Monday, May 12, 2008

A Little Movie Talk: Expelled, Speed Racer, Iron Man, Cloverfield

It's been a while since I really gave a movie review ...

Iron Man

I went to see this movie opening night and I have to say that it's the best super hero comic adaptation to come out since the first Spiderman - which was the best since the first Tim Burton Batman. Maybe these kind of things only come every ten or so years. You really can see that a role such as this was made for Robert Downey Jr. and it's sad to see that he never latched on to such a role sooner.

I had never read any of the Iron Man comics and didn't know much about him before seeing the movie. Seeing the "beginnings" was certainly helpful to understanding who Iron Man is and entertaining - but do all of these "make the suit" and get hurt ten times trying out your powers" stories all have to be the same? Again, the Iron Man suit is very cool and it's fun to watch Downey's expressions and acting in the fumbling of learning his powers ... it just seemed a little "formulaic".

If you like comic book/super hero movies, you'll love this movie - if you don't go see it - it will definitely be worth an iTunes Movie Store buy or rental.

I had prepared some cheeky bad reviews to write for Iron Man:

"Downey puts the heroine in this hero movie!"

"What a downer!"

And briefly ...

Speed Racer

I did't go see it and obviously everyone felt the same this past weekend for the opener as it only earned $20 million (compared to Iron Man's 2nd week of $50 million). It looks like it would be a good television mini series ... but nothing made me want to go see this movie. The Wachowski Brothers who directed Speed Racer have disappointed me too many times and just proven that The Matrix was just a fluke.

Next ...

I wanted to give a short review and quick commentary about the movie EXPELLED:

The official title for this documentary is Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and is hosted by actor Ben Stein. The documentary covers the topic of "Intelligent Design" - the theory that the final/ultimate answer could be a "founder or designer of the universe". Notice that this definition does NOT contain the word "creationism" or "creator" or "God". Many negative reviews for this movie are saying that it's about creationism - when in fact; it's not. One point the movie tries to make is that if teaching or studying "Intelligent Design" is creationism or leads to creationism, then evolution certainly is atheism or leads to being atheist. They specifically ask top evolutionary biologists and each one of them say they are atheist and each one of them are strong against religion as a whole.

The premise the movie bases much of its debate on - evolution theory has a lot of holes in it. To explain the origins of life through evolution would be like winning the million dollar jackpot in the lottery every day for thousands of years!

It's easy to see why atheists and your typical "creationism sucks" crowd wants to give this movie a bad review - they don't want you to see it! The infamous Richard Dawkins (who caused a controversy at the premiere) is interviewed in the movie and makes a fool of himself. He's given quite a bit of screen time and a lot of chance to clarify and be satisfied with his position for his theory - yet he comes off looking like a complete idiot. If he would have been in a debate - he'd have easily lost even though it might seem he'd have won because of his incredible intelligence, vocabulary, and education.

One thing I was surprised that the movie didn't include was theory of Occam's Razor - that the simplest answer is usually the correct one. Many scientists often use this theory to help explain things.

The movie makes the point that Hitler used "evolution" (and specifically the studies of Charles Darwin) to justify the extermination of the Jews. It also illustrates how absurd some of the top evolutionary biologists are when explaining the beginnings of the universe and of life as we know it. One professor said that we evolved from a crystal that hit the earth a long time ago - because isn't it interesting how life mimics a crystal pattern. That still doesn't exclude an "Intelligent Design" and still doesn't explain what (or who) made that crystal. Richard Dawkins, towards the end makes an insane circular logic argument that aliens brought life to this planet - basically saying everything BUT saying "Intelligent Design".

If you have ever wanted a clear dialogue about atheism and its affects on society or wanted to see some solid information in support of "Intelligent Design" - this movie is a good, well thought out, and entertaining and compelling resource.

As with the Creation Museum ... I doubt I would have even heard of this movie without an atheist pointing out that it was a bad movie ( or getting a laugh out of someone giving it a bad review) ...

* John Gruber from Daring Fireball

I also want to remind readers that the movie Cloverfield is out on DVD. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. Click here for the FIXYOURTHINKING review. The DVD has an interesting alternate ending that I think I like better. I suppose at this point ... I was wrong that this movie might have a LOST tie in. I talked about that here and here. Not to keep harping on this ... but maybe they will re-release Cloverfield and my theory will be correct after all.


Paul Douglas said...

Philip, I've got to say I'm a little disappointed in you. You're smart enough to know that any documentary created with a creationist agenda is always going to focus on the negatives of Evolution and ignore the negatives of Creationism. So yes, of course he looked like an idiot, that's how they wanted him to look. Nothing in movies is by accident.

