Archive for the ‘ PG-13 ’ Category

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.

Advertisements

The Wolverine

The-Wolverine-Movie-Wallpaper-HD

A man can run out of things to live for.

When you are immortal, that phrase has a bittersweet ring. Logan has seen and done it all. Fought in every war since the Civil war, been everywhere in the world, and even saved the world by stopping a rouge mutant. But now, Logan lives without drive, without purpose. He has nightmares every-night of the ones he has loved and lost. Of the wars he has fought. Of the hundreds men he has killed. He decides that he isn’t going to be that monster anymore.

So he lives on a mountain unkept and alone with his nightmares. His only friend is the grizzly bear who roams the mountain with him. While he may not be the killing monster on the mountain, he is anything but at peace. When some hunters come with illegal weapons, and kill the bear. Logan seeks out vengeance on them. Before he can do so however, he is approached by a mysterious japanese woman who tells Logan her employer, Sir Yashida, has a gift for him. A thank you, for saving his life many years ago in WWII.

The Gift of peace. The Gift of Mortality.

Things I Liked

Logan (The Wolverine) appears to be a man of changed heart in this film. we find he lives by himself for one main reason- so he no longer hurts others. When called “The Wolverine” he replies- “That’s not who I am anymore.” In truth, we see that change of character come out in Logan through the movie. When Yashida offers this gift, Logan goes mainly out of politeness. He respects the dying man’s wishes to thank him in person one last time.

When He arrives in Japan, he finds himself in the midst of a feud. He chooses to protect the daughter of Yashida when assassins come. And that is his prevailing purpose in the film. “Think of me as your bodyguard” Logan tells her. What makes that interesting though, is he is tricked into becoming mortal. For at time at least. During this time, he learns bullets are dangerous, and what it means to be vulnerable. “I’ve never had to ask for help before.” he tells Mariko, Yashida’s Daughter. Watching him learn to live as such was a great thing, and I appreciated again things I had taken for granted in everyday life. Logan also sacrifices much in this movie. He risks his mortal life protecting others. And through that he begins to find his purpose once again.

Things I Didn’t Like

The Wolverine isn’t the most violent of films when you add up the body count, but it could be argued it is the most savagely violent of the X-Men Series. Logan slices, impales, thrashes, and throws many would be assassins to their deaths in various scenes. He throws a man off a balcony. He stabs the illegal hunter’s hand with the man’s own poisoned arrow. We watch the man’s reaction to the poison. In his nightmares, we see him accidentally kill people he loves. Logan at one point, cuts open his own chest.

A antagonist mutant, Vyper, kills various people with kisses of poison. She kills a man with a poisoned pen. She tortures men by scratching them, them breathing poison onto their face. She also sheds her face, which results in a kinda creepy scene.

Other hordes of ninjas/assassins shoot people with arrows, rods, and swords. in one scene, Logan takes dozens to his back. In fact, Logan gets pretty beat up in the movie too. When he is mortal, he is shot several times, and he realizes that healing isn’t something his body does anymore. So wounds and such remain on him, blood and all. When he regains his power, he is sliced and cut and impaled in ways which are incredibly painful to him. Early on in Nagasaki, we see his body burned an charred while protecting a Japanese solider, and the painful process of his body instantly healing him.

Logan winds up kissing Mariko, and sleeping in the same bed with her at a secret refuge. Mariko wears a thin nightgown. Logan often goes shirtless. In one scene he is being given a bath by some old Japanese Maids and we see a bit of his rump. Another scene shows a politician who is busted by Logan, is found with three young women all in lingerie and is shown for a few seconds before they all flee.

Logan drops an F-Bomb, and several other curse words. Included are D—, B—–, and S—. God’s name is used in Vain twice.

Closing Thoughts

Your grandfather called me a ronin, a samurai without a master. Destined to live forever, with no purpose to serve. ~The Wolverine~

The tale of the Wolverine is a darker one in the Marvel series. A tragic hero, we see Logan suffer so much, even though he will live forever. It is painful to watch Logan experience such sorrow and grief over losing people he loved, because he couldn’t die with them. This movie, taking place after the third X-men, shows Logan at the bottom of the barrel with some of the most intense violence of the series.

