Wednesday, March 28, 2007

October Feature, My Interview with Rob Zombie

It is no mystery that I have wanted to interview Rob Zombie for over 2 years. I can't tell you what an honor and surprise it was when he recently contacted me with his willingness and desire to do the interview. I was surprised, and pleased at his willingness to talk about whatever I wanted, with no limitations. In fact it was out of respect for him that I actually put limitations on the interview. There are some communications that went back and forth that won't be available here, I think the reason for that was the immense amount of respect I had for Rob Zombie before the interview, and the even more respect I have for him now after the interview. In some ways I found myself like the characters in the Creston Mapes Novels Dark Star and Full Tilt.

There were several things that impressed me during the time we were going back and forth with some of the questions. I was surprised to some extent at the polite nature of Zombie. While he alludes that he is a little calmer off stage than he is on stage as a performer in the interview, I find myself thinking he is more than a little different. Of course how could I know that with the brief time of having our exchange?

There are several things I am also more aware of after this process, Rob despite what many believe is person who takes his craft and talents seriously. One of the only times he seemed to become emotional about during the process was when asked about others perception of him. The truth is, this man has excelled at virtually everything he has become involved in, most recently movie making. He has had to overcome obstacles, and fight for the things he wants. He realizes the value of perseverance and sticking it out, another component that becomes abundantly clear during the interview process. In fact Zombie as a business man, and an individual developing their talent, understands the full value of hard work, research, and at the same time giving respect back to those before him who helped pave the road to success.
Some will look at this interview, especially those with strong religious convictions and have differing opinions of the spiritual significance. It becomes even more difficult when considering the obvious intent of Rob to not discuss spiritual issues. That said, I believe there is a great deal of spiritual significance to the interview with Rob. The value of respect of other people, respect enough to not get into a shouting or arguing match. One has to wonder what it has been in life that has caused this obvious effort to not address some issues, not just with Rob Zombie, but a whole host of others. "Don't argue religion or politics" is a polular saying among many families. Some, including myself, seem to think spiritual issues are prevalent in his music and film, yet a here is someone who wants the listener and viewer come to their own conclusions. From some, I imagine there is a big pat on the back of Rob for that effort. I think Rob values the ability of the hearer, or the viewer having the ability to reflect on and interpret the things they see or hear without being too preachy. It is like to the old saying from St. Francis of Assissi. "Preach the Gospel and if nessecary use words." While there may be obvious views that Rob has, he values the fans, and respects them enough to let them come to their own conclussions. Now I know this is going to offend many but it sounds in some ways like the way Jesus told stories. Tell the story, let the listener interpret it for themselves.
There are also lessons, albeit spiritual or natural that seem to come out with Rob. He understands the value of never quitting, sticking it out, going for the things in life one values. His life has been an example of that. How many of us could learn from that lesson? We have to at some point evaluate why it is some excel and others don't. The concept of believing in something so strongly that you refuse to give up on it has tremendous spiritual significance.

This whole thing started several years ago, actually when I first reviewed The House of 1,000 Corpses. A movie at the time which I didn't like that much, but have grown to appreciate it more over the years. It was then that I first made known my desire to interview Rob Zombie, I still hope to meet him someday, as the interview was not conducted in a face to face manner. My appreciation for Rob went back actually beyond
House of 1,000 Corpses to the days of his band White Zombie. The love and appreciation for his art continued to grow until the release of The Devil's Rejects. It was after doing a blog where I reissued the review of The Devil's Rejects, and had done a blog on appreciating and respecting Rob Zombie titled, Am I Going To Hell Because I Love Rob Zombie and Sky Lopez, that Rob Zombie contacted me about doing the interview.

What are my opinions about Rob Zombie now? Truth is I am as mystified as ever, but then again, genius has a way of doing that to an individual. Not mine, but Rob's. I am impressed with the fact that he continues to mature and improve with his art, whether via music,
Educated Horses is his latest release and it is brilliant, to film, his dedication and work on the upcoming Halloween is now becoming legendary. I have to say, I continue to be impressed and look forward to each venture he brings about.
I know some Christians will hate me for my views on this man and his work. That's okay, I won't hear anything I haven't heard before. Truth is though; I think my God sees beauty and value in Rob Zombie, as well as his fans. It is an audience often criticized, and seldom understood. Rob's audience is one who knows of the horror of life, the atrocities of society, and the hypocrisy within the religious establishments. Unfortunately those having an impact on life, the ability to change society, and the heart to change lives through religion, haven't addressed the issues in such a way as to reach these individuals who so much long for change.

You see, I didn't find Rob, even though he didn't talk about it, despising of Christians, he did after all contact me, but I find him thorough his music and film, confused, hurt, and conflicted with the way some within the extremes, whether political, or religious, use their faith and beliefs to oppress and judge others. In fact, that message in some ways is consistent with many Christians who chose to carry out the mission of Jesus, something entirely different than what we see through extreme religious and political groups who chose to judge as opposed to love. Yea, I believe Rob, and his followers, recognize what is happening in society, they comment on it, and make film about it, and many flock to it to listen and watch because they agree with the message. It is a message that unfortunately many of us within Christendom agree with, but it is also a message that our commonality is often not observed by either side because of the harm that has been done in the past. In some ways it is a war, a war that will have winners and losers. It is one where eternal decisions will be made on both ends of the spectrum, some right, some wrong.

Enough of my ramblings, bottom line, I still hope to someday meet Rob Zombie, face to face, person to person. Why, because I value him. I believe God values him and loves him. I can imagine Jesus, sitting down with Rob talking about movies, having a drink, doing all kinds of things that would upset some within the religious community. I would like that opportunity as well with Rob. I know Rob appreciates those making an impact on the things he loves, and in return many of us have that same appreciation for Rob for the way he has impacted our lives in a positive way, whether people chose to accept that or not.

Now, what a pleasure it is to share with you, a wonderful moment in my life, my 1st interaction with Rob Zombie. I will forewarn some, I promised Rob I would run the comments without edit, while the language don't offend me, some language may offend the readers of this blog. I do believe it important though, that the interview be published as the conversation really happened.
Mike Furches (MF): Hey Rob, first off the bat, what an honor to get to do this with you. Hope you know that and I sincerely appreciate the time. I want you to feel as free as humanly or Zombie possible in answering the questions any way you want. If something offends you say so, and we'll go from there. Truth is I admire you for being the artist you are. I've been listening to you and following you for years so this is definitely a treat. I think you know what I think of you from my recent article Am I Going To Hell Because I Love Rob Zombie and Sky Lopez, but also because of my review of The Devil's Rejects which I just re released for October.

