Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If only Ancient China was a Christian Nation

It isn't often that I look through WorldNet Daily, since reading it probably lowers your IQ by a few points each time.  This time, I ran across it for its review of the film, Kung Fu Panda 2.  Being one of the crew members, I can't help but be curious.  Being an atheist, anti-theist, and someone who knows the kinds of immeasurably concentrated stupidity that WND cannot help but spew out, being the fountainhead of creationist crockery that they are...  I really can't help but be curious how they're going to play this one.

For a few sentences, I thought I might be disappointed, as it started to look like a serious movie review.  The reviewer, Drew Zahn, offered a very valid criticism of the film in that the Furious Five's role is still relatively small (at least Jackie Chan got to speak a little this time), with Po and Tigress taking control of the show.  He also offers praise of the visuals, the humor, and the typical feel-good ending that all family-friendly films apparently must have.

Then came this little gem in the segueway of his review (emphasis added) --
The movie's messages likewise offer promise, but stray from the truth down some heavily New Age paths.
Oh, boy...  the truth...  and here we go.

So as you go further down the review past the jump break, it continues to provide a basic summarization of the theme of the film...  Po's search for answers about his past and the quest for "inner peace."  That and the contrast between how Po shoulders the scars of his past vs. the way the villain, Shen, carries his, as if to demarcate a Yin and a Yang.  Well, therein lies the main problem our friendly WND reviewer has with the film, which he first hints at with this little backhanded insertion into the discussion --
It's implied some sort of self-realization on the way to "inner peace" makes panda Po all soft and plushy. Forgiveness might have been a nice touch, but perhaps that's a bit "too Christian" for this distinctly Eastern film.
Ummm...  okay.  That's... um... interesting.
But there are legitimate criticisms.
From this sage advice, Po is able to shed his pain through … um, you know … the movie never really makes that clear.
This is one that everybody within the studio felt after some earlier screenings, and the final product was a huge improvement from that point in time.  Still, we do have requirements to squeeze everything in under a certain time window, and problems like this one are handled by throwing in hints earlier in the film that epiphanies could be powerful triggers in the goal towards achieving "inner peace."  Regardless, it's after the summarization of the film, that the real WND-style criticism comes forth.  Much like his inane lambasting of X-Men : First Class for being heavily laced with messages of evolution (dun-dun-duuuunnn!!!), Drew Zahn condemns Kung Fu Panda 2, a film set in a fictional rendering of ancient China...  for being too Chinese.
Pandas everywhere are facepalming
While he doesn't entirely mind the idea of finding peace and letting go of the pain of the past and so on, it's the framing of that goal in the midst of Eastern philosophy that rubs our WorldNut the wrong way.  Here's how he closes off the review (emphasis is mine) --

"Once I found inner peace," his master explains, "I was able to harness the power of the universe."

This Eastern, mystic, New Age-like blather, unfortunately, pervades the film. It's the protagonist panda's prime motivation. It's the underlying religion upon which the movie builds its otherwise positive message.

Yet no matter how pretty and positive the film's message may be, building a pretty pagoda on such a sandy foundation makes the entire structure in danger of falling down (Matthew 7:24-27). Indeed, the absence of real meat in the storyline, depth in the characters or truth in the moral of the story make "Kung Fu Panda 2" a sequel worth skipping.

Ah, yes...  it's a positive and therapeutic message, but there's no truth to it because it's too steeped in Chinese mythology and philosophy.  Man in the sky forbid that there ever be a story set in China which is permeated with the culture of China.  Every film needs to carry a strong Christian overtones, so that it could serve as a parable that demonstrates the not open to debate irrefutable truth of Christianity!  I'm guessing this guy thinks the best Dreamworks animated film ever made was Prince of Egypt.

I have plenty of gripes about Eastern philosophy, as do quite the majority of rationalists, but that is a whole other topic.  But given the setting and the framing of the film, and the backdrop of deep-down secrets of Kung Fu...  what on Earth were you expecting?