The Wolverine rips open the idea that Eternity on this earth isn’t a gift or remotely desirable, and kills it with savage intensity. Showing that it is a curse which brings only sorrow and misery if you have no eternal purpose. Wolverine found his purpose in the movie, the credits rolled, and people moved on. What the movie fails to mention, is that purpose, when rooted in the world, will change based on circumstance.

The tragedy of the Wolverine lies not in the fact Logan lives forever, but the fact he will be forever wandering trying to find himself in the world. As Christians, we know without Christ, that walk can, and will last forever if you are immortal on the world. Only Christ can quench the thirst men crave for ultimate purpose. While Logan is lost to this fact, we can perhaps guide others to it through this film. Not to say by any means is The Wolverine full of redeeming value. But this is one rare film where the internal struggle and resulting destruction shows what a man can do without any lasting purpose in his life. That is something to definitely challenge others in, and ask if they are doing the same.

Jurassic Park

1000px-Jurassic-Park_Logo-2-

What if we somehow, someway, could bring back dinosaurs? What color would they be? What would they sound like? How would they act?

John Hammond has found a way to bring dinosaurs back. With all of their secrets. Through DNA preservation, filling, and extensive scientific genius he has created a park. It is filled with Dinosaurs of all kinds, and has grand and glorious expectations of making it an incredibly profitable theme park. Think of a Zoo, on steroids.

So he brings in a panel of people to review his masterpiece. Some love it, some hate it, and some… want to steal it. Regardless of their opinions however, a storm comes through and kocks out the power grid containing all the dinosaurs on the island. Including the T-rex, and Velociraptors.

Now it is a perilous and mad rush to escape the island. The predators have other plans however. It becomes a fight of survival of the fittest. And who is more fit? Man, or Dinosaur? These poor folks are about to find out.

Things I Liked

While the first thing you think of when hearing “Jurrasic Park” may be Dinos eating people, there are some postive elements in this movie. The largest one is probably the view of man manipulating nature. John is accused of Playing God in the movie. Taking an extinct species, rebuilding the DNA, and releasing them back into the wild. All for the purpose of making money in an amusement park. The consequences of these actions are profound, and it is very telling of what happens when man thinks he knows better than God in how the world should operate.

Another character, Dr. Alan Grant, had this thing against kids. Through the movie however, we see him stuck with two children and he learns kids aren’t that bad. He also risks his life on several occasions to save the children, which takes guts, when the attacker is a T-Rex. He and his assistant, Ellie, are people of character who continually put themselves in harms way to protect others.

Things I Didn’t Like

This movie is famous for a reason, and that reason is not from acting, a powerful story, or otherwise. It is famous because digitized Dinosaurs run around, chase people, and eat them. In this movie, I was surprised how low the body count was, but revolted at how those few bodies went. One guy is poisoned in the face, and then jumped on by little dinosaurs. A man hiding in the bathroom is picked up by the T-rex and viciously shaken back and forth, we hear his back snap, and then watch and the T-rex swallows him whole. Another guy, hunting a velociraptor, is tricked by the beasts and pounced upon. Lastly, we see the remains of a man. That is- his bloody arm, in a particularly tense scene.

Otherwise, there is a lot of chasing in the movie. People are always running from something, and while it may sound ridiculous on paper, the music score combined with dark sets makes a particularly scary experience. There is cursing, and God’s name is used in vain as well. Some derogatory crude speech is used, and a man is reprimanded for saying he should go outside to get something, instead of a girl.

Closing Thoughts

“God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God, man creates dinosaurs.”

Jurassic park has three prevailing themes. One, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Two, never try to play God. Three, don’t fight dinosaurs- they always win and get lunch at the same time.

John had an idea and pursued it wholeheartedly. However, he failed to think about the impending consequences of such a plan. One thing we can be reminded of when watching this movie is to really think through our actions and to take the feedback we are given. He didn’t, and the results were terrible.

