Bolts from the Blue
“Bolt”: With the
huge contemporary interest in superheroes, superpowers, magical ability,
supreme athletic prowess, and even vampire strength, it's refreshing to find
an animated feature that explicitly moves past that obsession.
"Bolt" is about a dog (voice of John
Travolta) featured on a television series, who always saves his
"Human," a young teenage girl (voice of Miley
Cyrus), because he can run through walls, bark up an earthquake, and
heat metal just by staring at it. Bolt is so into his part that he
really thinks he possesses these extraordinary abilities, not realizing that
he lives in a trailer on a studio set. But he really does love his
"Human," and when he gets accidentally separated, and shipped to New
York City, he has to begin his long odyssey back to Hollywood
as a mere mortal, er, ordinary dog. Along the way, he makes
friends, gets hurt, find out that he bleeds, learns to rely on his instincts
and wits, and actually becomes a "real" dog. Then, when he
finally reunites with his "Human," the relationship is even better
than before, because it's based in reality, not fantasy. Yes, a parable
for our times; but endearingly done, and worth wearing the 3-D glasses
for a couple of hours, even if you don't bring small children with you.
Director Danny Boyle’s foray into Mumbai (formerly Bombay ) produces
one of this year’s surprisingly high-impact films. The
plot line sure doesn’t grab the attention of the American viewer:
a kid from the slums of Mumbai finds himself on the Indian version “Who
Wants to Be a Millionaire”? Who would want to
watch that? But Boyle expertly crafts together a
heart-grabbing story, about a kid from the slums who somehow manages not only
to survive, but to gain experience along his rocky path that would end up
helping him answer the unique, obscure questions of the game show, despite the
incredible obstacles and the obvious unlikelihood. The
cacophony of modern Mumbai,
and the incredible, unpredictable fabric of the life of the little boy they
called “Slumdog,” will affect you beyond anything you would expect.
“Twilight” is guaranteed to have an
effect, at least in the box office: the wildly popular book
series by Stephenie Meyer
about teenage vampires promises a loyal following for the film among American
teenage girls and young adult women (and their reluctant dates), because
it’s so, romantic. But there’s more flesh to the story
than just a bare-bones horror flick. Bella
Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves to the gloomy Pacific
Northwest during high school because her Mom in sunny Arizona has just
re-married, and because Bella hasn’t spent that much time with her Dad, a
small-town police chief. As the new kid in school, she
finds a fairly welcoming group of local students, who tell her to avoid a
clique-ish family of Cullens
who are weird and keep to themselves. Of course, that’s
what attracts her, especially Edward (Robert Pattison), a strangely handsome
lad who is different from anyone she’s ever met. So,
fast-forward through several awkward exchanges and hesitant personal
revelations, and at last we get to it: he’s a vampire.
And he doesn’t melt in the sunlight, he sparkles. He
never sleeps, and his “family” (they’re bonded by blood, sort of) is the
civilized type: they feed on animal blood instead of human.
But, explains Edward, that’s just like a normal human deciding to
live on tofu, and they have to corral their basic instinct, and yes, he
desires her in t hat way, as well. But she intrigues him
because he can’t read her mind like he can the others. Really,
what he craves is a little mystery, because immortality has kind of spoiled
that for him. She’s in love with the danger, of course,
and is thrilled with his super-senses, but there’s something almost
theological here, as well: Is she ready to give up who she
is in order to be in his world with him? Is she ready to
sacrifice herself to save someone she loves? And is he
willing to risk his safety, and those around him, in order to be vulnerable to
love? And can he control himself enough to have a
reciprocal relationship with her, rather than just wanting to devour her?
Yes, the sexuality is repressed, and the whole vampire bloodsucking
thing is carefully understated. This isn’t just your
parents’ vampire movie.
Questions for Discussion:
What would you do for love? What
would you not do for love?
How hard is it to overcome a brutal, loveless
childhood in order to become a contented, functioning adult?
What’s your most extraordinary dog story?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace
Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas