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Dallas
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PostSubject: Reviews   Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:40 pm

The reviews for MGP are starting to come in. Here's one from The Globe and Mail from TIFF:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/tiff/tiff-reviews/machine-gun-preacher-a-fantastic-performance-from-gerard-butler/article2156586/

Review
Machine Gun Preacher: A fantastic performance from Gerard Butler
Dave McGinn
Globe and Mail Update

2 1/2 stars

It may have the perfect title for a lurid B-movie, but Machine Gun Preacher is in fact based on a real-life story. Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), a former drug dealer and biker who found Jesus, built a church and then set out to help the children of Sudan by not only building them an orphanage but even fighting rebels with, yes, a machine gun. Butler gives a fantastic performance as a man desperate to help in a catastrophe ignored by so many others. But Marc Forster, who previously directed Quantum of Solace, is constrained by reality, and so is left with a story that lacks much of a satisfying climax or anything like a proper ending.

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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:58 pm

The Christian Post review:


http://global.christianpost.com/news/film-review-machine-gun-preacher-starring-gerard-butler-55257/


Film Review: 'Machine Gun Preacher' Starring Gerard Butler
By Emma Koonse | Christian Post Contributor


Based on a true story, “Machine Gun Preacher” has been released for screening, starring Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan.

Directed by Marc Forster, who worked on films “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland,” the film’s first few scenes capture the attention of the audience. The extreme violence and danger of the conflict in Sudan is demonstrated to the audience, with a child seized and forced to bludgeon his own mother in a tear-jerking scene.

The protagonist, Sam Childers, is a reformed criminal and drug user. After his wife Lynn helps him find God, Childers, played by Butler, is compelled to offer his construction skills to a relief organization in Africa.

Childers’ drastic transformation is portrayed in the film very quickly, even for Hollywood, but Butler’s performance is especially powerful when he returns to the home of his former associates in the drug world to rescue his heroin-addicted friend.

Upon arriving in Sudan, Childers is told it is not a tourist destination, but a warzone. He realizes the dire need for safety and care of Sudanese children who are orphaned, kidnapped and forced to become soldiers.

Claiming to hear the voice of God, Childers builds a church in his hometown near Allentown, Penn. and also an orphanage in Sudan. He wrestles with his faith in God and how to cope with the violence, and after contemplating suicide, decides to continue his cause for the Sudanese children.

During a firefight, the orphanage is destroyed and Childers calls his wife to tell her that he is giving up on the effort. Her devout faith in God is moving, and she tells her husband that it is a test and that he must persevere, that his calling is from God to provide for the Sudanese children.

Controversy ensues as Childers provides vital care for the children but also participates in the violence of the area, even killing.

Founder of the Angels of East Africa Rescue, the actual 49-year-old Sam Childers appears at the end of the “Machine Gun Preacher.” He poses a question to the audience, hypothesizing that, in the event of a lost child or loved one, would it matter how they were returned to you- meant to insinuate killing and sin would be involved. The chilling ending leaves you wondering about his determination.

“Machine Gun Preacher” will hit select theaters in the U.S. September 23 and the U.K. November 18.




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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:18 pm

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/tiff/tiff-reviews/machine-gun-preacher-a-fantastic-performance-from-gerard-butler/article2156586/



Machine Gun Preacher: A fantastic performance from Gerard Butler

2 1/2 out of 4 stars


It may have the perfect title for a lurid B-movie, but Machine Gun Preacher is in fact based on a real-life story. Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), a former drug dealer and biker who found Jesus, built a church and then set out to help the children of Sudan by not only building them an orphanage but even fighting rebels with, yes, a machine gun. Butler gives a fantastic performance as a man desperate to help in a catastrophe ignored by so many others. But Marc Forster, who previously directed Quantum of Solace, is constrained by reality, and so is left with a story that lacks much of a satisfying climax or anything like a proper ending.

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Peege88
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:35 pm

Anyone know of a US premiere?

I saw one mention of 9/21 in L.A. (posted via the GALS site) and an auction for tix to the event.

But nothing else...

So, is that premiere still on? Any other details? Anyone going?

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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:05 am

Peege, the LA date would be the correct one, especially if they were auctioning tix, etc. You might check gb.net, it could be they have more details. I know someone contacted me about going a few days ago.
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Dallas
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:53 am

http://wegotthiscovered.com/movie-review/machine-gun-preacher-review/


Machine Gun Preacher Review [TIFF 2011]

The Good: Michael Shannon once more proves what an invaluable as
set he is to the film industry.

The Bad: For a movie with such a great name, it sure is dull.

Our Score: 2 / 5 - Below Average
Reviewed by: Kristal Cooper

Review

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS JUST A CAPSULE REVIEW. THE FULL REVIEW IS EMBARGOED AND WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE UPON THE FILM’S RELEASE DATE.

With an exploitation-friendly title like Machine Gun Preacher you’d think this movie would be the soul brother of Hobo With A Shotgun. Unfortunately, that is not so.

This biopic follows the real life story of Sam Childers, a former armed robber/drug dealer/all-around bad boy who experienced a life transformation when he found an unexpected calling as the savior to hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children in Sudan.

Gerard Butler gives it his all in playing out Childers’ metamorphosis (you can almost see visions of tiny Oscars dancing in his eyes) but he’s no match for his co-star Michael Shannon.

Shannon is as low-key in his heart-wrenching portrayal of Sam’s former partner-in-crime as Butler is manic and scenery chewing. Sadly, no amount of under or over-acting can do much to improve this mostly dull and alarmingly preachy glorified TV movie.

Let’s hope director Marc Forster fares better with his soon-to-wrap big screen adaptation of World War Z
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:51 pm

MILD SPOILERS (unless you have read the book)


http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/motion-captured/posts/review-gerard-butler-headlines-the-strange-and-overly-sincere-machine-gun-preacher

Review: Gerard Butler headlines the strange and overly sincere ‘Machine Gun …

Gerard Butler is fighting the urge to bellow ‘THIS… IS… AFRICA!’ with every fiber of his being.

What a weird movie.

Have you ever seen or heard of the movie "The Cross and the Switchblade" with Pat Boone starring in it? Total Godsploitation. It's about a hip young priest reaching out to some inner-city gang hoods and winning them over with some tough-talking Bible study and a few well-applied fists. It's based on a true story by a guy named David Wilkerson, and I couldn't help but think of that film when I was watching Marc Forster's new film "Machine Gun Preacher." Like that one, this is based on a true story, and like that one, it seems to want to be an exciting, violent movie that is ultimately about faith. That's just such a weird hybrid of goals that I have trouble getting a handle on tone, a problem that Forster seems to share.

Jason Keller wrote the film that tells the story of Sam Childers, who we see getting out of prison at the start of the film. He's a biker, and a bad guy. While he was in prison, though, his wife Lynn found Jesus, and she stopped dancing nude, and at first, Sam can't handle it. He and his buddy, played by Michael Shannon, go out for a night of celebration and bad behavior, and they end up killing a hitchhiker after he pulls a knife on them. It's too much for Sam, and rattled by his own dark side, he decides to join Lynn on the road to redemption. He gets a job in construction, and he starts getting serious about living a different lifestyle. At first it's enough for Sam just to do right by his wife and child, but he realizes that he wants to bring others to Christ, too, so he throws his determination into building a church and starting his own ministry. After a while, even that isn't enough to make Sam feel like he's worthwhile, so he decides to go to the Sudan to help build homes for a relief organization working there.

