Posts Tagged ‘ Steven Spielberg ’

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln.

The mere mention that name brings thoughts of the Civil War, honesty, and freedom of slaves. Oft forgotten though, is his work of the 13th Amendment, which truly granted slaves freedom. Not the Emancipation Proclamation.

This film tells the story of how Lincoln worked to pass this amendment to our constitution. It shows the reasoning behind it, the politics involved, and the opposition to it. Some democrats in the Union refused to acknowledge black people as equal in the Nation. They fight long and hard to fail the amendment, as they argue the south will never surrender with slavery abolished. The amendment will prolong the war, and worse yet, completely divide the nation past the point of repair.We see a glimpse into how Abe lived his life during this short moment in history. We see his family. We see his cabinet. And most importantly, we see his personality brilliantly captured in a manner which not only compliments his virtues, but recognizes his flaws. He is a man, serving as president, in a divided country. He is Lincoln.

Things I liked

The star of this movie is of course Lincoln, and much of the movie is spent on how he lived in every aspect of life….
– Even thought Lincoln was president of the United states of America, family always came first. In cabinet meetings his son would drop in and Lincoln think nothing of it. His wife, Mary, still grieving over the loss of Willie, puts on the mask of a happy first lady, and supports Lincoln in his decisions. She will challenge him on his thoughts, but when his mind is made, she supports him completely. When the votes were being cast, Lincoln stayed at home with his son and spent the day with him. Over and over we see him placing family priorities above everything else in this movie.

– Lincoln was not as perfect a man as many of the history books make him out to be. He was wily and shrewd and could play politics with the best of them. That was not his usual Modus Operandi however. Often he would reason and talk to someone to achieve the desired goal or viewpoint. But when necessary, he acted in ways which were quite political and manipulative. At times we see him offer jobs of patronage for yes votes. One time he flat out lies the the representative assemble, an action deemed “Impeachable” by one of his advisors. I appreciated they made Lincoln a man who lived life. Not a man larger than life.

– Finally about the portrayal of Lincoln, was his personality and how he lead others. Manipulation was a rarity by him, though he would participate in it. We do see many commendable leadership traits by Lincoln. One such trait is his use of stories to communicate points. His use of appropriate humor to defused tense situations. His grace and teaching spirit. He gave one boy a pardon for laming his horse to avoid battle because “I don’t want to hang a boy for being frightened. What good would it be for him.”His meekness as president. His ability to accomplish goals by doing things himself. All of these traits are ones which are to be commended, and while he was not perfect, should be recognized for his strengths.

In addition to Lincoln and how he related to many aspects of the 13th amendment and family, I enjoyed the given perspective of the Civil War. Often slavery is wrongly portrayed as the main factor and basis for the Civil war, which is simply not True. The Vice President of the Confederate State of America said in the movie “You can’t take away our slaves and expect a complete surrender. You take away that and you destroy our economy. Our way of life. Our power. We won’t even know who we are anymore.” 

We are shown the civil was was not mainly about slavery, but about political power and economic security. I appreciated an accurate focus of the war, not twisted and warped into something it wasn’t.

The last thing I would like to note is the quality of the movie. The videography, the lighting, the costumes, the acting, the score…. All were masterfully done. I would have no issue believing Linclon was just like the man on the screen. His mannerisms, his voice, and action were all perfectly mimicked according to historical records. It was a treat to watch and see all of these artistic fields blended together to create the picture on screen.

Things I didn’t like

The main issue I take with this movie is the profanity. There is a lot of it. Dozens misuses of God’s name are said. D—, B—–, F—, and more are used by old men, soldiers, and some riled up congressmen. Even Lincoln dishes out an S— word for some crude humor.

The movie opens with a battle scene where “the Colored Union Soldiers” are fighting Confederates. It is raining, so water has collected in many places. We see men getting beat to death with rifles, stabbed in the stomach with bayonets, stomped to death and drowned… all in the course of around two minutes. While this is not at all enjoyable to watch. It is good to be reminded no battle is glorious or should be praised, especially in the instance of this war.

We are shown a cart dripping large amounts of blood being wheeled, then multiple amputated arms and legs dumped into a pit behind the hospital.

