Cinema-Maniac: Mad Max: Fury Road

I would best compare this film to another film that came out in 2013 by the name of Gravity. Gravity, much like the film I’m reviewing right now, was a spoon fed, overly praised film that places more value on aesthetics than it does on engaging characters or a worthwhile story to be invested in. Just like Gravity, one bewilderment towards the overwhelming positive reception versus the actual quality of the film shouldn’t be a surprise since if you remove the technical achievement all you’ll have left is superficial entertainment with a two hour car chase. It’s a dumb action film with a high budget, and cool car stunts which is sadly all it has to offer.

Around this portion of my reviews I would provide a synopsis of Mad Max: Fury Road, but any sort of synopsis should be considered a spoiler. There’s very little plot in the film that required three writers to create. To put it in perspective the film without giving away thin specifics is basically like driving a couple miles away from your home to get water while being chased by lunatics, remembering there’s no longer anyone guarding your home for some reason, and returning home the same way you came even though it was blocked after an explosion. That is all that occurred within two hours. Like mentioned before, this took the effort of three writers to create is pretty pathetic not just in writing, but filmmaking as a whole.

It’s titled character, Max, is a man of few words, fewer defining characteristic beside having a tortured past, and less of an engaging character. Max is relegated to a supporting role who just goes with the motion of events. Some attempts are made in providing a backstory to Max, but it is thinly stretched out. All that is told about Max through hallucination is that he failed to protect people. Their importance is never specify almost as if discluding any newcomer in the franchise. If it fails to stand alone as it own entity then it failed before filming began. Nope, instead of providing stronger context it’s better if that time was better spent on very long car chases instead.

More ridiculous than the thinness of the story is the presentation of serious moments. Car chases take up 90% of the film are bombastic, and loud which when applied to a character, Furiousa, talking about redemption can’t be taken seriously. That’s the clear points of these moments, though once again I want emphasize it took three people to write this story. Without much exploration into character backgrounds it further deteriorate into an eye candy spectacle that only manages to hold your attention because of it belief it would lose its audience if there wasn’t a extensive car chase for every few minutes focus on plot.

The film opens up with our main character Max being captured, and in an attempt to escape shows to the viewer(s) how insane the world is. This very early scene shows a crowd of people gathering around to get water with the images presenting a clear picture of how important this resource is in the world. Yet, the three writers felt the imagery of this scene wouldn’t be enough to convey the desperation in its world either being water, healthy people, or fertile land which is why lines like “As the world fell, each of us in our ways were broken” is spoon feeding to the definition. Much like the example I use in the opening paragraph, if it was entirely muted (we’re talking about virtually no dialogue) the film would actually be an achievement in storytelling regardless if it needed to use simple caricatures for an action movie. Unfortunately, with spoon fed dialogue like that it’s a blessing and a curse the characters don’t talk as much as they do taking away from the experience.

Characters are simplified to very basic character arcs; most notable examples comes in the form of Nux and Furiousa. Nux wants to be taken to Vahala which loosely can be tied to religion as much as Furiousa search for redemption from an event that’s makes a very loose connection with the antagonist. Nux doesn’t suffer as much as Furiousa in his basic characterization due to his simplistic loyalty painting a clear picture of his arc when he enters the picture. Max goal is to possibly get over past demons and survive without talking much. Now, Max getting over his demons isn’t an issue since it’s what drives his character to be a better person than he was before. However, Max being muted when Furiosa is trying to kill him is idiotic. He’s man of few words, but not very intelligent…or is he? The script can’t decide on that as in one scene Max manages to get a truck out a swampland that got mired in the desert by the use of the only conveniently found tree in that area. So his reluctance to speak in a scene where women are trying to run away from the same lunatics chasing Max, and the leader is attempting to kill Max a simple explanation would have avoided a well choreographed, but rather pointless action scene.

So earlier I made a rough outline of the film general story by making up an example. That outline has serious issues. First, there is an explosion in a canyon with only one entrance way being shown. That entrance gets blocked by rubble of rocks. Yet, when the characters decide to return to where Max was taken seemingly using the same road. Second, we’re in the desert and making further suspend your belief is despite the large locations shown throughout the film Max takes the same route to return to the Citadel (where the film basically starts). Lastly, the antagonist took all of his men when chasing down Max? If not, how come the citizens of the Citadel didn’t kill Immortan Joe (the antagonist) if his power was so limited? It would explain the ending, but if so, even if the antagonist did strike fear in the people’s eyes the numbers of baddies still in the Citadel is larger of that of what the Immortan Joe took with him when chasing down Max and his Five Wives. In context characters finally stop looking for answers in other places that might not exist, but also in context it basically means the outline of the story is unbelievably goofy.

