Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seen Any Monsters Lately?

As a general rule, a sequel is almost never better than the original film on which it’s based, but many would agree that 1935's The Bride of Frankenstein is a rare exception to the rule.

The Bride of Frankenstein © 1935 Universal Studios
Elsa Lanchester as the Bride of Frankenstein
Some people point to the pacing, the quality of acting, the introduction of humor, the score or other aspects to explain why Bride is such a great film. For me, even though I still personally prefer the 1931 film, the reason I think Bride is so strong is because it makes use of several elements from Mary Shelley's original novel that had been overlooked in the first movie. The creature seeing his reflection in the water, the blind man in the lonely cottage, the creature learning to speak and the idea of Frankenstein creating a mate for his monster are all pulled from the pages of the book. This film also succeeds at painting Frankenstein’s fiend in a more sympathetic light, which - as I mentioned a few weeks ago - is true to the original tale.

To me, this is also a very visual story with rich symbolism everyone can learn from!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Don't Be Dazzled by the Devil!

"Discipline yourselves; keep alert. 
Like a roaring lion 
your adversary the devil prowls around, 
looking for someone to devour."
- 1 Peter 5:8

Back in 2000, Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley starred in Bedazzled, a remake of the 1967 British comedy by the same name. Elliott (Fraser) is a computer nerd who wants to be popular and win the girl of his dreams. He sells his soul to the Devil (Hurley) in exchange for seven wishes. But each time he makes a wish, something happens to keep him from happiness and he inches a little bit closer to eternal damnation.

Seeing the Devil's true colors © 2000, 20th Century Fox
Elliott is Bedazzled until he sees the Devil's true colors!
The amount of language and sexual innuendo, along with the final message of this PG-13 flick, make it something you would probably never want to show in a church setting. but the Biblical truths below the surface are still worth our consideration.

This movie actually has a lot to say about the nature of the Devil and of temptation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Worth Fighting For

Here Comes the Boom © 2012 Sony Pictures
Recently, Amber and I went to see Here Comes the Boom, the new movie starring Kevin James and Henry "the Fonz" Winkler as teachers at a school facing budget cuts. Biology teacher Scott Voss (James) was Teacher of the Year a decade ago, but seems to have lost some of the fire that once made him great. Still, when he learns that the school will soon cut the music program and force Marty Streb (Winkler) out of a job, he knows he has to do something to raise the $48,000 necessary to save the program, inspire the students and help his friend in need. The solution he finds: mixed martial arts fighting in the UFC!

It's hard to imagine Doug from The King of Queens as an inspirational athlete a la Rocky Balboa, yet I think the fact that nobody expected it is part of what makes this action-comedy work so well! And don't worry: you don't have to be a UFC fan to enjoy the movie - I'm not, and I loved it!

Despite the violence or anything else, there is a lot for Christians to like, and I put this on my "Highly Recommended" list! I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it yet and intends to, though, so be warned that while I'll try not to give too much away, this post does contain some spoilers!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Monster Within

With Halloween around the corner, I felt inspired to write a little about one of my favorite monster stories. When I was in college, for a literature class, we read Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Originally subtitled "The Modern Prometheus", everyone knows this is the tale of a scientist who pieces together a body from dead tissue and brings it to life, but the miracle he hoped for ends up in tragedy. Everyone also knows the famous face of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster in the classic 1931 horror film (Note: "Frankenstein" is the name of the scientist; his creation has no name).

Frankenstein's monster
Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster
What I didn't know until I read the novel, though, is that the book and the movie are worlds apart. For one, the movie blames the creature's behavior on the fact that Dr. Frankenstein mistakenly gives it an "abnormal brain". In the novel, there is no hint to this, and there are very few details given about the actual creation process. The creature in the book speaks and is intelligent, unlike the movie monster. And the creature in the book is much more sympathetic than its cinematic counterpart: largely because of its appearance, the creature is abandoned by its creator and hated by society, which forces it into solitude and drives it to seek revenge. The movie touches these themes, but still portrays Frankenstein's creation as a monster, while the novel clearly claims that despite the creature's actions, the real monster is man.

Friday, October 5, 2012

007 Lessons from 007's 007th Adventure

What boy didn't grow up wishing to be a spy/detective? When I was little, my grandparents would buy me "Spy Gear", which included things like fingerprint kits, toy passports, toy motion detectors, and tips on how to tail someone. Then and now, I could never get enough of mystery stories, and I still love to watch a good thriller - whether it's something serious or a spoof like Get Smart. But everybody knows the ultimate secret agent is one Mr. Bond...James Bond!

Sean Connery as James Bond50 years ago today, Sean Connery introduced us to James Bond, MI6 Agent 007, in his first big screen adventure, Dr. No, and now we await the release of the 23rd official installment in the series. Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig (the 6th actor in the lead role) will open in the US on November 9, 2012. (For release dates in other countries, see the list here.)

Gearing up for the new movie, I decided to watch some of the classics. To be sure, James Bond is a character with many vices, so I wouldn't recommend him as a role model; but as I watched Diamonds Are Forever this week, I noticed "007" truths every Christian on a mission should remember.