Set in the mid-80s during the fictitious fifth term of Nixon’s Presidency, this two hour 40 minute film might leave you wanting rather than satisfied. The film marries ideas of fantastic super-heroism with worldly historical events, predominantly centered on America’s conflict with the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. The world is gravely bleak, with no sense of hope as it laments over the possible apocalypse of nuclear assault from either the USSR or America. Neither the world at large is at peace nor is it at peace amongst smaller individual relationships. Between murderers, rapists, kidnappers, prostitutes, lying and deceit, broken homes, and the corruptibility of all the superheroes, this imaginatively fanciful world mirrors the real world closer than we think.
Not much can be said about the script however. The dialogue is perhaps most wanting. At times I found myself wondering if George Lucas perhaps wrote the dialogue. Few lines from movies have made me scrunch my face over poor dialogue; the most salient of which I can remember, written by Lucas in Episode III of Star Wars: Padme says to Anakin “Hold me like you did on Naboo.” I note this example to establish the level of ‘cheese’ grated onto the movie in terms of its attempts to weave into the plot an archetypal love story. Also, you might be caught off guard by a rather long sex scene that interrupts the flow of the movie. But where scripted dialogue is lacking the script balances it with its creativity. The sheer combination of philosophical ideas, action, and pop-culture force you to give props where props are due. By and large I am most impressed with its ability to set itself within a time period almost three decades prior than the one we are living in now and finding it hard to separate the social issues from that time from those today. Several times I had to think that this is in the 80s but I couldn’t help at the very least to make thematic associations with the present day.
Out Today & rated R for language, graphic violence, sex, and seeing the blue-man naked a lot, I give this movie a 6 out of ten. I would not tell you to not see it, but I also would not see it twice.
Thoughts & Opinions:
Proceed at your own risk, for I am now going to discuss things in the movie which will most certainly give the ending away.
What struck me the most was the solution for the world’s problems: Cold War, crime, broken homes, poverty, and so on. That in order to eradicate them and thus save the world a corrupted superhero decides to destroy the world. This is perhaps the greater motif of the movie. First established by the superhero known as The Comedian, he despondently comments that ever since time began humans have been trying to destroy each other. It’s only a matter of time until it happens. And so, the full apprehension of this reality is made manifest in the ironic salvific method to stabilize the world. How and by what means this stability was accomplished is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the peace the world came to know at the end was based on a lie.
In this post post-modern world there are two expected reactions to the supposition God is not and evolution defines the makeup of every facet of humanity. We either accept this truth and realize there is no ultimate hope to overcome murder, rape, physical and emotional abuse, anger, bitterness, rivalry, conceit, infanticide, genocide, human trafficking and any other atrocities and traumatic experiences you can think of. And so we deal with it and the logical outcome is to live as Rorshach does in the movie by satisfying his disgruntlement in the world with death. Or, a lie is established in order to create a utopia. Essentially the lie caused people to look beyond themselves and see that there is something greater than the world that they are struggling with. So in order to deal with this issue all of their strife and envy is set aside for the sake of overcoming this supposed struggle.
This fascinates me. Because what we have is a hypothetical experiment on what would happen if the world was unified in mind. Unity on a common goal caused the world to establish peace. It did not however establish justice. This is what I mean by the movie leaving me wanting. But in all honesty I am not surprised by this. We are all aware to the problems that exist in the world and we can either sulk in the disparity of the world’s bleakness, or cover it up with a lie in the hopes to remove harm. And neither mean is fully satisfying because you sacrifice one to uphold the other. If the only hope we have for peace in this world is based on a lie than that is not satisfying because the truth has been swept under the rug and really none of the issues have been dealt with. And if we embrace the pain in the world and just deal with it, this is also not satisfying because we remove all standards of moral justice in the world and seek to get what’s ours so that we might find some contentment. Obviously neither is better than the other, and if these are the only possible two solutions for the world than we surely have no hope.