If you’re looking for action, but mostly in the car chases variety Mad Max: Fury Road has impressive stunt work. For starter, the way Mad Max: Fury Road is filmed is done like an expert. The camera in these car chases usually follows the cars without shaking the camera. No matter how many cars are on screen together or if there’s an explosion the camera doesn’t need to shake to emulate the chaotic nature of just occurred in a scene. It does it through visuals favoring long takes with wide shots angle to see every bit of carnage done in the film.

Another aspect of the car chases is the smart uses of wide shots throughout lengthy sequences. A common problem for directors of higher budgeted action movies is that a director would make the mistakes of using many mid-shots instead to be closer to the action instead of pulling the camera further for a better flow. One of the best example is a scene where Max is attempting to break the window of a car from his capturer who’s planning to kill himself in a blaze glory during a desert storm. In the background, Max is seen struggling to hang onto a car and attempting to break the window while in the foreground his capturer is preparing to kill himself. This paints a picture of struggle, and a time limit within the same shot. This also applies to car crashes as when a car gets destroyed the camera shows the entire car as it gets destroyed. However, instead of pausing to display this demolished car it will instead continue to follow the action. One prime example of a George Miller expert direction is in the film there’s tanker that explodes, and how he displays it incorporates many techniques. From this lone scene in a couple of seconds Miller combines CG, shot composition, and editing to seamless effect. As Max is fighting against a Warboy on a pole/ladder that’s very close to touching the ground in motion he successfully kills the Warboy; with the ladder now having less weight Max attempts to get himself onto safety in the foreground on a moving car while the background a tanker is exploding within the same frame of shots. This moment doesn’t last any longer than seven seconds, but seamlessly through expert uses of CG, shot composition, and editing it’s a seamless flow of coherence that Miller often succeed in duplicating throughout the film.

The stunt work is nothing short of amazing. Cars are demolished on screen alongside obtaining a high body count from in the film characters death. In general, the stunt will require a dozen or so cars as well participants to do insane set pieces. Not only do the stunt crew having perform a dangerous stunt on constantly moving vehicles, but also do it with visibly little protection and sometimes with props like spears, pipes, baby bottle, spray can, and anything that can be found in this post apocalyptic film. What’s pulled off successfully is a string of convincing looking stunts that at some point in the film you’ll begin to believe every single stunt was done by actual person. In some scenes a dummies is used, but with an expert stunt crew it blurred the lines between a real person and dummy that it’s not even noticeable even among action aficionados.

CGI is used in virtually every single shot of the film, though it’s mostly use on either filtering colors or enhance the effect of a scene. For instance, going back to the tanker explosion if you removed the CG from that explosion you’ll still have the same explosion and stunt in place. The only thing the CG is adding was enhancing the effect of an explosion to give it more visual finesse by darkening smokes and brightening up the flames. Sometimes CG will add an explosion or make a scene colors pop out. Fury Road usage of CG is smart as it only uses it to add to a larger piece of the film instead of it taking over for an entire scene.

Set design is also detailed with a rough-hewn general look for the clothings. Getting across a clear picture of this dystopia fascination with worshiping cars like a religion. There is no normal looking car in the film as you have muscle cars on top of tanks, vintage cars on top of oil rigs and things that look like killer porcupines with wheels underneath them. There’s a lot to admired from the vehicles including the manic arsonist guitarist surrounded by a wall of amplifiers. The guitarist is also a key feature of the soundtrack, with Junkie XL using the chaotic music to stamp a mark of citizenship upon the particular tribes across the journey, mixing in suspenseful, looming soundbites to show the ever-nearing distance between threats.

The acting I can’t complain about, but that’s mostly because the cast provide a lot more conviction in their portrayals than the script does in providing details. Tom Hardy hardly speaks in the film with most of his performance relegated to simply grunting and facial expressions. Despite the limitation in his performance Tom Hardy sells the image of a broken, desperate man. Everything his character is feeling is received by the viewer properly. Charlize Theron plays Furiousa a cool looking character with a no-nonsense attitude. Playing a complex character whose composure hides a lot of her inner turmoil. Having to display a rough surface while at the same time a character whose holding onto what little hope for a better life there is left. Her chemistry with Hardy is excellent displaying the changes in their relationship through the film going from strangers, to enemies, to partners convincingly.

