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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

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.


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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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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!


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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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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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Belong To Us

Belong To Us

Thank you Rappstar Entertainment for providing us with a digital screener to review!

Belong To Us tells a story about a German Shepherd who escapes a dogfighting ring and chooses a broken family as his own. The father, Travis, is a businessman who bonds with his teenage son over baseball, but has no idea on how to raise his nine-year-old daughter, Paige. The father almost became a major league baseball player, and hopes that his son can make it to the big leagues in his stead. Paige feels neglected and quickly bonds with the stray dog that wanders into their yard.

With her sassy grandmother’s help, Paige and her brother, Decklin, get permission to keep the dog and name him Duke. Unfortunately, the fighting lifestyle leaves behind some emotional scars on the dog. To make matters worse, the criminals that ran the dogfights are looking for their champion and endanger this family.

Throughout the movie, there is violence, and some blood is shown. In fact, when the dogs are fighting you’ll only see their legs and human violence is shown through shadows (no special effects or stunt doubles needed). Smoking, drinking, and drunkenness is also seen. The grandmother sometimes uses colorful language (sh*t), and hand gestures. Not surprisingly, this film is rated PG-13.

Though there are some rough patches and acts of defiance, the overall messages are positive in this eighty-four minute movie. Dogs can be a wonderful part of our lives, but sometimes they come with some baggage. Family needs to love and support each other at all times and keep their promises.

This film should be releasing on DVD soon and I don’t see it available for purchase anywhere quite yet. When it does come out, it’s worth renting or buying if the price is reasonable.

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Toy Story 4

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

Hearing that Pixar was revisiting the series made me skeptical, especially with how well the previous film concluded the series. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed this film quite a bit.

The story begins nine years in the past on a rainy night when Woody and Bo Peep get separated because he wouldn’t follow her and stayed behind to be with Andy. The water and rain effects look amazing and the visuals are way more detailed and advanced in comparison to the original Toy Story film from the 90s. I like how the 4DX experience has flashes of light in my peripheral vision when lighting strikes and fireworks pop. The gusts of air blowing in the theater definitely add to the experience as well.

After Bo Peep’s departure, the film resumes the story present-day with Woody and the gang with their new child, Bonnie. Unlike Andy’s room, Woody isn’t in charge - that role is delegated to a purple-haired doll named Dolly. In fact, Woody isn’t played with much anymore as Bonnie prefers playing with Jessie the cowgirl more. Despite feelings of neglect, Woody is still loyal to Bonnie and wants to help her adjust to kindergarten.

During orientation, Woody sneaks into Bonnie’s backpack despite her father not wanting her to bring toys to school. Thankfully, Woody tagged along so he could cheer Bonnie up without alerting her to his presence. That day, she literally made a new friend, Forky, out of a spork, googly eyes, popsicle stick feet, and pipe cleaner arms and hands. Unfortunately, Forky has a desire to be trash more than a toy. Woody has to keep bringing him back to Bonnie as he’s her new favorite toy.

On a family road trip, the toys get separated for various reasons and have some tough choices to make as a result. Bo Peep and Woody are reunited and work together to rescue Forky from some creepy toys at an antique store. If you’re easily startled, you may not like the multiple jump scare scenes. There are some lessons about love, sacrifice, and loyalty. Some humorous bad examples are in this film as well.

Overall, my family enjoyed this movie. Because of some technical difficulties, we did not get to watch the previews or Pixar short. We did get free movie passes for the inconvenience though. The 4DX experience was excellent, especially during the skunk car scenes. If you’ve enjoyed the previous Toy Story movies, be sure to check this out (in 4DX if you have it nearby)!

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Captain Marvel

Thank you Marvel Studios for sending us this movie to review!

Captain Marvel begins with a touching tribute to Stan Lee who filmed his final cameo for this movie. The funny history about Captain Marvel is that both DC and Marvel comics have them and Marvel’s version used to be a male character. Instead of Carol Danvers being a side character, she ultimately becomes an over-powered super hero that makes quite an appearance in Avengers: Endgame.

