Posts belonging to Category Movies

My Favorite Movie Reviewer

Scott Nehring is a fellow Christian, the author of You Are What You See, and the blogger behind Good News Film Reviews. He is also my favorite movie reviewer. Scott does a great job dissecting the message behind the film and running it through a Christian lens.

He also has a sharp wit which always leaves me laughing. For example, here is part of his review today for Sylvester Stallone’s 2010 movie, The Expendables:

Should I see it?
I think it is safe to assume that if you’re really interested in this movie you probably can’t read, so this whole review is an exercise in futility. To answer the question – no, even for what it is – no.

For more great movie reviews, visit Scott’s site at Good News Film Reviews.

George Lucas Announces Star Wars in 3-D

I guess it eventually had to happen. George Lucas announced plans to re-release all six of the Star Wars movies in 3-D, starting with “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” (scheduled for release in 2012). John Knoll, visual effects supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic, commented on the benefits of 3-D for the Star Wars universe.

“When stereo’s done right,” Mr. Knoll said, “it gives you a powerful illusion that you’re there witnessing something. You want to do that with films where it’s someplace where you want to go, and the highly designed and constructed world of the ‘Star Wars’ pictures obviously has a grip on a lot of people’s imaginations. It’s a place I’d like to feel immersed in.” …

Mr. Knoll, who also served as a visual effects supervisor on “Avatar,” was a bit cryptic about how exactly the 3-D conversion process for the “Star Wars” films would work, but said that it did not involve the creation of new visual effects. “We’re taking the films as they exist,” he said, “and simulating the view from a synthetic second eye. It’s fairly painstaking and labor-intensive, and that’s why this isn’t going to happen real quickly. It takes time. And it takes time to get it right.”

So what do you think about Star Wars in 3-D? Yay or nay?


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The Hunt for Gollum Movie

I posted about this when it first came out in 2009, but a lot of people had trouble accessing the live-stream video feed and eventually gave up. However, I just discovered it is now available on YouTube. So, if you missed it last time around, and have some time this weekend, grab some popcorn and check out the forty-minute-long fan-made production of The Hunt for Gollum. (Note: Click on the four-way arrow in the lower right hand corner of the media player to watch in full screen mode.)

  The Hunt for Gollum (Video length: 39:07)

Award winning unofficial prequel to The Lord of the Rings dramatizing Aragorn & Gandalf’s long search for Gollum. This 40-minute film, made by fans for fans is based on the appendices of LOTR and was painstakingly shot on a low budget as an homage to Peter Jackson’s trilogy and the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien. Costing less than $5,000 to make, with a team of volunteers, Independent Online Cinema is proud to have brought Middle-Earth to the screen once more. We hope you enjoy The Hunt For Gollum as much as we enjoyed making it.

Click here for more Tolkien related posts.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Video Trailer

Check out the new trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, coming to theaters December 10, 2010. I can’t wait!

Dawn Treader Trailer (Video length: 2:10)

Click here for Narnia products at Amazon.

Related posts:
    • C. S. Lewis’ Homeschool Schedule
    • Click here for more Narnia related posts.

A Wrinkle in Time Feature Film

There’s a new film version of A Wrinkle in Time in the works by the same people who brought us the first two installments in the new Chronicles of Narnia series. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Jeff Stockwell has been hired to adapt author Madeleine L’Engle’s classic time-travel head trip, “A Wrinkle in Time,” for Cary Granat and his new Bedrock Studios …

The BBC made a film version of the young-adult novel, and Dimension produced a telefilm for ABC in 2004. Disney carried remake rights from that deal and is developing the new feature iteration with Bedrock, which had negotiated rights to the property from the L’Engle estate. Catherine Hand also is producing, and L’Engle’s granddaughter, Charlotte Voilkis, is exec producing.

Granat has a relationship with Disney from when his Walden Media produced such films for the studio as the “Chronicles of Narnia” series and “Bridge to Terabithia,” co-written by Stockwell. L’Engle wrote a handful of follow-up novels to “Wrinkle,” now called the Time Quintet, and Disney’s Rich Ross is seeking more franchise material in the mold of the female-driven success of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books as a child, and I enjoyed the other books in the series as well. I don’t know if they can pull a whole film franchise out of the series, but I am excited that at least Wrinkle will get the big screen treatment. Any other Madeleine L’Engle fans out there?

HT: CT Movies Blog

Related post: Madeleine L’Engle Passes Away (1918-2007)

Special Narnia Summit Previews Dawn Treader Film

Note: If you have never read Voyage of the Dawn Treader, be aware that this post reveals some plot details from the book.

