Passion of the Christ 2 Directed by Mel Gibson!

I am sorry that I have not posted much recently.  This one and only downside of being a new father along with my regular pastoral duties.  Not to mention that given my location and having a little one makes it hard to get to a movie theater to do any type of reviews of Christian based movies such as God’s Not Dead 2.

However, The Hollywood just broke a story that I just NEEDED to post about! Anyone who knows me knows just how much I feel The Passion of the Christ is a straight up masterpiece.  It helps that before the movie ever came out I was already a fan of Mel Gibson as a director and a huge fan of a mostly unknown Jim Caviezel.  I have posted several times on this blog that Little Boy director was directing a Passion of the Christ prequel and that this project was after the producers had already rejected a script that would go on to be Risen directed by Kevin Reynolds.  There have been many attempts to further capitalize on the success of The Passion of the Christ which still stands as the highest grossing independent film in history.  Well, after a long time of not hearing anything from the Passion of the Christ prequel… and seeing as it kind of dropped off the map, one may wonder what is being done to continue this franchise. I don’t care if it is viewed as a cash grab… as long as it delivers in the same way The Passion did.

Well, in an exclusive interview with THR, Randell Wallace, who wrote Braveheart (which was directed by Mel Gibson) and wrote Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson’s next film coming out later this year) and who directed Heaven is for Real, Wallace revealed the project he is currently writing… The Passion of the Christ 2 which MovieWeb speculates will be retitled The Resurrection of the Christ which would please me so very much!  This isn’t the only bit of information that Wallace dropped… the magnificent screen writer also said that Mel Gibson was set to direct! He said that it was the outcry from the Christian audience for more Christ centered films that has convinced him to return!

Say what you will about the man Mel Gibson but God has crammed buckets full of talent in that crazy head of his and I simply cannot wait.

 

Looking at Randell Wallace’s background also convinces me that he has the right care and passion for this script as well.  He was a Religion major at Duke University and claims the Resection was something of a specialty of his.  He has longed to bring this story to the screen.

Now, it does tend to take Mel Gibson a long time to piece together his masterpieces with there being 9 years between Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ and 10 years between Apocalypto (his last film) and Hacksaw Ridge (His next film).  But, there was only 2 years between The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, so time will tell what kind of timeframe we are looking at for this project.  My hope is that it will be more the 2 years than the 10 years.

I look forward to posting more about this project the next time I hear any news about it!

Advertisements

Of Kings and Prophets CANCELED

I must admit, I feel a little gypped.  I had wanted to watch the ABC TV series based on the life of David and write up my personal review and compare it to the biblical text.  Unfortunately the combination of being a father, being a Pastor, having jury duty and Easter coming up has not left me with a lot of time to add a new TV Show to my watch list. I figured it would be ok.  I mean, the TV show looked to be of high budget and I figured the network would want to get it’s moneys worth which would mean that I would have time to catch up.  After all, I am just 2 episodes behind and Easter is almost upon us.  I can catch up after that…. right?…. right?…. no…

Last night EW confirmed that ABC has decided to cancel the show after airing just two episodes.  Low ratings, especially in the demographic that advertisers love to market to has lead to its very premature demise.  What went wrong? Do Christians not watch Television? Do they not want tv shows following their Biblical heroes?

I can only venture a guess as I have not gone around interviewing people and I have not seen the show… so maybe I can speak to why it wasn’t a higher priority on my list.  After all, if this was the new Ben-Hur movie you could bet I would have found the time in my schedule to watch it!

Here is my guess… ABC didn’t know who they should be advertising to or who the story content would most appeal to. Let me explain, I am not saying this should have been a fluffy poor quality Christian movie equivalent of a TV series but the advertising even set me aback as a rather forgiving Christian TV watcher.  Look at much of the advertisement, The first two banners I saw where of half naked, or fully naked women from behind.  The first trailer for the series showed sexuality that wouldn’t just push the boundaries of a conservative Christian but rather push the boundaries of what is currently on cable TV.  The comment my wife made after seeing the advertisement was “That looks really good but… wow.” and I responded by saying “I know.” Look, I realize that some Christian’s out their are indeed looking for a sanitized fluffy version of Biblical stories but I am not.  I would be the perfect demographic to get on board. I mean, come on! I watch Hell on Wheels, you mean to tell me you couldn’t tone it down a little bit?

