Monday, March 16, 2009

When Watchmen Fail (Epicly)

The movie Watchmen is heading south as I suspected it would. Return to Witch Mountain beat it the second week of showing.

Why did it fail, this stunning visual adaptation of the "greatest graphic novel of the 20th Century"?

Because it was more about being graphic than being a novel. It did not go as deep as the novel did into characterization, plot, or structure. It gave us the skin and missed the bones.

It should have been 3 movies or a miniseries, probably. If you think on how we fan boys learned, bit by bit, about EACH person in Moore's original work, how we learned to care for these essentially flawed and, let's face it, hopeless, individuals, we could have seen this movie come in at the same category as The Dark Knight.

I said previously, "you have to be a fan boy to like this film, 'cause nothing else will do." That's because you had to have mulled over Moore's work for a couple of decades before seeing this visualization of it.

Is this movie an UTTER failure? No. It will break even in DVD sales.

But its very Adult Rating has killed the toy market for younger children. Not the older fans, of course, who still cling to their Greek mythos and are attracted to these themes, but let's face it: showing this film to a boy or girl of age 13 would be a near criminal act.

*gaack*

Give them a few more years of childhood, will ya? It's not like they WON'T be able to see it five years from now.

But that's where the Adult or Mature nature of this film ends: it is only mature on the surface, not down deep, where it counts. It fumbles the ball too many times emotionally and misses too many key moments.

I could not connect to it. Even Rorshach, the best character goes too far - and by that I mean beyond even what Moore had him do. I was saddened by that loss of heroism as well.

Jesus taught us we'd be aliens in this world (i.e. 'holier-than-thou' geeks). He knew it would be tough -but He did not condemn us for being lost, very foolish or clueless. He told us we needed to stay spiritually awake and to pray because "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."

I know. I hate hearing that kind of talk, too. But it is simpler to understand and more enjoyable than you might believe. Anything is better than failing someone you love and the shame that follows.

Here's where Jesus told his guys they would fail Him - yet it would not stop Him from paying for them [and their sins] or loving them.
Matthew 26:31-41 (New International Version)
Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

" 'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'

"But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."


We all know the story, don't we? When Jesus is arrested, ALL the disciples fled.

Why? Didn't they love Him?

Of course they did. But they were still sheep, not shepherds. They were immature, not willing to lose their physical life for an eternal one.

And you know what?

Jesus knew it would happen. He told them they would do it! He wasn't 'cursing them' so they would do it - and they were not being a 'slave to prophecy'. They were being a slave to their own flesh (Jesus is quoting a principle here). They thought they were strong and tough and able to hang with Jesus, but they couldn't. They fumbled - big time.

The only thing Jesus wanted was companionship. That's where the rebuke comes in. "Could you men not watch WITH ME for ONE hour?"

In other words, "Guys - I need your emotional support, because I am grieving over my coming execution. Please - all I want is just a friendly arm - a listening ear. A bud who will sit with me." He knows they cannot go where He is going (John 13:36-38) and they cannot do what he is doing: obeying God even to death.

They THINK they can. They THINK their love and devotion in the natural realm is enough.

It is not.

They failed to watch with Jesus. They failed to realize the depth of their story - how difficult it would be to be like the Original.

Why?

They did not have His spiritual maturity nor His power -yet. They had learned of Him and been cleansed and changed by Him, but they still did not have the Holy Spirit, "which the world cannot receive." That would be LATER, in the book of Acts, after they had sat their previously overconfident tails down and prayed and waited and waited and waited.

Then they got the strength to live and die like men for their Lord.

But for now, we have to see that Jesus loved them. He knew they would fail - 'cause they were still sheep, not shepherds. He comforted them with his foreknowledge, if you think about it.

He told them the truth. He didn't keep arguing but rather moved on to the next act of love:

"But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

In other words: "So, guys, listen up - after I rise from the dead, I'll meet you at our hometown, OK? I won't leave you wondering."

They say the best revenge is living well. If Jesus ever wanted to get his disciples 'back' for deserting him in his hour of need, simply showing up with a big grin and a "I TOLD YOU SO!" laugh would've made them repent 10 times faster than all the angry rebukes He could have thrown at them.

He loved them. They failed Him, but He loved them.

This is what God's grace looks like, folks.

Go live a life of joy, now that you've realized how dumb you've been. Especially after all your failures. And yes, I mean pastors and evangelists and Christian workers.

Jesus is grinning at you and shaking His head. "Did I not say 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'?"

Once you realize this love He has for you, you'll never fail to keep watch with Him again.

Amen.

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