One thing I would like to ask, and part of that is to be honest with you. I first reviewed your film House of 1000 Corpses and frankly at the time didn't like it that much. It was with some reserve I went to see The Devil's Rejects. What I found was a far more mature film, and a deeper richer story. What happened between the making of those two movies? By the Way, I have since gone back and seen House of 1000 Corpses several times and like it much better and understand it much better, but again, The differences on development for Rob Zombie during that time, what changed?

Rob Zombie (RZ): Well, it's as simple as 1000 Corpses was my first film and nothing can prepare you for that experience. Corpses was a film made on passion not knowledge. It was complete trial by fire, but at the same time was an amazing experience. Basically I took what I learned on that film and applied it to Rejects. As I will take the experience on Rejects and apply it to Halloween.
MF: Is there a different approach to making a movie like Halloween because it is a horror classic, as opposed to Rejects or Corpses? How much has Carpenter been involved in the process and how did your role in the film come about? Also, could you tell us some about El Superbeasto and what to expect there?

RZ: Yes and no. I mean you can only do it as you see fit, but at the same time you are working against peoples preconceived ideas of what something should be. Basically you gotta do what you think is right. John isn't involved at all. He has his own projects to worry about. One day I got a call to have a meeting with Bob Wiemstein and he tossed the Halloween idea my way. The rest is history.

El Superbeasto is a filthy, monster sex comedy. People should expect to laugh their asses off.

MF: I have always considered you very creative, freakishly in a good way I should say even from the days of White Zombie and obviously back to your early work with Paul Reubens. You have always had that since of creativity apparent in your work. I certainly believe you have created characters in House of 1000 Corpses (HOTC) and The Devil's Rejects (TDR) that will become icons in the horror genera. Can you share some about the creative process of how those characters came to be?
RZ: Who knows where anything comes from? I basically create things I would like to see. Whether it be a sexy blonde killer, a psycho foul-mouthed clown or a Charles Manson wannabe murder and bring them to life.

MF: It is obvious you have a love for Horror and dark subjects, who have been your influences in both your film and your music? I have to give an add on for one of my favorites if you could also comment on, the king of Zombies George Romero of Night of the Living Dead Fame?

RZ: I love Romero. DAWN OF THE DEAD is one of my favorite films. Not because of the gore and zombies but because of his detail to his characters trapped in these situations. Obviously, I cast Ken Foree for this reason.

MF: Are there any others out there that are favorites?
RZ: Tons. As far as film directors go I love Martin Scorsese, John Ford, Arthur Penn, Jack Hill and so on.

MF: I don't know if I have seen this or not, only brief glimpses, but what was it like growing up as Robert Cummings and then ultimately becoming Rob Zombie? If you can touch on the similarities and the differences and how you got there?

RZ: I always knew even as a kid that I wanted to be part of everything I was a fan of. I couldn't be satisfied by just standing on the sidelines watching. I wanted to become friends with all the people I loved and admired. How I got from there to here is a long slow process of never giving up on anything ever. If you really want it, you can get it. Problem is most people quit too easy.

MF: Was there a single event or series of events that helped get you over the hump?

RZ: No single event. The excitement of creating new things is what drives me.

MF: One of the things I love about your work, which I think can be evidenced by all facets, especially your directors commentary on HOTC, is your since of humor. Most people see you in a serious role all of the time, almost in a dark capacity. What do you think are some of the differences between peoples perceptions of you and the real you?

RZ: I really don't know. Since I don't know what people's perceptions of me are. One thing is for sure I certainly didn't achieve anything by being wasted and fucked up as some would like to think.

MF: I guess another way to look at this, how different is the Rob Zombie we see on stage in a concert from the Rob Zombie sitting at home working on movies?

RZ: Same exact guy, just a little more calm.
MF: One of the things I am impressed with is that not only do you have a sense of humor that a lot of people may not realize is there, but you are someone who thinks about your material. For example, your songs, movies, and comments in the past seem to indicate that you have a lot to say in life. What is it that Rob Zombie wants to let his fans, and those in the world know?

RZ: I really don't ever try and impose a message onto the fans. I think the beauty of art is that you can discover your own message. But if I had to say something it would be, "Do what you want with your life and don't listen to anyone. The people around you always try and stop you because they are afraid that you will succeed.

MF: Has Rob Zombie succeeded up to this point in his life?

RZ: All I ever wanted was to be able to not have a crap job. So the answer is yes.

MF: You have always been observed by many as being a person on the dark side, even at times associated with dark spiritual concepts, even according to some Christians, the Occult. You certainly address a lot of spiritual things in your movies, and certainly in your music. I know you read the review I did and I stated in it that I don't think anyone would see a more spiritual movie than TDR. I think that still holds true, I would even consider your recent CD Educated Horses as a very Spiritual effort, by the way a great CD. I know a personal question, but share some about the spirituality of Rob Zombie and where it comes from?

RZ: I believe in the power of one's own free will to achieve anything.

MF: In TDR, and even some of your songs there seems to be a conflict with what I would call "Traditional" or "Structured" Christianity. Truth is I think we both in many regards have some of the same feelings but with different conclusions. I actually loved the struggle in TDR with Sheriff Wydell and the execution of vengeance in relation to his faith. How much is Sheriff Wydell in TDR like what seems to be popular Christianity or Christian actions today?
RZ: Let's face it. The world is in bright living color. But some people want to live as if it is black and white, right or wrong. I thought rather than make Wydell a classic hero I would make him a man pushed to the limits of his own beliefs. At the same time I wanted to show our villains as human, even funny and charming at times. Life gets complicated and sometimes it is almost impossible to know who to side with.

MF: I actually think you carried out this effort brilliantly in Rejects. Did you get any negative response on this character conflict you created either before or after release of the movie?

RZ: Not really, some people complained that there was no one to root for. Whatever, that's sort of the whole point.

