Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Fathers Love And Human Trafficking: A Review Of TAKEN

So I have shown a ton of movies to teens over the years, and usually I try and keep them fairly clean, with somewhat of a message, but what I am suggesting here is something I never would have done before, it is a little radical but if you are willing to take a little risk in showing a violent movie to teens (cause we all know teens hate violence) , then I have rarely seen a better movie that looks at a fathers love and human trafficking then TAKEN

Plot: TAKEN is about a father who is trying desperately to reconnect with his daug
hter after years of missing big chunks of her life. His ex-wife, her mother, does pretty much everything she can to make this difficult, and when his newly turned 17 year old daughter is invited to Paris for the summer, they guilt dad into agreeing to let her go with the conditions that she call when she arrives, and every night, and lets him know where she is staying. So, cut to Paris, and his daughter and her friend aren't there for 5 minutes before they are abducted. It is at this point we find out that Daddy is not just anybody, but a retired government spook type that tells the kidnappers to give her back or he is coming to kill them, they say, "Good Luck!" and it gets incredibly violent from there.

Main Themes: As the title of this post suggests, TAKEN, although violent, is a great movie example of how much a father can love his daughter. As the movie starts it is revealed that Liam Neeson's character Bryan Mills has gone to great lengths to be closer to his daughter. He has retired from his job and moved to Los Angels, given up most of his social ties, and is willing to put up with his ex-wife and her super rich new husband, and all that is before his daughter is, well, taken. After that he flies to Paris and puts his "very particular skill set" to use (more on that later). Now, as for the daughter, after she is "taken" she doesn't show up again till the end of the movie, but you do find out what happens to her and the countless other girls that get kidnapped and put into human trafficking. The basic run down is that once they are kidnapped they are first pumped full of drugs to get them addicted and compliant, after that they are farmed out to places around Paris to be used as prostitutes and sex slaves. As for Maggie Grace's character Kim Mills, she is special for several reasons. 1. She is American 2. She is pretty, and most importantly, 3. She is a virgin, and that last one makes her more then just a girl to be farmed out to the locals, instead she is placed on the auction block at a fancy rich persons private estate. It is later revealed that after being bought should would have become the property of a very rotund Sheik (yeah, I am calling him fat, but he is super rich, so people with that much money are rotund, or possibly big boned, but never fat, go figure) to do with as he pleases, and I think it is safe to assume that he doesn't just want to be friends.

Theological Discussion Points
Ok, here is where this movie becomes a bit of a hard selling point to show to teens, the violence level. Now, the funny thing is, most kids by the time they have reached the teenage years will have watched plenty of movies that are as violent, or in many cases, more violent then TAKEN, heck, many parents watch said violent movies with their kids, so you may be asking, what is the big deal if a youth leader shows it when they could also use it as a God talk segway? Well, in my experience, parents seem to think it is OK for them to show this type of violence, but for a "Church" to show it, it is bad, so, WARNING, WARNING, DANGER WILL ROBINSON (OR YOUTH LEADER / PASTOR TYPE PERSON), DANGER. I am recommending this movie, but make sure the parents know that you are watching it, what is in it and why it is worth showing, or you might be getting some angry phone calls/email or visits. So now with that said, why is it worth watching? Here are some thoughts that come to mind.

Bryan Mills loves his daughter so much that he is willing to go to extremes to make sure she is rescued. He does some terrible things along the way, including punching, kicking, breaking bones, shooting, wounding and killing, and in one case, using two long nails and electricity together to get some answers about his daughters whereabouts. Are these things bad, sure, would you want your kids doing them, nope, but if I am being completely honest, I would do the same. You see, I have two daughters, and if I was in Bryan Mills place, where doing all these terrible things would save my daughters from a life as sex slaves, then I would not hesitate to do this and more. So how is this a God segway you may ask, well.

Bryan Mills would do anything to save his daughter, as most parents would, yet lets look at God, he actually did the opposite. God, who loves on such a deeper level then we do, took his greatest treasure, his Son, and instead of making sure he was safe, decided to place Jesus in the middle of chaos, to be mocked, beaten and killed in one of the worst ways possible. But why? Bryan Mills was being a good father, he was doing the right thing trying to save his daughter (sure, he was breaking laws, God's and Man, but so were the people he was hurting, and his goal was pure, right) yet God does the complete opposite, yet for the same reason, love. For God so loved the world that he yada yada yada, you know how it goes, well, it is true. God is a Father, just like Bryan Mills is a father, yet one killed many to save the one he loves, and the other allowed the one he loves to be killed for the many, which often ignore and mock him. If this is not a chance for you and your youth to talk about God and love and sacrifice and all those other important things in life, then I don't know what is.

