Movie Poster: From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009)

Reviewer: Julie Davis

PhotobucketDirector: Don Hahn
Writer: Patrick Pacheco
Starring: Roy Edward Disney, John Lasseter and Michael Eisner

The Black Cauldron is universally agreed to be Disney's lowest point in animated movies. This documentary takes us from the time that movie is being created in 1984 through Disney's golden animation renaissance that began with The Little Mermaid and ended with The Lion King in 1994.

How the studio went in a  mere ten-year period the depths to the heights of animation is the subject of this behind-the-scenes tale from the point of view of the animators. Everything is told through stills and archive footage although with new audio interviews by several of the principal figures. Much of the footage shot by the animators themselves while at work.

The business side of the company is also examined, including what was really responsible for Disney's rise and subsequent fall after The Lion King, the monumental egos of Roy Disney, Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenburg. Hearing the animators' side of these much loved movies is fascinating. The movie clips played remind us that it has been all too long since we watched The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. As well, you will appreciate Howard Ashman as never before for his creative genius and the passion he gave to his work. It is an engrossing and surprisingly fast-paced work that any Disney movie fans will enjoy.

Related Reviews:Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
Disney movies
Pinocchio (1940)
Tangled (2010)


Movie Poster: Naked Lunch

 Naked Lunch movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Repost: Tangled (2010)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

Originally posted on November 25, 2010

PhotobucketShould I see it?

Directors: Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, MC Gainey and Ron Perlman

Rated PG for mild cartoon violence

Short Review: One of the joys of being a father of a small girl is the privilege of indulging her girly side: attending her tea parties, complementing her when she wears a new outfit and taking her to see fun, light feminine films like this one.

Disney, the once monopolistic empire of animation, has fallen under the shadow of Pixar over the past couple of decades.  While Disney as a corporation controls Pixar, the Disney brand still suffers from the comparison.  While Disney has produced some more conventional looking films like Bolt and Meet the Robinsons, the productions made to replicate their majestic, classic works such as Bambi, Snow White, Cinderella and Pinocchio have been faded, forgettable efforts such as Mulan, Lilo and Stich.

With this adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Rapunzel, it appears Disney is attempting once again to recreate the success of their early 1990's revival (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King).  While this won't most likely have the lasting power of The Lion King or The Little Mermaid, this is still a wonderful, enjoyable movie.

I should stop and alert you that this does not follow the actual fairy tale.  Rapunzel is a German tale and my Kraut brethren have a tendency to pump their stories with plenty of unpleasant details.  If you don't recall how the actual story goes, here is a summary:
A infertile couple who live next to a witch find plants on her land that help them conceive.  The witch catches the husband stealing the plant one day.  She agrees to spare the man's life if he hands over their daughter following her birth.  The father reluctantly agrees.
Rapunzel is born and given to the witch as promised.  The witch hides her away in a tall tower with only a small door high on top for an entrance.  The witch gains entry by standing under the door and calling "Rapunzel!  Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!"  The girl then drops her long hair and the witch uses it to be carried up into her room.
One day a handsome prince happens by and hears the witch calling to the girl.  That night the prince calls up to her and she pulls him up into her room.  The two quickly fall in love and continue their nightly, secret encounters.  Before long, Rapunzel admits to the witch that her dress has become too tight through the stomach (I guess that's one way of describing it).  The witch is infuriated and cuts off Rapunzel's hair and banishes her to the forest to die alone.  Apparently, the Germans were hardliners against single-motherhood.
The prince calls up, not knowing the witch is waiting in ambush.  The witch lowers the hair and the prince is pulled up to the room.  To his surprise, he finds the old woman instead of his love.  The witch pushes him out of the tower and he falls to the wild plants below and is blinded by the thorns.  He wanders the forest blind and alone.  Apparently, the Germans were hardliners against dead-beat dads.
The prince, alone in the woods, hears the sound of Rapunzel singing by a brook.  He finds her and his condition saddens the girl.  She cries and her tears heal his blinded eyes.  The two, reunited and healthy, return to his kingdom and get married and have children of their own.

Is it me or does the ending seem a little inorganic?  Sounds like someone wrote themselves into a corner and didn't know how to end their story.

In this friendlier version Rapunzel's parents are the royalty and she is their princess.  One day a "drop of sunlight" falls to earth and it raises a magical flower.  The conniving Mother Gothel finds the mystical flower and uses its properties to keep herself youthful for years. When Rapunzel is born, her mother suffers from the pains of birth and is near death.  The king's men find the sun flower and use its powers to spare the life of the queen.  Its application also provides the newborn Rapunzel with magical hair.

