Category Archives: Movie review

“The Widow” – A Quick Review

I Binged

Since I have been, once again, staying at home and unable to work (for the time being), I actually found myself binge-watching a series on Amazon Prime.

I am not much of a TV watcher anymore, but every once in a while I get caught up in a series. When it comes to binge-watching a series, there’s only been a couple: “24” (seasons 3-5) and “Cobra Kai.” Believe me, I’m looking forward to the second season of “Cobra Kai” this month!

But just yesterday and today I spent 7 hours of my life watching a “The Widow” on Amazon Prime, and it left me emotionally drained.

Africa

I didn’t take the time to look to see where the filming actually took place, but “The Widow” was definitely filmed in Africa somewhere. After having been to Ethiopia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, I could tell the scenery was legit, even inside the homes.

But what really drained me was the pain and suffering so rampant in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Poverty is one thing, but hopelessness without Christ is totally different. And that’s all I could see throughout this series.

Sure, there was poverty, as in not having food and shelter and “stuff,” but the real poverty displayed throughout the series was the poverty of the soul. It was in every scene, every character, every plot twist.

People can complain all they want to about America and our president, but if there is ANYTHING that has made America “great,” it’s the undercurrent of a Judeo/Christian ethic that holds together the moral fabric of our society and is the foundation of our laws. Even at our worst, we are not like the Congo. At least here we have the concept that every individual has intrinsic value – not there.

The whole idea of child soldiers and all they go through is sickening.

The Widow

I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t even try to explain this series. The best I can do is tell you that there is a woman who thinks her husband died in a plane crash in Africa, but later finds out he is not dead. She sets out on a mission to find him and find out why he hasn’t contacted her.

It’s complicated and takes a little while for the series to pick up speed. But what slows it down, the developing of characters, is necessary to fully realize the scope of what is to unfold.

There is an LGBT (lesbian) plot twist in an episode or two, one that I feel was totally unnecessary to the story and must have been added to appeal to that particular demographic. Other than that, there’s little by way of offensive subject matter, that is, except for the graphic nature of violence and despair.

If I do any more binge-watching, I hope I find something a little more uplifting. 

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“Pleeeease, Daddy!”

The following post was first published in March of 2015, but the truth is still totally relevant…please read…especially if you’re a father of little girls.


As I watched, my heart broke, my eyes flooded with tears, and I nearly had to leave the theater – that’s how I felt when I watched a particular scene in the movie Do You Believe?.

lacey Do You Belive Movie still

Credit: Still from “Do You Believe?” Movie

Alex PenaVega (of Spy Kids fame) played the role of a young woman named Lacey. Early in the movie she is shown sitting on a couch, on her cell phone, begging her father to either come to visit her, or let her spend some time with him (as I type this my eyes are beginning to water).

Totally desperate for his attention and affection, through barely contained sobbing, she cries out to her daddy, “pleeeease!

Now I’m crying. Seriously. Read on and you’ll understand why.

Not long ago, Katie (my middle daughter) called me up in the middle of the night…then called again…and again… She was at college and really, really ill.

Long story short, she wanted me to come get her…in the early hours of dark morning…before I had to get up and drive a school bus! It was an hour there, an hour back, not to mention loading her stuff, and I needed to be on a bus at 6:20 a.m.! But what was I supposed to do? She was my daughter, and through tears she asked, “Pleeease, daddy, I want to come home!”

I made record time to Bryan College.

Yesterday was a long day, from getting up early after going to bed late, to church last night. Then, at around 9:30 p.m. my little girl, Haley, asked, “Daddy, would you watch a movie with me?”

I looked down at my watch…my eyes were already heavy…I thought to myself, “It’s not going to be long before she’s grown and gone like the others.”…What’s another long day, right?

“Sure,” I replied. “What do you want to watch?”

The reason the scene in the movie got to me was that there are so many little girls out there…girls of all ages…each one willing to give anything for a little time with Daddy. And where are the dads? What is more important to them than a little girl on the other end of the line, soaking her cell phone with tears, crying “Pleeese, Daddy! Pleeeease!“?

More tears.