Ok, so you have the love angle, then you can talk about the moral angle of turn the other cheek, love thou enemy, an eye for an eye and many more that you smarter people can come up with, go nuts, heck, I bet your teens will come up with some awesome stuff too, who knows, it could happen!

Lastly, you could have a great talk about human trafficking. As I write this and you read this, someone has become a sex slave, I am not kidding. This is a real and terrible evil in the world, and not enough people are talking about. Now, for many reasons, one of which is that this post has already gone on too long and another one being I am lazy, I will not put a whole lot of statistics with this, there are many websites that do a great job of giving info on the topic, so go find them, or better yet, make your teens go find them, cause good leadership is all about making others do your work, or "DELEGATING" as some of you call it.

So, that's all I got, TAKEN or leave it, ha ha, see what I just did there, I put the name of the movie and a familiar saying together to make awesomeness at the end of my post. I know, I know, that was terrible, but Jesus and his Dad blessed me with the funny genius gene, so what are you going to do? I'm sure he gave you awesome gifts too, being one body and all, so until next time, stay "insert cool sign off phrase here", and all Gods people said, beg your pardon?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My 2009 Movie Watching Year

So I know it is almost the end on 2010, but since it is not finished yet, and I want to give you a little insight to why I think I watch more movies then you, I thought I would post my list of movies that I watched in 2009. Just know this as you are reading it, I have already watched double this amount in 2010, so yeah, I watch more movies then you, and although I have not been given a degree in movies or anything, I have probably seen lots of movies that you haven't and might be able to help direct you to something you missed. I have also put the poster for what I think is the best movie of 2009 below, enjoy the mind numbing read.
#’s - 10 Items Or Less * 10,000 B.C., * 13: The Game Of Death * 2012 * 500 Days Of Summer

A - A Christmas Carol (1951 Version) * A Clockwork Orange * A Fistful Of Dollars * Aladdin * Alien * Alien Agent * Alien VS Predator: Requiem * Alvin And The Chipmunks * American Psycho * Anamorph * Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy * Armageddon * Army Of Darkness * The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford * Avatar 3D (2X)

B - Babe * Bad Lieutenant * Bangkok Dangerous * The Bank Job * Barbie: Barbie Diaries * Barbie: The Three Musketeers * Barbie: Thumbalina * BASEketball * Basic * Bedtime Stories * The Big Hit * Big Stan (2X) * Bigger, Stronger, Faster * Blankman * Boa VS Python * Bolt * The Bourne Ultimatum * Bringing Out The Dead * Brother Bear * Bubba Ho Tep * The Bucket List * The Burrowers

C- Caddy Shack * Carny * Casualties Of War * Chaos Theory * Chestnut: The Hero Of Central Park * The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian * Cleopatra Jones * Clerks 2 * Clue * Con Air * Control * Coogan’s Bluff * The Cooler * Couples Retreat * Cube Zero

D - Day Watch * Dead Poets Society * TheDeath And Life Of Bobby Z * Death At A Funeral * Deathrace * Deathrace 2000 * The Dead Zone * Definitely/Maybe * Die Hard * Die Hard 2: Die Harder * Die Hard: With A Vengeance * District 9 * Donnie Darko * Dr. Horribles Sing-Along-Blog * Dracula 2000 * Dream Team * Drillbit Taylor * Duck, You Sucker AKA “A Fistful Of Dynamite”

E - Eagle Eye * El Mariachi * The Eliminator * Escape From L.A. * Escape From New York * Evening With Kevin Smith 3 * Evolution * Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

F – Fanboys * Fern Gully * Fight Club * Final Destination 3 * Finding Forrester * Fireball * Fireproof (2X) * Fools Gold * The Foot Fist Way * For A Few Dollars More * Forever Strong * Forgetting Sarah Marshall * Formula 51 * Fortress 2: Re-entry * Foxy Brown * Freddy Got Fingered *

G - G.I.Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (2X) * Gabriel * Garden State * Get Smart * Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past * The Go Getter * Gone In 60 Seconds (1974 Version) * Gone In Sixty Seconds (2000 Version) * Good Luck Chuck * The Good, The Bad And The Ugly * Grace Is Gone * Green Lantern: First Flight * Grind House

