three acts. The Pledge, where the magician promises to amaze. The Turn, where the magician does something ordinary, and makes it extraordinary. That’s not what makes a magician great though, the power of a magician lies not in his trick, but in his secret. It isn’t enough make something disappear, but you have to bring it back. That is the third act:

The Prestige.

Two men have been pursuing this prestige their entire career. However, one night, a terrible event happens, and these two partners become enemies. They become obsessed with the quest of having the greatest act, the greatest prestige a magician can obtain. And in the 1890s, these feats can be quite… dangerous.

The two men, Robert and Alfred, go back and forth, sabotaging people, tricks, and more… For the goal of defeating the other. This looks to go on forever, until one day, a trick is performed… But is it really a trick in the first place. Is it real ? Has science made real magic possible?

Again I ask…

 

Are you watching closely?

Things I liked

To be blunt, the movie’s setting and tone is a dark one. Not because it is frightening, but because of the plot. Robert and Alfred are dead set on beating the other for the purposes of revenge, ambition, and pride. Man’s natural depravity is shown here, and the consequences of that sin is never something uplifted or shown to be admired.

Cutter, the engineer behind hundreds of tricks is one who stands out as the light of reason in the film. He warns both men what this obsession will do to them. He understands the mind of the performers. “They are magicians. Men who live by dressing up simple and plain truths to shock. To amaze… Their life itself, is a lie.” It is worth mentioning, he is not without guilt though. As scripture says, those who know good and do not do it, to them it is sin. He often assists in their tricks, and raising the stakes, even when he knows it will ultimately destroy them.

One man makes an enormous sacrifice for his daughter.

This movie is set in the late 1800s. Magic is more than just a hobby, it is a career. I enjoyed the historical accuracy of the movie, having done reading on the history of magic. The filmography was artistically done, and the story is masterfully written.

Things I didn’t like

Because of the risky business of tricks in that time period, and the obsession each has to defeat another… There violence of a… realistic nature. Not huge body counts like in war movies, but little things, which raise the stakes all throughout the movie. We see two people drown, two hung, one a suicide. There are corpses shown. A man is shot nearly point blank. Sometimes machinery is manipulated to damage the magicians, or the volunteers. We see broken legs, bloodied fingers, lost fingers, and a few dead birds.

The stage assistants wear clothes which are immodest for the purpose of distracting the audience. One man is unfaithful in his marriage. Kissing is shown.

There is one guy consistently drunk who plays a major part of the movie.

Cursing includes h—, b——, d—, and God’s name is used in vain.

Closing Thoughts

“You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty anymore, are you?”

This is asked of one of the magicians after a particularly horrid act.

After watching this movie, the puzzles to unravel were many. The twist at the end was truly spectacular, and one of the best endings I have seen in a long time. It was odd, not to have a hero to root for, nor have an antagonist to despise. Neither men were worth emotional attachment of concern or glory, and it was done intentionally so.

After taking a while to mull over the movie, I have come to the conclusion, if anything, The Prestige is like a magic trick itandof itself. It looks complicated. It looks stunning. It promises to be amazing, and quite honestly, it is.

But there really is just one simple theme, and is captured in this quote :

“The audience knows the truth: The world is simple. It is miserable all the way through…”

When you pull back the curtain of the complex plot and twisting script…
The Prestige is gone and you find the simple truth. All you are left with is a bloodied trail full of suffering, selfishness, and obsession. Seeing once again, the things man is willing to do out of pride and selfish ambition. Reminding us why it is so important to…

“Let nothing be done out of selfish ambition or vain conceit  but in humility let each esteem others better than himself.” ~Philippians 2:3~

(Note, much of the content of the movie cannot be revealed due to spoiling the plot, I have done my best to include everything which is of note or concern without giving the story away. Be aware though, the content is only partially complete.) 

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight RisesIt has been eight years since that fateful day.

That day, when Harvey Dent’s murders and guilt were taken and put upon Batman’s shoulders. Forcing Bruce Wayne to put away the suit, and become despised and hated by the people of Gotham.

And so, for eight years, Bruce has locked himself away in the Wayne Mansion. Without the drive and purpose of batman, and the grief of losing his beloved Rachel, he sees no one but his faithful butler Alfred.

