The Dark Knight…Finally

31 07 2008

This is for all three of you that have been waiting to hear my review of TDK.

After many months of waiting and the ever-building suspense, The Dark Knight has made its surely lasting impression on the world of film, the lives of so many movie connoisseurs, and comic book lovers alike. I remember watching Batman Begins and thinking to myself, “This is the greatest comic book adaptation ever made and the movie industry will be hard-pressed to release anything better.” Thankfully, I was premature in my thoughts. The second installment in the series is far and above…I repeat, far and above, the best comic book adaptation ever made. The comparison is not even fair.

So here goes my review of the film (in honor of the now defunct Cinema Standard site)…

Film Title: The Dark Knight
Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Length: 152 minutes
Film Genres: Action / Adventure / Comic Book / Crime / Drama / Hero / Thriller
Director: Christopher Nolan
Producers: Kevin De La Noy, et al.
Writers: Jonathan and Christopher Nolan (screenplay) / Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (story) / Bob Kane (characters)

  • Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman
  • Heath Ledger as The Joker
  • Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face
  • Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes
  • Gary Oldman as Lt. James Gordon
  • Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox

Plot: A demented and mutilated murderer with the fitting moniker of The Joker has begun a deadly string of crimes in Gotham City. Gotham’s new DA, Harvey Dent, has promised a curb to the city’s crime. Dent praises the Batman for his vigilante ways, but the people are not so happy and the crime bosses in the city will do whatever it takes to get rid of both the pesky DA and the seemingly unstoppable Batman…even if it means joining forces with the likes of the insane.
Acting: Ever since my introduction to Christian Bale as John Preston in Equilibrium, I have been impressed with his skill as an actor. He has mastered many diverse roles: Patrick Bateman, the unassuming and maniacal murderer in American Psycho; Alfred Borden, the bewildered magician in The Prestige; and Dan Evans, the mild-mannered father who would turn in the fastest gun in the West in 3:10 to Yuma. But now he will forever be most well known as Batman. Sorry Keaton, Kilmer, and Clooney but you guys are to be spoken of only in jest concerning the caped crusader (if that wasn’t already the case). Bale captures the hero in his most raw form.
One cannot mention the acting efforts in the film and not speak of Heath Ledger (I mourn with you all). The character of The Joker is, in my opinion, the single greatest portrayal of a villian in cinema. I’m not saying that The Joker himself is the greatest villain of all time, but Ledger does the best job of capturing the pure insanity of his role. The scene in the holding cell…yes…incredible.
Lastly, the supporting cast is amazing. Not impressed with Maggie Gyllenhaal, but she was ok. Caine, Freeman, Eckhart and Oldman were phenomenal. Each one was cast perfectly for their part, especially Oldman. Bravo!
Cinematography: Really great sweeping shots, lots of action and fast movement
Visual: To go with the title, the movie was dark..visually dark, but this fits well with the plot and the ever-increasing hopelessness of the situation for Batman and DA Dent.
Audio: A great movie needs great sound and TDK delivers
When I watched it: Saturday, July 19 (with the entire youth track of Table Rock Family Camp)
What to watch for: Superb acting and direction, Batman and The Joker the way they were meant to be portrayed, too many positives to list
What to watch out for: Above-the-PG-13-rating violence, the seriously demented Joker
IMDB Rating: 9.4 out of 10; #1 on the Top 250 Movies of All Time
Roger Ebert Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; “a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy”
My Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10; This is honestly one of the best movies I have ever had the honor of watching


2008 Family Camp – Final Days

26 07 2008

Friday, July 18
Morning Session

Dr. Ott continued with the second part of his talk entitled, “10 Things We Are More Concerned with than People Going to Hell.”


  • Fear of Conflict
  • It is impossible to build a great church and keep everybody happy


  • Fear of Problems
  • It is impossible to build a great church without taking hits


  • Fear of Growth
  • It is impossible to build a great church and be a holy huddle

Evening Service

Dr. Ott shared the three stages of maintenance in a fruit-bearing garden.


  • Getting rid of all the death in the garden [clearing, weeding, tilling]
  • What’s dead in your garden?


  • Cutting off branches that do not produce fruit
  • The gardener wants maximum potential from every branch, so he is willing to cut
  • What are some beautiful things in your garden that do not produce fruit?


  • Better connecting the vine and branches
  • What hinders your connection to the Vine?

Youth Service

Adam Robbins spoke about relationships and how guys and girls should treat each other. Great job, Adam!

Saturday, July 19
Morning Session

Dr. Ott wrapped up the “10 Things We Are More Concerned with than People Going to Hell” talk. The last four points of this series were aimed more toward the pastors, but still have implications for lay leaders and congregations.


  • Fear of the Unknown
  • It is impossible to build a great church without a vision


  • Fear of Leadership
  • It is impossible to build a great church by committee


  • Fear of Strong Leaders
  • It is impossible to build a great church without a great team


  • Fear of Responsibility
  • It is impossible to build a great church without making hard decisions

Youth Service

Jody Reynolds revealed three things we have to forget to follow Christ:

Mark 1:16-18

1. Plans

  • At once they followed him

2. Logic

  • They left their jobs, their sources of income
  • Jesus made a group of world changers from a group that would forget their plans, logic, safety and confort

3. Self

  • Forget who you are, who you were, what you’ve done, your fears, your inhibitions, etc…
  • Don’t let what you think inhibit God
  • Don’t let your guilt inhibit God
  • don’t let your shame inhibit God
  • Don’t act like you’re not good enough or not talented enough
    • I will make you fishers of men…
  • God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called

Evening Service

Dr. Dongell spoke about pain and suffering and God’s willingness to take it away.