Nicholas Hoult plays Nux a character heavy on a visual arc. He has the most easily definable character traits utilizing them in his portrayal of Nux. A character that enthusiastically goes into blindly following a belief of the antagonist to a more down to earth person contemplating a new view for life. His changes are among the most evident in the film benefiting from a character whose entire journey unlike the other two characters is seen to the finish line. Hugh Keays-Byrne is a appropriate looking “Obviously Evil Bad Guy” type of antagonist. His costume leaves little imagination for what kind of person he is. Consumed in the role Byrne exudes desire, hatred, and vengeance through his portrayal of the film antagonist. I also must give credit to the casting of largely unknown actor Nathan Jones and playing on his strength by giving him little words to speak and allot to express. This movie was expertly put together needless to say.
Mad Max: Fury Road will make you mad and furious for the wrong reasons. It’s more of an issue of the shallow writing that excuses itself to be a two hour chase scene. Gazing upon it you’ll be in awe at the large scale practical stunt work, and gorgeous cinematography before realizing its product of its time that is only appreciated as such. The biggest drawback to the film is it uncertainty to trust the audience; it’s powerful images tell its story majestically, but due to the spoon fed dialogue the reward that comes with figuring out what occurred in the story yourself diminishes the impact when it does it for two hours. It’s technical achievement on all fronts, but if the spoon fed dialogue was virtually removed than it would have also obtained a storytelling achievement to go along with its wild world.


Cinema-Maniac: I Am Here….Now

If you didn’t know about Neil Breen before reading this review….you’re welcome. Films like The Room and Troll 2 are considered to be among the best example of “so bad it’s good” cinema. It’s a classification that needless to say is a double edge sword since the same elements that make them unintentionally enjoyable are also what makes them unbearable at times. Turning something that is enjoyably bad to a dreadful film experience at any given moment. I Am Here….Now best represents both side of the spectrum for these kind of films for it is hilarious ineptitude in every category, but also the exact thing that makes you constantly fight going into Dreamland.

Our film main character, played by Neil Breen, is listed as “The Being” in the film closing credits who is basically Jesus. The Being arrives on Earth to express his disappointment of the human species. “I’m disappointed in your species. The human species” Neil Breen delivers with the least amount of emotion possible to a cheap looking fake skull and a clearly fake toy spider in the middle of a lonesome desert. This is the first line of spoken dialogue in the film taking seven minutes to get too. It took seven minutes to show a CGI computer tunnel twice, the opening title card that uses fade ins for the four ellipses, glued motherboard and smaller computer parts on Neil Breen body, long takes of seeing the desert, quick cuts of Neil Breen having and not having on a mask of an alien, and repeating footage. This is just the first seven minutes, and it doesn’t get any easier.

Attempting to properly explore the story of I Am Here….Now is like contemplating why we are here in this universe. Such questions are impossible to find, but I Am Here….Now is easy. Basically, all the dialogue of anyone who is corrupt must tell the audience they are corrupt in every scene they are in. The repetitiveness of “Evil politician killing the planet” or “Screw nature” variety of dialogue is painful and laughable. “We had the best of intentions of improving the nation’s sustainable energy system and environment, but the corruption and greed in big businesses and government won’t let it happen” is an example of unnaturally written dialogue. Nothing about what people say seems human at any point. Not only is the dialogue incredibly dumb down, but hilarious in its awkwardness.

Another issue that pegs the film besides having characters speak is continuity. Despite the main crux of the story being easy to follow it is also simultaneously incomprehensible. For example, there’s a scene in the film where a gang is looking at two women looking to be strippers or hookers (characters dialogue changes profession freely). One of the gang member comment “Hell yeah. I’ll do her” when checking out the women who want to be hookers. Then the leader of the gang replies “I get her first” shooting his member who didn’t even say anything in the upper forearm. Immediately this raises red flags like why is the actor different, why did the color of the cap change, why did the leader just immediately shoot his member in the forearm, how come the member who got shot has no bullet hole in other scenes from that shot, how come the gang member who shot still works despite his insane leader, and how come the gang member who actually said that comment didn’t get punished by the gang leader? So much questions from a simple scene.

Logically from what you come expect from the great writing is completely alien. In the film, when one of the main female character gets fired from her job. Her friend says she should be a stripper so casually in their conversation. Or another moment when the same female character talks to her husband about losing her job, and quickly consider being a full time hooker. Nope, it’s never shown if this character attempts to look for another type of job. Random moments like these are gut bustingly funny, but you’ll have to endure some very repetitive editing, and very long take of reuse footage or stock footage that doesn’t connect to the main story. For every short burst of hilarity you have minutes of starring at nothing happening on screen or footage you already seen inserted randomly. All of it is intriguing, but very tedious to endure for a good time.

Going back to the simple, yet incomprehensible story the goal of “The Being” is to put humanity on the right path. The Being accomplishes this by simply killing 8 people in Las Vegas which apparently equals mission accomplished. Beyond being nonsensical, the lone fact The Being killed 8 people who happened to be corrupt politician without specification to how much power they hold or part of a gang won’t teach humanity a lesson. Especially when expressing he’ll give humanity another chance. His desire to give humanity a second chance would mean something if he didn’t say this in the middle of desert where no one could hear him. In the film, The Being is shown slowing down time, and tells us he can destroy the entire planet. For reasons never explained why The Being doesn’t simply do a live broadcast to motivate humanity to improve would make sense.

