Friday, June 13, 2014

Movie review: "Edge of Tomorrow" is a deeper action movie

            I don’t think it coincidental that Edge of Tomorrow was released in the U.S. on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
            Let me explain: Edge of Tomorrow, adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 light novel, All You Need is Kill (I know, weird title), begins with a montage of news coverage—both fake and real-life—of aliens crashing into Germany and beginning a full-scale war against humanity. We’ve only just begun to actually fight back against these aliens, dubbed Mimics, thanks to that well-known sci-fi trope called armored power-suits. By the time the film actually starts, the United Defense Forces have planned an endgame called Operation Downfall, where the UDF will work together to basically box in the Mimics in Europe with the aid of Russian and Chinese forces.
            Now think about it: an enemy from Germany that completely sweeps most of Europe and has been unstoppable. To continue the WWII parallels, the plot really begins in London, where the UDF is holding the Mimics at the English Channel. The UDF is supposed to invade France, and to top it off even further, the battle itself strongly resembles the Invasion of Normandy; establishing shots have airships flying over a gray beachfront, dropping soldiers into the thick of it. We follow the soldiers as they fall to earth and as they march into a hellish crossfire against a faraway enemy. Foxholes also appear as precious cover against the merciless onslaught.
            If nothing else, these opening scenes are a nice little homage to one of history’s most famous battles and a great visual touch. But beyond that, Edge of Tomorrow fights its own very different war. That war is fought by Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), an American officer and UDF spokesman who has never seen a day of combat in his life. That doesn’t stop General Brigham (a literal stiff-upper-lipped Brendan Gleeson) from sending him to the front lines to cover the invasion. One ill-attempted escape later and Cage is sent to Heathrow Airport under the command of Master Sergeant Farell, a funny-as-all-get-out Bill Paxton. Seriously, you can’t help but laugh every time the dude shows up.
            Despite his best efforts, Cage is sent to the front lines, and director Doug Liman treats the battle as a losing affair: Soldiers die frequently, many from the gyrating masses of tendrils that are the Mimics. The musical score and the shaky camera reflect Cage’s confusion and the soldiers’ desperation. Cage manages one kill before a blue-hued Alpha Mimic assaults him. A quickly-grabbed mine kills the Alpha but also Cage. The camera lingers on his burned-out face covered in Alpha blood…
            …and then jump cuts back to Cage waking up at Heathrow Airport the day before the invasion, screaming. He figures out that he’s stuck in a time loop that resets his day every time he dies. He eventually grows into a better soldier going through the loop. Then he encounters the highly-decorated Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), also known amongst soldiers as the “Fullmetal Bitch” (Dang). Turns out she went the same thing that Cage is going through and together, they resolve to decide make Cage even better so that they can escape the loop and end the Mimic threat.
            This is actually a deviance from the original novel, which was more of a character study of the two warriors. The film probably would have been more interesting if it centered more on Cage and Rita’s relationship than on them trying to escape their fate. Still, the script is a fine one, not slowing down because of the loop and even surprising when it becomes clear that Cage has already experienced the events unfolding. To give the writers further credit, they give Cage and Rita a few quiet moments in-between the fights to further develop them. Which is good, because Rita struck me as a flat character in contrast to Cage, who goes slowly from a smooth-talking coward to a tenacious and confident warrior.
Cruise handles Cage's character development very well while not rushing it, and Blunt embodies Rita’s extreme toughness very well while giving us subtle hints at a much more sensitive interior. Together, they form an unrelenting team in some slick and thrilling action scenes, with Rita brandishing a sword that will be familiar to Final Fantasy VII fans.
            With all this dying going on, you might think Edge of Tomorrow is too serious for its own good. Fortunately, there’s enough comedy peppered here and there to balance it out. In addition to Paxton’s one-liners, Cruise keeps Cage just green enough to warrant some funny reactions. This, when paired next to Blunt’s Rita, leads to one hilarious conversation between the two. One of my favorite moments is after Cage has looped a few times. He’s getting the hang of his suit, he’s courageously running toward the enemy, the music swells to that victorious heroic tune…and then Cage gets run over by a truck! (He does learn, of course.)
            While the writing is good throughout the film, I had mixed feelings about the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I will say it is a happy ending. And that’s the problem. On the one hand, after what Cage and Rita go through, you might think they deserve a happy ending. On the other hand, I felt that the ending devalued everything the story was about, which is perseverance, maturing into a better person, and overcoming great odds. And frankly, I also thought the writers (or the studio executives) just pulled it out of their rear ends. I’ll leave that up to the viewers to judge.
            In the end, Edge of Tomorrow did something I thought I’d never do: Call an action movie “heartfelt”. It didn't exactly tug at my heartstrings, but I found myself actually becoming more attached to the characters and their struggle. And in an age of bigger and flashier blockbusters, characters you can feel for are a rare and welcome thing.