H - Half Nelson * The Hammer * Hang Em’ High * Hank & Mike * Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay * Harry Potter And The Philosopher Stone * Heartbreak Ridge * Hell Ride * Hellboy 2: The Golden Army * High Plains Invaders * Hollowman * Homeward Bound * Hoodwinked * Howard The Duck * Hulk VS. * The Hunted

I - I Am Legend * The Illusionist * I’m Not There * The Incredible Hulk (Director Commentary) * In Bruges * In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale * In The Valley Of Elah * Inglourious Basterds * Inkheart * Interview * Ip Man * Iron Giant

J - Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer * JCVD * Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains * Journey To The Center Of The Earth * Joy Division * Jumper * Juno

K - Kelly’s Heroes * The Kingdom * King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters * Knowing * Kung Fu Panda

L - Lake Placid * Lars And The Real Girl * The Last Man On Earth * Law Abiding Citizen * Let The Right One In * The Lion King

M - Malibu Shark Attack * Masai: The Rain Warriors * Maximum Overdrive * Meet The Spartans * The Men Who Fell * Memento * Michael Clayton * Monster Ark * Muppets Christmas Carol * Mutant Chronicles * My Name Is Bruce

N - Natural Born Killers * Never Back Down * Next * Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist * Night Watch * The Nines * Ninja Assassin * No Country For Old Men

O - Oceans 11 (1960’s Version) * Olive, The Other Reindeer (2X) * Once Upon A Time In The West * Open Season 2 * Orca * Outbreak * Outpost

P - Paul Blart: Mall Cop * Piglet’s Big Movie * Pineapple Express * The Plague * Predator * The Promotion * Pterodactyl * Punisher: Warzone * Push

Q – The Quest * Quest For Camelot * Quick Change

R - Raging Bull * Razortooth * Red (2008 Version) * Redbelt (Director Commentary) * The Ref (2X) * Reign Of Fire * The Replacements * Resident Evil: Degreneration * Resurrecting The Champ * Right At Your Door * Righteous Kill * Ringers: Lord Of The Fans * Robocop * Robocop 2 * Robocop 3 * Rock Monster * Rock Star * Rocky Balboa * Role Models * Rollercoaster * Ronin

S - Sand Serpents * The Santa Clause * Scorpion King 2: Rise Of The Warrior * Scrooged * Semi-Pro * Serenity (2X) * Serpico * Sharkwater * Shredder * Southland Tales * Space Chimps (2X) * The Spirit * Stand By Me * Step-Brothers * Stop-loss * Strange Brew * Sunshine * Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut * Superman/Batman: Public Enemies * Superman: Doomsday * Superman: Doomsday (Directors Commentary) * Surfs Up * Survival Island * Swing Vote *

T - Talk To Me * Tears Of The Sun * Terminator Salvation (2X) * The Time Travelers Wife * Tigger & Pooh Super Sleuth Christmas Movie * Tortoise VS Hare * Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen * Transpotting * Tropic Thunder

U – Underground * Unforgiven * Unknown * Untraceable * Up

V - V For Vendetta * Vanhelsing * Veggie Tales: The Pirates That Don’t Do Anything * Vertical Limit

W - Wall*e * Wandy Sykes: I’m A Be Me * Wanted * War Inc. * Watchmen * Watchmen Directors Cut * Wedding Crashers * The Wedding Singer * Winnie The Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year * Winter Passing * Wonder Woman (2X) * Wonder Woman (Directors Commentary) * Wushu Warrior

X, Y & Z - X-Men Origins: Wolverine * Yes Man * You Don’t Mess With The Zohan * Your Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush * Zodiac * Zoolander * Zoom (2X)

So there it is, the list in alphabetical order, all 291 of them. Anything with a (#X) means I have watched it that many times for the year. If you want to know what I thought of any particular film I have written reviews on Flickster on my Facebook for most of them. Merry Christmas and happy movie watching while we celebrate Jesus being born.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christ In Film

This is probably not the kind of post you think it would be from the title. If you mention Jesus and Film together in the same sentence, usually "The Passion Of The Christ" or "The Gospel Of John", come to mind, but seeing as this is my first movie post on my brand new blog, I thought I would go for something a little more thematic in tone. So, I have tattoos, if you know me then you already know that, but in the off chance you are reading this and have never met me, I had to get the obvious out there so you will understand my thought process a little. You see, I have a philosophy about my ink, and that is, for the most part, they are mainly about two things, 1. Jesus and 2. who I am. So that brings me to Jesus or Christ in film. You see, I have a Batman symbol tattooed on the inside of my arm, and when people ask about my ink and I give them my little spiel, the first thing they point out is my Batman symbol, and say, "how is that about Jesus?" to which I always reply, "are you kidding, Batman is Jesus." So, that said, this is where I am going with this, so without further rambling on my part, here are my top 5 Christ figures in film.