Neil Breen is credited as the star, producer, music editor, editor, special makeup effects, craft services, locations and props, writer, and director. He’s a one man show and it shows throughout the film he had a shoestring budget. The closing credits even list a thanks to where the music was obtained from and for stock footage. Even in the closing credits it manages to get a laugh when on the DVD it says the film is available in High Definition, and HD. From a film that falls under the “so bad it’s good” camp is the acting is hilariously bad by actors who don’t know they were doing a bad job. Line delivery sound force and awkward while sharing no convincible chemistry with each other. There plenty shots of the desert so prepare to see a whole lot of nothing. Special effect are cheap looking including the practical ones. Like when Neil Breen stops time there’s still moving cars in the background.

I Am Here….Now offer great entertainment, but also a battle with boredom and constant drowsiness. The screen presence of Neil Breen is rivaled by very few famous bad actors, but also his ineptitude in filmmaking is majestic for the wrong reasons. It’s a good time for those short burst of questionable filmmaking that can make you laugh as much as a great comedy. Unfortunately the sloppy editing and its heavy reusing of footage holds back from being a recommendable title even among those who enjoy “so bad it’s good” films.


Cinema-Maniac: Jurassic World

Original design by LandLCreations:
Original design by LandLCreations:

Jurassic Park is a magnum opus in the monster film genre that best use simple, but engaging characters and escalating set pieces to its advantage to become a masterpiece of a blockbuster that offers everything imaginable. It’s sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, took a different direction making the main characters environmentalists that got more people killed than actually saved. The approach resulted in a misfire due to the sheer lack of care of carrying over continuity from it predecessor, and a bad pro nature message delivery due to the heroes action resulting in the same amount of deaths as the Dinosaurs. Need we forget the sheer idiocy of virtually every single character in that film. Jurassic Park 3 bounce back from a misdirection, but still wasn’t the sequel people wanted. Despite some improvements like the addition of muscle movements on the CG Dinosaurs not present in previous films, and a more tightly written story it failed to provide an engaging story being more of a solid popcorn flick variety than the masterpiece the original film was. Jurassic World on the other hand attempts to be a mixture of all the previous films minus the practical effects. The result is ultimately a better refined version of Jurassic Park 3, but a pale shadow of what makes the original significant to film history.

Now the writing is both dumber and smarter than you expect it to be. In a sense the movie is an example “dumbtelligent”; a made up word by me that encompasses the traits of writing of various level found in this film. For example, let’s talk about creating an entirely brand new Dinosaur in the context of the film. The dumb aspects of this is this Dinosaur is also known by writers as “Plot Conveniencesaur” due to the people who created it having no knowledge about it despite the park’s scientist being the one who created it.

In one scene the created Dinosaur, named Indominus Rex, is able to camouflage into its environment like a Chameleon to avoid immediate detection and kill its prey. However, such ability is only ever used once in the film rendering it a pointless addition in the long run. Another moment involve when Indominus Rex is planning to escape from his cage. In context, we have people who have created this creature from the ground up and have raised it in captivity for its entire life, yet didn’t know Indominus Rex could lower its own body temperature until the plot demanded. Not even thermal cameras are able to see Indominus Rex. So instead of using the brought up tracking device implanted in Indominus Rex to track his location and simply wait to get the coordinates the workers at Jurassic World open up his cage to investigate if Indominus Rex is still in the cage. Once again, the same people who created Indominus from the ground up and have records of what went into this creation do tons of stupid things. One of them being making a Dinosaur whose just as equally dumb. An inconsequential detail about the climax is leading lady, Claire (played by Dallas Byrce Howard), using a flare and throwing it at Indominus Rex because the T-Rex is established to only see by heat signature…yet when the flare goes out neither does the idea of using camouflage or lowering body temperature comes to Indominus Rex mind when in combat against other Dinosaurs.

If only Indominus would also use his abilities to turn the film plot holes invisible.

The smart aspect of engineering Dinosaur is it’s made reasonable in the film context. It’s not the first that is immediately introduce, but a starting point to establish its fiction. In this world, people are bored by Dinosaurs like they are with regular animals. So the next logical step is to keep tourist coming back is create a Dinosaur from the ground up. Another nice touch to the park not seen before is a fully realized, operational park with some reasonable design choices. Some choices like the Gyrosphere for instance spell out questionable decisions like not including rails. People would be able to get attacked by Dinosaurs, and possibly harassed them with these machines. One must have would be making human size doors when entering cages, except most of the doors or gates are big enough for the contained Dinosaurs to walk/run through. Then comes a giant dome holding down Pteranodon that for some reason only has one dome of glass to ensure the Dinosaurs don’t fly away. For a park that spared no expense the park overlooked some issues in sake of tourism. However, an addition like security is upgraded so yes, there is more than one person responsible to ensure the safety of everyone on this island filled with Dinosaurs. There’s also other small touches like a full view of all Dinosaurs location, and implied Dinosaur trainers. Though, only ones for Raptors are specially shown.