Until that is, the infamous Catwoman decides to relieve Mr. Wayne of his mother’s pearls. This action spurrs Mr. Wayne to re-enter the world to recover the pearls.

In doing so, he finds a greater evil than any Gotham has ever seen. An evil without mercy, fear, or rules. An evil, intent only on destruction of a city, and the people living within it.
Bane, has come to Gotham.
With the police force outmatched, 12 million people’s live at stake, and to preserve the city he swore to save…

It is time for the Dark Knight to rise from the shadows, and save Gotham from certain destruction.

Things I Liked

If Batman could be described in one word, I would have to say he is solid. Batman’s code does not ever disappoint, nor does it change. No matter what the city has thrown at Batman, his passion as protector of the city is incredibly admirable. The people have nothing to offer him, the city hates him, and yet, he continues to protect it. In the face of certain death his spirit is not broken, showing the quality of perseverance. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the city, not for the city itself, but the people living in it. He is a hero who, while on the surface looks like a vigilante, is one who gives everything for those who can give him back nothing. This biblical trait we see over and over again. Bruce embodies this as well, acting in honorable ways even when not wearing the suit and cape.

Mr. Alfred is the voice of reason in Bruce’s life. He speaks the truth, even when Bruce doesn’t want to hear it. His love for Bruce is incredible to behold. Desperate and even pleading at times, he tries to make Bruce see how dangerous Bane is. Bruce, in his arrogance, ignores him, and we see him take quite a fall. Alfred only wants the best for Bruce, and sees that the only way for that to happen is to put batman behind him. Alfred is loyal, compassionate, and even later, when a conflict arises and he has to leave, he is still as loyal as ever, without any resentment or bitterness. He is a shining example of loving a person unconditionally. And notice? It doesn’t even have to be in a marriage to apply.

Yet another character that stands out with excellent qualities is a man named Jim Gordon. Jim is the police commissioner, and is one of the few common men willing to stand up against the evils bane is unleashing against the city. Even when he is wounded, he still fights from the hospital bed. He is a man however, who has lied to the public about who Harvy Dent really was via instructions from Batman. He is tormented with this guilt of lying daily. He has an opportunity to tell the truth, but doesn’t and because he doesn’t it comes back to haunt him. He has the best intentions for the people at heart, and we see that displayed in his actions.

Evil definitely shown for what it truly is in this movie. Never is it glorified of shown to be something desired. There is no sympathetic appeal. There is justification, but quite flawed, and shown to be such.

Something else, and lastly, is the sheer quality of this movie. The writing, the actors, and how all the movies are tied together… is stunningly epic. This movie is by far the best of three production wise.

Things I Didn’t Like

The Dark Knight may rise in this movie, but so does the violence as well. If the The Dark Knight raised the bar with sadistic murders from the Joker, this movie does even moreso with the sheer brutality of Bane. Bane came from “The Pit” a prison where one survives only by mercilessness and killing. Bane is Batman’s equal, if not superior in physical strength. He demonstrates this any chance he can get. Bane doesn’t use guns. Only his hands. We see him snap many necks, as it seems that is preferred style of killing. He also chokes people to death, smashes faces with anything he has available… It isn’t pretty.
His partners in crime aren’t much better. Having no regard for life, they storm building with automatic weapons, shooting anyone who is unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire.
Catwoman brings a mix of martial arts and guns to the fighting scene. Fighting in self defense, she has no problem shooting a man with his own gun, and often others while he is still holding said weapon.
Batman remains the same in every way. Sticking to his martial arts learned from the league of shadows. Batman manages to keep his rule and not kill one person. He does beat them up pretty badly nonetheless….
Other examples of disturbing violence include people being hung from bridges, sentenced to exile and falling through icy waters below, and huge clash between police and criminals result in many lives being lost and men being gunned down.

There is a dramatic confrontation between batman and bane. Watching punches being landed on the two massive guys made me flinch several times. Batman is beaten up pretty badly, and we see some blood on his head afterwards. That is all the blood I can remember shown. Not much at all.

Bruce, to stifle his pain of losing Rachel, or perhaps, to make himself move on, has a relationship with a woman who is part of Wayne Enterprises. We see them kiss several times, and passionately so. Another scene we see them holding each other covered by a blanket by a fire. They talk about running away, and then the scene cuts out.

