Chroview: I’m Not Ashamed

Whenever a movie is made about a real life tragedy, there’s always a sense of urgency to get all of the facts straight. Especially when the film is produced by a family member. I read Rachel’s Tears back in high school, over ten years ago, which is what got me interested in the Columbine massacre. (I should probably point out that the book wasn’t assigned in class. My mom let me borrow it. I know if I don’t point that out people with get mad thinking that a school assigned a religious book)

Rachel Joy Scott died at Columbine High School on 20 April 1999. I didn’t read the book until 2004. And yet, Rachel inspired me then and still inspires me to this day. I wasn’t even actually a Christian yet when I read it, and still her life influenced me. I realize how weird this may sound, but even though I never knew her, she feels like a friend. I lost a friend before I even knew her.

I saw all of this so that you understand that when I watched this movie, it wasn’t just another Christian movie, or even just another “based on real events” movie. It was like seeing the life of a friend being adapted into a movie. When I first heard about it and watched the trailer, I was extremely excited. I even purchased the updated 10 year anniversary edition of Rachel’s Tears and reread it. So when I watched the movie tonight, it was fresh on my mind.

I will come right out and say this; This movie disappointed me almost immediately. They changed several key moments in her life to fit their own narrative they wanted to do. For starters, Rachel says early in the movie that she’s not spiritual, essentially dismissing being a believer. In the next scene she goes to spend the summer with religious family and is annoyed, and even criticizes them. But then she abruptly converts. In reality, she wasn’t ever a nonbeliever, at least not the scoffer type. Also, she was saved when she was eleven, not sixteen like in the movie. They made it seem like she was only a Christian the last year of her life.

Her motivations were likewise changed in the movie. She wasn’t motivated by wanting a boyfriend. She wasn’t interested in that at all. In fact, she was starting to date this guy but he didn’t have the same end goals as her, so she ended it so that the relationship wouldn’t interfere with her relationship with God. In the movie, the relationship ended because he sleeps with her bestfriend and she walks in on them, and most of the rest of the film is her trying to forgive them.

Speaking of the “boyfriend” Alex, in real life, she had a passion for acting. That’s why she was missing Break Thru for the play rehearsals. But in the film, she was in the play to spend more time with Alex. In fact, she cut her hair and dyed it for the play, that’s how committed she was. When she died, she had shoulder-length hair. She never cuts or dyes her hair in the film. Because she’s just there for Alex.

There are many other little changes that annoyed me, but some are just nitpicking. Like, her mother gave her the journal in real life, and her aunt did on the trip where she’s saved. She worked at Subway in reality, and a generic coffee shop in the film (but I understand this one to an extent. Copyright and all of that. They they could have made it a generic sandwich shop).

In reality, Rachel and Dylan Klebold started to become friends at one point, and he even started to like her. In the film, they have one encounter. If they wanted to go in the high school drama route, they easily could have left this in and upped the drama! He likes her, but Eric Harris wants to kill her, and he’s conflicted. It adds more character than “Imma just follow Eric blindly”.

There’s other changes, but like I told my girlfriend in a long rant I sent her after finishing the film and which parts of this review was copied and pasted from, I eventually stopped taking notes because there was too many changes to keep up with.

There was a few things that they kept in, though. “Queen  Rachel”, even though it was just for a scene at the beginning, and she felt in the last few years of her life that she didn’t have long. Both were in the film, and considering all the changes, I was surprised to see them kept in.

I had assumed that her family likely didn’t have much to do with the film, which explained the changes. But then I got to the credits. Her mother, Beth Nimmo, was an executive producer on the film. Yet she let her daughter be so misrepresented that I couldn’t even tell it was supposed to be Rachel Joy Scott.

