Reel Thoughts on the Ben-Hur Trailer

My hope is that anyone who is reading this saw my previous post which linked the First Ben-Hur trailer or at least saw the trailer some other way.  This is a movie I have been looking forward too for a very long time and have been very nervous about seeing the first trailer because it would tell me a lot about the style of the film they are going for.  Will it be more like Gladiator? 300? Pompeii? Hercules? What where they going for?  Well now we have our first look.. and I would like to give you my thoughts on it!

The trailer opens up with the famous Galley scene.  You see a bearded Ben-Hur in the belly of the Galley with the other slaves when suddenly he looks out his small window and sees a body tied to the ramming portion of a ship heading right for him.  The ship breaks apart and we as the viewer are looking through the eyes of Ben-Hur has he is thrown out of the Galley and into the air.  We catch a glimpse of the vastness of the battle and I must admit.  I was in awe.  Yes, did the effects look under done? yep.  However, how many times have we said that about a first trailer only to get to the theater and see that they have been fixed… this film is still 5 months away!

The look of the film is very nice and the feel of the trailer I feel adequately captures the more action oriented aspects of the story.  Camera angles where different in an attempt to give us the same story many are familiar with while still trying to give us something new.

The performance we see from Jack Huston and from Toby Kebbell look fantastic. Will they be Oscar worthy? Probably not… but might I point out that the performances in Ben-Hur, if competing today, would not have even been considered.  It is a different time.

Over all I was very pleased with what I saw… Who knows, a few weeks from now, after I viewed this thing 100 more times I might realize that I am only pleased because I am relieved.  It doesn’t look like 300, it doesn’t look like Pompeii, it doesn’t look like Hercules.  As the big fan of Ridley Scott that I am I would have liked it to look more like Gladiator but that is just me and I am equally pleased that this film has a very original look to it.

Now, as a fan of the novel, what was I displeased with?  Well, I can already see that changes have been made that I do not believe where necessary.  It looks as though Ben-Hur is found, washed assure by Sheik Ilderim.  This bothers me for two reasons, and that is that it looks like it eliminates two characters from the story.  Or at least diminishes them. Quintus Arrius was in the trailer as the War Ship Commander but it looks like Ben-Hur does not rescue him which eliminates the part of the story where Quintus adopts him as a son. A portion I am very fond of…. but… I can live without if they tell me a good alternate story.  The second Character that looks to be removed is Balthasar.  Now, this is only examining a trailer from a few clips but judging from that it looks as though Balthasar is not in the film.  This bothers me because it means they probably will not begin the movie the way I would like them to.  With the three wise man… one of those being Balthasar.

This would also eliminate a third character I just thought of… which I already figured was eliminated being that she was eliminated from the 1959 version and they announced no actress to play her, but Iras is one of the more complex Characters in the original story as we watch her go from a beautiful girl who Ben-Hur falls in love with and originally marries (That’s right… he picked the wrong woman) to a villainous puppet master who actually ends up killing her second lover after Ben-Hur… Messala. Yep, Ben-Hur doesn’t kill him… she does… what evil!

Another change from the original novel is also a big deal to me. I was hoping they wouldn’t change this but they did.  Pontius Pilate is shown in the trailer as the runner of the Chariot race.  This goes against the very character of Pilate in the novel.  A man who enters Jerusalem after a governor who has really made a mess of things. He is level headed and tries to make things right by the people.  Freeing prisoners who where arrested under sketchy circumstances. This Pilate would also fit very well with the Pilate we see in scripture who tried everything he could to prevent the Crucifixion of Jesus. Also, by having Pilate rule these games means that they are being held in Jerusalem which is not Antioch where they are supposed to be, unintentionally shrinking Ben-Hurs world and making it, to me, seem less epic than the original story actually was.

Now, to spite these changes, all I ask is that this film be a well told story that has the same skeleton of a story as the original novel.  To that end, I like what I see so far!  What do you think?

