Category Archives: movies

The Feels of Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2

Not sure if any of my followers believe in God, but I do. While I do comment on Christianity in my reviews and write essays on it, I prefer to keep my own personal beliefs as private as possible. Earlier this year I very much wanted to see Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 because of how much I loved the first one, for whatever reason I didn’t see it in theaters. Normally I prefer not think much of the term “God has a plan/reason for things happening,” and for once I think it may be appropriate for God not wanting me to see Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 for a while.

I’m just going to rip the band-aid off right now. My dad had a tumor removed and almost died. The day we found out he had a tumor was a normal day, but it was scary. The day that he and my mother went out of town to see a doctor interested in the tumor I had two breakdowns, one infront of my brothers, and one in private. To deal with the former breakdown my brother offered to take me to the movies, Guardians wasn’t in the fancy movies anymore so we settled for Spiderman Homecoming. Obviously I was bummed, but I figured I’d get to see it later. During my dad’s operation I felt a brief pain in my chest and sensed something was wrong and tried my best to keep it together as the doctor told us his lungs collapsed. I cried alot when he slept as I kept him company in the recovery room. My dad is recovering great by the way so there is a significant decrease in emotional breakdowns these days.

Then today I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2. Never before did I think I’d cry so much because of a Marvel movie. I know one day my dad will die; one of my earliest memories in life is my dad telling me everyone will die one day, but that death was okay because there was heaven. My dad is a religious man, however unlike what many would expect he didn’t throw me out when I told him I was gay. He loved me unconditionally still. The primary reason I stay a practicing catholic is because of my dad; he’s not perfect, not ideal, but he is a good enough reason for me to be in the religion permanently.

For those who have seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It also doesn’t help that Cat Stevens was one of many cassette tapes my dad had me listen to when I was growing up, but it’s appreciated. And no I won’t post any spoilers and I don’t think I can properly review this movie at this time (or ever), but it’s great.

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#RealityHigh Review

        I saw #RealityHigh pop up while scrolling through Netflix last night and decided to view it out of curiosity. The story follows high school senior Dani Barnes, a modest girl who cares about one thing and that’s the health and well being of dogs. Dani is low on the social radar until she’s pulled into the world of social media by showing interest in the ex boyfriend of her local social media star classmate Alexa.

        Spoilers from this point on, really like most highschool stories, this is kind of predictable.

        Yes that brief bold sentence is right; if you’ve seen any movies about kids in highschool (particularly Mean Girls), then you know what will happen. “Girl is ‘ugly’, has one best friend, gets noticed by cute guy, becomes popular and irresponsible, makes big mistake, has fight with best friend, fixes everything, jackass rival gets comeuppance, HAPPY ENDINGS FOR EVERYONE!”

        There are select variations in the plot of this movie, but nothing that hasn’t been seen in a teen movie. The main premise of this movie is that Dani’s school rival isn’t just any old mean girl, she is a social media celebrity known as Alexa Medina. Alexa is known for her vlogs, fashion tips, life tips, and being a saint online by promoting positive body images and other social justice issues. In real life Alexa is manipulative and selfish and spends her time using her star status to get what she wants. She’s kind of like an evil Michelle Phan (yes I’m aware there is someone who runs a tumblr dedicated to finding each and every flaw with Michelle phan, we are not opening that can of worms.)

        The interesting approach this movie has is how social media and Alexa’s status as a online celebrity plays affects Dani’s life as someone who wasn’t on social media.

        Dani had nearly no online presence and was one of the few teenagers using a flip phone instead of a smartphone. Things change as soon as Dani falls for Alexa’s ex boyfriend, just like in Mean Girls. Dani hangs out with the popular kids, begins to upgrade her fashion and briefly puts her responsibilities secondary in life. Things go predictably south for Dani after Alexa gets her drunk and secretly records a conversation between the two later editing the video recording to make Dani look like she had been stalking Alexa.  

        This knocks Dani down and has her realize that Alexa had been manipulating her own life to throw her off tracks. A key difference between this film and other teen films is that as soon as mutual friends between Alexa and Dani see the youtube video, they are pissed at the way Alexa used Dani and proceed to unfriend Alexa on on social media and in real life.

        Dani proceeds to do a livestream explaining she doesn’t care what people think of her, and only asks for people bothering to watch her live stream help with a animal clinic charity. Said stream is successful, partially because of some networking between some other (fictional) YouTube celebrities who also love animals.

        Everyone more or less gets a happy ending, Alexa is outed as a fake with some help from Dani’s sister, and is also exposed to somehow faking her youtube views. Everyone but Alexa is happy by the end of the film.

        I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, and I still ended up disappointed. I feel like there was more potential for the movie concerning the villain being a social media celebrity who constantly used her celebrity status to get perks in her life and look like the victim whenever things didn’t go her way.

        As I pointed out this is a movie with a highschool setting, but nearly everything in the plot feels borrowed from other highschool movies. As I also mentioned before the plot is very similar to the plot of Mean Girls; there are even times when I’m not even sure if portions of the plot are shout outs to other (better) movies, parodies, or the possibility of creating a drinking game for people watching the movie.

