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Old September 18 2010, 05:33 PM   #31
Agent Richard07
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Fighting off an alien invasion with a garden hose. OK.

"Damn aliens! Get off my lawn!"
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Old September 18 2010, 06:39 PM   #32
Myasishchev
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Silvercrest wrote: View Post
Myasishchev wrote: View Post
Silvercrest wrote: View Post

Can't he just claim them after they die? That's the usual method. Does he have to intervene because otherwise they'll somehow escape him? Seriously, what would be the point?
They could become good, if given the chance to live. Or, if you're into that sort of thing, "form a personal relationship with Christ" and all that nonsense.
I'm embarrassed. Those are supposed to be the beliefs I subscribe to, and I didn't think about that! Too busy being snarky and cynical, I guess.
It's sort of a good example why I'm not a big fan of salvation by grace alone. You could trigger it anytime the Devil shows up to eat souls.

I'm sure this happens all the time. Major loophole.

Edit: btw, and not to get into the whole ball of wax, but there's nothing wrong with a personal relationship with Christ as such; however most people I know that claim to have them ain't Christian except by that very limited criterion.

Although you'd think being confronted with the Devil would be the quickest way possible to convince someone to sincerely pray to Jesus.
Ah yes, the old "foxhole conversion."

Really though, I think I'm still trying to figure out what the nature of Hell and the Devil are supposed to be in an essentially atheistic Hollywood. Faith or salvation don't seem to play much part in it. Here we have a Devil who's apparently allowed to manifest himself in an elevator and... do whatever it is he's going to do. So why doesn't he just hang around permanently? I'd bet money this movie doesn't show a God or Jesus that's stopping him. And I'd bet double that anyone in the movie who actually does pray to Jesus will be shown up as a buffoon, or die a horrible death, or both.

In the Hellraiser movies, you've got a Hell that doesn't appear to be a normal afterlife at all, but it's still populated by immortal beings who traffic in immortal souls. And they'll take anyone they can get their hands ... err, chains on, not just the condemned. Does that mean they have the power to waylay someone from the afterlife they were meant for?

In Drag Me To Hell, you've got a gypsy woman with the power to curse someone to the traditional hell, in retaliation for a comparatively minor offense. So let me get this straight: she can exercise eternal judgement over someone else's soul for no real cause? How is it that she's not ruling the world?

I wouldn't presume to ask what the rules are in these movies, or get someone to explain the inconsistencies. I'm just trying to understand the mindset and world-view that comes up with this stuff.
I guess these probably all fall under the magic equivalent of the narrative rule that prohibits Reed Richards from transforming the world into a technotopic paradise despite fifty years of constant super-scientific innovation. Stephen Strange is Useless?

I think both probably have the same narrative motivation: showing a world where God intervenes personally, unsubtly and often creates a world totally unlike our own at best, and at worst breaks suspension of disbelief entirely.

A world where the Devil can physically intervene is not quite so bad, because the Devil is not omnipotent. (Compare this to pagan gods--they can intervene directly as well, because, again, they are limited.) God is more difficult to place within a narrative, because God is, trivially, a deus ex machina.

Interestingly, that's actually part of why M. Night movies blow. They create worlds where God does intervene personally, unsubtly, and often. The world of Signs, for example, exists solely so Mel Gibson can get over his wife's death and believe again. And it's terrible.

Agent Richard07 wrote: View Post
Silvercrest wrote: View Post
I'd bet money this movie doesn't show a God or Jesus that's stopping him.
So, it's like a Neil Gaiman hell?
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Old September 18 2010, 07:57 PM   #33
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Re. the spoiler item: I would accept that as a resolution to the plot, for that character only. Not as a magical solution that suddenly banishes the boogeyman.

I think what I'm trying to say is that there's sort of a fundamental disconnect at work in movies like these. You've got immortal souls, immortal beings, afterlives, places of eternal punishment, all of which should be governed by distinctly metaphysical rules. (I'm not going to debate what those rules are for fear of starting a religious war!) Suffice it to say that belief should be a very strong part of those rules, and it's not unreasonable to suggest that a demonic villain can be defeated by a sincere and abiding belief in Jesus, Allah, or whoever. (It may be unreasonable to show it, given religious differences these days, but that's another story!)

But these movies rarely work that way. Despite the fact that demonic villains are implicitly or explicitly shown to follow metaphysical rules, they're almost always defeated by physical (or at least formulaic) means. Recite these magic words and it will banish him. Arrange the puzzle box in a certain configuration and it will banish him. Stick him with a magic sword/piece of cold iron/beam from a magic wand and it will banish him. Give the cursed coin to someone else and... well, it won't banish him, but he'll instantly forget about you and go after the other person instead.

The disconnect is showing a being of godlike power who doesn't abide by the rules of this world, yet he still somehow gets defeated by the rules of this world (and isn't too smart, either). Remember, these guys are still part of the power structure that governs where your soul goes after you die, so in the end, "outwitting" them is either meaningless or contradictory.

Again, I'm not asking for an explanation. The writers are clearly not thinking that far along, or else they just don't believe in the afterlife anyway.

Conversely, with "Devil", if M. Night or whoever really gets the credit for the story will resolve it in a different way, I'd say that's refreshing.
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Old September 18 2010, 08:23 PM   #34
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Brad "Cinema Snob" Jones' review compares it to The Happening, that is, it's on that same level of badness--and on that same level of unintentional entertainment through hilarity. Maybe I'll go check this out after all.

(In fairness, he does say that it is more effective than The Happening--so it's not quite as bad, but still rather bad.)
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Old September 18 2010, 08:55 PM   #35
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Silvercrest wrote: View Post
I think what I'm trying to say is that there's sort of a fundamental disconnect at work in movies like these. You've got immortal souls, immortal beings, afterlives, places of eternal punishment, all of which should be governed by distinctly metaphysical rules. (I'm not going to debate what those rules are for fear of starting a religious war!) Suffice it to say that belief should be a very strong part of those rules, and it's not unreasonable to suggest that a demonic villain can be defeated by a sincere and abiding belief in Jesus, Allah, or whoever. (It may be unreasonable to show it, given religious differences these days, but that's another story!)
I think you're confusing magical thinking with religious thinking. The two are not the same. These types of films take place in a magical universe, which is quite different from a religious universe.

Magic is essentially a form of technology--the use of metaphysical forces to affect the physical world. And the assumption underlying all magic is that the metaphysical world is governed by laws, the same as the physical world: as below, so above. The magician does not entreat metaphysical forces to come to his aid, the way a religious person does: he commands them to do his bidding, in the same way that scientists and engineers mix chemicals or smash atoms.

Belief doesn't enter into it. The magician does not merely believe--he knows. Indeed, he knows things that man was not meant to know. In such a world, arguing that a sincere belief in a deity should allow you to overcome demonic forces is like arguing that a sincere belief in being rescued should save you from drowning.

Take The Exorcist, for example. The exorcism shown in this film, according to the Roman Rite, is a composite religious-magical ritual. The exorcists pray and entreat God to save His servant, and use His overwhelming power to drive the demon from Regan McNeill's body. But they also use various magical incantations and gestures which are intended to invoke that divine power automatically. "The power of Christ compels you!" they cry.

In a monotheistic religious universe, there is no possibility of the conflict that is central to drama: indeed, in theory, there is no conflict at all. Everything happens according to God's will and pleasure. God will either intervene, or He won't, for His own ineffable and incomprehensible reasons. The protagonist's prayers will either be answered, or they won't. If they're answered, the protagonist will succeed: if they aren't, he won't.

In a magical universe, by contrast, God is remote, and metaphysical conflict is just as possible as physical conflict. Those who understand the laws of the supernatural world can manipulate it for their own ends, and use it to their advantage, just like those who understand the laws of the natural world. Solve the puzzle box, for example, and summon the Cenobites--if you dare. Draw a pentagram on the floor, take off your clothes, recite an incantation in old French, and the Devil will appear. Say "Beetlejuice" three times, and he will appear or disappear. And so on.
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Old September 19 2010, 01:55 AM   #36
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Interesting distinction. I've gotta think about this.
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Old September 19 2010, 02:43 AM   #37
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Mr. Adventure wrote: View Post
Wasn't it more like there was something in the water? IIRC the little girl wouldn't drink the water because she thought there was something wrong with it which is why she left all those glasses of water around the house.
No, that was just what "God" made the little girl think so that she would leave glasses of water all over the house that could be spilled on the alien when they were fighting it in the living room. I think she uses a couple of different reasons for not liking it, from it tasting funny to it being full of "microbes," which of course there are in everyone's drinking water every day.

It would imply a global change in the content of the water for your idea to work, since it was mentioned on the radio that they were killing the aliens with water in the Middle East and people were gathering around bodies of water because the aliens seemed to be avoiding them. I think someone would have noticed if the microbial content of water around the world had drastically and uniformly changed.