During his time in Africa, Sam's ideas about the world are challenged, and he finds what he believes is his true calling. The film opens with a scene where an extremist group breaks into a village in the middle of the night, pulling people from their homes. One young boy in particular is told to kill his mother with a machete or the rebels will kill his brother, and the young boy does it. Sam encounters hundreds of orphaned children in the Sudan, all with similar stories, and he decides to do something about it. He's going to build an orphanage…



Want More...Toronto Film Festival?
Check out everything there is including photos, reviews, videos.
Go There ►… EVEN IF HE HAS TO KILL EVERY BASTARD IN AFRICA TO DO IT!

Gerard Butler gives a genuinely impassioned performance as Sam, and I honestly think he does his very best to give some sort of rough-hewn life to the character. He tries to illustrate this gradual waking conscience, the way Sam's idea of getting closer to God involves gunplay and brutality. It's a fevered performance, and I would even say it's a bad one. It's just such a strange balance to try to strike that I'm not sure there's a right way to pull it off. Michelle Monaghan's Lynn is just as hard-headed as her husband, and she plays this former dancer with a convincingly ragged charm. Michael Shannon has the most thankless part in the film, perhaps, as Sam's biker buddy, meant to embody all of the temptations that Sam leaves behind, and his storyline drives the film right into afterschool special territory.

Forster is such an earnest filmmaker, and this film is so obviously about something that matters to him, that it's hard to beat him up for it. It's just that it is so graceless about delivering that message. Sincerity helps to some degree, but there are some genuinely strange tonal shifts that the film tries to navigate, failing in the process. I think "Machine Gun Preacher" means well, but even knowing that Sam is a real person, this film still ultimately feels like yet another movie in which it takes a white man from outside the culture to come save all the backwards natives from themselves, and making it a movie that focuses on kids feels like a cheap shortcut to sentiment. Who can argue with the notion of wanting to save orphans, especially ones living in a hell like war-torn Sudan? It makes me feel like a rotten grinch to point out the film's flaws, but I think it's hard to give this one a pass. Ultimately, it feels like a misstep, no matter how well-intentioned, for all involved.

"Machine Gun Preacher" opens in limited release on September 23, 2011.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Mon Sep 12, 2011 1:17 pm

Sounds like their praising Gerry's acting but not the directing/writing.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:42 am

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/machine-gun-preacher-toronto-film-234128


Machine Gun Preacher: Toronto Film Review

The Bottom Line
An impressively heroic true-life story that unfortunately doesn’t go far enough in examining its unusual hero.

Director Marc Forster tackles the highly dramatic life of Sam Childers, a "hillbilly from Pennsylvania" who built and still violently defends an orphanage in war-torn southern Sudan.

There’s almost too much story for one film in Marc Forster’s Machine Gun Preacher. True stories can be like that and the life of Sam Childers is, let’s say, not uneventful. An ex-con, biker and all-around hell-raiser, Sam found God and launched his own successful construction business. But he found his true “calling” when he built his own community church in Pennsylvania and began to preach there, then had the unlikely notion to go to Sudan in sub-Sahara Africa to build an orphanage and help fight the ruthless warlords who prey upon Sudanese youths in the ongoing civil-war in Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda.

The biggest challenge in bringing such a life to the screen, even greater than cramming in all the key incidents, is to avoid hagiography. Forster and his writer Jason Kellerdon’t completely resist that temptation.

Relativity Media has plenty of marketing hooks when the film rolls out later this month and certainly critics will rave about Gerard Butler’s fast-and-furious performance as Sam Childers. But one can’t escape the nagging feeling that the film doesn’t dig deeply enough into its real-life hero. The film doesn’t explore all those “whys” and “whats.”


Why does Sam find God? Oh sure, you see him get out of stir and immediately take to his old, nasty habits and realize that this life will literally be the death of him. Motive enough to quit drugs and crime, for sure, but why God? It could have been AA or a real job or simply his love for his wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) and daughter Paige (Madeline Carroll). But since Preacher is part of the title, the surrender to a higher being needs better explanation.


Sam does not surrender his impetuous, headstrong biker personality though so his drive in all areas — building a church, preaching, rushing off to a war zone or harassing everyone he knows for money for his orphanage — stops just this side of mania.

But why Africa? America doesn’t lack for orphans or inner-city war zones. And what was it about war that Sam didn’t understand? The movie portrays him as totally unprepared defensively the first time rebels attack and burn down his orphanage.

The film does a better job organizing Sam’s chaotic life into two locations, small-town Pennsylvania and the African bush, and the emotional tug-of-war within Sam between these two places. This does reach a crisis point when Sam pores his family’s money and most of his heart into the orphanage. Then a little orphan, who has been otherwise mute, gives the adult a firm talking-to and the crisis is averted.

Scenes such as this — which may not be fictional but certainly feel like they are — are all too common in Keller’s screenplay. There are other predictable scenes involving Sam’s junkie best friend (Michael Shannon, who is always good) and family as well as moments in Sudan that act more as signposts in the evolving mind-set of the film’s hero than as good drama.

Another nagging problem is for a film that spends so much time in Africa (production took place in South Africa), why do we spend so much time with white people? One African solider gets significant screen time, Souleymane Sy Savane’s Deng, but his main usefulness is as Sam’s guide, translator and confidante. He is barely a character.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film is the other half of the title, the Machine Gun part. Sam confidently believes in vigilantism. As portrayed, he heads his own small army and wants the Godly to be warriors rather than shepherds. The film accepts this without judgment, which is fair enough, but you long for a moment like the one in Lawrence of Arabia where Lawrence must admit he likes shedding blood. Machine Gun Preachernicely balances the action and drama, uses its locations well and has the good grace to celebrate a relatively unknown do-gooder, whatever his motivations may be. It’s a solid, worthy effort, but doesn’t like to ask too many questions
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:27 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/archives/review_machine_gun_preacher_is_a_botched_rambo/


TIFF ‘11 Review: ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ Is Essentially A Botched ‘Rambo’

In 2008’s blitzkrieg actioner “Rambo,” writer-director Sylvester Stallone recognized the real-life struggles of the people of Myanmar, dramatizing the struggle in a blood-drenched exploitation film that, despite its inelegance, emboldened the people of that region while lionizing a fictional hero of guerilla warfare. The problem with “Machine Gun Preacher,” Marc Forster’s third world drama about a real-life would-be savior who ventured into the Sudan and attempted to build an orphanage with sheer will and a smidgen of gunpower, is that it’s afraid to be “Rambo.”

