AMC Discuesses Faith of our Fathers! Interesting stuff!

Even though tomorrow is Wednesday (The middle of the Week) it is still the beginning of the July 4th movie weekend.  This July 4th, fans of Christian films will have an opportunity to go to the theaters and view a film from the makers of God’s Not Dead.  The film, Faith of Our Fathers opens tomorrow (July 1st) I still don’t know how I feel about this film.  I just feel that the message of Jesus is so strong, that we don’t need to help it along by turning down the volume of a story and turning up the volume of the message.  I firmly believe a well done film can tell a well written story and share an uncompromised message.  I do look forward to this film but I am a little shy about it after Do You Believe, which I felt was horribly written!  However, my point today is not to simply inform you of the movie but I would encourage you to go see it if it looks interesting to you and you would like to support more Christian films I will attach the trailer here.

But the real reason I am writing this blog is because of a Youtube Video I watched today.  I am sure many of you are familiar with Youtube, but some of you might not be aware that Youtube actually has weekly, monthly or daily shows on them. Some of them are funded by the adds that you see before the show, some have sponsors, others are actually shows to help a company’s bottom line.  AMC Theaters created a show a few years back called AMC Movie Talk.  It is a daily show, uploaded five times a week where they discuss all the movie news that was released that day.  I watch it almost daily and I love what has been created on that Youtube Channel.  Because of the success of AMC Movie Talk they branched out into other shows such as AMC Jedi Council, AMC Heroes, AMC Indie Spotlight, AMC Rewind and AMC Coming Soon.  Along with these shows you will find reviews of some of the big event films and interviews with stars and directors.  It really is an amazing Youtube Channel for movie fans and from what I hear AMC doesn’t really make money on the channel but the intent is to keep people excited about movies.

This week, on the show AMC Coming Soon they discussed three films that come out this weekend the second of which is Faith of Our Fathers. The three panelists rank the films from 1 to 5.  1 – Not Interested, 2 – Curious, 3 – Seeing it, 4 – Seeing it Opening Weekend, and 5 – Camping Out to see it.  This week’s Panel is made up of Kristian Harloff, Mark Ellis, and David Griffin.  Kristian and Mark have their own channel and show apart from AMC as well.  I was very interested with how they were going to handle this movie and how they would score it.  The result was interesting enough for me to write this blog.  I will link the video below, I hope it works to link it at the time they begin to talk about the film but if it doesn’t they begin talking about it at 9:19.

Mark Ellis started the discussion out by saying that it was from the producers of God’s Not Dead and that he was surprised he liked that film as much as he did.  He continued to say that he didn’t feel it was too preachy… then he said he felt it presented an interesting take on a possible after life… which is when I realized he was thinking about Heaven is for Real, which is a superior movie to God’s not Dead.  I wonder what he would have scored it if he was corrected and told which film God’s Not Dead actually was.  After finishing his discussion, because he was interested in Vietnam War films he was giving it a 2 which means he is curious.  David Griffin then came in, he revealed that he went to seminary which was something I didn’t know and would like to know more about.  He felt that the movie looked too saturated in message.  A message he was not against but he felt that the story would be crushed under the thickness of the story (my description of what I feel his view was.)  He scored it a 1, saying he wasn’t interested.  Kristian Harloff said that he agreed with Mark.  He felt like the subject was interesting.  He said he wasn’t against there being a religious aspect to the film because he knows that many soldiers made it through the war because of their faith and that it was a real aspect of it but he fears it might become a movie about quoting Bible Verses instead of about the story.  He said that he doesn’t want a film that is just going to beat him up with a message.  Sometimes, when I hear words like this I begin to wonder if they would feel a movie could be preachy if the message being preached was not a Christian one but Kristian continued with a view into his perspective that I could very much appreciate.  He said that being hit over the head with the message is what he hasn’t liked about Neil Blomkamp films or even Tomorrowland.  I am very glad that he made that last statement, I feel it can be much more helpful to the film makers to hear this kind of criticism from people in or around the film industry if they can be sure it isn’t just an aversion to the message itself.  I personally thank the guys on AMC Coming Soon for their honesty.  The truth is, a movie carrying any message can become bogged down with the message instead of simply telling a story.  Christian films now I have budget to do a Best Picture quality film but they now need to make sure that they are careful with what they put out.  Craft the story with care, show how faith impacts life don’t just read the Bible to the audience.  Make sure that the story feels more real to life then wish fulfillment.  I understand that God works miracles but I think many Christians would agree that watching a man die and then come back to life is not something many of us can relate to.  I am not saying God can’t I am just saying that if we want to reach people we need to make sure the story can relate to the people we are trying to reach.