According to Jurassic World this apparently never happened in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Some writing choices are rather pointless. For instance, there’s a character in Jurassic World by the name of Lowery (played by Jake Johnson) whose purpose is to tell the audience this is not Jurassic Park. In case, you know, you couldn’t read the title or didn’t hear the name of the amusement park within the film. This character basically spout self-awareness in one of the first scenes he appears in. His dialogue in this scene amounts to saying we need more teeths, and bigger Dinosaurs to draw in park visitors. It’s a subtle way to directly tell the audience the dire need for the franchise to introduce new Dinosaurs to draw in viewers, but at the same time Lowery character amounts to no importance in the film. If Lowery was removed the only aspect would change would be less humor. Any character could have delivered this same self-aware dialogue. Finally comes the disregard of continuity. According to this film the events of the The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 3 didn’t happen for unknown reasons or doesn’t exist in the same world. Classifying itself as a direct sequel to the original which is also troubling. Expecting you to believe you forgot the Pteranodons that flew away from the island from Jurassic Park. What happened to those Dinosaurs exactly as it never shows the main characters reaching their destination? Also, no one from the original film apparently wrote about their experiences in Jurassic Park including Ian Malcolm. While on this, as a self-contained story it doesn’t really answer the question of why a larger park was built despite a previous park being a failure? If Jurassic Park wasn’t mentioned or was established to be hidden from public knowledge than the existence of the park would be more believable for newcomers instead of leaving dangling questions.

The good aspect of the writing is everything unfolds in real-time. Forget the fact that more than half of the film occurs in broad daylight. This means there’s no distraction from the main conflicts. One that deals with a brand new Dinosaur being loose causing rampage and another that focus on a two brothers attempting to get to safety in a park filled with creatures that can kill them. No matter what the characters are doing it is always related to moving it story forward. For example, if it was operated on real world logic than two kids wouldn’t just magically fix a twenty year old broken car by simply changing the battery. By not operating on realism it allows the characters and viewers to see more of the park. From the onset embracing the B movie aspects of its own writing uses it to great effect to create entertaining, over the top moments of pure escapism. Ranging from the fact a CEO would fly a Helicopter in an attempt to capture a lab created Dinosaur to the sheer cheesiness that is “The Comeback” moment in the climax. Can’t forget the “Obviously Evil Bad Guy” who says ridiculous things whenever on-screen and pitching his idea for militarized Dinosaurs for war. The music might indicate to take this moment seriously, but given this character introduced by pitching this idea it’s more comedic than a starting point for a debate for a theme that goes nowhere. It knows this using the antagonist to enjoy at least enjoy one deserve killing in the film.

All of the issues with the writing could have been easily fixed if it was a half an hour or hour longer. A longer length would have benefited Jurassic World which has the caricatures for engaging ideas like two brothers bonding in the trouble background of their parents divorce or even the pro-environmental message could be expanded upon beyond simply showing disastrous results of hybrids in one scene. Now simply because it would be longer wouldn’t mean the film would have turned out better, but some the ideas it clearly wanted to use could have been expanded on and put to better use. As it is you’ll see many moments that could have made it reach greatness, but won’t rise up to those occasions.

You can thank Colin Trevorrow for cool shots like these throughout Jurassic World.

Director Colin Trevorrow is heavily involved in how the film turned out from writing, producing, and yes directing. He made the right calls when presenting the “dumbtelligent” story. Cinematography is far away enough to see major set pieces. Pulling back away to see not only the major Dinosaur CG effects, but the smaller details like debris moving around when Dinosaurs are in movement or hitting a noticeable object. Then the blurred effect when characters are in a vehicle usually when escaping Dinosaurs in an attempt to capture a sense of speed in these scenes. Trevorrow’s usage of the original score, composed by Michael Giacchino, is also appropriate with his timing. I already mentioned before how “Obviously Evil Bad Guy” pitching the idea of militarizing Dinosaurs for war with serious music playing in the back ground. It works for presentation because it’s plays out like a B-movie. The fact there’s not many significant scenes without original music being played speaks for the writing holding its own. Giacchino score is basically a nostalgia trip at best if you’ve seen the previous movies or heard the iconic theme from Jurassic Park and at worst fades into the background if you have no connection with the series in any form. It best blends together whenever the atmosphere is being built in place and involving a Dinosaur as a key character. In the opening scene, anonymous music is played when showing a close up of an animal feet with sharp claws it to play against expectations. Aside from this, the only memorable pieces of music with what occurs on-screen is whenever it sounds similar to John Williams score in Jurassic Park.