5. Wall*e - I know it may sound silly, that I consider a little animated robot to be a great representation of Jesus, but hear me out. Besides being incredibly cute, Wall*e is also loving, patient, kind, willing to go to amazing lengths to help those in need and in the end, self sacrificing. Put that together and you have Jesus in small robot form, there is also a whole restoration theme you can throw in there too if you are super ambitious, but all in all Wall*e is Christ.

4. Batman - So from my mentioning him earlier, it is pretty clear that I feel Batman belongs on this list. Now as far as superheroes go, there are two main Christ figures that top the list, Superman being one, and almost an easier one in many peoples eyes. You know, with being the all powerful mama loving boy scout helping the old lady across the street do gooder that he is. Yet I think that is exactly the reason I would pick the other choice, Batman, over Superman. Everybody loves Superman, heck he is Superman. On the other hand you have Batman, who is totally human, no powers whatsoever, but has pushed himself to be the best at everything he does, all for the love of his parents and the safety, or "salvation" of everybody else. He does everything possible to save people, even willing to die and in a couple of cases doing so in the comic medium. Yet Batman is often an outcast for what he does, being hated by many in the establishment that he hopes to help, sound familiar. Yep, Batman is a Christ figure. Truth be told, Batman and Superman together are Christ, both fully man and fully god. Superman holds the world on his shoulders (literally)and stands, or floats in this case, before the sun in a crucifix pose (Superman Returns), and Batman places himself between mad men and the innocent to save a whole city, many of which scorn him, all the while facing possible death for his efforts (Batman Begins). So yeah, Batman is Christ.

3. Aragon - Ok, this is kinda a given, seeing as Tolkien was a Christian and all, but for many people, who don't know this, they totally miss how much Christ their is in Aragon, so lets look at some of similarities. Aragon was a king unrecognized by his kingdom, so was Jesus. Aragon didn't have a place to lay his head and call his home, neither did Jesus. Aragon led a small band of men on a mission to save the world, hey, so did Jesus. Aragon slaughtered orcs by the thousands in a sword slashing display of awesomeness, Jesus threw out the money lenders from the temple...ok, I am kind of stretching it on that one, but you get the idea. Then you add in all the great imagery that Tolkien used, such as the symbol for Aragons kingdom was a tree, and that tree was dead until the King returned, at which point it bloomed with life, ahhh ahhh (imaginary elbow nudge) , see Jesus yet. I could say more, but I think it is safe to say the Aragon is Christ.

2. Aslan - Now I know what you are thinking, shouldn't Aslan be number one on this list, he is Jesus in Lion form after all, and it is for that very reason that he is not number one. Let me explain... no there is too much, let me sum up. You see, there is no doubt, Aslan is Jesus, C.S.Lewis admitted it, so when we are talking about Christ in film, he has to be on the list, that is a given, but he is way too over the top obvious to be number one, even people who don't get Jesus understand that Aslan and Jesus are the same, for the most part anyway (I know there is someone out there who disagrees with me and will ask people they know if they understand the Aslan is Jesus thing, and when they find those people who don't get it, they will feel smart and self-righteous, and think I am an idiot for saying other wise. And you know what, your right, sure, some people won't get it at all, but that just means your friends aren't all that smart, and maybe that is why you picked them as friends in the first place, cause that makes you the smart one in the group. God bless you, and your superior little heart) So that is why I can't have the mighty wild lion at the top spot, cause he is a little too "IN YOUR FACE, I AM SOOOO TOTALLY THE CHRIST" that it leaves little room for revelation later on to take place. You know what I mean, when you see a movie and then connect the dots on your own and say to yourself, "Wow self, that character was totally Jesus, those sneaky film people, slipping Christ into a popular movie, I am so smart for realizing that, BOOYA!!!!!". Or, at least that is how it usually goes in my head. So that brings us to the top spot of Jesus in the movies, Christ on film, and that award goes too.


