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Cheryl Gress Editor-in-Chief

Married to IBJamon since 1999. Spawned two girls and a boy.

Patterns of Evidence: The Red Sea Miracle - Part 1

Patterns of Evidence: The Red Sea Miracle - Part 1

Thank you Thinking Man Films for sending us a screener to review!

The book of Exodus documents many of God's miracles from the twelve plagues of Egypt to guiding the Israelites in the desert and parting the waters allowing them to cross on dry land. Director Cecil DeMile was so inspired by this book that he made the movie The Ten Commandments twice! I have fond memories watching the 1956 Charleston Heston version and these movies have also inspired film maker Tim Mahoney to create the Patterns of Evidence series. Sadly, many of these miracles are downplayed or considered mere fairy tales in today’s society. The Red Sea Miracle aims to determine where the parting of the waters occurred and the path that the Israelites took to eventually get to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

Before seeing this film, you should watch Patterns of Evidence: Exodus and Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy to understand the non-conventional timeline they use for dating these events. Like the previous films, Tim interviews several Egyptologists and scholars on their thoughts on where the Israelites went and where the parting of the waters took place.

There are two schools of thought on how epic of a journey this truly was. The Egyptian theory is that there was 50,000 or less Hebrews and they didn’t travel too far before having shallow water part before them. The Hebrew view is that there were roughly two million Israelites who traveled a great distance for about a month before having a large body of water parted for them.

The goal in this two-part movie series is to break down the six-step journey. This film focuses on the first few objectives including determining where the departure point was, the direction they were heading, the size of the desert they crossed, and where the detour was before arriving at the dead end. The sea was parted at the dead end and there are many theories on where that took place.

The evidence provided to state their case is very convincing and it seems like they are on the right track given the teaser clips for the second half of this film series. I look forward to seeing remnants of Egyptian chariot wheels and other relics now covered with coral reefs. The Red Sea Miracle part 1 will be in theaters nationwide on February 18th. Part two will be coming to theaters in May of 2020.

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Arctic Dogs

Arctic Dogs

Thank you LionsGate for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

Arctic Dogs begins with a flashback of Swifty (an arctic fox) all dressed in white and nobody noticing him because he blends in so well in the snowy town of Taigasville. He wants to be noticed and recognized like the delivery dogs that the town kids all look up to. In the present day, Swifty works at the delivery company, but not as a delivery dog since he’s underweight and under-qualified.

His childhood crush, Jade, needs a package urgently delivered, but she missed the shipment time because Swifty covered her with snow on his way to work that day. Without his boss’s permission, he offers to deliver it personally. By doing so, he jeopardizes his job and the town’s safety.

I won’t give away any spoilers in case you plan on seeing this film. With that said, there are a couple of political messages worth noting. The premise of being something that you’re not designed to be is very politically correct these days, but oftentimes, restrictions are in place for a good reason. Swifty isn’t even twenty pounds and struggles pulling packages weighing more than he does. Perhaps there was some logic in the company not taking his dream position seriously.

Global warming is another theme present in this film; however, the arctic town’s heat wave can be pointed at the walrus nemesis instead of carbon-imprinting humans. The walrus is voice-acted by the legendary John Cleese. Other popular actors lend their voice talent, including Jeremey Renner (Swifty), James Franco (Lemmy), Heidi Klum (Jade), Alec Baldwin (PB), and Angelica Houston (Maureen).

The animation is well-done and looks great. It’s a shame that the writing falls flat at times. There was only one scene where I chuckled. If you’re looking for a funny film, you’ll definitely want to look elsewhere. I appreciate the message of honesty and being true to yourself, but I’m not a fan of promoting being whatever you dream of even if you’re not qualified to do so. There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids to be realistic.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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The Moses Controversy

The Moses Controversy

Thank you Thinking Man Films for sending us a screener to review!

Many Christians believe wholeheartedly that Moses wrote (with God’s guidance) the first five books of the Bible. Exodus 24:4 states that Moses wrote what the Lord instructed him and in John 5:46, Jesus mentions that Moses wrote about Him. Many agnostic and non-Christian scholars don’t believe that Moses wrote the Torah since the Hebrew language used in the dead sea scrolls didn’t exist during the Exodus.

How could God’s word have been preserved accurately in Moses’ lifetime? Oral tradition changes over time and if the Torah can’t be trusted, what credibility does the rest of the Bible have? Investigative film maker, Timothy Mahoney, travels around the world to find answers for several questions and determine if it is possible for Moses to truly be the author of the Pentateuch and how it was done.

