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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones through you in His name by His Word
(2001), PG-13 [PG(13)*]
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Christian Long Distance
(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)
Distributed by: Cloud Ten Pictures
Director(s): Andre van Heerden
Producer(s): Nicholas D. Tabarrok
Executive Producer(s): Peter LaLonde, Paul LaLonde
Photography: George Jiri Tirl
Music: Gary Koftinoff
Written by: Andre van Heerden, Peter LaLonde, Paul LaLonde
It does seem that many good-versus-evil movies present evil-versus-good. Meaning they seem to give a lot of cinematic attention to the works, ways, power and presence of evil, giving the impression of good being weak and sheepish as evil easily conquers good even if only temporarily. While it might be entertaining for us to see good have a final swooping blow to evil in the end, such programming seems to say that evil is triumphant until good, by chance, finds a "loophole" through which to narrowly squeeze a victory. It would be nice (in my opinion) to see a Christian movie present the power and strength of good up front and throughout rather than spending most of the screen time on showing evil and its brutal but temporary triumphs. Now there's a challenge.
I also challenge Cloud Ten Pictures, who are undoubtedly experts in producing faith-based films, to produce movies in which each occurrence of antiChristian comments such as "closed minded", "bigoted", "fascists", "oppressive", "brainwashed", "unable to think for themselves", "faith is a crutch", "ignorant", "Christianity has killed more people than all the wars combined", and "haters of freedom of speech" were met with the Truth and stop portraying the believers as silent or as not being able to think of anything to refute the comment(s). Jesus wasn't silent.
Believer Helen Hannah is in a vile and disgusting prison for crimes against humanity. Or so claims the World Court*. In this sobering courtroom thriller, Helen Hannah (Leigh Lewis) is a hater of all mankind since she will not accept the new world order. The World Court is the global supreme court under the new world order, One Nation Earth (O.N.E.) led by Franco Macalousso (Nick Mancuso), better known by the believers as Lucifer, the devil, Satan but known by the new world population as their "savior" who brought global peace and prosperity: who did more for mankind in two years than God did for man in 5000 years.
Helen is scheduled for trial for her life, accused of the world's highest crime: hating of all mankind. She is also accused of orchestrating multiple terrorist murders of even small school-aged children, the only thing that stands in the way of global peace and unity. Macalousso and prosecuting attorney Victoria Thorne (Jessica Steen) plot to use Helen and her case to further Macalousso's plans for the world by using a precedence-setting trial of Helen Hannah that will, according to Macalousso, "do more for me (Satan) than she ever did for Him."
Knowing some dark secrets about "lukewarm" and undecided Mitch Kendrick (Corbin Bernsen), a high powered "still seen as fair and just" lawyer, Thorne manipulates Mitch into defending Helen. Mitch had just completed a trial of his own believer father ... Mitch lost and his pastor father was executed. By the dark secrets Thorne knows about Mitch, the same fate awaits him if he doesn't comply with Thorne. So Mitch reluctantly takes the case of defending Helen.
In the chambers of Judge Thornton Wells (Michael Copeman), the presiding judge of the Hannah trial, Mitch finds that even the trial that convicted his father was as rigged as the Helen Hannah trial will be. Wells and Thorne have scripted a more than 300 page script of how the trial is to proceed ... and end. Mitch cannot win for losing. No matter how dazzling his defense strategy may be, no matter the truth, he has lost the case even before the trial starts.
A group of believers watch the announcement of the upcoming Hannah trial and among them is J. T. Quincy (Mr. T). All of the believers seem to be very passive while JT is certainly aggressive about rescuing Helen and is tired of the passive resistance of the others. A rift in the ranks develops as JT launches a campaign to spring Helen. But how much physical force should a Christian use to battle evil? JT quotes Scripture of God sending His warriors into battle with weapons and uses it to justify himself going into battle using firearms. "Maybe you put this in God's hands, but I'm tired of sitting on mine."
Now the trial begins. Mitch introduces himself to Helen as her defense attorney while she is in her cell, defending her of the charge of the world's highest crime -- hating all of humanity. An offense punishable by death. As Helen walks into the courtroom she is pelted by the observing crowd of nonbelievers. Prosecuting attorney Thorne begins by describing Helen as the only one on the boat called Earth on a river of time who is not rowing with the rest of the people. The boat called earth heads to a waterfall and all are going to die unless everyone rows together as prompted by "one man with vision" - Macalousso. But according to Thorne, Helen is not only not rowing, she is knocking the oars out of everyone else's hands and is indeed pushing them off the boat simply because she thinks it is wrong to save themselves from mortal death by following Macalousso/Satan.