Just Kidding

1. Neo - Neo is Christ, end of post. Ok, I will say more. As far as I can see, through all my movie viewing, I have not found a better Christ figure. Now, I will say this, Neo is not Jesus note for note, he does many things that Jesus would never do, maybe if he had a little bracelet that had a catchy saying on it he would of stayed more pure in his Christ likeness, who knows. Anyway, once upon a time there was an awesome movie called THE MATRIX, which came out and blew my mind, and most peoples minds who saw it too. It had everything awesome you could want in a movie. Action, romance, mystery, action, trippy scifi, cool people in leather, action, a spaceship looking thingy, guns, implants (I am talking about the mind jacks, just to be clear here) and in the end, good kicked evils butt so hard it was exploded into tiny screaming pieces. This was all before many of us knew that it was part one of a trilogy, yet even then, people were seeing Jesus and Neo seem to be one and the same, just with kung fu added. Now, at the time, the makers of The Matrix completely denied that Neo was Christ, although they admitted similarities. Then it was announced that this was a trilogy, and the next two movies came out very close to each other, and Bam, Neo was looking more like Christ then ever, and it was then that the Matrix makers (huh, say that 50 times fast) finally came clean and said, "Ok, Neo is Christ, you got us darn it." (I am of course paraphrasing here) So, saying all of this, now lets look at why Neo is so Jesus like. Lets start in his name choice. Neo also spells One if you play with the letters, which is cool and all, but where he secretly yells "I am Jesus!" is in his Matrix name, Mr. Anderson. Most people would not even think about this, but Anderson means "Son of Man" in greek, and what did Jesus call himself often, you guessed it, Son of Man. Then there are all the other things that are way more blatant, such as Neo is a chosen messiah, being the only one capable of fulfilling prophecy, who will save all humankind, and in the very end, the only way he can complete his task is by giving up his own life. If you can't see Jesus by now you probably have never read any part of your bible, in particular the new testament. I could go on, heck, if you want to go really deep there are a bunch of books on the subject of the matrix being our world and Zion being heaven, (that also reminds me, calling the human refuge Zion, nice touch, it didn't help your case in the whole denial thing, but at least you got it right, minus the huge naked cave dancing scene anyway) and how Neo is Christ, so I will leave it here, Neo is the best representation of Christ on film that you can probably show a teenager in any way, so that they will get it. Is it perfect, no, but the "Spirit" of who Christ is shouts out loud and clear, so Neo is Christ, who also knows kung fu, how cool is that.

*Honorable mention goes to Optimus Prime, Luke Skywalker and the kid from Home Alone, just kidding about that last one. Let me know if I missed someone who you think does Jesus proud in movies, and thanks for being able to stay awake long enough to finish this, even if it did take you a couple of tries.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And Here We Go!

So, once upon a time I had a blog, and boy, was it, a, well, it was a blog, and man was it funny, but after a while a got pretty bored of it, so I deleted it. THE END. Well, at least I thought it was. See at the time, everybody I knew seem to have a blog, it was a blogapalluza, and as soon as it became a bother, and unfashionable (cause I am all about the fashion, insert smirking laugh here) it just didn't seem worth it, that and I was running out of things to say at the time. So at this point I am sure you are asking yourself, then why am I reading this on your Blog? Well, you can thank my friend Ken for that, well Ken and my huge humorous ego. You see, besides being really funny, I watch a ton of movies, and I mean a ton, way more movies then your average bear, or large man for that matter, and I also have a passion for youth and youth ministry, and Ken kept on reminding me that maybe Jesus and the gang could use some of the info I have acquired on said ton of movies that most people have missed that they could possibly use in their ministry to the youts (yeah, I said youts, its my blog and I will spell right if I want to) Thus I finally decided to put something on the net that would get Ken and Jesus off my back, just kidding guys. Anyway, so I chose to start blogging again, and here it is. So look out for my movie reviews, theological rants and incredibly funny musings, and feel free to tell all your friends, and your enemies, heck you can even mention it to your frienemies when you see them over the holiday season, cause they need access to awesomeness too. So in the words of the Joker, HERE.... WE.... GO!!!!!!!!! ........Again. (the again part wasn't the Joker, it was all me baby, all me. I know, genius)