The idea of “playing God” as quoted in the movie was fascinating to me, as they clearly rejected such a Creator when speaking of evolution. When things got serious though, it was incredible how quickly they resorted back to the idea of a supreme creator who has a hand over all nature. In our age of incredible scientific advancement, it would be wise to consider this movie when attempting to do this which indeed are unnatural. They disrupted the state of nature, by bringing from the dead dinosaurs using genetic manipulation and cloning. Something our society is pursing today.

But while these themes are excellent to consider and put forth in a persuasive fashion, it is that persuasive attempt which makes this movie about as appealing as meeting a velociraptor in real life. Granted, most of the time people are being chased around with great background music, the few deaths which are shown are gruesome and terrifying indeed. And if you aren’t careful- you start to enjoy seeing these massive beasts “live” in the world which they are placed. The hunting, and the aftermath.

In short, Jurassic park is a great idea conceptually, but when it hits the picture, instead of seeing a film focused on man’s mistakes and learning from them, you see for about an hour people getting chased, killed, and eaten by dinosaurs we have only imagined. The message, already small and weak, is crushed by the prehistoric predator’s actions in relating and dining on humans. The movie is no walk in the park, more like a mad rush through a dark alley.

Expecting at any moment, that one predator is going to jump out, and get you.

Man Of Steel

Man_of_Steel_Wallpaper_Movie_Review

“What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?” ~ Jor-El ~

In the final dying throes of Krypton, a baby is launched to a new planet. The planet called earth. The child is named Clark, found and adopted by two parent from Kansas. He grows up in conflit with who he is. He has the power to save people, but his father tells him he shouldn’t. Not yet. He believes the world isn’t ready, and in part, he is right.

So Clark lives a life of anonymity. He works for a fishing rig, as a waiter, or some other “low status” job. Always traveling. Always moving. This continues until General Zod arrives. He declares he is going to destroy the earth, even after Clark turns himself in.

At that moment, Clark makes a choice. He chooses to become superman, and attempt to save the people he has committed himself to serve.

Things I Liked

Clark is one of the most upstanding characters I have ever seen in a movie. The amount of positive traits shown through his actions and words truly is… Super. Early in life clark is bullied.  We see him not only refrain from beating the kids up, but save some who are in desperate trouble. As he grows, the values instilled by his parents are shown as he works in a diner. He called out a man for being a bit to agressive towards a lady. When the man attacks him- Clark does nothing but walk away. (I’d like to note he does get back- just not physically) Just because a man has the power to fight back, doesn’t mean he should. Clark displays this excellently.

Clark’s father is a man of incredible wisdom, humility, and kindess. He never denies the fact Clark is different, but rather tell him he was sent for a reason. And that “You owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.” Clark’s Mother also give him the perspective of how important life is. When some damage is done to the home due to Clark, he apologizes. His mother hugs him and says “It’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. You can’t.

When Clark is grown into Superman, General Zod comes to earth and demands the return of Superman. Or else the world will face destruction. Superman, without hesitation, turns himself into the US military to save earth. When asked why he did it, he says: “I’m not surrendering to Zod. I’m surrendering to the people.” In that small statement, we see a man who could destroy all of earth, choose to be a man of service to the people on the planet.

Superman is well known to be a Christ-Figure. This movie is one of the most nods towards that idea that I have seen. Clark is 33 when he puts on the suit. When he talks to a priest, we see a Painting of Christ behind him who looks quite similar. When Clark leaves a ship, he falls out in the shape of a cross. He is the first natural birth on Krypton in centuries… And more. One quote in particular I liked regarding this topic

“Sometimes, you have to take a leap of Faith. The trust comes later.”

A solider fighting against Superman rashly declares “Why are you fighting? It is useless. We are more evolved than you. And Evolution always wins.” We see and learn Krypton was destroyed by genetic engineering of their people to fill an exact role and purpose. Because of that, They have no choice in life, as their destiny’s are chosen for them. This creates the strife which takes place in Man of Steel. What is fascinating though, is we see character and good morals in Superman win out over science and evolution in General Zod and his soliders. We see Evolution, in fact doesn’t win.

