Thursday, April 26

Bibleman review

    It’s been too long since the last movie review on this blog. School’s finally done, the eye strain I was suffering through for nearly a month is almost completely gone, and it’s time to finally review something.

    This review is a bit different. It’s a single episode of a video series. Don’t worry, there’s plenty to talk about here – it’s a Fundamentalist Christian TV show about a superhero called Bibleman. There is so much fail contained in this half-hour episode that I still can’t believe it. The acting is, well … what acting? Neither the story nor the concept makes any sense, and this episode’s villain is simultaneously an absolute genius and an absolute idiot. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    As far as I can tell, the show lasted from 1996 to 2004. It’s basically about a man who dresses in a blue outfit and “fights for God” by lightsaber dueling villains while quoting bible verses. That’s wonderful; it’s both a Batman and a Star Wars rip-off. Maybe I should title this review “Christian Batman.” The villains do little but menace a bunch of kids despite their insane abilities to manipulate people. All this is broken up by a bunch of cheap worship songs that aren’t fun. Yeah, there’s no bias in this paragraph whatsoever.

    For the sake of this review, I am looking at this episode as if I’m an agnostic. In reality, I’m a Christian, but that has no place on a blog that makes fun of bad movies like Troll 2.

    This episode is called “The six lies of the fibbler.” The fibbler? Is that supposed to be a twist on the riddler? That’s not a real word; the fibber would be enough. He looks more like the joker anyway, with his white makeup and, um … his white makeup.

    The episode starts with someone walking towards a lab (we don’t see his face). He uses a fake looking hand scanner and grabs the Bibleman helmet. The camera freeze frames on that, and then the opening narration and theme song begins.

    "Miles Peterson, a man who had it all: wealth, status, success. Still, something was lacking." Peterson starts screaming in the rain, holding a small suit case.  "Miserable, alone, his spirit weak, Miles Peterson gave up.” Yeah, I kind of got that with the screaming in the rain part. “Then in his darkest hour, the words of a single book began to change his life.” Peterson finds a book sitting on the ground, soaked in the rain. It’s a bible. Why would someone want to read a book that someone has obviously abandoned on the side of a road? "And at last, Miles Peterson felt the burning desire to know god." A bright light shines on Peterson. "Inspired by the word of God and equipped with unyielding faith, Miles pledged to fight evil in the name of God as Bibleman." Cue the title screen and theme song. Apart from the overly enthusiastic narrator, this portion isn’t all that problematic. Of course, the theme song had to ruin that.

    The song keeps breaking the fourth wall and encourages viewers to invite all their friends. You know, if I invited my friends to this show, they wouldn't be my friends anymore. The song is boring and repetitive – but not unbearable. Nothing else to say really.

    After the theme song, we see a girl biking. Cut to her friends, who are complaining that she's late again. They decide to go ahead without her or something. Then they break into singing about serving the lord right on the porch - what? Ok, were they waiting for her just to sing a song? What’s going on? This song keeps talking about following the bible and looking forward - not sure what that means. Why is there a pseudo praise song in a superhero show? People watch superhero shoes for beating up bad guys, not worship songs. Also, where's Bibleman in all of this? I want to see Bibleman.

 (What, are they performing for the grass?)

    After the song finishes, the girl shows up. They scold her for being late for the third time this week. There's some guy in heavy makeup hiding behind the tree watching them. I guess he’s the fibbler. He says,

    "I had to take care of my mom." He breaths some green gas toward the kids.

    "I had to take care of my mom," the late girl says.

    What? Is this gas designed to specifically make people say that, or is it designed to listen to what you say and make people say it. Either way, that isn't chemically possible. It can’t be magic because the bible says that’s wrong. Worse yet, it only makes the late girl say that, and the other kids are less than five feet away. To save some time, I should note that this gas makes people say whatever he wants them to say. Maybe it is magic, maybe it isn’t. The show never specifies.

 (Does this man look mentally stable to you? How is he supposed to be a threat?)

    What really doesn’t make sense is why is the fibbler using this gas to make these kids lie? If you have the power to make anyone say anything you want, why wouldn’t you use it to take over the world? You could use it to make politicians grant you power, or simply make them say stupid things that will get them thrown out of office. There’s so much you can do, so why bother with these kids? This scene makes absolutely no sense.