I believe the problem is not that this show didn’t look to please the conservative crowd… but rather the problem was they went for the Game of Thrones crowed.  They showed as much sex as they could possibly get away with and they advertised it almost like it was a peep show set during the time of David.  Vikings is a gritty show and it is far from sanitized but they didn’t even go for that crowd.

Of course, the Christian TV watchers will be blamed for not tuning in.  Some will blame them for not knowing their Bible and not realizing that their is sex in the actual text… but those same people will fail to realize, many already know this but they just don’t feel the need to be sitting in the bedroom watching it happen.  That is creepy.  Is creativity completely gone? have writers, directors and show runners completely lost the ability to find creative ways of implying something without being so in your face?  ABC, you had a product that could have worked, but in your lack of restraint, you offered a tainted product that was to raunchy for the fans of the source material and too Bible oriented for the demographic you where advertising to.  Learn from it.  Maybe some day we could actually get an Bible epic TV series… unfortunately I don’t see that time coming soon as the film industry is still trying to figure out the Biblical epic in movie form.

2016 – Biblical and Faith Movies due out this year

Well, it is now 2016! Another year of movies has passed and another batch is being prepared for release.  I would like to present a list of Christian movies or TV Series, Bible Based movies or TV Series or movies based on the life of Jesus that will be coming out in 2016.  For those of you who have followed my blog this year you might have realized that the list I made last year had changed and shifted throughout the year.  Some of the movies on this list where on that list.  This happens in the film industry and is more likely to happen with smaller independent films or films that make the studio nervous.

With that said, this list I feel is a little more solidified then last year’s list.  So here it is!
Let’s Start with TV.

March 8th 2016Of Kings and Prophets – This is an ongoing TV series based on King Saul and David. It was originally supposed to air in the fall of 2015 but was pushed back due to “Creative changes.” Though I will be keeping an eye on this show… I am extremely cautious and really am not expecting much from it.

Films

January 25th 2016 – The Pastor – I almost didn’t include this on the list because of being unfamiliar with the Studio, or the fact that the Director hasn’t done much before, or the fact that it is only scheduled for a limited release right now.   But I included it because the premise seems interesting to me and I think would seem interesting to anyone who would want to read this list.  I have no idea if this independent movie is a “Christian Movie” or if it just has “Christian overtones.” Either way, it is on this list for your consideration.

April 1st 2016 – God’s Not Dead 2 – I didn’t love God’s Not Dead… but I didn’t hate it either and I must admit that the trailer peaked my interest a little bit.  I understand that many Christians loved the first one and are looking forward to the second, there is a place in some Christian’s where these movies touch.  It is similar to “wish fulfilment” yet, it’s something different.  I have heard it described in many ways but if people think that only Christians like movies that are propaganda for a particular point of view then you are blind.  I do however wish they picked a different release date! I mean…  come on, this movie will be made fun of enough… did you really need to help things along by releasing it on April Fools?

April 29th 2016 – Same Kind of Different as Me – Based on the inspirational book of the same name, this film, another Indie project by an unknown director who has only every directed a short film before doing this feature is another wild card.  Not only is this first time director directing but he is also writing, and producing this film.  Both of which are also his firsts.  I am not saying this WILL be bad, people can surprise you out of the gate.  Many Hollywood directors have made Masterpieces as their first films. However, more fail out of the gate.