Near the end of the movie. Lincoln goes to the last battle ground in Virginia, and we are shown the aftermath of war. Dead corpses are shown everywhere in various forms of death. Some were ripped open, guts spilling out onto the muddy ground. Some had bayonets in the back. While others where in piles behind cover, piled on top of each other. With John William’s scoring, and Mr. Lincoln’s reaction, it was enough to make you sick and tear up at the same time.

Closing Thoughts

“You can know True North. When I was a surveyor, I would align my compass to true North, The compass points you true north but does not warn you of obstacles and swamps along the way. So while you can plow through people, ideals, and goals focused on True North, without looking at your surroundings, you can wind up stuck in the swamp….” 

Lincoln says to Thaddeus Stevens about Mr. Stevens unwavering principle on the black right to freedom, vote, and more. Lincoln illustrates how while we can know we are right about something, being obnoxious about it and plowing through people with the idea is not going to get you anywhere. It is also going to get you stuck with your idea and people will not want to listen to you. How does Mr. Stevens respond? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out. 😉
This quote stuck in my mind, because I was instantly reminded of some Christians. You know of whom I speak. 😉 How important it is to remember while we are right in following Christ and God’s word it true, that we not become arrogant in such knowledge. That we remain as gentle as a dove, yet wise as a serpent when we witness with our actions, words, and life. The movie portrayed that concept excellently, and gave me a heart check and application to implement.

“Can we choose to be born? Are we fitted to the times we’re born into? We begin with equality, that’s the origin isn’t it? That’s justice. See we’ve shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere.” 

Another outstanding quote from Lincoln. He asks this to a young man, while sitting in the communication room, about to send a message to Grant. While an answer never is decided, the point is made… Are we in this place and time for a purpose? As Christians, we can answer a resounding “Yes”. This makes an excellent talking point for witnessing or starting conversations about life purpose, and I intend to use it as such.

All in all. This movie is like Lincoln himself. It stands tall and true on biblical principles, history, and showing what the Civil war truly was. However, problems (which Lincoln also had) need to be recognized and not excused. These are the language and quite gruesome scenes.
If we remember anything about Lincoln portrayed in this flick, it should be his indubitable spirit and wisdom in the time into which he was fitted. He saw and felt from his deepest conviction the 13th amendment was the the first step in solve to the nation’s problems about division and slavery. And he did what ever he felt within his power as president to do get that done.

When deciding to see this movie, I’ll close with Lincoln’s advice, as my wisdom in this is lacking. He said when making decisions…. “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” 

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Men in Black

Men in Black posterNYPD officer James Edwards was just doing his job, chasing down a criminal through the streets of New York when something strange happened — the perp blinked two sets of eyelids.  The rest of the police department doesn’t believe James, but somebody does — a mysterious man in in a black.

The man in black is known only as Agent K, and after some convincing, he recruits James to be part of the Men in Black — a secret agency that monitors, screens, and covers up alien activity on the planet earth.  James becomes Agent J, dons his own black suit, and partners with K to find out what threat is sending scores of formerly happy aliens running back home.

The answer?  A bug, a violent, parasitic alien who feeds on other life forms, and wants to obtain the Galaxy to help his race win a war with the Arquillians.  As if that weren’t trouble enough, the Arquillians regretfully announce that to keep the bug from obtaining the Galaxy, they will destroy earth if the bug isn’t stopped before their deadline, which is just hours away.

Can K and J work together to stop the bug, deliver the Galaxy, and save the earth before the whole planet and every man, woman and extra-terrestrial on it are blasted into oblivion?

The Good

Honestly, the movie is more a fun ride than anything else.  It is absolutely hilarious from beginning to end, with fun characters, just enough of an arc to make the story feel worthwhile, and a bittersweet ending that tugs at your heartstrings.  There’s not much thematic substance to the story.

There are a few messages.  J learns to take the world just a little more seriously, and that everything is not a game.  The two agents learn to cope with each others’ vastly different viewpoints and are willing to lay down their lives for each other and for the people of earth.

Mostly, though, it’s just to make you laugh — lighten your spirit.  And it will.  It’s loads of fun.

The Bad

Unfortunately, it’s not as clean as I could wish.  The main problem is language, of which there is a whole lot throughout the film.  It’s on the mild side as bad words go, but there is an awful lot of it.