This two and a half hour film is very informative and gathers input from Archaeologists, Egyptologists, Christian and Jewish scholars. In order to validate Moses as the author of the Torah, a suitable language that was like Hebrew had to be used, the origin of it in the region of Egypt, and used during the Exodus’ time period.

The key to solving this puzzle was discovered by an Egyptologist named Flinders Petrie. Unlike many archaeologists, he was looking at relics with a scientific mindset instead of a profitable one. Flinders and his wife, Hilda, discovered the Proto-Sinaitic script in the winter of 1904-1905. To understand the significance of this discovery, I recommend watching this film, since I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

If you haven’t seen Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, I recommend watching that movie first. That documentary focuses on a timeline discrepancy that’s heavily relied on for this film. Both of these films are thought provoking and it’s great to have your faith bolstered by science instead of “The Bible says so.”

In the end, my faith was strengthened by this film. Though I didn’t doubt Moses’ authorship, it’s fascinating to see how it could be validated with science. Today's Hebrew was not around during Moses' lifetime, but its origins were. The alphabet is something we truly take for granted, and yet it’s a gift from God that has been used to solidify and translate His word to thousands of dialects.

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Heating Pad for Back Pain and Cramps Relief - Extra Large [12"x24"]

Heating Pad

Thank you Dongguan Emily Trading Co., Ltd for sending us this heating pad to review!

Getting old isn’t fun. I discover random aches and pains without origins other than my age. For example, my left hip started hurting the other day for no apparent reason. It’s not like I ran a marathon or fell. Thankfully, I had this heating pad handy!

The device is simple to use with only three buttons to press. The power button is where you start or end to turn the device on or off. The other two buttons control the temperature and timer functions. The temperature starts at 95 degrees Fahrenheit and goes all the way up to 158 in 9 degree intervals. The timer can be set from fifteen minutes to two hours in 15-minute intervals. Setting the timer to one hour at night was perfect for my sore hip as the warmth felt good and it didn’t have to be on after falling sleep. When I woke up in the morning, the pain wasn’t completely gone, but it was much better.

The padding is super soft and very comfortable. With the detachable cord it’s washable too! Another advantage of the detachable cord is that it can break away if accidentally tugged on or tripped over. This item is also covered by a five-year warranty so it’s nice to hear that the manufacturer stands behind this product.

When it comes to cramps, the heat feels really nice and distracts from the pain significantly. Chocolate is another nice distraction, but I’m not allowed to eat milk chocolate on the keto diet. I’m not a fan of bitter dark chocolate either. I’m glad this heating pad will help ease the cramping as I’m waiting for the Ibuprofen to kick in.

As I get even older I’m sure I’ll be using this heating pad more and more. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m glad to be prepared for my next random ailment.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Abominable

Abominable

Thank you Universal for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

Abominable tells the story of a teenager named Yi who stumbles upon a Yeti on the rooftop of her apartment complex. The Yeti escaped from some bounty hunters and longs to go back to his home on Mount Everest. It’s quite a trek since Yi and her family are from China. At first, her cousins Peng and Jin were not on-board with escorting the yeti they dubbed Everest back home. As it turns out, they have quite the magical adventure along the way.

My family enjoyed this film in the theater and we’re happy to own it now as it’s very heartwarming. It teaches the value of family and is safe for all ages. There are some instances of tranquilizing and Everest is injured in the beginning of the film. There are some references to Buddhism and the characters believe that their ancestors watch over them from the stars.

Along with the movie, there are several bonus features to enjoy including:

Marooned – A lonely space robot tries to leave the moon and return back to Earth. If only he had some help. There’s a great message here about determination and sacrifice.

Show & Tell - Everest tries to show the other yetis about the neat things he has learned about on his adventure including playing violin, basketball, and love.

There are also a few deleted scenes that are roughly animated, but fully voice acted. The making of/inspiration behind Abominbale is also fascinating to watch. Aspiring artists will enjoy watching how it was animated and videos teaching people how to draw the characters. It’s also cool to see how the voice acting is done. There’s even instructions on how to make the pork buns that everyone loves in the movie.

If you’re looking for a heartwarming film to show your family, look no further than Abominable. It’s available on Amazon for less than $23 in Bu-ray and has 4K and 3D versions available.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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The Unbreakable Unity

Thank you Scarlet Moon Promotions for sending us this digital album to review!

