Category: Movie Main Ideas


main idea: Your true values and capacity are revealed in the face of adversity.

The much-anticipated movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (an adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s book) begins with the wizard Gandalf recruiting Mr. Bilbo Baggins for an adventure as a burglar. Bilbo doesn’t feel he has the skills to keep up with the dwarves in their quest to reclaim their home. Thorin, the leader, has the most doubts about Bilbo. Through all the obstacles and adversities, Bilbo soon steps up to be the kind of person that Gandalf saw him to be; Thorin recognizes that too in the end.

We all long for that one person who sees the potential in us, who sees something that we may miss ourselves. But when we discover that potential, we begin to claim who we really are.

So who do you believe in today?

Rise of the Guardians

main idea: You live when you discover the “centre” of who you are.

Through the movie Rise of the Guardians, Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) is asked to join the Guardians (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Sandman and the Tooth Fairy) to protect the children of the world, especially against Pitch Black aka The Boogeyman. What keeps each guardian alive is children’s belief in them; once they stop believing, the guardians seize to exist. Jack however has never been acknowledged by any child nor does he know where he came from. Santa challenges him to discover what his “centre” is i.e. his essence.

Two things move Jack to accept the challenge of being a guardian: 1. Jamie (a little boy) acknowledges Jack’s existence and thus is now seen by children (a deep longing Jack had since he could remember) and 2. he discovers that his “centre” i.e. what makes him unique in what he offers is fun. When he discovers this, he’s able to take his talents/gifts and use them in who he was meant to be. The same can be said about our identity in Jesus, seeing who we really are in conjunction with what the Spirit has gifted us with.

Other key elements:

  • Fear can be conquered when we are willing to face it head on.
  • We all want to be seen i.e. we all have the longing to be known by others (not necessarily as a celebrity but by those we value).

Wreck-It Ralph

main idea: Your profession doesn’t define you; your character and desires do.

In this movie, Ralph (the villain in the video game called “Fix It Felix”) doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore. He goes away from his game to find the object that he believes will bring him happiness: a Hero’s Medal. However, through a series of unforeseen events, he ends up in the “Sugar Rush” video game where the cy-bugs from the “Hero of Duty” video game has invaded and threaten to take over. In that moment of epiphany, he realizes that it’s not his profession (i.e. the bad guy of a video game) that defines him; it’s his character and desire (in this case, to save his friend Vanellope even at the cost of his own life) that defines who he really is.

In our world right now, we see “vocation” as being our primary identity. Many times, when you are first introduced to someone, the 3rd or 4th question is “So what do you do for a living?” That answer provides a series of connotations and perhaps stereotypes into who others believe you are. Yet our jobs don’t define us. Yes, they are a part of who we are, but ultimately, our identity goes beyond just what we do for a career, but who we fundamentally are inside. As a Christian, that identity lands foundationally on who Jesus claims we are.

As a side note, this movie also addressed, to some extent, the issue of bullying. I wonder how many times bullies identify themselves by the public perception, yet have this desire to be “redefined” (and yet can’t find a way to do so). They act in ways that have only been their way of life. Ralph at times looks like a bully. He pushes his way to get what he wants (as distorted as that may be). It’s not until he understands where he went wrong that he shifts his resources (in this case, his strength) towards a more noble goal than before. Unless we are willing to invest in bullies to move them towards a redefined way of life with the same energies we seek to assist victims, the issue of bullying may never be solved.

Looper

main idea: When someone realizes how they can impact for the greater good, they will be willing to sacrifice their lives.

In the movie Looper, Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an assassin who takes care of people who are sent from the future to him to be disposed. However, there comes a glitch when he has to kill his future self that was sent back (played by Bruce Willis). Old Joe wants to correct the past by killing the Rainmaker (a person from his future who has growing control over everything and has Old Joe’s wife killed). Young Joe wants to preserve the life as he knows it so he must kill Old Joe. SPOILER ALERT: The Rainmaker turns out to be a child with extraordinary kinetic powers that are destructive with anger; he also is the son of Sara (played by Emily Blunt). Emily, determined to help her son move on the right track, gives up her life in the city to make that happen.

At the end, with Old Joe about to kill the boy’s mother in order to kill the boy, Young Joe realizes how this cycle of selfishness from himself and his older himself actually contribute to the deadly trail embarked by the Rainmaker. In order to stop this, he kills himself (which also kills off his old self).

Many people have demonstrated this level of sacrifice. Whether it’s war veterans to a father who’s willing to give his life for his child to Jesus himself, sacrifice of one’s desires is often needed for the greater good.

What are you selfishly holding on to right now?

Hotel Transylvania

main idea: You can’t always carry a generalized fear with you.

In Hotel Transylvania, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) builds a resort to keep out humans primarily to protect his daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez). Monsters flock there because it’s a place to stay away from “the horrible humans”. Dracula finds ways to keep humans away from Mavis, even though she’d like to explore the world. (SPOILER ALERT) We find out that the reason why Dracula has such fears of humans is because of a mob that killed his wife. He spread that fear to other monsters and his daughter. After meeting a human named Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg), Dracula realizes that not all humans are alike. To fear all of them because of the actions of a few highlights the prejudice and stereotype that Dracula’s been holding.