August 12th, 2016 – The Shack – Based on the book by William Paul Young that has been praised by some in Christian circles and ridiculed by others for its “inaccurate” theology regarding the trinity this film is sure to make some waves. At one point Oprah was even involved! This film should be one to watch out for!
Films About Jesus

February 19th 2016 – RisenThis film is one I have been waiting a long time for.  In fact, this was on the list I posted last year.  On that list it was called Clavius and the date was unspecified.  Since then it has been picked up by Sony Pictures and will be released under their Affirm Films banner.  This film has been in the works for a while, it started as a script commissioned to be an official sequel to The Passion of the Christ.  After being rejected in favor of doing a prequel about Mary, Kevin Reynolds picked it up and decided to direct it.  For those of you who do not know Kevin Reynolds, he is #1 on my list of most underrated directors in Hollywood.  He directed my current favorite film of all time the Count of Monte Cristo he also directed the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries which I really enjoyed! He may not be a director that ALWAYS pleases he is one that excites me when he is passionate about a project and it has been his passion for this project that has gotten it over all the hoops to bring us this film for 2016.  People…  I am serious… this film is a reason to be excited!… mark your calendars! Everything I see and know about this project tells me this is going to be special!

March 11th 2016 – The Young Messiah Based on the Anne Rice novel “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” this film tells a fictional account of Jesus as a young boy just as his family is leaving Egypt to return to Israel.  I have not read the book and I am aware that there is some controversy surrounding the novel but I have some trusted friends that assure me there isn’t anything offensive in the novel.  Maybe I should say their “Shouldn’t be anything offensive in the novel” because some people will be offended at any type of speculation when it comes to Jesus.  As long as everyone keeps in mind that it is not trying to speak historical fact this film should be interesting.  I do wonder though… why did Jesus have a British accent as a Child born of Jews and raised in Egypt?

June 30th 2016 – Last Days in the Desert – While technically a 2015 film that has already been released very limitedly, I am including this here because most of you will not get to see it until this year. This is also an Indie Film. However, this is different.  Instead of a film being made for the purpose of spreading the Gospel (Which I don’t think there is anything wrong with) the main focus on this film is to make a film. It is a better place to start and a place that I wish Christian film makers would start.  Ewan McGregor plays Jesus, which is Ironic because there is that Facebook meme going around showing him as Obi Wan Kenobi where some elderly lady (assumption) has placed his picture on a shelf because she thought it was a picture of Jesus.  Well… now she can find an actual picture of Ewan McGregor as Jesus.  I don’t know if this film will be insulting to Christians or if it will be “believer friendly” but the buzz I am hearing says it will not offend.

August 12th 2016 – Ben-Hur –  This film is a polarizing film.  Many who love the 1959 version cry foul because they say you shouldn’t remake a classic like this! But then there are people like me. I am a huge fan of the novel, and though I loved the 1959 version, there is so much that was left out that I think shouldn’t have been.  In the novel the chariot race happens only half way in.  The second half of the novel is only about the last half hour of the film and if you have read the novel you would see that they really rushed things to get to the end of the story.  My hope is that they will include more of the end of the novel, my favorite part.  But I also want to mention, in 1925 there was a film called Ben-Hur, it was fantastic, is was considered a classic and if they would have taken the advice of the nay sayers today, we would never have the 1959 Masterpiece. Yes, it is most likely not going to live up to the original but it might… is it worth a shot? I think so.  What is the worst that could happen? People will always have the 1959 version. And this gives my Son a chance to see this fantastic story in a movie that hasn’t alienated him by age.

 

As you might have already notice, it’s not quite “The Year of the Bible” but I might be tempted to call it “The Year of Jesus” since there are more films about Jesus coming out in 2016 than usual.  Would you like to see more movies that bring attention to Biblical stories? Then go see these! Vote with your money… and go see them opening weekend if you can, it is the weekend where your money will speak the loudest!

Have a Happy 2016 and may it be a great year for Christians to go to the movies!

PARAMOUNT TO REMAKE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!

It is being reported by The Tracking Board that Paramount Pictures is still very much interested in doing more Biblical Epics.  In February, Ben-Hur, the third official big screen adaptation of the classic novel will hit theaters.  ShareBenHur.com has stated that a trailer to that movie will drop by the end of October. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see it! But, what The Tracking Board is reporting is not about Ben-Hur… they are saying that Paramount is developing a remake of The Ten Commandments!

