This week docweasel.com brings you movies with supernatural, spiritual, religious and otherworldly themes.
Ten Commandments (1956) starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner
Before The Passion there was The Ten Commandments. This is a huge, grand, spectacular epic. If you didn’t know, it’s the story of Moses and the Isrealites’ escape from Egypt. Yul Brynner is fabulous as the Pharoah of Egypt with his exhuberant over-acting (just what you’d expect from a Pharoah). And Heston puts his all into Moses, of course. When you realize they didn’t have cgi, the effects are marvelous. A classic, a must-have for anyone, whether they are religious or not.
(1961) starring Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance and Ernest Borgnine
The story of Barabbas, the man set free instead of Jesus. At the start of the movie we see him thrust against a stake still moist with the blood of Jesus and then he sees the man who will die instead of him. We think he may change, but he falls back in with his old crowd. He is given many chances to change but it’s not until the end that he finally regrets his life. A well told movie and must for any religious collection or those who love the old movies.
Ben Hur (1959) starring Charlton Heston
A story of a Jewish Nobleman become Roman slave in the time of Jesus. An epic story that won 11 Academy Awards (a record unbroken until The Titanic, 1997). The chariot race is still being talked about today. It contains a scene in which an extra is run over and killed (they left it in the movie). An excellent movie of a man beaten down, struggling to take back what was his. A must for your classic collection.
City of Angels (1998) starring Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage
A beautiful, evocative romance. Bring tissues, a box or two, because this will tear your heart out. Don’t watch it with other people if you don’t want to be seen crying. Guys, watch it with your favorite lady, it’s worth it.
Devil’s Advocate (1997) starring Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino and Charlize Theron
A hotshot lawyer with a perfect record is offered the deal of a lifetime with an elite firm, but he soon realizes there’s more on the line than his client’s futures. Keanu turns in his usual bland performance, but Al Pacino embodies the boss from hell. It’s quite possible you will start looking for a new job the next morning. The ending is the best part of the movie and though it may be worth watching once, that’s about it. I suggest renting, not buying, if you want to watch this.
Dogma (1999) starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock and Salma Hayek
Who knew the entrance to Heaven was in New Jersy? Two angels did. And they desperately want to get there. You’ll need to keep a list of who’s who in this fast paced comedy. An enjoyable movie, start to finish. What if God was one of us, and he (she, it???) had a sense of humor? Buy this one, religious or not, it’s fun.
End of Days (2000) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gabriel Byrne
The end is coming! Finally, the placard bums are right! Byrne’s portrayal of the devil in human form is so chilling it’s unnerving. Schwarzenegger is once again the stone-faced, muscle-bound hero. Just a run-of-the-mill cop whose family was murdered, but somehow, he seems to take having a man crucified on the ceiling as an everyday occurence. All I could think was ‘Terminator vs Satan’. It is an interesting movie and Byrne is worth watching. Action fans will probably only want to watch this once, if that, but religious people may want to view it a couple more times for the nuances.
Man of Miracles (1989) starring John Ritter and Meredith Baxter
A must-have for John Ritter fans and any church-goers. A preacher has a vision while saving a child from a fire and has to re-evaluate his life. A moving drama for those struggling with their faith or those whose faith has become stagnant.
Noah’s Ark (1999) starring Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen and James Coburn
If you’re a religious person, I warn you…Don’t watch this! It vaguely follows biblical accounts, except Lot is here (way before his time) as a pirate trying to take over the ark from a raft. ??? It starts off fairly calm as Noah and his family construct the ark, but then the rains come. All is well and good, except for Lot pestering them from his raft, until the occupants of the ark start going stir crazy. This is the version you never read in the Bible. It’s funny, in a mad sort of way. Not something I’d write mom about, or watch a second time. You don’t need to, once you’ve seen it, it will be indelibly etched on your brain.
Order (2003) starring Heath Ledger
The hype had me looking forward to watching this movie, however, it was quite the let-down. Heath is easy on the eyes and ears *swoon*, but he does not fit well in a priest’s robes. The story was slow and bland. The scenery is good in some places, but it can’t save the drollness of everything else. Worth watching only if you just like looking at Heath Ledger *swoon*. If you have to see it, borrow it.
Robe (1953) starring Richard Burton
Burton stars as the centurion who won the robes of Jesus while gambling during the crucifixion. Events unfold in his life that turn him from his old beliefs. It is a story of power and love. The story of a man who would choose love and persecution for his beliefs and fight for those beliefs. A beautiful romance and moving drama. A good selection for your religious collection.
Stigmata (1999) starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne
Arquette plays a wanderlust girl whose life has no real direction until she starts receiving stigmatic wounds. The church becomes involved by sending a priest (Byrnes) to investigate. It becomes obvious that she is possessed by someone, or something, that wants to bring a message to all of mankind. And, of course, the church is not willing to lose it’s power so it seeks to destroy her. Arquette and Byrnes work well together and Arquette is superb at transitioning between being herself and being possessed. It’s worth a look or two.
Circle of Iron (1978) For a non-Christian take: A movie about Zen and Far-Eastern philosophy and martial arts with no orientals. Jeff Cooper and David Carradine in a movie that is 9 parts Kung-Fu the tv series and one part Hong Kong mythic movie, with none of the great fight scenes. Still, the mysticism and faux wisdom is entertaining and Cooper looks like a buff Robert Plant as he takes his lessons from Carradine. I liked it. Score: 4