Final rating: 8 bags of popcorn out of 10. Director: Doug Liman. Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth. Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and Brendan Gleeson.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Movie review: New "Godzilla" has great monster but a sluggish pace

Poster courtesy Rotten Tomatoes.
     "Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out....Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood....Nothing on earth is its equal--a creature without fear."
     Those words from the book of Job (narrated by God Himself) described a mythical creature called only Leviathan. But if the beginning of Gareth Edwards' new Godzilla is any indication, the titular beast could almost be the same thing.
     This new Godzilla begins with a cool montage of images ranging from cave drawings of dinosaurs to medieval depictions of dragons to actual footage of the atomic tests in the Marshall Islands with the Big G himself digitally added in. It then follows Drs. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) investigating radioactivity in a giant chasm in the Philippines in 1999 and discovering that something big has awakened and dug its' way out to the ocean. We then cut to Janjira, Japan, and follow the Brody family as Joe and Sandra prepare for another day at the nuclear plant while their son, Ford, goes to school. Seismic activity has been rocking the plant for some time, enough to worry Joe and send Sandra down to the core to investigate. Of course, he comes to regret this decision as that seismic activity has been gradually getting closer to the plant, rocking it more violently, so much so that Joe is forced to seal off the core after radiation leaks out...trapping his wife down there. It's one of the best scenes in the movies, thanks to the strong acting from Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche.
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.
     Cut to 15 years later, and Joe and his son, Ford (played here by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), have gone very different ways: Ford joined the Navy as an explosive ordinance disposal officer, had a son, Sam, with his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olson), and moved on with his life. Not so for poor Joe. Unable to move past the Janjira incident, he's devoted himself to finding out what really caused the plant destruction and has become one of those conspiracy theorists nobody wants to listen to--even his son can't stand him. But blood runs thicker than water, as after Joe trespasses in the quarantine zone of Janjira, Ford flies to break him out...and pretty soon, the both of them are trespassing together and eventually arrested and taken to the deserted plant site.
     Or not-so-deserted, after all. Turns out there is no radiation in Janjira, and the same Drs. Serizawa and Graham have been studying the true cause of the destruction (wait for it)...a massive unidentified terrestrial organism, or MUTO for short.
     Yep, it isn't actually caused by the King of the Monsters. In fact, the actual Godzilla doesn't make a full appearance until an hour into the film. And on one hand, that's partly to Gareth Edwards' credit. Cranston has said in interviews that Edwards' method is similar to Steven Spielberg's Jaws: The movie has a slow buildup to the actual entrance of the monster so that when it does, its presence is much more terrifying.
     And here, Godzilla is a force to be reckoned with. More like a force of nature. At one point, Dr. Serizawa explains that Gojira (the original Japanese name for Godzilla) is an Alpha-Predator that was at the food chain during Earth's primordial years--essentially, a god among monsters. Indeed, it's an apt description; Godzilla dominates the screen whenever he shows up. His steps crack the earth when he walks, his tail strikes like a lightning bolt, and his classic roar will shake the screen with his explosive power. Being in awe of the King of the Monsters has never felt so satisfying.
Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins. Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.

