It’s A Wonderful Life Review

It’s A Wonderful Life is an iconic film that most people have either seen or at least heard of. I definitely remember seeing it as a kid although my recollection is pretty broken. I remember the main character getting his ears slammed but then I thought the climax was similar to Sleepless in Seattle. I certainly did not recall the Angel helping him out or the reality warping aspect of the film. It’s a movie that definitely holds up pretty well in some aspects while faltering in others. The main character is quite terrible for example which is one part that doesn’t age well.

So the film starts off with a few Angels wondering what they should do about the main character. He is on a course set for self destruction at the moment and must be saved quickly. Clarence decides to learn a bit about our lead before making a move so the rest of the film follows Mr Bailey from his days as a kid to an adult. He is essentially stuck in an old town working a job that he doesn’t like. Bailey doesn’t like this but it’s hard to get out. Unfortunately his partner loses 8000 dollars to the main villain, Mr. Potter. Bailey will now be arrested and left penniless if he doesn’t do something. That’s when he remembers the Life Insurance.

The opening is also a pretty powerful scene as a lot of people pray for Bailey to be okay. It’s not often you see anyone praying in a film, much less a bunch of people. It is definitely nice to remember a time where many people were openly Christian and there weren’t so many social taboos against it. It’s also a scene that shows the power of prayer as the Angels decide to act on the and that is ultimately what saves Mr. Bailey. Don’t doubt the power of prayer in real life either. Your prayers are always answered and God will see to it that you get the right answer to your prayer.

Naturally Bailey’s plight is a sad one but he doesn’t handle it well at all. Take early on in the film, he is about to leave town but then he lets Mr. Potter’s speech get to him so he yells back and the board decides to keep him on. Bailey should have dashed for the train before anyone even had time to tell him such a thing but he was already having doubts. See, I think Bailey was actually not as thrilled about leaving as he suggested or he would have done so. His next opportunity was even easier as his brother returned to take over the family business as promised in Bailey’s place. He ended up getting a fiancée while he was gone and she wants him to run a different business. Bailey quickly folds here, but he could have acted oblivious and just left. The brother would have taken over the business and it would be golden. Even at the end when Potter offers Bailey a deal the lead declines. Now you can’t really blame him too much on a moral angle since it’s only natural that he would never want to work with him. On the other hand, this would have been his best chance to fix their code of ethics and to make things better in the whole town. In the end, Bailey is the one who trapped himself in the town.

The romance is also pretty bad the whole time. He is just so mean to Mary the whole time. He wrecks her big return to the city. She works really hard to make things better for them while he consistently makes things tougher on her. Despite this, she never complains while he always does. So I couldn’t get behind this romance because as the saying goes, I think she could do a lot better than get together with this guy. Let’s also consider the fact that he was going to jump off a bridge and leave her to take care of the kids on her own.

I think the only reasonable characteristic of Mr. Bailey is that he reminds me of Nicholas Cage. The facial expressions and the voice are just really similar which is pretty interesting to see. Watch enough old movies and you eventually start to see these older counterparts. As the final nail in the coffin, Mr. Bailey is also very slow on the uptake. Even once Clarence tells him many times that he has been erased from time and nobody will remember him, Bailey is shocked every time. You’d think after the 2nd or 3rd guy didn’t recognize him that he would realize something was up. Seeing his wife working at a library now is also something he should have considered. The guy is just pretty annoying and cane very close to wrecking everyone’s Christmas.

Clarence was not really my kind of character either. While the other Angels were all on point and very professional, he felt the most Earthly. Clarence came very close to drinking beer at the bar and that wasn’t really a good moment for him. His way of helping Bailey was also very roundabout and risky. There were so many ways the whole thing could have backfired. As slow as Bailey was on the uptake, Clarence was really slow at giving out the details. He seemed shocked whenever Bailey didn’t understand something as well. They probably should have sent one of the Angels with wings if you ask me since this one also didn’t seem to understand people very well.

