Monday, July 23, 2012

The Fallen Rise- TDKR review

In Batman Begins, Bruce fought a man that had deep, obscure connections who would try to bring down Gotham City using everyone's deepest, darkest fears as their own weapon.
In The Dark Knight, he fought a man who would push him to break his only rules of no killing and bring him into anarchy, no matter the cost.
This time, things are brought farther than ever before.
This would be a hard to do, review-wise, considering how impressively complex the film is, in every aspect. Story, character development, plot twists, technical, everything. Christopher Nolan's become a big name for a good many reason. Not the least of which has been recreating Batman for this new generation while retaining to Bob Kane's original idea.
When the news was unveiled tht Chris would be coming back, there was speculation of who the villain would be, with the popular idea being the Riddler (played by Johnny Depp). Finding out it'd be Bane, I admit, I was VERY hesitant, namely because of how Joel Schumacher had ruined Bane. I admit, even though I loved watching the 90's animated show as a kid, I never actually read the comics as a kid, so I didn't know how Bane was- a master manipulator, strategist who knew a couple secrets to bringing Batman down. And he's best known for his iconic image of breaking Batman's back in the first issue of the Knightfall miniseries.
For this film, things had to be taken far. Very far. Farther than we could imagine.
And Bane was incredibly well-done as a terrorist who actually was intensely terrifying, even if he wasn't completely faithful to the comics (he was Hispanic, not a Brit). Nonetheless, he was a mystery to behold, with bits and pieces of his past being told, and just enough to get under my skin.
It's been 8 years since the Joker and Harvey Dent/Two-Face went on an anarchic rampage through Gotham City, and though Batman wasn't the that did it, everyone blames him for killing Harvey Dent, Gotham's White Knight. To make sure Harvey's image was never tainted, Bruce made sure Batman was seen as the criminal everyone sought him out to be. And make Harvey the impeccable, noble lawyer he set himself up to be in everyone's eyes. And, in the process, Bruce has become a recluse, with rumors of how he may look.
Things get off to a strange start when, at an 8-year anniversary held in vigil of Dent's death, a woman dressed as a maid tries to get something and is caught doing so, but more than one thing is being set in motion. The obvious was what she was caught trying to steal. The less obvious... I'll leave you to see the movie for those details.
Nonetheless, we're introduced to Selina Kyle in a very classy way. And she does prove to be a mystery. As does the other potential love interest for Bruce, Miranda Tate.
Somewhere else int he world, a new terrorist has set in motions plans that complex meaning and many factors that will play into it all, not the least of which if painful fear.
Very soon after the anniversay vigil, we find out how manipulative Selina can be, and without any revealing details, I'll simply say there are many ways to get what you want if you know your way around.
Something else I really appreciated was the nods to the previous films. If a film in the end of a series didn't include nods to its predecessors, I would find it irritatingly stupid. In this case, it had appropriate nods to both previous Nolan Batman films, as well as substories from Alfred. Beautifully done, Christopher. Very beautifully done.
Something else I noticed (though after the film), that I don't think the director intended, was a Biblical theme that's next to never thought about. The world think s of political reigns and regimes as "rise and fall of", whereas the Bible (and now this film) has the theme of "fall and rise", even when "rise" is more of a challenge. Batman has many challenges of falling (including a horrifyingly great homage to one of the most notorious comic book images between Batman and Bane). And only from finding where his true strengths lie rising up to meet the challenges can he truly become stronger.
DKR also has a dystopian theme that, like any other dystopian films, presents the flaws of a society run by a truly crippling and terrifying dictator (in this cas, not a politician, jsut someone who's the epitome of ruthless).
In the end, this legend does have to end, and though I won't say how, loose ends are tied, mysteries along the timeline get hinted at and explained in different ways (not a single way was done wrong). Along with the last 30 seconds showing hope for the future, no matter what. All of it, beautifully done.
Only gripes I have were Bane's vocals, through the pretty loud background music, or just on his own, there were times I couldn't understand Bane. That's it.
Now, if you'll excuse, it's time I go back to watch the second movie I've ever watched more than once in theaters that count at all. And third Batman movie I've ever watched in theaters (great job, Chris!).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thoughts on religious ignorance

I've been hearing it since college (shows how isolated I am) that Christians are uneducated/ignorant. Well, when I first heard/read that, I was understandably off-put. Ironically, I was ignorant of that stereotype. In the last couple years of living in the Bible Belt, however, I have come to realize how true that is... just not in entirety, rather, in general areas. Like certain parts of Oklahoma City having decently educated Christians while the WBC in Topeka, KA, is notorious for their ignorance on literally anything. So, while the saying is true that "there are extremists in every religion", we should consider not just extremists in doctrines and how some interpret those doctrines, but also extremist in intellect or ignorance.
If one were to ask me how smart I think of myself, I'll be honest on how I see my own mind: "Not as smart as some, nor as dumb as some, I'm as smart as I am, and I'm okay with it." Some have looked at me very weirdly for having flunked the 4th grade once (my brother still pokes jokes about that one), nearly flunking high school, and and doing so in college twice. My excuse? I'm not fit for academic requirements and felt pushed to learn what didn't interest me. What interest me? Foreign mythologies (which has confused my mother deeply at times, though some are uniquely connected to Christianity and Judaism in different ways), foreign languages (not the typical ones likes French and Spanish, but Latin, Norwegian, Gaelic, Russian, and more ancient ones likes Babylonian, Sumerian, and ancient dialects of modern languages), and different types of puzzles. Oh, yes, and one thing that definitely confuses people- different cultural taboos. So, yeah, I simply know things others don't while people know things I don't. And I'm okay with that.
Now, as for this Age of "Enlightenment", I've noticed something about using "science" as a way of knowing things, at least, in the way "enlightened" people (like atheists and skeptics) use, something that late Christian apologist/author had noticed as well- science has become less about knowledge and more about control. At times, that control seems to also mean degrading people who don't see things their own way. I would know, one of my bosses at my current job, Wal-Mart in Alva, constantly talks to me as a child, degrading me in literally every way he can think of. He's a preacher's son who says he's Christian, yet his attitude, etc., proves otherwise, and he does constantly say he knows more than I do, yet none of what he knows seems to be related to work knowledge of Wal-Mart ("Dude, I've been around Wal-Mart all my life, I know how things are run!") Yeah, well, I suppose I should know how to take complete care of rigs since my father was a big rig driver- oh, wait, sorry, he believed he was only to drive them, not take care of them, so I guess that doesn't matter. Not a single person at W*M (as I've taken to calling it on facebook) believes he's worthy of being a leader, let alone an unworthy boss.
Now, there is something I'll agree with atheists about, there are some churches that show some stereotypes and cliches to be true. Unfortunately.
Aside from Westboro Baptist Church, there's also a website called that takes extremist literalism (in other words, not recognizing symbolism and poetry for what they are and not reading entire parts, just reading the convenient parts) and degrades many who see/do things differently than the curator does.
Example, while it's true that rock 'n roll does have some dark roots and so many heavy metal bands are actual devil worshippers (and there are some that use front as a getup, they really don't, they satirize the idea, but the religious elite doesn't recognize the joke and condemn them vehemently), there are Christian rock/metal bands that are full-out Christ-followers. Yet the curator loathes them and condemns them for many reason. One constant thread of condemnation is that they're rock bands. Period. I guess he never heard of, started by former lead Korn guitarist Brian Welch, who says "God and Jesus is first, I am second.", and Brian lets his complete faith be known throughout his music, without shame nor reserve. And also reveals how dark his life had been through some of the lyrics (like in his song "Chemicals", there's a line that goes "You're the kisser and the killer" in reference to the drugs he used to take). And that's just one thing the guy condemns throughout the entire website. He literally tackles every issue. Sad thing is there's no "contact" button anywhere so anyone can reveal the truth about what he's saying.
Nor is that the only website that reveals why people see Christians as ignorant/stupid.
The next is called The onyl good thing is that there's not been a single update in two years this coming September. Why's that good? Just go to the Mall Mission to find out why. Certain stores are condemned as evil/Satanic. Cinnabon for sounding like "Sin Upon", Hot Topic for promoting gay lifestyles and "any guesses as to why they have 'hot' in their name?" Uh, yeah, they go with whatever is "hot" (slang for current topic of social thought), not for temperature of Sheol. J.C.Penny's for being reminescent of Jesus Christ and having- WHOA, WAIT A MINUTE! Is it just me or is that misspelled? Oh, yeah, j.c.pennEy's is named after the founder of the store, James Cash Penney. The site claims that "Penny" is how little value the store sees in Jesus, and claims that even Judas valued him at 30 pieces of silver. Okay, that claim just showed a couple pieces of historical/Biblical ignorance. Not ignorance coming from the Bible, but ignorance of certain details within the Bible. For one, which Judas? In His circle of twelve disciples, there TWO men named Judas (since I'm an originalist, I'd rather call them as their original name, Iuda), that's why some called him Judas Iscariot, or literally, Iuda of Kerioth-Hezron, now a haunt of jackals. And plus, he didn't value Jesus at 30 pieces of silver. Maybe he just went for a random piece of fortune, maybe he wanted a grand amount. Whatever he wanted, he was chosen by the Pharisees to bring in who they saw as a blasphemer (it all started when he told a paralyzed man that HE forgave him, not what everyone else had normally said, "May the Father forgive you") and gave him one. single. day's wage as an offer to bring Jesus in. So, I really don't know, maybe Iuda saw no value in him and was only in it for whatever price he had coming to him, but he went with it without complaint (likely). So, just with that one store, that church showed quite a bit of ignorance in their own sacred text and national history. They also condemn Sears for the name sounds like "seers", what happens to the flesh in Sheol.
I guess some churches have too much time on their hands to take down anyone who thinks any way different than them. Then again, they have "ways" of being different and "witnessing" to regular shoppers. And many of those ways borderline on total incredulity. Read it and find out. I suppose it's like that Blue Stahli song says, "force-feeding, misleading." And all that's just for the Mall. They also have a section exclusively for video games, and they're just intensely ridiculous. All (save one) M-rated games are rated 0 crosses (MGS2:SoL is given 1) out of 5. Things is, they don't play them, they admit it, they say the games aren't allowed to be played on their university campus, so they go by second-hand information. That's like making a review on a possibly great game and saying it's terrible because someone else said so while not trying it for yourself. All games they deem as Christian (save one) got 5 crosses (including Minecraft, which looks like a 3D, 8-pixel version of the Sims to me, but what do I know? It's not my thing, so I won't play it), with the exception getting 4.
It's become a sad state of mind that we've become. Our Lord was known for His unqiue creativity in storytelling (and those stories of His were rather dark- virgins being left behind, a man going to Hell for ignoring a beggar's plea for any water, then begging himself for a single drop of water, weeds choking the life out of seeds, etc.), and partying with the... worst of them (the Pharisees saw Him as a glutton), and here we are worried about what our brethren would think of us. Are they judging you? Would they listen to your reasons? If so and if not, then that's not where you should be.
Personally, I'd read the Bible not only through a guideline lens, but also for psychology, prophecy, mystery, suspense, maybe even a horror story or two. When I think about it, it's not only full of guidelines for how to live an interesting life, even if you don't believe in it, then it's full of literally every single type of literature and genre there is. Seriously.