MF: This is a biggie, and again, hope you know I ask the question out of respect because I value your thought. Even if we disagree on the point, I think I can learn from you. I also know because I have been in contact with many of your fans who can't believe I love your stuff think and wonder the same thing. Here is my question though. What is Rob Zombies thoughts on the person of Jesus Christ, and specific to the person of Jesus Christ in comparison to Christianity? On this question, you obviously paint incredible pictures on the dark side of evil. As a follow up to this question, how do you see the evil you present in comparison or contrast to the person of Jesus?

RZ: Ya know if there is one thing I've learn over the years is that it is best to not discuss Religion or Politics. It always ends in broken noses.

MF: (laughing) I tend to agree, why do you think that is that it almost always ends up in the broken noses?

RZ: I think because it upsets people to question their faith in things be it Jesus or George Bush. It's easier to just get angry.

MF: I know the future looks bright right now. There is a new animated film coming out, you are working on Halloween for 2007, and the more music and a DVD release of your last tour. Tell us what we can be looking for and what to expect?

RZ: There are a million projects but right now I am 100% concentrating on Halloween. I want this film to blow your mind.

MF: I know you are a fan of Carpenter and he has blessed the effort. Can you tell us how that makes you feel; knowing that one of the masters supports what you are doing?

RZ: It's awesome. I first met John on the set of Escape from LA. He was very cool and took the time to hang out with me and show me around the set and stuff. To be working on Halloween is almost a surreal experience.

MF: Rob, thank you again so much for the chance to ask these questions. I really do want to value you and do you justice. In all seriousness, blessings to you and thanks.

RZ: Thanks to you.


Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.

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Scary October Review, New Release The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning

Let me get all things cleared up from the very get go of this review. I hated this movie, it was vile, disgusting, and was a movie that I came so close to getting up and walking out of it was unreal. I don't know when the last time was I contemplated walking out of a movie, but today, you can bet your last two dollars I came extremely close. There was virtually nothing about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Beginning I liked in regards to entertainment. There were however things I liked from a spiritual and technical perspective.

For those who have been living in Never Never Land for the last 30 plus years The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the supposed true story of Thomas Hewitt and his family who slaughtered people by use of a chainsaw and other items and then cannibalized them. I say supposed true story because the truth is in reality there never was a Thomas Hewitt or a serial killer known for these types of murders in Texas. Instead, the makers and creators of the movie loosely base their story off of real serial killer
Ed Gein. Numerous movies have based their characters off of this individual, movies such as, Psycho, Deranged, and Silence of the Lambs. That is one of the things that bother me about the movie. Not only is it an experience in terror, it is an experience reported to be based on truth, when in reality it has very little in common with the truth. It is as if the terror and vile we see aren't enough, we as an audience have to be terrified with the possibility the story happened. It is as if the story of Ed Gein wouldn't be scary enough. The fact that the company is still making profits off of the reported true story looses credibility with me as a reviewer, and fan of horror.

I must admit, while I love horror, I don't like gore. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Beginning is unique because it actually mixes in quality movie making, along with enough gore to keep those fans happy. Did you hear that? The movie mixes in some quality movie making. I did respect from an artistic perspective the desire to have some decent character development, a great job of direction and editing, and some decent acting.

In the above capacities I couldn't compliment the film more. I don't expect Academy Award performances in a film like this, but neither do I expect the quality of acting I observed.
R. Lee Ermey, an Emporia Kansas native, proves without a doubt he can act. This former drill sergeant plays the part of Sheriff Hoyt, in reality a member of the Hyatt family, who is responsible for the instigation of the horror that occurs with realistic disgust. His performance alone is almost good enough to justify seeing this movie. While many will see Leatherface as the villain we have all come to fear, it is Sheriff Hoyt who is the ultimate villain. In an opening scene the real Sheriff makes it clear this man is responsible for the horrors that have come to the community. Unfortunately for him, he shares this information with someone who don't want to hear it.

I must also comment on the direction by
Jonathan Liebesman. I was surprised and pleased in the quality of work he gives us. It is something that will give this movie merit, and will likely set the movie in a class reserved for classics within these genera. I am convinced that just because a fan may like the horror genera, it does not mean they like their movies to be lacking in quality.

I watched this movie and came to realize, even though it is a fictional story, period, the events as described in the movie are loosely based off of a real individual. The reality is we live in a world where evil exists. Often, just as in
The Devil's Rejects and other horror movies, that horror comes at the hands of a supposedly religious character. Even here, the Hewitt family does not sit down to say a meal without saying grace, or a blessing, thanking God for the bounty of which they are about to receive. Nowhere in their minds do they comprehend the evil regarding the taking of life as they are cannibalizing individuals they have killed. While we may look at that in disgust, I have to wonder, what types of sins and horrors in our own lives do we hide, pretend aren't there, and even for many religious individuals, overlook while we go on engaging ourselves in the evil that may destroy another persons reputation, or even harm someone through the political systems we support and advocate for? I don't know if this is part of the direction or thought during the writing process or not, but as I watched the evil and horror of this family, while at the same time supporting their own religion, I can't help but think; "What about me?" From that perspective, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Beginning accomplishes another important role of horror. It helps individuals reflect on their own lives, specific to what is good and what is evil, and then reflect on the differences between our societies by observing the lives of the characters we see on the screen.

The original Texas Chainsaw movie is considered a classic. It has been given reverence and respect world wide in various formats. From the White Zombie song; "Who will survive and what will be left of them," to being a part of a scene in the classic movie, Taxi Driver. I can't help but think that Tobe Hooper, the originator of the franchise is pleased with this production. I also can't help but think fans will also be pleased. As for this one critic though, while I respect art, I also know there are certain styles of art I just don’t care to purchase. The art as displayed in this movie is one of those types. I doubt I'll ever watch the movie again. Today, well, today was a job and the movie going experience just wasn't that much fun.

On a scale of 1 - 10, while I didn't like the movie at all, I still respect the artistic nature of what it took to make it. A very confusing 8

Film Trailer:




The Original Tribute A Fan Video


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Scary October Review - The Grudge

Back again for the Review Review of October Scary Movies from the past. Today selection will be to recognize the upcoming release of The Grudge 2. I saw this first movie on the original day of release in a theater with very few people in it. I think that helped add to the intensity of the movie. Truth is, I really liked this one, it was scary and has helped change the face of horror in America. If the advance trailers are any indication as to what the follow up to this is going to be like it looks great. Of course there is that concept of fear we all seek out in one way or another, certainly in some in different ways with differing levels of intensity. As far as I am concerned though, I love the freedom and security I have in my faith. It really does come into play in my life and is often needed to overcome the things that are really scary, things like a church not honoring their obligation, or a denomination that has lost sight of what their original vision was like. Then there are the basic things, things like not knowing where the money to pay the next set of bills is going to come from.