Things I Didn’t Like

“For every one person you save- we will kill a million more.”

While I knew there would be a certain amount of smashing up in this film, I did not expect the amount of destruction actually shown. Aside from the standards explosions of gas stations, trains, cars, and more. Zod launches a “terra-former” to level earth and establish his world. Sykscrapers full of people are flattened instantaneously. The people fleeing from the machine are lifted from the ground, and slammed into the cement below. Zod’s soliders dispatch the  American military savagely and easily. We see arms broken, and faces punched. The death count in this movie, counting all the people in the buildings which are leveled, is unfathomably high. At one point, I was actually getting bored watching the amount of destruction occurring through the CGI lens. For me, it was over the top, and unnecessary at the level by which it was portrayed.

But perhaps the most disturbing scene of all is when Superman kills another, to protect a woman and her child. He choose one life over another- and a situation like that is always lose-lose. After he snaps the person’s neck (we see and hear the sickening crunch), we watch Superman cry out, devastated by what he has done. It is heart and gut wrenching to see him not only kill someone, but be torn apart on the inside by that action. This is not the original superman of earlier days. This is darker, made to fit our modern day culture.

Clark and Louis Lane kiss in one scene.

There are half a dozen uses of profanity and some crude sexual references regarding the measuring of certain body parts. God’s name is taken in vain three times.

Closing thoughts

You’re not just anyone. One day, you’re going to have to make a choice. You’ll have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, he’s going to change the world. ~Jonathan Kent~

Man of Steel is an excellent story which commends an incredible amount of biblical character traits. It is said the meek shall inherit the earth, and in this movie, Superman is the most meek hero and character I have ever seen to touch the big screen. He is almost flawless in courage, compassion, humility, submission, and sincerity. I say almost, because as a mortal being, he has a few flaws. But that just makes him all the more real.

I recommend Man of Steel to any older person without hesitation. It is a moving story of  a boy who is taught by his parent to serve, and through those teachings, saves humanity. The apocalyptic violence is intense at times without doubt. And superman killing someone… That still disagrees with me immensely.

However, this movie isn’t complicated. It is one of a man with incredible strength, who uses that strength to save the world- After he first surrendered to those he choose to protect. Man of Steel will probably be my favorite movie of the 2013 year. It is simply- Super.

Man of Steel

man_of_steelSuperman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all times, which has led some to question whether a revamping and remaking of the Superman franchise would work. The answer? You better believe it!

While this retelling has all the original elements portrayed in Kal-El’s, or Clark Kent if you prefer, story, it also brings something else to the table. Old villains are given a new face, the iconic S symbol is given a back-story, and the tale of Superman takes a much more humanic turn as the storyline deals with the physiological aspects of being a superhero, and just what exactly is the price that comes with so much power.

Positive Elements

The beginning of this film takes us back to the Superman Origins, showing us how Kal-El came to be, why his parents sent him to earth, and the tumultuous existence that was Krypton at the time of his birth. In this opening we have so many positive elements portrayed that it is hard to pick just a few to share. Both Jor-El and Laura-El sacrifice much in order to ensure their son is given not only a chance at free will, but also a chance at life. Amidst moving tears and remorse over never seeing their son walk or say their names, the parents choose to do what is best for their son, no matter how great the personal cost or how hard they will have to fight to ensure he escapes the fate planned for him. They also show that our yellow son isn’t the only thing that made Kal-El a superhero—he came by it naturally, for amidst the evil schemes of General Zod, Kal’s parents stand up and fight for what is right, regardless of the cost that will be extracted from them for it.