A morgue worker in an extremely short skirt, Laurel, is romantically attracted to Agent J, an attraction which he returns.  While nothing really ever happens between them, they flirt a few times and in one scene she tries to tell him that she’s being held hostage, and he thinks that she is propositioning him.

There are also a lot of scary/disturbing elements, especially the villain — the “bug.”  Disturbing enough in his natural giant cockroach state, he’s more bothersome still after killing a farmer and using the man’s empty skin as a disguise.   It’s not shown in gory detail, but the result is still pretty disgusting.  Aliens’ heads are shot off and grown back, one character is eaten alive by the bug, and two alien characters are murdered.  There’s a lot of that sort of violence — nothing really downright graphic, but some stuff that’s just plain gross.

The Art

The highlight of the film is definitely the acting.  Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are a riot together, and they completely make the film worthwhile.  Minor characters are also well-acted, but the heart of the story is the two agents and their hilarious relationship.

The visual effects are decent, especially for the time the film was made.  Danny Elfman’s score is memorable and fitting, the plot, while complex, is well-paced and engaging.

If you don’t mind the swearing and the alien weirdness, this is a delightful film to laugh away a couple hours with.  If you have a problem with language in films, this is definitely one to skip.  Hopefully, this review will help you decide whether or not this classic is a movie you care about seeing.

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.

War Horse

It’s 1914 and Albert Narracott is a young man living on a farm in the beautiful English countryside. His father is an alcoholic which forces Albert and his mother to make the best decisions for their family. When Albert’s father decides to outbid everyone at an auction to purchase a horse that is beautiful and fast, but not at all suited for plowing, it starts to seem like the family will lose their farm and livelihood. Albert is resolved however that he can train the horse (which he names Joey) and fit him for work.

Despite the success that Albert’s hard work earns him, a flood ruins the family’s crop leaving the Narracott family with nothing. Well, nothing except Joey. Albert’s father sells Joey to a captain in the British military thus beginning Joey’s transformation into a war horse and his remarkable journey home.

The Good

War Horse was not a typical war film. Through showing everything through Joey’s experiences, the story remains less tainted than it would have been otherwise. This film does an incredible job showing family loyalty, determination, bravery, and kindness. In remaining neutral (Joey changes hands often and finds himself with both the English and German armies) War Horse beautifully shows the good found on both sides during the war while displaying the unfavorable as well.

The Bad

The MPAA rated this film PG13 for “intense sequences of war violence.”

This film contains some profanity, but the main thing to be wary of is the violence and tense family scenes. While visual battle wounds and blood are minimal, the fighting scenes are still extremely intense. Dead bodies are seen, but nothing gruesome. One scene contains a character being consumed by poison gas which can be frightening for some viewers. At one point in the film, a horse becomes badly ensnared in barbed wire and ends up bloody and battered. Besides that, the film has many scenes that depict the war and fighting was prevalent throughout.

As for disrespect and difficult family moments, the Narracott’s landlord is constantly belittling the Narracotts and Albert’s father in particular. In desperation, Albert’s father sells Joey and, even though Albert is respectful, it is obvious that he despises what his father has done. Two German soldiers go AWOL and the film portrays it in a rather positive way (although not entirely).

Albert’s father is a drunk, but it is shown in a very unfavorable way.

One character tells lies to the enemy who is raiding his home.

There is one scene when a young soldier asks his older brother about Italian woman and his brother simply replies that he is too young for them.

The Art

War Horse is riveting artistically. John Williams’ score is beautiful with a classical style. The score succeeds in capturing the spirit of the characters and its sweeping orchestral melodies are astounding. Williams did a brilliant job allowing us to taste the horrors, losses, and triumphs of war through music.

As for the cinematography; it’s some of the best I’ve seen. Spielberg’s directing and Janusz Kaminski’s lens work were beyond beautiful. Shots are taken from unique angles and the landscapes are full of rich and bright colors and are positively stunning. Every scene was a visual experience as it was constantly astounding how many new ways a camera could be used to tell a story or convey an emotion.

To conclude, War Horse was refreshing as a war film which was much more family friendly than most. Masterfully told, the story is one that people can relate to and the characters are real to us as their emotions are our emotions. Since we all experience fear, loss, hope, determination, failure, love, and friendship, we can all relate to War Horse in our own way.

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