     On the other hand, sometimes the slow burn doesn't work out so well. Because the director is taking his time before showing the monsters, there has to be some other action going between each appearance to hold viewers' interest. But what action is going turns out to be either Dr. Serizawa explaining the creatures' behavior, the Navy (the head of which played by a cool David Strathairn) formulating their next plan to stop the creatures, or scenes of Elle who is patiently waiting for Brody. Many of these segments wind up feeling more tedious and boring than actually interesting after a while and bog up the movie's pace. In fact, the whole movie feels a bit long; if they cut off 15 or 20 minutes of the exposition (while still hiding Godzilla, mind you), the film would probably have felt much smoother.
     The characters are also really one-dimensional and don't receive a lot of development (but then, this is a monster movie). Fortunately, the cast alleviates these problems somewhat. Cranston, Binoche, and Strathairn are great and exude a lot of personality for whatever time they're given. Watanabe delivers some cool lines really well and is otherwise cool on the screen, and would be even more so if he didn't have the shell-shocked veteran look on his face most of the time. However, he's a lot better than the lead, Taylor-Johnson, who is barely emotive and has the same expression on his face almost the whole way through. Never mind most of the cast has ruined their pants at seeing the kaiju. At least Olsen is a little more interesting and can pull off a great look of terror. (On a side note, why are good female actors like Olsen, Binoche, and Sally Hawkins relegated to really minor roles? Seems like a waste of talent.)
Elizabeth Oslen. Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.
     The film has a wonderful musical score by Alexandre Desplat that ranges from despairing to outright victorious, and it's a delight every single time. The scenes are also well-shot, particularly the Navy's HALO jump into the city, which looks some descent into an apocalypse.
     Godzilla really tries to be two movies: a compelling human drama and a destroy-all-things monster movie. Unfortunately, the writing and some of the acting fail to make both excel at the same time. But I tended to forget those missteps any and every time Godzilla lumbered onto center stage.
     "If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!"

Final rating: 7 bags of popcorn out of 10. Director: Gareth Edwards. Writer: Max Borenstein. Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, and Bryan Cranston.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

            So I’ve come to the end of this little school project. I’ve talked about the benefits of listening to both local radio and satellite radio, commented on Time magazine’s March 28 issue, and reviewed three movies: Muppets Most Wanted, Divergent, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
            And the question is: What have I learned from all this, if anything at all? I would say that I’ve learned that you have to be careful about whatever expectations you have when consuming any kind of media. You might just be surprised at how media can thwart them.
            I think I first noticed this when I was reviewing the film, Divergent. I didn’t think much of the film at first; I thought it would be pretty bad, actually. “But what the heck?” I thought. And I found myself actually enjoying certain parts of it and admitting it was ok. But then my opinion went to mediocre as I thought a little more about the movie’s multiple elements and how they all came together into a whole, and I realized despite being surprised, the film really wasn’t all that spectacular anyway.
            My other surprise came when I first saw the headlines for Time magazine. “God at the Movies.” Me being a Christian, my opinion of most media outlets was that they preferred to keep religion out of their articles. But what I read was a fair and in-depth look at Hollywood’s recent focus on Biblical films, once again surprising me and disappointing me as I realized the writer didn’t cover smaller Christian-oriented movies made by churches (I had different expectations in mind for the article).

            Truth is, we all have something in mind when we first read a newspaper or listen to some artist we’ve only heard about or something similar. The real trouble only comes we aren’t willing to look at and listen to the stuff that’s actually in front of us and not put aside our views for just a moment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Film review: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Marvel's best film yet