    Anyway, the kids start arguing over her excuse that she had to take care of her mother - why? Anyway, a bright flash shows up and Bibleman appears. Does this mean he has teleportation powers?
"How's the rehearsal for your youth group going?" He asks the kids. Is that what the song was about? Nice to explain that to us before you started singing on the porch. The late girl looks like she's eight-years-old, most youth groups don't start until grade six. It shouldn’t be that hard to either write this about a younger group or find older actors. Well, except that most youth group aged kids are too smart to appear in something this lame.

    Bibleman says that he was praying and was somehow led to encourage them. That’s fair; many Christians claim that they’re lead by the Holy Spirit to do certain things. He looks toward the trees with suspicion. The kids ask him what's wrong.

    "I'm not sure," Bibleman says. "But I do know that in Mathew 5 14 and 16, Jesus said that you are like the light to the whole world, and he said that let that light shine, so that people will see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven. When you perform tonight, be that light."

    Bibleman teleports away without checking behind the tree. Really? You're a physically capable man - why don't you check behind the tree to make sure nobody's there. You looked at it with suspicion – if you were truly led there while praying, you should have known something was wrong. You could have ended the episode right there and spared us of this suffering.

    Most of the kids leave, while the biggest boy and the late girl stay behind and apologize to each other. Know what, none of these kids have been given names yet, so I’ll just give them all names. The late girl will be known as Phillis and the big boy will be Gary. The group has two other girls and one other boy. The other boy will be called Point Man (there’s a reason for that), and I’ll give the other girls names later.

    Gary says that he has lots to do and asks for help. That's how you apologize to someone, by asking for help? Jerk. Gary asks Phillis to take half of the music to the performance and hands her an audio tape. Really? You can't just stick that tape into your pocket? You’re asking the always late girl to be responsible for the audio you need for your presentation. There’s trust, and then there’s stupid trust.
The guy behind the tree starts talking to himself, overacting like a buffoon. He tells himself how much of a genius he is. If you’re a genius, than why aren’t you using your special gas to take over the… never mind, this show’s simply not that ambitious. He teleports away just like Bibleman did.
A subtitle says "Later" and we see the five kids singing in front of an audience. Was the "Later" subtitle necessary - a five-year-old could have figured that out. And come on, another song already? We're ten minutes in and more time is spent on songs than anything else.

 (Not sure what's worse, that the fibbler is dumb enough to hide there, or that everyone is too stupid to notice him in the corner.)

    Afterwards, the five kids are talking about how well the performance went. The fibbler is sitting the corner of the room, smelling a flower and nobody notices him. A man walks in and congratulates the group - he doesn't notice the weirdo either. Seriously? Not only do you have a mind control gas, but you’re also invisible? Why haven’t you taken over the world yet? Who is the man that just popped in? No idea because I can't hear what the kids call him, and he isn’t properly identified later in the episode. I'll just call him Bob. This show is doing a terrible job at identifying anyone, other than Bibleman and the fibbler that is.

    Bob says he needs the other audio tape for the show. The fibbler makes Phillis accuse Gary of forgetting to bring it – totally didn’t see that one coming. Phillis, you really are a lame character. The kids start arguing again, and it's impossible to figure out who's saying what. Bob says he'll have to dismiss the congregation and they'll sort it out later. You can't just finish without background music and say you're having technical difficulties? I’m sure this happens all the time, it's not like this is a paid performance.

    As Bob tells the audience that the performance is over, the fibbler joins him on the stage. Seriously, nobody notices him? Not even Bibleman, who is in the audience? This is amazingly stupid.

    Bibleman is talking to a bunch of younger kids when he sees the fibbler walking around talking to himself again. The fibbler overacts so much he makes the goblin queen in Troll 2 look subtle. Now you see him? Why couldn’t you see him when he was on stage then?

    Bibleman gives chase outside, which quickly turns into a lightsaber fight. The fight isn't even any good. They just keep repeating the same three attacks over and over again.

    "Hello Bibleman," fibbler says.

    "I don't know who you are but one whiff of your foul personality and I know who sent you," Bibleman says.


    Uh, who sent him? Never explained. Maybe Bibleman meant the devil, but why would the devil focus on one small youth group when he can try to manipulate powerful people.
They fight a little more, and then one of the youth group's girls shows up. The fibbler teleports away as the girl approaches. We finally learn some names, but I'll call her Norah anyway. Norah says that Phillis quit the group and that everything is a mess.

    Another subtitle says "Back at Eaglegate." Uh, the audience should be smart enough to figure out that this is Bibleman's secret lair, although it's nice that we know what it's called.

    We see Bibleman without his uniform, trying to figure out who the fibbler is.

    "Who are you?' He says. "Sooner or later you're gonna give yourself away and I'm gonna be there when you do." That's all the dialogue we get there.

