Idol Chatter

10commandments071022.jpgThough fellow blogger Doug Howe and I both consider ourselves Midwestern evangelical types, we certainly have been known to strongly disagree once in awhile when it comes to movies–especially overtly religious ones. He enjoyed “The Nativity Story.” I , on the other hand, well, not so much. He gave a glowing review to the new animated movie adaptation of “The Ten Commandments,” which opened last weekend, and that has left me wondering if Doug saw a completely different movie than I did.

While several of the scenic backdrops were impressive with 3-D special effects, the animation of Moses, the Pharaoh, and all of the other characters was along the lines of the quality of a Veggie Tales DVD. The movements were stiff and awkward and the facial features were minimal. Hardly the stuff necessary to create a gripping action adventure. And sure, it’s impressive that Ben Kingsley is one of the celebrities doing voiceovers on this project, but the script’s dialogue is flat and makes some of the greatest moments in Bible history seem pretty ho-hum. (Oh, and that Oscar-worthy soundtrack Doug mentioned? I think he was referring to some of the songs from that other animated feature about Moses, “The Prince of Egypt.”)
All of which leads me to my real complaint about “The Ten Commandments”: Christians who are looking for short cuts to creating transformative, redemptive art. Doug’s post quoted one of the producers as claiming that “outstanding family entertainment can be made for a fraction of that Pixar and other high-profile animated movies are made for.”
Well, actually, with very few exceptions, no, you can’t –unless your bar for “outstanding” is pretty low.
When will the growing number of Christians who wish to impact the culture — not to mention greedy Hollywood execs trying to chase the Christian market — realize that trying to do work on the cheap while still creating something excellent is a direct antithesis to what Jesus said. He said to count the cost when building something or you’re a fool. Too many postmodern Christians seem to infer that metaphor means count the cost, do it as cheaply as possible and good intentions will fill in the gap between mediocre and outstanding.
It’s a problem that is going to plague the new Christian movie labels such as Fox Faith as well as the numerous Christian independent film projects like “The Ten Commandments” until the Christian audience as a whole becomes more discerning and demanding.

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