Hiroki Kikuta is a famous composer known for his work in Secret of Mana. The Unbreakable Unity is a one-track album with a thirty-nine minute song that’s heavily influenced by Secret of Mana. The song opens with a wind flute-like instrument and a sense of mystery. Other instruments like a xylophone, oboe, and harp chime in along with other synthesized instruments.

My part-time job is seventeen miles away and with the morning traffic, it can take between thirty-five to forty-five minutes to arrive at work. The Unbreakable Unity is the perfect commuting song as it’s very relaxing and eases road rage a bit. If my commute exceeds forty minutes, this song loops smoothly.

The upbeat sections make for great overworld or traveling soundtracks. Perfect for driving past acres and acres of farmland. Some parts of the song are more mysterious as if you’re exploring some ancient ruins or an abandoned temple filled with hostile monsters or ferocious wildlife. This section makes driving though construction zones with lane closures and detours more interesting.

Many of the themes repeat throughout the song, but they are switched up to keep things interesting. I often envision myself exploring an eerie forest or open fields with frequent stops to battle bad guys. If you enjoyed Secret of Mana and its music, you’ll definitely appreciate this album. Fans of SNES-style game music should give it a listen too.

The Unbreakable Unity is available digitally for $9.99 on bandcamp. You can purchase it in MP3, FLAC, and other formats. Though $9.99 is a bit pricey for one song, but it is nearly forty minutes long. If you’re still on the fence about it, you can listen to it in its entirety on the bandcamp page.

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2019 Christmas Buying Guide

2019 Christmas Buying Guide

Here’s our 2019 Christmas buying guide!  Below are our favorite gadgets and family appropriate titles we have played throughout the year.  More reviews can be found on ChristCenteredGamer.com! Each game is given a gameplay score for the overall gaming experience and a moral score for how suitable it is for younger gamers.   The Amazon and Humble Store links will benefit Christ Centered Gamer by giving us a small % of the sale.

Platform Title Game Score Moral Score Buy it!
PC & Switch Super Phantom Cat 86% 98% Steam
PC Rupert & Riley Shipwrecked 88% 94% Steam
PC, PS4, Xbox One WRC 8 90% 100% Humble Store
PS4, Switch Lapis x Labyrinth 86% 86% Amazon
PC, PS4, Switch, Vita Miles & Kilo 84% 90% PlayStation Store
PS4 Kingdom Hearts 3 91% 86% Amazon
PC, Switch Blazing Beaks 86% 93% Nintendo eShop
Switch Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening 93% 95% Amazon
Switch OlliOlli: Switch Stance 84% 96% Nintendo eShop
PC, Xbox One Aftercharge 80% 94% Microsoft Store
PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One Pig Eat Ball 86% 88% Humble Store
PC, Xbox One Trail Makers 80% 90% Humble Store
VR Audio Trip 84% 86% Steam
VR Space Junkies 88% 82% Humble Store
VR VR Ping Pong Pro 86% 100% Humble Store
Hardware SK Hynix Gold SATA 1TB SSD N/A N/A Amazon
Headset Mixcder E9 Wireless Headset N/A N/A Amazon
PS4, Switch, Xbox One Toast Customized Console Cover N/A N/A ToastMade
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Frozen II

Thank you 4DX for providing us five tickets to see this film!

Frozen II begins with a flashback of Elsa and Anna as children hearing a story about an enchanted forest where a war between Arendelle and the natives began. Nobody knows who started the war, but as strange events are currently happening in Arendelle, the townsfolk are forced to evacuate, and Elsa must discover the truth before things get any worse. To make matters worse, Elsa is hearing a singing voice that nobody else can and it's interfering with her day-to-day activities. She needs to discover the source for her kingdom and her sanity!

Meanwhile, Kristoff has an engagement ring ready for Anna but is having a difficult time finding the right opportunity and words to successfully propose to her. His blundering attempts usually upset Anna instead of winning her over. His reindeer, Sven, tries to assist in the process any way he can. Olaf is trying to grasp the concepts of aging and maturity as he defies the typical lifespan of a snowman.

The five begin their journey to the enchanted forest, which is surrounded by a thick mist. With Elsa leading the way, they are able to make it past the protective barrier. Once there, they must tame the spirits of wind, fire, water, and earth. The fire spirit is my favorite character, he’s adorable!

The 4DX enhancements are all present in this film. 3D makes the magical scenes come to life as they expand beyond the movie screen. The unidentifiable fragrance is used multiple times as well. As the characters burst out into song, the seats will sway along. You can also expect to get spritzed in the face with water and have the back of your legs blasted with air for an added surprise.