Besides which, discounting evolution because Hitler (Who most rational people agree was insane) used it as his rationale for genocide is both narrow-minded and a flimsy argument.

Creationists are always saying evolution does not explain everything, or it only answers the how. Why then does creationism not have to answer the how, or the where (As in, where's the creator, where's the proof?). None of us can really say whether or not intelligent design occurred, but there is evidence on earth of evolution, there is logic to it, it can be observed in the similarity between parents and children.

And Evolution does not discount intelligent design, it leaves the door open to the dawn of creation being intelligent, not everyone believes it was or wasn't. These documentaries (Creationist biased as this one or Evolution biased as many others) put forth the idea that the two ideas are mutually exclusive and that one is clearly the superior explanation whilst citing only some of the evidence either way. Which in some ways is the basis of all religion and the origin of creation theory (Though not necessarily modern creation theory, which has been updated and augmented with observation to a more scientific school of thought).

Science and reasoned debate require observing the facts and drawing the most logical explanation (Occam's razor, as you mentioned). That's how Darwin came up with evolution by the way, it is is the simplest explanation when you look at the fossil record, current living creatures and so on.

Creationism does require a leap of faith owing to the lack of evidence relating to the existence of a creator - though other than this it does account for most of the facts (How well is debatable for both theories). Noone can argue against that - arguing that we can't prove the opposite either is not argument either as it's logically harder to prove a negative.

A creationist documentary is not an open debate. You know that.

FYT said...

Ah ha ... but the movie expelled has NOTHING ... i repeat NOTHING to do with creationism ... that's the point the movie is trying to make. The term / title of the movie EXPELLED is referring to the growing issue of universities and media firing ANYONE who explores, researches, or even posits the Intelligent Design theory. Creationism is NOT Intelligent Design - they are compatible but not comparable - just as Evolution is compatible with "Survival of the fittest" theories.

I have always been the curious type ... wanting to know the truth ... and when I find the truth I like to share it. Lately, because so many militant arrogant people have been laughing at my beliefs - I've been studying creationism, intelligent design, evolution, and geology. To me (and you would see if you study) there seems to be more scientific proof in favor of an Intelligent Design and a God than there is for evolution.

Of course the movie makes extreme points - just as Al Gore does in an Inconvenient Truth - which has been PROVEN to be inaccurate and use imagery that was either set up, amended, trunicated, or falsified.

Have you seen the movie JensonB?

I have also been reading Richard Dawkins blog lately ... and I have been reading a lot of his work. I think the movie portrays him as extremely intelligent and sort of pleasant. That being said ... by his writing I can tell he is an asshole - not someone I would want to even be acquaintance with. He is the sort that only his point matters and his point is the correct one no matter what you say ... most of his arguments are circular ... and most and vain assumptions rather than actual scientific or reasonable.

Thank you for being pleasant in your disagreement ... if we agreed or I never said anything that made you think - I wouldn't need to write on this website.

Anonymous said...

JensonB: "Science and reasoned debate require observing the facts and drawing the most logical explanation (Occam's razor, as you mentioned). That's how Darwin came up with evolution by the way, it is is the simplest explanation when you look at the fossil record, current living creatures and so on."

Apparently you've not studied modern Creation Theory which proves and provides evidence for the fossil record being completely inaccurate. No scientist can explain the holes that "creation Scienists" have found in the geological and biological strata.

Paul Douglas said...

Anonymous, I've yet to see anything from a credible scientist disproving the fossil record in an adequate manner. Do not presume that just because I don't agree I don't know.

Philip, no I haven't had a chance to see it, as far as I'm aware it's not out over here yet. I was merely reacting to your article, it's possible I misinterpreted some of the details.

As to Intelligent Design scholars being ejected from universities, it speaks to the school administrations views on the subject. The government also can't legally do anything about it without risking breaching the separation of church and state - intelligent design, whilst not religion, is too close to it for any politician to risk it.

But as to my own beliefs, I have studied it, and I find evolution to be the more satisfactory explanation of the how. I'm still waiting for God to show himself.

Maybe the fact that for evolution to start without a creator a series of inconceivably unlikely events had to occur does make it seem implausible. But to me, it's no more implausible, and indeed less, than an all-powerful being whose presence has not been proven for millennia at least.

We're never going to agree on this without god appearing. I can't ever prove he doesn't exist (It's largely impossible to prove a negative), but I can't be dissuaded from evolution theory until it is proved he does and he tells us evolution is nowhere near true.

Anonymous said...

Its pretty clear that jensonb has not seen the movie and because of that he is not qualified to comment on THE MOVIE which is the focus of the article. The article is not about creationism and it isn't even about Intelligent Design. It's about the movie Expelled. I HAVE seen the movie Expelled and if you haven't seen it, you really need to see it.

Ben Stein is not known for pushing any kind of religious agenda. He is candidly Jewish and doesn't try to hide or push that fact. His only "agenda" in this movie is to find out why these schools and institutions are so hard-core about not keeping an open mind. Like it or not, Intelligent Design is the other side of the argument and it is a viewpoint that is held by Christian and non-Christian scientists alike. How reasonable is it for a group or institution to punish or vilify a SCIENTIST having a high degree of education and experience for simply taking the other side?

There is certainly no proof for evolution; it is only a way of looking at how things could have been. No one can go back and see how it could have been done or was done and any scientific process involving potentially millions of years takes quite a lot for granted. It is a whole lot easier to believe in Intelligent Design than evolution because of what we see today; left to themselves things tend to deteriorate or actually "devolve." It is only with an active and intelligent external force that things tend to improve or get better.

As for the fossil record, if evolution were really true there would be hundreds of transitional forms between species and there just aren't.

Anyway, the point of the documentary is to show that the heavy-handedness of these institutions is shocking and unbelievable and not a lot unlike the Nazi comparison given. If you haven't seen Expelled, you need to.

Anonymous said...

1. Iron Man - OK movie, better than other 'superhero' movies of late. Some amusing moments though the final battle seemed like I was back watching Transformers...

2. If you have ever wanted a clear dialogue about atheism and its affects on society or wanted to see some solid information in support of "Intelligent Design" - this movie is a good, well thought out, and entertaining and compelling resource.

If you want to open your eyes you will see that religion, and it's believers, has some rather unsavoury effects on the world....

3. Anonymous said...No scientist can explain the holes that "creation Scienists" have found in the geological and biological strata.

buzmania said...As for the fossil record, if evolution were really true there would be hundreds of transitional forms between species and there just aren't.

Excellent!!! What a laugh I had at these two comments. The very same could be said for any supreme being sitting on his throne on high mixing up the broth of life and casting it upon a barren rock in space. Show me the evidence that 'god' created anything. It's all in your heads/hearts and that's fine.

But when attempts are made to introduce this into the education system it should be stopped.

Just as you would stop the teaching of Islamism as the ONLY true religion in US schools...

Anonymous said...

The discussion that is being had here is not unlike the typical discussions that I have with PC users that scoff at the idea that someone could use anything other than a Windows machine. Their arguments typically involve jokes and derisive statements that have little or no substance.

Intelligent Design and the notion that there is a Supreme Being is not a new idea nor is it one shared by a minority of people. People have believed in these concepts since the dawn of history. There are also lots of people that believe in a deity concept that simultaneously hold to the theory of evolution as a sound scientific notion.

The concept of "separation of church and state" was never intended to totally preclude the inclusion of religious teaching, ideals, or philosophies from schools or any other government organization. There are plenty of religions that are blantently taught and/or referred to throughout our educational experience. These would include pantheism, humanism, and ancient mythology to name just a few.

If it is a matter of religion and you and jensonb seem to think, then why is evolution allowed to be taught? Teaching evolution directly discredits the notion that there is a God which in turn brings religion into the schools as something to be disputed and disproven, thus advocating (however subtly) the religion and philosophy of atheism or antitheism.

Scoffing and jeering is the lowest form of argument used only by those that have no other recourse. See the movie, tour the Creation museum and then argue from a standpoint of having seen both sides. I certainly have; I have studied evolutionary biology and chemistry and other physical and life sciences for many years that were taught by people that had no regard for religion at all so I feel well qualified to comment based on my knowledge of both sides. You could do the same but are apparently unwilling to do so and as such can only speak from a platform of ignorance and disregard.

Anonymous said...

The Wachowski bros certainly put a lot of effort into making Speed Racer... the movie overall looked and felt like a cross between anime, a kaleidoscope, that Flintstones movie, a video game and the Dukes of Hazard

Anonymous said... such can only speak from a platform of ignorance and disregard.

You have no idea of where I speak from. You have no knowledge of me, nor of my experiences in life (a long one I will add).
I have seen things and been places in my many years walking this planet.
I draw my views on religion from the many things I have experienced, first hand.
I am far from ignorant.