I’ll ride off into the distance, in search of some emotions!

The actor aesthetically fit into their roles. You won’t see anything resembling ranged from its capable cast. For instance, Nick Robinson, plays an older brother who switches from being neglectful when around with his little brother, played by Ty Simpkins, to becoming a supportive brother the next scene. The problem is also from the script turning emotions one-eighty when the actor are portraying characters. Though, the roles written are on auto pilot. Chris Pratt for instance plays one of the lead character no matter what the film required retains the same wide eyes facial expression. When he is scared he doesn’t act any differently when at he is at ease. All the roles provide limited ranged since all the characters must be scared, run in fear, and be in awe when facing a Dinosaur that looks directly into their eyes. Therefore memorable characters are off the table the same with notable personalities. Chris Pratt character having more experience in the park reacts the same way as Ty Simpkins seeing Jurassic World for the first time. There’s no sense of experience from certain characters giving this impression this the first time anything like this happened.

“Can you tell I’m the villain?”

The actor that got the best written role for acting was Vincent D’Onofrio who plays a character that might as well be named “Obviously Evil Bad Guy”. When he’s introduce it’s an introduction equivalent to saying “Hahah. I’m evil”. His performance works the best since his character is escalating in one note evilness and priding himself in that fact. Smiling when he pitches his goofy Dinosaur soldier ideas, and wanting to make money at the cost lives. Vincent D’Onofrio is embracing the role seriously giving his character a goofy charm that fits perfectly with how it’s presented and written. He’s enjoyable villain simply for how over the top he is. Special effects are well done, but a downgrade from its predecessors which uses both practical and CG. However, the CG in Jurassic World are used for more complex scenes than anything ever done in the franchise. For instance, there’s a set piece where Pteranodons are attacking people around the park. A scene like this shows how far more advance the CG has become allowing a dozen Dinosaurs to be on-screen while attacking humans. In previous films it was usually one person being picked off despite large group traveling together. In Jurassic World, the fact that Pteranodons are seen picking up several people at the same time is a small achievement for the franchise.

Jurassic World is a not good continuation as a sequel, and doesn’t bother to learn from its predecessors. It has the same lackluster characterization preventing complex characters from being created and the same leap in logic in order for its story to be told. It’s pretty much afraid to have its own identity in fear of being a complete failure without relying on a proven formula. However, it does make for a decent film. What you won’t find is the same simple identifiable, engaging characters or sense of wonder that eventually become lost under heavy uses of CGI, but you’ll find escapism entertainment. It’s operates on B-movie logics containing set pieces that makes full use of its Dinosaurs for creative setups. Entertaining the film is, but an engaging experience it is not.


Cinema-Maniac: God’s Not Dead

(This review of God’s Not Dead was first posted on May 19, 2014. I posted this review on a movie site called Rotten Tomatoes under the username Cinema-Maniac. This posting has some spelling and grammar correction, but it’s virtually the same review as before.)

A straightforward title like God’s Not Dead leaves little to the imagination for debate. In the same way the same person wrote the Ten Commandments said “Thou Shalt Not Kill” nearly wiped out every single specie with a flood. Now, my proof that God did spread this message it with my supporting evidence in Exodus 34:1, “The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke”. Further supporting my evidence with Exodus 34:28, Moses writes “the words of the covenant, the ten commandments” onto the second set of tablets. These words were not the same: both God and Moses wrote on the tablets, but only Moses wrote the Ten Commandments. It is sometimes appropriate to describe an agent as doing something even when he delegates the work to someone else. God wrote the Ten Commandments onto the tablets, even if he used Moses to do so.

I know for a fact my argument can be defeated by those who actually read the Bible unlike myself which is intentional. This film does not inspire to this kind of level of thinking. While I am not a Christian nor a follower of any particular religion. I do, however, favor Buddhism teachings personally because of Buddha himself, and you better believe I would try convince non believers that not every person in a specific faith wants to force their beliefs down your throats like this film claims. Not only are it arguments favoring God existence and depiction of atheists one sided, but also how it represents the Christian community so poorly it has the power to devert Christians. Ladies and gentlemen of the court. I present to the jury or readers my arguments for why God’s Not Dead IS THE WORST CHRISTIAN FILM EVER MADE.

