Movie Reviews: Avengers, 21 Jump Street and others

I watched several movies recently, more in a short period of time than I normally do, and… they were mostly not that great.  We’ll start with the better ones.

The Avengers

I liked this one because it pretty much fulfills what you want from a summer blockbuster.  Is the story great?  No.  Furthermore, as I’ve written before, superhero shows and movies rarely ever make logical sense; if we accept a world where certain individuals have extraordinary powers, we should expect those powers to be used in a reasonable way and be shown in a reasonable way, but this rarely ever happens.  Hence we see Iron Man not die in one hit from Thor (blah blah blah, I remember the suit got powered to 400% capacity, that still wouldn’t match someone as absurd as Thor) or Captain America’s arm not shattering to pieces when Thor hits his shield with his big hammer. Also, none of the human-only heroes should be able to fight huge aliens with superior technology (but unfathomably inferior to Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit), least of all with some souped up arrows.  Also, where is the military?  Are they okay with just “setting up a perimeter” while New York City gets swarmed?  Sure, let’s just let the NYPD and six random people fight off an alien invasion.  Sigh.  Just gotta let these things go with movies like this.

(I think I just hacked off everyone who liked the movie and who likes Marvel Comics.)

Also, I want to insult all Hulk fans everywhere:  I’ve always found this superhero kinda stupid.  Hulk fans love to brag that the Hulk has theoretically limitless strength because, “All he has to do is get angrier!”  Whoopee.  And stupid.  What, are we supposed to believe he can achieve infinite anger?  What does that even mean?  Why is he angry?  They also did a poor job with character development, because one moment he’s about to kill the Black Widow and then the next time he transforms he’s perfectly rational.  Uh huh.

It is clear that, despite the fact that in the comics Thor is depicted to be as strong or even stronger than the Hulk, they had to make the Hulk special and portray him as slightly stronger than Thor, although Thor is still pretty ridiculous.  If you don’t believe me, here are parts of his strength description from Marvel Wiki: Continue reading

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Homosexuality and Slavery: Not the same biblical issue

If there is one issue on which it is extremely difficult to have a civil, intelligent discussion these days, it is homosexuality.  The topic is extraordinarily sensitive, with labels of “bigot” and “homophobe” thrown around freely to anyone who dares question the morality of such a lifestyle.  Since internet commenters typically take dialogue to all-time lows, it gets even worse when it comes to tackling the subject via the web.  The discussion features straw-man arguments all over the place, and unfortunately, it’s not always much better when the issue is talked about among Christians.

I have no desire to address the political topic of gay marriage at the moment.  I’ve never been overly concerned with politics, and I also think there are deeper issues at play.  What I do want to address, in light of Obama’s recent (but not really new) comments on gay marriage, is the notion that somehow, black Christians are being hypocritical if they believe homosexuality is a sin.  This blog article on CNN clearly purports such an idea, and the article is so slanted, so poorly researched, and so poorly argued that I think some correction will be helpful.  Basically, any argument that tries to equate 19th century arguments from the Bible in favor of the African slave trade to current biblical views on homosexuality show an exceptional lack of knowledge of history as well as of the Bible itself.

The “Literalist” Straw-Man

James Cone, an African American theologian, claims:

The literal approach to scripture was used to enslave black people.  I’ve said many times in black churches that the black church is on the wrong side of history on this. It’s so sad because they were on the right side of history in their own struggle.

Absurd.  Scripture had nothing to do with actually enslaving anyone; it is true that many slaveholders attempted to use the Bible to justify or rationaliaze their participation in African slavery, but in no way did the Bible create such a thing (or else Cone can kindly explain to all of us why the African slave trade was prevalent in the largely non-Christian Arab world).  This argument is so silly that it is hard to understand why someone would even say that other than to create caricatures. Continue reading