Movie Review: God’s Not Dead

The spine was staring at me at the library. I had heard reviews from both sides, mostly negative. On the other hand, my brother had said it was a decent film. I uttered those five words that spell certain doom: what could possibly go wrong?

A Christian college student has to prove to his atheist professor that God is not dead.

Before I get around to reviewing it, I need to explain the circumstances that led to this wasted evening. I was born and bred Catholic and went to a Catholic school my entire life. I was into the youth group and retreat scene when I was in high school. Where I stand now, I’m not going to say. My youngest brother saw this during it’s theatrical run with his apologetic club at school, meaning he paid money to watch it; I didn’t.

So, I put the disc in and I wanted to skip to the main menu. I hit the menu button and get the illegal operation symbol. OK, nothing I haven’t encountered before. I hit the skip button: illegal operation. I tried to fast forward through the previews. Again, illegal operation. This was not a good sign.

Before I talk about the religious aspects, there are several other things that need to be discussed. There is not one likable character in the entire film. Every single person is a stereotype. What little character depth is presented, it’s muddled by the multiple subplots that aren’t really resolved. The film tries to emulate Magnolia with having all these storylines come together but it fails on several accounts. A good chunk of the plots served to demonstrate the terrible events that happened to the non-Christians.

The pacing is so slow. Really slow. The Ten Commandments was fast-paced and that was a three-hour film. It didn’t help that I rewatched Bringing Up Baby the night before and that left me exhausted. Here, I was reenacting God from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and said “GET ON WITH IT!” Again, it’s because of the multiple subplots.

The presentations that Josh Wheaton (a name that sounds too similar to the one and only Joss Whedon) has when he is given his allotted twenty minutes to defend his position are too elaborate. Given the amount of time he has to prep for his lecture, there’s no way that he can create animations like that. There’s no template to my knowledge that’s as detailed as the ones shown, unless you have cash.

Getting into the religious parts, there are terrible implications. First, every non-Christian character has terrible things happen to them. Sure, Josh has bad stuff happen as well but it only goes so far as to have his girlfriend dump him. The atheist professor dies from a car crash, predictably. The liberal girl gets breast cancer and the doctor who tells her the news sets it up so that audience members can quote The Room. The Muslim girl is disowned. The list goes on.

Second, the professor is unethical. Why bother teaching philosophy if you’re demanding that every student subscribe to one view? There are multiple views that should be analyzed and discussed. In my “Faiths in Dialogue” class, we had Catholics, Christians, a Mormon, and a Wiccan. We all got along well and we didn’t need to need to defend our faith. If there was something we didn’t know, we said we didn’t know and that would be fine. This professor would be and should be fired.

Third, the Duck Dynasty cameos. I’ve seen some episodes in the past and I really didn’t care for it. I know that one of the members had been in the news for blasting atheism. I kept this in mind as one of the Duck Commanders graced the screen toward the end at the concert, which happened at the same time that the atheist died. If it wasn’t clear before, I stopped caring and wanted the film to be done.

I noticed that this was one of the few films that I had my arms crossed for most of the time. I don’t do that, ever. I keep my arms open to show that I am open to ideas. Here, I was fed up with the film as a whole, just like with There’s Something About Mary. After the illegible credits rolled, any family member that happened to be in the room with me said it was a great film. I sat in silence and left.

I talked to an atheist friend online. He said that it’s what you believe that will lead to what you think of the film. That’s really the best way to sum up the film. Personally, I cannot recommend this film on any level, regardless of what you believe. I read that it was given the MST3K treatment at an atheist convention; that would make this a lot more tolerable.

1/10

Turning Two!

It doesn’t seem like it but here we are. Two years old and just getting started. I know that in the past few months, you haven’t seen me post much aside from the occasional movie review here and there. That will change soon.

From April 2, 2014 to today, I:

Like last year, here are some of the stranger search terms that led people to my blog:

  • gotg yellow is the new black
  • “this beats citizen kane by miles”
  • lars and the real girl interpersonal communication
  • headless chicken mode
  • what album does labyrinth movie sync with? (the answer: David Bowie’s “Hours”)
  • fat monkey
  • equilibrium movie catholic answers
  • elephant my stat movie full (?)
  • fur film and fur movies (sorry to disappoint)
  • tarzan yell words (yes he does)
  • 1950s ice cream ads (not sure what you were looking for)
  • video about life in the 1980 (we’re talking about the 1980)

Eyes Wide Shut has a separate category for search terms:

  • eyes wild shut
  • eyes wihde shot
  • eyes without shut
  • eyes wide shoot
  • http cinema theiapolis movies on nine eyes wide shut

As far as what’s coming in the distant future, I have a post on Argo and one on my path to autism advocacy. Offline, I’m it’s one month until college graduation(!).

Again, I apologize for not posting as frequently as I used to but offline life came up and that was more important. Thanks for staying, reading, and commenting on what I have to say. Here’s to another great year!

