Hollywood Jesus
Reviews 2003-2004
A Collection of Movie Reviews by the Hollywood Jesus Staff

This page was created on October 30, 2004
This page was last updated on October 29, 2006

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THE BOOK

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The Return of the King. Spider-Man 2. The Prisoner of Azkaban. The Passion of the Christ. Bruce Almighty... The twelve months spanning August 2003 through July 2004 once again brought a full slate of award winners, boxoffice champs, crowd pleasers and critics' darlings. But this year, the movies seemed bigger, grander and more spiritually aware. Notice has been served. This collection of reviews covers it all: 83 of the last year's top picks, and all of them reviewed from HollywoodJesus.com's unique perspective. Since 1997, the Hollywood Jesus website has been at the forefront of a new approach to the globalfilm culture. The ideas that move the world infuse the cinema, and audiences are paying attention. More and more, what audiences find in the darkness of the theatre is the dawn of a spiritual reawakening. God is on the screen, and Jesus is in the seats. Take a close look the next time you're there.

The 240 pages of this 2003-2004 collection feature the writing of Hollywood Jesus host David Bruce and fourteen of his review staff: Benn Becker, Maurice Broaddus, Mike Furches, Melinda Ledman, Darrel Manson, Kevin Miller, Ken and Janet Priebe, Michael Ray, Michael Smith, Mark Ezra Stokes, Chris Utley, Greg Wright and Jenn Wright.

Each review includes the film's running time, MPAA rating and studio synopsis. Films are conveniently grouped by categories of popularity, and arranged alphabetically within those categories. Fans of a particular reviewer can find other reviews and a short bio in the Index of Reviewers.

EXCERPT

Something is happening in Hollywood and in our culture. The times, they are a changin'. There is more spirituality being expressed in films than ever before. Something is going on. "Something is happening here; what it is I'm not exactly sure." But I'm amazed by it. HollywoodJesus.com is dedicated to this amazing interest in spirituality.

The idea for Hollywood Jesus began with a conversation in the living room of one of the pre-eminent missiologists of our day, Don Richardson. Richardson's book Eternity in Their Hearts is the one that sparked our interest. In that book, Richardson advocates this simple truth: The belief systems and myths of each culture contain the story of God as told in the Bible.

Not surprisingly, the Bible has a similar idea. "The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being" (Romans 1:19-20, The Message). God's story is an intrinsic truth instinctively known by every human being on earth.

In Western culture, filmmakers are storytellers who connect viewers with the realities and the mysteries of life that appeal to our inner quest for truth and purpose. The images in the movies that spark this inner quest stay with us a lifetime. We connect. We may not understand, but we know truth when we see it and we own the symbols and images until they are revealed to us as cognitive reality for our lives. Images that connect us to something bigger than ourselves take us to high places where we can get a sweeping perspective of life's big picture. Images that carry universal truths move us from the mundane to the sacred.

Jesus knew this when He spoke in parables. Parables are simple stories that reveal to us deeper spiritual truths—for instance, "you reap what you sow." This image is a simple idea from farming that reveals a deeper truth about life. You don't get corn if you plant beets. Jesus used parables about farming because He spoke to people who lived close to the earth. The country folk to whom Jesus spoke of God's love were agrarian people who would understand stories that used farming illustrations. Modern-day cinematic parables likewise relate to our culture as we know and live it—this is the role of our filmmakers.

A parable is a simple story teaching some moral lesson or truth. English archivist Thomas Hardy said that there would have been no need for parables "if the storyteller could have got decency and good morals from true stories!" Parables are a way of sneaking in the back door of our lives to get us to look at the hard questions in life and face our own truth. The story of God as revealed through His son Jesus Christ answers our most powerful questions about the universe and our purpose on earth. The themes of the Bible are the themes of humanity. Is it any wonder, then, that Hollywood has picked up on these themes, realizing that they strike a chord in humans at the point of our most heart-felt need for love, relationship and purpose?

Anthropologists and missiologists share the same concerns as filmmakers. They study world views-the basic existential and normative assumptions people make about their worlds. Hollywood Jesus has the same mission: to examine the modern-day parables of our culture as told in our movies and make connections for people. Inside every human being is a God-shaped hole and spiritual yearning that only can be filled through a relationship with God's son, Jesus Christ. Our films are asking important questions that peer into the deepest mysteries about life and teach us about life's potential. Our culture's storytellers inspire and provoke us, making us do the hard inner work in life where we discover the ultimate mysteries both within and beyond ourselves.

From Introduction by David Bruce

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Hollywood Jesus Reviews 2003-2004: ISBN 0-9759577-1-6
Publisher: Hollywood Jesus Books
Distributor: Ingram

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