I know what you might be thinking, “But, we just had Exodus: God’s and Kings.” Yes, you are right… but, for many people that film fell flat.  I personally found much of it to be enjoyable but I must admit it was quite a letdown for me.  I didn’t think it was as terrible as others thought… but I also shared in my review that I seem to have a blind spot when it comes to Ridley Scott films.

Along with my disappointment of Exodus, my biggest disappointment was that we would not have another chance of seeing a well done “10 Commandments” type adaption.  An adaption that would be more pleasing to people of faith.  Has my hope been resurrected?… well… slightly, but not a ton.

Yes, Paramount is doing Ben-Hur, which I am expecting to be very friendly to the faith community, but it is not because of Paramount.  Don’t forget, Paramount is responsible for bring us Noah. A film I don’t have mixed feelings about.  I don’t think I could have been more disappointed with it.  The reason I have confidence in Ben-Hur is because of the producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. These two, no matter what your opinion is of them, have been trying very hard to make content that lifts up the faith community instead of tear them down.  They are the ones guiding Ben-Hur… so who is guiding this Ten Commandments remake?

The Tracking Board has listed two producers on the film.  One of those names is Cale Boyter.  Boyter was a producer on The Nativity Story. The Nativity Story, though not as strong of a movie as I was hoping for, it still was decent and certainly took the birth of Christ seriously.  This name allows for hope.  The second name they listed was Mary Parent.  How does that name settle with me right now? Not very well.  Parent was a producer on Noah.  That gives me a lot of pause.

Is there still hope? I think so.  There are two reasons why I still have hope.  The first is that there were many reports back before Noah came out that Paramount was pushing for a move Biblical cut of the film.  Now, when they say “Paramount” who do they mean? Could Mary Parent have been pushing for a more biblical film? I don’t know but it is possible.  One thing that I think it tells me is that Paramount would be going into this film thinking they want to be more biblical then Noah. The second reason I still have hope is because I think it is possible for Mary Parent to have learned from Noah.  You see, Noah made money, but I think it could have made a lot more if it we less fantasy and more biblical.  I think Mary knows that too.  I think Paramount knows this.  That is exactly why they are not letting the failure of Exodus keep them from trying this.

Is there reason to stay cautious? Yes! Beyond the fact that it is Paramount, who released Noah and the fact that it has one of the same producers, the article also mentions that they are looking for a director/writer who can give “a different take” on the classic story.  Those words always make me cringe.  Noah was certainly a different take on the classic story… but you could say that Ben-Hur was a different take on the crucifixion story. Those words don’t mean they want to go the way of Noah but it does nothing to calm my fears either.

My conclusion is, I am excited for a Ten Commandments remake! If we get another Noah, so what! Really Noah is just going to fade into the background.  No one is going to consider it a classic, it is not going to air every year around Easter of Christmas. It is simply a movie that disappointed the faith community.  SO if the Ten Commandments goes that rout, so what.  But if they learn from the past, the fact they are developing a remake gives us yet another chance to see this biblical story come to life in a spectacular way! You might be ready to say “I think the chances of a great movie are slim.” Well… Slim is better than none… and I am not convinced the chances are slim.  I eagerly look forward to hearing who they find to write and direct this film.  Knowing that could give us a little more insight into what type of movie they are shooting for.

THE YOUNG MESSIAH TRAILER

A movie based on the controversial Anne Rice novel Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt has been in the works for quite some time now.  Today, we catch out first glimpse at the film which focuses on a 7 year old Jesus.  This film, directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh and produced by Chris Columbus looks good.  As someone who has not read the novel I have no clue if this is a film to be excited about or not, but the trailer sure does look interesting. Not as interesting to me as Risen which comes out less then two months prior to this film, but interesting non-the-less. What are your thoughts

RISEN: NEW INTERNATIONAL TRAILER (Trailer Included)

I have long said Kevin Reynolds is a very underrated director.  He doesn’t pump movies out every other year but when he comes out with something, I usually expect something special.  That is why, when I heard a few years back that he was working on a film about the death and resurrection of Jesus I was overjoyed! At the time the film was called Resurrection and it has changed names a few times over the past few years most recently changing from Clavius to Risen.  A new trailer was just released and it looks just as good as the last one.  Please check it out! Please share it with your friends! This movie is sure to please the Christian going audience as Sony felt that it was worthy of being placed under their faith based banner “Affirm Films” Which is where they place films like Heaven is for Real, Courageous, Fireproof and War Room which opens this week in theaters.

