Tuesday, May 26, 2015


So, last week for Aleteia I took a look at Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland and, even though my review readily admits the film has a few story problems, I found the experience an enjoyable enough way to spend an evening. That’s a lonely position to take, apparently. Siding with the majority of mainstream critics, Steven Greydanus gave the movie a less-than-stellar review, seeing in it some kind of Ayn Randian nightmare full of child abduction. And, as you know, if SDG pans a movie, most of the Catholic blogosphere is soon to follow.

I just can’t do it though. As I opined on Twitter, along with Tomorrowland, my viewings last week included such offerings as Leprechaun: Origins, Bloodfist IV, and Project: Metalbeat. Trust me, I know what a truly bad film film looks like, and Tomorrowland just isn’t it. Of course, just to play devil’s advocate, my steady diet of lousy movies could just mean I have a greater tolerance for middling crap than my fellow critics. If that’s the case, that would make me Ebert in the first half of the following clip from The Critic. Given SDG’s reaction to Tomorrowland, however, he would probably see me as Siskel’s adversary in the second half…

The big joke in the preceding clip is actually the one sheets on the office walls. There’s Benji: The Hunted on Ebert’s and Carnosaur on Siskel’s, movies the critics actually gave positive reviews to in real life. No, really. Kind of makes it hard for me to feel too bad about giving Tomorrowland a positive review.

In all seriousness, I believe Greydanus always makes an effort to be very conscientious in his reviews, just as I hope I do. I’m sure he as aware as I am of Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical, Vigilanti Cura (On Motion Pictures), in which the Pontiff entreats those involved in the motion picture industry (of which critics are a part of the promotional arm whether they like to admit it or not) to do their best to promote the faith. His Holiness wrote…

“Let them take serious thought of their duties and of the responsibility which they have as children of the Church to use their influence and authority for the promotion of principles of sound morality in the films which they produce or aid in producing. There are surely many Catholics among the executives, directors, authors, and actors who take part in this business, and it is unfortunate that their influence has not always been in accordance with their Faith and with their ideals. You will do well, Venerable Brethren, to pledge them to bring their profession into harmony with their conscience as respectable men and followers of Jesus Christ.”

So as long as I feel a Catholic reviewer is trying to carry out the spirit of that Encyclical, I really don’t mind if they (wrongly) don’t like a movie as much as I do, ala Greydanus in this instance, or if they seem to like it better, as did Joseph McAleer of Catholic News Service. The main thing is that we’re all trying to advance the cause through the discussion of the art form. If we disagree on a particular film’s merits from time to time, well, that’s just part of the fun, isn’t it?

Especially since my opinion, of course, is always the right one.


Enbrethiliel said...


And what did you think of Bloodfist IV? It's not my favourite Don "The Dragon" Wilson movie, but I once held court for ten erudite minutes on the love interest and the femme fatale figure. There are unexpected depths of philosophy in B-movies, as you would know!

EegahInc said...

I haven't seen all 7 or 8 of the Bloodfist movies (or is there even more), but out of the ones I have watched, this wasn't the worst, certainly not the worst Don "The Dragon" Wilson movie ever. That would probably be Batman Forever.

David Roemer said...

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.
Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer