Archive of ‘Reviews–Movies’ category

The Giver | Is Love Worth It?

the giver

Warning: Spoiler alert for The Giver

I, gynecologist like probably every other student in the U.S., hepatitis read The Giver in middle school. I really wasn’t a fan, this possibly partly because I didn’t like my English teacher, and so when the movie came out earlier this year I wasn’t super enthused to see it. But when I did see it, I was absolutely blown away. The movie made the book come alive in a really special and beautiful day.

The Giver is set in a dystopian society that has gotten rid of all potential causes for conflict such as sickness, lying, violence, and race. But along with that they have also gotten rid of emotions, biological families, music, art, color, sexual attraction, and love. The Giver is the only one in the society who has memories of the past and through these memories he experiences all the pain that used to exist in the world, but also experiences true joy and love. Jonas is a young man who is chosen to be the Receiver, to receive all the memories that the Giver has. As Jonas receives these memories, he experiences both the pain and beauty that used to exist in the world, which the community he’s grown up in has eradicated. At the end of the movie he decides to escape from the community and travel through the world of “Elsewhere” to cross the boundary of memory so that all the memories will return to the people of the community. Jonas decides that even though returning the memories will mean that people will have to experience immense pain, suffering, disease, and war, it’s worth it because they will also experience the astounding beauty of love.

The movie brings up poignant theological questions. I believe that we, along with angels and demons, have been given free will by God. This has created a world in which people do terrible things–there is murder, cancer, abuse, and rape. So why has God given us free will?  LOVE.  A world with free will is the only world in which there can be true love. And so the question is this: Is love worth it? Is the incredible beauty of love worth the pain and suffering we go through?

Some people would say no. But I agree with Jonas–love is inexplicably worth it. The warm hug of a parent, the feeling of holding your baby for the first time, your wedding day, being overwhelmed by the majesty of the world around you, crying at a beautiful song, feeling enveloped by the love of God, the power of forgiveness and healed and redeemed lives…it’s worth it.

As we fall more in love with Jesus, the more our heart breaks for what breaks his and the harder we fight against the powers of darkness. Because one day heaven will come to earth and there will be no more tears or dying or suffering because the old order of things will pass away. And He who is seated on the throne will say, “I am making everything new!” And we, empowered by the Holy Spirit, have the privilege and responsibility of living every day fervently calling the Kingdom of God to Earth.

And if you still don’t think love is worth it, watch The Giver and maybe you’ll be convinced.

The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2

My family went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 this past weekend. I really liked the first half of the movie–the plot was good and there were both touching and funny scenes. But the movie was ruined for me once they showed the face of the movie’s villain, shop Drago Bludvist:

The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2--He is Making Everything NewWhy is it that the villain in this movie is the only character who isn’t white? Drago has darker skin than anyone else in the movie and sports a hair full of black dreads. He may not be black, this web but he’s definitely isn’t white. Compare him to the other characters of the movie and you see that he seriously sticks out:

The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2--He is Making Everything New

Come to find out, he is also voiced by the only black actor in the cast, Djimon Hounsou, which means that even his voice sticks out among the other Scottish-sounding characters:

The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2--He is Making Everything New

I told my family that this really bothered me after the movie but, besides my sister, no one had noticed (edit: my mom says she did too notice). And the thing is, having an ethnically ambiguous, darker-skinner villain is so commonplace that it doesn’t seem to raise any red flags. We’re used to movies portraying evil things/people as physically dark, and Dragon 2 uses that same technique to show us who is good and who is bad. But just because many animated movies have traditionally used light/dark colors to show good/evil doesn’t mean it’s not racist. What the filmmakers are communicating is that there is no way that the kids watching the movie could know who the bad guy is if he’s not black brown.

And I don’t buy for one second that it’s “just a movie” or “I’m reading too much into it.” Kids are being taught that the darker your skin is, the more evil you are.

It reminds me of the Clark experiment. In this experiment, African American children were asked questions about two dolls–the dolls were identical except one was black and one was white. The kids were asked which doll was prettier, which doll was good, which doll was bad, which doll they wanted to play with, etc. and there was a significant preference for the white doll.