2008 Family Camp – Midweek Update

18 07 2008

Tuesday, July 15
Youth Service

Matt Lyda, our youth track speaker, opened his series “Don’t Waste Your Life”, which is based on John Piper’s book by the same title. We are meant to enjoy and display God.

Evening Service

Dr. Dongell spoke about the “Waterhole.” We are all dehydrated of life and love. Everyone is thirsty for life and love and we all share the same “waterhole.” Instead of the waterhole mentality, we are to be the springs of life, bubbling over with God’s abundant life. Only when we are full of God’s life and love can we give water to others.

Wednesday, July 16
Morning Session

Dr. Dongell spoke about God’s diversity of life.

Youth Service

Continuation of Matt’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” series.

Evening Service

Dr. John Ott brought a message about “Surviving the Storm.”

Mark 6:45-50

  1. You can be in the center of the storm and the center of the Lord’s will.
  2. Don’t ever give up, even if it looks like the ship is going down.
  3. Even though you can’t figure God out, you still have to be willing to let Him in.

Thursday, July 17
Morning Session

Dr. Ott began a talk which I believe to be the most necessary message for the SC District and the church universal.

“10 Things We Are More Concerned with than People Going to Hell”


  • Fear of Change
  • It is impossible to build a great church and stay the same


  • Fear of Risk
  • It is impossible to build a great church and play it safe


  • Fear of Failure
  • It is impossible to biuld a great church and not make mistakes

Youth Service

Matt wrapped up the “Don’t Waste Your Life” series this morning. We are to gladly lead others to be glad in God.

Evening Service

Dr. Dongell explained the zig-zag phenomenon. We Z I.G. by saying “I’m gonna…!” We believe that we can do God’s work. Then we tire out and begin to Z A.G.. We say “It’s all God! It’s all grace!” Instead we should be right in the middle, experiencing God’s grace and pressing on ourselves.

Mark 4:26-29, 1 Cor 3:5-9, and Psalm 127:1-2

  • God is Lord of the harvest timing
  • God is Lord of the harvest shape
  • God is Lord of the harvest laborers and the labor
  • God is owner of the harvest

2008 Family Camp – Opening Days

15 07 2008

Sunday night marked the beginning of Family Camp at Table Rock Wesleyan Camp.

Sunday, July 13
Missions Rally

After special prayer for each of our soon-to-leave missionaries, Dave Tolan challenged everyone to be missions minded.

Monday, July 14
District Conference

Church business has to be taken care of, so all of the pastors and delegates from the district came together to hear reports and vote on important matters. It was a long day, but Buddy Rampey made it interesting by embarrassing me in front of everyone. Oh well, life goes on. It will be one of those great stories later in life. Special thanks to Greg Hayes for not killing me. You had to be there…

Ordination Service

Monday night included a special time of prayer and dedication for two new pastors in our district. Tamara Flinchum and Julio Sazo received their ordinations in the Wesleyan Church. Both of these were cool because one is a woman minister and the other is a Hispanic pastor. Suhweet!

Tuesday, July 15
Morning Service

The projector wouldn’t stay on this morning due to a temperature problem. We made it through worship without the projector. Joe Dongell spoke about God’s passion for life. His challenge was for each of us to live our days in the knowledge that God wants abundant life for every person and in all of His creation.

More to come from SC District Family Camp 2008…

NC West Camp ’08

10 07 2008

SWU has been graced with the presence of NC West Senior High Camp this week. It has been pretty sweet seeing all my homies from the upper Carolina: Jon Ward, Patrick Dagenhart, Mike Arnold, and all those other cronies.

I went Monday night, Tuesday night and tonight for the services. Both Tuesday and tonight I took some of my youth.

Each night after service, several of us went to Huddle House. Tonight there were 13 people in our group at Huddle. Fun times!

Also, Adam Robbins, James Henderson and Justin Donnahoo have stayed with us in the past week. Does life get better than this?!

Peace to all my Chesneeanites

2 07 2008

I visited Chesnee for the first time on Monday. Courtney Hayes and Kim Kelley asked me to go with them, so I rode the hour drive with that dynamic duo. I survived (by the grace of God…jk) and found myself in the parsonage of Chesnee Wesleyan Church.

Got to hang out with Jody, Steven, James and Adam. We all went to Kanpai in Spartanburg where we saw the entire Hall family out for Faye Faye’s b-day. Pastor Hall officially asked me to run sound for family camp, so it looks like I’m there for sure now. Can’t wait!!

It was really nice hanging out with James and Jody. I really respect those guys a lot and enjoy getting to know them. Steven’s pretty awesome too, but he was basically asleep the whole time because he had been at work for something like twelve hours and hadn’t slept in a couple days. Still it was great seeing him. I talked Adam Robbins into coming to Liberty for the rest of the week. So he’s here now.

After Kanpai, all but James and Steven went back to Jody’s house to watch Semi-Pro. I wasn’t all that impressed. I’m afraid Will Ferrell’s comedic motif has run its course.

Last night several people came over for brats and s’mores over the fire pit. Had a really fun time!