I like the way the New Living Translation renders Jesus’ words regarding fathers and their children…

You fathers–if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” – Luke 11:11-13

My heart broke as I watched Alex PenaVega’s character weep for her daddy. It broke because the scene she was acting out was all too real – there’s a lot of hurting people out there who may never find comfort in a father’s arms.

Oh, would to God that men would be men and be the heroes their little girls need! Heaven only knows how many precious lives would be spared abuse, broken marriages, and life-long addictions if only daddies would be daddies!

How wonderful it is to know that we as believers have a Father in heaven, our Abba Father, who loves us more than any earthly father ever could! But does that excuse us dads from being our little girls’ knights in shining armor? Absolutely not!

A daddy’s role is to strive to be like our heavenly Father: one who is compassionate; one who listens; one who is patient; one who is strong as an oak tree, uncompromising, yet still available for make-believe tea or midnight retrievals from the dormitory.

Men…dads…be there for your daughter; God’s collecting her tears.

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Filed under Movie review, Parenting, Relationships and Family

More “Wonderful” than Given Credit

In 1946 one of the best films ever made, was released by RKO Studios. The film was called “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I try to watch it before Christmas every year, as many other people do. It’s just too much of a classic not to.

But not long ago, as I was talking with someone about this movie, my emotions bubbled to the surface and started leaking out of my eyes. As I thought of the movie’s message and what it means to me, I couldn’t help but wonder how many suicides this movie has prevented since it’s release 72 years ago.

How many people have gone through life seeing dream after dream crushed by circumstances and between-a-rock-and-a-hard place decisions? How many people have been able to sympathize with the character of George Bailey as he tried and tried to get ahead, but was always forced to make a moral choice resulting in him having to sacrifice while others accomplished their dreams?

How many people have watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” at a time when they were contemplating jumping off their own snow-covered bridge?

I’d say the number is far more than anyone can imagine.

So, if you get a chance to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again this year (or for the first time), remember that there are a lot of people who are struggling with life, whether or not it’s better to die than to keep living with disappointment and shattered dreams.

Pray that God will continue to use this classic to spread the message that every life is precious, no matter the circumstances, no matter how much a failure we think we are.

And even when all seems hopeless, as it does at one point for the character of George Bailey, be reminded that angels are real, God knows what we are going through, and an unexpected resolution might be just around the corner.

Just don’t lose hope and keep others from jumping. 

 

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Filed under Depression, Faith, Life Lessons, Movie review, self-worth

Movies We Should Make!

Noah

noah-280314I know, you’ve heard about all you want to hear about Noah, the unbelievably un-biblical movie meant to be a slap in the face to Bible-believers everywhere. That’s why I am not going to give you any commentary; you’ve probably read it all by now.

One thing is for sure (and this movie proves it in spades), whenever you go to a movie you’re likely to be disappointed if you think the screen adaptation is going to be as good as the book. Seriously, how often are movies as good as the books they are loosely based on? About the only ones I can think of are the first Narnia movie (Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe) and the version of A Christmas Carol that had George C. Scott in it. That’s about it.

Noah’s story, as found in the Bible, is perfectly exciting. It is full of all the things that make a great movie a great movie: drama, action, animals, exotic locations, suspense, larger-than-life sets, and colorful characters. It even has its share of death, destruction, pathos, and the miraculous. So why change all of that? Why trash the written account in order to create a fictitious, over-the-top, insulting flop?

Knoahk-offs (Knock-offs)

Maybe it’s time we go ahead and make more movies using the Noah template? Instead of calling these new movies knock-offs, we could call them knoahk-offs! I mean, why not take the stories atheists and humanists know and love and turn them into evangelical sermons?

