Friday, July 07, 2006

Pirates of the Carribean II--- Yo Ho Ho....

It is usually the case that the second part of a trilogy is less satisfactory or satisfying than either the first, which sucks you in, or the final one which resolves the loose ends and tidies up the plot. Clearly enough, 'Dead Man's Chest' the second of the Depp 'Pirates' sagas falls into this classification, rather like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It is two and a half hours long and it is rather dark to say the least-- featuring the Machiavellian Davy Jones who shows up to tell Jack Sparrow his time is up. There are plenty of ghoulies in this movie like in the first, only more so, and I wouldn't really recommend this movie for children. It is too dark, despite its humor, sight gags, and yet another enjoyable performance by Johnny Depp.

However even Depps swagger, humor, and wonderful facial expressions can not entirely lighten the mood of this movie, which at junctures turns into something of an allegory about how Sparrow has no moral compass, and needs to grow a conscience. There are also some hilarious reflections on life and death by two members of Sparrow's crew, with the one eyed man being something of a philosopher. This is only just a little more surprising than the portrayal of Davy Jones as a maniacal organist.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley both reprise their roles admirably and well, but in the end the movie stands or falls with Depp, and we really needed more in depth Depp in this movie than we got. Then too, even for an action film, there was too many totally impossible actions scenes for one to willingly suspend one's disbelief in every case. Something should have been learned from the overkill of this sort of stuff in the King Kong remake. Hopefully there are still some better summer movies than this yet in store, but this one has enough redeeming features to make it worth watching. Part three which has already been filmed (made at the same time as part 2), will hopefully put the fun and swash back in the buckle of this series of films.


Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the warning ... Like almost everyone in the world, I'll be going to see this tomorrow, and hope I like a little more than you did

James Gregory said...

I was thoroughly disappointed with this movie. To sum up my post on this same issue, the movie lacked climax and resolution, was quite boring, and too unrealistic for me to suspend my disbelief.

Although you likened it to Indiana Jones, I just don't see how a third installment of the Pirates trilogy can even compare to it, because the Last Crusade was simply amazing, and in my opinion the best in that trilogy. With the way things are going with Pirates currently, I don't know if it will redeem itself as Indiana Jones did with its third installment.

Either it will end up being like the Matrix (the first one is great, the second one is lame, and the third one is mediocre), or it will become one of the best final installments of all time like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where the second installment is all but forgotten.

Traditionalist1611 said...

honest question here...does anyone think Jesus would be watching these movies? I saw the first one and was disgusted. sure enough there was tons of violence but a very dark sort, very ghoulish, and very unbiblical. A friend who saw the new one says this is even more pronounced in the new one and that the second is even more dark than the first. I can't understand why Christians are interested in this stuff which is so clearly unbiblical.

our standards are going down the drain!

Ben Witherington said...

Welll let me ask you this Tradfiotionalist. Did Jesus eat with sinners and tax collectors? Did he care enough about them to try and understand how they thought and why they lived as they did? I think the answer to these questions is yes. I don't think you have to enjoy all that you see in such movies, but I do think you need to try and understand why people like these things and watch them. We are part of an evangelistic religion. This means we must be able to understand and relate to the culture as it is. This at least in my case is why I do these things.


Sandalstraps said...

Interesting review, and worth considering before I spend my money on a film exercise principally designed to make money (for exactly the opposite sort of film making, do yourself a favor and see Thank You For Smoking, the funniest movie I've seen in a decade). And, in general you're right about the second movie in a series. Call it a sophomore slump.

However, a couple of movies worth considering as anti-dotes to the axiomatic assertion that the second movie in a series (generally trilogy) is the worst (and notice that they are recent comic-book adaptations):

Spider Man 2 (twice as good as the original)

X Men 2 (perhaps the best comic book adaptation yet)

There may be others, but because of the generally dismal nature of profit-driven sequels, I can't come up with them. A little help, please.

What I noticed about both of these movies is that the first part of the series was mostly exposition, drawing you into the characters and setting the stage for the action sequences. They did aim towards a climax, but they took their sweet time getting there.