Captain Marvel begins with Vers suffering from amnesia and nightmares on the Kree Empire’s capital planet, Hala. Her mentor, Yon-Rogg trains her and urges her to keep her emotions in check and to control the power that’s been graciously given to her. The Kree Supreme Intelligence threatens to take away the power if she cannot harness it.

Shortly after meeting with the Supreme Intelligence, Vers gets tasked on a covert mission which goes sideways. Her memories are scanned by an alien race that can shapeshift into any being they see with complete DNA accuracy. Telling them apart from their target takes some clever questioning. Both Vers and these Skrull aliens land on Earth, in the 90’s.

I appreciated the 90s nostalgia with Blockbuster, payphones, pagers, as well as music from Nirvana, Garbage, and No Doubt being featured. Seeing younger versions of S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Coulson and Nick Fury is cool too. If you’ve ever wondered how Fury lost his eye, you’ll get your answer in this film that’s 124 minutes. Just like the other comic book themed movies, you can expect to find blood and violence in this film. I don't recall any strong language so young Marvel fans should be able to enjoy this movie too.

I don’t want to spoil too much so I’ll just say that Vers finds out that she's been to Earth before and discovers that there’s more to the Skrull than the Kree have let on. Captain Marvel must decide on who to align with and how to be the best version of herself. Like most Marvel movies, you’ll want to stay after the credits roll for an added bonus. In the end, I did enjoy this movie despite feeling that Captain Marvel is a bit over-powered. I guess female super heroes can kick some serious butt too.

 


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Aladdin 4DX Movie Experience

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

This is my second 4DX experience with my first being Disney’s live-action Dumbo movie. Disney has been reproducing many of their classic animated films as live-action movies. Though the live-action movies I have seen so far were good, I continue to favor the animated ones.

Aladdin is a musical and I’m still not used to people suddenly switching from conversation to singing at the drop of a hat. Naomi Scott does an excellent job as Jasmine and her singing is incredible. Robin Williams’ genie left Will Smith some pretty big shoes to fill in, but he does a great job despite reusing many of his predecessor’s jokes.

The 4DX effects are amazing with the seats moving up and down during the ship and magic carpet riding scenes. While traveling through the streets of Agrabah, you’ll get an aroma experience that I’m guessing is based off of various spices. It wasn’t a bad smell, just not recognizable to me. With Dumbo taking place in a circus environment, I’m glad they did not reproduce the farm-like fragrances!

There are some moral and political issues worth noting in this film. The importance of honesty is stressed as Jasmine and Aladdin’s relationship begins in deception. Though Aladdin steals to survive, he does share his “loot” with fellow impoverished citizens. Jasmine cares deeply for her people and would make an excellent ruler. However, as a female she is told to be silent and to find a good husband who will rule over her and Agrabah.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I did find it satisfying.  My family enjoyed this film and its 4DX enhancements.  We’re blessed to have a 4DX theater near us and if you do too, you should check it out!

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A Dog’s Way Home

A Dog’s Way Home

Thank you Sony Pictures for sending us this 96-minute Blu-Ray to review!

We get sent quite a few pet-themed movies and A Dog’s Way Home is a live-action movie with the main dog's thoughts being narrated throughout. A Dog’s Way Home begins with a young pit bull puppy being born under an abandoned house. Along with the puppy’s siblings are a bunch of cats and kittens. That is, until animal control arrives and takes away most of the animals. The young puppy is separated from her mother and is fed and raised by a motherly cat instead. A kind young man that lives across the street stops by and feeds the cats. During one of his visits with his friend, Olivia, he meets the puppy and gives her a home.

The puppy is named Bella and enjoys playing with Lucas and comforting his mom, who suffers from PTSD. She also enjoys games such as “stop” and “don’t chew shoes.” The voice narration by Bryce Dallas Howard is really well done and quite entertaining. For a short while, things go well, and Lucas and his mom successfully manage to hide her from their landlord, who does not allow pets. Thankfully, the landlord announces his visits so Lucas can sneak her into work on those days. However, hiding a pit bull in a VA center is no simple task.