Since seeing this movie I have actually purchased and viewed the Original Japanese version and the subsequent sequels. They are well worth watching and it is amazing at how close the American version is to the originals.

Yea, there are all kinds of things that permeate fear. As far as I know though, there is only one thing that relieves the stress. Want to know what that is? Contact me and I’ll be glad to share about the great over comer of fear that I have experienced in my life. Here are a couple of film clips and then the review review of The Grudge. I must also state, as a part of this blog was a great roundtable discussion on the merits of horror. Check it out and again, enjoy.

Trailer for The Grudge 2



A Fan Trailer for the Original Grudge, better than the trailer used by the theaters




Links
The Grudge (US 2004)
-Overview
-Round Table Discussion
-Trailers, Photos
-About this Film pdf

Ju-On: The Grudge (Japan 2003)
-Overview
-Trailers, Photos
-About this Film
-Spiritual Connections


Click to enlargeI sometimes like to think of myself as a big, bad, mean-looking dude. Believe it or not I actually kind of work at it. It is where I am from and it is a part of where I live. I have always enjoyed it when people look at me and ask with a tone of surprise, "You're a pastor?" Like I said, it is how I grew up, it is who I was. While I am pleased most people now refer to me as a "Big ol' Teddy Bear," I am not ashamed of where I came from or who I used to be. I am glad I am a new person, but part of my past will forever linger on.

As big, bad and tough as I was even when I was a kid, I'll never forget my Aunt Ruth, whom I was living with at the time, taking me and my cousin Joann to see the movie The Night of the Living Dead by George Romero. I had already seen it a couple of times and I had never seen anything as scary as that movie. What made the memories even more lingering was that, on the way home, Ruth decided to drive out past the cemetery. I'll never forget her driving that Volkswagen Bug and pulling into the cemetery. 'Get out of the car, Michael and Joann!" she commanded us. Man, that tough, bad kid -me- was screaming and crying with Joann in the cemetery. Meanwhile Ruth started to pull off in that car, while at the same time laughing at us.

Until today, that was the scariest movie, and scariest moment, I think I have ever experienced -again, that was until today.

Click to enlargeI decided to catch a midday matinee in a smaller town from surrounding Wichita. I went to see last weekend's box office champ, The Grudge. Not only was I the only person in that theater, I think I was the only person in the whole Derby Metroplex Cinema. That made the movie even worse. Within the first 5 minutes of The Grudge, if I had had a blanket I think I would have pulled it over my head, stuck my thumb in my mouth, and started to cry for Mommy. I don't think I have ever been this scared watching a movie, and will warn you outright, if you are about to give birth, or you have a heart condition, high blood pressure or anything of the sort, stay as far away from this movie as humanly possible. If, like me, you find some sort of sick entertainment in getting a little frightened, this is a must-see if ever there was one. I believe it may actually be the best haunted-house, scary movie ever made.

Click to enlargeOne of the concepts that makes the Horror genre work for me is the realization that evil exists. I frankly get tired of the Bible Thumpers who email me and contact me about the Horror movies I review. I get tired for the same reason I get tired of people thinking that the Bible is a "PG" book. Hey, some of the scariest stories I have ever heard come out of the Bible. Living with the reality of evil every day is unavoidable for many, and oftentimes hope, desire, and evil cross in no place better than a Horror movie. We have a clear understanding of death, eternity, souls and evil in Horror. The Grudge presents all of those facets, and while there is not much hope given, the eternal consequences hit home.

Click to enlargeStarring in The Grudge is Sarah Michelle Gellar, known for her role in the television series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. She plays the part of Kare Davis, an American exchange student living in Tokyo, who also works for a home care group. While visiting a house to cover for one of her friends, she comes across the wretched history of the house and its former occupants. This movie filmed in Japan along with a great deal of subtitles and Japanese actors is as original as any Horror piece to come along since The Blair Witch Project. It is like a marvelous jigsaw puzzle in its direction and storytelling. Not until near the end will the pieces come together to reveal what lies behind the Horror. Once that horror is revealed, we are faced also with a realization of our own weaknesses. How far are we willing to go to fulfill the needs of those we love? Why do we make the sacrifices we do for self? How do the actions of those around us affect us? When faced with the horror and reality of evil, are we willing to seek appropriate help and, if so, does faith or God have a part in that search for help?

Click to enlargeAll of these challenges come up at the climax of the movie, but up until that point there are plenty of crawl-under-the-bed scenes that keep you so terrified you are almost afraid to go to the bathroom or a concession stand. One of the brilliant components of The Grudge is the suspense created purely by the use of music. While The Grudge is horribly frightening, there is respect given in the small amount of language, sexual situations, and gore. The rating must come primarily from frightening situations, because little of these other things exist.

There are some weak points in the movie. There are a few loose ends that aren't tied up and questions that I would have liked to have seen answered. On the other hand, those "omissions" seem like common occurrences these days, to leave room for sequels and the like. Since the original version, Ju-on, has had its three sequels, that is likely to have been the intent for this film too.

For a good time, and a lesson in some Japanese culture, this is one not to miss. I am glad I saw it, and I will see it again. I haven't seen the original that the movie is based on, this one is a remake, but I'll even be out looking for that.

On a scale of 1 – 10, while it may not be the best Horror movie ever made, to me, it was the scariest, a very scary upside down six for a score of 9.

