The story opens on a teenage student named Adéle. Adéle is just your average aimless teenager. Though she’s in a relationship with a boy, one day she’s smitten with a young college art student named Emma, who has dyed hair blue. Adéle seeks out Emma, and the two become friends. As Adéle turns 17 or 18 (the movie isn’t quite clear), the two young women begin a torrid lesbian affair. Eventually, they move in together after Adéle leaves high school, but Adéle ruins the relationship by having an affair with a male teacher where she works.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR is just another godless, leftist propaganda movie mistaking lurid homosexual lust for love. Its pornographic sex scenes show that lust is the focus of the movie. The fact that the lesbian artist only does nude female paintings seals the deal. Finally, MOVIEGUIDE® can’t really take this movie seriously, because the sex scenes are not just pornographic, but silly as well. Another scene, where Adele just starts crying uncontrollably because Emma won’t take her back, is also quite silly.
As noted above, some scenes showing Adéle teaching groups of younger children are a lot more interesting. If the filmmakers had focused instead on the career of a young teacher in France, they could have made a really valuable, insightful movie that more people would like to see. However, the director says in the movie’s production notes that the main point of those scenes is to show that the lesbian teacher doesn’t let her sadness, despair and loneliness about her failed lesbian relationship affect her work. If that was his intention, it doesn’t come across very well.
By the way, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR is nearly three hours long. Perhaps never before in cinema history have filmmakers done so little with so much. . .
OLDBOY is a remake of a 2003 Korean thriller about an obnoxious alcoholic who’s kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years before being suddenly released and challenged to solve the mystery of his imprisonment. OLDBOY is better made than the original, but still has a shocking series of final twists that make it one of the most morally repellent movies of the year.
The story follows a hopeless alcoholic named Joe, who’s mysteriously kidnapped in 1993 and held hostage in a sparsely furnished room for the next 20 years. Joe finally escapes and violently dispatches hordes of his kidnappers. He then appears to stumble across a young woman named Marie, a social worker with the homeless. Marie offers to help him in his quest to find out who his kidnapper was, why he was kidnapped, and why he was released. If he can solve these questions, he will receive $20 million in diamonds, be reunited safely with his daughter, and his kidnapper will shoot himself to death in front of him, giving him the satisfaction of revenge. If he doesn’t solve the mysteries in 48 hours, however, his daughter will be killed.
Thus begins a quest that’s dark but much more riveting and better paced than the original, with an excellent score backing some good performances, all within a psychological framework that feels like the all-time Hitchcock classic VERTIGO. However, once the awful secret is revealed, the movie becomes extremely repellant, turning into a brutal tale of revenge, suicide, murder, and incest. The protagonist tries to make up for his past evils at the end, but even that is played in an odd way. OLDBOY also contains lots of foul language and extreme lewd content.
THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is the second installment of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s version of Tolkien’s children’s classic, THE HOBBIT. As with the first installment, Jackson has inserted more of the mythic tone to Tolkien’s story, which ultimately links up to Tolkien’s more adult classic, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, as well as his magnum opus, THE SILMARILLION. THE LORD OF THE RINGS continues the tale of THE HOBBIT to show the resulting war that occurred when Bilbo Baggins, the title character, found the Ring of Power crafted by the demonic Lord Sauron to control the world through witchcraft.
THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is a stirring epic adventure about courage. It’s about having the courage and perseverance to face your greatest fears, including your greatest adversary. It’s also about having the courage and perseverance to restore a lost kingdom destroyed by greed. Finally, it’s about helping others in need, even if that puts your own life and comfort at risk. SMAUG has a lot of strong, intense action violence, however, with a high body count, so strong caution is advised. The movie also has some really scary images.