The second film did not have to spend so much time setting the stage, and so could simply set up a conflict and then turn the characters' considerable powers toward solving that conflict. And, in general, the less complicated an action movie is, the better.

Ben Witherington said...

Welll some would argue the second Star Trek movie was better than the first. I would say that the Jewel of the Nile does not live up to its predecessor. I agree with you about the Spiderman sequel. Men in Black II was nowhere close to the first one. James Bond movies got better up to a point after the first one.


Traditionalist1611 said...

nobody is watching movies primarily to do evangelism. they are watching them for entertainment. I'm sure that is a little bit of the motivation for sme people, but overall they are watching movies to be entertained. There's a difference between Jesus eating with the tax collectors and collecting taxes with the tax collectors. There's a difference between Jesus reaching out to a prostitute and actig like a prostitute. Am I wrong? then why are we acting like the unregenerated by taking part in their same kind of ungodly entertainments? And where is the line drawn? Should i watch pornography to understand where porn addicts are coming from? Is the line drawn at sex sin and but violence, demonism and the like are OK? Very uneven!

Ben Witherington said...

Well, frankly unless you are omniscient you don't know why 'nobody' is watching movies when it comes to their motivations. Of course some people do watch them purely for entertainment. And you are right to ask about where is the line to be drawn.

However there is a difference between something which has no redeeming value and something which does. Pornography has none. Should we not read a classic like Pride and Prejudice because it suggests some unChristian things about what it means to be a Christian? I think not.

I also do not agree that Jesus did not take part in the fun of his own day. In fact he did--- unlike John the Baptist he got a reputation for being a friend of sinners, eating at their houses and drinking with them. Perhaps you have forgotten the huge number of gallons of Gallo Jesus created for the wedding party?



James Gregory said...


Your convictions are strong; that much you have made clear. But in this case I would have to say that your convictions should stay your convictions. With this matter I think that you do not have the right to place your own convictions on other people. This is what I believe Paul is referring to in Romans 14. If you think it right regarding this issue not to see movies of this nature, then stick to it; but keep your judgment to yourself and don't impose it upon others.

Glen Alan Woods said...

I watched the movie today. I feel like the parrot character needed more emotional depth. I mean it was so one dimensional, what with the one word squawks and the fluttering about like a...a..well.. a parrot. Couldn't he have broken out into a sonnet, or engaged battle scenes?

Ok, I am being a goof. :)

Seriously, I felt that the movie dragged a bit. It could have been about 30 minutes shorter if they would have cut out some scenes that were unnecessary to the story. I was rolling my eyes at the wheel turning about with the characters walking on it. However I did think that the one vs one vs one concept pitting the three characters against each other in a sword fight was quite clever, especially since they all had designs of some sort on the female character. One wonders if they were more interested in impressing her and capturing the chest. Sadly, its impact was eclipsed by the overkill in the entire sequence.

Interestingly I think they did a good job providing more depth for Keira Knightly's character, showing that a "nice person" can be negatively impacted by "not nice person" (shades of Jack Sparrow). The scene of her causing Jack to be entrapped on the ship and then lying about it--later to regret it--showed an internal conflict which made the story more interesting. Cheesy as the premise of the story is on the whole, it does provide some conversational touchpoints regarding character, choices and consequences.

Having said that, I completely agree that this movie is not appropriate for children or folks that easily have nightmares.

Emma said...

Everyone seems to adore this... I'm seeing it on Wednesday.

grace4quiddity said...

Did anyone stay until after the credits? woof?

Sandalstraps said...

Traditionalist said

[N]obody is watching movies primarily to do evangelism.

While, as Dr. Witherington pointed out, absent omniscience, this statement cannot be responsibly made, it can be cleaned up into something reasonable. Suppose that, instead of commiting the cardinal sin of making a statement which is true only if it is true of all people, Traditionalist had said something more moderated, like

It is reasonable to assume that most people, even evangelical Christians, do not go to movies principally to do evangelism

What, then, would remain of his broader point that the motivations with which one engages the "secular" culture impact the effectiveness with which one evangelizes that culture?