But I will take a moment to praise the actress who played her, Masey McLain. She did an excellent job with the script she was given. She was so full of life and positive energy when she needed to, and just gloomy depression when she needed to. As much as I dislike the film, I look forward to seeing what she does next. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, so I don’t know what that is.
Now onto the most important aspect of the film; the Christian aspect. Does it spread the message of the Gospel, or tell you how to be saved, or anything like that? Well, not really. When Rachel is saved, it shows her approaching the alter crying, then cuts to her jumping off a dock. They talk about praying a lot, and actually show people praying. It has her narrating spiritual scenes with the actual (or sometimes slightly altered to fit the scene) words of Rachel. When it’s important that she’s a Christian, the film lets you know. Otherwise, it’s usually just used by others to tease her.

I give this film a 7 out of 10. Even though it’s not the truth about Rachel, I do at least like that they tried showing that she went out of her way to help people. They also got her death right, word for word. It was actually shocking how graphic that scene was. I thought everything would happen off camera, but you actually see her getting shot up. Which was probably for the best in this case to show the horror of the tragedy.

But if you want to know the real story of Rachel Joy Scott, read Rachel’s Tears by her parents, Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo 

Chroview: WWJD 2: The Woodcarver

Just because a movie is labelled a Christian movie doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie. Especially when the message they are trying to get through doesn’t quite get through. I’m referring to the movie What would Jesus Do 2: The Woodcarver (or just “The Woodcarver”). From what I can tell, it’s not really a sequel, because it has nothing in common with WWJD.

The only thing that saves this movie and makes it worth watching is that it stars John “The Pixar Guy” Ratzenberger. I recommend it just to see him in a modern live-action movie, but I don’t recommend it further than that.

The film is about a kid vandalizing a church and being made to help the woodcarver who custom-built parts of the church (Ratzenberger) fix it. The kid’s father, a contractor, prefers that they just order prefabricated parts instead of building them from scratch, but the woodcarver wants to stick with making them by hand, going as far as refusing large sums of money.

The kid’s father is one of the angriest people I’ve ever seen, and every scene he’s in at the first half of the movie, he throws a fit if he doesn’t get his way. The kid himself is a terribly-written character. At the start of the movie, when he’s vandalizing the church and being scalded by his parents and the pastor, it builds him up as this out-of-control delinquent. But the next scene, he’s offering to help the woodcarver and takes an interest in woodcarving, and his troublesome behaviour is forgotten. His character doesn’t change slowly throughout the film, it literally changes between scenes.

The kid’s father also abruptly change. No reason given, he’s just all of a sudden nicer and accepting of everything.

But none of that matters as long as the Christian message shines through.

It does not.

Granted, throughout the movie, characters say that the answer is to pray, and that they just prayed about it. But not one time in the entire film does it tell you how to pray, or even show a character praying. It’s like they took the “safe route” because they feared showing prayer would offend people.

Finally, I know miracles happen. I am not refuting that. What I am refuting is the method in which the film does it. The woodcarver has a month to finish the parts for the church. It takes the full month to do it. Then, the night before it’s due, someone sets fire to the entire work. The woodcarver is ready to give up, but the kid isn’t and says he’s going to pray, then he and his mother (who has no woodcarving experience) remakes the entire project in a matter of hours. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t work like that.

As previously  stated, just because a movie is a Christian movie, doesn’t make it good. I give this film a 3 out of 10.

It was on Netflix, but now it’s not. However, it is on YouTube

Chroview: Christian Mingle

By now I am sure that everyone is aware of the Christian dating website, Christian Mingle. It’s pretty hard to ignore, considering they advertise everywhere. I would not be surprised if they end up having a massive banner across the Moon someday. But for now, they did the next best thing.

They made a movie.

The film is about an attractive girl, Gwyneth, living in a universe where she doesn’t have any luck with dates, and no one even attempts to flirt with her, until she happens across Christian Mingle. She’s not a believer, but figures she can fake it and no one would notice. Of course, this being a feature length advertisement, the next day she goes on a date with the first guy she meets on the site, Paul. He appears to be the first guy in the world to be able to look her in the beautiful eyes and not vomit in disgust. He also happens to be attractive. Because this is an advertisement for a dating website.

Christian Mingle.
The sight of them just makes me sick!