Links
The Grudge (US 2004)
-Overview
-Round Table Discussion
-Trailers, Photos
-About this Film pdf

Ju-On: The Grudge (Japan 2003)
-Overview
-Trailers, Photos
-About this Film
-Spiritual Connections

Scary October Halloween Review - The Devil's Rejects

I'm not even about to get into the debate on the good or bad of Halloween. That is for another time and another place. I will get into the thought that I believe no other genera of film or literature addresses spirituality as does horror. For that reason I am doing a special feature for the month of October. I will be posting old reviews of horror films I have done in the past. I'll also be including YouTube clips that helps bring that feature home. On the debate regarding the appropriateness of Horror I would encourage you to visit some of the conversations and dialogs that have taken place at Hollywood Jesus. The links to some of those are featured at the conclusion of this blog. I am not saying the genera is for everyone, just that there can be value in it. I also believe reviews like this can also open up doors of discussion regarding movies like The Devil's Rejects.

I am actually looking forward to this, and knowing I have too many cookies in the oven as I type, I believe this is one I'll be able to stay on top of. So, enjoy the clips, check out the review, and have a great time at the movies.

First Installment is one of my favorites of all time, The Devil's Rejects. I wanted to especially do this one with my recent blog of Am I Going To Hell Because I Love Rob Zombie and Sky Lopez. That blog has had tremendous success and for anyone appreciating art in the pure sense of the word, especially related to film, you will see one of the reasons I have so much respect of Rob Zombie. Now I know there are some who disagree with me and that is okay. My wife disagrees with me on this one, in fact she refuses to watch the movie. I guess that is one of the things that helps drive the genius home, I have had to watch it at home alone, unlike I did when I first saw the movie in the theater.

How good is the movie? I'll tell you this, I purchased the DVD at midnight on the first day of release. It is that good. Oh Yea Rob, the desire for that interview has never ended. I appreciate your work man. Now, let's get on to business. Here are the clips and the review for The Devil's Rejects in this special reissue review.

The Devil's Rejects Trailer



Another Great YouTube Fan Video, A comedy clip I love



The Devil's Rejects
Overview
Photos
About this Film
Spiritual Connections

In 2003 I gave one of the most controversial reviews I have ever given when I reviewed Rob Zombie’s new release titled, House of 1,000 Corpses. Forget about the fact I didn't especially like the movie, although I did think there was some thought provoking components of it, the fact I would even view the movie by many was something I did that was worthy of confrontation and email that caused many to prejudge me. Well get ready for this; while I didn't especially like House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects is possibly the best movie I have seen all summer.

I have always, and still do appreciate Rob Zombie as an artistic genius, I expected that when going to see The Devil's Rejects, and I was not let down. What Rob Zombie has done is give us one of the best portrayals of evil ever presented on screen. I am reminded of an interview I did with author Ted Dekker regarding the painting of evil, and the need to paint evil with as dark a brush as possible. Zombie paints it with as much darkness as is humanly possible. What we have as a result is a splattering of blood and evil along the way that is so dark I personally found myself having difficulty watching what was portrayed before my very eyes on the screen.

If portraying evil for the sake of being evil was the intent, this movie would be a waste of time, but Zombie in his brilliance does something, as I have never seen done before. He presents a story and concept where we long for justice for those who are the incarnate of evil, and yet, we find ourselves eventually caring for those very individuals. We are also presented not only with the hypocrisy, but also the hope that is available through, Christianity. I must say now, and I hope Rob Zombie sees this review at some point, but if I could interview anyone on the planet, I would like to talk to Zombie about his views on various subjects. Why for example does one who has a "perceived" notion and hatred of Christianity, portray it in such a thought provoking and intelligent way? What are his views on spirituality? In addition, there would be many other questions. To be honest, this man and his genius intrigue me tremendously.

This story carries on after the story line of House of 1,000 Corpses. It is essentially the same characters and a continuation of that story. Where House of 1,000 Corpses lacked and showed little hope, this movie is thought provoking and brings to light several components to reflect upon whether one be a Christian or not. Rob Zombie shows his brilliance as a filmmaker in this film. He reminds me as a cross between Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez. I know that sounds like a crazy mix but his brilliance with edits, shocking story telling, and effect is along these lines. He also does a brilliant job at using such a horrifying story to give such a brilliant artistic presentation. From his various stylizations in this film, to the shocking character development I was enthralled.
The story reminds me of a great Christian author that I always loved, Flannery O'Connor, and specifically the story A Good Man is Hard to Find. What O'Connor accomplishes in that story is to present a side of evil that is truly evil. It has the mixture of what is good and evil and the conflict is developed for the reader. In this case, Zombie does the same for the viewer of the movie. I can’t help but think if Flannery O'Connor were still alive she would stand and applaud Zombie’s effort.

We see evil as truly being evil, but we also see the potential of good among those who are evil, and in a strange sort of way, we find ourselves caring for those that are evil. This is a lesson that many who present themselves as Christian could learn from. While we are often quick to judge the one we call Christ, Jesus Christ illustrated this perfectly, especially in his death on the cross and his own willingness to ask for forgiveness who were killing him.

I won't go into much detail because I don't like spoiler reviews, but I will say the contrast between the Devil's Rejects, and one "called by God" is brilliantly portrayed in this movie. It is while the one "called by God," is executing vengeance that we find ourselves caring for the ones who are in essence evil. This creates a great conflict within the viewer. What is our role, our responsibility to those we perceive as being evil? What is the role of the one called by God? When does one called by God, take the concept of vengeance into their own hands as opposed to leaving it in the hands of God? What is the difference between vengeance and justice? Zombie portrays this conflict amazingly well, especially from one who is perceived by many as being the "anti Christ" incarnate.

Zombie also portrays the conflict beautifully between those called by Christ, and those who are called by Satan. All through the movie, just as in House of 1,000 Corpses, we see Christianity in the background and playing a vital part to the story. Here even more so than in House of 1,000 Corpses. There is an example of Zombie's brilliance here in one incredible scene prior to a crucifixion scene. We see a quick edit to a image of Jesus Christ on a cross being crucified. The image is on the screen for several seconds intending to catch the attention of the audience member, and thus causing us to reflect about what it is that Zombie is trying to portray. That image, and what follows is still stuck in my head some two weeks after seeing the movie. I have had to reflect for that long on the movie and not since Jacob's Ladder and/or Mystic River have I reflected on a movie as much. For those who don’t know, those are two very respectable movies that have garnered the respect of many in the movie going audiences. Zombie's film, in my opinion needs to have that much respect because it is that good.