The movie opens with a short prologue about how the wizard Gandalf joined Thorin Oakenshield, heir to the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor under the Lonely Mountain. Thorin desperately wants to unite the six other dwarf kingdoms in helping him reclaim Erebor from the evil dragon Smaug, who now sits on the great treasure Thorin’s greedy grandfather had accumulated. To do that, Thorin and his 12 dwarf companions must secretly enter the Lonely Mountain and take back from Smaug the Arkenstone, an heirloom that will show the other dwarves that Thorin has the right to rule. Gandalf advises Thorin that they will need “a burglar.
Twelve months later, Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit burglar Gandalf has recruited, is traveling with the dwarves through the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. The forest is being invaded by darker forces, but Gandalf has decided to leave the party. Gandalf wants to discover who the evil sorcerer is that’s commanding these forces and the band of orcs hunting down Bilbo and the dwarves. To do that, he must travel to a ruined fortress lying on the western edge of the forest.
As Gandalf investigates, Bilbo and the dwarves are attacked by a swarm of giant evil spiders. Bilbo uses the Ring of Power he stole from Gollum to make himself invisible and free the dwarves, but they still need to be rescued by a band of Wood-elves, led by Legolas. The king of the Wood-elves, however, refuses to help the dwarves further. In fact, he imprisons them.
Still invisible, Bilbo sneaks into the king’s fortress and frees the dwarves again. At that moment, however, the band of orcs following the dwarves strike. The elf king orders his people not to help them, but Legolas and a female elf named Tauriel disobey their king. In a very exciting sequence, they help Bilbo and the dwarves fend off the orcs.
Eventually, Gandalf finds out who the evil sorcerer is but is captured. Also, the dwarves send Bilbo into the dragon’s lair under the Lonely Mountain to recover the Arkenstone. The question becomes, will Thorin and the dwarves come to Bilbo’s aid when the dragon awakes?
THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is a stirring, enthralling adventure epic. Though some of the action is a bit repetitious, the movie maintains its passionate heart throughout its story. SMAUG is a terrific moral tale of courage, restoration, sacrifice, and caring for others. These moral, redemptive themes are brilliantly mixed together, partly by Tolkien’s original mythic vision, which is highly Catholic but also Christian, and partly by Director Peter Jackson’s cinematic storytelling vision and marvelous sense of bringing out the best in his talented cast. As always, Tolkien’s world is infinitely inspiring, and Jackson’s team manages, for the most part, to do it as much justice as they possibly can.
Although the moral themes are strong, the action violence and fight scenes are a little over the top. There is little gore, however, despite several decapitations of orcs. THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG also has some very scary images that are too intense for sensitive and susceptible viewers. So, strong caution is advised. That said, THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG has some important lessons to teach us as we try to restore the Kingdom of God in the United States and throughout the world, not only on the micro level, in our personal relationships, but also in the macro sense. It does so in a way that’s both entertaining and soul stirring.
SAVING MR. BANKS tells the true life story of Walt Disney trying against all hope to convince the author, P.L. Travers, to give him the movie rights to her popular Mary Poppins books for children. SAVING MR. BANKS is extremely poignant and even heartrending, but has a mixed worldview with some New Age and Buddhist content as well as much Christian dialogue.
P.L. Travers is the writer of the beloved Marty Poppins books. She has kept the rights from Walt Disney for 20 years, but her funds are running low. Though she’s very hesitant, Mrs. Travers decides to get on the plane and go to Los Angeles to start the process of selling the rights.
Mrs. Travers is very specific about how she wants Mary to be portrayed, and she will not let Walt drift from that image. Once arriving, Mrs. Travers is greeted by Ralph, a kind limo driver who constantly states optimistic comments that Mrs. Travers immediately refutes.
When Mrs. Travers arrives at her hotel, she’s overwhelmed by Disney Paraphernalia, such as giant stuffed Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, which she stuffs away in the closet. Finally, Walt Disney warmly welcomes Mrs. Travers to his office, telling her he promised his children he would get the rights and make the movie for them. He’s willing to give Mrs. Travers whatever she wants to make a Mary Poppins movie.