Movie Review: Odd Thomas

I’m not odd. Sure, I’m strange but I’ve never been called “odd”. Oh, you’re talking about a different Thomas. OK then…

A man with supernatural powers tries to solve a murder and save the town from the forces of evil.

First of all, I haven’t read the series. I should be thankful that Odd was able to give us some narration throughout the entire film. Otherwise, I would be more lost than I was during the viewing in understanding how the world works.

After spending some time with Odd, it becomes apparent that he will straddle the line between emulating Buffy’s quips (one of the people I was with during the viewing referenced the Hellmouth) and trying to be suave, all at once. I couldn’t get a firm grasp on his personality or his dynamic between him and Stormy.

The use of CGI was mixed. The animation of the bodachs was very smooth and composited well. However, the green screen in the belfry was obvious, complete with a green halo around Stormy’s hair. If you look closely when Odd is doing his job, the cucumber slices are CG.

The plot does manage to get some surprises in, even if you called the climax in the second act. I hesitate to mention how there are some devices that are borrowed from another supernatural thriller, especially since Odd handwaves one quote from said film. I didn’t mind much.

Towards the end, one guy pointed out something about the bodachs that escaped the film’s established logic. Within the film, these creatures seemingly cannot be harmed anything within the physical world. And yet, the leader bodach (I guess, judging by the number of limbs) is destroyed in a fire. We talked about it and couldn’t figure out where or how it was justified, aside from a large explosion.

In the end, the film is an uneven blend of elements. It’s one that can keep your interest through the running time but in the end, it’s not one I’d watch again any time soon.

4/10

#AutismSpeaks10 Takeover

Hey there. At this time, I’d like to talk to you about something that’s been brewing over the past few days that, odds are, you haven’t heard about. It’s a social media revolution that regards A$ and those who are actually autistic.

Last week, the company announced that it would celebrate it’s tenth birthday and created the hashtag #AutismSpeaks10. The intent was for supporters and families to talk about how great the organization is. Word spread quickly through the autism community and it created a backlash. Now, I’ve talked about how the organization has affected me, so it should be no surprise how I feel about the matter.

I’ve taken to Twitter to do my part and have provided some of the tweets below. (To those who do follow me, it’s something that needs to be done.) You won’t find it in the “autism” tag on WordPress (believe me, I checked).

day 5 5

This is recent as of this morning. I’ve seen the video and it’s as one-sided as you can get.

 

day 5 2

It’s a play on words, especially within the autism community.

 

autselfadvocacy

With this tweet, I got the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) to favorite it. That says something.

Since I started, I’ve picked up some new followers. I’m not sure when this will end but I don’t expect it will any time soon, especially with April around the corner. The only positive news source that reported on this was BuzzFeed.

I’m still a bit new to this autism advocacy thing, but it’s something I need to do for the rest of my life. There’ll be more in April but for now, it’s a start.

And the Winner Is… (2015)

wes anderson tweet

Yes, I stayed up for the Oscars (and am regretting the decision after five hours of sleep). There were some high points, like Graham Moore’s acceptance speech, and low points. I’m sure Neil Patrick Harris just had an off-night; happens to everyone. Winner: (my pick)

Best Picture: Birdman (Birdman)

Best Director: Birdman (Boyhood)

Best Actor – Leading: Eddie Redmayne: The Theory of Everything (Michael Keaton: Birdman)

Best Actress – Leading: Julianne Moore: Still Alice (Felicity Jones: The Theory of Everything)

Best Actor – Supporting: J.K. Simmons: Whiplash (Ethan Hawke: Boyhood)

Best Actress – Supporting: Patricia Arquette: Boyhood (Kiera Knightly: The Imitation Game)

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida (Ida)

Best Animated Feature Film: Big Hero 6 (Song of the Sea/HTTYD2)

Best Documentary Feature: CitizenFour (Finding Vivian Maier)

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki: Birdman (Robert Yeoma: The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Costume Design: Milena Canonero: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Colleen Atwood: Into the Woods)

Best Film Editing: Tom Cross: Whiplash (Sandra Adair: Boyhood)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier: The Grand Budapest Hotel (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Music – Original Score: Alexandre Desplat: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Hans Zimmer: Interstellar)

Best Music – Original Song: “Glory” from Selma (“Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie)

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Sound Editing: American Sniper (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)

Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash (American Sniper)

Best Visual Effects: Interstellar (Interstellar)

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game (Inherent Vice)

Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Birdman (Foxcatcher)

Best Documentary Short Subject: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (The Reaper (La Parka))

Best Animated Short: Feast (Feast or The Dam Keeper)

Best Live Action Short: The Phone Call (Aya)

Final tally: 6/24

I’m astonished how much I missed. I forgot to look before the ceremony and I thought I had made more correct picks. Maybe I’ll wait a bit after the nominees are announced before I make my picks. There’s always next year.