Other challenges arise when Lucas gets on the bad side of animal control; Denver, Colorado, is not tolerant of pit bulls, and threatens to euthanize her if caught. In an attempt to keep Bella safe, she is put in the care of Olivia’s family, who lives four hundred miles away in New Mexico. Bella’s stay there is short-lived as she is determined to “go home” as it’s one of the tricks that Lucas taught her.

This trick takes a couple of years to complete. It’s a tough journey as Bella has several brushes with death and makes some unusual friends along the way. Bella meets an orphaned cougar and becomes her mother. Although Bella is a live-action dog, the cougar is obviously computer animated.

Bella also gets some temporary human caretakers like a married homosexual couple that put a rainbow collar on her. Although they treat her well, she belongs with Lucas and parts ways with them. In the end, Bella does find Lucas and Olivia who have started living together in her absence. They didn’t flash wedding rings around like the other couple did so I’m not sure if they were married or not. One other thing worth mentioning is the blaspheming with the term OMG used in its full form.

In the end, A Dog’s Way Home is a heartwarming story and the kids and I enjoyed watching it together. One of them even cried at the end. If you like narrated pet movies and/or pit bulls, A Dog’s Way Home won’t disappoint.

 


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Dumbo 4DX Experience

Thank you 4DX for sending our family tickets to see this film!

The animated classic, Dumbo, was originally released in 1941. At sixty-four minutes, it was one of Disney’s shortest films. Tim Burton’s live-action version is quite a bit longer at one hour and fifty-two minutes. There’s more characters and backstory in this version.

The story still centers around a traveling circus, but this one is struggling financially and has sold all of their horses. They still have their elephants and one of them, Jumbo, is expecting. Unlike the animated version, the animals don’t talk in this film. The story is mostly told through two young kids who lost their mother to influenza. Their father returns from the war missing an arm and is out of touch with his kids and is struggling with relating to them. The boy, Joe, wants to continue the family tradition of working in the circus, but his sister, Milly, wants to pursue a career in science.

In both movies, the baby is initially named Jumbo Jr. but is dubbed Dumbo as people make fun of his enormous ears. The defensive mother does not take kindly to her son being ridiculed and gets locked away as she is considered dangerous. Needless to say, the animated version is a little more lighthearted in this regard. Other than death, the live-action movie has some minor language (hell). Surprisingly, both films have alcohol and drunkenness.

As charming as the animated version is, the 4DX effects in the live action film are quite astounding. This was my first 4DX experience and I was taken aback by the seat rumbling as the firecrackers exploded during the opening Disney logo. I then got to experience the seats moving up and down frequently during the train sequences. There were quite a few of them as the circus was on the move quite often. My husband wanted to hold my hand but it was a bit uncomfortable with the theater seats going up and down repeatedly.

The gusts of wind blowing through the theater added to the immersion as well. The breeze was strong enough to flip the pages on the notepad I was using to take notes! Water misted from the seat in front of me which happened at key moments in the film too. I’m told that some 4DX films have scents and I’m glad that this one didn’t with the elephant poop humor.

Overall I must say that I’m still partial to the original movie. However, the 4DX effects made the live action film one to remember! I’m blessed to live close to a 4DX theater and I highly recommend experiencing a 4DX film if you’re able to do so. Just don’t expect to be able to hold hands with a loved one while doing so!

 


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Kim Possible

Thank you Disney Channel for sending us this movie to review!

Kim Possible (2019) follows the journey of the titular protagonist as she navigates the crazy pitfalls of her high school days – and having to save the world in between. The movie is approximately 88 minutes long, and there are no ads at the beginning, which is nice because there’s nothing that has to be skipped. It also comes with support of the FastPlay feature so that you can get right to the movie.

Kim Possible is based off of a TV show of the same name, which aired in 2002 and was popular for both boys and girls. The characters are basically the same, and it provides a small amount of backstory as to why Kim is where she is today. The movie then leads the viewer into the main plot of the story, which is attempting to teach the lesson that jealousy can destroy a friendship, and that humility is the way to go.