    Some detective you are Bibleman. Your skills amount to waiting until your villain messes up so bad that everyone will know who he is anyway. GENIUS I TELL YOU! He sits at a computer and searches a bunch of known, um, enemies? The computer finds the fibbler. You know, if the fibbler is on the computer, surely Bibleman has encountered him before. It's almost as if they're going out of their way to make Bibleman look like an idiot.

    We then cut to the high school (none of these kids look like their old enough for high school). Four of the kids are talking about Phillis.

    "There's got to be some way to talk to ‘Phillis’," unnamed girl says - I'll call her Ellen.

    "You got a point there," Point Man says.

    That's a point? That wasn't even a suggestion; that was an indirect call for others' thoughts.

    "I don't know, her mom can't even get her to come," Norah says.

    "She's got a point there," Point Man says.

    "You shouldn't have been so rough on her 'Gary'," Ellen says.

    "She does have a point," Point man says. Uh, are you going to add anything to this conversation?
"Hey, I'm the one that got blamed, remember?" Gary says.

    "Oh, now he's the one with the point," Point man says. I guess not.

    "It doesn't matter who said what right now," Ellen says. "The real point is that 'Phillis' is our friend and we have to find a way to let her know that."

    "You got a point there," Point man says.

    OK seriously, why are you here? Point man has to be the most pointless character I've ever seen in anything.

    "You got a point there." SHUT UP!

    Bibleman shows up out of costume and asks Ellen if everything's alright. After she leaves, he decides this is a job for Bibleman. Next up, a transformation scene that's dangerous for anyone with epilepsy.

 (Digitally added halos doesn't make you holy, Bibleman.)

    Now, there's a song with such genius lyrics like "I should have known better." Phillis is moping around in the grass intercut with walking her bike through a park. This is so lame.

    Bibleman shows up at the end of the song to talk to her. He tells her that she's just like the apostle Paul. How? He quotes a verse from Romans 17 about how Paul does what he hates. He means sin, but the world isn’t used specifically. Doesn't everyone? I’m sure everyone has guilt in their lives, unless you’re completely shameless or utterly arrogant. How does that make her just like Paul? He keeps quoting random bible verses. Even if he's right, this is problematic. By taking individual verses and passages, you can make the bible say anything you want it to.

 (Somebody call 911!)

    For example - Zechariah 5:1-3 we read, "Again I looked up and saw a flying scroll. And he said to me, 'What do you see?' I answered, 'I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.' Then he said to me, 'This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land; for everyone who steals shall be cut off according to the writing on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cut off according to the writing on the other side.'" I can assume that the flying scroll means TV signals, so that all TV is sinful - including this show. If you watch Bibleman, you will be cursed by God. I'll do it again. Genesis 9:20-21 - "Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent." Now go and do the same. See how this can be a problem?

    Anyway, Bibleman convinces her to be honest with her friends. Phillis returns to the others, who are practicing ... something. She apologizes and they reconcile. The fibbler is hanging around and is confused by this "madness."

    Before the fibbler can intervene, Bibleman shows up with his lightsaber again. It's the final battle!
They fight using the same three moves as before, broken up by more random bible verses.
"Willingness and stupidity don't go well together, Proverbs 19:2," Bibleman says. How does that have anything to do with lying? Eventually, BIbleman's verses anger the fibbler so much that he accidentally strikes himself down. Wow - lamest villain ever.

 (As the Cinema Snob once said, "Dignity is the opposite of acting in this movie.")

    The show finishes with the five kids singing on stage, as if there hasn’t been enough lame praise songs already. They sing a song, and the credits roll.

    I'll give the episode this much, it's not insultingly fundamentalist. I’ve read that their first episode is strictly anti-science, and there’s another episode that’s strongly against Jews. If I find one of those, I might review it down the road. Even so, it's a dumb, bible-thumping TV show that will only entertain a niche audience.

    Compare this to Veggie Tales. Its songs are fun, the show has originality and the acting is good. I've known agnostics who would sing "We are the pirates who don't do anything" in high school. Sure, Veggitales teaches lessons about morality, but they make the journey fun. They even had their own batman spoof with Larry Boy, and he was far more original than Bibleman despite being a direct parody. Bibleman is just a lame show full of bible verses and a Batman rip-off. No high school student is going to sing any songs from this stupid show. Christians should be embarrassed by this thing. I’ll give it this much though, this episode wasn’t insulting.

    Two word review – fundamentally embarrassing.

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