             Wow. Just wow.
            That’s the best introduction I can think of, having recently seen the latest entry to the Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This film is not only a riveting thriller, but it’s also a major game-changer for the franchise that will leave long-time Marvel fans stunned long after they’ve left the theater.
            But first, the story. The Winter Soldier takes place two years after 2012’s The Avengers, and Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, now works for the spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. in Washington, D.C. and is trying to readjust to life in the 2000s. After a brief introduction to Sam Wilson (a.k.a. the Falcon, Cap’s sidekick), Cap is picked up by the lovely Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow, for a mission involving saving a captive S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from pirates led by Georges Batroc (for you diehard fans out there…). In the process, Romanoff manages to salvage some data from the ship’s computers. Rogers later confronts the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury, for misleading him, which causes Fury to reveal to him Project Insight: three brand-spanking-new Helicarriers (think flying aircraft carriers) that linked to spy satellites and designed to neutralize threats before they’re even carried out.
The Captain and the Widow play off each other well.
           Of course, this flies in the face of Cap’s ideals and sets up his own conflict for the rest of the film: In a world where black and white have faded to grey, how far is too far? Is the greater good really worth sacrificing individuals’ rights and liberties? Is peace really hanging a sword over people’s heads? These are themes that define Rogers’ internal conflict, as well as that of the film itself—themes that should ring especially true in light of the NSA leaks and the use of drone warfare. Because it deals with these issues (albeit not deeply—more on that soon), The Winter Soldier has a little bit more depth than the average superhero movie. Props also go out to it being a political thriller of sorts, so there are enough twists in the plot that viewers will stick around to find out what happens next. Especially important for one plot thread that will blow the minds of long-time comic fans and Marvel newbies. I warn you: it’s a big one.
            But like I said, this is a superhero movie, and what that means is a slight sweeping aside of deeper things for the action and explosions to take center stage. While there’s plenty property damage to go around, none of it is wasted. The chase and fight scenes are already impressive, but cameras tracking the actors and quick, choppy editing give the scenes more kinetic energy, making them feel stronger and more fluid. Additionally, these scenes are often given a slow buildup before they occur, often with a bang meant to—successfully, I might add—surprise viewers and keep them invested in the story.

            All the players of this game are at their top form: Chris Evans continues to imbue Cap with his essential goodness even as he shows more vulnerability and doubt in some other instances. Scarlett Johansson is a good fit for the sassy, irreverent Romanoff and a good foil for Evans. Samuel L. Jackson is back as Fury, and Robert Redford makes his Marvel debut as Alexander Pierce, a rather flat character that Redford still makes more mysterious and cunning. Anthony Mackie as Wilson has the everyday charm and humor needed to balance out the somewhat mythical Captain.
Fans will get this reference...
            And of course, who could forget the titular Soldier himself? Sebastian Stan doesn’t have much of a speaking role here, but he’s still such an imposing force on the screen that he doesn’t have to speak a lot (the slo-mo camera and high-contrast help in creating the terrifying persona). Strong, confident, and relentless, Stan as the Soldier is a lot like the Terminator, except with fewer lines and no titanium endoskeleton.
             Add in an excellent musical score by composer Henry Newman, and you have a film that’s going to be high at the box office for quite some time. With the impressive stunts, good acting, and deep story (for a Marvel film), Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t just Marvel’s best film yet; it might very well be one of the best films of the year.

Final score: 9 shields out of 10. Director: Anthony and Joe Russo. Writer: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, and Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Film review: "Divergent" better than expected but still mediocre