        I give Netflix’s #RealityHigh two  blackberries out of five.

Saban’s Power Rangers Review

        Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a big part of not only my childhood, but the childhood of many kids who grew up in the 90s. It may or may not be the source of me being gay (I love you David Yost, if you’re reading this please consider me for a husband.) Despite what I may have claimed amongst my peers growing up I continued to watch every season of power rangers up until Power Rangers RPM wishing I could afford to cosplay as any of the blue rangers (and a few green rangers).

        When it was announced that a big budget Power Ranger movie would be released (again) I kind of wanted to audition for the role of Billy, but then realized I had very little chance of getting the role and that more than likely the casting director didn’t want to cast some scrawny twenty something year old who looks like a teenager when they can cast some younger guy in great physical shape as a teenager. Plus I was working on a degree.

        Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the film in theatres, I recently purchased the movie via Google Play.

Spoilers and personal observations from this point on, you won’t be able to wake up in your bed the next day wondering how the hell you’re alive.

        One of the reasons I didn’t see the movie in theatres is because I was very hesitant about seeing the movie. Based on leaked images from the movie’s production and official artwork for the villains (oh Goldar, what did they do to you?) I was turned off. I was scared this would turn into a Transformers scenario where this film was made because of lack of creativity and money to be made off nostalgia.

        I did enjoy the movie though; it had it’s flaws and at times I felt like the actors were told “just channel The Breakfast Club and work with that” because at times it felt like it was a semi modernized Breakfast Club. Minus pot smoking (that we know of), dancing, and unnecessary makeovers.

Characters

        Quite a bit was changed for this cinematic Power Rangers reboot, the main thing being that all the rangers besides Billy and Kimberly actually have personalities. Starting with Billy he is still a genius, but has been given a small dosage of Sheldon Cooper. He is kind of a mama’s boy and has a deceased father, he may or may not have a disability since he mentions the inability to fully understand humor and sarcasm at times (which is funny because the casting called for someone who can be witty and sarcastic).

        Jason in the original 90’s tv series was a focused and disciplined martial artist and a determined leader. Here he’s a jock with no martial arts training (none of the characters have any of their martial arts or gymnastic abilities of the actors from the 90’s television series, but they sure do have muscles). Jason is also known to put the need of helping others before his own personal needs and with a little bit of pep talk from Zordon and Alpha 5 takes on the role of the heroic leader of the team.

        Zach’s character was completely rehauled from the Zach of the series. No more is he a fun loving martial artist trying to create a hip hop based form of martial arts, nor is he black. I’m guessing to avoid controversy the casting agency made damn sure not to accidentally cast a black guy as the black ranger and an asian woman as the yellow ranger before filming. Now Zach is still fun loving, a bit of a trickster, and is caring for his sick mother with insecurities associated with it. Also he’s the hottest male in the cast.

        Trini is interesting since she is played by a hispanic actress Becky G. Despite not being of asian ancestry and being in a hispanic family, Trini is still named Trini Kwan (I guess her grandfather is asian?) Trini was hyped as being “the first lgbt superhero in film” (IceMan and Constantine disagree), but this really isn’t made a big deal in the film itself outside of her family desiring a normal life and considering her sexuality not normal. She is a loner and does yoga while listening to metal. I like her.

        I want to say Kimberly is the closest to her 90’s counterpart. She’s perky, spoiled sweet, and your typical teenage girl. There were moments where I was convinced Naomi Scott and Amy Jo Johnson pulled a freaky friday on all of us to the point where even some of her vocal gestures reminded me alot of Amy Jo Johnson. There are layers to this new Kimberly, she has regrets and isn’t as sweet as honey like she was in the 90s. Also there were times where I noticed chemistry between her and Trini.

        Alpha 5 definitely got an upgrade. He is far more competent as a assistant to Zordon, can actually fight if he is needed, Zordon is kind of a dick and only wanted the power rangers to morph so he could resurrect himself because he considers the new team incompetent. I didn’t like Rita, Rita is just boring she wasn’t even scorned by Zordon, she was just power hungry. Oh and Goldar is literally just molten gold. That’s not even scary, gold is one of the softest elements on the periodic table, the rangers could have beaten Goldar with one of Billy’s homemade bombs!

The Story Itself

        The story itself is admittingly generic; five teenages with nothing in commong get chosen to become super heroes and defend the earth/Angel Grove from the evil that attack it. Along the way these protagonists become besties with a training/friendship montage. This formula has actually been used in a few seasons of Power Rangers and I have nothing against it. What I do have a problem with is that a good three fourths of the film is devoted to this bonding time. I do understand that time has to be devoted to developing these characters and their relationship with each other and that this bond/friendship is the key to them defeating evil, but they could have discovered that friendship=morphing a little sooner.