Throughout the whole experience with Walt, Mrs. Travers experiences flashbacks to her youth in Australia with her father, whom she loved dearly. At such a young age, Travers didn’t see the harm of her father’s excessive drinking. Her father tells her that this life is an illusion, and she can be whatever she dreams. In reality, Mrs. Traver’s father was living a lie and destroying his life from alcoholism.
Finally, when Mrs. Travers shows some interest in fully giving Walt the rights, something goes wrong. Walt has to truly show his kind nature in order to work with Mrs. Travers.
SAVING MR. BANKS has a brilliant script, in which the story truly unfolds, showing the characters’ depth and arc. The music and cinematography are also executed well. Emma Thompson and Paul Giamatti do extremely strong performances. Overall, the movie is very well made, and, though there are flashbacks, they flow perfectly together to create depth.
Overall, SAVING MR. BANKS has a mixed worldview with some New Age and Buddhist content, but also some Christian content from Walt Disney’s character. The movie shows Mrs. Travers’ interest in New Age nominalism and Buddhism, with a copy of one of the amoral, mystical guru George Gurdjieff’s books on her desk and a Buddhist icon she takes with her everywhere she goes. Flashbacks of her childhood show that her father too had an interest in such nominalism. He says life is an illusion, and, if she meditates, she can be whatever and whoever she would like to be. However, her father’s lack of a real worldview causes him to die from self-deception manifested in alcohol abuse. Also, it is suggested that history is cyclical, and the dead will always be one with the universe, much like Buddhism.
In real life, P.L. Travers was a pen name for Helen Lyndon Goff. Goff was caught up in the occultism of her age and followed Gurdjieff, studied Zen Buddhism, lived with the Hopi Indians, and seems to have had bisexual affairs. Goff felt that the Walt Disney Company’s Mary Poppins was too joyous, frivolous, and happy. Her Mary Poppins was darker, more serious, more strict, and even pompous, with magical powers resembling a form of sorcery or witchcraft.
Considering how susceptible some children are to this message, parents need to be very cautious about both movies, MARY POPPINS and SAVING MR. BANKS, although too many parents are too naïve about the occult. MOVIEGUIDE® Publisher Dr. Ted Baehr’s parents were Hollywood and Broadway stars. His father Robert Allen aka Bob “Tex” Allen aka Ted Baehr won the box office award in 1936. Both parents were interested in Gurdjieff, spiritualist Madame Blavatsky, and other occult leaders. Thus, the occult was a very real and often very destructive force. Even Dr. Baehr’s early academic life at Dartmouth, Cambridge, and so forth was influenced by these false religious ideas and streams of thought. However, Jesus Christ set Dr. Baehr free from occult, left-wing, and other bondage in February, 1975.
It should be noted, however, that in SAVING MR. BANKS, Walt Disney’s character is always stating Christian themes of salvation, redemption, hope, love, and forgiveness. These are the themes that really drive the movie’s character arcs and transformations. These are the themes that rescue SAVING MR. BANKS, Walt, and Mrs. Travers.
By Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor
The Christmas season is the best season for a lot of really great movies. This season, Disney’s wonderful animated work, FROZEN, is seeing some well-deserved accolades from both critics and moviegoers.
However, there is another movie this season that has not received the acclaim that it so richly deserves – BLACK NATIVITY, starring the super-talented Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Tyrese Gibson, and relative newcomer Jacob Latimore.
BLACK NATIVITY is a musical drama inspired by Langston Hughes’ play of the same name. It’s a brilliant, uplifting piece of filmmaking that highlights God’s Grace. It is entertaining, heart-rending, uplifting, amusing, and faith-filled.
The story follows Langston, a teenager living with his single mother Naima (Jennifer Hudson) in Baltimore. With Christmas right around the corner, Langston finds out he and his mother are being evicted from their house. Nowhere to go, his mother decides to send Langston over to his grandparents. For some reason, she stopped speaking to them right before Langston’s birth. Langston protests his mom’s decision because he doesn’t even know his grandparents, but she decides it’s the best thing to do.
