Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wow, It Really DID Suck!

Well, it looks like my critics of the film Expelled need not be looked at because the critics have weighed in.

Epsilon Cue has a post showing the rating of Expelled compared to many other movies that are considered by most thinking people to be absolutely terrible. The ratings come from Rotten Tomatoes, which gauges a movie's quality by the percentage of good and bad reviews from many critics. If a movie is 60% or better approved by critics, it is considered "fresh", and less it is rotten. Sometimes you get something pretty messed-up, such as the movie Plan 9 from Outer Space (1956) which is elevated more due to cult status than anything else. But here is some perspective given by Epsilon Cue:

Robot Monster (1953): 27%--this movie is simply terrible. I saw it through Mystery Science Theater 3000 which made it tolerable, but the level of thinking that went into the movie itself (especially the repetitive ending) must have been nonexistent. I can understand a low budget, but that is no excuse for a low movie-making I.Q.
Dude, Where's My Car (2000): 18%--again, I have unfortunately seen much of this movie since my brother was somehow amused by it. Crap all the way through and it makes it difficult for me to give any credence to Ashton Kutcher's acting abilities.
Crossroads (2002): 15%--before Britney was completely crazy, but when her acting skilled still sucked. I am glad I put a lot of distance between myself and this film.
Left Behind -- The Movie (2001): 12%--it does well in church basements but it lacks much redeeming quality. However, I suspect it is still better than the video game based on the book series which every video game critic I have heard agrees it was terrible through and through.
Catwoman (2004): 10%--argh, stay away. (I can't believe it's already four years old.)

I skipped a few of the movies on the list to avoid boredom, especially since some I am less familiar with. But how about a few more?
Spice World (1997): 29%--wait, someone thought this movie was worth seeing? A movie about the pop group Spice Girls? And before Victoria was a Beckham?
Manos: Hands of Fate (1966): 6%--this movie SUCKED! It is the worst movie I have yet come across. Acting, lighting, film angles, editing, music quality, plot, meaning; any criteria you can name, this movie failed. The only thing that made it possible to see is (again) Mystery Science Theater 3000, and even the people there agree it was the world movie they ever had to deal with. (RT gives the MST3K episode of Manos a 82%, very respectable and deserved.)
Gigli (2003): 6%--everyone agrees this movie was a mistake. Ben is not the greatest actor and an excuse to see his chest is not worth a movie ticket, especially if you don't have any attraction to him.
Battlefield Earth (2000): 3%--when Hollywood does a movie from the founder of Scientology, what should you expect? An A-List actor being brain-washed into selling out his career. John, Grease was great and all, and who can forget Pulp Fiction, but I can't give any respect for this film.

And what about Ben Stein's film:
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008): 9% (at the time of this blog entry).

Hence, based on the current number of reviews (23) and the percentages, this movie is on par with Manos, Battlefield Earth, and Catwoman.

It perhaps should be no surprise that on the of the only two positive reviews of the movie come from a writer at Christianity Today, Mark Moring. He seems to be aware of the fiasco that went into the screening of the movie and the like, but still tries to squeeze out some redeeming value. A very odd this is mentioned by Moring: "And filmmakers can't be accused of denying Darwin proponents equal opportunity." Um, no. Their opinions were gathered, and under false pretenses to get the canned answers they wanted (Michael Shermer makes that point about his interview by Stein), and none of the people that promote and use evolution in their disciplines that are religious are avoided, such as Ken Miller. How can equal time be said to be given if only a few are shown and not about the evidence for or against evolution? This statement by Moring sounds like a ID talking point to me.

All in all, the movie is agreed to be crap, not even counting the reviews by Richard Dawkins, Scientific American, or New Scientist just to name a few. And I suspect as more reviews come in, such as by Ebert and other film critics, the percentage will likely go down. I will update as I see fit.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The F Word

Well, the movie Expelled comes out today in about 1000 theaters, and I haven't the foggiest idea how well it will do at the box office. They are doing some posturing, setting up a David vs. Goliath metaphor and saying they may do better than expected. But even if they do well, they have a significant legal battle with XVIVO and now Yoko Ono because of the unlicensed use of John Lennon's song Imagine. I wonder if Expelled Exposed will put up something on that subject in the near future; the blog Panda's Thumb has had numerous posts on the subject.

Speaking of that site, Dave Thomas recently put up a post with a scan from the of the "Leader's DVD" (whatever that means), and it has this to say:

"Whoa" indeed. The purpose of the movie is made clear by that key word: Faith.

Then again, which faith? Not Ken Miller's, or Francis Collins', and many others' faith in their respective religion. No, this is a very narrow take on what is "real" Christianity and "real" Christian faith. Obviously the issue of what is the "correct" way of reading Genesis is not black and white, and the people that have produced Expelled purposefully avoided interviewing scientists that had no problem reconciling Genesis and evolution. Claiming that such people would have "confused the film unnecessarily" as producer Mark Mathis stated himself only shows that these people are not really about debate and open discussion but in trying to sell their particular brand of their particular religion.

Now, I am a critic of religion in general, but I also know that there is a massive continuum of positions in any religion. Buddhists can be pacifists, activists, or Kamikazes; Muslims can be advocates for freedom of speech and humans rights or terrorists; Christians can be generous or tyrannical. There is no one-size-fits-all to these sorts of things. Religion does not necessarily mean you have exactly the same view as your priest, pastor, rabbi, imam, guru, etc.

So, what we really have here is just on take on one major religion and pretending that there can be no debate on what is a "real" Christian. It seems ironic to me that many people criticize the "new" atheists like Dawkins and Harris for not seeing these nuances and not realizing there are many different ways to be Christian, Muslim, etc., but then some Christians shout that they are the true believers and all others are wrong. Hmm, imagine that. Someone thinks that their dogma is unassailable.

This movie is a disservice to any sort of dialog on what it means to have any faith, even if I think all religious faiths are extraneous. There are no fine lines, no simply black-and-white stances, and I think enough people realize that. Heck, even the "fundamentalist" atheists realize this from what I can tell. (Their point is that unreason and dogma can and will cause more harm than good and this must be dealt with head-on with philosophy, science, and debate--note that no guns or swords are supposed to be used to convert, which is what fundies may do if they could like they did in the Dark Ages.)

If you are religious and wonder about the intersection of science and religion, you won't be getting any straight or good or useful answers or discussions in this movie. There are much smarter people that Ben Stein that have been and are arguing on these subjects, such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

Monday, April 14, 2008

More on Expelled Exposed

The movie will be coming out soon, and may be infringing on the copyright of a cell biology video used before by William Dembski without permission.

But more importantly, the Website Expelled Exposed needs as many links to it as possible.

I know this is a link bomb, but I have two good reasons for doing it.
1. The movie is terrible in its scholarship and needs to be dealt with unless it should have its misinformation be unchallenged and do major damage to science and culture in this country.
2. I had emailed the people of that website to make use of my previous blog entry on the connection between Darwinism and Nazism. I was emailed back and told that it could be of use. So, all the more reason to link: I am linking to myself, sort of.

And from the reviews I have seen, they agree that the movie has a terrible premise and is poorly executed.

Note: At the time of this blog post, Expelled Exposed comes up on the sixth page when searching for the word "expelled". However, I have also noticed that Expelled Exposed is the only thing found in the Sponsored Link section on Google, just to the right of the searched links. So, Expelled Exposed could use a boost up, but it will be on every page Google turns up on Expelled now.