        WIth the backstory I was…disappointed. I do appreciate mentioning of the Zeo Crystal being the main macguffin though. I think it’s because as a teenager I had discovered the Super Sentai television series that each season of Power Rangers is based on and particularly liked Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger (the season that started off Power Rangers). In Zyuranger the witch Bandora (Rita) cursed the dinosaurs after her son is slain by a TRex (her son started the fight) by selling her soul to Daisatan (Lokar). In what little backstory we have of the Power Rangers adaption Zordon and Rita agreed to three out of five coin toss over earth. Zordon cheated, Rita was trapped in a dumpster while in return Rita trapped Zordon in a time…thing.

        However the lack of backstory is actually a good thing for the film despite my complaints about it since it allowed the film to devote more time to the growing friendship between the rangers. I didn’t particularly like how Rita was defeated as it felt very anticlimactic to an already boring character.

The Good Things

        Despite feeling too much of the film revolved over the bonding friendship of the rangers it is one of the better parts of the film and it is relevant to the plot. The shout outs to other parts of Power Ranger seasons were also very nice. Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank cameo’s were nice (why wasn’t David Yost invited to cameo?) All of the rangers having actual personalities is also a good thing and it is impressive that it was accomplished since even with two hours it can be hard to flesh out protagonists in a film.

        CGI in the film was weird at worst (Goldar…), but it was great to see the Zords and Megazord look so good. Also having the Power Rangers theme from the 1995 movie while the zords are piloted was perfect.

I give Saban’s Power Rangers three Nice Stereos out of five.

Batman and Harley Quinn Review

        In her twenty fifth year in existence of Harley Quinn and the seventy-something year of existence for Batman, DC Entertainment released Batman and Harley Quinn. I was very excited when I saw the announcement and trailer for Batman and Harley Quinn while my older brother groaned and said “seriously, more Harley Quinn?” And upon watching Batman and Harley Quinn I will say I was disappointed in a sense. I didn’t hate the movie, but I feel that things could have been done better.

The Good Things

        One of the things fans of DC Comics will notice off the bat is that the movie is animated in the same style as the Batman The Animated Series using the same character models for the characters of Batman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, a few background henchmen, and Nightwing (minus fugly 90’s mullet). The movie gave a very strong nostalgic feeling for me as someone who grew up with the DC Animated Universe from the beginning of Batman TAS in 1993 to the end of Justice League Unlimited in 2006.

        One of the neat things about the film is that the character models for a scene that takes place in a bar for henchmen used character models for nearly all the henchmen featured in Batman TAS and fans of the series can have fun trying to identify what episode each henchmen was in. There’s also a really fun musical number of Harley singing Hanging on the Telephone that even causes both Batman and Nightwing to briefly break out of their normal characterization.

        One of the best things of the movie I really liked was that it was a Harley Quinn movie without the Joker. Rather than rely on the constant conflict between Harley and Joker, this movie focused on the genuine friendship between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. For those that don’t know in the comics after getting thrown out by the Joker one time too many Poison Ivy takes in Harley Quinn and the two start a friendship that at times is a little romantic. This friendship plays a key role in the movie for both Poison Ivy and Harley as the former begins to question if what she is doing really good for the earth and is going to far for the greater good.

        In this film Harley Quinn is recruited from her attempt to live a clean life by Batman and Nightwing to save the world from Poison Ivy and Floronic Man who want to turn all living creatures on earth into animal/plant hybrids in order to save the earth from climate change. Initially Harley is only recruited for the sake of finding out the location of Poison Ivy, but Harley joins along because she enjoys being alive and a human.

The Bad Parts

        Despite what I mentioned above about the film using the same animation models of Batman TAS for both the setting and character, the movie is not meant for kids and I can’t guarantee all viewers will get the same nostalgic feeling I got. There is swearing and a scene where Harley shoots the finger at a friend of hers which some parents who purchased the movie in hopes of bonding with their kids over Harley might not be so comfortable with. There’s also a fair amount of PG13 level gore present, another thing parents might not be so comfortable with. Particularly if their daughter was exposed to Harley via DC Superhero Girls.

        Harley Quinn is also very sexualized for the first third of the movie until she gets her Harley Quinn attire on. She can be seen in a ‘sexy Harley Quinn’ costume as part of her job, strips down to her underwear in front of Nightwing (and possibly has consensual sex with him). I’m not really sure if the goal was for Harley to celebrate her sexuality, to be objectified, or a strange mockery of sexualization while just having fun with the character.

        Sadly, there are moments where the movie is a little dull and even relied on potty humor (okay fine, Harley Quinn producing farts so foul smelling that even Batman pulled over at a gas station is pretty damn funny).

Some fans have complained over Melissa Rauch voicing Harley instead of Terra Strong, and while Rauch does kinda sound like Velma Dinkly with a brooklyn accent, you overlook it after a while.

Not all fans of Batman TAS or Harley Quinn will love this movie, but I enjoyed it enough to write a review on it.

I give Batman and Harley Quinn three and a half sudden musical numbers out of five.

        

A Wrinkle in Time Impressions

Once Upon a time in the distant time of 2001 I was eleven years old and we had a book assigned for the fifth grade class I was in. Little did I know this book would make me want to read more books and would forever change my life and how I viewed the universe and create a dream. The book I speak of is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I love this book, it led me to reading it’s sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and the spin off book (sort of) A Ring of Endless Light.