Overall, this is a great sequel that even managed to win over my skeptical teenage daughter. I daresay that it’s better than the original film. Any Frozen fan should definitely check this film out, especially in 4DX if it’s available near you.

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Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari

Thank you 4DX for sending us five movie tickets to see this film!

As a proud owner of a Ford Mustang, I felt obligated to see this film. It’s the first 4DX movie we’ve seen that’s not kid-focused. Ford v Ferrari is rated PG-13 for language (including the f-bomb) and mention of sex. There is some kissing, but nothing beyond that is shown. Unfortunately, God's name is taken in vain a few times. It’s also worth noting that one of the characters dies, but the details are left to the viewer’s imagination. If you don’t mind these issues, this movie could be enjoyed with older children.

The film begins with Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) winning the 24-hour Le Mans race and having to retire shortly thereafter due to a heart condition. He still focuses on designing cars and works closely with a fellow car enthusiast and racer, Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale). Meanwhile, Ford is in a funk and wants to expand its market and get their name out there in the race and sports car circles. Ferrari was going bankrupt and while offering to partner with them, the Ford businessmen were insulted instead. Henry Ford II wanted to retaliate by having a Ford racecar dethrone the multi-year winning Ferraris.

Lee Iacocca (played by Jon Bernthal) asks for Shelby’s help in making the GT40 racecar Le Mans worthy. They only have ninety days to improve upon the car’s design. Ken Miles is the most familiar with the car and its flaws, but due to his short temper, Ford does not want him representing their brand. There are many hurdles to cross in order to for these two parties to work together peacefully. I won’t spoil any details, but this movie can even be enjoyed by people who are not car enthusiasts.

Ford v Ferrari is the first 4DX movie that we’ve seen that did not require 3D glasses. With the movement and rumbling of seats during all of the car scenes, this film was very immersive and I didn’t miss the lack of 3D whatsoever. One of the scenes has some fragrance to it but it wasn’t too recognizable. During some rough driving scenes, the air blasts behind our ankles was startling. The timing for all of the 4DX effects is spot on and I’m grateful to have seen this film with these enhancements. I highly recommend seeing this film in any format, but if you have an opportunity to see it in 4DX, take it!

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The Peanut Butter Falcon

Thank you Lionsgate for sending us a Blu-ray, 2 t-shirts, and some peanut butter!

The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of Zak, a twenty-two year old young man with down syndrome who lives in a nursing home. He doesn’t like it there since he can’t relate to people who are generations older than him. However, he doesn’t have any other family to take care of him. Zak dreams of becoming a professional wrestler and tries to escape from the nursing home to live his life and make his dream a reality.

Eventually, Zak does break out from the nursing home with nothing on him but underwear. Zak stows himself away in a boat owned by Tyler (played by Shia LaBeouf). Tyler is a fisherman who doesn’t think twice about fishing in areas without being properly licensed. After destroying equipment from a competitor, he flees the scene of the crime in the boat that Zak is hiding in. Needless to say, it wasn’t a warm welcome when Zak was discovered.

Although their relationship was tense at first, the two men bond and help each other out. Since they are both being pursued, they’re constantly on the run. Tyler helps Zak follow his dream and teaches him important skills like swimming and how to shoot a rifle. Though Tyler is rough around the edges he’s got a good heart and tries to look out for Zak. With that said, he still manages to expose Zak to undesirable things like alcohol.

Zak doesn’t like to swear, but people around him will do so freely with almost every word used including the f-bomb. God’s name is taken in vain a couple of times as well. Wrestling is a violent sport and there is some blood shown and during one of the matches where a wrestler appears to lose at least one tooth. I think the PG-13 rating is fair and my tween/teenage kids enjoyed watching this film with us.

In the end, The Peanut Butter Falcon delivers a heart-warming story that’s bound to especially resonate with those who know someone with disabilities. While it’s unethical in execution at times, the overall theme of helping people achieve their dreams is admirable.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

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GeekStore.com

Thank you GeekStore.com for sending us review samples of the Sonic The Hedgehog Christmas Sweater and Star Wars ornaments!

Christmas shopping season is almost upon us! Chances are that you have at least one geek in your family that you need to buy some presents for. If you live in the UK, www.GeekStore.com has free delivery. If you live elsewhere, they do ship worldwide. The US priced version is us.GeekStore.com and offers free shipping on orders over $100.

Ugly Sweaters are pretty popular and to be honest, I find the selection offered on this site more attractive than ugly. You can find officially licensed Pokemon, Nintendo, Marvel, Star Wars, and many other movie franchise themed sweaters available for $29 - $45. If you buy one sweater, you can get the second for half price!

The Sonic The Hedgehog Christmas sweater is very high quality and comfortable to wear. It’s not itchy and is very warm. I like how it says “Merry Christmas” on it instead of “Happy Holidays.” I hope to wear this for many years to come!

The Star Wars ornaments are $15 for 3 TIE fighter and 3 X-Wings. The packaging is really durable and nice though the ornaments feel rather cheap and fragile in contrast. They are only silver in color as they are made out of plastic and have a chrome-like finish on them. I won’t deny that these ornaments look cool and they are bound to please any Star Wars fan. They just don’t seem very durable and would not likely survive any mishaps. If you prefer (fake) gold coloring, there’s a similarly priced set available in that finish as well.

Along with sweaters and ornaments, GeekStore.com has keychains, mugs, t-shirts, rubber ducks, action figures, coasters, hats, magnets, pins, bottle openers, and more. Be sure to check out the latest offers and 3 for 10 or 3 for 20 deals too. The only thing I couldn’t find are gift cards. Fortunately, returns and exchanges are hassle free if any issues arise.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Thank you Sony Pictures for sending us this 4K Blu-Ray to review!

If you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame you’ll want to hold off on seeing this film. Spider-Man: Far From Home opens up with a touching tribute to the Avengers that gave their lives in the showdown with Thanos. The world is still reeling from the aftereffects of those who have re-appeared at the same age they were after “the blip” happened. Those who have survived Thanos' judgement have aged five years. As you can imagine, this really messes with high schoolers who are not too keen on re-taking a year of school and suddenly being surrounded by kids that used to be way younger than them.

Although Peter Parker likes being a neighborhood hero, he does enjoy his teenage life and has plans to express his feelings for MJ during their European school trip. Unfortunately, the world needs saving and the bad guys just so happen to be where the high schoolers are touring.

Though Peter Parker is young and naive, he really made an impression on Tony Stark who gave him some powerful eyewear and put in a good word with Nick Fury. Given that Nick Fury is one of those who has blipped back, he’s not as familiar with his surroundings as he needs to be. He needs intel from Peter, wants him to commit to either being a student or an Avenger, and most importantly, he wants Peter to answer his phone when calling.

With the attacks from huge elemental monsters happening in Europe, Spider-Man needs to assist. Can Peter keep his alter-ego a secret with all of his classmates nearby? Will he win over MJ? To answer those questions, you'll have to see the film for yourself.

Spider-Man: Far From Home does earn its PG-13 rating for blood, violence, language (b*tch), and sexual references. There are some “caught with your pants down” scenes that are innocent but taken in the wrong way. Blackmail and revenge are also referenced.

Overall, I enjoyed this entry and am warming up to Tom Holland’s rendition of Spider-Man. I’m still partial to the Tobey Maguire movies though.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Abominable

Abominable
 

Thank you 4DX for sending our family tickets to see this film!
 
Abominable tells the story about a teenager named Yi who stumbles upon a Yeti on her rooftop. The Yeti escaped from some bounty hunters and longs to go back to his home on Mount Everest. It’s quite a trek since Yi and her family are from China. At first, her cousins Peng and Jin were not on-board with escorting the yeti they dubbed Everest back home. As it turns out, they have quite the magical adventure along the way.
 
Everest has the ability to alter nature and can cause plants to bloom and yield fruit at his will. The 4DX effects definitely enhance the experience as well. While they are soaring in the sky on a giant dandelion the theater seats swayed back and forth. The scents were also used and I couldn’t place the fragrance they were going after. It wasn’t bad nor good.
 
There’s plenty of action scenes and it was cool to see the theater lights flicker and flash with lightning and car headlights. Water misting is another 4DX enhancement that you can expect to experience in this film as well. Last but not least are the smoke effects which were very fitting. Out of all the 4DX films we have seen so far, Abominable has benefited the most from the 4DX enhancements.
 
My family enjoyed this film and it’s very heartwarming. It teaches the value of family and is safe for all ages. There are some instances of tranquilizing and Everest is injured in the beginning of the film. There are some references to Buddhism and the characters believe that their ancestors watch over them from the stars.
 
Unfortunately, we were the only ones at the 6:40PM showing on opening weekend. Hopefully more people check out this film as it’s definitely one worth watching.
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Bokksu Japanese Snack Delivery Service

Thank you Bokksu for sending us a Classic box to review!

Bokksu is an authentic Japanese subscription plan that partners with centuries old snack makers to deliver sweet and savory treats to your doorstep. Looking at their website’s previous box themes, they seem to have started in 2016. Each monthly box has a theme that inspires the treats within.

Currently, there are two subscription plans available: Tasting and Classic. The Tasting plan has 10-14 snacks/tea pairings while the Classic plan provides 20-25 items. Each box comes with a 24-page Culture Guide Magazine that explains the origin, ingredients, and description of each of the goodies inside. Unless you can read fluent Japanese, I highly recommend looking through the magazine to figure out what everything is.

The booklet explains the box’s theme, and which region of Japan the snacks came from. You’ll also learn a few Japanese words and a recipe! Each food item is broken down by several categories: Manufacturer, Common Allergens, Region, Sweet/Savory flavor, and if it’s Vegetarian. Preparation instructions are also included as some of the teas are a little unique. The Kuromame tea consisted of black soybeans. The Full Moon Tea came with a paper cup mounting drip system that’s more intricate than your typical tea bag. Both teas were good and I tried them with and without sugar/honey to sweeten them to my liking.

I love Mochi ice cream so I looked forward to trying the Mitarashi Mochi. This treat didn’t survive the shipment process very well and was quite smooshed, but it still tasted good. The Usagi (rabbit) Chocolate Balls tasted good and seemed like good quality chocolate. The Rich Baked Chocolat lived up to its name and was quite flavorful. I also enjoyed the Chocolate Azuki Beans: Black Sesame Kinako and wished they came in a bigger package. They were all gone before I knew it!

If you’re not into chocolate, have no fear as there’s more than just chocolate sweets. The Hakata Mitsuki: Delicious Cheese Financier treat has a nice cheese and coconut taste that is quite delicious. Though peanuts are not listed as an allergen on the Funwari Meijin MochiPuffs: Kuromitsu Kinako, they reminded me of peanut butter. The Black Sesame Taiko: Kumamon Design is a sweet blend of seeds and tree nuts that blend together nicely in a thin wafer cookie. The Okashinai Cheese Manju is a cheese and bean-filled cake that is absolutely scrumptious!

On the savory side, there were lots of interesting flavors offered by this month’s box. The Barbeque Flavor Scones reminded me of Chex Mix, it was quite tasty. The black pepper was too overpowering for me to enjoy the Usuyaki Shokunin Chibisuke: Consume Black Pepper Flavor chips. The Gudetama Golden Pack: Tamago Kake Gohan Flavor reminded me of a big cheese puff. The Ofu: Fukairi Shichimi peanut and smoked crackers (salty Kix balls) was good. The Black Sesame Genmai: Honey Soy Sauce Flavor have the honey drowned out by the soy sauce to have a salty flavor to them. Lastly, the Nure-Agesen: Katsuo and Ume Flavor rice crackers reminded me of sushi Nori (seaweed).

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the selection of food offered. Given that I have a sweet tooth, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the sugary items more than the savory ones. The teas were interesting as well. If you really fall in love with an item, you can order it individually on Bokksu’s marketplace. Shipping is included in both of the plans. If the price is little too steep, you can find 10-15% off coupon codes with a little search engine digging.

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The Secret Life of Pets 2

Thank you Universal Pictures for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

The Secret Life of Pets 2 takes you back into the lives of your favorite animals while you’re not at home with them. Many of the same funny and lovable characters are back with most of the same voice acting talent. Patton Oswalt now provides the vocals for Max who is well adjusted with his fellow canine roommate, Duke. At the park, Max gets rather annoyed with the rambunctious children there and enjoys his peaceful life. As fate would have it, his owner soon falls in love, gets married, and has a son named Liam. Though Max still does not like children, he is over the moon and overprotective of Liam. Keeping a toddler safe in this world is a lot of work and stresses out Max. Due to his nervous scratching, he soon gets fitted for a cone of shame and is not too happy about it. Things look up when his family is planning a vacation to a farm.

Meanwhile, Snowball the bunny is taking his superhero costume seriously and gets enlisted in a rescue job by a cute dog named Daisy. It’s up to Snowball and Daisy to save a young white tiger named Hu from a cruel Russian circus owner named Sergei. Hu is guarded by several black wolves and a feisty little monkey.

Gidget is on a quest of her own: to become like a cat in order to rescue Max's favorite toy. While under the influence of catnip, Chloe agrees to assist her. As you can expect, hilarity ensues on all three of these adventures. As funny as this film is, there are some moral issues worth mentioning.