Surely Forster’s got an avatar of badass in the same league as Stallone in Gerard Butler. Not necessarily much of an actor, Butler can’t really play nuance as much as he can scowl, brood and posture. But he sure makes a hell of an entrance—after a brief opening where we see the strife of the Sudanese people, Butler struts out of prison with a glower and a mullet, cursing off the guards, as the title, and the credits “Gerard Butler” and “Executive Producer Gerard Butler” are superimposed over his intimidating frame. Credit Forster for restraint, as George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone” doesn’t play on the soundtrack.


Butler plays Sam Childers, a biker bad boy who isn’t shy about his criminal background. Forster does everything in his power to stack the deck against the character’s likability, and the sometimes-charismatic Butler is more than willing to indulge in Childers’ demons. Within moments of leaving prison into the arms of his wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan, forever underused), he’s chastising her for quitting the strip clubs, a frustration that leads him back to his drug-abusing best buddies. When Michael Shannon co-stars as the lesser sociopath, you know you’re dealing with a nasty piece of work.

Forster plays his R-rated hand pretty heavily in these opening scenes, indulging in Childers’ possibly-factual bad boy behavior, which involves knocking off a crack house with shotgun in hand, then murdering a vicious drifter and leaving the body to rot on the sidewalk (we’re weirdly informed later in the film that he lived—oh thank God). Before Childers stumbles into church in search of atonement, it’s difficult to not morally turn on this character. At the start of the film, we’ve given the movie star handsome thug a fair shake, and he’s murdered, stolen, abused his loved ones, and taken hard drugs. From a moral standpoint, it takes a lot for someone to return from that precipice.

Childers makes the unexpected right turn of committing himself to religion, and within a few moments of exposition, he’s headed to Africa to help build churches for the impoverished. Not used to being told not to go where he wants, he finds it curious that no one will venture beyond certain demilitarized zones, and it’s not long before he’s developing connections, finding soldiers willing to support an orphanage in no man’s land. Naturally, those in power find this act of humanity a more dangerous political gesture, and so begins a series of setbacks that flummox Childers, leading to him basically becoming Rambo, and bringing in heavy artillery in his attempts to bring peace to this region.

Except Forster doesn’t even begin to question the hypocrisy of Childers’ stance, the act of using a gun to bring peace, simply by naked virtue. Childers IS Rambo, but Forster and company are afraid to admit it: a lone man wandering into a politically-volatile situation with weapons of righteousness despite not understanding the context of this struggle, and not speaking the language, but still being able to spot, and kill, the bad guys. Forster wants to bring nuance to this story, so he has moments of introspection, but only of the primitive kind: did you guess that there was a scene where Childers screams to the Heavens as he clutches the legless corpse of a child?

Back at home, tensions grow, as Childers has pooled all of his resources into saving the children of Sudan as well as establishing his own church for the wayward in his own home town. The fact that he’s losing his family comes to a head only in the most convenient of times. An early scene showcases a despondent Childers on the phone with his wife, ready to give up after rebels destroyed one of his churches, but his wife, sounding not very different from Talia Shire, tells him he needs to start building again. Never do we see this character’s conversion into an uncaring nag, which is what she becomes as she realizes her husband can no longer support the family. What, do Sudanese orphanages grow from trees?

It seems unfortunate that Butler, who apparently shepherded this project, found the need to spotlight himself in every scene, shortchanging not only the Sudanese characters (noble, quiet, conveniently introspective, possibly magical), but also family and friends back home. Michael Shannon’s criminal buddy, we’re meant to believe, cleans up his act when he learns his best friend is opening up a church. Or so we’re to believe, as he spends most of the film’s second half cheering from the background, while Childers lets him stay with his family and help around the house. Given Shannon’s typically intense performance, allowing this reformed junkie to live with the wife and kids seems like dubious decision-making on Childers‘ part. As such, when Childers’ clearly fifteen year old daughter lies in bed and asks him to read her a book while Dad is in another country, the otherwise-innocent moment has an unnecessarily upsetting context. Also, she should probably be reading to herself at that age, but that’s neither here nor there.

Like Marc Forster’s previous work, “Machine Gun Preacher” is utterly devoid of subtlety or visual imagination. Those who complained about his incoherent action scenes of “Quantum Of Solace” will get a number of shootouts with no rhythm or sense of geography. Those that found his little-seen drama “Stay” awash in murky darkness will recognize the inky incomprehensibility of this picture’s night time scenes. To those who found Forster’s understanding of children and their imaginations utterly alien in “Finding Neverland” will again see Forster’s bewilderment at how they behave. Forster is a rich man’s Joel Schumacher, and in kowtowing to the needs of a Gerard Butler Vanity Project, he’s shown us exactly how to sell out in Hollywood, by avoiding the need for an artist to have a compelling individual voice. “Machine Gun Preacher” ends up being not a Gerard Butler Showcase, nor a Marc Forster Joint, or even a tribute to the real-life Sam Childers (here seen weirdly glorifying vigilante justice in a post-credits stinger). It’s merely “Rambo” done wrong. [D]
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:06 am

Dallas wrote:
Another nagging problem is for a film that spends so much time in Africa (production took place in South Africa), why do we spend so much time with white people?
Depending on how you interpret it, this statement either shows incredible ignorance (verging on offensive) or grandscale nitpicking.

We live in a global world. How can anyone assume that, when visiting another country, meeting the citizens, listening to their stories and walking in their footsteps, we can so flippantly separate them? Since when is authentic story-telling linked solely to fact, creed, race or even gender? Can only women share stories with other women? Should all Jews be excluded from creating or even touching anything to do with Christianity? Is one person's voice more authorative on a subject than another's because they were born in a different country?

I suppose I've been offended.

I'll probably get over it.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:34 am

Quote :
Another nagging problem is for a film that spends so much time in Africa (production took place in South Africa), why do we spend so much time with white people?
Answer: Sam Childers spent a lot of time with White people. Movie is about SC. BTW South Africa is crawling with White people. Ever heard of apartheid?
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:12 am

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/sep/13/machine-gun-preacher-review


Machine Gun Preacher – review

Gerard Butler, as the eponymous lock-and-load crusader, takes his personal brand of redemption to the edge of parody in Marc Foster's patchy drama
3 out of 5 stars


There's a scene early on in Marc Forster's drama that unfolds in a biker bar in Pennsylvania. It's not late yet already it's rammed with sweaty racists soaking their faces then lurching to the loo to shoot up and talk trash and vomit over their leathers. It's a gamey sight, full of picturesque detail, and then the camera pans around to show a lady biker – knocking on in years, a little erratic with her slap – who is combing her hair with a fork; a normal, metal fork. It's at this moment the scene tips from atmospheric into parodic. The film overall kicks a little harder, holds out a little longer, but essentially what we have here is ham: honey-cured, slightly glazed, and tasty enough for a while, at least.

Starring Gerard Butler – who also, significantly, executive produces – it's the real-life tale of Sam Childers, a burly ex-con builder who finds Jesus after a close encounter with a stabbed alcoholic and a sudden hurricane (the plot is nothing if not eventful). Childers then travels to Sudan where he builds an orphanage for the victims of the long-running civil war. The twist is that he isn't your average teary missionary, he's a lock-and-load crusader, blasting baddies into the sky with one hand (the locals brand him an African Rambo), escorting scores of cute kids to safety with the other.