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8 Facts about the Director of Risen

I just wanted to give you a few facts about Kevin Reynolds, the Director of Risen:
1. Kevin Reynolds gave Kevin Costner his start by casing him in Fandango.
2. Kevin Reynolds wrote the story for the original Red Dawn.
3. Being good friends Kevin Costner asked Kevin Reynolds for advice while acting in Dances with Wolves.
4. Kevin Reynolds was an uncredited second unite director on that classic.
5. Kevin Reynolds also directed Samuel L. Jackson in Jackson’s very first top billed movie! (Yeah, both Kevin Costner and Samuel L. Jackson have Kevin Reynolds to thank for their careers.)
6. Kevin Reynolds directed Kevin Costner’s History Channel Miniseries The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s… which was nominated for 16 Emmy’s one of those for Best Director.
7. Kevin Reynolds Directed my current favorite movie of all time, The Count of Monte Cristo… which was a spring board for Henry Cavil… our current Superman!
8. Kevin Reynolds was raised Baptist.
 
If you see nothing else in these list of facts, notice, Kevin Reynolds knows what he is doing, he is a star maker because he knows how to get good performances out of his actors… which is the #1 job of a director.
 
My favorite Director is Ridley Scott… the director I feel is the most under rated in Hollywood is Kevin Reynolds.
 
Bonus Fact: I didn’t find out about Risen because I was researching biblical movies… I discovered Risen (At the time titled Resurrection) because I simply wanted to know what Reynolds was doing next… I became super excited when I realized, what he was doing next was a film about Jesus!
Check out the Trailer for Kevin Reynolds’ newest movie, opening this weekend!

Why should I bother to see Risen?

“The Picture Every Christian Ought to See!” That was the tag line for the 1925 version of Ben-Hur.  It appeared right there on the poster! My, how times have changed! In 1925 this was smart advertising, today, this would probably be marketing suicide! Why?  Well, it would be easy to say “Because liberal Hollywood would not want any of their films marked like this, and if there was a film with this tagline Hollywood would try to bury it.”  But the truth of the matter is, Hollywood is not the reason this would not work anymore.  What is the reason? Well, its complicated but here is a list of why I think this type of advertising simply wouldn’t work (Note: I am going to over simplify here)

  1. “The Picture Every Christian Ought to See!” in today’s cynical culture sounds like it will be some type of Michael Moore style documentary telling Christians everything they have done wrong.
  2. This labels the movie as being for Christians thus causing people to believe it will be poorly written, low budget and preachy.
  3. Some Christians would be skeptical of a movie Hollywood thinks Christians might like because of past hurts like Noah, or Exodus.
  4. We don’t like to be told to do something… Christian and non-Christian alike.

There is a film coming out this weekend called “Risen.” This film in 1925 could have had this tagline but instead it has been given a different marketing push.  The ads say “From the studio that brought you Heaven is for Real and War Room.”  When I saw this add I cringed because this type of advertising is going to have a very similar effect as “The Picture Every Christian Ought to See!” minus the 4th reason.  Yet, out of all the Christian friendly films that have come out the last 12 months, this is the one I feel is the most important to get behind so I am going to address two types of people in this post and make an argument why both these types of people should go out and see Risen this weekend! Not next weekend… THIS WEEKEND!

I LIKE MOVIES LIKE WAR ROOM BUT DON’T LIKE MOVIES LIKE NOAH, WHY SHOULD I BOTHER?