I suspect that he perhaps has it backwards. When Christians engage the "secular" culture with a single-minded focus on entirely changing that culture, on condemning it for its manifold sins and wickedness, on demanding that it immediately conform to a Christian ethos, then any evangelical effort is doomed to failure. This is because you cannot establish an authentic relationship with someone who you are entirely condemning. There can be no open, honest, trusting dialogue. And, all forms of ministry at their heart are relational, as the example of Christ shows us.

But when Christians engage the broader secular culture openly and honestly, while remaining true to themselves and their faith, they can do great good.

Going to the movies just to see the movie can be an evangelictic act, and a far more effective evangelistic act than going to the movies bent on converting everyone at the theater, because it makes the Christian familiar with the cultural language of the broader secular world, and because it helps to establish a connection with those who the Christian ultimately hopes to see converted.

I admire Traditionalist's desire to remain unpolluted and uncontaminated by the world, but his vision seems much more like that of the Qumran community than the approach of Jesus, who was in the world but not of it rather than totally apart from the world.

Besides that, contrary to some latent Christian guilt, there's nothing wrong with enjoying something that's simply fun. We need not apologize for watching a flick, or hearing a song, or reading a story, which simply delights us on a basic level. That, too, is a gift from God.

Quinn said...

It seems to me that Traditionalist1611 is not being given the fair hearing that he deserves. Rather than nitpicking on his words (ie."unless you are omniscient"), we would be better off to actually try to understand his point.

What he is referring to here is that here in our western culture we have exalted pleasure and entertainment to such a high place that we have made a god out of it. "Christians" of course are not exempt from this and have joined the unregenerate and are bowing down at the same altar.

All throughout history, nations all around the world have fallen into idolatry. Do we really think that our godless nation is exempt from this? In other times and places much of what was idolized were statues. Is it really any different just because our images are 2-dimensional and splashed on a screen?

According to Websters dictionary, idolatry is "excessive reverence for or devotion to a person or thing". To idolize is "to love or admire excessively". One must be spiritually blind to not see that this is exactly what the vast majority of North Americans have done with their T.V. shows and movies. Shows are prioritized over family time. The next show or movie is longed after with much anticipation. Everyone wants to be like the stars. From the way we dress to cosmetic surgery to the way that we act is all being shaped by our god of pleasure. Magazines, books, and shows about shows all testify to our obsession with this god. These shows have become the point on which we can all relate with one another. Its what we talk about with our co-workers. So much to the point that otherwise "Christian" blogs feel the need to do movie reviews.

Jesus said that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"(Mat 6:21). So where are North Americans spending their money? Is it on helping the widows and the orphans, and the poor and the needy? No. Its on its many pleasures and entertainments. Mostly, its in the movies. And its not just the heathens. No. Its the "Christians" as well. Jesus also said that “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other...”(Mat 6:24). So I ask to all who may read these words, where is your heart?

Are these shows and movie a “gift from God” to us? Or are they a snare of the devil? Are these movies something that encourages us on our race to our goal? Or are they a distraction? Are these movies giving us Godly examples for us to observe and follow. Or are they polluting us with the world. In watching these movies are we redeeming the time? Or are we wasting our time? Is our watching of these movies helping us to wage war with the forces of darkness and expand Gods kingdom of light? Or is it helping the cause of darkness in conforming “Christians” to the same lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, that the world is full of?(see 1Jn 2:26)

We are not called to come out of the world, but rather not to be of the world. Does not wanting to engage in bowing down at this altar, really make one to be “like that of the Qumran community”? It seems that those at Qumran locked themselves away in a hole -if you will-, and consequently any spreading of truth was stopped. Is this what Traditionalist 1611 has done? On the contrary, it seems to me that by the very fact that he shared truth on this blog, shows that he has not secluded himself from being a light to the world. He has shared the truth, even if it be not widely accepted within the “Christian” world. The words of Jesus weren't accepted in the religious community of His day either. Why? Because Jesus testified that “its works were evil”(Jn 7:7). It seems to me that Traditionalist 1611 is fitting the approach of Jesus here much more than that of the Qumran community.