This experiment shows that young kids are very capable of internalizing racist messages. A young child of color who leaves the movie theater after seeing Dragon 2 is probably not explicitly thinking about the implied racist message that was just communicated to him/her, but that message may very well be internalized and be one of the thousands of things that chip away at his/her self esteem.

If you were to ask a child who hasn’t seen either of the Dragon movies which of these two men is the bad guy, who do you think they would guess?

The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2--He is Making Everything New

OR

The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2--He is Making Everything New

Ok, maybe it’s not quite a fair comparison because Drago’s facial scars make him seem a little more menacing. So here, I’ve edited a photo of him to make the two characters more similar:

The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2--He is Making Everything NewSo comparing the first picture and the photo above, who do you think kids would guess is the bad guy? I have the suspicion that they would guess Drago. Why is that?

My dad asked me if I thought that the movie makers were being intentionally racist. I don’t know. But the thing is, whether it was intentional or not, it is racist. So Director Dean Deblois, would you rather me think that you’re completely ignorant and don’t realize that you’re promoting racism or that you intentionally want to promote a racist message to lower the self esteem of the children of color who see your movie?

I love this excerpt from Olivia A. Cole’s blog:

“How can we make sure the audience (kids) know that this guy is bad?” a lazy director/writer might ponder. “Oh, I know! We’ll make him darker-skinned! That way the kiddies will know that he’s a bad guy.” Because….darker-skinned people are…bad? Interesting, too, that Drago Bludvist’s skin is just light enough to make him ethnically ambiguous, which leads me to believe that the “Make him black…but not too black” conversation was had at some point during production. As if an Eastern European name and not-quite-brown skin would be enough to deflect accusations of racism. But the fact remains: Dragon 2 effectively created an Othered character to act as the villain.
How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel are great films about friendship, family, courage, and overcoming disability to be who you are, and DeBlois showed how creative he can be with his writing and directing. So where is the creativity in having a villain who is dark-skinned and foreign, drawing on old stereotypes that are better laid to rest? You can do better, Mr. DeBlois. I know you can.

I think this is an issue we need to take seriously. It’s absolutely devastating to me that children of color not only grow up feeling like they are bad because of the color of their skin but that even our kid-friendly movies are promoting that message.

And if you still think that I’m making too big of a deal out of this and seeing racism where there isn’t any, let me ask you this question: Who would you be portrayed as–the hero or the villain? 

My Summer Goal: Becoming Olaf

My Summer Goal: Becoming Olaf  from Heismakingeverythingnew.com

Warning: Frozen Spoilers!

Have you all seen Frozen? I’ve seen it about 27 times. My friends and family will tell you that that’s not an exaggeration :)

I love so many things about Frozen–the music, valeologist the message, phlebologist the story, diagnosis the characters…but most of all I love Olaf! Olaf is my best friend and I want to be more like him every day! So my goal this summer is to become more and more like Olaf.

Here are my top favorite things about Olaf:

1. He loves his body

Itty bitty unicorn nose, large nose, no-nose, Olaf loves it all. What if we could all love our bodies like Olaf does? Our bodies change just like Olaf’s, but instead of getting hung up on what we don’t like about our different looking bodies, he loves himself the same at every stage!

Here’s a cute video of Olaf and his nose:

One of my goals this summer is to learn to love my body with the same exuberant joy that Olaf has for his body.

2. He always has a good, friendly attitude

Olaf is so friendly and happy! Even though Anna and Kristoff judge Olaf at first and think he’s creepy, Olaf is super nice to them and his friendliness causes them to change his mind about them. Here’s a clip of Olaf being friendly:

One of my goals this summer is to keep a positive attitude and treat people with the same friendliness that Olaf does.

3. He loves people well

Olaf lives his life self-sacrificially. He knows what it means to love people in a real, practical, and authentic way and he deeply cares for the people around him, even if he hasn’t known them for long. He sacrifices his own well being for those around him, because some people are worth melting for.