But the El family is not the only family Kal-El has. Upon arriving on earth he is adopted by a new kind of family. A Human family. A family that names him Clark Kent. The Kents are good people, and they impart great wisdom to their son throughout his life, making him into a good man who values life, unlike his predecessors. Jonathan Clark is often a living example for his son, and his last act on earth is spent in helping others, leaving a lasting legacy for his son. The Kents also teach their son self restraint, an attribute that Clark needs in order to survive this world. Throughout the story we see Clark demonstrate power under control. From being a bulled teenage boy resisting the urge to sock his attackers, to an adult man enduring embarrassment and insults when he comes to the defense of a young woman.

Which brings us to the character of superman himself. Clark is not only a good kid and man, but he has this innate desire to save those around him, be it literal or metaphorical. No matter how dangerous the exposure to himself is, or whether or not his actions will lead him to a new alias, Clark continually risks much in order to help the needy. And it is because of his other’s focused actions that cause human soldiers and civilians alike to unquestioningly accept the alien from outer space. It is because of the good character instilled by his parents that Clark is accepted by the world and not rejected.

Also worth noting is the fact that artificial population control is inadvertently shown as destructive and that “evolutionary advantage” isn’t what wins a fight. The heart and passion behind the warrior is.

Negative Elements

Kryptonians, we learn, were engineered from birth to carry out whatever lot in life has been planned for them by their government, essentially denying them free will. However, while some would view this as a negative element, I challenge that it is not a negative aspect in this film because the movie clearly depicts this as an evil thing that brings great destruction and harm.

The sexual content in this film is minimal, but not nonexistent. We see Clark confront a man in a bar who is behaving inappropriately towards one of the waitress’ (it is a very brief scene), Clark and Lois kiss, and hear another woman refer to Superman ad hot. Laura-El also wears a dress that, for a brief moment, shows a fair amount of cleavage.

Language in this film was not excessive, but a couple of times when it is used, it is rather offensive in nature. There’s around four a—references, two of h—, and one of d—. There is also two crude references to the male anatomy (one as a put down, one as a feministic comment).

As for violence…. It’s a superhero movie. It’s not really optional. While the violence is not excessive or violating (it’s your average superhero violence), we do see Superman snap someone’s neck. There is much destruction and turmoil in the film (Metropolis is nearly leveled), and many characters receive some whopping hits to the abdominal region, but it is all done well in terms of filming. If you’ve watched movies like The Avengers and Iron Man, you won’t have an issue here.

Conclusion

This movie is not Superman Canon. Snyder and Nolan chose to do things in this film that we haven’t seen before in the Superman franchise, but to be honest, I think that was a good thing.

Origins were given to details like the Superman S (which isn’t an S, thank goodness!), Louis Lane wasn’t saddled with the idiot reporter image (I mean honestly, what woman would be fooled by a pair of glasses?), and the suit was just plain awesome (I’m sorry, but the spandex original was lame and impractical), for a Superman suit. And yet, despite these changes (and the fact that Superman does kill someone with his bare hands, something many fans will be upset over), this film still has the Superman Origins at its heart. It took a story that was good but unrelatable and made it relatable. They humanized Superman in a way that made him seem much more realistic than his earlier renditions.

Despite a few comments I could have lived without, I enjoyed Man of Steel. Superman may not be my favorite Superhero, but Snyder and Nolan did a good job in portraying a Superman that raised the bar in the Alien’s franchise.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness_1440x900Kirk is in some ways, the ideal Starfleet captain. He is brave, confident, and strong. However, when he breaks the prime directive to save one of his crew, he loses not only the enterprise which he commands, but his rank as well. Outraged at the regulations in Starfleet, Kirk plans to leave the academy forever.

But before he does, a new threat rises in the city. A terrorist and former Starfleet member, John Harrison, begins savage attacks on civilians and Starfleet headquarters. Through tragic and unforeseen events, Kirk again gains command of the Enterprise. He is given one directive- eliminate John Harrison at all costs. Just one problem, Harrison is in the Klingon sector, and has not received a trial for his crimes.

Kirk is torn between morals and duty. Having virtually no experience in crimes of this scale, he doesn’t know who to trust, what is right, or how to command. He doesn’t know what he is supposed to do, only what he can do. Can he lead the Enterprise and do what is right? Or will he learn the hard way, leading a military vessel can come at an immense cost?