The best character in the film was definitely Mr. Potter though. The guy was really intense and didn’t mince words when he was on screen. He’d do anything for a profit and didn’t suddenly have a change of heart at the end either. He stuck to his guns from start to finish and got some of the best lines. When Bailey shows up at his throne and desperately asks for help Potter finally relents. You see him soften up and think for a split second that subs he isn’t so bad after all. Then Potter admits that he will help see that Bailey gets the Justice he deserves and issued a warrant for his arrest with the powers given to him as a stakeholder in the company. The money is what matters to him and seeing 8000 of it just vanish was unacceptable to him. Not to mention that he also ends up holding grudges. He’s a very complete character and one that you can root for as a villain. That’s not to say you want him to win over the heroes because of what that would mean for the town but at the very least he is a fun villain to watch.

If Mary was the main character then she would be easy to root for against Potter. Unlike Bailey, she actually seems like a nice character and makes all of the reasonable choices throughout the movie. Without her to keep Bailey in line, he’d probably still be whining about his job, but not doing anything about it. That’s just the kind of man that Bailey is. She’s a lot better at reading a situation and even offers the money to the townsfolk before Bailey even thinks of the idea. Her generosity is on point as well.

Overall, It’s a Wonderful Life is a good Christmas film with solid Christian themes at work as well. It has a good premise and it’s always interesting to look at a world without yourself. The ripple effect of you not existing would definitely be quite massive when you think about it. That being said, the execution isn’t always on point and some parts of the film have not aged well like the romance or the main character. It’s certainly more of a hit than a miss though and I’d recommend checking it out. You should see for yourself why the film is so well known and remembered.

Overall 6/10

Constantine Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version. All thoughts below should be read as such as a review of the unedited version would be even more negative.
Well well, it’s time to look at a horror film that also happens to be a comic book film. I’m not sure about this combo and it certainly didn’t work out this time. Constantine ends up being a very weak title which contradicts its own message and spends a lot of time wondering just where the plot went. One thing’s for sure, this isn’t the sleeper hit of 2005 and it even makes the recent Ghost Rider film look good.

The film’s about a guy named Constantine who exorcises demons. He wants to be allowed into Heaven since he has done a good job of keeping the demons away, but the angel Gabriel reminds him that one cannot enter into Heaven on good works alone. Constantine shows his contempt for this by slamming a Bible on the ground, insulting and berating a lady who is trying to save her sister, and then torturing a spider that he found in his house. Yeah….I wonder why they aren’t letting this guy into Heaven….It’s impossible to root for Constantine from this point on, but one thing leads to another and he’s the only guy standing in the way of a mad quest for power with human lives in the balance. Looks like it’s time to fight again!

It’s hard to know where to start on how bad this film is. We may as well get the ball rolling with Constantine since I’ve already started taking shots at him. He’s just a horrendous main character. Constantine doesn’t seem to even pretend to follow the Bible’s teachings. He spends the entire film being mean to just about everyone and his opening scene where we’re supposed to be impressed with how he handles the exorcist just makes him look bad. He’s not even that good at his job and barely manages to scratch out wins. Constantine loves smoking as well and even after he gets lung cancer, he decides to keep on smoking anyway. Once he gets a sidekick, Constantine tries to be a little more heroic when he’s not pulling guns at demons at a bar where there’s a truce, but it’s too little too late. I’ll never forget the spider incident. Sure, he had a bad day, but taking it out on another living creature is way past crossing the line.

There’s also this subplot in the desert where a guy finds a spear which mind controls him and forces the guy to come over to the city. Not only does this plot go nowhere until the very end of the film, but it is immensely boring and just slows the film’s pacing down even more. The film never really gets good or exciting so it may not matter all that much while you’re watching, but it doesn’t help matters.

The film can also be pretty violent at times and also just grotesque with the various demons running around. Supernatural films like this one love going for those crazy visuals. There were some good ones here like when Constantine went into hell. I liked how the place looked and the film had potential with some of the fight scenes and other special effects. It was one of the few positives that this title had to offer.

Back to the negatives, the film decides to make God (Yes, the film actually decided to go with the real God in this film. Big mistake considering that they decided to make him look terrible) look incredibly unintelligent and he spends the entire film getting tricked by everyone around him. Part of the premise in this film is that God and the Devil are having a chess game with humans being the pawns in it. Neither one of them can affect the humans directly, but they can tempt them. The Devil tempts them to do wrong things with his demon hybrids while God has the half angels. Full fledged Demons and Angels are forbidden from interfering. Aside from the moral ambiguity of this game, you’d think that God would ensure that the match is fair right? Nope, he doesn’t realize it, but the Devil has rigged the match from the start.

He’s not even subtle as he just summons a bunch of Demons to Earth and directly attacks people. His allies even go to bars and start indiscriminately murdering people. They also murder one of Constantine’s allies and an angel can do nothing but watch since he’s heavily outnumbered. Of course, the fact that the angel was watching and doing nothing the entire time is another negative. It gets even worse as one of the higher ranked Angels turns out to be crazy and evil. God appointed him as one of the 4 big Angels so you’d think that the interview process would have been more rigid. The Angel believes that he’s still a good guy and that genocide will help the human race turn to God before they die. He believes that suffering always has this effect, but you can see how crazy he is.

Also, the Devil is portrayed as incredibly strong and while God won’t set foot on Earth, he has no qualms about it. He shows up and wrecks everybody. The final straw is the fact that he can mess with Heaven as well. So, remember the part where Constantine can’t earn his way into Heaven with actions? Yeah…the film forgot about that. By being heroic and helping someone out, he was able to earn his way into Heaven, but the Devil can’t have that. He literally reaches up and just pulls Constantine back to Earth. Wow…..I can’t even….

So…yeah, this movie had a very warped idea of how Heaven and Hell works. It’s always nice to see a film actually bring Christianity to the forefront and tackle these concepts, but it was done so horrendously that it backfired completely. I don’t believe we even got any lines where the characters remind Constantine that he can only get into Heaven through Jesus Christ. It seemed to completely revolve around being a nice person instead, which is 100% false. No matter how many good deeds you do or how nice you are as a person, it will never be enough to get you into Heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. The whole point of faith in Christianity is that you know that you can’t make it to Heaven on your own. You need Jesus, but this film decides to go around that. Also, the concept of an Angel being evil is pretty terrible. Lucifer was an angel once and there are other Fallen Angels, but they are fallen. There aren’t any evil Angels still lurking or anything like that. That’s just Hollywood trying for an epic plot twist, but there isn’t any to be found in Heaven. I don’t think for one minute that any bad guy can trick God into letting him in.

As for the rest of the supporting characters, the main heroine was decent. Angela was certainly a big improvement over Constantine and she goes through a lot of trials in order to help her sister out. Her sister committed suicide, but Angela knows that she would never do such a thing and it finally helps her to believe in the supernatural. This brings another negative to light which I almost forgot about. All right, stay with me here since the film decides to use its crazy logic again.

So, a demon possessed Isabel and forced her to destroy herself. That wasn’t her own free will so she surely wouldn’t be penalized for it would she? Nope…she actually is. See, as part of the match, this falls into the whole “Satan influencing people” part so it’s actually a legitimate victory for him with Isabel now being doomed to Hell for eternity. Now you can see how this whole game is so rigged right? Luckily, Isabel ends up having a happy ending, but once again, the Devil was just portrayed as way too powerful here. Essentially, he was the one with power over Heaven and Hell in this version given how he can influence the game to such a degree.

So, Angela’s a good character. I also liked Chas, who’s the comic relief character of the film. He did a good job in the role and helped out as best he could. Things didn’t go too well for him, but he does get a big plot twist in the post credits scene…which may or may not be canon as I also read that it was an alternate ending. I’m pretty sure that it is canon though, but I don’t really care enough about the film to do any searching. If you see the film you can stick around past the credits and tell me if it’s there. None of the villains were particularly likable and the demons didn’t have great designs. The final fights were pretty decent, but Constantine was so far out of his league that it was scary. He’s a human with a gun….there’s only so much he can do against a very fast/powerful demon. Plot hax is really his only weapon at this point.

Overall, Constantine is pretty terrible to be honest. I’d stick far away from this film if I were you. The film defies its own logic and the logic is already super flawed and fake from the get go. You won’t learn anything from this film because there is nothing to learn and the actual movie isn’t well made anyway. Constantine is a very unlikable main character and even the edited version can’t save the film’s writing and the excessive violence that shows up at times. All of Constantine’s allies (One of which is a priest who likes to drink a lot. Gee….the film had to fit that in didn’t it?) are doomed to painful and unfortunate ends at the hands of the demons and since the heroes never had a shot from the beginning…what’s the point? If you want a better comic book film, I recommend Batman V Superman, the original theater version. That film has it all, hype, action, and an epic soundtrack!

Overall 2/10

Heaven Is For Real

As Christians we know that truer words have not been spoken. Heaven Is for real and we know this to be an absolute certainty. This film explores an event not too long ago where a kid believed that he went to Heaven during a trying medical situation where he nearly died. This film essentially brings that story to the big screen and while they take some liberties, most of it happens as it did in the real. (“In the real” = Real Life) So…did this happen?

There have been many miracles throughout history. We’ve had many significant ones like David vs Goliath or the 3 men in the burning furnace. Many smaller miracles have happened as well and continue to happen. Think of the many times someone has had cancer or another incurable disease and then for it to vanish. It can even be something as getting delayed in a train for an extra minute so that you get to just miss a big storm. I’m confident that miracles happen each and every day around the world. We simply won’t hear about many of them and some may happen that we don’t even regard as miracles. We don’t always see what effects each event has on us even if it was something that critically changed our lives.

We don’t expect to see events like in the olden days where God would physically speak to crowds and perform incredible feats. It’s a different time and once we get past the New Testament and Jesus went back to Heaven after the resurrection; it is now a time of Faith. Would faith be as important if we were shown proof of God’s existence so openly? In his own way, he shows us this each and every day, but our faith is very important. We choose to believe in God whether we see proof of this or not. It’s just like how many people don’t believe in him because they don’t think that he exists. Free Will is granted to us and we choose whether to believe in him or not.

Coming back to the question…do I believe that this boy went to Heaven and came back? It’s certainly possible, but I am highly skeptical and I would be inclined to say no. Unfortunately, we live in a very difficult world and there are billions of people on it. Just as many live for the Lord and to spread his glory other live to tarnish his reputation and to take people away from this path. There are many people who claim to have heard directly from God and speak of many fantastic occurrences. While I have no doubt that some are true, the majority of them are probably not. I personally find events like this one harder to believe once they do get into the spotlight like this. It just seems all too easy and like it’s a way for us to renew our faith in the Lord. That may be a noble intention, but if the story is fabricated towards that goal then it is not worth it. There is always the chance that the kid truly believes that he went to Heaven and that he truly did, but there’s no way to know for certain.

I pride myself on being an optimist most of the time, but I can also be a very skeptical person. It’s tough to balance these two things out as I typically assume the worst when any situation occurs. Sometimes my hunches are correct like with The Interview and how that situation blew up quickly, but it’s always good to tackle a situation with bright thoughts. Expecting the worst can just lead to you not enjoying things as much as you should be. So, I want to believe that he really did go to Heaven, but I have a hard time believing it.

There are so many things that could have happened. He could have really gone to Heaven; He could have made the whole thing up; He could have had a dream; His parents could have made up the story and had the kid play along and he won’t change the story now; etc. The possibilities are endless. This line of questioning also arises in part from the fact that he is just a kid. He was quite young in the film and I forgot what age he was in real life when this happened, but he was certainly still a child. He grew up in a Christian home where his father was the Pastor. He had probably heard many fantastic things as he grew up and I’m sure that he was familiar with the Bible. He may have thought up the whole thing to impress his parents and he may even have forgotten that he made it up.

Ultimately, it does no good to go in circles about this forever. I’ve just been the type to never believe what I hear or see at face value without a lot of extra deliberation on my part. We all have our reasons for why we believe in God. Whether it be a connection that we feel in our hearts or an appreciation at everything that God has created, we know that he is real. No Big Bang created everything and life hasn’t just been in existence forever. So, you do not need any fantastic miracles or events to convince you of his existence. As long as you sincerely believe in your heart the words of the Bible and give your heart over to God, then you’ll be okay. You’ll be much more than okay! If you believe that this happened then that’s wonderful and if you don’t, then you’re still doing great. This is a story that has clearly given many people a lot of happiness and has strengthened many people’s beliefs so I still wouldn’t go around shooting it down. I can never say one way or the other whether it happened for not so maybe it’s just time that I started having more of a bright outlook on it. The last thing that you want to do is to discourage another person in their walk of faith so you just need to stay true to your belief in God and just take things from there. This is a formula that shall never fail you.

Debating whether or not this event actually happened certainly took up most of this article so I shall be brief on the rest. I still don’t care for the main protagonist to be a child as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, but he’s not a bad character. I think the film went a little far when he told his parents to pay back the hospital and then a big gust of wind hit the house. I get that symbolic scenes are important, but that was probably stretching the sensationalism a bit. He’s still a good character and that scene is a good example of what a moral individual he is. The parents are pretty good even if there is one scene that comes out of nowhere. They just suddenly explode and have a big fight. I guess their tensions had been rising, but it still felt out of character for them. Not to mention that they were in a tight spot so breaking a pair of dishes is not in their best interest.

Their fellow church goers did not look good though. They really didn’t handle the situation well. I don’t place the whole blame on them as I think the father should get some of it, but I would give them most of it. They certainly did not act as you would expect a Christian too. The pastor had a very tough time and they didn’t make it any easier. They were practically glaring at him as he went on the pulpit and none of them gave him any words of encouragement. A simple quote or two from the Bible or some sign that they were on his side would have been nice, but they ran to the option to fire him.

The one reason why I don’t put all the blame on them is that the Pastor didn’t do a great job either. The fact that his kid may have went to Heaven shook his faith to the core and he wasn’t sure whether he should believe in God anymore or not. It may have been best to have taken a little more time off from the pulpit then instead of just going up there and admitting that he’s not sure of his faith. As I mentioned, one thing you never want to do is to shake another person’s faith in God. That’s an absolute no no! It was a small church though and I was surprised that nobody was willing to talk with him about that. I’ve been to many Churches in the past and there is almost always at least one person who is very vocal throughout the message and would have had no qualms about debating with him or simply talking about the situation calmly. There was none of that here as the audience was just completely quiet or just adding to his troubles.

Overall, Heaven is For Real is a pretty uplifting movie. It actually gets pretty sad during certain parts, but you can look forward to it getting happy again by the end. Especially if you are familiar with what happened in real life. It is certainly awesome to think about Heaven, what it’s like and how it’ll be to live there for eternity. Just talking about Heaven would likely take up a whole other article so I won’t go into that here, but I believe that it will literally be perfect. Whether it will look different to each individual or whether it has a single look doesn’t matter. What matters is that we will be going there someday and we can wish for nothing better. Whenever you are in a tough spot or just need some encouragement, just think of where you will be going. This life is just a small drop compared to the eternal life that awaits us there. Meeting God will be an event like no other and it’ll make every hardship and pain that you’ve ever experienced worth it! This is a pretty good film to check out for Christmas and while I am at it I also recommend God Is Not Dead. Both of these films are very uplifting and nothing beats checking out a Christian film in time for Christmas, one of the greatest events in history! (The Birth vs The Resurrection vs The Rapture vs The Day you got saved, you can certainly make an argument for any one of these days being the greatest. Naturally, the latter would just be the greatest for you, but boy did that day change your life!)