Plus, even if it were just the water around their farm, he waters his crops from the same water source, so walking naked through those water-covered fields of corn in the constant mist depicted should have been agony for the aliens. I could only imagine what those poor aliens harassing kids at the birthday party in Brazil so close to the world's largest rain forest must have gone through. I guess also they checked with Stormy Biiblebrox the alien meteorologist for the global Accuweather Doppler 5000 forecast to avoid the hundreds of places on Earth where it would be raining at any given time.

Additionally, the water damaged the alien's skin instantly, like it was acid. Even with extraterrestrial biology, it stretches logic (even more so than the water) to imagine that microbes would act that fast or have that effect.

The movie (admittedly unevenly) implies that God doesn't so much take direct action on the big stuff, but rather gives you little hints, nudges and personal traits to point you in the right direction. If not, surely he could have simply made it rain and saved everyone a lot of trouble. By "unevenly" I mean that I guess causing a poor guy to fall asleep at the wheel after a hard day at work helping animals so he could cut another faithful follower's wife in half with his car so she can deliver a vague message about the now faithless man's brother seems like taking pretty direct action to me, just in a completely ridiculous and roundabout way. So does making his brother unable to avoid swinging at every pitch, his daughter paranoid of water contamination, and giving his son serious asthma. The movie seems to imply that these are gifts from God, which then calls into question why he couldn't intervene in stopping the aliens before millions of people were killed or kidnapped for who knows what purpose.
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Old September 19 2010, 03:07 AM   #38
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

God works in mysterious ways.

He's kind of like a YouTube poster. After he made the universe he looked at all of the other gods and said, "First!"
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Old September 19 2010, 03:11 AM   #39
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

On a completely unnecessary and didactic note, an alien physiology that would react to water like a high-pH acid is a pretty standard hard science fiction idea.

The problem with Signs is that aliens with (say) an NH3 body chemistry would want Earth at all (or could stand our climate, or even our O2-laden atmosphere). It would like if humans went to Venus, without suits, and tried to rough up whatever native life form could, in principle, live there. The rationale is so faulty, that the practical nitpicks aren't even the dumbest thing about it.

I once heard tell of a theory that the aliens weren't aliens, but were, in fact, demons. I have even seen this be referenced, in an unconfirmed fashion, as a theory that Shyamalan himself endorsed.

Now, it has some immediate appeal (the water is holy water, impliedly blessed by Mel Gibson's anti-Semitism; and demons are more prone to act like crack-addled burglars than an organized military). But it really doesn't fit into the film, with the spaceships (albeit invisible) and global struggle. So it's a bit of a failure, although you can see how, with the right tweaking, it could have been a movie about the Hellmouth opening up under Fucktown, Pennsylvania, instead of Independence Day, But Dumb.
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Old September 19 2010, 03:34 AM   #40
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Well, I just watched the ending to Signs again on Netflix.

According to the news reports, somewhere in the Middle East they found a "primitive method" to fight back but they did not know what it was yet.

Now this could be:
1) Water (obfuscating the method for the surprise ending? in-story though it seems like it wouldn't be that hard to tell everyone *WATER*)
2) Faith (the holy water or whatever theory)
3) Maybe my idea of something in the water? (I'm not sure what exactly that could be though that would be considered "primitive")

Does leave it a bit open to interpretation though.
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Old September 19 2010, 09:49 PM   #41
Yeoman Randi
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Saw it last night and i actually loved it.
Hope to read this entire thread tomorrow when i have more time so that i can participate in the discussion somewhat intelligently. In the meantime though, i did want to vote. I loved "Devil".
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Old September 19 2010, 10:49 PM   #42
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Weird. I got a hankering to watch Praying With Anger, Shyamalan's first film, and it's not on Netflix.

It actually sounds like potentially his most interesting film, since 1)it's a more personal piece, about going back to India, and from before his ego metastasized, and 2)not entirely about supernatural bullshit. On the other hand, it could just be straight-up dull. Maybe I've dodged a bullet here.

And hell, I've seen Mr. and Mrs. Iyer. "Religious high-caste Tamils have bizarre, sometimes horrific prejudices that make no sense to a white American" is not a new theme to me. Good movie, though, except for when it shoots day for night with all the technical savvy of a Stelvio Massi. Note to aspiring filmmakers: maybe it's not such a good idea to use a blue filter to simulate night, when the centerpiece of your shot is a flaming barricade.
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Old September 20 2010, 04:53 AM   #43
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Devil brought in $12.6 million this weekend.
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Old September 20 2010, 04:56 AM   #44
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

Showing that there's at least 1.2m stupid people in this country.
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Old September 20 2010, 05:11 AM   #45
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Re: Devil - Grading & Discussion

with signs i had wondered if the water was some part sulpher water/..
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