This movie is very much an action movie, and while the overall message is pretty good, there are some questionable scenes scattered throughout the film. One of these scenes is where a character confesses that they want to be a pooch when they grow up, and their friends wholeheartedly support them, saying that they will be the best pooch in the world. Another scene like this is when the two protagonists are late to class, and a lie saves them from detention. This scene, whether knowingly or not, promotes lying as something good that can get you out of a situation. There is also a scene where a villain character pulls a blue cube out of nowhere, and another character asks where they pulled it from. Kim Possible also has very politically correct gender roles that seem to be promoted, and the target audience is most likely female.

The plot itself is pretty predictable for anyone over nine or ten years of age. My closest friend was over watching Kim Possible with my family, and she found some of the exaggerations in this film relatable, but others annoying. She caught on to the plot pretty quickly, but everyone knew how it was to end. It’s pretty clear that this film was designed with younger audiences in mind.

Overall, the movie was decent. I would not recommend this to strictly Christian families because of some of the questionable morals promoted, but if you don’t really care about that too much and have little ones who are itching for something fun with lots of action, then this movie is for you.

- Kittycathead

 


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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part - 4DX Theater experience

Thank you CJ 4DPLEX for sending us to the movies!

As more and more aspects of the theater experience can be reproduced (or are simply better) at home, the movie industry continues looking for ways to encourage movie lovers to make the trek out of their houses and into the local cinema, while also offering value-adds that make it all the more memorable. Being one such enthusiast with a theater in my basement, I know this struggle all too well. Do I see the latest superhero movie when it's new in the theater, where I have to deal with other people and (usually) inferior video, sound, and comfort, or do I wait and watch it in my home theater with 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos surround and a 125" projection screen? (I told you I was an enthusiast.)

Well, 4DX can now safely say they offer something that no home theater ever will. All 4DX movies are in 3D, with a supported 3D glasses being offered. Unlike some theaters, this theater screen was more than bright enough to handle 3D properly. I was also pleased with the theater's sound system; while it wasn't quite as loud as I may have liked, the positional separation of the sound, from the clear center positioning of the voice, to the easy to locate side and rear speakers worked quite well. I did not note any ceiling speakers at this location for Atmos, though.

Each seat has rumble (this can be replicated at home with ButtKickers or other similar bass shakers), but what's really special is the tilting, fans, spritzers, and even scents that can be added to the movie experience. That's right - Smell-O-Vision is back! I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that, as of February 2019, there are only 12 4DX theaters in the USA, and one of them is just a few miles from my house - and the only one in the Midwest! Pretty cool, eh? Fortunately, they are expecting to have as many as 85 locations within a year or so, so hopefully there will be one near you soon.

My son and I were fortunate enough to watch a 4DX showing of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. This starts just a few minutes after the first Lego Movie, but not long after that there is a time shift to five years later. The kids who own the Legos play a much more prominent role in this one, and their tastes, and what happens in the house, have an impact on Emmet, Lucy, and their friends.

Emmet, Lucy, Batman, and all of the gang seem to live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, called Apocalypseburg. The movie calls it a 'heckish place to live'. Many people are hard and downtrodden, with fighting in the streets, and so on. Emmet is one of the only ones to seemingly not allow himself to grow a negative attitude - he even listens to upbeat pop music, while everyone else seems to be a victim of their surroundings.

Strange space aliens capture Emmet's friends right in front of him, and he rushes off to save them in his newly created spaceship. In the process, he meets up with a new friend Rex, and goes on a daring chase reminiscent of an action movie to save them.

This is hard to talk about without spoiling the movie, but one of the things that I wasn't a huge fan of is that a theme of the movie is that becoming a powerful man - the kind that action-hero fans love - can lead to pushing people away and hurting the people you love. This unfortunately reminds me too much of the 'toxic masculinity' concept that anti-men culture warriors are pushing. This viewpoint was further solidified by some of the cameos in the movie, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Of course there is nothing wrong with her cameo, but it gave this viewer pause since I know how important she is to those who often hold a similar anti-men viewpoints.

My son and I really enjoyed the 4DX experience, and I recommend you check it out as soon as you can. We also enjoyed The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. It's just a shame that the 'lesson' the movie pushes is in some ways the opposite of what we want our young boys to learn. Teaching boys to be masculine men will not lead to them hurting other people, but instead protecting our most treasured people and values. In fact, our society needs more men like that - not less.

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Nature: Super Cats

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

Cats are fascinating creatures and truly show God’s handiwork in their design. This series covers cats of various sizes and from around the world. In total, there are three parts that are an hour long each. The first episode is Extreme Lives and shows how ferocious and daring various cats are. For example, you’ll get to see a jaguar take down a caiman crocodile. It’s well known that cheetahs are fast, but I had no idea that the stress they put on their body during a chase would cause a human’s bones to break! Out of all of the cats in the world, the leopards thrive in the most environments. Sadly, that’s not the case for other cat species like the tiger and the Iberian lynx, which are in danger of extinction.

Episode 2, Cats in Every Corner, features felines thriving in unexpected environments. Many house cats (mine included) hate water, but the fishing cat literally lives in it and spends its life in a swamp environment living up to its name by hunting and eating fish. Swamp tigers also don’t mind getting wet. The bay cat has very little footage and information on it and there’s a scientist who has spent over a decade of his life researching this elusive animal.

The last part, Science and Secrets, shows how technology has been aiding in studying the lives of cats and even saving them from extinction. Out of all of the cats, lions are argued to be the most intelligent since they are social by living in prides. It was neat watching a female lion figure out how to open up a box with meat inside while having another female watching in the distance and learning from her experience and opening the box faster.

As cool as the big cats are, seeing some of the world’s smallest felines hunting is truly a sight to behold. The rusty-spotted cat is only 3 lbs and is every bit of a killing machine as its bigger relatives. The desert native Black-footed Cat is around 4 lbs and has a 60% success rate when it hunts, which is pretty impressive.

If you find cats fascinating, Nature: Super Cats is worth checking out. The visuals look great in the Blu-ray version, and it’s worth the extra $2 on Amazon. The series can be yours in high definition for less than $19.



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Illumination Presents: Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

Thank you Universal for sending us this 4K Blu-ray to review!

The story of Dr. Seuss’ Christmas-hating Grinch has been told many times before. Those who are familiar with the tale will already know that his heart is three sizes too small and that a girl named Cindy-Lou Who will get him to change his views. But this movie develops the characters further and even shows how awesome of a companion the Grinch’s dog, Max, truly is.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch begins with the Grinch and Max running out of food and a trip to Who-ville is necessary for their survival. As his name suggests, The Grinch is a misanthrope and despises socializing with the people of Who-ville. However, during Christmas time he really does not want to be near them with their caroling and joyous celebration of Christ’s birth. Though the town is decked out in candy canes, wreaths, snowmen, and Christmas trees, Christ is clearly mentioned and honored in the Christmas carols (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Silent Night) sung by the villagers.

There are many funny interactions between the grumpy Grinch and the overly cheery townspeople. Out of all of the villagers, Cindy-Lou and her family get the most screen time. Cindy-Lou is the oldest sister of twin baby brothers. There is no mention of a father figure, and as a result, the mother is working a night shift and struggling to attend to the needs of her children during the day. Unlike other children who ask Santa for toys, Cindy-Lou wants to talk to Santa in person to ask him to help make her mother’s life easier. Unfortunately, her method of reaching Santa isn’t exactly orthodox.

I like how the Grinch’s background is shown and how he comes to hate Christmas. It’s easy for him as an outsider to detect the greed displayed during the Christmas season. To pay back the town and to take away their fake joy he plans on stealing their Christmas from them, but in the end discovers what it’s really about: kindness and love.

Though I’m familiar with the book, I haven’t seen other film renditions to give a comparison. I will say that the voice acting by Benedict Cumberbatch, Angela Lansbury, and Pharrell Williams is well done. The visuals are astounding and vibrant, especially in 4K! The computer animation by Illumination is top-notch. The three mini-movies are worth checking out too. One of them, Dog Days of Winter, further develops Max’s character and devotion to the Grinch. The other two shorts, Yellow Is The New Black and Santa’s Little Helpers, feature the Minions and their typical silliness. There is some potty and crude humor which earns the PG rating awarded to the film.

