“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was released for home video this week. This isn’t a review of the film, but I was reminded of a statement from one review I read which resonated with me. The reviewer was talking about the extraordinary quality of the visual effects for the film, and said that this film was the first he had seen in which the CGI became invisible – he wasn’t watching cartoon apes, or actors in ape suits; his eyes told him that he was seeing apes. I have to agree that I thought the visuals were extraordinary, and didn’t make me think of the trickery, but only served the story.
As CGI has gotten better in recent years, and as it continues to get better, it allows storytellers to unhinge themselves from reality in the service of telling the story. Impossible characters like the apes in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” become possible. A city can be folded on top of itself in “Inception”. This has to be thrilling for the creative people who make films, and it opens up new vistas for those of us who watch them. Now, if we can imagine it, we can see it in photorealistic images.
For many of us, entertainment is an escape from reality, and so the more thrilling and absorbing it is, the better. We have a virtual world of entertainment available to us now, and it is enticing to sink deeper and deeper into it when our lives (and the world around us) are unappealing.
But as I thought about the CGI marvels of “…Planet of the Apes”, it made me consider howI believe Christians should function in the world. I believe that we, too, are capable of presenting something more compelling, more thrilling and beautiful than the everyday that so many people are eager to escape. If we are actually living the reality of the Kingdom, we should be able to show people a better life, one that in its own way is even more beautiful and extraordinary than anything we can dream up. It’s not flashy, but it’s fully three dimensional. Can you imagine it?