There are sketchbooks I owned that had drawing’s of Mrs.Whatsit  in her non human form, the idea of a tesseract became a concept I kept tabs on growing up and even now think about today as an adult. Despite the heavy emphasis in L’Engle’s work on physics and biology, I was more inspired to focus on writing and literature as I grew up and wanted to write for the YA genre (I ended up with a degree in environmental science).

Then in 2002 it was announced there would be a tv movie of A Wrinkle in Time by Disney. It was awful. L’Engle was asked if it met her expectations, she said “yes. I expected it to be bad, it was.” I only saw a portion of this film, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that things were dumbed down for audiences, I didn’t like the acting, I didn’t like the full happy ending presented in the film, and I felt kind of weird seeing Mr.Murrey completely naked a few years later on Queer as Folk.

I expected nothing to be done with A Wrinkle in Time after Madeleine L’Engle passed away mid 2008. I thought this would be the best for the series since her books tackled topics concerning Christianity and science which even more so today is a very touchy subject. Then a few years ago during Frozen it was announced Disney would be adapting A Wrinkle in Time to film again.

This time with Jennifer Lee from Disney’s Frozen was placed in charge of the film. My expectations started to get high; the film went with open casting meaning Meg Murrey and her brother Charles Wallace are now bi-racial. The film also cast Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which respectably.

 Despite my stalking both Witherspoon and Kaling’s instagram religiously very little about how the film looked was revealed outside of casting. I was a little curious to see Kaling in the film since I’m use to Kaling portraying divas as opposed to the wise and intellectual Mrs.Who, I even reread some of the book just to imagine Mrs.Who with Kaling’s shrills. I also wasn’t aware Oprah was an actress, but I guess she is.

When the trailer was released yesterday I was very pleased with what I saw and I hope the film does really well next year. I have high hopes for the film because I feel at this time many of the themes of A Wrinkle in Time are relevant concerning communism and there is a need for figures like the Murrey parents who are both religious, but educated and understanding on many issues in the world. And now here is the trailer to Madelein L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 Review

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, or rather twenty-five(ish) years old. In continuation with live action adaptions to their classic movies Disney adapted their animated classic Beauty and the Beast to live action film staring Emma Watson as Belle, because let’s be honest we all secretly wanted it that way and didn’t know it, I didn’t even know I wanted it that way.

Unless you’re just barely born, or just escaped North Korea or some other communist regime there aren’t really any spoilers beyond these bold texts. Okay fine there are SOME spoilers.

For the past few weeks I had been teasing my dad that if I ever had kids I would make him watch this new Beauty and the Beast with them countless times since I made him sit through the animated Beauty and the Beast countless times growing up. Yes I apologized to him for doing that and thanked him for being such a patient parent with me growing up.

This morning my dad got back at me by sarcastically saying “how different could the story be this time?” And he was right. This new live action Beauty and the Beast is nearly an exact live action remake of the animated film. There are some differences though.

In the beginning of the film rather than having stained glass windows and narration tell the prologue, we see the Enchantress do the deed of placing the spell on Prince Adam (Dan Stevens) with narration and the same score from the animated film. From there with some tweaking it is more or less the same movie.

Plot holes were addressed (such as the timing and pacing of events seen in the animated film) and corrected in this version. Characters are fleshed out, Belle is not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome (Emma Watson made damn sure of it).

I like that Belle was upgraded from just being a bookworm who longed for more. I know Belle was unintentionally the entry drug for little girls in the nineties to get into feminism. But to me growing up her ‘longing for more’ didn’t exactly scream ‘strong independent woman’ since she was living off her dad still. Now Belle is a book worm, one of the few literate people in the village, and a bit of a engineer since her dad makes music boxes. During the movie though part of me was searching more for Hermione in Watson’s performance as Belle. I then sighed and told myself that Emma Watson is not Hermione and that Hermione is not Belle.

Speaking of Belle’s dad, he too is upgraded from strange elderly person who is an adult child to balance the MAN the Beast is in Belle’s life. He has been downgraded from wacky inventor to heavily respected music box maker. His decisions in his and Belle’s life stem from the fate of Belle’s mother (I honestly don’t know why so many parents were killed in Disney movies up until recently).

The Beast is more or less the same, except he too is literate, so in this version when he gave Belle a library it really did mean something. It’s because of their love of books, his distaste for Romeo and Juliet, and bonding with Belle over stories that they do fall in love.

Our awesome household appliances also get screen-time, but not much of an increased role. The stakes are raised that if the spell cannot be broken they will literally turn into plain objects. What was interesting was that this time around there were family and loved ones of the castle staff who were unaware of what became of them due to the Enchantress’ spell.

Gaston (Luke Evans)  and LeFou (Josh Gad) also have extended roles. Gaston has a backstory of being a war hero and LeFou is confirmed to being in love with Gaston. Other than that they’re just the same, I won’t spoil what becomes of LeFou’s ‘gay old time’. Yes there was the gay controversy concerning LeFou, but let’s be honest you all don’t want to read ANOTHER blog post about that. And if you do, go google it somewhere else then.