  1. This is not Noah… or Exodus! – It is easy for me to understand why Christians did not like Noah or Exodus. You probably felt that (aside from being boring) they were disrespectful of the source material.  Well, I have a question for you, how did you feel about The Passion of the Christ? Was it respectful to the source material? The script Risen is based off of was originally written and presented to the producers of The Passion of the Christ as a sequel.  It was liked but they decided to go in a different direction, opting to make a prequel about Mary instead (a project that still has not made it off the ground.)  The script was so well liked that Kevin Reynolds decided to do it himself and worry about a distributer later.  I have followed this project a long time, through multiple name changes (Resurrection, Clavius, Risen) and Kevin Reynolds has had it in his mind to make a movie that would be a good story and stay true to what Christians believe.  How can we know he succeeded? Well, that is where the studio that brought you War Room comes in.  Sony liked the film and felt that it best fit in their faith based wing Affirm Films.
  2. Did you like Ben-Hur – I have been saying for many years now that when looking at telling Biblical stories in a new and fresh way, what you should do is tell the same old story from the eyes of someone new. Someone who either was just mentioned a few times in scripture or someone completely fictitious.   Take note of stories like Ben-Hur.  It was at one time considered a film every Christian should see yet much of the movie takes place outside the Biblical narrative.   That is what I have been wanting to see from a big budget Hollywood Biblical Epic… and that is what this story is!
  3. Would you like a film with a quality you can be proud of? – Some of my Christian friends wrongfully believe that to be ashamed of a Christian movie is to be ashamed of Christ. That is not true! I love the message of many Christian films but feel that the message could have been delivered with better care.  This film was made with the love and passion of a film maker.  This will be quality film making… with the Christ story at the center!
  4. Would you like a film specifically focused on your skeptical friend? – The main character is a Roman soldier. He led the crucifixion (or so it seems, I have not seen the movie yet), he saw Jesus die and then is placed in charge of investigating the rumors of the risen Christ.   He does not believe this could have happened… but… (Spoiler Alert) He comes face to face with the same man he killed… What does that do to a man? Would that turn a skeptic to a believer? The story was written in such a way that it would speak most to a skeptic!

I CAN’T STAND CHRISTIAN MOVIES! THEY ARE POORLY WRITTEN AND POORLY MADE! WHY SHOULD I BOTHER WITH THIS ONE!

  1. Do you hate movies like War Room? – I completely understand. Now here is this movie saying that it is from the same studio.  Why bother? Well, because it really isn’t the same makers.  You see, War Room was made by The Kendrick Brothers with no help of funding from Affirm Films.  Affirm Films (A branch of Sony Pictures) only distributes movies they feel will appeal to Christians.  They have no hand in any part of the making of the films (at least most of their films.)  Affirm Films has nothing to do with the quality or message of the movie!
  2. Do you like well told stories? – One of the major reasons I feel it is so important for Christians to support this film above others is because a message needs to be sent to these independent studios. We don’t just want Christian content, we want well made, well told stories from a Christian perspective. Kevin Reynolds is, in my opinion, a sourly underrated director and a wonderful story teller!  He doesn’t come out with many films because he spends a while on one film, and usually it shows… or at least it has shown in his past few outings.  The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) took a very long and difficult story to tell in 2 hours and he pieced it together masterfully! He also directed The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s for the History Channel and he so wonderfully shown the intense and slow escalation of that feud in a way that made me step back and go, “Wow, I can’t believe we started here and now look where we are!”
  3. Do you feel there should be more diversity in films today? – It is a big deal in Hollywood right now, Exodus, God’s of Egypt, these are just two movies that are being ridiculed for their “white-washing” but the cast of Risen is very ethnically diverse. The cast is made up of Spanish, Latino, Irish,  and many other ethnicity including the man who plays Jesus who I think is fittingly ethically ambiguous.

 

CONCLUSION

Deadpool, a Rated R raunchy Comic Book movie made around $130 Million this weekend.  It’s R-rating literally means it is restricted.  Yet, somehow it made this much in just 3 days.  Just one week later, we as Christians have an opportunity to make a statement too.  What is restricting us from seeing Risen?  I plan to on Friday! I promise to post my review as soon as I can!

BEN-HUR DELAYED 6 MONTHS!… Is this bad or good?

Yesterday I read some news that was quite depressing to me. I have three movies that I simply can’t wait for.  I am literally counting down the days until they come out. 57 days until Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 155 days till Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and 127 days until Ben-Hur.  I honestly cannot figure out which one I am more excited for but I do know which of these counts just changed.  Paramount announced yesterday “Ben-Hur has been pushed back to August 12, 2016… and the Reel Pastor can be found curled up in a corner crying.” Ok, the last portion was not part of the original announcement but it doesn’t make it less real.

After a night of screaming “Why! Why Paramount Why?” I woke up this morning and decided to try to answer that question.  Since the announcement did not include an answer, the following will be a lot of speculation based on facts.

