Real Steel

I’m gonna admit it. This movie caught me off guard. The only reason I watched it was because it’s science fiction and I like Hugh Jackman, but I really thought the whole premise was a joke. Basically the classic rock’em sock’em robots game, right?

Wrong.

The movie had a LOT of heart. It was basically Rocky (which I love, by the way – all six of ’em). Literally. The story line totally mirrored it, but in this futuristic world where humans control robot boxers that are able to battle it out to the brutal end in the ring. What caught me so off guard, even though I knew it had to go this way, was just how much it had my heart beating in the final moments of the film, and even finding myself emotional in a few moments.

Besides the whole Rocky thing going on with the robot, I also enjoyed the whole father/son story that played out between Hugh Jackman’s character and the child he had abandoned at birth who was now temporarily with him.

Cheesy? Maybe. But it was still surprisingly good. And probably one of the cleanest PG-13 films I’ve seen in a while. I would totally watch it again.

It’s a trap!

This weekend marked a momentous occasion in the McNutt household. The boys and I watched the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Sweeeeeet. And thus concludes their critical lessons in awesome-ness.

Which paves the way for them to see The Phantom Menace when it hits theaters in 3D next month. I’m pretty excited about having a new annual tradition of going to a Star Wars movie together (they’re releasing all six in 3D, one per year). They don’t totally understand the reasons why I was so adamant that they were not allowed to see the newer Star Wars films until after they had seen the original masterpieces, but some day they will thank me.

And maybe they do get it. Micah liked being surprised to find out Luke and Leia were twins. And he thought it was cool that decades ago people would have been shocked to find out Vader was their father (my kids already know from all the other Star Wars cartoons and toys).

Anyway, it was a LOT of fun to watch it all with them. And they loved the Ewoks kicking the Empire’s butt.

Unfortunately, they’ll probably like Jar Jar.

Blue Like Jazz movie review

This might be an excuse for me to brag about seeing a rough cut of Blue Like Jazz (the movie based on Donald Miller’s amazing book of the same title), and even more significantly, brag about shaking hands with the director, Steve Taylor. But I’m totally going to blog about it, so here goes.

The movie wasn’t finished – Steve Taylor is making his final tweaks this week, in part based on the surveys we all filled out after watching the film, so anything I say won’t necessarily reflect what hits theaters April 13, 2012. And on top of that, once the story editing is finished, the special effects and sound editing still needs to be completed as well. But even as a rough cut, it was compelling.

What I appreciated about the movie was that it wasn’t afraid to face some really tough questions, the type of doubts and real struggles that young Christians face in their teen years and college years that for many are a breaking point in their faith. It culminates in a powerful scene at the end of the film that really becomes a teachable moment without being cheesy. For those wondering what earns a ‘cheesy’ title in my mind, I’ve only seen one other Christian film that I thought was relevant and cheese-less.

The actors were great, and other than the youth pastor (who was only on screen for a few moments), the characters were incredibly believable. I really found myself resonating with some of the main character’s struggles and doubts with faith in my own faith story – I wrestled a LOT with that in my teens and early twenties.

It will definitely earn it’s PG-13 rating. Between language, content, and some of the imagery (a giant condom on a church steeple … I’m not giving away any secrets here, Donald Miller has been pretty open about that story element), it is edgy. But that’s also what makes it more real, and the reality is, it’s still just a taste of what young people have their faith challenged with daily. Part of me wonders, though, if the film won’t be graphic enough for the secular audience while being too graphic for the Christian audience. It’s a challenge to say the least!

All that being said, I look forward to seeing the finished product in theaters next April. I think I do want to watch it with some of the older teens and college age types … I would love to do so with a coffee shop on the agenda afterwards for some intense discussion. I’m hoping the film team will put some resources/ideas out there, but if not, it’s easy enough to grab some from the book and launch with that. Or just ask what resonated with people and go from there.

Green Lantern review

I just realized after a year of shooting off my virtual mouth about Green Lantern, I never posted my thoughts on the movie once I actually saw it!

In short, I enjoyed it. The special effects were awesome. It was fun to see this character I have followed and enjoyed for the last 25 years brought to life on the screen.

My only disappointment with the movie was that I felt somewhat misled about how much of a role the rest of the Green Lantern Corp would play. All of the trailers, advertising, posters, etc., featured the rest of the Green Lanterns heavily – I thought the movie would center on them as a group, but in reality they were only a few minutes here and there.  Hal Jordan’s entire training and interaction with the other GL’s on Oa lasted all of a few minutes, and then it was back to Earth and Hal on his own.

Other than that, though, it was a great origin story. I enjoyed the humor, loved seeing it in 3D, liked the teaser during the credits (Sinestro trying on the yellow ring), and will be definitely hoping for another one!

 

 

Jumper: Griffin’s Story

I finally got around to reading Stephen Gould’s ‘Jumper: Griffin’s Story,’ the third book in his Jumper series.  Basically, I watched the movie, ‘Jumper,’ and wasn’t impressed – but when I realized it was based on a book by the same name I read it and LOVED it.  I read the sequel, ‘Reflex,’ and loved it as well (read my review here) but never really rushed to read the third book since it was tied to the movie.

Basically, the movie diverged from the premise of the first two books significantly, and in ways that really hurt the story.  ‘Jumper: Griffin’s Story’ is a prequel to the movie, not a part three to the other two books, so it really has to be approached has having no connection to the other novels.

What was surprising is how well Gould took what seemed like poorly developed ideas and bad story in the movie and made a riveting and intense story starring a secondary character to the film, Griffin!  I really, really enjoyed the book – so much so that I devoured it in two days.  It’s a tragic story and you end up feeling for the main character, but it’s all done so well – his exploration of his jumping abilities (a form of teleportation), the discovery of the Paladin’s and their merciless and deadly pursuit of ‘Jumpers’ and the build up to the movie.  It left me wanting more – there’s definitely more stories to tell in the Jumper universe!