Finally, there’s the Enchantress herself. She is actually present in the now unlike the animated film where she’s just illustrated on a window (we don’t speak of Enchanted Christmas here). Part of me was hoping it would be Helena Bonham Carter from the 2015 Cinderella film continuing her work as a fairy who gives a test of character to the people she’s watching and connect the two movies, but Hattie Morahan does a lovely performance as the Enchantress though, even if she doesn’t say a damn thing.

Artistically the film is beautiful, and the costumes are amazing to look at. Of course the music is a wonderful experience too, yes some of the original score from the animated film was kept in and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Beauty and the Beast was a huge part of my childhood, it made me interested in becoming an artist (how many three year olds do you know have the ability to stick to a dream to their early twenties and sort of accomplish it?) Seeing it on the big screen adapted to live action was great and I intend to watch it again and maybe buy the Beast at build a bear workshop, unless a wonderful (mentally healthy, book obsessed) man on the internet wants to propose to me with said Beast doll.

I give Beauty and the Beast 2017 three and a half places of The Grey Stuff out of five. (it’s caviar?????)

Before I Fall Review

My friend invited me to see the underperforming film Before I Fall because no movie is going to be a box office success when the competition is Logan staring Hugh Jackman. I had not seen any trailers to this movie, my friend invited me yesterday and I figured sure why not. Based on the novel of the same name by Lauren  Oliver, sadly I did not read the book first. Perhaps I will, but right now I’m on a book ban until I can make a decent dent in my To Read pile.

The movie felt like a more watchable and likable version of the Bratz movie that came out about a decade ago. It has four best friends that are more or less diverse who have thing for fashion, boys, and loving the shit out of each other.

Spoilers from this point on

The story and film follow the protagonist Samantha Kingston as she is trapped in a groundhog day situation of living her last day on earth before dying in a car accident. The film starts out with Sam and her friends essentially being rich entitled bitches who more or less rule their highschool treating their peers like shit.

Despite her best efforts the night ends with either Sam and her friends dying horribly in a car accident or their peer Juliet Sykes committing suicide. Through this groundhog day situation Sam begins to question her life, her friends, and how she treats people. Three of the constantly repeated days are of significant difference. The day where Sam lets loose on everyone in her life, the day where Sam spends the day with her family, and the day where Sam loves everyone and dies (I personally think she’s now in a coma and will wake up in five years as a paraplegic).

I feel like there were other days in Sam’s groundhog day life that were skipped over from the book. I was disappointed that the day Sam ‘let loose’ on everyone when she realized she could do whatever she wanted with no consequences and decided to be a bitch to everyone she knows. Maybe it’s because a few weeks ago The Mindy Project had a groundhog day episode (that was awesome), but I would think she would have done something more fun. Like spraypainting the school, or driving to Target and maxing out her mom’s credit car to throw Nerds at all of her peers, or donating all of her money to a charity for elderly cats and dogs. Instead we get Sam dressed in just black, being sexy and bad, and saying shit to everyone except a lesbian classmate.

The movie was kind of weird sometimes; like how is everyone at this highschool loaded? How can two different single moms be able to afford keep such badass houses? How in the age of tumblr, suicide hotlines, and Deviant Art has Juliet not gotten any support to continue on in life or any of the school faculty and staff not bothered to step in to tell Sam and her posse to quit their shit? Why is that school cafeteria so amazing? Are taxes a little higher so that kids in highschool, can eat at such a cool cafeteria?

I did like the visuals and the setting of the movie (I’m a sucker for beautiful rainy places). The movie was very good, I think it’s a big shame it was over shadowed by Logan and I know the movie will do alot better in terms of bluray and dvd sales compared to it’s box office success.

I give Before I Fall three and a half roses out of five.

 

“Christian” Movies

It seems that around the time of Lent a whole lot of what I like to call ‘holy crap’ comes along. I’m not sure if it’s strategically done because of the Catholic tradition of forty days of fasting from Ash Wednesday to Easter. I haven’t seen too many of these movies so if you good reader are someone who would like to correct me on anything that I may have gotten wrong, please do correct me. Don’t worry I’ll be posting a few reviews as soon as I am done with The Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild (the first video game to be reviewed here!)

I Don’t Watch “Christian” Movies

I normally don’t see these movies because it’s a personal belief of mine that most of these movies are made for the sake of making money off Christians, this belief was more or less solidified after discovering I Am Not Ashamed was made by the same people from both God’s Not Dead movies (granted I Am Not Ashamed was actually a decent movie while both God’s Not Dead movies made me wonder if God nearly croaked from how awful they were).

One of the other reasons I don’t watch these movies is because literally the whole plot from begging to end is given away with the trailer. A good example would be Miracles From Heaven where the smart thing to do would be to play up the daughter’s incurable disease and focus on the family’s faith within the trailer instead of adding the fact the daughter comes out perfectly fine from a crazy accident (bonus points for using Fight Song in the trailer since the song is a guilty pleasure for me).