But there is a third way, not mentioned in the movie. We each individually must first establish that we are the problem. I, William Curtis Szabo, am the problem. Not just a part of the problem but THE Problem. And this problem I am is greater than I can ever fully comprehend. I do not seek what is best for others; I constantly look out for me. And this problem, of course, I am talking about is sin. By which I am capable of doing and thinking the most wicked things. If we want to live in line with a reality that denies God’s existence then we must realize the terminal doom of our human nature. If God is not, then nothing is stopping me from getting mine. Nothing really is stopping me from stealing, murdering, raping, lying, or cheating. In all reality I can do what I want because the worse you could do to me is kill me. And I should not have the slightest fret because after I die, there would be nothing to hold me accountable. I would simply go into a dark night of deep sleep. Or, you and I, we all could choose to ignore our problem and unite around a lie for the sake of peace. Life would be grand as we disregard the inward realities of our hearts because there would be peace. All we need to do is just get united around a common goal. Thankfully, we are not left to ourselves to offer a solution for ourselves as individuals and the world.
God is, and he has accomplished a solution for our problems that doesn’t sacrifice justice for peace or vice versa. I still am the problem, and so are you, but God in His infinite love has made a solution that allows us to see this and make peace and justice at the same time. The truth is that I do believe that if the world were united around a common goal it would be a lot better than it is today. The only predicament however is my failure to see that I am the problem and my inability to no longer be the problem. And so God has taken it upon Himself by coming down in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, and taking on my problem while yet He is no part of the problem I am. Jesus Christ is the only hope this world has for uncompromised peace and justice. He lived a perfect life free from every harming anyone, causing ruin or destruction, free from hate, malice, sexual perversion, human trafficking, murder, theft, pride, and envy. He established hope for us by His death; because it is just not enough to have hope because of a lie. This does not satisfy. We want blood and there needs to be blood. We want retribution for all the wrongdoings made in the world; but none of us are pure enough or without wrongdoing to solve our problem. We also want peace and joy and satisfaction, and so we look out to other philosophies or worldviews that we think might cause peace in the world. But none of these are satisfactory because they don’t account for the pain we feel, nor do they provide meaning for it. So I say to you only at the Cross of Jesus Christ do we get Peace and Justice.
First and foremost we get peace with God, because ultimately we have sinned against him and not each other. He is the only one with the power to damn our souls and rightly so. And second but also foremost we get justice. Not by anything from which we have done, but what Jesus did. We have failed horribly before God and deserve Hell because of it, but Jesus Christ lived perfectly. And we are counted perfect because he was perfect and bore our punishment for us. Three nails were pierced through his body as he laid flat on two beams of wood fixed in a cross: one in each hand and one through both feet. He was then hoisted into the air while the nails held his body to the beams from which he hung. Flesh and muscle ripped as the weight of his body suspended from the nails. And to finish the job his legs were broken so that the nail in his feet could no longer support his torso, leaving him to suffocate under the load of his body. At the cross we see Jesus taking the punishment we deserve, the justice that should be enacted on us. And as consequence of this event in history, by faith in what he has done, we get peace with God and one day when Jesus comes back to restore the world we get peace on earth.
But you may be wondering well that doesn’t do us any good right now because this world is still a Hellhole. You’re right to say this world is still painful and destructive, but you’re wrong to say this does us no good. Remember I said I do think it’s true that if the world united around a common goal then it would be better, but I didn’t say it would be perfect. This is how the Cross of Jesus allows us to do this. We recognize that we are the problem, I am the problem. And that we deserve to have justice exacted on us, each individually; the guy/girl next door, your parents, your kids, your friends, and YOU. We recognize the punishment we deserve has been taken by Jesus Christ. And Jesus didn’t just die to save us from our sins, but so that we may also overcome our sins. Only by recognizing that we are the problem and that the problem has been solved by Jesus Christ can we really begin to be kind, gentle, patient and loving toward other people. Jesus Christ is the common goal I am talking about. If we unite around him surely we will see that we are the problem and that our problem has been solved so that we might act peacefully with one another; because we each share the same problem sin. And if we want to overcome it then we must put away our petty differences.
If we only want peace in the world we must each look to a lie. If we only want justice in the world we must die. If we want both we must look beyond ourselves to the Cross where justice and peace were established. Only then can we begin to have peace amongst each other.