So, they go on a few dates. The whole time, Paul makes it quite obvious that he is a sincere Christian, and he just takes it for granted that she is, because she says she is. After awhile, he invites her to come spend time with his friends for a Bible study. At the study, his friends quickly realize that Gwyneth isn’t who she says she is.

The story carries on for a bit, then it turns out he and his family are about to head to Mexico on a missionary trip tomorrow! The reason he never told her was because he didn’t think they’d still be talking that long. Still, that’s kind of a bit thing to mention. “Oh, by the way, I’m going to Mexico soon!”. She leaves her job without telling anyone but her friend and goes to Mexico.

That’s when Paul and his family find out her secret; she’s not really a Christian. They find out because she literally had a copy of Christianity For Dummies on her bed. Paul is upset and breaks up with her. When Gwyneth goes back to America, she decides to become a Christian, which she does over the course of a Rocky-style musical montage.

She goes and tells Paul the good news, but by then he’d moved on. But he wishes her luck in the future. It’s not the ending I would have expected for this movie, but they chose to go the realistic route for this one.

lol Just kidding. This is a feature-length advertisement for a dating site. They part ways, but then it cuts to “Next Christmas” and she’d moved to Mexico (??). Paul shows up out of nowhere and basically says, “Nevermind what I said before, let’s be together”. Roll credits.

Right, so I seem to be picking on this movie alot. That’s because it’s a Rom  Com, and I can’t help it. To be honest, it’s a surprisingly decent film, and I’d gladly watch it again. Not only is the film done well, the Christian message is clear and accurate. They could have just rushed out a thoughtless movie without any thought and just slapped their name on it, but I was impressed with the quality. I especially loved the opening credits (of all things). I always rate movies on a scale of 1 to 10, and I give this one an 8.

(It’s on Netflix)

Chroview: Introduction

Chroview: CHRistian mOVie reVIEW

Okay, so I admit it’s not the greatest name ever, but I needed a name  that was short enough to fit on the menu, but long enough to convey what it is. A friend and I brainstormed and this is the best we came up with.

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Anyway, I have been wanting to do this for quite some time, but my extended absence from the site had made it impossible. It is what the name implies; movie reviews of Christian (and Christian-based) movies. These include straight Christian films such as God’s Not Dead films that are Christian-based but aren’t exactly Christian, such as Exodus: Gods & Kings. I have been wanting to do this ever since my review of Left Behind, which will officially be a Chroview post now.

Chroview: Left Behind (2014)

I am referring to the recent reboot, not the original movie. I have my own issues with those Kirk Cameron movies, but that’s a different thing altogether. My issue today is with the Nicolas Cage film, released last year. I just watched it on Netflix and just had to share a few thoughts about it.

First off, it wasn’t my first time seeing it. I saw it when it first came out. I was just bored, scrolling through Netflix on my PS3 looking for something interesting to watch when I came across it. Didn’t even know it was on Netflix. So I turned my lights off, sat back and watched it again.

I have read all twelve books in the main Left Behind series, and even read the prequel trilogy (and yes, I know there are thirteen in the main series, but I couldn’t finish Kingdom Come. Halfway through and nothing had happened).  So I have some idea how this series SHOULD have been told, which I’ve always said shouldn’t be a Christian film studio. That’s because of you want to believably portray how the post-Rapture world is going to be, it can’t be with Christian actors who would be too afraid to act as ungodly as is depicted in the series. So when I heard there was going to be a Left Behind reboot starring Nicolas Case, I was excited, thinking this was what I’ve been wanting. Unfortunately, the studio wanted something different.

The reason I say that this is not a Christian film is that while it does present several of the Christian ideas behind the Rapture, and actually includes the Rapture, it does it in a mocking way. The few Christians in the movie are made to look like “wackos” (as Chloe Steele decides to call them). While I admit these characters are atheists at the beginning of the series, this film was intended as a stand-alone film, and only covers the first couple chapters of the book. They changed so much of the story that they could have called it anything else and no one would likely have made the connection.

However, I don’t really care if they kept the story intact. It’s the message I care about. In the film, Chloe visits Pastor Bruce Barnes. This would have been good if either he got through to her or they were planning on making a sequel to further his story, because he’s the one who convinces Rayford, Chloe, and Buck that this was the work of God and they are given this last chance to come to Him. Instead, in this film she criticises him, makes him look like a bad guy, and then leaves. You never see him again.

By the end of the movie, Rayford realizes what’s going on, so maybe he might believe if they furthered the story. But while they end with Chloe saying things were about to get way worse, she had no reason to believe. Everything up to that point had just made her angrier with God. Sure, she found out her dad was alive, but after everything she’d witnessed up to that point and how hard her heart was, I don’t think that would convince her of anything. I really wish they would have adapted the whole book.

Actually, I’ve thought that the only way to really do the series justice would be to make a seven season TV series (or even Netflix Original), that way they didn’t have to try and cram every detail into a two hour movie. Do each year of the Tribulation as a whole season of 25 episodes each. I’d love to watch that.

Oh, and before I end this post, I hear so many people say that the characters at the beginning of the series are offensive to Christians, because they’re horrible role models. Well, isn’t that the point? If they were perfect role models, they would have been Raptured. By the end of the series, these characters have grown so much that they are indistinguishable from who they were at the beginning. If you’ve never read the series, I highly recommend it.

Chroview: Exodus Adaptations

There have been numerous film adaptations of the Exodus story over the past 100 years, from the famous 1923 Silent Film, The Ten Commandments, by Cecil B. DeMile, and his even more famous 1956 remake by the same name, to last year’s Exodus: Gods & Kings. Each retelling brings something unique to the story. While none of them are biblically accurate (no movie based on the Bible is. Even 2004’s Passion of the Christ added elements not found in Scripture), each version can be used as a starting point for learning about the actual story.

Today, I just want to focus on what I consider the three main films inspired by the Exodus story. These are The Ten Commandments (1956), Exodus: Gods & Kings, and the 1999 animated film The Prince of Egypt. I’m going to go through the Exodus story and compare the three films as I go.

Chapter 1 of Exodus is pretty much bridging the gap between the end of Genesis and the time of Moses, so let’s move on to Chapter 2.

Exodus 2:1-10 (KJV)

And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother.And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the women took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

The story of baby Moses being saved from death by his mother putting him in a basket and setting him adrift in the Nile, to be found by Pharaoh’s daughter is included in all three versions of the Exodus story. However, only The Ten Commandments had the sister of Moses coming to speak to her. Though we don’t actually see it in the movie, we’re told later in the movie by a servant.

Which makes me wonder why in all three versions, even The Ten Commandments, has Moses completely unaware of his heritage. He was raised by his birth mother. He didn’t go into the Pharaoh’s house until he was older. He knew he was Hebrew. I guess it’s more dramatic to find out your life is a lie.

Exodus 2:11-15 (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

The Ten Commandments version

Joshua is tied up at night by the overseer, and Moses comes up behind him and strangles him. It’s said later that his body was found buried in the sand, so I guess this could technically be considered following the Bible, because no one was around when it happened. It doesn’t say it was Joshua or that it was a leader he killed the overseer, but the Bible is vague enough about the incident that it could be left up to interpretation, so this could be how it happened. Afterward, Moses is exiled and sent into the desert, which is different from the biblical version, where the Pharaoh wishes to have him executed.

The Prince of Egypt version

Moses, just having found out he is Hebrew, notices a slave being whipped repeatedly, so shoves the whipper off the platform, falling to his death. It’s witnessed by hundreds of people, so Moses doesn’t get a chance to hide the body in the sand. He immediately goes to flee Egypt, but Rameses tries to talk him into staying, saying it’s not a big thing, that he “can make it so it never happened”. So not quite like the biblical version. However, it’s not as much as bad as…

Exodus: Gods & Kings version

Oh, wow. Where do I start with this. For one thing, they portrayed Moses as a madman, which might explain what Christian Bale (the actor playing him) said, “I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life”. Of course he thinks that, look how they wrote him in the movie. Instead of killing an Egyptian for whipping a Hebrew then burying the body in the sand, he kills a random person for bothering him, then just leaves them there, storming away angrily. He’s angry for most of the movie.