No wonder Butler fancied taking this on: it's a terrific fit for his own brand of soulful aggression – half saint, half psychopath. Forster makes no bones about how dubious a character Childers was before his spiritual rehabilitation – "You're just a little f*cking junkie stripper," are his fond words to wife Michelle Monaghan on release from the clink. There's ample time devoted to Childers' spiritual grappling – with his own faith, with the hypocrisy of the congregation who come to the church he erected back in the US (DIY enthusiasts are well-catered for here), but prefer to splurge on parties rather than donate to his appeal.

Such focus means other actors barely get a look in: Monaghan is nice enough as his wife; Michael Shannon amps up his bug-eyed doom-faced act as our hero's vulnerable best friend. It also means that the narrative is a little patchy, a prisoner to a personal story rather than an especially cohesive one: there are plot holes so wide and sudden the film is hobbled for a good few minutes following them. At least two gun battles abruptly end at what looked like a critical moment. At other times, you're wrong-footed more pleasantly: an encounter with a fragrant doctor doesn't resolve into cliche, and the ending is open-ended, mature.

What it lacks is balance: we never discover what Childers' enemies are fighting for, or much about the background of the conflict. Some gloss would hardly have endangered ones's allegiance – we're endlessly shown the results of horrific acts of rape, torture and slaughter – but it would have helped bring nuance to a film that sorely needs it.

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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:09 am

http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/review-machine-gun-preacher-tiff-2011



Review: Machine Gun Preacher (TIFF 2011)


PLOT: The true story of Sam Childers (Gerard Butler); a drug addict biker who, thanks to the encouragement of his faithful wife (Michelle Monaghan), finds God and becomes a born-again Christian. After a minister from the Sudan visits his church, Sam decides to volunteer for a few months. Once there, he witnesses the unspeakable atrocities committed by Joseph Kony's 'Lord's Army', and vows to build an orphanage in the middle of the area most ravaged by war, and to fight Kony's army with deadly force of his own.
REVIEW: There's probably nothing else playing at TIFF that tells a more incredible story that of Sam Childers. Imagine if, say, Jax from SONS OF ANARCHY, suddenly found God, and decided to go to the Sudan, where he becomes an almost RAMBO-esque figure. Well, in a way that's what MACHINE GUN PREACHER is, but holy shit- it's all true!




Well OK, I've never met Childers, and I've yet to read his book, so I don't know for certain whether or not the film is an exaggerated account. Being a big-budget studio flick, I wouldn't be surprised, but I have read a bit about the man, and for the most part the film seems accurate.
Considering the material, MACHINE GUN PREACHER should probably better than it is. It’s obvious that this is Relativity Media's big Oscar hopeful, but considering the wild subject matter, the film probably needed a steadier hand at the helm than Marc Forster, who's done two top-notch films (MONSTER'S BALL and FINDING NEVERLAND), but since then has fumbled a bit, most notably with his Bond film, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, which wasn't terrible, but was a bit of a mess and had indecipherable action scenes.

The problem with MACHINE GUN PREACHER is that it seems like everyone involved was too busy trying to wring the drama out of every single last scene in order to get Oscar consideration, and forgot to allow an room for subtlety or nuance. Everything is just so damn broad, and Forster smothers the film by trying to turn each scene into an emotional powerhouse, which works if you look at the scenes individually, but is ridiculous strung together. I also think the problem is that large scale, epic films aren't Forster's forte. If you compare the gritty first twenty minutes to the rest of the film, you'll notice how much more comfortable Forster seems to be telling the story of Childers' life as a thug/drug addict, rather than as a “born-again”, soldier of God.




This is maddening, as Childers' story deserved better. One thing about the film that’s bound to be controversial is the `born-again christian` aspect, and while it’s certainly there in the beginning, Forster seems to dismiss it later on, which is a bit of a betrayal of Childers' story. Whether you're religious or not (I'm not particularly), it's his faith that drove him to do what he does. I understand that they wanted to appeal to a broad, non-religious audience, but having him essentially renounce his faith towards the end seems a little phony, as it's not something I'd imagine the real Childers doing.
However, MACHINE GUN PREACHER isn't a train-wreck as it does have a few things going for it. For one, the story itself is dynamic, even if it gets the Hollywood treatment. The portrayal of the civil war in the Sudan is presented in an unflinching manner, and if this manages to shine a light on the on-going atrocities in that region, it'll be a job well done for the filmmakers.

Gerard Butler also makes a pretty good Childers, with him being tough enough to handle hardcore action scenes (although they maybe get a little too RAMBO near the end, with him decked out in an action-hero outfit that's a little much). He also manages to convey a lot of compassion, which is essential to the part.

Michelle Monaghan is also very good as Childers' faithful wife, although the conflict that Childers dedication to the Sudan, at his own family's expense could have been examined a little more. Rather, it figures in the last twenty minutes, but is otherwise ignored.

One of my favorite actors, Michael Shannon, has a supporting role as Childers former junkie-cohort, who gets clean, and eventually ends up taking care of his friend's family while he's away. Shannon once again is a powerhouse, but maybe he's too good, as I kept wanting them to spend more time with Shannon and the family- but alas, that's not the story. Still, when he’s on-screen he's fantastic.

The big question now seems to be, will it get Butler the Oscar nomination the studio is pushing for? Ummm, well, I'm not so sure he deserves it as this point- not that Butler drops the ball, but more that he's betrayed by the workman-like way the film is put together. If the director and the material had been matched better, this could have really been something. It's still not bad, and might even be a hit (apparently the audience at the public screening loved it), but I still this should have been much better.

6/10
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:26 am

http://www.boxofficemagazine.com/reviews/2011-09-machine-gun-preacher


All fired up
Machine Gun Preacher

The exploitation title may not do it any favors, but this biopic based on the incredible life journey of Sam Childers—a drug-addicted, violent, low life biker redeemed by God and Sudanese orphans—is gripping, inspirational and well told. With a bigger-than-life first rate performance from Gerard Butler, Machine Gun Preacher could indeed find box office traction from both mainstream audiences and also the fickle Christian moviegoing populace who might find it enlightening if they can stomach the opening scenes—and, of course, that title. Dropped by Lionsgate and picked up by Relativity for an awards season run, the film is worth the effort even when it stops straight-shooting and starts preaching.

Sam Childers (Butler) is a hard-living addict who lived on the edge and does his talking with a gun. In order to save his family life, the biker discovers God. But things really turn around for Sam when he goes to dictator-run East Africa on a church mission to help repair war-ravaged homes. While there, Sam discovers unspeakable horrors, particularly in the faces of innocent kids. Against all odds, he resolves to build an orphanage, a quest with repeated financial and physical challenges, especially when the Lord's Resistance Army that rules swaths of Uganda and the Sudan wants to conscript these kids into soldiers for their cause.