The first conclusion that one might be tempted to jump to would be that there are issues with the movie and that this move is a bad thing.  There are some rumblings going around the internet movie blogging sphere that say the move was about needing more time to work on the film.  None of those rumblings say anything about “fixing” the film.  In fact, everything I could find has attributed the delay to the film being on such a large scale it is taking longer than they anticipated.  So, even if the delay was simply about putting more work into the film, that in itself could point to good things.  I would be upset if they released a version of the film that could have used an extra 6 months of work. But are there more reasons to view this as a good thing?

When the February release date was announced I was concerned.  January and February have traditionally been dumping grounds for films that the studios don’t have any confidence in.  It is a time of year where much of the population is blocked in their homes due to an abundance of snow.  But this does not mean a film couldn’t succeed there.  In fact, my thought was that the strategy might be to capitalize on the low amount of competition in those months giving Ben-Hur a good amount of time to dominate at the box-office.  I pictured Ben-Hur as this giant of a film just stomping on all the little films crushing them under its big feet.  I was starting to warm up to the date.

Now, in recent years things have begun to change and some people have called August, the new February.  I think that is going a bit far but some may say it is the dumping ground for the summer season.  If you have a movie that you think could be a summer blockbuster… but you just aren’t confident enough to say it is… put it in August.  Is that what they are doing with Ben-Hur? I have reason to believe they are not.  Let me explain why.

The February date placed Ben-Hur the same weekend as the Academy Awards.  A time when movie fans will be more likely to spend a good block of time at home and not at the theaters.  Moving from that date tells me they might have a little more confidence in the film then they originally had.  But, why pick August 12th?  August 12th places Ben-Hur right smack dab in the middle of the 2016 Summer Olympics! Could it be, that this move is not simply a show of a little more confidence, but could it be a bold confident move by a studio who might think they have something special?  What if Paramount is now planning a huge promotional push during the first week of the Olympics? The theme of the story fits tone of the story fits PERFECTLY with the Olympics! You could do a media push conjuring up the history of competition.  You could do all sorts of sponsorships and have athletes wearing Ben-Hur apparel.  Scenes of the chariot race could be shown at every commercial break.  It could just be a brilliant move! Then, during the second week of the Olympics, Ben-Hur’s first week in release, if it should hit #1 at the boxoffice you can now run ads that say “Go and see the number 1 movie in America!”

I just got done saying that August has become kind of a dumping ground for films that studios might not be as confident in… but when I say that, I am not talking about Paramount.  Paramount placed Mission Impossible 5 in August.  Mission Impossible was not a film they were concerned about, it was a big tent pole film for them. Over all, even though I hate the fact that I now have to wait almost an entire year to see this film I am pleased with the possibilities that a move like this could mean.  I think that instead of the move showing problems, it actually shows confidence and that makes me excited!

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.

BATMAN V. SUPERMAN TEASER TRAILER REACTION

I started this blog to have a place to share my thoughts about Christian movies, to share about upcoming Christian movies and a place to review current Christian movies, but I don’t just care about Christian movies.  I love movies! Yes, this is why I want to see more Christian movies but I am not against secular movies.  Because of this fact, every once in a while I will post something about movies in general or about mainstream movies. I just love movies! If you know me you will also know that I love comic books and most specifically I love Superman.  It is because of these two facts that brings me to this post. I have had many people ask me my opinion on the new Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer that came online over the weekend.  I am an opinionated person, so I would not want to pass up this opportunity to share my opinion on something when I was actually asked to give it! (this might be lengthy, so I divided it up into segments and you can chose which you would like to read.)