In the end, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch is worth watching with your family around Christmastime. It just might be a new yearly tradition for us.

 


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Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

Thank you Fun Academy for sending us this DVD to review!

Sergeant Stubby is the most decorated dog of World War I and is also the only canine to be promoted to a sergeant through combat. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is based on his heroism and legacy that saved many French and American lives on the Western Front.

The story begins with Stubby being an ever-hungry stray dog on the streets of Connecticut. During a march through town, a newly enlisted Robert Conroy takes notice of Stubby and throws a cookie his way and the dog follows the soldiers back to boot camp. At first, the higher-ups are not keen on having a dog among the ranks, but once Stubby learns how to salute them and shows his dedication, they allow him to stay by Robert’s side. Stubby became the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment.

When the soldiers are dispatched to France, Stubby sneaks onboard and again is welcomed for his perseverance. The film depicts Robert having nothing to do with Stubby’s travels; however, internet sources claim that he was the one who smuggled him aboard. In the end, it’s good that he was there because many lives were saved as a result. On the battlefield, Stubby helped locate wounded soldiers along with warning of incoming artillery shells and gas attacks.

Since this ninety-minute computer animated film is geared for children, the violence is toned down quite a bit. There is no blood shown and many of the close combat encounters end in surrendering and not death. The battlefield is still depicted as grim with many soldiers being shown as sick and/or wounded. There is a death towards the end of the movie that brought some teary eyes among my family. Yes, I was one of them.

Overall, my family enjoyed watching this movie together. Though it’s based on a true story, some artistic liberties were taken. I’m not really sure if Stubby really got to meet George S. Patton, but he did get to sniff presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding. Sgt. Stubby was quite the war hero and I highly recommend this movie for any dog or history lover.



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The House with a Clock in Its Walls

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

The House with a Clock in Its Walls takes place in 1955 and is about a 10-year-old boy named Lewis who loses his parents in a tragic car accident. His closest relative is his uncle Jonathan who lives in a haunted mansion in Michigan. The previous owner of the house was a warlock named Izard. This warlock is responsible for placing a clock within the mansion, and Jonathan, along with his best friend and neighbor, who is also a witch, are trying to find and destroy the clock within.

Lewis is out of place in his new school and the goggles that he wears all of the time are not helping matters. There is a girl who is fascinated with insects that takes a liking to Lewis, but he is more interested in impressing a popular boy named Tarby. His uncle Jonathan is pretty lenient and lets Lewis eat whatever he wants and go to bed whenever he feels like it. His only rule is to not open the locked cabinet. If you’re familiar with Genesis 3, you know what happens when humans only have one rule to follow.

Without spoiling the story too much, I must say that this movie is very anti-Christian and heavily promotes magic use. Lewis wants to become a warlock like his uncle and that involves studying various texts, runes, and spells. There are many occult symbols like pentacle, pentagrams, and upside-down crosses shown throughout this film. Some of the spells require the castor to offer their blood in order to complete the ritual. Necromancy (while frowned upon), is also practiced. One of the characters makes a pact with a powerful demon in exchange for some forbidden knowledge. The occult issues aside, there is also language (hell, d*mn), and gross humor involving puking jack-o'-lanterns' and a topiary griffin that refuses to use a litter box.

If it wasn’t for the heavy-handed occult content, I would have enjoyed The House with a Clock in Its Walls. I haven’t read the book that this film is based on so I’m not sure how descriptive it is with the spell casting and symbolism. It’s a shame since the acting by Jack Black and Cate Blanchett is exceptional and the characters and story are well done. If you’re a Christian and interested in seeing this film, I recommend renting it first.



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God Bless the Broken Road

Thank you Lionsgate for sending us this Blu-ray, soundtrack CD, pot, and toy car to review!