I think the biggest take away from this is that you have two out of three people who deem this movie as “Curious.” That is a great start but don’t betray that curiosity by serving up a plate of cheese!  I hope that Faith of our Fathers is a step in the right direction, I would too say that I am “Curious” but there was a time when I would score any Christian film with a budget like this as a #4 – Seeing it Opening Weekend… but I have been served cheese a few too many times… I still try to catch as many of these as I can but they are becoming too many for me to find and pay a babysitter, drive 45 to 50 minutes to the nearest movie theater (that’s right… it is hard for a movie lover to be called to minister in a place 45 to 50 minutes from a theater) and shell out another chunk of cash for a subpar movie.  There are movies that raise above the rest and make me want to go and see it opening weekend… but so far… Pure Flix has not given me that reason yet… but I am still rooting for them! I really am!  Check out the video below.

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Encouraging Comments about Ben-Hur from the producers!

Many of you know how much I am looking forward to the remake of Ben-Hur.  It is hard to find real news about the project because I need to sift through all the articles crying about how it is horrible that they are remaking the “original.” Sometimes these articles are written with so much arrogance that it is hard to restrain myself.  These so called fans of Ben-Hur are nothing of the sort!  They never read the book or never saw the films that came before it… which by the way would make the 1959 version not “The Original” but one of the many Ben Her remakes! As a fan of Superman I look forward to any incarnation of this character I love.  I can have an opinion like Superman Returns was not what I wanted… but I saw it, I looked forward to it… and really… I can get some enjoyment out of it… just not as much as I’d like.

A few days ago, while sifting through these articles I found one of interest! It was an article that made me extremely…. JEALOUS! This article told me that there are people out there that are not part of the production, people who are just part of the audience, that have seen clips from the remake of Ben-Hur! Oh how I would have loved to be in the audience!

On June 25th, Variety put on what is being called Variety’s Purpose Summit.   This was a summit meant to promote upcoming faith based projects.  In attendance was Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to speak about their projects and as part of their presentation they showed what seems to be a trailer that is being described as “full of action.” No word on how it was received.  I would like to just examine a few quotes from the summet.

  1. The Jesus in Ben-Hur will be “is going to be consistent with people’s expectations” – Rob Moore, the vice-president of Paramount Pictures said these words after sharing that he feels the backlash of Noah was about expectations. Many people expected a faithful, direct interpretation of the character they know.  What they got was a fantasy story inspired by the Biblical story.  I think I would agree with that observation.  I would say though that the problem with the expectations was fueled by the fact that Paramount really pushed its marketing towards Christians while hiding the additional fantasy elements added to the story.  This quote is encouraging to me.  This tells me that the Jesus we get in Ben-Hur will be a more faithful version of Jesus.
  2. This Ben-Hur movie is not a “remake but a reinterpretation of the novel by Lew Wallace.” – At first glance this might concern any fan of the 1959 film. However, for someone like me who is absolutely in love with the novel I love this comment.  You see, I love the 1959 movie.  I also love (and possible a little more) the 1925 silent film of Ben Hur which was just as amazing… if not more amazing then the 1959 version when taken into account it was as big as the 1959 version but was 34 years before it. My main criticism with both films is that it drives toward the chariot race and then when it gets there it rushes to the end as if the chariot race is what it is all about anyway.  And if you are a fan of the film then it probably is… but in the novel most of the best parts happen after the race and are skipped by both films.  My hope is that by going back to the novel they feel inspired to enter those scenes in that have never been shown before!  For those of you who are fans of the movie and don’t think it should be remade, think of it in this sense… it is not a remake but a different interpretation of the same thing that inspired the 1959 movie.