Message Verses Story

A common issue among these movies is the concentration on the message of the film over the plot.  The message in alot of these films is to have faith, trust, and belief in God. The story usually suffers for the sake of the message. I’ll get to God’s Not Dead in a little bit, but that film is a good example of the message over taking the story.

One example is Christian Mingle (yes the dating site Christian Mingle inspired a movie), where the message is “Jesus is the only love you need in your life,” and it’s more or less banged into your head. The movie is sort of watchable since it’s a romantic comedy…just without swearing or hot men shirtless, but plenty of awkward situations for the heroin.

God’s Not Dead (I’m surprised He isn’t after these atrocities) 

god damnit I hate these movies. Granted I’ve only seen the first one (unwillingly) and turned down the opportunity to see Melissa Joan Hart in a movie (I guess she’s repenting for playing a teenage witch despite not being a teenager). I hate this movie; it’s not just because the main plot is essentially a chain letter passed around youth groups in the late nineties and through most of the new millennium (I got said chain letter when I was nineteen), it’s not because I thought it was a documentary style movie concerning the Christian pop band The Newsboys (which ironically consists of none of the original members along with one of the founders stating current members aren’t thinking about Jesus), it’s not just because they painted members of the Muslim faith to be horrible people (that does have a good deal to do with it though). It’s because the film is an awful mess where all the subplots are more interesting than the actual plot.

There are six(ish) subplots to the film that include the following;

  • Muslim girl who wants to convert to Christianity but isn’t sure how to do it with her devout Muslim family (this subplot could have also been handled better without the physical abuse).
  • Chinese student being told by the main protagonist of the movie about Jesus since religion and communism don’t mix too well.
  • Two devout Christians having trouble with their car rental business (all their cars keep breaking down.) I feel this would have worked better as it’s own comedy movie.
  • The relationship between big evil antagonist atheist college professor and his Christian girlfriend.
  • The relationship between the protagonist and his full of shit girlfriend.
  • snarky liberal blogger discovering she has cancer and converts to Christianity (I think the only accurate part of this movie is the fact that most liberal bloggers are snarky).

I feel removing the main plot of the protagonist constantly debating the antagonist on the existence in God and upgrading any of these plots would have made the movie atleast watchable. But no, we get the typical argument between Christian who is good and pure at everything and an asshole who happens to be an atheist. I do give the movie credit that both the Chinese student and blogger are pretty decent people despite not believing in God and the protagonist’s girlfriend is a total twat despite claiming to be ‘the best Christian ever’.

As I said before I did not see God’s Not Dead 2, from what I understand Melissa Joan Hart’s character is in deep shit for mentioning her christian faith in a highschool classroom for literally just one sentence. This sounds outrageous, but considering stuff happening right now (as of 2017) it’s more believable than a professor demanding students become an atheist or he will fail them.

There’s a thing called the dean of students kids. You go to them with your complaints and concerns because YOU (and the US tax payers) PAY for your education. There’s also a thing called Rate my Professor that could easily affect the future of any asshole professor. Also unless the school is an ivy league school, no one gives a shit about what’s going on outside of rape and sexual assault (which is actually an improvement).

Secular Movies that do a Better Job 

Here are some movies that more or less do a better job at the very least being an entertaining movie and keeping those Christian messages and values.

Saved!(2004), it has Mandy Moore being a total bitch and I love this movie. Alot of people see it as a teen comedy giving the middle finger to religious christian teens, however after looking up the directors and writers and listening to the commentary everyone involved worked at a christian highschool and wanted to make a teen movie showing that despite these kids being Jesus Freaks they were still normal teenagers. I see it more of a movie to reflect to yourself and see what kind of person you are.

Cinderella (2015), I actually like this movie alot; despite being a cute rated G version of Everafter there are themes of faith, compassion, and forgiveness. Our protagonist is obviously pure of heart showing goodness and love to all her friends and her cute animal helpers. She does her best not to let her jerkass stepmother get to her and despite all the attempts of said stepmother to corrupt Cinderella to become evil, Cinderella chooses to forgive her and move onto her happily ever after using her compassion and goodness to rule the kingdom.

Dogma (1999); FUCK YEAH DOGMA! Okay this movie doesn’t belong here at all to be honest, I just really love it. I like Alanis Morissette playing God, I like the song she contributed to the movie . GO WATCH IT YOU DAMN POLITICALLY CORRECT MILLENIALS!

The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe-how can you not know this is essentially a Christian move. Shame on Disney with doing nothing with the franchise after two movies.

Mentions both honorable and dishonorable

The Passion of the Christ-I saw this with my church group when I was thirteen, I threw up. After years of watching it over and over and having to review it to help with teenagers perform the stations of the cross on Good Friday, I kind of hate the movie. I do appreciate the effort and work placed into it, but at the same time I don’t much like Mel Gibson (he called my home town a shit hole, only WE can do that). I can’t watch the film anymore with a straight face and there are serious scenes where I’m laughing my ass off.

