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The A Team June 12, 2010

Q: “Why are we in a falling tank?!?!”
A: “Because the plane blew up!”

We saw the new “The A-Team” movie today. I usually check out some reviews before going to any movie. This movie, at the site I was on, was given a C+. The reviews were mixed, with one reviewer calling the film “an incomprehensible mess.” Neither I or my wife found anything about the movie “incomprehensible” or a “mess.” In fact, we both really enjoyed the movie.

Liam Neeson was perfectly cast as Hannibal. Bradley Cooper was a lot of fun as “Face.” Rampage was very good as B.A. Actually, I liked him a lot better than Mr. T. I’ve nothing against “T” as a person, but I found his take on the character rather annoying. Rampage, I thought, was more audience friendly. Sharlto Copley rounded out the leads as the rather insane Murdock. Jessica Biel, and the always impressive Gerald McRaney also starred. John Hamm made an appearance at the end in what was an obvious set-up for a return in “A-Team II.”

The movie was produced by the Scott Brothers, who’s credits include such films as Alien, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, and on and on, as well as TV shows like “The Good Wife,” and “Numb3rs.”  Also at the helm, is TV series producer Stephen J. Cannell, who pretty much owned 80’s television.

As I said, my wife and both enjoyed this movie. Instead of the C+, I’d give it a B+. We expected to enjoy it, but we both liked it more than we expected. All in all, we found the movie to be a great blend of action, story, special effects, and the all-important sense of humor that is essential for this type of film to succeed.
Oh, and stay through the credits for a couple of fun cameos.

— df

 

Iron Man 2 May 8, 2010

My wife and I just saw “Iron Man 2”

This is one of those sequels that I actually liked even more than the original.
The effects were, of course, great.  But effects alone do not a good movie make.  Where this installment succeeded, like the first, is in the writing and the acting.  It has the human element.  It has heart.  It has emotion.  And, ever important, it has humor.  It has characters we can have fun with, and care about.

Downey, as expected, totally delivered.  He really is perfect for this role.  Paltrow, Johannson, and Jackson were all fine.
There was question as to whether Don Cheadle could fill the roll that Terrence Howard had in the first film.  Frankly, I didn’t miss Howard at all, and thought Cheadle was better.  Clark Gregg, always funny in “Christine,” didn’t have a lot of scenes, but he may have more in “Iron Man 3.”

Sam Rockwell gave a standout performance as Justin Hammer.  His arrogant, self-centered, spoiled brat of a man was a joy to watch.  I’ve enjoyed his nuanced performances ever since “Galaxy Quest.”

One of the biggest reasons I found this movie better than the first was the Mickey Rourke villain, “Ivan Vanko.”  In the previews, I thought his character would be one of the reasons I would like “2” a little less than the first.  Quite the opposite was true.  And Mickey fleshed out the role beautifully.  Don’t get me wrong.  I Like Jeff Bridges.  Maybe more than Rourke.  But the writing, and even the effects for this bad guy seemed more interesting, and even more believable.  (OK.  “Believable” is not a good word to bring to a discussion of a movie like this.  Nevertheless…)

Two ACDC tunes, along with one from Queen, helped the soundtrack really rock.  Hey, good music is always a plus.
And finally, let me say that just like the first movie, you’ll want to stay through the credits.

 

My (brief) review of AVATAR January 1, 2010

I saw AVATAR today.
If you see it, you really need to get to the theater. It is, for sure, a big screen experience. The cinematography is truly beautiful.
The performance-capture technology is really amazing.
At the same time, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about special effects. It is an engaging, wonderfully told story.
I only got teary-eyed a couple of times, so I did pretty good.
It’s anti-war message, and “green politics” are in your face (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing), but it
also works as a love story, and an action movie.
My wife also enjoyed it, even though she didn’t really expect much going in.
With commercials and previews, we spent about 3 hours in our seats. It was, however, time well spent.

 

My review of “Searching For God Knows What.” June 30, 2009

This is the second Donald Miller book I’ve read, the first being “Blue Like Jazz.”  BLJ seemed more autobiographical.  Still, this work is, I think, every bit as good.  It is somewhat more dense, in that it seems to cover more theological ground per page.

This book is about the failure of formulas to properly explain or experience the Gospel of Jesus.  You won’t find a book or chapter of the Bible titled “The Four Spiritual Laws.”  You will not find the phrase “ask Jesus to come into your heart,” or “accept the Lord as your personal Savior.”  This approach to Christian spirituality is in line with what Bono calls “bumper sticker reductionism.”  I guess people like that sort of thing for the same reason many Christians prefer law to grace:  It’s easier.  Lists are easy.  Relationships are hard.

And that, in a reductionist sort of way, is, at least in part, what Donald addresses in this book.  Chapters cover such things as “A whole message to a whole human being,” “How to kill your neighbor (Lifeboat Theory),” “Morality,” “Religion,” and “Why William Shakespeare Was a Prophet.”  I really enjoyed his insights on the book of Job.

Mr. Miller believes that “Biblically, you are hard-pressed to find theological ideas divorced from their relational context.”  Jesus didn’t preach formulas.  He told stories.  He told lots of stories.  Not steps.  Not bullet points.  Stories.
We want to take three years of relational stories, (as well as human history) and boil it all down to 4 easy payments…
I mean steps.
It should be painfully obvious of the inability to do so.  But in case it isn’t, Donald Miller helps point that out.  He does so in his usual style.  A style which caused Blue Like Jazz to be rejected by publishers, until, of course, it started selling like hotcakes.  (Much the same story with “The Shack.”  Don’t these publisher types EVER learn?!?!  They must be very religious people.)

There is a chapter somewhere near the beginning, I forget which one, that seemed out of place.  It felt “phoned in.”  It was almost like someone else wrote it.  It was a bit hard to get through, and made me start to wonder if I would finish the book.  I’m glad I stuck it out, because the book did pick back up, and became a great read.

Anyway, I do highly recommend this book, but only AFTER you read Blue Like Jazz.

[You can read some excerpts on other posts on this blog, including the previous one about “Morality.”
You can order the book from the Life Walk Store link in the right column.]

 

 
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