Would Jesus watch these shows to entertain Himself, or even to learn how to relate to the world so that he might evangelize better? Never! These theories are rationalizations in order to justify ourselves. They are rational-lies. Lies that sound logical and reasonable. Has watching these shows ever helped evangelize our culture? Well lets test that. That is exactly what the “church” has been doing. How is it working out? Are the heathens flocking to Christ because of it?

Jewish law prohibited the drinking of blood. Jesus comes along and tells them that they need to drink His blood. What? You would think that if Jesus was too concerned about being culturally sensitive that He could of used different language than that. He didn't have to be so insensitive and offensive. But He was. And He lost disciples over it. Why did He do that? Because Jesus wasn't interested in making converts to Christianity. He was interested in making true -deny themselves completely- followers. Jesus wasn't concerned about being culturally sensitive. He knew there was no time to tip toe around the truth. He simply and boldly shared the truth and let the chips fall where they may. And he calls us to do the same. He calls us to drink His blood. To drink of His sacrifice. To walk the same bloody path that He walked. To be a light to the world and to be hated for it. He said that we'll be Persecuted like He was(Jn 15:20). So why are we trying so hard to relate and make friends with the world? If we truly walk Christs path, then their going to hate us anyway.

But are Christians really watching these shows to help them in their evangelistic endeavors? Hardly. Bens review gives this away. He admits that it is “dark” and that it “sucks you in”. But there is no mention of God. No mention of Gods perspective on the characters interactions. In fact, his review looks no different than one would look on a heathens blog. I do not say this to knock, Ben, but rather it just puts him in the camp of most of the rest of “western Christianity”. Ive personally read one of Bens books and thought it was fantastic. But he is wrong here. Ben would do much better to receive Traditionalist 1611s admonition and humbly admit that he watches these movies for their entertaining value.

What exactly is wrong with these movies? That is, besides the fact that they are exalted to ridiculous proportions in our culture? They are unbiblical. They promote a heathen ungodly world view. They promote homosexual relationships. They appeal to the lusts of the flesh. They are full of all kinds of unrighteousness. Envy, revenge, murder, deceit, boastfulness, violence, and disobedience to parents. Are these the kinds of things that a follower of Christ should be putting before his eyes? God says that whatever is “pure” and “lovely” are the things that we should “think on”(Phil 4:8). So why do you watch these things? For pleasure. “ the last days... men shall be... lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”(2 Ti 3:1-2, 4). When we fix our eyes and ears and thoughts on these things, we are taking Christ off of the throne in our lives and replacing Him with our pleasures. We are worshiping at the altar of the god of pleasure, rather than at the feet of Jesus Christ.

It was said that pornography has no redeeming value. What if a show that has some otherwise redeeming value has just a little bit of pornography? Is it then acceptable to watch? The word Pornography comes from two Greek words. Porneia (strongs #4202), and Graphe (stongs #1124) . Graphe is “a writing, thing written”(Thayers). Porneia is a generic term for sexual sin of any kind(Strongs). So we have a “writing of sexual sin of any kind”. This is exactly what we see in pornography. A visual “writing” of sexual sin. But this also encompasses a lot more than what we typically ascribe to pornography. It is not just graphic nudity, it is a portrayal of sexual sin of “any kind”.

Something that seems to be often overlooked in these shows is that it is actual people doing these things in order to make these shows. These shows must not just be simply judged on the content of the plot. An example? One of the last movies I ever watched was about the pioneer days. A sweet young lady was reaching the age of marriage. She so desired to remain pure for her husband that she was reserving her first kiss for her husband. Nobody else would ever touch her lips with theirs. In the end she gets married and they share that first kiss together. Isn't that a sweet, morally, even “Christian” plot? However, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes. The sweet young lady wasn't so pure. She was an actor. She was a real person sharing a real kiss with another real person. But he wasn't her husband. In fact, being an actress, this woman has probably kissed many other men in the name of “acting”. Where does God ever excuse our lewdness or other sins in the name of acting? Yet we have been so mind-numbed, that we don't even think of it. And when we do... well, its just acting isn't it? No. Its not. Its real life. Its real people doing and saying real things. They are doing it for money. There is a biblical word for people who commit any kind of sexual sin for money. Its called Porne (strongs # 4204). “A prostitute. [One] who practices sexual immorality for payment”(Strongs). Thats Gods view of these things.