Walden Media and Twentieth Century Fox hosted a special Narnia Summit in Los Angeles for Christian leaders the weekend of February 16-18. The event included panel discussions plus footage from the upcoming Dawn Treader film directed by Michael Apted. Tirian from NarniaWeb attended and reports back:

Michael Apted … shared that this is a very character-driven film and that it is not going to be a film that has special effects without any real content. He said this movie is about temptation and learning how to overcome it, wrapped in an adventure story. Michael then took us through a 20-minute presentation with concept art and a few still frames to give us the basic outline of the movie. He described the five islands, where we’ll see them, and what will happen on each one. He also pointed out how each island will have a different and unique look to it …

Without giving away too much, I will mention a few things about the footage we saw. There were shots of the transition into Narnia and some shots onboard the Dawn Treader with Eustace (quite funny). We saw some interaction between Lucy and Gael and quite a lot of shots of Lucy in the magician’s house. There were a few finished shots of Reepicheep, several “beauty shots” of the Dawn Treader sailing, and some incredible shots of the entrance to Aslan’s Country from the end of the film. Liam Neeson’s lines have been recorded so we heard Aslan several times throughout the footage.

Christianity Today also spoke with several who attended the summit. Philip Yancey shared:

They’re clearly making an effort to say that they respect and understand the spiritual focus of the book in a way that perhaps [Prince Caspian] did not. They don’t seem to be cutting any corners; they’re throwing the whole ball of wax at this, and that’s a good thing. If they can capture the universal love for these books, it’ll be great.

Kathy Keller (wife of pastor/author Tim Keller) was especially concerned “that they get Aslan right” in the movie.

“I’m glad the final interaction between Aslan and Lucy was there in its unadulterated entirety, because I consider that the pinnacle of the entire seven books.” (Near the end of book, Lucy is sad that Aslan is sending her back to her world, and sobs, “How can we live, never meeting you?” Aslan assures Lucy that he’s very much in her world, where he has “another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”)

Jerry Root, a Lewis expert and a professor at Wheaton College, agrees with Keller, saying if they don’t get that scene right, “they might as well close up the shop and produce no more films, for they will not be Lewis’ stories any more.”

Attendees also report that the movie includes the extremely important scene of Aslan “un-dragoning” Eustace. All in all, I find these reports very encouraging! Voyage of the Dawn Treader is one of my favorite books, and I am really looking forward to this movie.

Click here for Narnia products at Amazon.

Related posts:
    • Click here for more Narnia related posts.
    • Click here for The Finished Dawn Treader Ship.
    • Click here for Countdown to Caspian roundup.
    • Click here for Narnia sermon series.

9 Movies to Watch in 2010

Here are the movies I am most looking forward to in 2010. How about you?

March 5: Alice in Wonderland – Tim Burton’s sets are always amazing, so I am looking forward to experiencing his vision of Wonderland.

March 26: Clash of the Titans – I was a big fan of Ray Harryhausen’s special effects as a kid, but the new effects on this look pretty amazing.

May 7: Iron Man 2 – 2008 was a great year for movies, and Iron Man was probably the best of the bunch. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is back along with Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury. Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Pepper Potts, and look for Stan Lee doing a cameo as Larry King.

May 14: Robin Hood – Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe have done some quality work in the past, so I look forward to seeing their adaptation of an old favorite. (Max von Sydow is aboard, too!)

June 18: Toy Story 3 – 1 and 2 were both great, and 3 is in 3-D. What more could you want? (How about Michael Keaton and Timothy Dalton joining the cast?)

November 19: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – This is the only book of the series I actually read, although I have seen all the movies so far. The book starts off with a bang and keeps moving right to the end. I wonder where they will leave the cliffhanger between parts 1 and 2 for the movie?

December 10: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – I love all things Narnia. These books have been a big part of my life since I was a kid, and it is so much fun seeing them come to life on the big screen. Plus, Dawn Treader is one of my favorites.

December 22: The Green Hornet – Aaah, Batman, Lost in Space and the Green Hornet. Those were the days of TV watching as a kid. Here’s hoping they do a good job with this. (I’m not thrilled to see Cameron Diaz on board.)

Also in 2010 (no release date yet): Hoodwinked Too! Hood VS. Evil: “Red Riding Hood is training in the group of Sister Hoods, when she and the Wolf are called to examine the sudden mysterious disappearance of Hansel and Gretel.” The first Hoodwinked! was a real hoot – fun characters, clever storyline, great music and great off-beat humor. Hoodwinked 2 looks like a worthy follow-up with a great cast including: Hayden Panettiere as Red, Bill Hader and Amy Poehler as Hansel and Gretel, Joan Cusack as the Witch, Bill Murray as Mr. Alligator, David Ogden Stiers as Nicky Flippers, Glenn Close as Granny, Martin Short as the Woodsman, Brad Garrett as the Giant, and Patrick Warburton reprising his role as The Wolf.