Exodus 2:16-22 (KJV)

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

This is in all three versions of the story. All three versions are pretty much the same, and like The Ten Commandments with Moses killing the Egyptian, the wording could be open to interpretation and all three fit into it.

Chapter 3 and the first seventeen verses of Chapter 4 are too long to quote, so feel free to read those links. But to give you some idea how important talking with God is, the entire story up to this point has been confined to one chapter, which was Chapter 2. Yet Moses talking with God at the burning bush takes a chapter and a half.

The Ten Commandments version

While the parts it does cover is nearly word for word with Scripture, they leave out the miracles. It probably still happened, because it cuts away before the meeting is over. Also leaves out Aaron’s part.

The Prince of Egypt version

A few changes, but still mostly word for word. As with The Ten Commandments, it leaves out the miracles and the part about Aaron. In fact, in this version Aaron is practically an antagonist. He mocks Moses and says things like, “What has God ever done for any of us?”. Quite the opposite from the biblical account.

Exodus: Gods & Kings version

Once again, this movie takes artistic liberties where there needs not be any. There’s the burning bush, but instead of God speaking through the bush, the bush is just a background thing. God appears as…..as child. An angry child, who screams about how unfair it is to not be loved by his own people. Definitely not the biblical version.

Exodus 7:19-21 (KJV)

And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

The Ten Commandments version

Skipping ahead to Chapter 7 (Chapter 5, Chapter 6, and Chapter 7 before these verses are Moses trying to talk some sense into Pharaoh, and the scene with the staff turning into the snakes), we get to the plagues, starting with the Nile turning to blood. In this film, it happens while Moses is at the palace, standing next to Pharaoh. I love the way it’s done here. It shows ALL the water is turned to blood, even their fountains not connected to the Nile. Pharaoh even tries pouring some “blessed” water into the Nile to fix it, and the water that comes out turns to blood.

The Prince of Egypt version

While the same thing happens here (on the riverside instead of at the palace, with Pharaoh on a boat), not all the water turns to blood. The high priests tries duplicating the miracle by throwing red dye into some water, which obviously turns red. But the point is, they have water. It should have turned into blood.

Exodus: Gods & Kings version

Crocodiles attack each other and turn the water into blood…….

Chapter 8 through Chapter 12 contains the rest of the ten plagues, but all three movies kind of gloss over them. The Ten Commandments skips straight from the Nile turning to blood to the death of the first born, The Prince of Egypt turns them into what is admittedly a pretty cool song, while Exodus: Gods & Kings…did it’s own thing.

Exodus 14:26-31 (KJV)

And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.

Finally, we get to the Red Sea crossing. Nobody gets this right…

The Ten Commandments version

Moses Holds his staff out and the sea immediately parts. The people cross, the sea falls on the Egyptians.

The Prince of Egypt version

Moses slams his staff on the ground and the sea immediately parts. The people cross, the sea falls on the Egyptians. Movie ends.

Exodus: Gods & Kings version

*sigh* Moses throws his sword into the sea, then goes to sleep. When he wakes up, he starts walking into the sea, and it starts parting as he goes. Eventually the water is a miles on either side of them. When the people get across, the water starts to close, but Moses runs out to sword fight Pharaoh (because reasons…I did say Moses was angry in this version). The two are swept up by the waves, and Moses washes up on the Israelite side of the shore and Pharaoh washes up on the Egyptian side of the shore. Movie ends.

I think we can go ahead and agree that Exodus: Gods & Kings was less an adaptation of Exodus and more a re-imagining of The Ten Commandments.

If it seems like I rushed through the book of Exodus, it’s because these movies did so. Considering how much story they added, they removed so much more. I would love to see an adaptation that actually portrays what the Bible says about the Exodus story. And they always stop too early. The Red Sea crossing is usually the climax of the movie. That is in Chapter 14. Exodus has 40 chapters. I think this story deserves a proper adaptation.