Naima places Langston on a bus headed to Harlem, where her parents live. Upon arriving in downtown New York City, Langston is introduced to a harsher, more chaotic environment than understands. After his backpack gets stolen, Langston wanders into a fancy hotel looking for a phone where a wealthy guest confuses him for a thief, and Langston’s arrested. A tough looking black guy in the cell taunts and teases Langston.
Langston is released from jail into the custody of his grandfather, the Reverend Cobbs (Forest Whitaker). Already disappointed with how quickly his grandson got into trouble, the Reverend takes Langston home to the warm welcome of his grandmother, Aretha (Angela Bassett). Even though the Reverend is strict and a little rough around the edges, he and Aretha clearly love and miss their daughter, Naima, who still refuses to speak to them because of a past event. Langston tries to figure a way to get the money Naima and he need to pay the rent or find a new home in Baltimore. He’s willing to do almost anything to get it.
As the Reverend begins his annual Black Nativity musical program on Christmas Eve, Langston prepares his plan to get back home. Then, the reasons for his family’s separation starts to come to light and Langston’s motives begin to change.
BLACK NATIVITY is a moving, beautiful story that emphasizes Christian faith, family, and forgiveness. The cast does a wonderful job bringing life to their characters, including Jennifer Hudson as the mother, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett as the grandparents, and Jacob Latimore as the Langston. The cast does really well with all the musical numbers, which reveal their individual character’s emotions. The whole thing is brilliantly written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, an actress who previously directed EVE’S BAYOU (1997) and TALK TO ME (2007).
The emotional high points come at the movie’s ending, which includes a musical dream sequence where Langston dreams of the Birth of Jesus talking place in Harlem as the church performers sing about God, Jesus, and the Nativity. The musical dream sequence is beautifully integrated with the theatricality of the church performance. It also makes a great transition for the movie’s climax, which resolves all the story’s conflicts in a beautiful, inspiring, and dramatically powerful way.
Best of all, however, BLACK NATIVITY has a really strong, uplifting message of Christian faith. Filled with Scripture, Gospel songs, and prayer, the movie calls for reconciliation among estranged family members. In the final moments, Langston sums up everything as he says, “It’s time to forgive, it’s time to be redeemed, and it’s time to come home.” This heartwarming important message about faith and family is at the heart of what Movieguide® is all about. It makes the ending of BLACK NATIVITY stand out among other Christmas movies, in a good way. There is a threat of violence in one scene and a couple “d” obscenities, however, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises a light caution for BLACK NATIVITY.
Otherwise, however, BLACK NATIVITY is not only one of the best movies of the year. It’s also one of the best, most heartfelt Christmas movies ever made, certainly in the last few years at the very least.
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS is a science-fiction thriller with a formulaic but well-executed plot, good screenplay writing and acting, an immersive environment, and some fantastic special effects, especially for a lower-budget movie. It’s a heart-racing thriller high in entertainment value but replete with negative elements.
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS takes place during the final 19 hours of a six-month expedition to Mars to search for and collect biological samples. Leading the group is astronauts Vince Campbell (Liev Schreiber) and Charles Brunel (Elias Koteas) and consists of eight highly-trained crew members.
One of the scientists, Kim (Olivia Williams), discovers microbial boring bacterial cells in the cavities of a few rock samples they’ve discovered. While attempting to gather more samples, another of the scientists, Marko (Goran Kostic) is swallowed into a hole in the ground, prompting Lauren (Yusra Warsama) to go after him, against the wishes of the crew, who presume him dead. When neither Marko nor Lauren return, the crew begins to worry. Eventually, Marko and Lauren return to the base, although they are humanoid and zombie-like, having been infected by a bacterial virus. These creatures attack the crewmembers and kill one, Harrington (Tom Cullen), who in turn becomes one of the creatures.