Mother Gothel, wanting her youthful elixir, steals Rapunzel (so she can sing her spell to make her hair give her youth) and hides the girl in a tower and pretends to be her mother.  Each year the royal couple hold a light show in memorial of their missing daughter.  Annually, Rapunzel watches the beautiful light show outside her tower window, not knowing it is intended for her.  Her dream is to one day see the light show up close.

Rapunzel's isolation is interrupted when a handsome thief who goes by the pseudonym Flynn Ryder finds the tower.  The two travel to the kingdom to see the light show.  The problem?  The local authorities, Flynn's criminal competition and the evil Mother are giving chase.

PhotobucketAs you can see, this version has taken some broad liberties from the original source, but it works very well.  The script by Dan Fogelman (Cars) is remarkably tight and cleverly laid out.  Fogelman perfectly meshes all of the conventions of the fairytale with all of the requirements of a Disney production (the strong father/daughter relationship, the comical animal familiars (represented by a horse and a chameleon), the musical routines, etc.)  His dialog is sharp and he has his scenes cut down to the essentials.  Great work.

The production as a whole is quite fun and uplifting.  Children, in particular girls, will enjoy watching the movie.  It is a solid pick for family viewing.  The sunny disposition of the movie is infectious and a great change of pace from the usual schlock thrown out at the kids these days.  There is a wonderful absence of sexual innuendo, scatological humor or political references which have become so commonplace in "family films".  This is a straight-forward piece of entertainment that delivers.

Two cautions for Christians is the hint of paganism in the tale.  As mentioned, this has its roots in the old Teutonic tale which was derived from an Iranian myth.  The inclusion of mysticism in pretty much unavoidable.  I didn't find these elements to be too intrusive.  They are there but it isn't anything that can't be resolved by quickly resolved with a brief explanation to your youngster.

The other issue is how Flynn's thievery is handled.   He is supposed to be the romantic rouge character and this is used for humor throughout the film.  He is a mockery of the type.  However, the film never takes a strong position on his stealing.  It is just something he does.  There is no moral judgment made which means it provides passive support for it.  This is something that should be addressed for the little viewers. 

I highly recommend this movie.  If Disney keeps on this path, they may just get their groove back.


Related Reviews:Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
Animated movies
Kung-Fu Panda (2008)
Cars (2006)


Movie Poster: Break the News

Break the News movie poster

Click here to buy your copy   of  Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
You Are What You See:
Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens

Listen to Scott Nehring on Chris Fabry Live at 3pm CST on April 4th

PhotobucketGood News Film Reviews' own Scott Nehring will be conducting a duel interview with director/producer Dallas Jenkins on the Chris Fabry Live radio program on April 4th at 3pm Central Time.

You will be able to listen live by following this link

For more on the Chris Fabry Live radio program go here

Want to know more about Dallas Jenkins?  Check out his site.

We will be discussing Christianity and film.  Chances are Scott and Dallas will lock horns over a few of the subjects.  It should be fun.

Movie Poster: Big Time

 Big Time movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

How to Decide Whether to Rent, Buy, or See a Movie in the Theater



Click here to buy your copy of Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
You Are What You See:
Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens

What If... (2010)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

PhotobucketDirector: Dallas Jenkins
Written by: Chuck Konzelman, Andrea Gyertson Nasfell and Cary Solomon
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, John Ratzenberger and Debby Ryan

Rated PG for mild language and situations.

Ben Walker (Kevin Sorbo) walks away from his missionary work and his girlfriend Wendy (Kristy Swanson) to pursue an "earthly" career.  Fifteen years later he is successful, wealthy and on the verge of a huge business deal.

Ben is visited by Mike the Angel (John Ratzenberger) who sends Ben into an alternate reality, one where he followed God's calling (being a small town preacher) instead of pursuing materialistic goals.  

Golly, which path will Ben choose? 

This is a bona fide Christian film. Let's go down the checklist:

  • A derivative plot based on a well-known secular hit movie (The Family Man) or classic film (It's a Wonderful Life) - check 
  • Central white characters of pleasant disposition - check
  • Friendly minority (usually African) supporting character - check
  • A snotty teenage girl who is impulsively embarrassed by her parents - check
  • A dope of a hero who has fallen/is falling away from grace - check
  • A troubled marriage/relationship where the man is to blame - check
  • A blameless, patient and good looking ("pretty" good looking, not "hot") wife/girlfriend who has theology all figured out and is waiting for the dope of a hero to get his stuff together - check
  • The helpful and slightly humorous religious figure who leads the dope of a hero down the right path - check
  • Obtuse references to Jesus - check
  • A forced conversion scene where the dope of a hero breaks down and finally gives himself to Christ - check

All that is missing is the bald cancer-ridden twelve-year-old with a special insight into the Christian faith.

I have not made it a secret that I think Christian films stink.They propose to represent my faith to the public and usually do so with poorly executed, cheese ball movies that speak to the least discerning audiences available.