And coming in 2011:
    • May 20, 2011: Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides
    • June 24, 2011: Cars 2 (in 3D)
    • July 15, 2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
    • July 22, 2011: The First Avenger: Captain America
    • December, 2011: The Hobbit: Part 1

Also in 2011 (no release date yet):
    • Beauty and the Beast (re-release in 3D)
    • Mission Impossible: IV
    • Terminator 5
    • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
    • Untitled Bourne Sequel

Looking ahead to 2012:
    • June 29, 2012: Star Trek 2
    • September, 2012: Spider-man 4
    • The Hobbit Sequel

So what movies are you looking forward to?

Click here for more Movies related posts.

Gandalf, Gollum, and Elrond Return

Here is the latest news on the upcoming Hobbit movies:

  • Director Guillermo del Toro has confirmed that actors Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and Hugo Weaving will be returning in their roles as Gandalf, Gollum, and Elrond (respectively).
  • Del Toro has narrowed down the choice of actor for young Bilbo Baggins and is “very close” to making an announcement.
  • Del Toro also confirmed once again that the two films would focus on the contents of the Hobbit book only and would not be split between the Hobbit and a second film bridging the gap to the Lord of the Rings books.

HT: BBC Radio

Questions to Ask When Watching a Movie

Most of us watch movies, but how do we evaluate what we see? John Frame shares the types of questions he asks when watching a film.

  1. Who wrote the film? Who produced it? Who directed it? Do we know through the writings and previous work of these people anything about their philosophy of life? The previous works of actors are also important. Actors contribute much to the quality of a film, little to its fundamental conception. But actors do tend to sign on to projects with which they have some ideological affinity.
  2. Is it well-made, aesthetically? Are the production and acting values of high quality? These factors may have little to do with the “message.” But they do tend to determine the extent of the film’s cultural impact, and that is important for our purposes. If a film is well-made, it can have a large impact upon the culture for good or ill.
  3. Is it honest, true to its own position? This is another mark of “quality.” Generally speaking, an honest film, regardless of its point of view, will have a larger cultural impact than one which blunts its points.
  4. What kind of film is it? Fantasy? Biography? Realistic drama? Comedy? Obviously each film must be judged according to its purpose and genre. We don’t demand of a fantasy the kind of historical accuracy we demand of a supposedly literal biography.
  5. What is the world view of the film? Is it theistic or atheistic? Christian or non-Christian? If non-Christian, is its main thrust relativistic or dogmatic? How does it employ the theme of “equality?” Is there any role for providence, for God? Is the film pessimistic or optimistic? Does the action move in deterministic fashion, or is there a significant role for human choice?
  6. What is the plot? What problems do the characters face? Can these problems be correlated in some way with the Fall of mankind in Adam? Does the film in effect deny the Fall, or does it affirm it in some way?
  7. Are the problems soluble? If so, how? What methods are available to the characters so that they can find the answers they need?
  8. What is the moral stance of the film? Is the film relativistic, dogmatic, or both in some combination? What are its attitudes toward sex, family, human life, property, truth, heart-attitudes? What is the source of moral norms, if any? Does justice prevail?
  9. In comedy, what is it that is funny? What are the typical incongruities? Who is the butt of the jokes? (Christians? traditional values? the wicked? the righteous? God? Satan?) Is the humor anarchic? Is it rationality gone awry? Is it bitter or gentle? Does it rely on caricatures? If so, of whom?
  10. Are there allusions to historical events, literary works, other films, famous people, Scripture, etc. that would give us some idea where the filmmakers are coming from? We should remember, of course, that allusions may be negative, positive, ironic, or merely decorative. A biblical allusion does not necessarily indicate acceptance of biblical values.
  11. What are the chief images of the film? Is there anything interesting about the lighting, the camera angles, the sound, the timing which would reinforce a particular theme? Are there significant symbols?
  12. Are there any explicit religious themes? Christ-figures? Does the film express significant attitudes toward Christ, the clergy, or the church? Does it distort Christianity or present it at its worst? Or does it present it with some insight and/or sympathy? Does it recognize the element of personal piety in people’s lives? There are exceptions. If so, does it approve or disapprove of it? What about Satan, the demons, the occult? Does the film recognize their activity in some way? Is the devil taken seriously? If so, how is he dealt with?