This isn't mere modern sainthood. The truth, as ever, is more complicated. Sam becomes a man obsessed, using his gun and his pulpit to forge a new life for these youngest of victims. Which, of course, takes a great toll on his family, particularly long-suffering wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) and daughter Sara (Madeleine Carroll) who feels he cares more about these kids on the other side of the world than he ever did about his own. And there's a new set of struggles in his relationship with his slacker best friend and former partner in crime (the inimitable Michael Shannon).

Working from Jason Keller's script, director Marc Forster presents a portrait of a man charging blindly through a crossroads. Thanks to a pitch perfect portrayal from Butler, we can completely empathize with Childers while questioning the cost of his commitment to the cause. Butler has never been better and clearly felt energized in taking on the role. He does his real life counterpart proud and dominates the action throughout. The images of the innocent faces Forster shines on on screen are not easily forgotten—despite the flaws in Childers' plan, you can easily see why the real man continues to dedicate his life to them to this day. Monaghan is also very fine as the suffering wife who uses faith to get her through this family crisis. Shannon nicely underplays his role as a man whose own lifeline is teetering on the edge. And there's terrific work from Souleymane Sy Sevane as a local who assists Childers' cause.

The strong Christian elements in the film almost make it seem as if it was intended to be a faith-based movie, but these filmmakers go way beyond the simplistic or saccharine. Machine Gun Preacher delivers a riveting account of one flawed man's efforts to bring humanity and the grace of Heaven to hell-on-earth.

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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:08 am

From the New York Observer....you might want to read the comments. People are really ripping on the author of this article, and I can't say I disagree. I'm sick and tired of the media ripping on anything to do with Christianity.

http://www.observer.com/2011/09/machine-gun-preacher-premiere-is-a-bust/

Yesterday evening, The Observer went to MoMA to see Gerard Butler’s latest flick, Machine Gun Preacher. The movie is based on the true life story of Sam Childers, an ex-biker gang member, turned preacher, turned African orphanage builder, turned one-man mercenary. Mr. Childers was in attendance last night, sporting steel-toed boots black jeans, a leather jacket and his signature handle bar mustache.

The Observer talked to him about the film and what it was like to see his life played out on the big screen. “I wake up every morning thinking I’m dreaming. You know I’m a hillbilly from Pennsylvania and I woke up in the Trump Plaza or the Trump Hotel this morning. That’s a dream to me,” he said with a distinctive country twang. We asked how Mr. Childers explains his incredible transformation from violent junkie to African activist. “To Christ,” he said simply. “I mean I wouldn’t be here today if god wouldn’t have helped me and got a hold of me,” he added. Although supposedly he was quite wary of making his life into a movie when initially approached by producers, Mr. Childers seemed quite at home on the red carpet, schmoozing with the actors and chatting up reporters.

The Observer almost didn’t recognize the the film’s co-star Michelle Monaghan who appeared, sporting red locks done up in a high bun with bangs. She eagerly talked about the film and how it changed her life. “I spent a lot of time with Sam and Lynn,” Ms. Monaghan said, speaking of Mr. Childers and his wife. “You realize they’re coming from a very very small town… It’s really just a matter of being able to realize that you can make a difference. Somebody from such a small background, in the middle of Timbuktu, is going over there and affecting the world,” she said, eyes sparkling with admiration. She then dutifully promoted Mr. Childers’ charity, Children of East Africa. “And whether its just donating five or ten bucks, twenty bucks, to Angels of East Africa, do that. Maybe helping out in your own backyard or your own community, do that.”

Gerard Butler’s appearance at the venue was made evident by the thousands of flashbulbs and screaming photographers. Perhaps Mr. Butler was channeling his character as his ensemble looked suspiciously similar to Mr. Childers’. Although we imagine that his black leather boots, tight-fitting jeans and perfectly distressed leather jacket probably came from Barney’s, not rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Butler denied reports that he had received death threats for the film. “That never happened,” he told the bevy of reporters. ” I think they misunderstood or they had a late night before, but I don’t remember getting any death threats… Maybe just for a bad performance,” he added. With that strange comment we headed into the theater.

Mr. Butler introduced the film, sputtering on awkwardly for fifteen minutes in what could have been a parody of an Oscar’s acceptance speech gone awry (“Am I forgetting anyone? Oh yeah, my co-stars!” etc.. ). The film got started with much clapping and hooting from the audience.

The film details Sam’s transformation from a biker in rural Pennsylvania to an aspiring activist in South Sudan. Unfortunately the directors chose not to explain the conflict, choosing instead to brush over the important details and show semi-repetitive gory fighting scenes instead. Both Mr. Butler and Ms. Monaghan gave good performances, particularly Mr. Butler who captures the different dimensions semi-crazed Childers. That being said, the religious theme complicated an already overworked plot and the action-driven African sequences took away from the real issues the film strives to address.

After the party, guests walked down to the Royalton hotel where abundant food and abundant drink were consumed. People generally seemed to like the movie, several claiming however that it was too heavy for their liking. The film can count Paul Haggis among its supporters, however. We caught up with the director as he was walking into the after party. “I loved it! Very powerful!” he said. “Gerry was great! so was Michelle,” he added enthusiastically before walking back to enjoy the fete with his date.

Guests ate, drank, and listened to retro-inspired tunes as the night went on. We left after a spell, hoping the film wouldn’t give us nightmares.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:02 am

Quote :
the religious theme complicated an already overworked plot and the action-driven African sequences took away from the real issues the film strives to address.
Religious theme complicated the plot? Religion is part of the plot. Yes, yes, we all know Christianity is not the sizzling attention grabbing religion du jour, but this movie is about a man becoming a Christian, and his ministry. Rolling Eyes Yes, it's heavy because gunplay in the jungles of Africa isn't like a drive-by in NYC. How wonderful that the only quote about liking the movie came from the director.

Sounds like the reporter loathed having to review a movie about a small town Christian with a "distinctive country twang". He probably went because of the booze at the party. I mean, how did the audience react at the end of the movie? Did they cheer? Did they boo? Did they run out as quickly as they can? Maybe the reporter left before the end of the movie.

The guy didn't proof read his article.
Quote :
After the party, guests walked down to the Royalton hotel where abundant food and abundant drink were consumed.
There was a party after the party after the premiere?
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:47 pm

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/gerard-butler-machine-gun-preacher-236749


Gerard Butler in 'Machine Gun Preacher': What Critics Are Saying


The Marc Forster-directed film is "a terrific fit" for Butler's "brand of soulful aggression -- half saint, half psychopath," writes one reviewer.

Gerard Butler returns to the big screen with director Marc Foster's Machine Gun Preacher, a true story about the life of ex-con, biker and hellraiser Sam Childers, who ended up building a community church in Pennsylvania and preaching there. Reviews have been trickling in ever since it screened at the Toronto Film Festival and many have praised Butler's performance. The film is out in theaters Friday, Sept. 23.

The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt writes that "critics will rave about Gerard Butler's fast-and-furious performance as Sam Childers. But one can't escape the nagging feeling that the film doesn't dig deeply enough into its real-life hero. The film doesn't explore all those 'whys' and whats.' "

The Guardian's Catherine Shoard writes that the film is "a terrific fit for his own brand of soulful aggression -- half saint, half psychopath." But she did bring up some things that lacked, including the fact that the film never explains what "Childers' enemies are fighting for, or much about the background of the conflict." Even so, she gave the film three out of five stars, making note that Butler also executive produced the project.

Meanwhile, Drew McWeeny at HitFix gave Machine Gun Preacher a relatively negative review, saying that the Butler-headlined action feature was strange and overly sincere, but to his credit, noted that Butler "gives a genuinely impassioned performance" and "dos his very best to give some sort of rough-hewn life to the character."

Ultimately, he writes, "I think Machine Gun Preacher means well, but even knowing that Sam is a real person, this film still ultimately feels like yet another movie in which it takes a white man from outside the culture to come save all the backwards natives from themselves and and making it a movie that focuses on kids feels like a cheap shortcut to sentiment."

Indiewire's Gabe Toro calls Machine Gun Preacher something of a Rambo, the Sylvester Stallone film released a few years prior. "Butler can’t really play nuance as much as he can scowl, brood and posture. But he sure makes a hell of an entrance — after a brief opening where we see the strife of the Sudanese people, Butler struts out of prison with a glower and a mullet, cursing off the guards," he recalls, declaring that the film doesn't showcase Butler; instead, it's "Rambo done wrong."

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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:51 am

LegoJulie wrote:
Sounds like the reporter loathed having to review a movie about a small town Christian with a "distinctive country twang".

Unfortunately, that is certainly a real possibility there, Julie.

And I agree with you about his comment over the "religious theme" complicating things. How in the world do you tell a story about a man's transformation without including the religion that was responsible for said transformation? scratch I really think this reporter is downplaying the importance and relevance of Childers' faith to this story.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:07 am

http://www.movieline.com/2011/09/review-machine-gun-preacher.php


REVIEW: Machine Gun Preacher Fails as a Tale of Rebirth, Redemption and Kicking Ass

Movieline Score: 5

There’s a theoretical sweet spot to be found for Machine Gun Preacher — that of the multi-quadrant film, as the marketers say. It aims to be a hard-charging actioner that’s also a based-on-a-true-story tale of rebirth and uplift; an earnest, somber look at conflicts in Sudan that’s simultaneously a faith-centric, family-oriented redemption song. Directed by Marc Forster (of, appropriately enough, Quantum of Solace and Finding Neverland) from a screenplay by Jason Keller (who’s also credited as one of the writers on Tarsem Singh’s upcoming take on Snow White), Machine Gun Preacher always seems aware that it’s working off ripe material, but can’t fit it into beats that work on-screen.

And really, what could be riper for adaptation than the life of Sam Childers, a onetime biker gang member who finds religion, starts his own church, builds an orphanage just north of the Ugandan border and defends it from attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army using the weapons expertise he learned while holding up drug dens? The man the locals start referring to in hushed tones as “the white preacher,” a term that’s a twist on the one used for professional big-game hunters in the colonial days, should be an irresistible figure, the unlikely do-gooder in a desperate situation. But Machine Gun Preacher doesn’t allow him moments of triumph — it’s a struggle throughout, which may be truer to life but makes for a wearying middlebrow movie that doesn’t make its days of self-improvement and altruism seem any brighter than its days of smack addiction and violence.


Gerard Butler, who’s honed his screen persona as a brutish, charismatic jerk, isn’t a bad fit for the role of Sam, even if he’s more believable spraying bullets and stabbing hitchhikers than he is delivering a sermon. He’s got the swagger of someone who doesn’t expect to be messed with from the moment he first appears on-screen, on his way to being released from prison, his wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) waiting to pick him up outside. Since he’s been gone, Lynn’s discovered Jesus and given up stripping, and Sam finds to his dismay that the trailer in which the two live with their daughter Paige (Ryan Campos when younger, Madeline Carroll as a tween) is free of cigarettes and beer. Sam’s not so quick to come to God — he falls back easily into his old biker life, reconnecting with his friend Donnie (the always welcome Michael Shannon, so bug-eyed in his early scenes he’s almost a cartoon character), shooting up in bathrooms, waking up on the floor amidst beer bottles, Paige playing nearby. When he does get baptized, with Lynn and his mother, Daisy (Kathy Baker), looking at him beseechingly until he goes up, it’s not an ecstatic moment, just another milestone in a shifting life.

While there’s something to be said for Machine Gun Preacher’s reluctance to dramatize itself along the lines of the typical biopic arc it theoretically follows, it makes the changes taking place in its main character difficult to discern until he abruptly acts on them. Sam’s decision to go to Africa for a few weeks of aid work, prompted by a guest speaker from Uganda appearing at the family’s church, comes as a surprise to his family and to the audience, who haven’t been given many clues as to the depth of his religious convictions. After witnessing atrocities on that trip, including a woman whose lips were cut off by rebels for talking back and a little boy whose legs are blown off by a mine, Sam comes back possessed by a desire to build both a church near his home and an orphanage in Africa that seems manic and a little worrying instead of inspired, a reaction reinforced by the cautiousness of Lynn’s support.

Because Machine Gun Preacher chugs along like a relay race instead of coming to a point of crescendo, it’s easier to wonder what it’s actually about: Is Sam heroic for what he does or naïve and presumptuous? Does he get mired in the impossibility of saving everyone from the heinousness of what’s happening in the area or has he always just been an asshole with violent tendencies underneath? These ambiguities don’t seem intentional, they seem like indecisiveness, like signs of a film in need of either more focus or less material. When Sam first picks up a gun and blasts rebels attacking the orphanage like Rambo by way of the Peace Corps, it should be the meeting of the film’s two halves, of his biker background and his newfound good intentions coming together — the machine gun preacher, a graphic-novel-worthy character come to life. But that turns into a meditation on the downhill slope of violence that is, given the context, a little irrational, and from there to a portrait of depression brought on by having to choose whom to help and risk letting others die. Films based on true stories often suffer from being made too neat, but in this case some tidying up was called for. Then what should have been a solid, gripping story wouldn’t have ended with an ellipsis and a shrug.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:17 am

http://theburnerblog.com/povertyactivism/movie-review-machine-gun-preacher/


Movie Review: Machine Gun Preacher

“If I can bring your loved one home, does it matter how I do it?”

It’s hard to get a quote in a dark theater, but The Burner thinks that is pretty close to the snippet tagged onto the credits of Marc Forster’s new movie Machine Gun Preacher. Known for Oscar-bait films like Monsters Ball and Finding Neverland, Forster now turns his attention to the true story of Sam Childers, the thug-turned-preacher-turned-activist-turned-Rambo of Sudan. You can read all about his church, his large orphanage for victims of war-torn Sudan, and his exploits in Ian Urbina’s excellent April 2010 feature in Vanity Fair, or his complaints about the VF article. Or you can look at his slick website.

This movie is as unsophisticated as it’s title. It’s not easy or enjoyable to watch. It wouldn’t surprise TB if Childers had final say over the film’s choices. Played by Gerard Butler (300), Childers in MGP is a fantastic-looking bull in the china closet that is life. For a while after he comes to Jesus in a church service, Childers is mild-mannered and actually shows a significant change from the hardened thug he was before. He’s not addicted to heroin. He is gentle with his family. He works hard at construction. He starts a successful roofing company. He moves from sitting in the balcony of the church to the first few pews (where all the best Christians sit, obviously). It’s like the seed that falls in rocky soil and springs up quickly–how long will it last? It lasted long enough for Childers to go to Africa after hearing a missionary’s spiel, go sightseeing in war-torn Sudan over a weekend break and witness the violence and destruction of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. (If you haven’t read the Vanity Fair story, you should now. TB will wait.) This changes his life and he devotes all his considerable drive and energy into protecting the orphans of the area.

This is where the movie should get interesting, but really just becomes a low-grade action movie. It’s Childers going into the bush and shooting rebels. It’s him finding orphans. It’s him repeatedly choosing his work in Africa over his family back home. He finally renounces God and goes on his own, but then gets suicidal and is about to kill himself when an orphan comes in, tells his terrible, heart-wrenching story and says, “We can’t let the hate win.” Then there’s more movie.

And yet…

This unfavorable review doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t see it, especially if you’re prone to Lone Ranger pastoring like Childers. TB has no doubt that God has called Childers to work in Africa. Childers does great work for the orphans. At some point, though–and this seems very accurate to how our own sin can affect our ministry–Childers starts producing bad fruit. People are dying. Violence is still rampant. He brings his violence home and his family is falling apart. His congregation knows that he’s being consumed by Africa. The humanitarian aid worker Childers meets tells him he is more like Kony than a preacher. Where did he go wrong?

Reel Spirituality co-director Elijah Davidson (who invited TB to the screening) mentioned that Childers never brings anyone alongside to help, guide or support. Other than his friend and proto-commander Deng in Sudan, nobody has any input into what Childers does. It’s a recipe for disaster–for Childers and for us.

You should also see this movie to subject your heart to the horrible experience of the Sudanese people. While there are a myriad of problems for the Sudanese (water, food, medicine), the violence that they experience is as tremendous as it is horrific. Forster avoids glorifying the violence while not hiding it. There are dismembered bodies, but not ghastly lingering takes.

This aspect of the film makes it a good choice to show to your leadership team in your church if you want to expand their view of the world. The film is R-rated and deserves it, but a mature adult can handle it. The opportunity for conversation about the film is great, too. Don’t believe it? TB just wrote 1000 words about and recommended you see a movie that’s not very good.

Despite it’s heavy-handed delivery, the film does makes one think, “Does it matter how he does it? Does it matter how I do it?”
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:05 am

http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/movie-review-machine-gun-preacher-2011


Movie Review: Machine Gun Preacher (2011)
A conflicted, yet emotional drama that never quite finds its stride

Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) was a drug-dealing ex-con who found God after he seemingly hit rock bottom. As a result he established a church in his hometown and, as fate would have it, made his way to East Africa. There he would eventually set up the Angels of East Africa rescue organization where he rescued hundreds of orphaned children and established his own militia to help fight against Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Machine Gun Preacher adopts Childers' nickname and sets out to tell his story in what ends up being an emotionally impactful, somewhat manipulative and quite scattered movie. If I sound conflicted… I am.

My gut reaction was to be far more interested in the man the film was about rather than the film itself. A brief search online tells me several of the film's establishing moments aren't entirely true and the way this savage ex-con goes from stabbing a man damn near 50 times to becoming a man in search of being reformed is like a switch being turned on. Is that how it works? One minute you're ready to kill and the next you're ready to grasp onto that which you laughed at only a couple scenes earlier?

Everything about the film's setup seems rushed and made up. It may have been better if director Marc Forster had just done a Power Point presentation to establish his character and then get into the meat of the story he wished to tell as Childers makes his way across the Atlantic.

Attempting to tell all stories at once and frequently going into traditional storytelling elements, Machine Gun Preacher bounces back and forth between Sam's plight in East Africa, to his wife (Michelle Monahan) and daughter (Madeline Carroll) back home and the cliched and entirely unnecessary story of his drug-addict friend (Michael Shannon). Of the three stories the only one that feels at all authentic is Sam's time in Africa and the way screenwriter Jason Keller chose to tell the story here is a bit curious.

The unforgivable acts seen on screen are heart-wrenching as a young boy is forced to kill his own mother, another is killed by a hidden land mine and more find their demise in other horrible ways. So it goes without saying that you'll be moved when you see the effort put forth by Childers as he takes on their struggle as his own. The biggest problem I had, though, is when the audience is made to witness one terrible act of violence on a group of children only to prove a point at the end of the film. Let's just say, you won't expect Sam to ever leave a group of 20 or so children alone in the desert in the middle of the night ever again, but maybe that calls into question… Why would he ever do so in the first place? To prove a point silly.

I also found my interest deteriorating as Childers' grip on reality became increasingly strained, but not because I didn't believe it could happen, I just didn't believe it was happening to the character I was watching on screen. Making matters worse, each plot twist is foreshadowed to the point I could name three right now if I wanted to ruin everything for you. The writing is on the wall when it comes to this film, Forster didn't need to include additional expository scenes and/or dialogue to make sure the point is hammered home and he certainly didn't need to do it before each scene happened making the climax of each moment an inevitability rather than a guy punch dose of reality.

Playing Childers, it's a bit tough to tell just how well Gerard Butler has done considering the film's editing and choppy narrative doesn't do him any favors. The film opens in such a way as to make us believe this man is hell on wheels so when the narrative instantly shifts to him becoming a baptized, Bible-thumping hard rock man of God it's a bit of a jolt and his character's trajectory doesn't end there.

A scene where Childers returns home from Africa and begins preaching to his congregation as if he's a crazed lunatic was the moment the film almost fell completely off the rails, and yet scenes involving his impassioned plea for money to help his cause and the subsequent hypocrisy he endures shortly thereafter are absolutely spot on. That scene is one of several that still managed to hit home as this film is more of a hodgepodge of good and bad rather than an all out failure.

When it comes to the work of Marc Forster I find him to be a definite hit or miss director. I am one of the few that really liked his James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, and I enjoyed both Finding Neverland and The Kite Runner. However, Monsters Ball I will never watch again, Stay is a mess and Stranger than Fiction was a "middler". Machine Gun Preacher falls into that middle ground for me as well. It's definitely not a well made film, but the takeaway from Childers' efforts is inspiring.

For the most part Machine Gun Preacher plays like one big conflict, both the story and the movie itself. Moving from scene-to-scene I never felt as if I was inside the head of Sam Childers and just when you think you're getting a grip on who he is, the film dials it back or ramps it up, and not in a way that keeps you on your toes but in a way that makes you wonder if there was ever a clear idea of just what they were trying to do.


GRADE: C+
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:59 pm

BBC America

http://blogs.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2011/09/23/gerard-butlers-u-s-accent-in-machine-gun-preacher-how-does-it-hold-up/


Gerard Butler’s U.S. Accent in ‘Machine Gun Preacher’: How Does It Hold Up?

It’s another case of an actor’s accent provoking the wrath of purists. In this instance it’s Scotland’s Gerard Butler playing an evangelical preacher from Pennsylvania in the new film Machine Gun Preacher out today (Friday).

