Three distinct and interesting
theatrical films converge on
the theme of war. One is based
on a Christian classic, another on a
comic book and the third takes its cue
from the Sylvester Stallone Rambo franchise.
All of these films are about growing
up, in some way.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE
CASPIAN (A-2, PG): Lucy Pevensie
(Georgie Henley) leads her siblings
through a closet into the
magical land created by C.S.
Lewis. This time, the children rescue
a grumpy dwarf, Trumpkin
(Peter Dinklage, The Station Agent).
Crown Prince Caspian (Ben
Barnes, Stardust) is on the run.
His Uncle Miraz (Sergio Castellitto,
Mostly Martha), the usurper
to the throne and persecutor of
Narnians, wants to kill the young
prince so his own son will one
day be king.
Adamson has created a film rich
in artistic and thematic texture.
He has developed the characters and
events so that, to me, the story is more
interesting than the book. The problem
I have with the film is the extensive and
unnecessary (but completely bloodless)
battle scenes leading to a very long
film that clocks in at nearly two and a
There is one profound moment that
captures all the themes of the story
and reflects Lewis’s Christian heart and
his view of peace. When the children
are trying to decide whether to attack
the Talmarine castle or to fight Miraz
and his minions, Lucy quietly says,
“You are talking about only two
options: whether we will die here or at
the castle. There is a third way: Aslan.”
This statement can launch many conversations
about the meaning of the
film and the influence of faith on life.
In addition to themes of character,
imagination, faith, hope, love, coming-of-age and complex decisionmaking
about the right thing to do and who to
follow, this is a worthy, exciting tale
for adolescents and grown-ups. Intense
battle violence makes it unsuitable for
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL (Not
rated, G): Kit Kittredge (Abigail Breslin,
Little Miss Sunshine) is an 11-year-old
aspiring journalist in Depression-era
Cincinnati. When her father (Chris
O’Donnell, Grey’s Anatomy) leaves to
look for a job, her mother (Julia
Ormond, Sabrina) takes in boarders.
Kit writes about what is going on
around her and wants to be published
in the local newspaper. Kit befriends
two kids, Will (Max Thieriot, Nancy
Drew) and Countee (Willow Smith),
who arrive at the Kittredge home asking
to work for food.
But the boarders are not what they
seem, especially the magician (Stanley
Tucci, The Devil Wears Prada) and the
somewhat ditzy bookmobile librarian
(Joan Cusack, Runaway Bride). Kit and
her pals also become occupied trying to
solve a mysterious crime spree.
This is the first feature-length
American Girl film (three others
were made for TV). Breslin is
fresh, smart and credible.
The film is directed by award-winner
Patricia Rozema (Mansfield
Park), who elicits sympathetic
and strong performances from
the many child actors. Rozema
also delivers a healthy dose of
admirable girl-power. The film
treats issues of racism, social status,
family, friends, honesty, courage
Kit Kittredge strives for historical
authenticity, and cultural and
racial diversity. It falters only during
Thanksgiving, when no one mentions
God, which would be historically
accurate to include. Rare film that celebrates
being a girl.
IRON MAN (A-3, PG-13): Tony Stark
(Robert Downey, Jr., Zodiac) is a brilliant
industrialist whose company makes
weapons for the U.S. government for its
war in Afghanistan. When Tony goes
there to deliver a new weapons system,
he discovers that a warlord is using
Stark Industry’s weapons not only to
fight Americans but also to kill innocent
Stark is captured and severely injured.
Yinsen (Shaun Toub, The Kite Runner)
saves his life by implanting a device in
place of his heart. When the guerrilla
warlord Raza (Faran Tahir) demands that
Tony re-create his new weapons system,
Tony and Yinsen deceive Raza by creating
an iron suit, which is a weapon that
targets only the enemy and enables Tony to fly. Tony also discovers that someone
in his firm is double-dealing.
Downey, an unlikely superhero, gives
an outstanding, award-worthy performance.
Gwyneth Paltrow (Running With
Scissors) is effective as the unrequited
romantic interest and Terrence Howard
(Crash) plays the likable military liaison.
The film follows the proven but typical
Stan Lee comic formula. Director
Jon Favreau (Elf) and his team of writers
have crafted an evocative and entertaining
film, especially by developing
Tony’s character so well. This is evidenced
from Tony’s soul-searching as he
questions his personal and corporate
responsibility for his part in the development
and continuance of the military-industrial
complex. The film does
demonstrate other ways to engage the
enemy and avoid the collateral damage
that weighs on Tony’s conscience.
Although this is a high-concept, well-cast
production that I enjoyed, the film
misses a step by never questioning the
role and responsibility of government in
the arms industry, trade and trafficking.
The fact that it is called an “industry” in
the film and real life should weigh heavily
on all believers and people of goodwill. Intense war violence and torture.
SON OF RAMBOW (A-3, PG-13): In mid-1980s England, Will Proudfoot (Bill
Milner) sits outside his classroom
because his strict Plymouth Brethren
religion does not permit him to watch
films—not even documentaries.
He becomes friends with the wild
Lee Carter (Will Poulter), who includes
Will in his film project, based on the
Rambo movie about a character in the
Vietnam War. Although isolated from
media, Will has a vivid imagination
and has artistic talent, which helps Lee
develop his film into a wartime action-adventure
story and a search for his
This is a cinematic surprise written
and directed by Garth Jennings (A
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). It’s a
charming, low-budget independent
film about friendship, loss, family, religion
Both a sad and positive commentary
on parenting, the film excels by
showing the innocence and resilience
of childhood, and the power of movies
to express the inner life of children
and tell stories of the heart. Rough and
risky behavior and some problem language.
THE TUDORS (Showtime): This
lusty historical drama, starring
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
(August Rush) as Henry VIII, was just
renewed and is already on DVD.
This past season focused on the Act
of Succession (1534), legitimizing the
heirs of Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer)
and making Henry the head of the
Church in England. The refusal of
Bishop John Fisher (Bosco Hogan) and
Sir Thomas More (Jeremy Northam) to
sign the act which led to their martyrdom
(1535) was portrayed accurately,
with much feeling and dignity.
We have seen numerous interpretations
of Henry VIII’s descent into the
hell of the consequences of his unquenchable
quest for money, sex and
power. But he remains a religious man
of sorts, although fixated with the need
for an heir. Even though we know how
his era is going to end, The Tudors makes
for riveting television, and conversations
about what faith and the Church
mean in our own times. For mature audiences;
sexual themes and nudity.
William Talen is not an ordained
preacher. But he began preaching
and parodying gospel choirs and
evangelical preaching to spread his
anticonsumerism message: “We live in
absurdity where monopoly is called
democracy, the mall is called the neighborhood
and patriotism is called
In this documentary, he contends
that “we shop because we are afraid of
death.” His retail interventions and
message are controversial, hard-hitting,
humorous and thought-provoking. The
DVD and CD, in addition to his book,
What Would Jesus Buy?: Fabulous Prayers
in the Face of the Shopocalypse, are available
LOVE’S UNFOLDING DREAM: This Hallmark
Channel production is based on
the Love Comes Softly series by Christian
novelist Janette Oke.
It’s wholesome family viewing with
a strong message from executive producer
Michael Landon, Jr.