A SPIRITUAL CONTEXT

Let me first tie this in a little to the overall purpose of this blog.  Ever since 1992 Superman has been portrayed as a Christ figure, obviously this is something that really resonates with me.  I have seen many people complain about this saying “Can’t Superman just be Superman, why bring religion into it?” Well, to these people I say, religion has always been in Superman.
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two Jewish boys living in Cleveland Ohio.  They created this character who has Super strength.  Super strength was the only power Superman had that the beginning.  He couldn’t fly, he didn’t have heat vision or X-ray vision, he was just really strong.  Much like the story they heard as Jewish boys growing up of a man by the name of Samson. Superman was created as a modern day Samson.  After they created the character they needed a back story so they created this story of a mother and father who placed their child in a rocket ship to escape a planet that was about to explode. Did you catch that? A little boy placed into a small ship… or ark… to escape death.  Siegel and Shuster gave their Samson Moses’ back story.  Superman was Moses with Samson’s abilities.  He was a super man that fought for the downtrodden, the poor, the weak, he was someone who would lead these people to a freedom from their oppressors. These boys made Superman’s given Kryptonian name “Kal-El” which is an English alliteration Hebrew words.  “El” we know is “God” or “of God.”  Much like well known Hebrew names like “Samu-El” which means “Heard of God” or Dani-El which means “Judge of God,” “Kal-El” means “vessel of God.” Separating religion from Superman would be to strip him of his depth and his original inspiration.

In 1992 a monster entered the comic book universe in the pages of the Superman comics.  This monster’s only reason for existing was to seek, devour and destroy.  The only person who could stand up against this monster was Superman.  Superman was successful in stopping this monster named Doomsday, but it cost Superman his life.  smallvilleSuperman had died in order to save the entire world.  But, why are there still Superman comics today? Because Superman came back from the dead! That’s right! Superman died to save the world but he came back!  Ever since then Superman has been a Christ figure! The parallels where shown in Smallville, which early promotions relied heavily on the “messiah” aspect of Superman.  Superman Returns promotion had a voice over of Superman’s father saying that he sends to Earth his only son.  And even Man of Steel had very heavy Christ symbolism involved.

CHRISTIAN SYMBOLISM IN MAN OF STEEL

Within the newest verison of the silver screen Superman we can see many Christ parallels. Beyond the ones I already mentioned about his origins when we first see Superman as an adult he is am man (with a beard) who is helping people in need.  After the call from Zod telling “Kal-El” to reveal himself we see Clark go to a church and ask advice.  He is wondering if he should really reveal himself as the alien in order to save the planet from destruction.  While he is asking this, we see over Clarks shoulders, a picture of Jesus praying in the garden.  This reveals the parallel between Superman’s torment and Jesus’. Over the priests shoulder (who is telling Clark that he should reveal himself to save the world) we see the cross.

Later in the film Superman has a face to face with his dead father who tells him that he should go, he can “save everyone.” At that moment Superman jumps backward into space with his arms outstretched as if on a cross then he zips away to save the day.  This on top of smaller things like Superman revealing that he is 33 years old all point to a large awareness that Superman is a Christ figure.

So, though it might be true that Superman was not created to be a Christ figure, he became that in 1992 which is something that cannot be undone.  Superman was a Moses figure from the beginning and then morphed into the Second Moses after dying and coming back to life.

BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: THE INSPIRATION

As I have said, I have been a long time Superman fan.  I have many favorite stories from the Superman library! Some of them include Batman.  When they announced they were doing a Superman/Batman story I was not very happy.  Why? Well, a few reasons but most of all because Batman just had his spotlight for three films and I was looking forward to is being Superman’s time.  The biggest reason I was upset because I know the most popular Superman vs. Batman story, The Dark Knight Returns, and I hate.  The reason it is popular is because if you are a Batman fan you point to it as one of your favorite Batman stories of all time.  If you are a Superman fan you hate it because the character of Superman is all wrong.  In this story Superman has become a pawn of the Government. The president can tell Superman “go take out this dictator” and Superman goes.  Superman doesn’t think for himself, he is not someone who rescues people, he is someone who does the bidding of the Reagan looking president. The first part of the story is very good.  However, it ends with a show down between Batman and Superman in a way that you are rooting for Batman to win.

When Zack Snyder announced he was going to be doing a Batman/Superman movie he announced it by using a line from The Dark Knight Returns… and all the Batman fans cheered and all the Superman fans went “oh no!”  The Batman logo shown behind the Superman logo is almost exactly like the Batman logo from The Dark Knight Returns and then we see the Batman costume… which is almost exactly the same as the Dark Knight Returns costume.  When the first footage was shown at Comic-Con last year we see Batman in the same armor that he wore at the end of The Dark Knight Returns with Superman in the sky, eyes glowing, shrouded in darkness looking very menacing and looking like… a villain.