One of my goals this summer is to learn how to live my life more sacrificially and how to love all those around me in a deeper, better way.

4. He randomly breaks out into song to express himself

I pretty much already do this but I want to do it more ;) I’m sure my family will love it!

I’ve already met one of my goals…making an Olaf cake :)

My Summer Goal: Becoming Olaf  from Heismakingeverythingnew.com

What are your goals for the summer?

Son of God Movie Review

Son of God Movie Review

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

It’s my Spring Break and I’ve been home all week! I’ve absolutely loved spending time with my family. Today, practitioner my mom and I went to see the movie Son of God–my mom had gotten free tickets to go. I didn’t know much about the movie but thought it would probably be good. Well…I was wrong.

As my mom and I left the movie theater, cough I asked her what she thought. She said, “Well I don’t want to critique it and pick it apart…” Well I have no such reservations ;) I’m not being picky just for the sake of being critical, but if you make a movie about the most important and influential man in the entire world, who is also the one man I love the most, and also happens to be the living God, you better get it right. And this movie, unfortunately, got it terribly wrong.

John’s Gospel: The movie starts with John in exile on Patmos, saying the words that start his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This movie was framed as though it was the life of Jesus according to John. However, the movie pulled from every single Gospel. In theory, I don’t have a problem with a movie about the life of Jesus that pulls from all Gospels (although I think the danger is that you emphasize some parts over others). However, I didn’t like that they made it seem like it was John’s story, beginning and ending with him, and then they did not stay true to John’s Gospel. For example, this movie included a Nativity scene (not in John) and also included the Eucharist (not in John), while not including Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, which is unique to John.

The movie begins with some quick scenes from a variety of Bible stories, including the Garden of Eden, Moses, Noah, Abraham, and David. They were pretty cheesy, but other than that they were fine.

Nativity Scene: Then we get to the Nativity. Oh boy. The Magi were there along with the shepherds to meet baby Jesus, which is sooo inaccurate! I thought we all knew better! In Matthew, the Magi come to Herod and ask him where they can find the king of the Jews, who has already been born, completely taking out any possibility that they were there along with the shepherds (talked about in Luke) right after the birth. Also, young Mary was SO white. Mary was a Middle Eastern Jew, not a super white person in the midst of Middle Eastern Jews. Here is grown-up Mary (who is just as white as young Mary):

Picture from IMDB

All the White people: Speaking of Jews, did you guys know Jesus was a Jew? Now I understand that we don’t know what Jesus looks like, but I’m pretty sure he was not super attractive (see Isaiah 53:2) with light-ish brown hair and Crest-whitened teeth. Jesus was pretty much the only man in this movie who was super European, had perfect teeth, and had long hair.

Picture from IMDB

Seriously? Does this Jesus look a little familiar? Can’t place why he looks so familiar…

Painting by Warner Sallman

Ok so asides from my issue with the European Jesus and Mary, was the rest of the movie good? Unfortunately not.

Biblical Accuracy: I am a stickler for Biblical accuracy and apparently this movie was not. I understand that you have to take some creative licenses to fill out the story–I wasn’t upset with the creative licenses taken in The Passion of the Christ, I thought they were good. But this movie made some changes that made things at best cheesy and at worst woefully inaccurate to Scripture.

Sermons: A small inaccuracies that was kinda funny was that Jesus gives the Sermon on the Plain (from Luke) on a mountain, and he gives the Sermon on the Mount (from Matthew) on a plain.

Jesus’ Words: A lot of Jesus’ words were taken from the Bible but were not exactly what is recorded in the Gospels, which I did not like at all. The second you start tweaking Jesus’ words, you start inserting your own opinion and theology, which is just not ok.

Mary Magdalene: Something that I liked in this movie was the Mary Magdalene was shown to be one of the disciples and prominently traveled with Jesus. But she was the only woman with them (it was Jesus, the twelve, and Mary traveling around) which is inaccurate not only because we know that a group of women traveled with Jesus and cared for his needs, but also because a woman would never travel alone with a group of men. It’s completely unrealistic and would have seen as completely inappropriate.