Hate Thy Neighbor 

In this film if you’re an atheist you will suffer. For example, there’s a reporter who gets cancer because she’s an atheist and took offense when a “Duck Dynasty” actor prays on his show. Instead of choosing to dive into the complicated subject of how a man sticks by a faith even when it’s against his personal way of living. Preferring instead to proudly claim atheist hate Christians. Not only that, but according to this film shooting an animal will not cause it any suffering.It’s refer to as “Mercy Killing”, but this is one scene in the many subplots that go nowhere. Seems like the writers fail to acknowledge its audience is not brain dead as they are. So the reporter attempts to get support in her hour of need from her boyfriend who’s also an atheist. Once she tells him she has cancer her boyfriend responds with “How could you do this to me?”. Going by this movie logic it’s because she’s an atheist. I’m curious to witness what the resolution to this dilemma will be? Oh it never gets resolved. The atheist couple end up separated never working to fix the relationship and the reporter conforms to Christianity which according to this film makes everything better…except she still has cancer and is not shown accepting it as part of her life.

Another subplot is an over controlling Muslim father whose daughter he physically beats when he discovers his daughter is listening to the bible on tape. Yeah, because college students will be jamming to the “Book of Genesis” around campuses. I’m not even Muslim and even I got offended by this film portrayal of the Muslim community. It’s almost like this film is ignorant of the same message it’s trying to send. So what happens to the over controlling Muslim father and the daughter who chose a different faith? One screening later. Man, even the Devil would call that needlessly cruel. Okay, so this Muslim family never resolves the differences between religious beliefs, and the daughter has been tossed out to the street without us ever being shown a place where she can safely sleep. Call me insane, an atheist, (going by this film logic) the Devil, but I don’t think her going to a Christian concert is something that will fix the hardship that comes with breaking family traditions. I’m just saying…oh I just learned from the film I’m going to Hell for challenging it’s broken message. Oh, how nice of it.

Finally, the antagonist, who is also atheist is professor Kevin Sorbo. Well to be fair to Sorbo I would also lose faith if Kellen Lutz played the same character as me. Professor Sorbo is a terrible teacher who knows nothing about Philosophy. “God Is Dead” is a phrase popularized by Friedrich Nietzsche doesn’t mean that the Christian God was alive, but has died, nor does it mean that he never existed (as Kevin Sorbo’s philosophy professor character states otherwise). Nietzsche was simply saying that god wasn’t a consideration for how most people live their lives. You wouldd think a philosophy professor would know that, but apparently the straw-man professor in this movie hasn’t even read “Philosophy for Dummies” or lazy research on Wikipedia.

Atheist Professor Sorbo doesn’t have philosophical justification for what he believes, which you’d think would stack the deck in favor of Christians in this movie. Instead, it does the opposite. By misrepresenting the atheist position, the filmmakers are telegraphing their insecurity about the arguments. The entire atheist position is reduced to a quote from Stephen Hawking, a distortion of one Richard Dawkins argument, and the problem of evil, and even these arguments are only discussed as a cartoonishly over-the-top grotesque parody. What you don’t get is an intellectual debate; being replace with misunderstanding of how science works, but also fails in raising philosophical questions which Sorbo teaches though ignores.


In the film Professor Sorbo loses faith in God because God let his mother died. Yet, was okay with world hunger, wars, political corruption, terrorism, and so much more before his mother died while believing in God. I would call Kevin Sorbo character a overly dramatic mama’s boy, but Hercules name has been tainted enough. Not only that, but he also dates a Christian who leaves him because he’s an atheist. Sorbo girlfriend was okay with him being an atheist until the plot said so. So twice it provides to example of atheists beings unable to maintain a healthy relationship with another person.

What happens to Professor Sorbo? He gets run over by a car and the driver, who I must emphasize is an atheist, never bothers checking if Profess Sorbo is okay. You know, just the nerve of a hardworking atheist who gives college students an education is irritating. Even in Sorbo moment of death two Christian preachers happen to be close by and one asks if he wants to believe in God before he dies. Well the intention was nice, but heavy handed none the less. This gesture doesn’t matters when the same preachers get a text saying “God’s Not Dead” and one happily says “This is a time worth celebrating”. Despite the fact that an atheist died before their very eyes. Then again, this is a film bloated with pointless subplots (one of then being a preacher attempting to start a car) than a fair depiction on difference religious views.

Conformity Equals Freewill 

The protagonist of the film is named Josh Wheaton….nope can’t insult someone whose name is similar to someone (repetitive, but) hardworking like Joss Whedon. I think I’ll pick out a nickname based on a historical figures that best represent the film protagonists ideal and I’ll pick Little Hitler. Now before anyone says I’m going too far comparing a freshman college student to one of the most hated human being here’s the basic idea. As written in Mein Kamp by Adolf Hitler, “We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity…in fact our movement is Christian” is the philosophy followed by the film protagonist Little Hitler. So Little Hitler has the opportunity to switch classes if he’s so offended by an atheist who tells his class to write “God Is Dead” on a sheet of paper in the first day of class. Disregard the film depiction that all college professor want to manipulate easily impressionable young minds, but instead focus on Little Hitler who is so outraged by the oppression of the school system which allows him to change classes, report teachers acting out of conduct, and a atheist teacher who nicely tells him to change classes if he offended takes it upon himself to be the voice of the oppress and manipulated college students who could care less about skipping some lessons ahead in the material. Accepting the challenge of the atheist that god is not dead. HEIL GOD!

