Tag Archives: Movie review

1917: My Thoughts On a Brilliant Movie

3 men & a movie

Yesterday (Friday) was the opening night (aside from select showings on Christmas day) for the movie 1917. I had wanted to go see it Christmas evening, but it wasn’t showing any place near me.

So, I sent out a text invite to a bunch of guys, and two ended up going with me last night: a deacon from my church and a fellow preacher and combat veteran. We left the wives behind and had a guys’ night out.

On a side note, when men go to a movie together, it is not good for them to sit side-by-side if it’s only 2 of them. If you have more in the group, there’s no requirement to leave an empty seat between you.

A Brilliant Movie

Related imageLet me just skip ahead to what you really want to know – it was a great movie. You should go see it, especially in a theater.

But what made the movie so good was not the acting, the action, the realistic combat scenes, or the plot; it was all of that mixed together with the most brilliant cinematography I’ve ever seen. From the very first scene, all the way to the last, it’s one continuous camera shot! I’d almost guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it.

The visuals, however, were as important as the story, in my opinion. In reality, the scenes from the silent, cratered fields over which the two main characters must bravely traverse in order to deliver a life-or-death message are a story in themselves. WW1 was a stupid, bloody, pointless massacre; yet, full credit should be given to the average soldier who heroically walked into the monster’s mouth whenever he heard the sound of a whistle.

Metaphor On the Flip Side

1917 was a work of art. It wasn’t meant to be realistic in every detail, especially the size of the set on which the film was made; it was meant to tell a story, and that it did.

This morning, as I was drinking a cup of coffee and thinking about last night’s movie, it struck me that 1917 could be a metaphor for life. And just as soon as I thought that, something else crossed my mind: Is life a metaphor for war?

On the one side, life imitates war. The first moment of the movie opens up with a reluctant hero resting against a tree. The last scene mirrors the last: a worn-out hero finally resting against a tree. Is that not how life is? One battle after the next, brief rests, and then more struggles in which we’ve got little say and no choice but to fight?

But on the flip side, war evidently imitates life.

Or is it that life is a war on many fronts, and war is a part of life? That is, until the battle is won and the war is over.

And what, then, is more valuable and worth the valor? A piece of tin attached to a ribbon, or a crown of life and the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant”?

Final Thoughts

I know I’m a little different. Aren’t we all? But one thing that got me about this film is something that I have started feeling more often the more action films I see: the death of individuals.

Let us never forget that every dead soldier, our side or theirs, was somebody’s child. When I saw the decaying bodies half-buried in muddy craters, an image of a mother never knowing where here son went came to mind. Each one was a soul that went out into eternity. Each one lost was a tragedy.

Because I’ve been a police chaplain, it’s hard for me to watch movies where bad guys plow through town shooting cop after cop. If it were real life, each one of those who died would have been a dad, a son, or a brother who was just trying to make an honest living while serving his community. And yet, Hollywood shows that stuff all the time without any feeling for the widows and orphans of real-life heroes in blue.

So, whether war is a metaphor for life, or the other way around, or both, the fact is that whether it be 1,600 soldiers about to walk into an ambush, or a single private blown to bits in an artillery barrage, life is precious, and each one matters.

World War 1 should never be forgotten. Unfortunately, too many know nothing about it.

Hopefully, 1917 will help change that.

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Filed under General Observations, Life/Death, 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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Filed under Countries, General Observations, Movie review, places

“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