Needless to say, everything I have seen so far from this movie has pointed toward this movie being an adaption of my least favorite Superman story. And then this trailer leaked…

BATMAN V. SUPERMAN TEASER TRAILER REACTION

The teaser was not supposed to be released until today.  After the release of the Star Wars trailer (which I loved) I told my brother “this is the time to release the Batman V. Superman trailer.” Basically I knew that they had sent out the trailer to theaters for the release event and I knew at some point a low quality version would leak. It was time to get ahead of it. Late Thursday night a cell phone video of the footage was released, too late. I always tell myself that I will not watch a low quality leak… I will wait for the actual footage.  Then it leaks and I can’t help myself.

My first reaction to the leaked footage was… “I hate it!” it was very dark.  It looked to me like Superman was most certainly the bad guy.  It looked to confirm all my fears!  There was a lot I couldn’t see because the video quality was too poor but I saw enough to really disappoint me.

Then the HD version was officially released.  When I watched the HD version for the first I realized that it didn’t seem as dark as I thought the leaked version looked.  Don’t get me wrong, it still looked dark but not AS dark.  I still was frustrated that it appeared Superman was going to be the bad guy and we would be rooting for Batman.

Truth be told, the more I viewed the trailer the more I liked what I saw.  There are still portions that concern me.  I think the portion of greatest concern is the clip of soldiers bowing a knee to Superman.  These soldiers have a Superman “S” on their shoulder.  BvS2This brings back these fears of the Frank Miller comic I talked about before where Superman is a government stooge.  However, I do not know the context.  I will say that I could conceive of ways that this would be ok.  Are these a bunch of terrorist using Superman’s symbol to do things and Superman is there to stop them? After all, they do look like Nazi’s and the Nazi idea of Übermensch actually means Superman so, is this a group who thinks that the human race could become Supermen if they get rid of a certain segment of people and Superman is there to stop them? It is possible.

BvS3The shot of the vandalized statue that had spray painted “False God” on it at first turned me off to the movie however, the more I viewed the trailer the more it feels that Superman is not the villain but rather he is the underdog.  People are turning against him.  He just saved the planet from destruction and is now being blamed for it.

I was speaking with my brother about it and he brought up a very interesting idea.  His idea was, since the Man of Steel movie was so heavy on the Christ symbolism, what if they are carrying that over to this movie.  What if we will watch the crowed go from “hosanna!” to “Crucify him!” in this movie?  Or maybe the crowed has already turned.  When he shared that with me I said to him “Hold on… I need to go lock myself in a dark room and curl up in the corner and think about that for a long time.”  It would be very interesting.  As I began to think about that, I realized this could, if done right, become one of the greatest multi-movie stories I have ever seen.

Follow me here.  In Man of Steel he reveals himself to the world [just as Jesus began his ministry] In this movie the crowed turns from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify him!” [just as they did for Jesus] Put this together with rumors that somehow, in some way we see the creation or an allusion to Doomsday (the monster that kills Superman leading to the Death of Superman story either in Man of Steel 2, Justice League or somewhere down the road.  What if the Christ symbolism was so thick in the first one because they are setting it up to continue through multiple films?

Ever since my brother shared that I have become more and more fond of the trailer.  Even if I am not correct on this story arch (which I am probably not correct) what I am starting to see is that ever time I view the trailer I am viewing Superman less as the villain and more as someone who is being picked on or persecuted. The human race is starting to bully Superman… Now I am become more interested in this story line.  It is something we have never seen before and the question always becomes, how can you created a threat for Superman that presents a challenge.  Well, fighting popular opinion is incredibly hard no matter how many Superpowers you possess. What if Lex Luther who is in this trailer and says “we know better now don’t we? Devil’s don’t come from Hell beneath us, they come from the sky.” What if it is part of his master plan to defeat Superman.  What if Batman finds out that he is being played by Lex. Suddenly you have a real threat from Lex that has nothing to do with real-estate. We already can tell with this line that Lex is quite literally demonizing Superman.  Add this to the fact that when he finishes that line it is revealed to us that the statue says “False God.” It seems that Zack Snyder wants this trailer to show a philosophical/ religious debate going on within the context of the story.  Does this mean this movie will be something deeper than a throw down between Batman and Superman? I think when you examine the trailer, all the signs are pointing towards this movie being much deeper than your more fun but simple Marvel movies. Is it possible that what is going on is that the DC Cinematic Universe wants to be what Marvel is… but for grownups?

The dialog in this film is wonderful, even when I hated this trailer I said “I hate it… but it is well written dialog.  That is the touch that Oscar winner, Chris Terrio is bringing to the project.  As much as I loved Man of Steel

I will admit it was not all that well written.  David Goyer who wrote Man of Steel is good with coming up with story ideas but not the best at writing them out.  This movie will be a story by Goyer, written by Terrio and in this trailer I can already tell that it will be better written then Man of Steel.

I do find it interesting how so many people complained about Superman killing Zod at the end of Man of Steel and all the destruction in the movie when Superman really never had (until the 90’s) a rule agains

t killing.  However, Batman has, from his conception, a rule against killing and against using guns, yet we see in this trailer the Batplane shooting a bunch of guys in a pickup truck (to the point where it can be assumed no one survived.  Also, weBvS4 can see Batman on top of a building holding a sniper rifle. (I realize that this is another scene from The Dark Knight Returns comic and in the comic he doesn’t use it to kill… but still… no one even mentions it.

CONCLUSION

After thinking long and hard about this, my fears of this movie going wrong where overshadowing the enjoyment of this trailer.  I have seen people who know nothing about comics or Superheroes in general who felt that Batman came across as the Bad guy in this trailer.  This revealed to me that my bias was getting in the way.  As I stripped this way, as I began to look at this trailer as it really is, I began to enjoy it.  Remember folks, this is the first TEASER trailer.  Star Wars just release their second teaser which was longer then their first.  Fantastic Four just released their first full length trailer.  To compare these movie trailers you need to compare the Star Wars: Force Awakens teaser trailer #1 to this BvS trailer.  You need to compare the Fantastic Four teaser trailer to this BvS trailer.  To compare this teaser to the current trailers of either movie is to compare apples to oranges.  They have different goals. The trailer was not love at first sight… but I have come to the conclusion that I do in fact love this trailer. Do I think it was perfect? No.  But, I am excited for this film!

Check out the trailer here!

APOSTLE PAUL MOVIE: Staring Hugh Jackman!

On March 31st Deadline broke news of a project that was being developed.  Prior to this news breaking I was completely unaware of this project being in development.  What is this project? WB is developing a film based on the life of the Apostle Paul! I know what you might be thinking.  So what? Jesus will most likely appear as a young British boy who might be a figment of Paul’s imagination like in Exodus or Paul might be leading an army of Rock people that actually go into the world and build churches, similar to Noah.  Is there a possibility this might be another Biblical Epic turned religiously ambiguous skeptical commentary? Yes… it is possible but why give up hope? I would allow for 15 attempts that  disappoint to get one more Passion of the Christ!  I wanted to take some time to examine why I think this project has a better chance already then Noah and Exodus.

The Deadline article was written in a peculiar way. Let me kind of sum up the article.  Hugh Jackman is playing the Apostle Paul and also produce along with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck… and Jennifer Todd and some guy named Chris Clarke. The main subject of the article is Hugh Jackman.  The story that broke is not focusing on the fact that this movie is in the works but rather Hugh Jackman is staring in it and helping to produce and with this breaking news the PR on this movie starts on a wrong foot with its target audience, the faith based crowd.

“But Reel Pastor, why do you say that?” even though I have not heard this yet because not many have actually become aware of this news, I can tell you what is going to be the backlash.  “Hugh Jackman is a spiritualist.” Or they might say he is New Age, or Pagan, or Universalist or a student of Transcendental Meditation.  Whatever the narrative becomes, they will most likely have good cause to think this way. Jackman has made it clear that he does not share the same belief as his Christian parents.  When he married, he had a special engagement ring made for his wife that had the inscription “We dedicate our union to a greater source.” You know, whatever that greater source might be is the implication.  He has talked in great lengths that his father is not pleased with his differing thoughts about God and religion.   So yes, this will be the narrative I am sure.  However, these people will be missing something in this article.  Hugh Jackman is joining an already existing project! He is not the originator, he is not the driving force.  He was brought on to play Paul and in doing so he also took on a larger role as one of the producers.