How many times do we judge based on perceptions rather than facts? God reminds us that he knows the inside (i.e. the heart), not outward appearances. As such, we need to be aware of what stereotypes and prejudices we convey and (to some extent) spread to others inappropriately.

There were a few other subthemes in the movie:

  • The ends does not justify the means.
  • Lying will catch up with you. You can’t hold the charade forever.

The Big Year

main idea: Sometimes the cost of pursuing your dream costs you much more than expected.

In this little known comedy starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, this trio (along with hundreds of others) pursue The Big Year (to see the most birds within 1 year). Each of them sacrifice a lot to pursue this dream. Stu (Steve Martin) goes into retirement from his successful business and his family lets him go. Brad (Jack Black) spends every cent he has in this pursuit. Bostick (Owen Wilson) puts his marriage on hold and even his wife’s desire for a baby. (SPOILER ALERT) At the end of the year, Bostick wins. However, he loses his marriage. Stu rediscovers his main pursuit isn’t really the birds or even his work … it’s his family especially his wife. Brad eventually starts a relationship with a fellow birder and actually draws closer to his parents.

We all have dreams. Some are worth pursuing; others are really just selfish desires. The question is, is it worth pursuing those dreams? Because, no matter what they are, you need to sacrifice something. (Maybe that really shows the true desires of your heart.)

main idea: Those who matter the most to you are the ones who you are willing to die for.

In this latest instalment of the Ice Age series, Peaches is now grown into a teenager (always interesting how many stories tend to go from the birth of a child straight into them as a teen in a sequel) and has her best buddy Louis. She’s trying to fit into the “in crowd” while her overprotective father Manny tries to reel her in. However, with the continent itself splitting up, they get separated and the journey back home begins. Near the end of the movie, several people show what they are willing to give up for those they care about the most: Louis in trying to save Peaches, Manny saving Ellie and Shira saving Diego. In the end, they were willing to risk their lives for those they loved the most.

Scripture tells us this is how Jesus sees us. He gave up all that he had (his glory, his “riches”, all that was considered successful) for the “joy set before him” i.e. us. So, even though we didn’t do anything to deserve it, he risked all he had, even to the point of death, in order to help restore us back to the Father. He reached out to save the ones he loves the most … those he created.

Men in Black 3

main idea: Occurrences happen in our past through connection points that we don’t realize.

In the latest installment of the Men in Black series, there’s a running genre of questions, “Why did it happen like that?” For Agent J (played by Will Smith), he keeps asking his partner Agent K (played by Tommy Lee Jones) how did he become such an impersonal, seemingly-unfeeling person? Also, a teaser question for Agent J is his perception that his father was never around because he didn’t care. Through the course of the movie, we realize that both of these questions are tied into one moment when Agent J’s dad is shot dead by a hostile alien who ultimately is killed by Agent K. All of a sudden, what seem to be unconnected trails of thought converge and everything makes sense.

In our life journeys, there are many times when we look back and we’re not sure why things happen that way. We sometimes try to find out (sometimes to no avail). Yet God reminds us that even though we don’t know the answer, he knows the big picture. He sees how all the different contexts connect to each other, how sometimes one unseemingly unrelated event may actually impact another. Only till later do we actually step back and see the connection point; God saw it all along.

main idea: You fulfill your life purpose/calling when you see it fit into the big picture.

In this newest rendition of The Amazing Spiderman, Peter Parker’s (played by Andrew Garfield) super powers don’t come from coincidence, but rather through a history that started with his father. At first, with his powers, his attention is to avenge the death of his uncle by trying to find the murderer. However, after saving a boy from a car dangling on a bridge, he realizes that the purpose of his powers isn’t for his own vengeance, but rather to defend the innocent. He realizes that it is his responsibility to do so.

Scripture reminds us that God has gifted each Christian with certain abilities (typically called spiritual gifts). These gifts aren’t meant to be used for the person’s own gain, but rather as a part in God’s greater plan in redeeming humanity. It is when we realize that our responsibility with our gifts is for a bigger picture that they can be used to their fullest potential.

main idea: When you discover your passion, then you’re really home.

In the 3rd part of this trilogy, the four friends attempt to get home to New York by finding their penguin friends in Monte Carlo. After a run-in with Animal Control, the gang end up with a travelling circus. The circus itself isn’t doing too well, just going through the motions. Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller) gives an inspirational speech about how the circus is really about following their passion, what they dreamed of doing (and taking a jab at the Canadian-born Cirque du Soleil, but I digress). Through their reformed act, all the animals discover what their passion is. In the end, the four friends realize their home isn’t in the zoo, but in this discovered passion of the circus.

In the Bible, time and time again, those who rise up and live the life God has called them to live are the ones who discover their God-given passion. When we discover that, we can live in the sweet spot he created us for.

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