Director Dallas Jenkins knows that Christian film is a troubled genre.  He has written about the state of Christian film over at Big Hollywood.  When I saw that he was at the helm of this production, I was confused. Given that this is a straight-up Christian film with all the trimmings, it seemed to be an odd project for him to tackle if he knows "Christian film" as currently constituted is essentially a loser artistically.  Moreover, this is a derivative film, there is no denying that. The premise is a rip off of The Family Man through and through, but with a Christian twist. Given his awareness of the problems facing Christian film it would seem more logical for him to work on riskier, more adventurous productions.  

Jenkins delivers a comfy, conventional film.  This may sound like a slam but I do not necessarily intend it to be taken that way.  He works within the confines of the genre and while he hasn't pushed the envelope, he has created an approachable movie that will reach a broad base. Despite it having many of the traditional flawed aspects of a Christian film (see above), I still recommend this movie. There is a light personality to the film and I found it rather enjoyable mostly thanks to the engaging performances Jenkins pulls from his actors.

The film succeeds mostly based on Sorbo's performance. He reminds the audience of his charm which sustained Hercules: The Legendary Journeys over the years.  He also shows his ability to sell a scene and in this film he is forced to do a good deal of selling.  There are plenty of hokey moments, including a heavy-handed conversion scene.  In addition, he has the difficult task of making people care while they are watching a plot they know all too well. This is a hard spot for an actor to work from and he pulls it off.

Unfortunately, as is the case with most Christian films, Sorbo and the other actors have to manage simplistic dialog and inorganic character arcs. This is the case because the genre calls for specific hallmarks (see above).  When the point of a work is to preach about a topic instead of discussing it with the audience, the forced nature of the delivery cuts into the natural flow of storytelling.  This weakness is seen in the script and the film as a whole when the Christian film conventions are delivered.  The traditional conversion scene at the end is a good example.  The whole narrative comes to a screeching halt as Ben finally breaks down in a tearful submission to God.  This isn't a bad thing on its face, but the scene is disconnected from the rest of the film and comes across as too deliberate. 


I will not say this is a great film, rather this is an easily enjoyable one.  Those attracted to conventional Christian films are strongly advised to give this movie a chance.  I think you will be satisfied.  If a non-Christian finds themselves in front of this film they probably won't make it through to the end.  The faith elements will probably be too much for them, unless they are very patient and forgiving. 

Ultimately, this a well done Christian film but it doesn't advance the genre, it simply holds to its conventions. It is my hope that Jenkins and the other Christian filmmakers of his generation will expand beyond the accepted rules of the genre and begin to innovate and move us to the next level.

Click to view the trailer

Related Reviews:Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
Christian movies
Come What May (2009)
Faith Like Potatoes (2006)


Movie Poster: Ironclad

Ironclad movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Movie Trailer: The Bang Bang Club

This film follows the work of a group of photo-journalists during the early 90's South African apartheid conflict (racists versus communists).  While I certainly don't expect this to be an on-the-level exploration of that place and time (Western folks tend to gloss over the evils of the African National Congress) I do think this could be quite interesting.  War photography is a fascinating subject and those who do it often don't get enough credit.

Then again, sometimes they get movies made about them so there's that.

Notice that the photo they highlight is one taken by Kevin Carter.  He won the Pulitzer for Featured Photography in 1994.  It was taken in Sudan.  If this is a film about South Africa, why is this in the trailer?  Perhaps I am merely ignorant of the photo's legacy, but how did a photo from Sudan end apartheid and bring in the disaster of modern South African governance?*


***Warning: This trailer contains nudity, violence and disturbing images.***

* - Before you comment and start calling me a racist, acknowledging the corrupt and violent ANC doesn't equate being in favor of the racism that plagued the country.  I say let there be a pox on both their houses.

Movie Trailer: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Y'know if he fights all shaved, oiled and shirtless he's going to be picking up gunk and lint all over the place.

"I care not.  I live.  I love.  I slay...I take time out to shave my armpits like all the other barbarians."

They are remaking everything else, I suppose it was just a matter of time before they came around to this.  At least Conan will be able to do a line reading this time around.  Although they're not going to have James Earl Jones in his ridiculous Thulsa Doom outfit.  I don't see how they overcome that deficiency.

Movie Trailer: Super 8

Uh...why did they name a movie after a hotel?

This has been getting plenty of positive buzz.  As the trailer states, Spielberg produced and JJ Abrams directed the film.  If Abrams can keep from tossing out as many plot holes and cheesy moments as he did with Star Trek there may be something here.

If you had shown this to me with no credits, given the look, the shot choices, the soundtrack, not to mention the subject, I would have sworn this was a Spielberg film. 