HT: Between Two Worlds

Note: These questions come from chapter three of John Frame’s book, Theology at the Movies. You can read the whole book online here — just scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Table of Contents.

Interview with Pixar Director Pete Docter

Pixar | Up | 2009Pete Docter is the director of the new Pixar film, Up, which releases Friday this week. Pete also directed Monsters, Inc. and was a writer and supervising animator for the original Pixar film, Toy Story. Pete is a Christian, and Radix Magazine interviewed him back in 1998 about his work and faith. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Radix: How has having a child changed who you are as an artist?

Docter: Work-wise, I definitely see things differently. There are things I would find kind of quirky or weird, that might have a tinge of violence to it, but as a single guy, or even as a married guy, I’d think, “It’s funny.” But then when you have a kid, you think, “Oh, he’ll be watching this. I don’t know how I’d feel about that.” As a Christian, having my son has made me even more amazed by the whole Creation, when I watch him grow and start to connect things in his brain. I say, “That’s amazing.” It leaves me speechless.

Radix: How would you say that being a Christian affects how you do your work?

Docter: Years ago when I first spoke at church, I was kind of nervous about talking about Christianity and my work. It didn’t really connect. But more and more it seems to be connecting for me. I ask for God’s help, and it’s definitely affected what I’m doing. It’s helped me to calm down and focus. There were times when I got too stressed out with what I was doing, and now I just step back and say, “God, help me through this.” It really helps you keep a perspective on things, not only in work, but in relationships.

At first you hire people based purely on their talent, but what it ends up is that people who really go far are good people. They’re good people to work with, and I think God really helps in those relationships.

Radix: I know you do a lot of praying, and that’s a big part of the artistic part of what you guys do.

Docter: Yes. You could probably work on a live-action movie that takes maybe six months hating everybody else and you’d still have a film. But these animation projects take three or four years, and it’s really difficult to do without having a good relationship with the people you’re working with.

Radix: Do you ever see yourself making a more explicitly Christian movie?

Docter: Not at this point. I don’t know that that’s really me. I don’t feel so comfortable with that. Even if you have a moral to a story, if you actually come out and say it, it loses its power. Not that we’re trying to be sneaky or anything, but you have more ability to affect people if you’re not quite so blatant about it. Does that make sense?

Radix: That seems right in line with what Jesus’ parables were too. He tended not to come right out and explain, “This is what I was trying to say.”

Docter: To me art is about expressing something that can’t be said in literal terms. You can say it in words, but it’s always just beyond the reach of actual words, and you’re doing whatever you can to communicate a sense of something that is beyond you.

HT: CT Movies Blog

Click here to view the Up trailer.

Hobbit Story Spread Out Over Two Movies

Earlier reports suggested that the two-part Hobbit movie (due out in December 2011 and 2012) would present the book in the first movie and a sequel in the second. Producer Peter Jackson and director Guillermo Del Toro have now confirmed that both movies will cover just the story of The Hobbit.

“We’ve decided to have The Hobbit span the two movies, including the White Council and the comings and goings of Gandalf to Dol Guldur,” says Del Toro.

“We decided it would be a mistake to try to cram everything into one movie,” adds Jackson. “The essential brief was to do The Hobbit, and it allows us to make The Hobbit in a little more style, if you like, of the [LOTR] trilogy.”

So there you go. The second film will not, as had previously been suggested, a film that will bridge the 60-year gap between The Hobbit and the start of Fellowship Of The Ring.

Click here for more Tolkien related posts.

Related posts:
    • Peter Jackson Will Produce The Hobbit Movie(s)
    • The Hunt for Gollum Movie Trailer

The Hunt for Gollum Movie Trailer

Can’t wait for the new Hobbit movie in 2012? The Hunt for Gollum releases May 3, 2009.

‘The Hunt For Gollum’ is a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Fan Film made by fans for fans. Inspired by notes in the appendices from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ book, ‘The Hunt For Gollum’ follows Aragorn as he sets out to find the creature Gollum and discover the truth about the Ring … (

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of my favorite book and movie series. So I am looking forward to this fan-made film made for, well, fans like me! The production values look impressive for a home-made film. (I read somewhere they did this for only $3,000? That doesn’t seem possible.) Started over two years ago, the 40-minute film will be available for free download or live streaming at the official Hunt for Gollum website on May 3, 2009.

Update: Commenter Theresa corrects the $3,000 amount to £3,000 (approx. $4,500). Thanks Theresa!

Click here for more Tolkien related posts.
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