Batwoman steals her share of kisses from Batman several times.

There is cussing in the movie, we hear both “B” words, H— is used out of context several times, as is the Lord’s name used in vain. The S word is used as well.

Closing Thoughts

As the last chapter in the batman series, my expectations for this movie were extremely high. In some ways, I am so impressed with this movie and some messages it presents. In other ways though, we are reminded this is indeed a “Hollywood” flick.

I have noticed one reoccurring theme appearing in hollywood movies. It is the question of Fear vs Hope. We’ve seen it in “The Hunger Games”, previous batman movies, and especially this one. Bane says, “I will keep the people fighting for life, by giving them hope. When there is no hope, the fear will destroy them.” People in this movie put their hope in Batman. And Batman is, in literary terms, A christ figure. One who sacrifices everything to save the people of Gotham. They don’t deserve it, and Batman doesn’t have to.
While the fictional Batman is cool,  how much more awesome is it that we can have hope in Christ instead of fear of man? The movie shows the power of hoping in something greater than oneself, it was a reminder to me, we should not fear, because of the hope of Christ that lives in us.

Another thing the movie shows well, is man’s depravity. When Bane takes control of Gotham. He declares “We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you… the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please…. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed…. This great city… it will endure. Gotham will survive!”
And utter chaos breaks loose.
What a powerful showing of how desperately wicked man is when there is nothing to hold him back.
Another time Batman tells Catwoman she should help the 12 million innocent people. She says something like “I don’t believe in innocent people.” In a way, she is right. None of Gotham deserved to live. None of them were truly innocent, from a biblical point of view. It hammers home the fact that people are not nice. And given the chance between themselves and someone else… They will probably choose themselves.

To wrap this review up, this movie definitely has it’s redeeming qualities. On the one hand, Batman and his supportive cast are incredible examples of honorable heros. There are some excellent themes to ponder, and to bring up next time you are working with some of your buddies who aren’t christians. And honestly, the movie itself is a beautiful work of cinematic art.
On the other hand, the violence is tough to watch, and Bruce/Batman are involved with women much more in this movie.

So, do I recommend this movie?
I say this with great caution, as I would hate to make any believers stumble in recommending them to watch this movie.
I benefitted from watching The Dark Knight Rises, as I was reminded of how wretched I am as a sinner, and that without Christ, I could have been any one of those men tearing apart Gotham. It moved me to think of a life without hope in Christ, and how sad that would be.
I also know many of my co-workers will be watching this, and I look forward to the chance to bring up topics of hope and depravity.

But do you need to watch this movie to do and be reminded of those things I just mentioned?

I would hope not.

But if you do go and see this movie, I hope you are reminded, and praise God for the gift of hope he sent us through Christ.

The Adventures of Tintin

“A man’s been shot on our doorstep!” “Again?”

What boy could resist a gorgeous model of a triple-masted, double-deck sailing ship? Tintin can’t – especially when someone runs up to him and warns him that by buying the ship he’s asking for a lot of trouble. Trouble indeed – within twenty-four hours Tintin has had his flat ransacked, witnessed a drive-by shooting, and been kidnapped. Well, when you’re adrift in the middle of the ocean on a ship with a revengeful gentleman who’s happy to dispose of you, you can’t really turn back and go home. So Tintin sets off with his faithful dog and a drunken sailor to escape and uncover a mystery involving pirates, sunken treasure, and a centuries-old plot for revenge.

And so begins The Adventures of Tintin, a wild tale of nonstop action, adventure, and mystery. An instant favorite, Tintin is a great adventure to lose yourself in. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, but the journey may not be for everyone. Here’s why.

The Good

Tintin is basically pure fun. There isn’t much moral substance, but there are a few subtle themes. Determination and discipline are stressed as necessary qualities; Tintin and his drunken friend Captain Haddock learn that they cannot allow failure or bad habits to define their lives. Additionally, there are several moments of self-sacrifice, where the good guys are willing to set aside their goals to save someone’s life; most notably, a sea captain reveals the location of his hidden cargo to spare his crew from pirates.

The main appeal of Tintin, however, is that it’s clean enough to be innocent. There’s only a smattering of mild language and light crude humor, nothing repulsive that ruins the fun. It’s an adventure teens and adults can go on without consequence.