            I don’t mind being surprised. Sometimes it’s nice to have your expectations thwarted. So you can imagine my surprise as I watched Divergent and found it wasn’t half-bad at all. Now, granted, it straddles the line somewhat between good and mediocre, but for what it has to offer, Divergent is a passable, if not formulaic, young-adult feature film.
            Based on the best-selling novel by Veronica Roth, Divergent is set in a futuristic dystopian Chicago divided into five factions, based on certain traits: Abnegation, the selfless government leaders (boy, is that paradoxical); Dauntless, the brave train-hopping soldiers; Erudite, the intelligent scientists and teachers; Amity, the peaceful farmers, nurses, and artists; and finally, Candor, the honest lawyers (again, paradoxical). For every young person’s 16th birthday, after taking an aptitude test for factions, they must go through a ceremony called the Choosing, where they can choose to stay in the faction they were born in or transfer to another faction. Those who fail to belong in any faction are “factionless,” which basically means they’re homeless.
            The film follows a one Beatrice Prior, born into Abnegation. Though content in Abnegation, she has always had an interest in Dauntless. When she goes through her aptitude test (a bizarre simulation involving mirrors, reflections of herself, and a seriously hacked-off canine), her tester reveals that she is the titular Divergent: having the attributes of more than one faction, Divergents are freethinkers who can’t conform to the social order and thus are considered threats.
            But you wouldn’t really know that based on the plot. Though Divergent has an interesting setting, the plot is quite haphazard. The “Beatrice as Divergent” plot thread is pushed almost immediately to the side and scarcely makes any sort of resurgence afterwards, which will make some viewers (especially those unfamiliar with the book) wonder what exactly is the problem with being Divergent. Then there are the growing rumors in Chicago about Abnegation being selfish and the Erudite complaining about it, and Beatrice—who later calls herself Tris—leaving Abnegation for Dauntless, and it makes you wonder what the writers want to focus on. What should generate suspense fails to do so in the end.
Four (Theo James) giving Tris (Shailene Woodley) some fighting advice.
            Still, when the writers do decide what to focus on, Divergent can be pretty entertaining. The second act of the film is comprised largely of Tris undergoing Dauntless training such as weapons training and hand-to-hand combat. These segments can be fun enough, particularly one scene where different Dauntless teams play a game of “capture the flag.”
            There’s quite a cast in Divergent, and all do a good job with their roles; for example, Jai Courtney gets the intimidation factor down with one the Dauntless teachers, and Zoe Kravitz as Tris’ best friend, Christina of Candor, carries her character’s snarky humor quite well. The focus, however, is on the two leads: Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as Four (yes, like the number), Tris’ instructor and, yes, her later love interest as well. Woodley has undeniable charm and innocence as Tris and James, despite being a hard-as-nails instructor, is very likable and charismatic. The only real casting misstep is Kate Winslet, who is squandered talent in a largely absent and transparent villainous role.
            Camerawork is pretty standard; lots of establishing shots of Chicago, wide shots of bigger environments to provide setting, and tilted angles for growing action. However, there was one too many times where the viewer has to stare into Woodley’s face through multiple close-ups. It’s like the director couldn’t decide what to do what to a scene, so he thought it was a good idea to Woodley’s face whenever he got stuck. Ok, man, we get it; she’s beautiful. Now can you please give her and us some breathing room next time?
            Divergent as a novel has been compared more than once to the latest young-adult novel, The Hunger Games, with its emphasis on teenagers fighting—literally and metaphorically—against the established social order. There are definitely similar themes, but The Hunger Games film series is ultimately in a class of own. Despite some good acting and fun action scenes, Divergent doesn’t quite live up to those standards and remains instead a cut-and-dried young-adult film.

Final score: 5 bags of popcorn out of 10. Director: Neil Burger. Writer: Vanessa Taylor and Evan Daugherty. Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q, and Kate Winslet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Local and satellite radio: Why I like both

     I drive a 2012 Kia Soul, and I currently have a subscription to Sirius XM satellite radio. And it's pretty cool. I have dozens, if not hundreds, of stations to flip through to listen music, comedy, news, or whatever I feel like at the time. Or if I want to stick to one station, there's little to no commercials, a perfect signal (except on a cloudy day), and I get to listen to the occasional live performance from some of my favorite bands. Overall, satellite radio is a blast.
     But every now and then, I like to flip to some of the local radio stations and listen them. "Why?" you're probably thinking. "You get non-stop music through Sirius all the time. Why would you go back to local channels?"
     It's true that Sirius keeps playing music on the channels that supply it. But local radio provides me something that satellite can't: a sense of community.
Yeah, this station is pretty sweet...
     The local radio station that I listen to the most is 90.9 KLRC, a Christian radio program. I often listen to it as I'm heading to school early in the morning. The program I listen to is called "The Good Morning Show with Mark & Keri," who are the two hosts. They still play a lot of music, but they also provide the latest news. For instance, when I listened to them today, they talked about a gun threat that was scrawled on the bathroom walls of Bentonville High School. The school went into lockdown, and fortunately, the kid confessed to the threat before anyone was hurt. The funny thing about this, though? When his parents were interviewed about it, they said they didn't own any guns. That could make it hard for that kid to carry out the threat!
     Of course, Mark and Keri also provide the weather forecast. But they also go a mile that I don't think any other stations do: They have a program called "Teamwork Traffic Update." Sounds corny, yeah, but it's actually quite helpful. Anybody who encounters some accident or slowdown on the roads can call the station, report it and they'll announce it on the radio. Not only is it helpful, but it also fosters that sense of community that KLRC is so passionate about.
...but these guys are cool, too.
     Speaking of that sense, often Mark and Keri will just talk about things that are going in their lives. For instance, Mark has been giving regular updates on his and his wife's adoption of a girl from the Ukraine--a process that should have been relatively simple, but has actually taken them over three to work out...and they still are working through it! But Mark has tried to remain positive about it and admitted it's taught him how to really be passionate about something and to fight for it--a trait all humans could learn. They'll bring stuff like that in the hopes of trying to give people a good start to their day.
     And you know what? It works. Not perfectly, but it does work. I often feel better with my day after listening to them.
     So I do appreciate Sirius radio, I really do (lifesaver on a road trip!). But local radio stations have people who are there in your community, have their own struggles, and have the chance to be honest and hopeful about them. Maybe we ought to listen to those guys more.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Some thoughts on Time magazine's "God at the Movies"