God Bless the Broken Road is about Amber Hill, a wife and mother who tries to make ends meet after the loss of her husband in the Afghanistan war. Before his death, she was very active in church and led their worship ministry. Two years after his passing, her house is behind on the mortgage payments and working 7 days a week is straining the relationship with her daughter, Bree.

A dashing young racecar driver named Cody arrives in town and is instantly told that Amber is out of his league, but that makes her all the more appealing to him. After wrecking his racecar in the big leagues, he’s sent back to this small town to learn from one of the greats, Joe Carter. One of Cody’s first assignments from Joe is to work with the children at the town’s church. Bree takes a liking to Cody and enjoys making a pink camouflaged go-kart there.

While Bree is getting more active in church, her mother is becoming less so. Though Amber is working many hours at the diner, she’s still unable to make ends meet and resorts to pawning off possessions instead of pursuing a job offer from her mother-in-law. The relationship with Bree’s grandmother is strained and Bree wishes that she could spend more time with her. Amber’s walk with God is also deteriorating as she is relying on herself and not Him during her times of financial hardship.

One trait that Cody and Amber share is stubbornness. This film teaches a good moral lesson about listening to and relying on God. It’s Dove approved for all ages and there is little to be worried about morally. In fact, the war violence is bloodless which is contrary to most war films I’ve seen recently. The overall story is moving but predictable at times. While I’m not in a hurry to see this film again, I did enjoy it.



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Elliot the Littlest Reindeer

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

There are many Christmas songs about Santa and his hard working reindeer that fly his magical sleigh. Unfortunately, Blitzen suddenly retires and favors running a juice bar instead of helping deliver presents to well-behaved boys and girls around the world. With only a few days before Christmas, the elves are scrambling to find a suitable replacement who can win the North Pole tryouts, which lasts three days.

In a warmer climate is a petting zoo that is struggling to pay its bills and its former minor-league baseball owner is considering a sales offer from a woman that seems more interested in eating the animals than caring for them. However, if their promising reindeer, DJ, makes Santa’s team, they may not have to sell.

There’s another hopeful at this petting zoo named Elliot. The only problem is that Elliot is a pony and not a reindeer. I’m all for having dreams and aspirations, but this movie is promoting the agenda anyone can be anything and that’s not necessarily a message I want to instill into my children. I believe that there is a place for boys and a place for girls which is contrary to today’s society that lets “transgender” boys compete (and unfairly win) on girls’ athletic teams and even partake in Miss Universe competitions.

Aside from the obvious agenda, there’s not much to say about the story in this 89-minute movie. Santa and some of the elves are cast in a negative light or even as villains in this film. The voice acting is top notch and has some notable cast members including Josh Hutcherson, Martin Short, and John Cleese. There are some positive messages about putting your friendship first and being selfless. A lesson is also taught about cheating. Given the overall moral of the story, I would still give this film a pass or recommend renting it before purchasing it for your family.


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Anne of Green Gables - Fire and Dew

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

Fire and Dew is the third installment from the Anne of Green Gables PBS movie series. It picks up a year after the previous movie where Gilbert vowed not to speak to Anne again after she chose her friends over him. Anne is not pleased with his behavior and finds it difficult to ignore him as they are academically equal and both selected to attend an advanced class to prepare for and apply to Queen’s Academy.

Anne is quite studious and applies for the Avery scholarship along with Gilbert and her friends hoping to earn it as well. Though Matthew and Marilla have budgeted for Anne’s education, they did not plan on their bank with all of their funds to be investigated and in danger of closing.

At Queen’s Academy, Josie is flirting with all of the boys and especially with Gilbert. Other emotions come into play as a character dear to Anne dies in this movie. All of us watching the movie got misty-eyed during that part.

As a result of the loss of a loved one, Anne has to make some difficult choices regarding her future education and employment. Anne is growing up fast and has many accomplishments to be proud of at the tender age of fourteen. I like the theme of forgiveness and sacrifice and hope to see more installments from these classic books. If not, I’ll have no choice but to read all nineteen of them to see how it ends.

Like the other movies, Anne of Green Gables - Fire and Dew is available to stream for free for Amazon Prime members. The DVD is also available to purchase from the PBS website for $14.99.


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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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