Jan 4 2013

VBS 2013 Development Diary: #1

Every year since 2004* I either write or co-write the script for the skits that we use in our church’s vacation Bible school, as well as acting, directing / co-directing, designing the logo, and creating and/or supervising the production of the sets, props, and costumes.

It can be massively rewarding, and a ton of fun. However, while it is rewarding, it is also a lot of work—about six to eight hours of organized work on set building and rehearsal per week for six weeks, then  a couple of Saturday practices, besides what I do at home writing, editing and designing. When you get through you are completely exhausted: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

And so I was thinking about bowing out this year. I thought about bowing out for VBS 2013 before VBS 2012 was even over.

December 2 the girls and I watched Hoodwinked with the writer and director commentary. I’d seen the movie a dozen times, and listened to the commentary once before, and it was still awesome hearing it again. After the movie we were sitting there discussing the commentary, the movie, and the nature of good movies and good storytelling in general.

“Lemme bounce an idea off of ya,” I told them. I kind of gave them an idea of what had been rolling around in my head. I hate to even call it an idea it was so vague; more like one of those ‘headaches with pictures,’ as Fry would say.

Less than an hour later the three of us had developed and recorded the entire plot for VBS 2013.


* We didn’t do a VBS 2007-2008

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Aug 17 2012

Quotable: Kenneth Branagh on the Thor DVD Commentary

“If I’d’ve had this opportunity on previous films they’d all have cost squinty billion dollars.”

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Aug 11 2011

Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

I loved almost every minute of Captain America. I had high hopes for it, and Joe Johnston (who also directed The Rocketeer) did an amazing job with it. It was both faithful to the original story as well as new and unique. The cast was amazing: Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, and that guy that played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies playing the lead. Hayley Atwell, who I had never heard of, was excellent as well. Almost the entire movie was amazing.

And now for my only complaint. Warning: big fat spoiler ahead.

My only complaints are in the ending. You know how the SHIELD storyline in Iron Man 2 was like a tumor on the plot? Same kind of thing, though not nearly as bad. If they had focused on tying up the story after Cap crashed the plane instead of trying to make a segue to next year’s Avengers movie, this movie could have been perfect. They really should have shown the price of Cap’s sacrifice: by crashing Hydra’s plane and getting frozen for the past 70 years, everyone he ever cared about is either phenomenally old or dead. That kind of thing can really affect a guy. How will he be a different person because of this? What will this to do him as a character? As a viewer, I want to find out. Instead, we get, ‘Sorry, Cap, you been froze for 70 years, time to join the Avengers.’

Also, think about Cap back when he was just short, skinny Steve Rogers all the way up to the moment he died. Who did he respect? Who did he want to be? A man in uniform. A soldier. If there was anyone Cap would have responded to when he woke up from his glacier nap it would have been who? A man in green with a bird or a star on his uniform. Instead, in the movie, he listens to who? Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD.

So what’s wrong with that?

My problem with Cap listening to Fury is that ever since Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, has been appearing in Marvel movies, he looks like this:

Who was the last guy that Cap saw on this earth? This guy:

THEY’RE DRESSED THE SAME! If I was Captain America, and I see some big guy dressed like my arch-villain, I’m not only not going to listen to a thing he says, I’m gonna kill ‘im.

Anyhoo. If I could recut the movie, I would cut out the entire ending, shift the entire 1940’s story to the beginning, and shift the prologue to the end, and the last thing you would see would be them dusting the snow off of the shield.

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Jun 2 2009

Review: Up

Last night I saw Pixar’s latest movie, Up

It was brilliant. For those of you who either haven’t seen it or, hopefully, haven’t even seen the trailers, I will just say this: go see it.

Personally, I try not to watch trailers anymore, as it seems some of Hollywood’s most talented people make awesome trailers for crummy movies, and you have preconceived notions about what is going to happen when you see the movie.

At any rate, Up is awesome.

However, it may make you very angry. Let me explain.

When you see a movie like Up, you realize what the problem with the movie industry really is: it’s that most movies stink.

Or in the cases of Paul Blart: Mall Cop or Monsters vs. Aliens, they stink like a rotting squid corpse filled with pig sewage sitting in the sun in August in Missouri.

The reason you may be angry after watching Up is that you realize every movie should be this good. Every movie made today with even an average budget should make you that happy to go to the movies.

And when it’s a bad movie (see previous paragraph), you feel ripped off. Much like when a sequel doesn’t live up to its previous chapters (yes, I’m looking at you Ghostbusters 2, MIB 2, Hellboy 2, Indy 4, and Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3).

At any rate, the reason Up is so great is this: Pixar’s vicious dedication to delivering a great, focused story with characters you actually care about.

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Jan 1 2009

Review: Fireproof

When I made my previous post of Best Movies of the Year, somehow I forgot one: Fireproof.

Fireproof is a Christian movie about a couple on the verge of divorce. It was made by the same guys who made Facing the Giants, and unlike a lot of Christian movies, has decent production values.

The directors did a great job of depicting the characters as a flawed, selfish man and his flawed, selfish wife, as opposed to following the typical convention of a saintly woman with a boorish lout of a husband, although Kirk Cameron convincingly plays the more selfish of the two.

The movie has a good pace, good humor, and a clear gospel message. Heather and I took the girls, and we all loved it.

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Dec 19 2008

Review: Best Movies I Saw This Year

Iron Man and Kung Fu Panda, in that order.

I won’t belabor this point with extensive reviews, first, because lots of people already have, and second, if you don’t want to see them you don’t deserve to see them.

Iron Man is a good, fun movie. The protagonist shows a lot of character development (sort of an anti-Jumper), but not so much so as to betray who he really is.

Kung Fu Panda is also a ton of fun, and the directors did a great job of dodging sappy cliches.

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