And who are the ones who are paying? We are. We are the ones who are committing Porneia by watching and giving our money at the altar of this god of lust. We are the ones supporting all these immoral activities. The film company's of which many in turn, go and support highly unbiblical causes using the money that we have given them. The actors of which for the most part are living very immoral lives. The television stations, including the lewd music videos and “soft” porn late at night, are all suported by our money, simply by paying our cable bill. The movie theaters continue to be in business because we give them our money(even though we may just watch the “innocent” shows). But because we give them our money, they are able to broadcast other much more ungodly shows. The “video rental stores” which have stacks and stacks of movies that blaspheme the name of Christ. We buy movies from Columbia House and support them with our money, probably not even realizing that by doing so we are supporting a company which also sells blatant pornography through its subsidiary company called “Hush”. Why???? Why are we supporting all of these things with our money that God Himself has given to us as a resource for advancing the kingdom of light? Why? One reason, and one reason only. For our pleasures.

“ the last days... men shall be... lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”(2 Ti 3:1-2, 4)

We think that were okay wasting our time and our money watching these things. We think that we aren't affected by the influences of these shows. Wake up people! All the company's that pour their money into commercials know better. Thats why they do it. They know that it influences people. They wouldn't waste all that money if it wasn't true. God knows better. For as a man “ thinketh in his heart, so is he...”(Prov 23:7). Just look at how our society has plummeted downhill in its values, since the widespread distribution of T.V. It has been and continues to be Satan's number one weapon in North America to disarm the church of its sword. Romans 1:32 says, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” We may excuse ourselves by saying that we ourselves are not doing these things that are portrayed in the movies, but are we having “pleasure in them that do them”?

“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils”(1 Cor 10:21).
We must stop suckling at the breast of Hollywood and return to drinking the pure milk of Gods word.

Yes, Jesus knew how to have fun. But he would never have compromised purity for the sake of having fun! Going to see a movie just to see a movie is not an evangelistic act. It is a compromise with the world. Going to the movies bent on converting everyone at the theater may not be such a bad idea. It reminds me of what Jesus did at the temple. Of course that was to the religious, not to the heathen. The church needs a wake-up call. Its in a spiritual slumber and needs to be shaken awake. But the church is too busy feeling like it has to please the world. That it has to build “relationships” with them in order to show them the truth. Oh yeah. Hows that going for you? And where oh where does Christs example show us that “all forms of ministry at their heart are relational”?

“keep your judgment to yourself and don't impose it on others”. Traditionalist 1611 was giving an admonishment of the truth, and in return he is accused of being judgmental. Bravo Traditionalist 1611! Keep up the good work! The Godly are always persecuted for righteousness sake. Jesus was accused of being judgmental too. The religious hated him. They killed him for it. And why? Because he exposed to them their evil deeds(Jn 7:7). People don't like to have their evil deeds exposed. It makes them feel judged. Were not judging you folks. Were loving you. Were loving you enough to try to expose to you the error of your ways for the sake of your own soul.

Romans 14:23 says, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” So I ask you, do you “doubteth” when you eat of the breast of Hollywood? Do you feel that your conscience is clear and that you are eating of it “to the Lord”(Rom 14:6)? Am I judging you? Am I condemning you? Or is that the Holy Spirit convicting your soul? Far too often in our churches, the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is passed off as the condemnation of the devil. It is not the condemnation of the devil. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sins. Don't be so quick to attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to the work of Satan. Jesus warns that those who do this are messing around with the unforgivable sin(Mk 3:22-30). I pray that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes and the ears of your hearts.

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God Bless.