Let me see if I can come up with a few ideas off the top of my head…

  • The God Delusion (by Richard Dawkins).
    In this movie, a must-see by Dawkins’ fans, Yahweh actually sits down with Little Richard (the singer) to compose a musical called “The Delusion of Unbelief.” In this unique creation (pun intended), God describes Himself to the world as a loving, sacrificial Sovereign that wants to open the eyes of unbelieving vegans.
  • God Is Not Great (by Christopher Hitchens).
    This movie version of a classic by the late, great Hitchens will have audiences rolling in the aisles. God Is Not Great is a Christian comedy featuring the humorous, yet humble side of the Creator. Movie attendees will laugh along with God as He mocks those who deny His existence and get a kick at how He plays practical jokes on unsuspecting, self-deluded college professors at UC Berkeley.
  • Harry Potter (by J.K. Rowling).
    Atheists and lukewarm Christians everywhere love the Harry Potter series of books and movies, but a remake was inevitable. Yes, a truly accurate depiction of the books (with some creative license, of course) will be brought to the screen. Instead of witchcraft, Harry will be filled with the Holy Spirit, lead Hermione (who played in Noah) to the Lord, get married, attend Moody Bible Institute, then start Hogwarts Baptist Church in Herefordshire, UK.

So, what do you think? I don’t think anybody will be offended, do you? Freethinkers should applaud trashing the writings of their favorite authors, don’t you think? I mean, at least that’s what people are saying we Christians should do with Noah.

If Darren Aronofsky can create a Noah “for the 21st century,” there’s a lot more stories needing an update.

Can you think of a few?

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Humor, Movie review

Reviewing “Infinity War”

I finally went to see the last Avengers movie.

Here are my thoughts.

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Filed under current events, General Observations, Movie review, Theology

If a Monkey Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

Free Movies

One of the great things about modern cable networks is the ability to watch free movies on demand. It’s a great thing, but I guess it’s also a bad thing, too. Free movies mean lots of wasted time in front of a television – because there’s always something to watch.

Well, sorta.

I mean, it’s precisely because I am NOT paying for these movies that the selection is a tad bit limited. When you get what you pay for, and you pay nothing, then you get what you pay for.

So, that’s why I found myself watching “Oz the Great and Wonderful” late Sunday night. I’d forgotten that I’d already seen it back in 2014.

Finley the Flying Monkey

Anyway, even though the movie was rather lame, there were a few well-acted scenes. I especially liked Mila Kunis as Theodora: the creepy, emotionally-ill, heartbroken witch that later became the wicked witch of Dorothy fame. She became the prime reason I will never trust an attractive woman dressed in red that just so happens to greet me in the middle of the woods.

But of all the scenes, one stood out immediately (at least this time around when it was free), and that was the following scene where Finley the monkey indebts himself to Oz.

When I saw this Sunday night, I immediately thought of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I was once trapped and bound by sin. A lion that had been seeking me out to devour me was just about to pounce. I cried out to the only One who could save me, and he did – except in my case, He took the lion’s bite for me.

Why is it so hard to understand that I owe him my life? Oh, I know I do, but do I ever really go about it in the way that Finley the monkey did? Do you?

You do realize, don’t you, that without Jesus we would be dead – eternally so. The life we live is only because of the grace of God. The least we can do is echo the words of Finley and say, “You saved my life, oh Jesus. So, I hereby swear a life debt to you. From this moment on, I shall be your loyal and faithful servant until death.”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

If a monkey can do it, why can’t we?

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Filed under animals, Christianity, grace, Movie review, salvation, worship

“The Shack” (My Review)

To Begin With

To begin with, let’s spell out what we know is true about God and His relationship to mankind. I mean, before I start talking about my impressions of a work of fiction – a movie – let’s talk reality, theologically speaking.

First, God is best understood as existing in trinity:

TRINITY (from Lat. trinitas).† An expression for the revelation of the one God (Deut. 6:4) in three “persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the trinity is a theoretical model intended to systematize various expressions in the Bible. The basis in Scripture on which it was built can be summarized as follows: there is only one God; each of the three divine persons is recognized to be God; God’s selfrevelation recognizes distinctions among these three persons in that there are interactions among them; and these distinctions are not just a matter of revelation (as received by humans) but are also eternally immanent in the Godhead.

Source: Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 1019.

Second, God has spoken and speaks to His children through the revealed and completed work of Scripture (the Bible). Therefore, what contradicts or stands in opposition to the Word of God is contrary to truth, therefore in error.

Third, God also speaks in a general sense through the works and workings of His creation (Romans 1:19-20).

