What if a teen girl who struggled with an eating disorder suddenly became Famine, the Horseman of the Apocalypse?
Check out Hunger on Amazon!
That question was all it took for me to dive into Hunger, the first book of the Riders of the Apocalypse Young Adult series written by Jackie Morse Kessler. I’ve done a little bit of work in the Revelation, so I was instantly intrigued. As quickly as I could, I also picked up Rage – in which a girl who cuts becomes War – and Loss, which features a boy who is bullied at school and takes care of a grandfather dying of Alzheimer’s at home.
The Horsemen represent our human need to control, and our frustrated inability to attain that control. Each of the teens Death recruits has killed him- or herself in the act of trying to wrest some control out of their chaotic lives. Death offers them a choice: die or become a Horseman. Continue Reading…
First things first: you might have heard about a remake that came out this weekend called Evil Dead. It’s a reimagining/reboot/remake of The Evil Dead, the first film of one of the greatest cult trilogies of all time. Despite the enormous amount of pressure and skepticism surrounding the new film, director Fede Alvarez has succeeded wildly, no doubt in part due to the mentoring he received from original director and star Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell.
The Evil Dead remake succeeds because rather than trying to retell the story beat-by-beat, it aims to recapture the spirit of the original film.
You need to know that I really wanted to love A Good Day to Die Hard.
John McClane is my hero. I saw the original Die Hard way to young (though it was on USA). And I loved all the sequels. Yes, even number 2. I saw a midnight showing of 2007′s Live Free or Die Hard and love it.
So when I heard Die Hard 5 was in the works, I was ready. Ready to be blown away. Ready to follow an unwilling John McClane on another seat-of-his-pants adventure to save the world and stop some bad guys from stealing some money (it’s always about the money) while doing his best to be a family man.
So why did A Good Day to Die Hard fall so flat?
At first glance, Good Day has all the quintessential Die Hard elements. McClane is a family man – this time he’s trying to reconnect with his estranged son. Featuring McClane’s kids in the two most recent installments didn’t bother me like it does a lot of people. We met the kids in the first film, and I like to see how their relationship with John has grown up. It’s a nice way to preserve the heart his wife Holly provided the first two films without rehashing the on-again, off-again relationship they had.
As for action, Good Day had tons, and it was mostly really good. The direction was mostly good, and surprisingly easily to follow in the era of frenetic shaky-cams. The sets were big, the one-liners (uttered of course by McClane and Son) were plentiful and of course there was a con.
There’s a precarious period in any trend when we have to wonder if it’s on the decline. We’ve reached that moment with the Zombie craze. Every time a new project is announced, there are a few more eye-rolls than before. We all wonder: will this be the movie/book/tv-show that breaks the Zom-bubble? (Spoiler: It’ll be World War Z).
So it’s refreshing to meet a film like Warm Bodies, probably only the second ever Zom-Rom-Com after the now-classic Shaun of the Dead. Warm Bodies is a story of forbidden love (explicitly modeled after Romeo-and-Juliet… or should that be Romero-and-Juliet?) that uses the Zombie metaphor to demonstrate the power of love.
Plus, the posters are just hilarious and awesome. The marketing team deserves some sort of award. Can we work on that?
Warm Bodies is a perfect example of why we love monsters: because monster stories are really about us. Continue Reading…
Mama, the new horror film from producer Guillermo del Toro opened this weekend. Overall, it’s a great horror film that will definitely creep you out. The film has a lot going for it – the effects are great, plenty of smart, atmospheric tension and scares, and a message about the dangers of helicopter parenting aimed straight for the Zeitgeist. Ultimately, though, Mama doesn’t quite land in the top echelon of horror films destined for infamy.
Comparing the resolutions of Mama and horror classic The Ring illustrates how important pay off is to a film’s success. Continue Reading…
Genesis 1 teaches us that God created us in God's image. While other creation stories written around the same time teach that humans were created to be slaves to the gods, Genesis teaches us that we are God's children and partners in creation. Today we are constantly surrounded by stories, by companies and cultures telling us what to be and how to act. We must always listen to Jesus, who perfectly reveals God's way to us and reminds us that we are first and foremost friends and children of God.
From Series: "First Things First"
We ended 2012 in the Revelation, exploring how Jesus' coming into our lives is the End of the World as we know it. But if Jesus' coming is the End, it's also a new beginning. Jesus' death and resurrection reconnect us with God, open up a world that has been lost to us since Sin entered into the world. So to kick off 2013, we're going to dive into Genesis 1-2. We'll explore God's original intentions for the world, and the implications for our new life in Jesus. After all, in the new year, it's good to get the First Things First!
Everyone knows the story of the ugly duckling, right? [pic of the duckling] Somehow a baby swan gets raised with ducklings. Everyone makes fun of how ugly he is, and he feels all self-conscious. But in the end, he grows up to become a beautiful swan. [pic]
The moral of the story is supposed to help awkward kids be assured that one day things will get better, that one day they’ll be a beautiful swan. The thing about that story is “Hold on it’ll get better eventually” is a nice message, but it doesn’t actually make anything better in the here-and-now.
There’s nothing wrong with the baby swan. What’s wrong is the story he’s living.
He thinks he’s supposed to be a duck because that’s how he’s grown up. That’s the story he’s been living in, with his fake duck mom and adopted duckling siblings. Everything about his life and circumstances are telling him he’s a duck, but they’re wrong.
What would actually be better for the ugly duckling would be for him to realize right now that he’s not a duckling at all. It would’ve been better for him to start living as a swan now, not wait until some far off later date.
The reason the story of the ugly duckling connects with us is because we understand at a basic level that when we’re not who we were created to be, we suffer. A swan shouldn’t try to be a duck. It doesn’t go well for the swan.
The same is true for us. We are surrounded by cultures and companies that tell us who we are and what we should want. All sorts of stories that, deep down, we know don’t quite fit.
Just like that ugly duckling, we’d be better off if we realized that we’re not ducks at all. We’re swans.
So this morning, we’re going to ask of Genesis what we were created to be. How does this creation story illuminate God’s intention for humanity? What does that teach us about our purpose? And is it possible that as we learn Genesis’ story, we’ll find that we’re ugly ducklings, living the wrong stories, trying to be ducks when God created us as swans?
Join us Sunday as we explore what God’s story for our lives looks like.
The end of a story is always a huge clue to how we should interpret that story. Comparing the endings of two films that released (to wider audiences, anyway) against each other this weekend makes for a fascinating comparison, especially since both films are asking the same question.
Los Angeles City Hall. This quote opens the closing shot of “Gangster Squad”.
Zero Dark Thirty is the Oscar-nominated story of the CIA agent responsible for finding and killing Osama bin Laden. Gangster Squad is the fun-but-forgettable story of how a small squad of vigilante-cops drove mobster Micky Cohen out of Los Angeles. (This “inspired by a true story,” by the way, is almost entirely fabricated.)
Both films acknowledge the effectiveness of violence, but question if the ends justify the means. Continue Reading…
Here are my picks for the best books of 2012, in no particular order.
The titles link to my reviews (if available) or to Amazon :
Selling Water by the River
by Shane Hipps
I haven’t gotten to post my review of this book yet, but it was one of the best surprises of 2012. Shane Hipps is one of the most important, underrated voices in Evangelical Christianity. Selling Water by the River is a fresh look into the heart of Christianity.
It’s a short, fast read, but Shane packs each chapter with thick, insightful metaphors that unlock some rich, complex ideas.
I’m only 50 pages into this book, and those 50 pages already made my Top 10. Yes, this book is that good. Scarlett Thomas is one of the most capable fiction authors I’ve ever read (if you’ve never taken a crack at The End of Mr. Y, just trust me: it’s a must read). Apparently, she’s also an English professor. Monkeys with Typewriters is the textbook on creative writing she’s always wanted and finally had to write herself.
If you love writing or even just the art of storytelling, get this book now. Continue Reading…
Skyfall is being hailed – and rightly so – as the best Bond of all time. On the franchise’s 50th anniversary, the new film at once completes the reboot of the bond universe begun in Casino Royale and moves forward. Skyfall‘s story is totally contemporary, setting up the franchise to keep Bond fresh in the years to come.
Short version: go see Skyfall. Even if you haven’t seen Daniel Craig’s other two Bond films. Though you really should them too.