Hillsong United; Let Hope Rise-this movie was actually pretty good; it’s a documentary on the band mixed with scenes of them traveling around the world, the origins of the band, and the home lives of the band members. Many kudos to the band members admitting they’re actually “okay at best” musicians.

Full of Grace-a story telling the final days of Jesus’ mother Mary that talks about keeping faith despite times of hopelessness. I think my only issue with this movie is my belief that Mary ascended into heaven both body and soul rather than just dying and being buried (see readers, I have my own beliefs too).

For Greater Glory- the story of the Cristo Rey movement in Mexico when the Catholic faith was outlawed. There is also the story of Jose Sanches del Rio who became a martyr and was recently canonized as a saint. It also has Eva Longoria and Oscar Isaac in it.

The Nativity Story-I kind of feel sad that people cared more about the controversy over the movie.

Final Thoughts

I can’t force you to watch or not watch the movies. If you really have the ability to like God’s Not Dead…fine.  I do feel like most of these movies are just being made for money though and are rushed for the sake of getting them out for the Easter season. I also feel alot of these movies are in the wrong hands and most of these writers and directors want to make anyone that isn’t a christian out to be a horrible and evil person. Watching God’s Not Dead was not only bad because of the acting and what was going on, but pretty hurtful in many ways.

There are a few Christian movies I’m interested in seeing (particularly a comedy staring Brett Dalton), no not all of them are bad, but let’s be honest with ourselves here, some of these people need to put a little more effort into their craft.

The Subject of Race and Ethnicity

Today I read a blogpost called You can’t do that! Stories have to be about white people and it reminded me of a subject I had been wanting to write about for a while that isn’t about the representation of gays in the media (btw yes I will review When We Rise when I see it in it’s entirety), Christianity, or essays on genres. Today we are talking about race and how the default protagonist is still white. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but it’s something that still happens. and as Darren Chetty mentioned in his blog post if you want to write about someone who is black or of another race, you have to make your story about the fact they are black/their race (as in your black character has to struggle with racism, they can’t just be black), because if your protagonist isn’t white, it doesn’t sell books as well.

What do you mean you have to make the story about a person’s race if they’re not white?

One of the things I loathed hearing about in middleschool, highschool and my first few years of college was people assuming I would write about my Mexican heritage. Like THAT was the only thing ticking in my mind. It’s not a bad thing, but every time we read stories about Mexicans in school it was always about struggle and how life was shitty for the main protagonist.

Granted I acknowledge that these authors were writing about their own life experiences and respect their stories and life struggles, but my life wasn’t their story and isn’t that story to tell. I had my own struggles, they were nothing like the struggles seen in Hispanic literature. In comparison my life would be seen as a piece of cake by those authors and my struggles would be labeled as a first world problem (which sadly they are).

As I mentioned above Chetty did mention that if I ever write a story with a Mexican protagonist, I gotta write about Mexican heritage or problems or my book (allegedly) isn’t selling squat! For publishers to even consider publishing my book, my protagonist has to either have Mexican problems or have his whole plot centered around coming out as gay (yes I snuck that in too).

What about the TV?

Television has been interesting about race; let’s start with Star Trek the original series. It had Nichelle Nichols playing Nyota Uhura and George Takei playing Hikaru Sulu. A “black woman on the tv who wasn’t a maid” (as described by Whoopi Goldberg) and a Japanese man (who would later come out as a proud homosexual) portraying characters on a science fiction show treated as equal to their colleagues despite their ethnicity.

It took a while for both movies and tv to move past have characters of different races be portrayed as characters beyond just being token minority (it’s debatable if Uhura or Sulu were token minorities). As a kid in the 90’s I saw tokenism at it’s extreme in afterschool specials, and educational television. I remember this one show shown to us at school called The Human Race Club where all the races and ethnicities were represented…and led by a blond haired blue eyed kid with glasses (it had a smart Asian girl, a black kid who liked basketball, a tom boy ginger, and a fat kid).

There was also Power Rangers; three fifth’s of the main five rangers were white (Jason, Kimberly, Billy) with Zack and Trini as the token black and asian without the producers ever realizing that they assigned Zack and Trini as the black and yellow ranger to match their races until it was too late. There was also Tommy who was later revealed to be of Native American decent, not sure if it counts though since it took four seasons to reveal that. This was fixed later when Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones, and Thuy Trang left the show with Rocky (Steve Cardenas), Aisha (Karen Ashley), and Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch) as the new red, yellow, and black rangers respectively of Hispanic, black, and Asian/Jewish ethnicities included.

After the first season, Power Rangers has actually been pretty good about representation of all the races and even had a few ranger teams where the girl or a black person IS the leader (Alien Rangers, Turbo, Time Force, SPD, RPM, Dino Charge). Still no female red ranger though…

Captain Planet also had a minorateam, with the only white American usually being the whiner who had to learn a lesson in the episode. If any of the other members had a plot devoted to them, they were not the whiner. Trust me.

