Not Fun
 
            “The Informers” is supposed to be based on short stories published in 1995, about a seemingly random group of people in L.A in 1983:  a movie producer, a British rock band, a doorman, a television newscaster, a child kidnapper, even----but it just sort of dissolves into a blurry excess of sex, drugs, and 80’s punk music.  Lots of nudity, but no real love.  Lots of money, but no real idea what to do with it.  Lots of talent, most of it wasted.  As one of the characters complains, toward the end, “If there is no one to tell you right from wrong, how do you know?”  Like nobody’s ever heard of a church?  All are adults, but they behave like children totally controlled by selfish impulses, as if unaffected by parental upbringing.
            The same is true for “Next Day Air,” where a package with illegal drugs is mistakenly delivered to the wrong address.  Everybody cusses constantly, everyone is trying to get their hands on either the drugs or the money or both, and there’s nobody to root for because there is no one who does good, no, not one (Psalm 53:3).
            While “The Informers” and “Next Day Air” blatantly disregard any kind of personal ethics, “ Battle for Terra” is a self-conscious morality tale, set in the future but animated with retro technology.  A peaceful planet of gentle creatures is overrun by aggressive former earthlings, whose ancestors destroyed the environment (insert heavy-handed message here), and now the sole survivors are marooned on a spaceship.  They all battle mercilessly until a kid figures out that it’s possible they could share the planet.  What a concept.  All-Star voice cast, aimed at children, benign intent.  The adults will have to endure the political agenda and the obvious buffoonish caricatures.        
            “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is a “Battle For Terra” by comic book instead of cartoon.  OK, for those of us who are not “into” the original X-Men comic books, the story is still somewhat comprehensible.  A couple of boys in the Canadian territory in 1845 seem to have special wolf-like powers.  After they grow up, they don’t seem to age, either, and helpfully lend themselves to fighting wars, first for the North in the American Civil War, then in World War I, World War II, Viet Nam (what happened to Korea?), and we fully expect to see Desert Storm, but something happens along the way, and this is where it gets murky.  An American colonel takes the two “talented” men and recruits them into a “special force” with other “mutants,” now doing covert ops for the U.S. government.  That wouldn’t be too different from what they’d already been doing, except now the ethical lines are murkier---instead of soldiers fighting against other soldiers, they’re harassing non-combatants.  Then, when asked to massacre uncooperative civilians, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) suddenly quits, and tries to retire, back to the Canadian Northwest, with a sweet wife and a homely existence as a lumberjack.  But his old partner in crime, “Sabretooth” (Liev Schreiber), is not willing to let him off the hook so easily, and neither is the corrupt colonel, who is now hunting down the scattered mutants, imprisoning them, and trying to harness a ll of their collective powers for his own nefarious uses (with the help of Sabretooth, who thinks he’s going to be infused with everyone else’s abilities).  So, from almost-noble motives we have basically been reduced to lust for power, greed, and revenge.  So all the slashing and CGI combat really doesn’t excite the imagination, because there’s not enough clear distinction between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”  (Rooting for a prison escape seems morally muddled, as well, especially for a comic book plot.)  The Special Effects are pretty good.  Hugh Jackman is a true star as “Wolverine.”  But that’s not enough to overcome the absence of clear plot, the viewer deception, and the utter lack of anything approaching humor, whimsy, or lightheartedness.  Isn’t it supposed to be fun?
            Nobody has any fun in “Obsessed,” either, where a happily-married man (Idris Elba) is stalked by a temp (Ali Larter) at work, and the more he rebuffs her the more obsessed she gets.  Beyonce Knowles plays the indignant wife who first kicks him out of the house, apparently for even thinking about it, and then, literally, fights for her man.  You know exactly where this movie is headed, but you don’t care enough about the characters to want to watch them belabor the obvious.
           
Questions for Discussion:
1)      Have you ever been stalked?  Did you seek help, or try to handle it yourself?
2)      When have you seen the rejection of conscience make a shipwreck of everyone’s life? (I Timothy 1:19)
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Church, Greenville , Texas