Sergei is quite mean and threatens to harm the animals and is shown wielding a gun, cattle prod, and whipping Hu. There is some gross humor involving cat and dog poop and some mild language (p*ssed). My older kids enjoyed this film, but this may be too much for younger children. If you enjoyed the first movie and don’t mind the language and animal cruelty, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is worth checking out!


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Alternate Endings: Six New Ways To Die In America

Thank you HBO for providing us with a screener to review!

Other than taxes, death is the other certainty with life. With the increasing number of cremations, traditional funerals are on the decline and many funeral homes are predicted to close down if they don’t embrace technology and new ways to mourn the loss of loved ones. One funeral home was shown offering “drive-thru viewings”. Attending funerals has always been a little awkward, but that’s still bizarre to me.

Alternate Endings: Six New Ways To Die In America features six individuals/families who have recently lost or are in the process of departing into eternity. There’s a family who lost their young son to terminal cancer and per his wishes, had a celebration of life with five bouncy houses, fireworks, Batman, and face painting because funerals don’t have to be sad and boring. Another family threw a “living wake” for their terminally ill father. He appreciated being able to tell people in person how much he loved and appreciated them in his life.

For an ocean-loving father, his daughter mixed his ashes into some concrete used in making a memorial reef. Besides offering housing to aquatic life, man-made memorial reefs replenish the dying coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. A space-loving grandfather had his ashes blasted into space and his family enjoyed watching the rocket launch for that.

Green burials are also an option. In a green burial, the body is placed in a shallow grave without a coffin to give nutrients back to the Earth. The lady shown that chose this option was buried along with a tree she wished to nourish. California is one of the minority states that allow people with terminal illnesses to die with dignity (suicide). One gentleman wanted to die on his terms and set a time and date to drink a medical cocktail that would place him into a coma after a few minutes of consumption and meet his maker within thirty minutes. Although this man did not seem to be religious, he did request a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace to be played at his funeral.

There are lots of ways to honor and remember the passing of loved ones. This documentary was definitely somber, but informative. I just wish it showed the price ranges of some of these options. Not that I’m planning on having my remains scattered into the ocean or outer space, I’m a little curious how much those options cost.

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Avengers: Endgame

Thank you Marvel Studios for sending us this Blu-Ray to review!

Note: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow!

After spending a lovely day with family on Mother’s Day in 2018, I thought I would end it with seeing Avengers: Infinity War with my husband. I didn’t expect such a downer of a movie! Not all of the Avengers are down for the count and they want to undo the devastation that Thanos caused to our beloved planet. With the help of the over-powered Captain Marvel, they have a slim chance of setting things right in Avengers: Endgame.

Avengers: Endgame begins with Hawkeye spending time with his family before they literally blow away in the wind. Earth is reeling from the chaos that Thanos caused. The remaining Avengers are not taking it well and are bickering more than getting along. Even five years after the event, people are still mourning and the world is a dump. After Ant-Man's return, they find a new, high risk approach they can take - if they survive.

As good as this film is, it’s not without some moral issues. Like any comic book themed movie violence is a given. There’s a fair amount of language and blaspheming. Even Captain America says S.O.B. Other words used include *ss, sh*t, p*ss, and d*ckhead. Last but not least is a scene where a homosexual man is talking about his dinner date with another man. Please exercise caution if showing this film to a child.

On the standard Blu-Ray disc, you’ll find 7.1 DTS-HD Master English audio, descriptive English, French, and Spanish along with subtitles. Commentary and an intro from the directors is also available. Also, like other recent Marvel releases, you have to purchase the 4K UHD Blu-Ray in order to get the Dolby Atmos mix, which is the highest quality mix available. The bonus disc contains featurettes (Remembering Stan Lee (my favorite), Settings the Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr., A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America, Black Widow: Whatever it Takes, The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame, The Women of the MCU, Bro Thor), deleted scenes (with minimal CGI). and a gag reel. For $25 or less, you can add one of the highest-grossing movies of all time to your collection.

 


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Kingdom Heartbeats

Thank you Materia Collective for sending us this digital album to review!

Kingdom Heartbeats features ten electronically remixed tracks from the popular Kingdom Hearts franchise. This album has been produced by Roborob and features some excellent vocals in some of the tracks.

The album begins with a nearly two minute shorter version of the intro song: Simple and Clean. Though the original tracks fall under the electronic dance music category, these remixes kick it up a notch. Tension Rising from Kingdom Hearts II is the second song and the remix amplifies it but stays true to the original battle music. The 13th Struggle from Kingdom Hearts 2 has also been tweaked for this album and it too sounds true to form and is nicely done.