Now before being condemned to Hell by many who read this review, I must say that not in a long time have I had a movie open up doors for spiritual discussion as has this movie. My son in law attended the movie with me, and before we left the theater, I had two individuals, one being the manager of the theater come and talk to me about the movie. They asked specific questions about spiritual issues, and were intrigued by the fact that I was a pastor. One individual stated they were the child of a pastor and the movie had gotten them to think about spiritual things. They even stated their father had been talking to them about Alice Cooper and the journey he has been on. My son in law was amazed at how individuals had come up and asked me about the movie and at how easy it was to open up a discussion about good and evil, forgiveness, love and, even love and caring for individuals who are evil. Zombie paints a picture that makes that easy to do, and my hope is that individuals can look beyond the gore, nudity, language and more presented in this movie and be able to discuss the serious questions this movie addresses. If they can, they will engage themselves in one of the most significant spiritual discussions they could ever engage themselves in.

On a scale of 1-10, let the hate mail begin, while it may not be for everyone, you cannot deny the brilliance of this movie. I give a very enthusiastic perfect 10. By the way, Rob Zombie, I would still love to do that interview.

Overview
Photos
About this Film
Spiritual Connections

Kevin Miller has posted an amazing reflection on this film
Part 1
Part 2

Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Or you can give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching.You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

School of Scoundrels

This last weekend I went to see a couple of movies. One was one I had been looking forward to because it starred two individuals I happen to like quite a bit. Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder known to millions as Napoleon Dynamite take on the unsuspecting leading roles in this little comedy with a focus on one individual finding themselves.

Heder plays the part of Roger, a shy, meter maid who decides to take a class on developing his self worth and self confidence. Billy Bob Thornton plays the instructor Dr. P who while is effective, is unorthodox in his approach to say the least. Ultimately the two become rivals after the same girl and we see a side of Roger that not even he knew existed. What transpires next is an attempt at a comedic rival between the two.

I have to admit, Heder is in danger of being type cast if he don’t explore more roles with more potential. Unfortunately what we see in School of Scoundrels is a straight haired urban impression of Napoleon Dynamite. While that character had depth, Roger is a clone with the exception of the environment. As disappointing as Heder was in the role of Roger, Billy Bob Thornton is a major let down in the role Dr. P. The surprise is that he is such a strong actor, with such incredible abilities, virtually none of which are used in this movie. I have to say this, and some won’t like me for it, but School of Scoundrels is the most disappointing movie I have seen either Heder or Thornton in. The script is weak, and the editing choppy and distractive.

There are other disappointments. The lack of storytelling in what is on the surface a good idea, teacher with a strong personality goes up against a student who is challenged to become a man confident in his abilities. This is a theme most guys can relate to. Sure there are those who are strong enough to pull off the “aren’t I impressive” mode. We see most of those guys on late night television, on shows like The Fifth Wheel or Elimidate and others. Unfortunately that is not where most of us are at; especially those single, living in a competitive world, especially in the area of dating. Those of us who are a little shy need examples of how we can overcome and sometimes, even get the girl. We also deserve those stories being told with some level of integrity. For those of us who may have lived in that world, we know there is enough comedy involved that the story could be told with a lot of laughs. Again, unfortunately, laughs are few and far between for School of Scoundrels.

I really like Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder. I look forward to seeing them in movies in the future, hopefully those movies will have something about them worth watching. I can’t imagine what this movie would have been like with these two seemingly perfect actors in their roles had they had a script or some direction to work with. While there are a few funny scenes in the movie, don’t be disappointed like I was by spending hard earned money to see this movie. Shucks how bad is it, I would personally recommend that if having this desire to see it to wait until it gets to the discount racks at the video store. A family of four at .99 cents won’t have wasted too much money at that point. The only redeeming value to this movie, is a decent supporting cast, unfortunately you know it is bad when the supporting cast outshines the leading roles.

On a scale of 1 – 10 for the potential the movie had with the leads, I’ll give a very disappointing 2

Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Or you can give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching.You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

Jackass Number 2

I must admit, I despised the first movie Jackass, on the surface there was nothing of value. I personally found the original film to be more gross than funny, and similar to watching a car wreck at high speeds. You know nothing good is going to happen but for some strange reason you can't turn your head from the tragedy you are about to observe.

It wasn't long before I found myself wanting to see the Number 2, especially when hearing several friends comment on how funny the movie was after seeing it over the weekend. Truth is, this was actually different than the comments I had heard regarding the first movie. Virtually everything regarding the first movie was about how gross it was, notice my comments in the second paragraph. After hearing the comments from friends, and their insistence that the movie was one of the funniest they had ever seen, I decided to take the challenge, suck it up, and go to work. You know, the work of sometimes doing things you don’t really want to do, which is why it is called work.

It was this last Monday evening when I decided to go see the film. I full expected the weekend rush to be over, and for there to be very few people in attendance, especially after coupled with the fact I was seeing the movie in an art house as opposed to a regular theater. What I got was a surprise, a surprise in more ways than one.

The first thing that surprised me, is despite the fact I arrived at the movie some thirty minutes early, a choice seat was not available. This said something to me, this movie would have more legs than I had anticipated. During an off night, the theater was pretty much full, and an early week night at that where patrons had to pay full price to get in. I was also surprised at the number of females in what has traditionally been referred to as male adolescent humor. While the guys still out numbered the girls, there were far more females than I anticipated. The third thing that surprised me, was the amount of laughing I actually did in the movie. It is at this point, I don't know whether to confess, repent, speculate, or just simply review.

The truth is, that in a traditional sense of the word, Jackass is not a movie. There is no plot, no acting, no nothing that resembles a regular movie. Just a bunch of guys who got their start on MTV doing outrageous stunts and acts that to many are gross and out of line. It is the type of thing that many a high school and college male would engage in, and unfortunately for many, with devastating consequences. The producers of the show know this, which is one reason to both start and end the movie with a byline that states the acts seen, or just seen are dangerous and should never be tried by anyone.

Jackass Number 2, involves every form of gross, sophomoric humor that one could imagine. Surprisingly, many, will find it funny. I have to admit, I did, and don't recall laughing so much in a movie in a very long time. I heard several people upon leaving the movie support the very ascertains that many of my friends had who had seen the movie over the weekend. It was simply, for many of them, the funniest movie they had ever seen.