The Bad

There are a few elements, however, that might disturb some, particularly younger children. Violence is the main issue; Tintin’s adventure is pretty perilous, and there are several near-death experiences. There is ample fighting with swords, guns, and fists, resulting in some blood and a few casualties. Tintin is drugged once. At sea, ships are destroyed in pirate raids and many men drown, which is perhaps the most disturbing image of the movie.

Also worth noting is Captain Haddock’s drinking problem. The man is almost perpetually drunk and is constantly downing some form of drink, including medicinal alcohol. His habit is not portrayed as admirable; Tintin thoroughly disapproves, and whiskey gets the Captain in trouble on occasion. However, his drunkenness is also played up some for laughs, and once Tintin’s intelligent dog gives the Captain some alcohol to help stimulate his memory.

In Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed Tintin. The crazy adventure captured my interest and held it fast, and the cleanliness made it an instant favorite. I highly recommend it as a good film to relax with, but the violence and drunkenness are worth noting. While these elements may not be suitable for all, anyone who can handle the intensity is in for a fantastic ride. Hold on tight, because we’re jumping off this ship and heading on a quest to find the last scroll before the bad guys do. You coming?

The Adventures of Tintin

To tell the complete truth, I was hesitant to see Tintin. Even though I love movies and I adore going to theaters, for some reason I didn’t feel like going to this one. My family persuaded me to come along and I am so glad that they did. Tintin ended up becoming one of my favorite movies of 2011 and it beat Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2 as my favorite animated film of the year.

Growing up, I had never read the Tintin books so I have no history with the series nor did I have any preconceived notions as to what the movie should be like. Simply speaking, I had no idea what to expect (besides the fact that I knew a Spielberg/Jackson collaboration would be nothing short of amazing) and I was pleasantly surprised.

The story follows the adventures of Tintin, a young reporter who, with the help of his faithful dog, Snowy, investigates a mysterious story. While he is searching for answers, Tintin is caught up in a fantastic adventure and ends up traveling all over the world and meeting many colorful characters.

The Good

I loved how adventurous Tintin is. He is brave and is an amazing role model for young boys today. While some people might not appreciate the violence or Tintin’s use of a gun, I loved how it gave boys the adventure of fighting and protecting in a completely honorable and wholesome way.

The story is fun and fast-paced; action-packed and very amusing. My seven-year-old brother was literally on the edge of his seat the entire time and my dad and I were laughing throughout the course of the film. The Adventures of Tintin was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon.

The Bad

The MPAA rated this film PG for “adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking.”

In my opinion, this was a wonderfully clean film devoid of the hidden agendas that are so often prevalent in even children’s movies today. Nevertheless, I would not recommend it for very young children because of the intensity and violence in some scenes. There are also some bad attitudes present that would be best discussed with younger viewers. Captain Haddock is an alcoholic and, while it isn’t exactly depicted as a positive trait, it isn’t strongly declared as wrong.

Another major theme of the film centers upon revenge and living up to a legacy and family history. The Bible clearly teaches that revenge is wrong, but a decent job was done in depicting it as unfavorable. As for striving to be like family members, we are called to live and become more like Christ. All men are sinners and we shouldn’t be concerned about what they would think of us. We solely should be worried about how Christ sees us. This film does a pretty good job, however, of showing how the mindset of pleasing man can destroy a person. One of the characters became a criminal and the other became a drunk because they couldn’t live up to the expectations of their deceased ancestors.

There is one use of minor profanity.

The Art

The animation was beyond stunning. While the entire visual experience was brilliant (the best animation I’ve seen since The Owls of Ga’Hoole) the acting and the music were incredible as well. The vocal skills of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, and Daniel Craig were first-class and really brought their characters to life. John Williams’ score was fun and lively with Indiana Jones undertones. In fact, this film had an Indiana Jones-feel throughout most likely resulting from Spielberg’s directing and Williams’ music. Every aspect of “camera” work was exciting and creative. If you simply go to see this movie for artistic reasons, you won’t be disappointed.

In conclusion, no matter your age, gender, or interests, The Adventures of Tintin is a fun film that anyone would enjoy. Spielberg and Jackson put out a superb movie which I cannot wait to see again.