On the CW DC television something interesting happened; races of characters were changed from white to whatever the creators wanted. The whole West family? Black. Jimmy Olson is no longer a adorkable ginger, but is now a hunky black guy with dreamy eyes for Kara and the audience to oogle at (don’t worry, Kara has an adorkable tech friend for fans who are into that sort of thing to oogle at too). There is the issue too some that even though diversity has been added to the cast of these shows, the leads are still white people. With the addition of Legends of Tomorrow (with no MAIN character, but rather having a team lead) and Vixen (female African american (she actually is from Africa)) things are nice and diverse in the live action DC universe.

Because I can’t cover ALL media, here are some honorable mentions. Codename Kids Next Door (it’s like The Human Race Club, except bigger budget and isn’t corny), Star Wars The Clone Wars/Rebels (they have aliens, it counts), W.I.T.C.H. (multiraced badass magical girls), Steven Universe, and Drawn Together (look that show was hilarious regardless of what today’s politically correct millenials will post on Tumblr)

TV comedies (Ugly Betty, The Mindy Project, and Fresh Off the Boat)

It seems races and ethnicities get an easier time at representing different races. In some cases, rather than playing their race for the sake of drama and story telling, they play them for comedy. In the case of Ugly Betty, being of Mexican decent wasn’t a big deal too often. While the show did fall victim to relying on problems faced by immigrants today (for the first and second season Betty’s father was illegally in the US), Betty’s heritage is played for laughs except for one episode (Mark said Betty only got a job to fill a token Mexican spot).

The Mindy Project is awesome; Mindy’s Indian heritage is a joke most of the time and has only been the subject of drama once when Mindy was scared that her son would only know of his Indian half based on a Indian food menu on Mindy’s fridge. Bonus points for Mindy being the subject to large amounts of slapstick humor during the show despite being a woman.

Fresh Off the Boat is a touchy subject; despite being based on the memoirs of Eddy Huang, Huang hates the show feeling they turned his emotional outlet of rap and hiphop and life struggles into one dumb asian joke for the other races to laugh at. Eddy Huang if you ever read this I am sorry, but it is a hilarious show, I have read your book and I understand your anger concerning the show. If it makes you feel better, it has given more exposure to asian actors and actresses.

A Wrinkle in Time movie adaption (this time it won’t be awful)

As many have heard Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is getting a film adaption with an open cast. Meg Murry being played by Storm Reid and the rest of the Murry family (minus Chris Pine’s character) now black. To add to this Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which will be portrayed by Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey respectively (gotta read that book again and imagine Mrs. Who shrilling like Kaling now).

What can one do to add diversity to books and entertainment?

I’m not sure actually, but you can start by reading The Lunar Chronicles since it does have a racially diverse cast. And tell your favorite authors “hey, I would like some diversity in the fiction you are producing.” Support authors who do write about characters of different backgrounds. Write your own stories about these things fight to get them to be published, I know I am with my books.

 

I’m Not Ashamed Review

I decided to watch and review something different tonight; I normally don’t think highly of Christian movies and we can blame both God’s Not Dead movies for that. Christian movies aren’t bad, but it feels like the film makers are more interested in the message of the film (and probably advertising Christian pop music) rather than giving the film entertaining or a decent story.

I’m Not Ashamed is different from those movies in the sense that it is a autobiography about Rachel Scott. There is a strong presence of “message” in the film, but it actually has a place in the film. The film shows Rachel’s life from having divorced parents, living the usual ‘highschool teen life’ (smoking, drinking, flirting with guys), to her embracing a christian lifestyle, to struggling with her faith and practicing unconditional love and helping a youth named Nathan grow closer to God, all of this and more slowly leading up to her death.

I will say I am impressed with the film; it looked like and felt like the nineties from the clothing and the fads seen in the film to some of the music played (I’m guessing getting the rights to some of the music from the nineties was a little too pricey), they even had adult actors playing teenagers (a practice done frequently in the nineties as well, and I welcome it).

I would be lying if I said the film was perfect; some of the acting is off and there are moments where the film falls more into “here’s the message right infront of you in bold letters” rather than concentrating on telling the story. There is some inaccuracy to the time period too with dubstep being on the radio in some scenes. Scenes featuring Eric Harriss and Dylan Klebold’s actors are played as very creepy and disturbing to be honest, so props to their actors.

Concerning the controversy that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold only targeted and executed Christians if they said yes to the belief in God it isn’t played up in the way that Rachel was a martyr and said “yes” in the sense that she was targeted solely because she was Christian. The scene still has it’s importance, but rather than treating that moment as Rachel’s moment to shine in her faith before being killed, it’s treated as a moment of shock and horror.

The main concentration concerning Rachel’s death is the events before and after her death. Her moments before involve making peace with a friend who had hurt her, and aiding a youth who’s parents were going through a divorce, and talking to a teacher about a drawing she was making that may or may not have predicted the events happening later that day. The aftermath involves how her loved ones were affected, and how she was remembered, and what her friends and loved ones learned from her.

The movie isn’t for everyone, if you want to watch it it’s fine, if you don’t want to watch it that is fine too.

I’m Not Ashamed is a Visible Pictures Film Production and Distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment.