Monday, September 28, 2015

Ant-Man (2015) A Story of Redemption

Ant-Man is a brilliant addition to the Marvel Super-hero franchise. It acts as a stand-alone, but it also ends with a tease of merging with the Avengers stories.

Scott Lang begins as a convict struggling to rebuild his life and reestablish a relationship with his daughter. He is also a highly educated man and a brilliant engineer, which is what makes him so good at burglary. When he reaches a point of absolute desperate conditions, he makes a wrong decision to return to his criminal ways.

However, the burglary leads him down an unbelievable path; an opportunity for redemption. Dr. Hank Pym, the inventor of the Ant-Man suit, joins forces with Scott to stop the evil Darren Cross from weaponizing his invention. Dr. Pym is one of very few people who sees value and potential in Scott enough to trust him with his greatest invention. No one else in Scott's life is willing to give him a second chance at life. A chance to make his daughter proud. A chance to be a hero.

However, Scott is not the only person in need of redemption. Dr. Pym on a journey to right his wrongs. Wrongs he can only right with the help of Ant-Man. For it is his research and technology that run the risk of falling into the wrong hands. If so, the consequences have catastrophic potential. All the more reason for Dr. Pym to find the perfect person to bear the responsibility of the suit.

The movie subtly expresses four aspects of being a proper hero.

1. The Suit: The suit is designed to shrink a person to the size of an ant. It makes the person as strong as an ant, and it is resilient to physically protect the person. The suit also includes equipment enabling the person to communicate with ants, thus making millions of allies.

2. Intelligence: Scott is a brilliant man. His experience in engineering and understanding of how things work grant him the ability to infiltrate several buildings successfully and discreetly. He is able to learn the exact timing of shrinking and regrowing. Most importantly, he knows how to improvise a solution when his suit goes subatomic, and he is nearly wiped from existence.

3. He's Disposable: Dr. Pym has a capable daughter. Why does he overlook her in favor of a stranger? She struggles to understand why her father disregards her. What she fails to realize is because he loves her that he cannot bear the thought of endangering her life. Dr. Pym has no emotional connection to Scott, which makes him a better candidate for dangerous work.

4. Heart: Scott's passion for justice is so strong that it becomes not only the cause of his earlier incarceration, but also the drive to risk his own life to save others. His love drives him to sacrifice, and that is the most heroic quality of all.

Ant-Man is unique, because it is a member of the Marvel franchise. At the same time, it stands alone. As unlikely as it appears, I would love to see more of him in upcoming Marvel films.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pixels

Pixels is a story of the mother of all misunderstandings.

When NASA sends a recording of an 80's video game tournament into outer space, they have no idea it would reach alien life, let alone give the impression of a war declaration. However, that is exactly what happens.

Though we never see these beings in person, they prove they have superior intelligence. They study the package down to the letter. They learn English. They learn animation techniques. They even learn the the rules and “battle strategies” of our video games. They create perfect replicas of these games. They are also moral and otherwise peaceful beings. Their methods are non- lethal, and they follow the rules of our games.

By the time Earth figures out what is even happening, it is far too late to negotiate. We have no choice but to defend ourselves. The countries of Earth must pull together using unorthodox, nonlethal weapons to save humanity. Soldiers work with gaming champions in order to win lifelike video games.

The problem lies with a language barrier. When that kind of issue occurs, the last thing one wants is to make the wrong impression. Every piece of information put into that package would make a very strong impression. What kind of impression does NASA chose to make? Fighting, battle, war. No wonder the alien beings misinterpret the message. 

What kind of message could we have sent that would avoid misunderstandings?

LOVE.

For Paul say in 2 Corinthians 13:11, “...Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Violet Van Patten's love for her son pushes her through the Donkey Kong battle causing her to save him.

Love and respect for himself breaks Sam Brenner out of his numerical methods and help him to have faith in his instincts. 
Love for his country and his people give President Will Cooper the courage to embrace unorthodox methods, trust his friends' expertise, and personally engage in combat despite the ridicule of the press and his colleagues.

Loves saves Ludlow Lamonsoff in a sword fight with his video games idol, Lady Lisa. Unable to destroy the woman he loves (as unreal as she is), he lays down his guns, which leads her to lay down her swords and join his side in combat.

It is love for their fellow humans that brings the people of Earth together to defeat the alien forces and ultimately brings peace between the two races. The aliens gladly go home, the damage by the pixels is restored, and Earth remains free. 


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

We're the Millers

How far would you go to dig yourself out of a financial hole?

A very important question in today's struggling society.

In the film, We're the Millers, we meet four desperate people: David, who is wiped clean in a brutal robbery, Rose, who is wiped clean by her shady ex-boyfriend, Kenny, an innocent boy with a neglectful mother, and Casey, an angry teenage runaway.

Each one with a tragic story. Each one feeling lost and alone. Each one unaware of how much they long for a true family.

When David's Drug Lord of a boss presents a supposed “opportunity of a lifetime”, they all feel as if they have no other choice than to accept it. However, the risk becomes increasingly greater than the promised reward. The more time they spend together, the more like a real family they feel.

Until a slight oversight made by David sticks them in a situation where they require assistance. Cue the Fitzgeralds, a devout Christian family with an unnatural regard for following the law. They are not only a nightmare for “the Millers, but they are also a threat the entire operation. Their “opportunity of a lifetime”. At the same time, they are a kind family who offers the Miller help with ZERO expectations for anything in return.

The Fitzgeralds are kind, open, giving, and trusting people. They are the embodiment of true Christ followers. Their love instills a change in this makeshift family where they finally experience what they are all missing and unknowingly long for. Not only do the Millers learn to embrace, but they begin to express it among each other. One night with the Fitzgeralds gives the Millers a lasting impression.

For love is contagious.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.”

The things we do, the mood we share, make a lasting impression on those around us. As the Fitzgeralds' cheerful ministry is indeed medicine to these broken spirits. It is a message powerful enough to pull the Millers away from their path of destruction and accept a true chance at redemption. A chance to do the right thing instead of relying a false message that lies in this “opportunity”. Above all, a chance to legitimize their family.

We're the Millers is a beautiful story hidden under a shell of vulgarity. Some might find that disturbing, but not me. Such is the world. Vulgarity is everywhere. People swear. People steal. People break the law. People neglect and abuse their children. Look through it to the message beneath.

The real question remains. What can the church do the break into this vulgar world and make it better? Where are all the Fitzgeralds? Where is the ministry we've all been called to do?

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