Also like Adolf Hitler, Little Hitler is a hypocrite. So he spends the entire film trying convince others that god is not dead. Little Hitler asks Professor Sorbo why he hates God and Sorbo responds that his mother died while praying to God. From this comes the final words to win everyone over is “How could you hate someone who doesn’t exist”. Umm…Little Hitler you do know that could also serve as a counter argument? Why bother following the teaching of a man whose existence which you even claimed is not proven in your supporting arguments favoring God’s Not Dead is not conclusive to assure a victory. For that matter, what was the point of Little Hitler arguing in the first place? He sets out in a blaze of fury organizing everything he learned from books to prove the existence of God, yet the argument that declares him the winner goes entirely against his purpose because of bad writing.

Little Hitler also has the nerves to say he’s spreading freewill. Yeah right “free will”. Little Hitler forces his views down on his peers to the point it clouds the meaning behind Christ teachings. He neither presents other religions when presenting his argument because he’s want everyone to be a Christian. He’s not allowing the students to choose for themselves since he only wants them to follow in his lead. Not once does he bring up Buddhism, the Quran, or another religion for that matter. Nor does he ever accept anyone truly wants to be an atheist and no matter how well argue they will never convert their ideals. After seeing this film I wouldn’t blame anyone instantly turn into an atheist over night. Man it’s terrifying how much this film protagonist bares similar motive to Adolf Hitler of all people.

Thy Commit Secular Promotionalism 

(You can skip this section all the way to the closing paragraph if I convince you of my position already)

A film that claims to take the moral high ground of religious debates it selection of music is one sided too. Rather than have music for “God’s Not Dead” that touch on various issues it’s too is shallow like the film depiction of Christians. Let’s take the theme song for the film which both share the same title that neither understand the meaning behind the saying. I’ll admit and say Christian music is not my thing, but I have heard some terrific piece of deep music from “Jesus Christ Superstar” which is my standards for what I consider good Christian music (and is a fantastic musical as well I highly recommend regardless of beliefs). The lyrics for the theme song are as follows.

The Newsboys – God’s Not Dead 

Letlove explode and bring the dead to life

A love so bold to bring a revolution somehow

Now I’m lost in Your freedom

In this world I’ll overcome

My God’s not dead

He’s surely alive

He’s living on the inside

Roaring like a lion

Roaring, He’s roaring, roaring like a lion

Rinse and repeat that same verse through the whole song four times. By these lyrics alone it’s getting those who already believe in their faith pumped up. Like I said earlier it’s music is as shallow as it depiction of Christians. Every song basically says just keep the faith and spread good will. That’s nice and all, however the opening song in “Jesus Christ Superstar” is well complex.

Jesus Christ Superstar – Heaven’s On Their Minds 

My mind is clearer now – at last all too well

I can see where we all soon will be

If you strip away the myth from the man

You will see where we all soon will be

Jesus! You’ve started to believe the things they say of you

You really do believe this talk of God is true

And all the good you’ve done will soon get swept away

You’ve begun to matter more than the things you say

Best part about this particular track from “Jesus Christ Superstar” is that does not repeat any verses and goes to tell Christ story while expressing the point of views from one of his followers. Out of sheer laziness I rest my case on “God’s Not Dead” music is shallow. The only thing left I haven’t raged upon are the cast which sadly play their roles straightforwardly. For a film this cartoonish and horribly executed the cast is clutter with not enough screen time to define their characters. This results in no one in the film having any resemblance of chemistry. Nearly every line is delivered with the same wooden and emotionless way. Even when Kevin Sorbo is dying (even Hercules is not immortal to this power) it’s wooden acting.

Thy Faith Shalt Be Wronged By This Film 

God’s Not Dead is a poor existence of a product. It’s ignorant to the point that it paints those it is defending in a negative manner that make them just as evil and shallow as the people it’s attacking. This film is a sin not just to filmmaking, but also to the teachings of its religion. According to this film I would burn for all in eternity in the deepest regions of Hell with the worst torture imaginable. Being expose to this film non-stop with my head constantly exploding and regenerating in a endless cycle. God’s Not Dead lives in a far off distant land where Christianity is only way to salvation. That might sound nice to some followers who live in the real world. The same real world where there are intellectual, and respectful debates base on these same drastic beliefs. The same real world where the followers of these teachings are challenge everyday to maintain their faith in the world around them. The same real world with religion tolerance where both atheists and those who follow a specific religion can be friends.

It’s not just bad filmmaking. It’s not just a horrible movie. It’s not just an ignorant and insulting piece of a film. IT’S BAD CHRISTIANITY.