The crew leader, Brunel, is stabbed by one of the creatures and himself becomes infected with the bacterial virus. He slowly dies as he lays on a table, as the crew’s scientists trying injecting him with antibiotic fluids to counteract the virus. The antibiotic works for a while, but the virus develops a resistance. Realizing the virus can’t be stopped, the surviving crew desperately tries to find a way to contact mission control and escape.
After five of the eight crewpeople have been killed or infected with the virus, the remaining three (Campbell, Irwin, and Laine) race against the creatures, who are intelligent enough to follow their tracks and destroy their equipment. Irwin (Johnny Harris), crumbles under the weight of the situation, at times breaking into tears. He proves to be unstable and eventually deserts Campbell and Laine.
Campbell and Laine venture onward alone in hopes of securing communication with mission control and being rescued, pushed to the limits of human survival.
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS is a simple, formulaic sci-fi thriller with a predictable but well-executed plot and terrific acting. The writing is tight and moves along well. The biological and scientific details of the crew’s mission should prove interesting to some, and the rich cinematography and environments are satisfying to watch. For a movie without a large budget, it was executed and delivered very effectively.
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS doesn’t do much in terms of character development, and this was perhaps its weakest element. It contains a few elements worthy of exploration (Campbell has several flashbacks to an experience on another spaceship that aren’t fully explained), but favors more peril and suspenseful moments. The potential for expounding on a few relational elements was there, including moments where one character asks the other about the afterlife and whether a zombie still has elements of personhood, but the movie’s budget likely wouldn’t allow much movie time beyond 90 minutes.
The foul language in LAST DAYS ON MARS is intense and relentless, and the violence is also jarring at moments. The creatures are frightening, even for an adult, and the movie creates tension throughout its running time.
However, the movie is devoid of any strong Christian or biblical elements. At one point, one character mockingly speaks about “finding God and writing a song about it” when discussing the prospect of finding life on Mars. In another instance, Laine asks Vince whether he thinks there’s an element of human existence that continues after death, but he deflects the question, saying, “That’s above my pay grade.” In the movie’s final minutes, Vince has a vision where he seems to communicate with Laine (who has died by this point) from beyond the grave, although the movie’s lack of a Christian worldview would lean one to believe this is simply a neo-pagan or occult element.
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS has a few pro-family elements. In one scene, as Brunel is moments from death, he speaks longingly in tears about wanting his family to know he loves them. In another, Irwin (also in tears) speaks of longing to see his family again. Several crewmembers make sacrifices and take risks to ensure each other’s safety.
The violence in THE LAST DAYS ON MARS is not gratuitous and ongoing, but there are a few gruesome scenes (a man being drilled in the stomach is the most intense). There is also a general mood of dread throughout and few truly redemptive aspects in the THE LAST DAYS ON MARS, which would not sit well with many viewers.
The movie’s excessive obscene language is its predominant negative element, with almost constant obscenity as the characters endure perilous situations. These elements of violence and language warrant excessive for THE LAST DAYS ON MARS.
THE ULTIMATE LIFE DVD Giveaway!
For a limited time, Movieguide® is giving away a free DVD copy of THE ULTIMATE LIFE starring Peter Fonda and Bill Cobbs! THE ULTIMATE LIFE is a family-friendly drama depicting one man’s journey from poverty to riches and the lessons he learned along the way.
THE ULTIMATE LIFE is a well-made, fun, heartwarming sequel to the beloved movie THE ULTIMATE GIFT. Uplifting and fun, the movie gives a lot more background to THE ULTIMATE GIFT. It depicts how Jason’s grandfather developed his friendships, his business and the “Twelve Gifts” he passes onto Jason. The grandfather learns that success comes from hard work and being a leader of men. Most importantly, the movie teaches that family is the greatest legacy you leave behind when you leave this world. THE ULTIMATE LIFE has no objectionable content, though a brief battle scene might scare young children. Read the full review here. You can enter into the contest easily through Facebook or Twitter below.