Does God still speak to his children through dreams? I believe it is possible, for God can do anything He wishes, and He’s the same today as He was yesterday. However, does He speak through dreams and visions to His children in the same way which is recorded in the Bible? That’s debatable.

Fourth, God works in ways we can’t always understand…

For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV

Therefore, if He wanted to, there’re’so nothing to stop the Lord from giving a man a dream of being with the Godhead in a shack for a weekend, eating Divinely-prepared breakfasts and dinners, while not compromising what He has already revealed in the completed canon of Scripture. Has He ever done such a thing? I don’t know. But He could.

My Review

Look, I am not a professional film critic. I don’t know much about industry lingo. The best I can do is simply tell you what I think about what I saw.

Despite what many of my Christian brothers and sisters have said, I thought The Shack was a really good movie. I have never read the book on which the movie was based, so I don’t know how it compares. But what I do know is that what I watched did not contradict the overall truths about God as mentioned above. That’s the first big point.

What we have in The Shack is a story about a man who lost his youngest daughter to a terrible sex crime. The aftermath of the loss brought about bitterness, guilt, and questions of God’s character. In short, the lead character felt qualified to judge God.

Instead of being angry or disappointed with the lead character, Mack, we find out that God loved him and wanted to restore joy and wonder to his faith. Even more, God wanted Mack to trust Him. In The Shack we see a God who wants to restore relationships with His children, those who are His, but have strayed as a result of their pain.

There are certain elements in this movie that have been criticized unfairly. One of those is in the way God the Father (“Papa”) is portrayed for a good portion of the film as an older black woman. This alone has cause some to flip their lid. However, should one watch the movie he would find out that there was a practical, personal reason for God appearing as woman – Mack had an abusive father as a child, and it was always an older black lady who comforted him with godly wisdom and fresh-baked apple pie. When Mack asked Papa why He was a woman, she (God) replied: “After what you’ve been through, I didn’t think you could handle a father right now.” Later in the movie when Mack needed the leadership of a man, God assumed the role of a masculine male.

Essentially, no doctrine was compromised by the depictions of God the Father. The film told a story which reflected the same truths as depicted in Luke 13:34 and 15:20…God can be both a mother hen and a merciful father.

Believe it or not, Jesus was portrayed by a mid-30’s, Israeli-born Jewish man. The casting was perfect.

The Holy Spirit was portrayed by a young Asian woman. I didn’t get that one, but it really didn’t matter; if your going to put a physical appearance to the Spirit, an Asian girl is just as logical as an older black woman.

Honestly, before the movie started, I had in front of me a note pad ready to record every blatant heresy I was expecting to see. Yet, when the movie was over the pad was still bank. Frankly, there was only one line in the movie that caused me to pause it and have a quick discussion with my family…(NOTE: Discussion is the important key to watching any movie with one’s family.)…Papa responded to a question Mack asked about punishing people for their sins by saying: “I don’t punish…sin is its own punishment.” I understood the sentiment, but a quick word search on BlueLetterBible.com through some in some wrenches.

The important thing to remember is that the movie storyline clearly indicates Mack never actually, physically, went to the old shack. What we are left with is the question of whether or not God might choose to miraculously step in through a vision or dream and individually speak to a man in order to change his heart. But even that is not the main point of The Shack.

The main point of this movie is to show through admitted fiction that what we think we know about God might be wrong. Even though The Shack does do a good job of reinforcing a biblical description of the Godhead, especially relating to the question of pain and evil in the world, there is an element of danger: If we don’t point people to the Bible to read what God has written about Himself, only cause people to question their perceptions, then we are only left with more questions and more uncertainty.

In conclusion, there are many quality moments in this movie worthy of open discussion. As a Christian, I was certainly blessed by what I watched. My only concern is that, other than showing the main character and his family in the end worshipping together in a Christian church, there are too many loose ends: an unbeliever who watches is not given any distinct instructions on how to experience a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, only an affirmation that it’s OK to trust God, even in the bad times, because He is always good.

I would love to hear your feedback, so share your thoughts in a comment. 

 

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Faith, General Observations, God, Movie review