Don’t get me wrong, am I nervous about this remake? YES! Is my nervousness in part because of the previous interpretations of Ben-Hur? YES! It can be terrifying if you think about it this way.  There have been two big screen interpretations of Ben-Hur (other adoptions but only two on movie screens) Both of these two films have been ground breaking.  Both of these two films have been described as masterpieces.  Both of these films have not just been good… they were as close to cinematic perfection as could have been achieved at the time they were made.  It is almost unfair the expectations on this remake.  Almost… but this is exactly what should be the goal.  This shouldn’t just be another movie but it should be awe inspiring.  Does this mean I will not like it if it doesn’t achieve this? NO! If the movie is high quality, well done, well directed, well acted and is faithful to the novel I will love it! If they use the scene at the garden of gethsemane I will shout, right in the theater “BONUS!” I cannot wait to see some footage from this film!

CAPTIVE (2015) TRAILER RELEASED!

I do not always have the opportunity to bring you news of an upcoming Christian film that I am excited for.  It is even less when I can say that this movie looks like they are doing everything the way I feel Christian movies should go.  This film is based on a true story where Christianity actually played a major role in the development of the story.  You see, you don’t need to make up crazy situations that seemed forced… Find the real life stories! Make movies based on those! Check out the trailer here!

WHO SHOULD DO THE MUSIC FOR BEN-HUR?

With the Ben-Hur remake less than a year away it shouldn’t be long before we start to see some official promotional things released.  It is hard to say when exactly because we do not know the marketing strategy they will be going with.  I can tell you that I expect a trailer around the end of August or the beginning of September.  If we get a trailer before then, it is my guess (and only my guess) that the studio likes what they have been seeing and have decided to market it more aggressively.  It is also my guess (and only my guess) that if we do not see a trailer by mid-September that the studio does not like what they are seeing.  However, even in this worst case scenario it doesn’t mean we will get a bad film, World War Z was doctored from its original cut and became a critical and financial success, the same story goes for recent hit Mad Max: Fury Road, which was tested with audiences and had many unfavorable reviews which prompted reshoots and resulted in a critical and financial success.

With that said, I was reminded about a bit of information that should be coming out about the film any day now.  A few weeks ago I pulled out the original score to the 1959 Ben-Hur.  That score was amazing, not just for its time but it was large, and epic like so few films of its time.  I have said in other posts that whoever is hired to score this film will have a daunting task ahead of them and I believe that now more than ever.  There is one composer that has been rumored to be the one, but it is a small rumor with absolutely no credible source attached to it.  Yet, I still believe this rumor will be confirmed true in the next few days.  I have decided to make a list of the composers I would like to see tackle the project then I will reveal who is rumored.