Most of the tracks are from Kingdom Hearts 2 and Sora’s Theme has not been neglected. You’ll find a longer and tweaked version on this album. I have no idea what the Japanese singers are saying in the song Passion, but it sounds great. The menu music Dearly Beloved is so beautiful and should have been left alone. Although the remix is good, I still prefer the original.

Kingdom Hearts 3 gets some representation with Face My Fears. After that opening song, the first game is re-visited with some enhanced theme music from Traverse Town. Kingdom Hearts 2 takes the spotlight again with the upbeat battle music, Sinister Sundown. The album concludes with a much faster and dubstep version of one of my favorite tracks, This Is Halloween. Although interesting, I still prefer the original version.

Fans of Kingdom Hearts and electronic dance/dubstep music should definitely check out Kingdom Heartbeats. This album is available digitally for $10 and can be yours in MP3, Flac, and other lossless formats. A limited-run physical edition will be available in September for $20. If MP3 format is good enough for you, it’s also available on Amazon for $8.99.


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The Lion King

Thank you 4DX for providing my family with tickets to see this film!

The animated classic version of The Lion King was released in 1994. I owned it on VHS (later on Blu-ray) and bought the Hans Zimmer & Elton John soundtrack too. The voice acting talent from James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rowan Atkinson is top-notch and hard to beat for this live-action version. Out of all of that talent, James Earl Jones was the only one to reprise his role as Mufasa in this remake. Seth Rogan voices Pumba and John Oliver is now Zazu and they both did a great job.

My biggest complaint about this film is that it’s not much different than the animated one. At least in the other live-action remakes there were some new characters and back-stories added. This film is almost frame by frame the same as the original. Again, with the other film setting the bar so high it’s hard to top it, but to not bring anything new to the table makes you wonder why they bothered remaking it in the first place.

The music sounds the same but has different singers so there’s not much deviation in that department either. Out of all of the songs in this film, Timon and Pumba’s rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ is my favorite.

The visuals are quite impressive and the animals look quite realistic though expressionless. Their lips move, but their eyes don’t convey as much emotion as the animated version does. With the lions all being the same color, it’s hard to tell them apart. Compared to Mufasa and Simba, Scar seems to appear sickly. In the heat of battle, it’s still hard to tell which is which. Like the original, there is some violence, but some blood is shown in this version. The shaman monkey is still present along with references to the "Circle of Life."

We were blessed to see this film on opening night and the theater was packed as a result. It was nice to see how the audience reacted to the 4DX enhancements. The first time water spritzed the audience everyone in the room reacted (positively). It was neat to experience the savanna riding motion with the seats swaying as the birds were soaring in the air. Feeling the rumble from the stampede made you feel like you were in danger too! Scents were added at times too and I’m still not sure what fragrance they were aiming for. I’m just glad that they didn’t make us smell Pumba’s flatulence.

Like the other Disney remakes, I still have to give the nod to the original. Instead of a remake this film felt more like a rerun. The 4DX experience is still fun and I highly recommend checking it out if you have a nearby theater.

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Let's make ChristCenteredGamer faster!

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I see this error message almost every day.  I'm sure many of our readers do too.  Even without the error messages, the site's loading times are not the greatest.  As a 501(C)3 Non-Profit we rely on tax-deductible donations to cover our minimal operating expenses. We're blessed to have our own dedicated web server that we share with other sites to offset the costs, but that server is several years old and having a hard time keeping up with our traffic.  We currently pay $35/month for a 2.27GHz Xeon 5520 with 16GB or RAM and 2 1 TB HDDs.  Finances permitting we would like to rent out a $89/month server that's 2.66-3.06GHz turbo Xeon with 72GB or RAM and 2 480GB SSDs.  The SSD drives alone would make this site much quicker, but the faster CPUs and increased memory would also help out tremendously.  

Though the site still has a few volunteer reviewers (including the founders!), we've been blessed with many great paid reviewers who receive $25 per written review.  Given that our monthly income is less than $600 on average and our reviewer payouts take up a big chuck of that, we're not in a position to take on a significant expense unless we can secure more funding. 

We have some regular donators who contribute via Paypal.  We also have an active Patreon page.  For those who don't like those two options, we have a Subscribestar site that has yet to get a backer on it. If we can get $100/month via any of those platforms, we can afford to upgrade our server and use any additional funding to pay our reviewers. Thanks for reading our site, this appeal, and for your support.

in Him,
Cheryl

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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