So, who should we look at for this film.  Is it Matt Damon? Well, already we have a problem… his name is one letter away from Demon! He must be evil!… OK, I hope there won’t be any serious talk about this.  From what I can tell, Matt Damon does not claim any religious beliefs.  That is fine with me because I don’t think Demon… I mean Damon is the driving force behind this project either.  Keep in mind I don’t have any inside knowledge of this project so I am simply speculating. However, having no claim to any religious persuasion would make it unlikely that he would try to push any other agenda into a project that is being made to appeal to a Christian demographic.

How about Ben Affleck? Well, here is where it gets interesting for me.  I know for some, the inclusion of Ben Affleck might be a sour taste for this project. After all, the films he has directed have been filled with foul language, he acted in the movie Dogma which upset quite a few Christians and his political views are liberal as he is an outspoken supporter of the Democrat party (which is also one letter away from Demon-crat.) However, with all this in consideration I tell you that Ben Affleck’s involvement in this project is one of the things that gives me great hope!  Let me break this down for you.  Ben Affleck describes himself as being a “lapsed Protestant.” This means that he has at one time been a Protestant and even though the term “lapsed” implies he is no longer a Protestant the term is vague enough that he might consider himself lapsed for a wide variety of reasons that have nothing to do with disbelief.  He might disagree with some doctrines, he might be disgruntled with the behavior of some who bear the name of Protestant.  Many of these reasons, as a Pastor, I would love to discuss with him and try to convince him that these are not reasons to be a “lapsed Protestant” but one reason that I do not believe this is a cause for concern is that he still cares enough about Christianity to have his three children baptized in a United Methodist Church.

I guess the real question is, what is the possible outcome of a film being made by a person who at least loosely identifies or respects the foundation of the Christian belief? Well, how did it work for Mel Gibson? Gibson identifies as a Catholic but much of his behavior would say that he doesn’t hold to a very strict Catholicism.  Affleck being attached to this project is a far cry from Atheist Ridley Scott’s attachment to Exodus or Agnostic Darren Aronofsky’s attachment to Noah.  With the two latter examples you have directors who really have no reason to stay true to the source material.  There is no belief in the overall premise of the source material.  It was viewed by both as being simply a myth.  However, with Affleck there is a basic belief shared in the source material.  How strong is his faith in it? I couldn’t tell you, but it is there whether it be a little or a lot.  Again, I don’t see any reason to believe that Affleck would be somehow less respectful of the story of Paul than Gibson was of the story of Jesus.

Another bonus of having Affleck attached is that it seems that everything Affleck touches recently gets nominated for many awards, including Oscars.  If nothing else, I can say that this film will most likely be of high quality!

Yet, there are still two names mentioned in this article.  One is Jennifer Todd who is mentioned simply because she is the president of Pearle Street Films, the film company started by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.  He involvement is for that reason only.  And that last name Chris Clarke is really the name to be focusing on.  Unfortunately the article does not specify which Chris Clarke they are talking about.  If you try to research Chris Clarke you might find a few different possibilities however, the one that IMDB.com is attaching to these news articles is a man who does not have anything but a credit on the music department for Star Wars.  This Chris Clarke, according to Deadline is the originator of this project.  This is the man who has been the champion of this project.  It is exciting for me to see Affleck attached but I want to know more about Chris Clarke!

So, even though this Deadline article focuses on Hugh Jackman, he is the newcomer to the project.  He is the one who, thus far, has had nothing to do with the project beyond scoring the lead role.  Yet the person that has the most to do with this project is hardly given any attention at all.  It makes me nervous yet gives me hope in this project all together!  Do I wish there were other names attached to this project that are more passionate about the source material? Or Christianity as a whole? Yes.  But so far they have been preoccupied with making end times films and cheesy sudden conversion films to make a film like this.  I wait in anticipation to hear more about this project!