  1. Hans Zimmer – It has become somewhat frustrating for me in recent years to tell people that I am a Hans Zimmer fan. You see, if you ask most movie fans today who their favorite composer is they will say either Hans Zimmer, or if they are a little older they might say John Williams.  John Williams used to be the guy everyone said but the tides are changing as John Williams fades into retirement (with one last outing on Star Wars.) However, I remember a time when I would tell people that I loved Hans Zimmers music and they would either say “Who?” or they would argue that John Williams was better.  As a teenager I began buying movie scores… after my fourth one I realized that the composers name was the same on every one of them.  Long before The Dark Knight or even Pirates of the Caribbean I already had on my CD shelf The Rock, Gladiator and Pearl Harbor.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that when I heard that Superman was getting a reboot I hoped and prayed that Hans Zimmer would do a brand new theme… and he did… and it was among his best work.  This is what I would want from him if he got the job composing Ben-Hur… but.. the chances are practically zero that he is the composer.  He is already very wrapped up in the DC Comics movies, not to mention that he is so popular that if he was the guy, we would have heard already.
  2. Ramin Djawadi – I am not even going to try to say I was a fan of his before everyone else. Ramin gained fans from doing the music on Game Of Thrones, a show I have never seen, nor do I intend too.  My introduction to him was with the first Iron Man movie.  There was one song on that score that as soon as I heard it the first time I watched the film I realized I needed the CD.  Since then I have been getting his music as much as I can one of my favorites being the Pacific Rim score.  I know what you might be thinking; Ben-Hur is nothing like Iron Man or Pacific Rim.  The scores are too technology driven.  Well, since I have started listening to Ramin, even though I do not watch Game Of Thrones, I have heard the music… and it is that score that makes me sure that Ramin could give us a fantastic Ben-Hur score.  It would go without saying that since I think Hans Zimmer is the best out there and I would want from him the best he has ever done, I would want Ramin to blow me away in a way that his other scores have never done before!
  3. Steve Jablonsky – These last three could very well be tied for third in my mind. Each one of them have done great works but each one of them have not done enough to tell me that it would be a sure thing to get a fantastic score from them.  Yet, when I sat and thought about it, Steve would edge out the last two for me.  He has done great work with the Transformer franchise.  Try to not let the horrible movies fool you.  They are awful movies with a fantastic score! But, my favorite of his, and the one that helped put him on my list is the work he did with Ender’s Game.  I may have loved the movie but if I had to choose between never seeing the film again or never hearing the score… I would bid a final farewell to the film because I just need to have that score in my car. If Steve Joblonshy got the job I would be slightly nervous… but extremely hopeful!
  4. Ed Shearmur – I am sure that this is a choice out of left field for some. You might not have any clue who he is or what he has done.  You might feel there are a ton of other names I could have put on this list… and you would be right, but it is my list.  You might wonder why John Williams didn’t make it by now, but the guy came out of retirement for Star Wars, he wasn’t planning on scoring anymore.  Ed Shearmur has done many films, but there is only one film he has done that has captured me enough for me to hope he would be considered for this job.  He is the composer of the score for The Count of Monte Cristo, a movie that is thematically similar to Ben-Hur and a film that has such a beautiful score that I could just listen to it for days.  There is no guarantee that we would get a similarly beautiful score for Ben-Hur but the similarities in the stories make me want to give him a shot.  I would want him to take his time and give me something just as special as he gave to Kevin Reynolds for the Count.  You could certainly argue with me and I would have nothing more to stand on other than “come on! Listen to the Count of Monte Cristo score!”
  5. Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) – A relative newcomer to the movie score composing business he has already made a bit of a name for himself.  The only reason he is not higher on this list is because there isn’t a very large sample of his work.  However, he is a student of Hans Zimmer, and he has collaborated on a few Zimmer scores including the Man of Steel score which is one of my favorites.  This would have been a good enough reason to put him on this list, but just recently he scored Mad Max: Fury Road.  The score he did for that film, though I would not want the same for Ben-Hur, was perfect for Mad Max.  It was large in scale and bold, just what I would want for Ben-Hur.  I have confidence he could do the job, I do not know if he could do it better than the others on this list but I would be more than happy to let him try.

This is the list of who I would want to see get the job.  However, I did say that I would share who is being rumored to do the score.  As I mentioned, Han Zimmer is busy, and Ramin Djawardi is currently busy scoring the Warcraft film about to come out in 2016.  That would pretty much rule both of them out.  Though Steve Jablonsky is possible I do feel he is unlikely and Ed Shearmur is so out of left field I highly doubt he is even a thought in anyone else’s mind besides mine.  A very small rumor has risen up that Junkie XL has landed the job.  So far the only source I could find was a music company making a Facebook comment saying such.  I have also seen it on Wikipedia but it could simply be the same people posting it on Facebook who have decided to edit Wikipedia.  Given that he is an up and coming star and he has worked with Hans Zimmer (who did the music for the Bible miniseries for the same producers as Ben-Hur) I find this rumor very possible and am pretty much expecting this to be the case.  Though he wouldn’t be my first choice, I am positive Junkie XL will give us something good… my only fear is that it won’t be GREAT like the 1959 version was.  I will be sure to post when I hear any confirmation on who will be writing the score.