Things I liked

While “Into Darkness” revolves around many characters, the main character of focus is James T. Kirk. Jim has a lot of strengths, but a lot of issues. He is confident, but ignores rules. He cares for his crew, but is arrogant. He is brave, but often takes unnecessary risks. Early in the film he boasts to a higher officer who is reprimanding him- “I haven’t lost one crew member. Not one.” To which the officer replies:

“Do you know what a pain you are? You think the rules don’t apply to you. There’s greatness in you, but there’s not an ounce of humility. You think that you can’t make mistakes, but there’s going to come a moment when you realize you’re wrong about that, and you’re going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.”

This is the place from which Jim starts. A young arrogant buck who thinks he has it all figured out. Through the movie we see that arrogance replaced with an understanding of humility. Unlike the recent movie I watched, Ironman 3, Kirk learns that rules exist for a reason, and that arrogance does bring a very hard fall.

Christopher Pike fills the father figure role in Kirk’s life. When no one else believes in him after he is stripped of his command, Pike comes and encourages and mentors him. He gives Kirk a second chance, which Jim does not deserve in the least. Grace is a powerful teaching tool, and Pike uses it to equip Jim for future success.

The supporting cast of the Enterprise is a great one to watch. Spock is loyal to the core in regulations, and reminds Kirk of moral implications of acting against those rules. Scotty forgives Jim many a time with no hard feelings, an excellent reminder not to hold grudges. Uhura in one place, shows the value of communication over violence. And Dr. McCoy shows mercy and care to the enemies of Starfleet. All the characters learn from each other in their strengths, and remind each other of their weaknesses. The teamwork shown in the Enterprise is great fun to watch.

John Harrison is a man consumed by hatred, grief, and revenge. He strives to avenge earth of the crimes committed against his family, and that means destroying all of earth. Through the movie he manipulates others to get what he wants, but in the end is destroyed by his passionate lust for vengeance. It is good to be reminded we should not hold in our hearts bitterness and anger for those who have sinned against us.

Similarly, there is a member of Starfleet driven by fear and desire of power. He is destroyed as well. Every-time a character who breaks regulations or acts selfishly, that person ultimately comes to a terrible end or suffers severe consequences.

Finally, I loved seeing the enterprise, the crew, and space created in such a way which completely redefined how we view Star Trek movies, but tipped the hat many times over towards the Original Series. The characters replicate perfectly the personas of the originals. The dialogue is witty at times, and deep in others. It is a very well made movie from a cinematography and script writing perspective.

Things I Didn’t Like

Into darkness brings a level of violence never seen before in the Star Trek world. John Harrison is ruthless in his killings. We see him gun down a room of people from a ship, take out an entire legion of Klingons, crush a man’s head with his bare hands, breaks a girl’s leg, and generally pummel anyone who opposes him. Spock has his share of physical altercations as well. Twisting arms and using the Vulcan neck pinch.

Aside from Harrison’s deeds. People are blasted with phasers, we see multiple crew members get sucked into the vacuum of space when the hulls of ships are blown open. A man dies from radiation overexposure. Many people are shown bloody and beaten up. When a ship falls into earth’s orbit, it takes out dozens of buildings. Presumably with people in them.

Kirk is shown in bed with two female looking aliens wearing lingerie. Carol Marcus tells Kirk to turn around as she needed to change clothes. Kirk, of course, looks, and so does the camera. there is a few second shot of her in nothing but a bikini style of dress. Spock and Uhura kiss a few times. And McCoy dips into his well known use of profanity and suggestive comments. Many different crude words are used, many times.

God’s name is taken in vain about six times.