I guess that brings me to the speculation and serious side of this movie. While likely not intended, I have to wonder, what is it about today's world where we find these types of things funny? What is it that has so many going to the theaters to have a good laugh? Truth is, I can't help but believe it is in part, living in a society with a focus on politics, war, hunger, poverty, and on and on. We as a society need to laugh, we need to have a good time. If it takes a movie involving gross, cruel pranks, then so be it. While many will find a reason to be critical of this, I tend to think that is a part of the way God has made us. There are all kinds of verses in the Bible for example that speak of laughter, joy, happiness, and so forth, but truth is, not many people live in that way. Unfortunately because we don't practice and observe those types of behavior on a regular basis, we look for humor where we can find it. When there are few, or lacking efforts at providing that humor, we unfortunately get stuck with shows like Jackass Number 2.

I'm not here to speculate on if this is a good thing or not, just speculate on why it is that the movie has done so well this weekend, and why so many seem to be enjoying the movie. Maybe if we want better, we can find ways to display that, share that, and be that, that is being happy with lots of laughter.

I won’t say you need to see this movie, for many, and for many good reasons, there are all kinds of reasons to not see it. But for those that need it, I suspect it is a good thing. Whether we recognize it, or accept it or not this film is filling a void for some.


On a scale of 1 - 10, a surprisingly fun time with a score of 6

Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217
Or you can give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching.You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Snakes on a Plane

Okay it is really quite simple, I know I am going to get it here, but the truth is I have already heard it all. I have heard all of the jokes, all of the commentary, all of the comments on message boards, and all of the hoopla. Virtually everything I have heard is about how bad this movie is going to be. One would suspect that, especially when taking into consideration that the plot and story line came about one night during Happy Hour at a local bar when producer David Berenson, in a joking conversation about the worst movie ideas possible came up with the concept of the movie which was originally called “Venom.”

One of the fun things about this movie is that Berenson decided to make that movie, and in the process found film greats like Samuel Jackson and Juliana Margulies to participate along with the direction of David R. Ellis who has worked on such varied films as, Harriett the Spy, The Jungle Book, The Man Without a Face and other various types of film. Sure most of his work in the past has been in the area as a stunt coordinator but in some ways that assists in his concept of what this movie is all about, fun.

I have to admit, this may be the funniest, laugh out loud, exciting thrill ride of the summer. Ellis understands action and provides it from the opening scenes until the closing credits. As much as I may get ribbed for this, I don’t know when the last time was that I had more fun at a movie. The surprising thing is that the majority of patrons, most of them far older than I at the matinee, which was a huge surprise, were having the same type of fun. What was even more surprising is that as thrilling and fun as the movie is, none of those much older than I didn’t have a heart attack. The movie was so fun, that after awhile I was able to enjoy and not be distracted by the person with turrets sitting in front of me. I am not kidding on this, it was one of the strangest movie experiences ever, but I have to admit that the individual’s partner made a great choice to take his friend to. After awhile, his outbursts just added to the humor of the movie. It was almost like a live action version of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. What made it so fun was that we were all reminded of the fact that we could have fun at the movies, especially a movie like Snakes on A Plane.

The premise, as crazy as it sounds works. A FBI agent, Sam Jackson is transporting back a witness who has witnessed the brutal murder by a evil crime lord. The only way the crime lord can take care of the witness is to have released hundreds of deadly snakes on a plane via timed mechanism on the return from Hawaii to LAX. From that point on, the movie makes fun of, plays with, every concept that has ever come from a B-Movie. It is in fact, its own willingness to not take itself seriously that makes this movie so much fun. Every imaginable way that you can think of a snake killing someone, it does in this movie. While some snakes are obviously CGI, others are real, and the truth is, the viewer just don’t care. There are enough jump out of your seat, prayer making scenes, you know where you yell, “Oh My God!” despite the fact that you are in a theater surrounded by people you don’t know to make one want to see this one again and again.

As I was watching Snakes on A Plane, I thought, “What are the spiritual overtones?” While I had to search, I really didn’t have to search far. The truth is, there is evil all around us, just as it was all around the characters in this movie. That evil represented by a serpent and/or snake in some ways is like the evil of Lucifer/Satan who represented himself as a snake in the Garden and has himself been called a snake. There is even the reminder in the movie The Passion of the Christ with Jesus crushing the head of the serpent. Well you might say that Samuel L. Jackson’s character is the Messiah character in this movie. On a mission to save the passengers on the plane from the certain death they face. There is even the prevailing line through out the movie, “if you listen to me you will live, if you don’t you will die.” Jackson’s character may play more of the Emergent Church Messiah Character than other characters, but he is still a deliverer, a warrior, one who attempts to bring about peace and salvation.

I have seen a couple of surprises this summer, for many kids, at least in my community, school started this week. This will be a great one for all ages that enjoy action and thrills to see, especially the kiddos looking at ways to finish up the summer. From the students who can deal with some of the language and sexual scenes prevalent in virtually all B-Movies, to the language and gore, to the adults who may have some of the same issues, this is a rollicking fun time. We won’t have to worry too much about how people react to all of the negative things that some will point out. I can’t imagine too many people trying to get crazy about doing crazy things with snakes. On a side note, even though I have 4 snakes for pets in my downstairs family room, after seeing this movie, it may be awhile before I get them out and hold them.

On a scale of 1-10 for the great time, enjoyable moments, and nearly perfect good time, I’ll give the number that most looks like a coiled up snake, a freaky good 8

Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Or you van give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

World Trade Center

This last weekend I attended World Trade Center, the new Oliver Stone picture dealing with the tragic events of 9/11/2001. I have to admit, I have not been a huge fan of Oliver Stone. I have found his revisionist approach to history disturbing and while a quality film maker I have felt he takes his responsibility to places that cross the line of responsibility. That said, I wasn’t looking forward to World Trade Center.

As in most areas of life, a few surprises every now and then keep things interesting. It causes one to take chances even on things they may not seemingly be interested in. One of those surprises for me was the quality of work and story telling Oliver Stone presents with World Trade Center. World Trade Center is void of political commentary and is instead the story of the rescue of Will Jimeno and Sgt. John McLoughlin, two Port Authority Police officers rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Center. This story along with the struggles of their families makes for a compelling, thought provoking movie. It is also in part, the story of Dave Karnes one of the individuals who defied reason in his search for survivors of those trapped.