Mitch musters the courage to slowly counter Thorne's maneuvers with a rather tale-telling speech. He asked Helen what is two plus two? She answered "four" amidst Thorne's objection that Helen is not a math expert. Overruled by Judge Wells, Mitch proceeds with his approach asking Helen well what if everyone wanted two plus two to equal five, would it? Helen says "No" and Mitch adds some horsepower to his point by asking what if e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e reeeeeally wanted two plus to to be five, would it? "No." Why not? "It's not the truth." Well, Mitch pipes up with isn't that being narrow minded and prejudiced since everyone wants it to be five? I mean everyone wants two plus two to be five. I'll not give away the mechanisms of that part of the script in case you decide the movie is appropriate for you and/or your family, but this is how this movie intricately and masterfully weaves common arguments of the enlightened and progressive unbelieving population into the script. But therein lies a possible danger inherent with such programming - smooth presentation of fine-sounding arguments against faith [Col. 2:4]. A danger that children who are yet undeveloped in their faith may get stuck on such argumentation and their development may be compromised.
Mitch also throws a twist in the scripted trial by telling everyone that Helen is nothing but a will-less follower, an automaton following the whims of another ... of God. So Mitch decides that it is time to change the trial and put her Master on the stand, "Let's put God on trial!" Macalousso likes the change. He is even noted to say "I'll cherish this moment for eternity ... God found guilty of His crimes against His Creation by His Creation."
This trial is indeed emotionally charged and most interesting. Not only is Helen put on the stand, so is Macalousso. And so is God. What will be the Judgment?
I will spoil no more of the story line and leave it up to you, of course, to discover the results of the trial. Note that while the learned believer will find much fortification of his/her faith in Judgment and will likely find it an excellent evangelism tool, I find this movie not quite a "family-friendly" film since the child will not, likely cannot understand it. Experiential and Spiritual maturity are needed to help the adolescent mind make sense of it and to help prevent capture of the wrong sense presented by the evil characters.
One issue in this movie has me confused. As believers, we know that taking the mark of the beast means rejecting Jesus and serving the antiChrist. Some of the characters, ostensibly Christians, pretended to accept the mark of the beast by wearing fake but operational decal marks on their right hand. Would that be that same as accepting the mark? Even if they were using the pretense to infiltrate and fight the evil? Their pretense of wearing a fabricated mark of the beast still told others that the wearer is loyal to the beast. Doing so could convince others by example to take the mark of the beast: could cause others sin. Causing others to take the mark by wearing it, even in pretense, would be a sin. But they were pretending to be loyal to the beast while their hearts were with Jesus. Or were they? Would doing so be the cowardice God condemns? [Rev. 21:8] Would doing so be the lukewarm He warns us about? [Rev. 3:16] My inclination is that yes, to wear even a fake mark of the beast would be, in God's eyes, the same as taking it authentically. Tell me what you think on this point.
Indeed, there are the many fine-sounding arguments and much smooth talking in Judgment against belief in God as the Father and Christ as the Savior [Col. 2:4; Rom. 16:18; Is. 5:20]. There in lies a bit of danger as mentioned briefly above. If your child watches this and happens to latch on to one of the arguments seemingly victorious over good and over righteous authority (and many if not most preteens and teens nowadays resist any and all authority -- just like in the movies), it may serve to become a non-empirical cancer in his/her Spiritual growth and development. Especially when the fires of puberty hits as the typical adolescent really starts to search for the truth about life and question everything. What might be best is to first watch it yourself then prepare yourself for questions you did not know could be thought of by the young mind. And don't wait for the child to have questions. Explain it as s/he watches it. One of the arguments was about where was God and why wouldn't He defend Himself. Could you answer that question from your intelligent and aware child in a way the child would understand AND believe your answer?
Further, if your child watches Judgment s/he will see violence equivalent to a lite R-rated movie. There are a number of cold blooded gunfire murders as would be expected of Satan's dogs. None are gory with guts hanging out and pounds of flesh blasting away as bullets exit, but each is quite nihilistic and even portrayed with lust being satisfied by the act. The actors and actresses in this movie are not fresh out of a college drama class. They are good. Bernsen gets rather animated and is quite convincing several times. They who demonstrate the murders are steely cold about it. This is not a "University Productions" presentation. It WILL cause you to think. To ponder. To think and ponder the Truth and be grateful for it. Which makes it a good evangelism tool for adults.
Please go to the Findings/Scoring section before you decide on what age stratum is appropriate for this Spiritually sobering entertainment. Whether an influence is in a movie with a Christian message of Truth and consequences such as Judgment or in a secular slasher flick, the influence can ... influence [1Cor. 15:33].
* Apparently, folks, a world court has already been established. This year (2002).
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
(The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
Offense to God (O):
|NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.|
|"There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|
Thank you for visiting us and may God bless you. Prayerfully, we will provide you with some of the most revealing commentary and investigative reporting you have ever read. |
In the name of Jesus:
Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.
ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture
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