The trailer is an international trailer so the 2015 release is not the US release.  In the US this film is set for release on January 22, 2016.  International readers will need to find out when it will be released in your country.

BEN-HUR MUSIC COMPOSER!

A few weeks back I posted a wish list of individuals that I hoped would be writing the score for the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur.  You see, the score for a movie is very important to me.  It is part of the movie experience. I don’t just watch a movie, I experience a movie.  A good score can make a good movie seem great and a bad score can make a good movie seem dull. My favorite scores transport me back to the movie when I hear it. Hans Zimmer is great at this.  When I hear the Gladiator score I think of Gladiator, the Man of Steel score brings me back to the Man of Steel, The Blackhawk Down score brings me back to Blackhawk Down and the Pirates of the Caribbean score brings me back to Jack Sparrow.  Hans Zimmer is not the only one that can help a movie in this way, there are many amazing scores out there that conjure up the film in our minds when we hear them.  To me, that is what I ask of a movie score. I want a score for Ben-Hur that will have a specifically Ben-Hur flavor.  I want a score that adds to the flavor of the film and one that I like to listen to in my car.

In my previous post on this subject I said that I heard one unreliable source that Junkie XL (Mad Max: Furry Road) had landed the job.  I said that I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out this was the case.  I was, however, more surprised then I thought I would be to find out that Junkie XL will NOT be scoring Ben-Hur.   Instead, a composer by the name of Marco Beltrami will be scoring the film. Now, this has not been announced by the studio, however it has been listed on The Marco Beltrami Universe, a site that seems to be a fan site. IMDB has now also posted on Marco Beltrami’s IMDB page.  This does seem to be more legitimate than before so, with this information, who is Marco Beltrami?

I listen to a lot of movie scores, but I do not know every composer and Marco Beltrami is not a name I am readily familiar with.  I needed to look him up, and what I saw didn’t really disappoint me! Yeah, he wouldn’t have been my first choice, he didn’t make my wish list, but when I looked over the list of films that he has worked on I wanted to see a film on there that I could connect with a specific sound.  As I read down the list I got to The Giver, BINGO! The music from The Giver is beautiful and when I hear it I think The Giver!

Beltrami began raising through the ranks by taking on some horror movies.  He was a frequent collaborator with Wes Craven and has done all the Scream movies.  He also began working with Guillermo del Toro with the film Mimic, del Toro continued to use him for Hell Boy, a comic book film that del Toro is well known for. Beltrami continued to take on higher profile projects such as I, Robot and Flight of the Phoenix.  In 2007 he got his first of two Academy Award nominations for 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of a classic, just like Ben-Hur!  The 3:10 to Yuma score is amazing and I will link it below with a few other selections from Beltrami.

The news of Beltrami composing Ben-Hur excites me for many reasons, first, he is a very capable composer, he is Academy Award Nominated. He has been hired to score remakes of classics before and he did so by putting out his best work to that point.  He also scored The Hurt Locker which got him his second nomination.  I feel 3:10 to Yuma marks a turning point in his career, he has put out his best work since then.  So, think about it, you have a composer who has been in the game for many years now, he has had two Academy Award Nominations but no wins, the last time he was hired to do a remake of a classic movie he put out his best work… now he has been hired to do a remake of an even more beloved classic with a beloved score and he has been getting better and better.  Do you think he will be hungry for an Academy Award win? Do you think he will give it his all on this project? This is very exciting news for the Ben-Hur project and I cannot wait to hear what Beltrami comes up with!

Below I will link a few videos, the first video I would encourage everyone to check out to see how serious this guy is about scoring films, it is very encouraging.  the rest will be samples of my favorite scores that he has done.

This is from the Giver

And this is from what I consider his best scoe so far, 3:10 to Yuma