Woman Caught in Adultery: Speaking of women, this movie’s depiction of the woman caught in adultery was terrible. So the woman is thrown down in front of Jesus and a Pharisee asks Jesus what should be done. Jesus does not write in the dirt. Instead, he picks up a rock and raises his arm, looking like he’s about to throw it at the woman, and then, after a long dramatic pause, he turns to the men about to stone the woman and says, “I’ll give my rock to whoever here hasn’t ever sinned.” Was the original story not exciting enough for you? Really?

Destroy the Temple: This part was HILARIOUS. Jesus is walking out of the temple in Jerusalem and stops by a little girl. He kneels down to her, smiling. I assumed this was when he was going to say, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” But NO. Instead, he asks this little girl, “Do you see these buildings?” And then he playfully tells her, “They will all be destroyed! Every last one!” or something to that effect. Haha my mom and I were laughing so hard! Who playfully tells a child that he is going to destroy the temple and thinks it’s just so cute!?

The lack of the Demonic: If you read any chunk of the Gospels, you will find a ton of demonic activity and spiritual warfare. Son of God did not include Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and it also did not include a single case of Jesus driving out a demon which, by the way, is one of the main parts of Jesus’ ministry. In John, Jesus even calls Satan the prince of this world on two different occasions. In The Passion, I really liked that Satan was in the Garden and that demons were shown tormenting Judas. Son of God did not mention demons at all.

Caiaphas and Pilate: The Passion of the Christ got a lot of criticism for being anti-semetic, so this movie tried really hard to steer clear of any anti-semetism. But what this resulted in was a depiction of Caiaphas (the high priest) as someone who just didn’t want his party (aka Passover) ruined. It’s not that he actually cared about or was bothered by Jesus, but he was scared of Pontius Pilate getting mad at Jesus and ruining Passover. This movie definitely made Pilate the “bad guy,” and while I understand why the directors made this decision, it’s not Biblical. In every single Gospel, the bad guys are the Jewish leaders. Let’s be clear, the New Testament is not anti-semetic: Jesus is a Jew, all his disciples are Jews, Jesus very clearly says that he is bringing his message first to the lost nation of Israel, all the Gospel writers are Jews (besides Luke), with Matthew being an ardent follower of the law and quite possibly a Pharisee, and Paul is most definitely a Pharisee. But with that being said, Pilate is not the bad guy. In every single Gospel, Pilate is not the one who wants Jesus crucified:

In Matthew, Pilate’s wife warns him not to kill Jesus because of a dream she has had about him. This causes Pilate to be afraid. Then later this is what happens in Matthew 27:23-25:
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

Mark 15 shows Pilate being “amazed” at Jesus and he hands him over to be crucified only to “satisfy the crowd.”

In Luke 23:4, Pilate says, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

And the in John 19, Pilate also says that he finds no basis to charge Jesus, is afraid of him, and tries to get him freed.

Again, I believe that each of these Gospel writers are placing blame specifically on the Jewish leaders (including Caiaphas), not at all the Jewish people. However, the blame is never put on Pilate. Again, I understand that the producers of Son of God decided to do this in order to avoid criticism that they were being anti-semetic. But the changes they made were just not Biblically accurate.

Jesus’ Complete Lack of Personality: My mom and I agreed that this was the worst part of the movie. Jesus had no personality. He just seemed to wander around, confused and sad during his whole life. He was monotonous, boring, and really just had no personality. He was never seen joking around or affectionate with people. It was so bad that as Jesus was being beaten and crucified, I didn’t feel anything. I bawled my eyes out at The Passion because I truly felt that I was witnessing my Lord and Savior dying, and it was incredibly heartbreaking. In Son of God, I felt like I was seeing some guy I barely knew dying and it was kinda sad but not sad enough to make me cry a single tear. And if you know me, I cry at EVERYTHING.

All in all, I would not recommend this movie. Let me know when there’s a movie about the life of Jesus based closely on Scripture :)

So have you seen this movie? What are your thoughts? Do you think I’m being too picky or did you feel the same way?