Movie Poster: Mr. Brooks

Mr Brooks movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Movie Trailer: Des hommes et des dieux "Of Gods and Men"

This is on the top of my must-see list.  Absolutely.

This is an excellent trailer.  The music (forgive me, I am a music dolt and can't name the piece) is quite effective at leading weight and a sense of intelligence to the imagery.  I love the selection of shots they chose, mostly calm, lovely shots cut by sudden moments of hurried violence.

What really has me interested is that this seems to take faith seriously - not a common sight in a serious production.

I love that Lambert Wilson has the lead.  If this is successful in the U.S. he may finally have better opportunities than just playing silly roles in forgettable movies like Sahara, Timeline, The Matrix Reloaded.

Movie Trailer: The Adjustment Bureau

Bourne meets Inception.

I like that Matt Damon movie where he plays Matt Damon and he runs.

Given the silliness of the premise they need to sell it better than they did here.  What is the pitch?  Matt sees a bunch of 1950's guys doing some kind of Matrix thing in a boardroom and now they're out to trash his date?  Huh?

The premise is the old yarn that man chooses his own destiny.  One could look at this and see it as an argument for freedom of choice.  Given Damon's political leanings and his affirmation of an ruling class, it seems contrary for him to be promoting human freedom.  But, perhaps that's just me. 

Movie Trailer: Priest


As a Christian I suppose there should be stuff here to irritate me.  They do use the cross imagery for a reason after all and it should be offensive.  I don't find it offensive however.  This looks to stupid to feel anything but pity.  Serious adults made this?

Movie Trailer: Captain America: The First Avenger

The thing that stands out to me with this trailer is how effective the CGI is with making Chris Evans' look like a weakling.  Well done.

That and...

Odd that they would make a machine that would not only increase his muscle mass, height and bone structure but also makes sure his body is waxed and covered with baby oil like he's doing an Bowflex commercial.  "Sir, the machine is ready."  "Let's look at the controls...temperature - check, oxygen - check, obscure medical term to make him big - check, strobe lights - check, super gay vibe - check..."


Return to the movie trailers page

Happy Catholic: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life

PhotobucketGood News Film Reviews contributor Julie Davis has a new book released titled Happy Catholic: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life

Julie quotes an array of spiritually significant musings from Alice Cooper to St. John Vianney.

Go to and help Julie out. Buy her book, give her a review - support those who deserve your support.

Angel-A (2005)

Reviewer: Julie Davis

PhotobucketDirector: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Starring: Rie Rasmussen, Jamel Debbouze and Gilbert Melki

Rated R for language and some sexual content

Andre is an inept con artist who has made a lot of bad business deals with a lot of bad people. When we meet him, Andre's luck has run out and his time is almost up as he faces multiple death threats. Despairing, he decides to end it all by jumping off of a bridge into the Seine.

At the point of jumping, Andre notices a tall, gorgeous woman who jumps from the bridge, and Andre's thoughts turn from suicide to saving her as he jumps and drags her out of the water.

Thus we meet Angela. She pledges to help Andre in any way she can as thanks for saving her life. Andre says that no one has helped him in his entire life and, therefore, he's skeptical as to why such a gorgeous woman would want to help him at all but agrees. He becomes increasing alarmed at the lengths she is willing to go to in order to get the money he needs to pay off the thugs on his trail. Meanwhile, Angela continually tells Andre that beauty is on the inside, not the outside, and that he is good deep down. As Andre begins to believe her and to act accordingly, his fortune changes, and he begins to want to change Angela's fate in turn.

Beautifully shot in black and white, this movie was directed by Luc Besson who is known for movies like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, and Taken. In an interview at Movies Online, Besson commented on the black and white format by saying:
Black and white because yin and yang, because tall and small, introverted extroverted, blonde brown, the good the bad, the black the white, everything is in opposition in the film. And I need the film to have this little poetry. Is it real? Is it a dream? Is it a fairy tale?

The key message of Angel-A is that you don't have to be good for life to be sacred, and you can begin to be good even if you have failed to be.

This movie is extremely straight forward in plot line. There are a few surprises but they are foreshadowed for the most part. I found the plot rather simplistic, but enjoyed it well enough and can recommend it on those grounds. My key problem is that the ending was a cop out because there wasn't the proper set up or story-line logic to make it a realistic conclusion. Along those lines, a much superior movie which communicates the same basic message is In Bruges.

For those who don't mind a tacked-on ending out of nowhere, I can recommend this movie. I specifically enjoyed the humorous moments such as at the American embassy where Andre cannot even con the US official (and where they both spoke fluent French the entire time) and at the police station where Andre pleads to be arrested. If nothing else it is simply beautiful to look at in composition and photography, although there is more to recommend it to the viewer than that.


Related Reviews:Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
Luc Besson movies
Taken (2008)
Léon: The Professional (1994)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes