Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hooked On Drugs Healed By Jesus

Here we have a personal account of a man named Orlando Fitzhugh, who tells us that "at 16, I almost died a drug addict." Now, however, Orlando has "a wonderful Christian home," and he no doubt hopes the tale of his tribulations will cause other addicts - not to mention any non-Christian readers - to reconsider their lives and convert.

"Christ is concerned with the hard cases in life," and few cases could be harder than Orlando's. He began his odyssey to addiction hell "at the age of 12," smoking pot in order "to be part of the crowd." Naturally he "graduated to heroin," the fate of all pot smokers. Oh yes. ALL of them. That led to "gang fights, hanging around the streets," and stealing "anything that could be sold, including the family belongings."

"One day, during a gang war..." I just love that half-sentence. Makes it sound like he just stepped out for groceries, doesn't it? Anyway, during that gang war period of his life, Orlando was "shot just below the heart," he had "an overdose of heroin," and "nearly fell six floors to the street," and he "was quickly arrested again." When he was arrested before is not revealed.

It is important to note here that Orlando already believed in God; he prayed for his life after getting shot. And, when he almost fell off that rooftop, "one of the gang saved" him with a "quick grab," to which Orlando concluded that "God had spared my life." So either he mistook his fellow gang member for God, or God was a member of his gang.

Things didn't get much better for him after that. He "suffered a complete breakdown and developed a heart condition," and became "an emotional and physical wreck." Poor Orlando saw "no way out of my predicament."

But then, just when he "knew my days were numbered," Orlando "was invited to attend a church youth meeting" and before you could say Born Again, Orlando was Born Again. Less than a week later, "the craving for the 'stuff' had completely disappeared" and "peace and happiness have been mine."

"Why not repent now," Orlando asks at the very end, "and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord?" Why not indeed? After all, this one isn't bad by tract standards. Nowhere does Orlando mention the threat of Hell or the joys of Heaven; his message is relevant to life, not in what may or may not happen after death. Orlando also manages to tell his entire story in the space of three tract pages with room to spare! That almost makes up for the storybook style of his prose: "One day, during a gang war..." "One night, after an overdose of heroin..." It doesn't sound at all like the gritty story of someone who had really lived through the events he describes. I'm not saying Orlando is lying, just that his writing style doesn't grant his story credibility.

Orlando Fitzhugh makes God out to be the ultimate rehab, but I doubt that readers who don't already believe in God are going to buy this story, let alone get Saved. However, drug addicts who are on the fence with their beliefs might just find this tract plausible, giving it a better shot than most of them.

Not bad, EDT. Orlando's worth keeping around. With some decent writing classes, this guy could really be something.

Likely to Convert - 4
Artwork - 6
Ability to Hold Interest - 5
Unintentional Hilarity - 5
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 0

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Doomsday

When reviewing a movie like this one, I like to watch the DVD with a notebook in hand. That way, I can pause while I scribble notes and rewind to capture the more hilarious quotes. Such is not the case this time; I sat down to watch what looked to be a lame end-of-the-world thriller from The Asylum(Mega Piranha, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Transmorphers, Titanic II), only to discover it was in fact "a modern Christian epic in the tradition of The Omega Code" from The Asylum and Faith Films(Meteor Apocalypse, Sunday School Musical). I didn't make notes, so this review won't be quite as thorough and nit-picky as I like to be. I had to review it, though. Too good an opportunity to miss!

2012 Doomsday stars a group of unknowns as a bunch of half-dimensional characters in a mad rush to get to the pyramids at Chichen Itza before Doomsday. The year is 2012, when the Mayan long count calendar ends, and according to a bunch of prophecies (both Mayan and Christian) the Biblical End Times are upon us. If those characters don't get to Chichen Itza in time... well, that would be one of the plot problems right there.

You see, the Doomsday stuff (earthquakes, tsunamis, hail) are going to happen regardless of what any of them do. One character discovers the Earth's rotation is slowing down due to its alignment with the black hole in the centre of the galaxy, which will result in all manner of poorly animated CGI. The 'heroes' aren't going to stop anything by getting to the pyramid, and the consequences of their failure is never made clear.

All the characters (if you must know, the main ones are Susan, Sarah, Lloyd, Wakanna and Frank) have their own reasons for their pyramid race, ranging from good to lame to WTF. Frank found a crucifix in a Mayan archaeological dig, and a translated inscription reveals he must get it to Chichen Itza. Wakanna is about to give birth, and believes God wants her to have the baby in the pyramid. Susan and Sarah are sent by a feeling they can't explain, and Lloyd goes because Sarah is his daughter. Bad things happen to them along the way, and they all end up getting Faith.

2012 Doomsday is a terrible movie, with absolutely nothing with which to redeem itself. The writing is awful, in terms of dialogue, story points and logic. The actors sleepwalk through their parts, but one can't blame them; there is nothing remotely interesting about their characters. Their motivations are unclear, their interactions contrived, and character arcs range from predictable to non-existent.

Most scenes begin with text at the bottom of the screen, indicating how many hours remain until Doomsday. You'd expect that clock to tick steadily downwards, but it does not. Some scenes indicate only 8 hours remain, only to tell us 14 hours remain in the next scene. Was there a problem in the editing room, or is this just stupidity?

One scene that gave me a chuckle involved three characters in an SUV dodging hail in Mexico (just go with it). One hailstone smashes through the windshield and goes right through the driver's chest. Luckily he manages to say the Salvation prayer before he dies. And luckily for the other two, the hailstorm stops the moment their driver is hit. And, in spite of his massive chest wound, the driver still manages to park the SUV on the side of the road! The unintended laughs are a welcome relief, because they are few and very far between.

And the end? Is all revealed, giving sense to seemingly senseless story points? As a writer, I couldn't help but try to anticipate where the movie was going. Will the crucifix turn out to be magical, and getting it to the pyramid will save the world? No. Is the pregnant woman about to give birth to a Christ-like messiah? No. The resolution the film comes up with is too lame for words. We don't even get the big special-effects payoff that the box art suggests. Instead, the Doomsday sequence is poor, cheap, and over far too quickly.

Oh, and three-quarters of the way through the film, the Rapture happens. Blink and you'll miss it. If this is the best that Faith Films can produce, they'll likely face their own doomsday soon enough.

Likely To Convert - 0
Production Values - 0
Acting/Direction - 0
Likely To Be Sat Through - 1
Unintentional Hilarity - 3
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 1