Closing Thoughts

The core of “Star Trek: Into Darkness” lies not a terrorist manhunt, a rouge Starfleet officer, or a memorable cast of shipmates. This movie, ultimately, is about leadership. Kirk is a powerful leader, and he knows that. What he doesn’t realize, before learning through some difficult lessons, what leadership is. He learns leadership isn’t having the title of captain, or having a big ship, but rather it is service. In a climatic moment Kirk makes a choice where he offers himself for the crew of the ship. It is at that point we realize Kirk isn’t the arrogant young kid anymore… We watch him change into a captain worthy of commanding the Enterprise. Kirk learns from his mistakes, and becomes a servant to his crew. That is the most powerful message in this film.

There are many other great things shown. The crew of the enterprise embody sacrifice and courage. John Harrison and other people who act selfishly are destroyed by their own flaws. Much wisdom is shown through Spock’s advice- that sometimes you must disobey authority to do what is morally and biblically right.

The movie also has its downsides. The sometimes savage violence makes one flinch at times. The brief undress shown of Carol Marcus is enough to make anyone with a sound mind to turn his/her head. And even though it is “the military” the expletives are frustrating and unpleasant.

Even with these inexcusable flaws, I found this film to be a great teacher of not only how to lead, but also the importance of making a moral choice, not blindly following the commanded one. Into Darkness makes it clear the right or moral choice is sometimes hard to find. When the right choice is found though, there is then the difficulty of deciding to act upon it. Kirk always does. No, he doesn’t follow regulations perfectly. But he always puts what he feels is right and moral above anything else. While the lack of God is prevalent in Kirk’s choices, we can clearly apply this mindset and many principles shown in this flick to our Christian walk.

That’s why I’ve decided while this movie may indeed dip into darkness, the overacting themes of  learning humility, leadership, and acting upon conscience are incredibly commendable. A light is shone on what a true leader is, and the suffering selfishness brings. It leads with an imperfect message, like all films, but this is one from which I’d say we all can learn and benefit.

Iron Man 3

iron_man_3_movie-wide

We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all done wrong. In doing so, we’ve made demons. That is, negative consequences for the choices we have made.

Tony Stark is no exception. “I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can’t I sleep?” Tony has a lot of trials he’s facing in life. Ever since the Avenger initiative, things haven’t been the same. He tasted death and he doesn’t like it. Not. One. Bit. He spends days on end “tinkering” on his Iron man suit, making it better, adding cybernetics to himself, and testing new ideas. Locked away in his shop, he comes out to be with his girl, and occasionally make a trip to the local bar.

Until that is, a terrorist force grips America in fear. The government is powerless to stop a teacher called “The Mandarin”. What’s more, strange explosions, with no evidence of bomb material are occurring throughout the world. Tony decides to make the fight personal. He challenges The Mandarin to try to take him out and makes a promise Ironman will remove this blemish from the face of the earth.

The Mandarin strikes first, and as seen in the trailer, destroys tony’s multibillion dollar home, and everything along with it. Now without a functional suit, superhuman killers hunting him, and a girl to protect, Tony learns even Ironman isn’t invincible.

And Demons, can come back to haunt you.

Things I liked

Tony Stark is a pained man in this movie. He struggles with anxiety, pride, and purpose. Sadly, he fails to recognize any of those. One of the most powerful lessons in this film, is that of what pride can do to a man. “Pride goes before a fall” The scriptures say… And boy. Do we see Tony fall. Because of his pride he loses his home, his health for a time, his suits, and more. Because of his pride, he created a demon years ago which now comes back to bite him in a very painful way. Pride is the great destroyer in this movie, and Tony has to stoop low and ask for help from common people, even a boy, if he is to fix the monster he unknowingly created. Does he learn the value of humility  Quite honestly, no. He doesn’t. But we can, and it is painful to watch his fall, and see him learn the hard way.

What is the measure of a man? Certainly not a fancy suit which can fly. We see that here. Tony relies on technology so much in his life, we see how dangerous it is to learn to lean on things, which can break, instead of people. Tony finds he must ask others for help instead of a computer program. That he has to use his own mind, instead of letting a algorithm do it for him. In our age of smartphones, tablets, and the internet I find it fitting to see a message of how important it is not to base our sustenance off these things.

Another great lesson taught is the importance of every interaction we have with others. Because of the way Tony treated one man years ago, the terrible threat he faces today is the result.  It was a great reminder, every person we come into contact with we share Christ as a witness, or not. And every interaction has ramifications, either good or bad.

Every great thing begins with an idea, then is eventually destroyed by compromise. That’s what the movie says anyway. Compromising on principles and values are shown to have devastating consequences. We also see some genetic manipulation of people result in terrible effects as well, showing what happens when you try to make God’s creation into something it wasn’t meant to be.

Things I Didn’t Like

Even though Tony goes most of the film without his suit, the violence and body count is extremely and grossly high. Terrorists vaporize civilians with a new technology. A bodyguard, the lone survivor, is shown badly burned, scarred, and bloody. The technology is, quite simply, using people as bombs. They heat up and then… explode. The pain in their face is shown as they become bright hot and then… Boom.

A woman who is enhanced genetically attacks Tony in a bar, and a vicious fight ensues. In the aftermath we see her body hanging from electric lines. A man is shot through the chest with tony’s Arc Reactor. Dozens of soliders and public officials are gunned down, beat up, shot, and shot again. A civilian is shot in the head on live TV.

Stark’s enemies wind up facing Tony in his suit, and he shows no mercy. They are killed in many ways… Being shot, broken, tossed, drowned, vaporized…. the list goes on. Because of their inhuman enhancements, we are tempted to forget they are still human… but they are, and they die in many painful ways at the hands of ironman.

Tony and Pepper are living together, yet not married… But that is just the start of a lot of sensual stuff that isn’t extreme, but most definitely unneeded. Girls are displayed in Bikinis and lingerie more than a few times in the film. A one night stand is talked about and there is a flashback about that. There is also a lot of innuendo about certain actions.

The language was very frustrating in this film, mainly because there was an attempt at humour through it. God’s name is used in vain various times. The S, A, D, P, B and many other crude words are used… many times.

Closing Thoughts

“Ladies, children, sheep… Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes, there is no such thing.” ~The Mandarin~

What makes a one a Hero? A hero is one who has incredible qualities worthy of emulation. Qualities of selflessness, courage, and service to others- No matter what the cost. A hero is one who takes whatever they have, and uses it for the benefit of others to the point where they themselves, have given everything they have in the process of helping another. Christ, of course, is the only perfect Hero.

Ironman 3 gives Tony Stark  a chance to become a true hero. In the previous two films he has done his thing of zipping around, beating up a few bad guys, and calling it a day. In this movie, it is different. Tony doesn’t always have his suit, and the bad guys aren’t exactly easy to find or beat up. Tony discovers something in this film that he hadn’t realized years past.

“My suit was never a distraction or a hobby. It was a cocoon. And I’m a new man.” ~Tony Stark~

To be honest, I wanted to like this movie. I wanted to see Tony becoming a hero we could emulate, like we see in The Dark Knight Rises. I wanted to see that new man who choose once, just once, to do something not for himself. After pondering this film over the weekend with the various quotes and actions Tony makes, I can say this new man isn’t really that new. Refurbished might be the better term. In reality, Tony is the same guy, just humbled and puts himself back together again. I look at his actions for Pepper, and see they are self serving, not self sacrificial.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie has some excellent teaching points regarding pride, the importance of our interactions with others, and the destruction greed can bring. It brings up interesting points on Bioethics, government, and business. Conversely, It also reveals foolish sensuality, crude speech, and ups the ante yet again in terms of violent content.

So if you go see this movie, don’t go expecting to see Ironman turned into a true superhero, like I did. But rather, Expect to see Ironman made into… a man. A man who learns he isn’t invincible, but fails to realize the value of selfless living. That’s what makes this movie, more or less, like the suits Tony tinkers with. Sure they have purpose, they teach lessons, and they have the flash, bang, and sizzle we’ve come to expect from films like this. But open the suit up, and instead of  finding a hero just as incredible as the suit, you’ll find it hollow. Wanting of someone more than the person who made it.