Stone does a brilliant job at directing this piece of art as we see the struggles and lives of Rookie Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) and Sergeant John McLouglin played by Nicolas Gage. Surprisingly Stone tells more of the story from the words of the actual characters Jimeno and McLouglin and their spouses than I would have imagined. He has used the stories told by these individuals along with rescuer Karnes, (Michael Shannon) for much of the dialog in World Trade Center. Not since Blackhawk Down has the actual words and commentary by the actual characters been used. In the telling of that story, we see the importance of faith in each of the characters.

I have to admit, I was shocked at the amount of spiritual commentary used in the film. From a devout Christian, following what he believes to be God’s calling to leave his job, put on the military uniform, and perform rescue efforts involving Dave Karnes, to the pleading and prayers of Sgt. John McLouglin. We also see the visions of Will Jimeno as he is comforted by Jesus, who offers a drink of water while trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center among other things. There is little doubt, that faith played a critical role in the lives of each of these characters. To read the stories of real life events, one realizes that Stone may have minimized the actual faith aspects of the real life characters. That is not to say it isn’t clear that each of the characters were people of faith, it is obvious they were. Their stories indicate that in real life their faith is given even more important.

While faith according to the characters involved in this story was attributed as part of the reason for their rescue, Stone also provides a glimpse as to what it must have been like for the thousands of others who did not come out of the rubble alive. In fact, only a small number were rescued. For many of us, after seeing and watching the tragedy unfold on television, it is miraculous anyone came out alive.

For some, World Trade Center will be a boring movie. Watching two individuals trapped in rubble for half of the two hour movie can be boring to some. I personally found it fascinating and believe one of the great achievements in the movies direction. We get a glimpse of what it must have been like for these two individuals and others. I don’t think Nicolas Cage or Michael Pena will be given enough credit for the tremendous job of acting. In many ways, their work was done in strenuous and difficult conditions. I would go so far as to say, it may be Gages best job as an actor in film. That is saying a lot for me because I have always admired his abilities.

Yes, in some ways, World Trade Center forces each of us to evaluate what is important in our lives. Is it faith? Is it family? Is it friends? What? We never know when our lives will change, or how it will change. The tragic events of September 11, 2001 changed all of our lives. For some, we haven’t forgotten what it was that changed on that day, for others, we went on as if everything was the same and just continued being our selves. I for one am appreciative of reminders, I am especially appreciative of reminders that tells the story without tons of political commentary. Oliver Stone has thrown me the biggest curve ball of the year, and had me swinging away. Thankfully I have an appreciation of people who can do that.

I doubt I’ll watch this movie again for a long time. It isn’t that it is bad, it is that it is that good. Is it perfect? No, but it is still pretty good and a movie I recommend individuals see. See it for the faith of 3 men, and the love they had for their country and their families. Then put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself the important questions, and then, well then, live life to the fullest with the most meaning you can as you come to your own answers to the questions you ponder while watching World Trade Center.

On a scale of 1-10 for these two who live and continue to live life to the fullest, I give a strong 8 out of 10.

To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

Superman Returns

I have to admit, that over the last year I have become a huge Smallville fan. The television series on the WB network is as good as any television series on air. I have the first 4 seasons on DVD and it at least once on a weekly basis, sometimes more. With the success of the television series, I expected Superman Returns would to do well at the box office.

Superman Returns is essentially a follow up to Superman 2 staring Christopher Reeve. That series, based on the DC comic did well between the years 1978 – 1987. For every generation, there has been a Superman, for those in the 1950’s it was George Reeves, In the 1990’s on television in Lois and Clark it was Dean Cain, and for the 1980’s among the favorites was the late Christopher Reeve.

Reeves took on the role and responsibility of Superman like no other. It was his appearances on Smallville in season two and season three that had many thinking that he had passed along the mantra to Tom Welling, Clark Kent of the Smallville series. With Superman Returns, Brandon Routh proves that Superman is more than any actor, he is goes beyond the expectations of fans to the heart and dreams of those wanting more.

I won’t say Superman Returns is the best of the Superman series. It is quite good though. I especially enjoyed the soul searching done with the characters. We see the struggle of decisions made in the past, and the consequences of living with those decisions. We see Clark Kent, the alter ego of Superman, struggle with those issues. One of the beautiful things about the character is his willingness to move on and move ahead, despite the disappointments.

This action packed story is infused with just that, story. While the action and special effects abound, Superman always has been, and thankfully still is, about story. The story of a Savior sent from the Heavens above to provide salvation to mankind. Those stories are more than coincidental in the plot of this and virtually every other Superman. Many will recall that it was Hollywood Jesus that first drew attention to this theme some years ago. If you want an analogy of the film thought about and processed over the years you have to look no further than this web site.

There is a great deal of spiritual commentary in the film. Many have processed that; I could as well, but will simply say the sacrificial, crucifixion scene in the movie was as touching and well played as in any Superman movie ever. We genuinely care about the Savior who would sacrifice himself because of the love he has for others. While we know the outcome, we know that Superman must live; we still feel the pain of the punishment he took for those he loved.

Superman’s ability to execute justice, yet at the same time, love those around him are attributes about the man that we appreciate. We realize that he is so much more than us, but he is still one of us. We realize he has unexplainable powers, yet he is tender, caring and loving. He goes out of his way to love and be kind to children, even taking the time to help a small child get her kitty out of a tree when battling the injustices of the world around her. Superman is truly a Savior, Messiah Character; one many can relate to and hope for.

Technically, the story is very good, this movie flows well and the direction by Bryan Singer is top notch. There is a very good cast. Brandon Routh will satisfy the desire of many, even the Tom Welling fans in his portrayal. Kate Bosworth is a beautiful Lois Lane who has matured from the character on Superman II, and I especially enjoyed Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. I was concerned how the character of Richard White would be portrayed, but was even pleased with the direction of the film here. James Marsden did a great job, and provides a character that we can sympathize with and care about.

Superman is a story we desire. It is a story we need, it is a story we want. Superman is the story of a power greater than us, caring for us, and ultimately, even though some like Lois Lane, think they don’t need it, provides salvation for us. Superman is in essence the story of a Messiah, a Savior. It is a story that has been told before, some say some 2,000 years before. It still has meaning, and it still has purpose. Thank God the story lives.

To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more indepth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.