Movies often attempt
to provide challenging and often controversial themes, but the intention doesn’t
always result in an effective delivery.
For years, many filmgoers, both adults and children, have anticipated a sequel to The Incredibles. However, the makers of the sequel have been so concerned with delivering a message that they have risked not providing the entertainment that is associated with the praiseworthy first film in the franchise.
This in itself might not have too negative an impact, but unfortunately the message is one that will probably be seen as passé by adults and irrelevant by children. To make a film showing that women can be successful in the workplace while ignoring virtually any mention of the so called “glass ceiling” seems to be ignoring the progress of women in the last 15 years since the first film was made.
At the same time to show men incapable of performing the many tasks of a housewife also ignores the fact that many a “Mr. Mom” has done exactly that successfully.
The themes may be trying to echo the demands of feminists but they’re simply not dealing with current issues.
Although the film does provide a few laughs, and also is a worthy example of the superb animation of Pixar, in the end it becomes an overblown and rather tedious effort, as was testified by the little boy sitting next to me who was only concerned with how soon the film was going to be over – a sentiment that might well prove valid for viewers of all ages.
Similarly disappointing is a very different film, First Reformed. It tells the story of a pastor of a small church in upstate New York who finds himself at odds with his bishop and the business community as he urges that the church should be concerned above all with the harm that humans have inflicted on the environment.
The well intentioned pastor, beautifully portrayed by Ethan Hawke, finds himself reduced to being a nonentity as he attempts to minister to a dwindling congregation while becoming more and more out of step with the most influential people in his community.
His only achievement is in his pastoral work, attempting to build a relationship with a dedicated environmentalist, and later providing consolation to the man’s widow.
The struggle he faces as he works to make his church relevant as opposed to seeing his church as simply a polite public forum is well presented. However, having established an intriguing and challenging conflict, the film does not seem to know how to resolve it.
As the film struggles towards a climax it becomes merely sensation and ultimately downright superficial. This leaves the audience feeling that a more logical conclusion was necessary, even if that conclusion was controversial or downright mistaken.
First Reformed is a sincere and well intentioned film that does not live up to the promise that it holds for much of its running time.
A film with a message needs to be both relevant and well-developed if it is to be successful, regardless of whatever other merits it may possess.