Film Review AL: Batman V Superman (non-spoiler)

BATMAN v SUPERMAN

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Review AL (non-spoilers)

We’ve anticipated this movie for years and now it is finally here. A cinematic adventure featuring the two most iconic superhero figures ever conceived, Batman and Superman. Opening weekend has come and gone and a lot of you are probably wondering if it’s any good. In fact, some of you may have already decided it must not be due to the horrendous reviews film critics are giving this film. They have really taken this film to task. I’m no film critic, just a film fan. I will say that going into this movie with lowered expectations was actually a nice treat as I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. I actually really liked this movie and seeing it the second time was just as enjoyable. Is it a perfect cinematic experience? Absolutely not. But I was thoroughly entertained and found myself really looking forward to what the DC cinematic universe has in store.

I’ll keep this review non-spoilers and give you a quick taste of what the movie was all about, what you need to know going into it, and then provide a list of pros and cons about the movie.

First of all, you need to go into this movie knowing that it is going to be dark. Many superhero moviegoers may have become accustomed to the Marvel tone that is brighter, more humorous, and happily adventurous. This is not the case with this movie. If you saw Man of Steel then you have an idea of the darker, grittier tone that the DC cinematic universe is going for. Just know that BVS is even darker than MOS. Like Watchmen dark.

Secondly, the movie is long and packed. With a runtime of 2 hours and 31 minutes, the movie is certainly a journey but far from an arduous one. The move is titled Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and to fit in the setup of why Batman and Superman are fighting and then try to setup the beginnings of a Justice League is a monumental task for one movie. In fact there are at least 3 different movies that could have been made very well from this one movie. So it did feel crowded and even rushed in some spots (really hoping the 3 hour “Ulitmate Cut” dvd release will smooth some of those wrinkles out). The movie does jump around between story lines pretty quickly and abruptly but seeing it a second time helped me appreciate how the different story lines going on were very much interconnected.

Thirdly, they are clearly setting up the DC cinematic universe and preparing for other solo and team movies. I think because there was so much pressure to catch up with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and setup these other movies it left some spots in the movie very weak. Developing the emotional drive of the two main characters seemed lacking (especially on Superman’s side). Scenes that featured upcoming Justice League members almost took me out of the movie completely because they felt cheaply made and shoehorned in. It was so funny to me that the BVS poster featured at the theater my wife and I went to had Jason Momoa prominently advertised right up there with the main characters and he is in the movie for like 25 seconds. I’m really hoping this is DC’s catch up movie and the rest of their movies will have more room to breath and better character development.

Here is my personal (non-spoilers) pros and cons list for the movie.

Cons

  1. Lack of character development = Lack of emotional buy-in
  2. Very crowded and rushed
  3. Doomsday is not as true to the comics as hoped
  4. Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor is different
  5. The turn of BVS to B&S is poorly done
  6. Granny’s Peach Tea

Pros

  1. Best cinematic Batman ever. Brutal and uncompromising
  2. Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman is actually pretty good
  3. Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor is different
  4. Fights are fantastic
  5. Easter Eggs pointing to future movies are fun (dream sequence)
  6. Film’s Score is epic and reminiscent of Man of Steel
  7. Jeremy Iron’s portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth rivals that of Michael Caine
  8. Batman’s fighting style is just a delight to watch
  9. Very entertaining, a fun ride the whole way through
  10. Ends with me wanting more!

Well there you have it. Take it with a grain of salt, see it, and decide for yourselves!

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Spiritu Al Discipline: Study

Spiritu Al Discipline: Study

top-road

I want to share some of the things I learned from our class last night.

It was just last night we started a brand new series in our youth Wednesday night class. Last quarter we did a DVD series called “Basic” by Francis Chan. In case you are curious about it, it was good, but seemed like it was very much meant for a young adult/college age small group setting. There was a lot more abstract induction than I think our students had problems fully grasping. This new series is a simple look at 6 different spiritual disciplines. Looking at some books to supplement these lessons, but mostly utilizing a curriculum from Life Bible Study (just so you know the following post isn’t a result of any of my own genius, or lack thereof).

As the title for this post indicates, the first spiritual discipline we discussed was “study” or more specifically, “Bible study”. Now admittedly, when I think of spiritual discipline, study is not something that comes to mind. I’m much more likely to go straight to fasting, prayer, service, things like that. I think whatever level of academia you are at, to study will always be something you have to do to be prepared for something of importance like a mid-term or final exam. That may not be the worst way of looking at it though.

Last night I asked my six most experienced drivers in the youth group to come up to the stage and I split them into two teams (a game described in the curriculum). I then has each team write down as many road signs they could think of in the span of one minute. After the minute was up we compared their lists and the list with more road signs was declared the winner. We then spent some time talking about the importance of road signs, understanding what the road signs mean, and how we will at times ignore road signs. Road signs obviously have a very specific purpose, keeping us safe as we drive. We aren’t born with the knowledge of what road signs mean. Some are more obvious than others like the STOP sign but some are confusing to many and are interpreted in various ways (i.e. “merge” or “speed limit”). Even so, it’s important to study road signs before one drives, memorize their meaning, notice the signs as they come are way and of course actually submitting to them with obedience. Sound anything like the Bible to our Christian walk?

Studying the Bible is something that, granted, is subject to many negative stereotypes. “I don’t understand it.”, “It’s too boring!”, “I don’t have enough time.”, “I don’t want to do that.” These are formidable obstacles to overcome. But it’s not called a “discipline” for nothing. Not that it’s a punishment of any kind; That’s the wrong kind of discipline. It’s more like having a discipline to play an instrument, play basketball, or score well on tests. These disciplines are abilities developed through practice and effort. We understand that very well. But when we claim to be Christians… that’s more important than being on a basketball team, it’s more important than being a first-chair cellist, it’s more important than being a straight A student, it’s more important than being an American! But if that is true, if we really believe that… why don’t we treat it that way? Why don’t we devote more time to studying scripture? Why don’t we devote ourselves to applying scripture?

I asked them to remember the word ROAD if they needed help focusing on how to study God’s Word. “R” stands for read. We aren’t going to get anywhere if we don’t decide to make the time to read the Bible. It helps me tremendously to listen to scripture with my phone, or to read it from the hard copy and shut down the phone for awhile. Way too many distractions can come through that thing.”O” stands for observe. Ever read for a test and after you took it immediately forgot everything you read? Just regurgitated everything? Or maybe even more common, ever read an entire paragraph and was thinking about something else entirely and thought to yourself, “What did I just read?” and had to go back and read it all again? Observing while reading is being fully engaged in what you are reading. Asking questions about words that stand out and considering context to draw out meaning. “A” stands for apply. James 1:22 comes to mind. Understanding the meaning of a given passage is not the same as submitting yourself to it. Obedience is the intended reaction to scripture. “D” stands for depend. That last one is tough. To convince yourself to apply, obey, and submit yourself to scripture takes a level of trust in who God is, what His intentions are for you, and the importance of Him communicating those intentions through His Word. That takes a level of dependence that makes us selfish creatures very uncomfortable.

At the end of class, it was time to quit talking about the spiritual discipline of study and start practicing it; if even for just a short while. We read Psalm 119:9-16 over and over in silence and in prayer. I encourage you to do the same!

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
    all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word.