Butler told me: “It was work! I worked on it everyday. So I did my best. It was hard to do the dialect that is so different than Scottish and then try and get into the subtleties and complexities of that character but it also made it more fun.”

But the actor’s efforts haven’t satisfied picky accent patrolling watchdogs.

One online complainant has noted: “I’m sorry, but is no one else put off by Butler’s awful faux accent? It’s been wigging me out since I saw that trailer. What is it, New Yorker + Texan with strong dashes of Australian?”

Accent aside, what’s to be made of the film itself?

Many critics are pointing out that it’s another example of Hollywood presenting us with a white savior arriving in Africa performing heroic deeds.

Inspired by a real-life story, Butler plays a born-again ex-con from Philadelphia who ends up building an orphanage for children in war-torn Sudan.

Journalism has striven to generate interest in the West in the plight of young children in Sudan who’re the victims of atrocities – often carried out by other youngsters who’ve been turned into killers by the adults who’ve enslaved them.

Butler sees the film as immersive, enabling it to bring home the horror more powerfully than journalistic accounts: “I do think that this is a way more effective way to tell it than reading information in a newspaper.”

The violence in the film is exceedingly gruesome. One grisly scene shows an African woman whose lips have been cut off. I asked the actor if he thought audiences might be so put off by what they see on-screen that it becomes counter-productive, deadening their response.

He replied: “When you research this, and you read about what’s actually going on there it’s way worse than we show in our movie. It’s a thousand times worse. So we actually had to back off in the movie. Yet at the same time you can’t completely back off.”

Butler’s acting is nothing to complain about – it lacks subtlety, but that’s probably more to do with the screenplay than any major deficit on his part.

I saw Machine Gun Preacher at the Toronto Film Festival where another film, Coriolanus, was also showing off his talents to much better effect. It’s an adaptation of a lesser-known Shakespeare tragedy, in which Ralph Fiennes both directs and stars. Coriolanus plays Fiennes onscreen nemesis, and he gives a truly stellar performance.



Last edited by Dallas on Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dallas
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:15 am

http://www.cctothep.com/blog/2011/09/23/machine-gun-preacher/


REVIEW: MACHINE GUN PREACHER (2011)

“Machine Gun Preacher” is based on the true story of Sam Childers, a hardass biker who led a life of crime and drugs, but found God and decided to help less fortunate children in Africa. It’s the kind of heroic life that’s tailor made for the big screen, except the vessel it’s presented in is nothing more than a big-budgeted Lifetime movie.

Gerard Butler stars as the titular preacher, and is pretty excellent in the role. He embodies the badass persona of Childers well while also believably transforming into a crusader for Sudanese children who are forced to kill their parents and become soldiers. If Butler had been given more meat to chew on, this would have been a dynamite role.

Instead it’s merely a standout in mediocrity. The character of Childers is fascinating and layered; this is not a simple man who had a sudden life change. He’s complex and filled with darkness, yet the movie barely scratches the surface and portrays him as more of a glamorized savior.

Childers is a rough dude, and I doubt he had any TV movie-of-the-week interactions with his wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) and his daughter Paige (Madeline Carroll). When the latter yells, “you love those black babies more than me!” directly to her father’s face, it’s hard not to burst out laughing.

And laughter is not something that should be present in a movie with this type of subject matter, but it is handled in a misguided way. Marc Forster has proven he can direct compelling dramas such as “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland,” but his attempt here is jarring.

It is tonally off as it constantly shifts from horrific violence (complete with an annoyingly manipulative score) to mundane suburbia in Childers’ Pennsylvania hometown. There are also many issues with the script that prevent it from packing a powerful punch.

There is a serious lack of development with the secondary and tertiary characters. Basically any of the Sudanese supporting characters are never fully fleshed out even though they’re prominent roles. Michael Shannon as Childers’ best friend Donnie has more depth devoted to him, which I found odd, but that’s not to say Shannon doesn’t give a great performance.

“Machine Gun Preacher” has its heart in the right place, but fails to succeed at being the movie it aspires to be. In many ways it’s like the R-rated version of “Dolphin Tale.” It’s sugarcoated, rote, and stagnant, which are qualities it should not contain.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:19 am

The Christian Review:


http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2011/0923/Gerard-Butler-stars-in-Machine-Gun-Preacher-movie-review

Gerard Butler stars in 'Machine Gun Preacher': movie review
'Machine Gun Preacher' has a fascinating story but makes its main character, played by Gerard Butler, one-dimensional.

By Peter Rainer, Film critic / September 23, 2011

Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is a Philadelphia ex-con with severe anger-management issues. Just released from prison, he returns home to a familiar pattern of substance abuse and armed robbery. His wife, Lynn (Michelle Monaghan), a former stripper, has in the meantime become a devout Christian during Sam's incarceration. Contemptuous of her do-goodism but sinking fast, he agrees to attend church with her and is forever transformed.

"Machine Gun Preacher," based on Childers's real-life exploits, sets up a fascinating story and then proceeds to make it increasingly less fascinating. Now a successful construction company owner, Childers makes a relief trip to Uganda, where he detours into neighboring Sudan and witnesses the atrocities of the Lord's Resistance Army – a renegade militia that often turned children into rifle-toting soldiers by forcing them to kill their own parents.

Soon he is providing shelter for terrorized Sudanese children. He builds them an orphanage and a schoolhouse. By comparison, his life back in America, where he has also become a lay preacher, loses its luster. He is hooked, obsessively so, on saving the Sudanese children, even if this means becoming a gun-toting hellion himself.

Are Childers's exploits genuinely humanitarian or just an adrenaline-fueled substitute for his earlier violence? This is the fascination of the story, but director Marc Forster and screenwriter Jason Keller take the easy way out by turning Childers into a Bible-thumping Rambo. Just because the Childers of this movie is not, to put it mildly, introspective, is no reason why the filmmakers had to be equally dense. Butler doesn't seem in any hurry to provide what the filmmakers lack. He might as well be playing, well, Rambo. There's even a scene where he wades into the fray, machine gun in hand, wearing a black head scarf, just in case we missed the connection.

Because Childers is so one-dimensional, the film is particularly open to charges of bwana worship. The vast majority of socially conscious Hollywood movies set in Africa have featured whites center stage – "Cry Freedom" was probably the most egregious example – and this one is no exception. Even the Sudanese orphans, whose plight is, after all, the film's reason for being, are presented as a grievous backdrop to Childers's calisthenics. They are poster-art children, framed to elicit our maximum sympathy – as if we wouldn't respond to their plight otherwise.

If you stick this film out to the end credits, the real Sam Childers poses a question for the audience: "Does it matter how I bring them home?" What he is saying is: If your own loved ones were kidnapped, tortured, or raped, would you care if I used extreme violence to rescue them? This is a legitimate and troubling question and, in a more thoughtful movie, it would have been the starting point, not the endpoint, for the drama, especially one dealing with a supposedly God-fearing Christian. Grade: C (Rated R for violent content, including disturbing images, language, some drug use, and a scene of sexuality.)

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