     I saw a headline on the March 31, 2014, edition of Time magazine. Ordinarily, I'm not a big reader of Time, but I saw a headline on the cover that made me stop and do a double-take: "God at the Movies." You don't exactly see those two together, and me being a Christian and an amateur movie reviewer, I decided to pick up a copy and read through the article, titled "Films Are His Flock: Jonathan Bock explains Christians to Hollywood."
March 31, 2014 issue of Time
     The article is mostly an interview with, well, Jonathan Bock, president and founder of a marketing firm called Grace Hill Media. He's basically the liaison between movie studios and the American Christian communities; producers decide they want make movies based on Biblical stories,
they go to this guy to make sure they're not stepping on any toes and alienating key audiences.  The article also talks a little bit about the marketing process and the history of Biblical films. It's a short article, but a timely one, since the latest movie based on Scripture is Noah-based on the titular character and his classic Ark-and came out on the 28th.
     To be honest, I was somewhat surprised to see that studios actually showed some concern over the stories they wanted to tell. One example the article gave was how Bock worked with the producers of The Bible TV miniseries. He actually had a meeting with over 40 theologians and scholars in order to go over the script and work on any errors. Another example, pertaining to Noah, is how the film was made in 6 different versions that were shown to Christian audiences. The movie has had a pretty troubled production, as the studio, Paramount, and the director, Darren Aronofsky (a professed atheist), argued greatly over the direction of the film.
     On the other hand, I guess it should make some sense if studios are taking care of the material. Christians are still the majority religious group in America, and The Passion of The Christ raked in over $370 million domestically, according to the article. Add those factors together, and it makes sense: Studios simply see another financial opportunity--a pretty big one. And they can't afford to lose it.
     I was a little disappointed to see that the writer did not include other Bible-themed movies like the films of Sherwood Pictures (Fireproof, Courageous), To Save a Life, and the latest release from the churches, God's Not Dead, which released the same time as Noah. But then again, the writer probably wasn't familiar with these films, and even if he was, the movies don't really have any relevance to the writer's focus on Hollywood-made Bible movies. I guess I was expecting a broader look at these types of films as a cultural trend, and, to my frustration, I didn't get it. Oh well. The article was still worth the read.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Russell Crowe.
     As for how I feel about this whole trend...I don't really know what to think. The film critic in me says that directors and studios have the right to make whatever films they want and that films aren't necessarily bad or good based solely on their story. Noah might be a good film, but it might not. And I don't think Hollywood is completely Satanic. But the Christian in me balks somewhat at this trend. The Christian feels...possessive of these stories, I guess; I grew up in a Christian environment and heard these stories for years. Seeing non-Christians take them and use them for profit...well, it grates on my nerves just a tad. Another concern of mine is that some Christians will just flock to these movies like they're the Gospel and not think critically about them and realize them for what they are: money-making machines. These films don't represent some change in Hollywood's morality or anything like that, although they may stir up conversation about God, faith, and the reality of our world.
     But who knows (besides God)? Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe, as the article says with Bock's words, this is "a return of the Christian community's role as a patron of the arts." Will Christians have greater opportunities to work in film because of Noah and the Son of God miniseries? I'd like to see that happen. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to settle for Ridley Scott's 2014 release, Exodus. Maybe I'll get to see the fall of Jericho...