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The Atoning

Thank you Roberson Public Relations for sending us a screener of this film!

While I’m not typically into horror movies, the trailer looked interesting for The Atoning. My husband laughed at me for getting startled while viewing it. Like many horror movies, this one revolves around a haunted house and deals with spirits that have not crossed over to the “other side”. While unbiblical, it does provide decent entertainment.

Vera and Ray’s marriage is on the rocks and their son Sam is trying his best to keep them together. His attempt at cooking breakfast for them resulted in black and crispy pancakes and a huge mess to clean up. Vera is a loving mother while the father seems a bit distant. One thing that the family can all agree on is that their house seems to be haunted. Between doors opening and closing for no reason, objects moving around without explanation, and water turning on sporadically, this family is legitimately creeped out. The oddities seem to escalate at 9:45 every night as well.

Ray knows the name of the inhabitants of the house and their son Sam has seen their daughter who is about his age. The ghosts are not welcome and a medium is consulted to help remove the spirits. Unfortunately, the ghosts need to resolve their conflicts before moving onward. This involves a marital affair with an underage girl, drunkenness, and murder. To help figure all of this out, Ray consults a book that discusses occult topics like Neo-purgatory and Necrostasis. God is mentioned and quickly dismissed as soon as He’s brought up. During some flashbacks, Vera mentions going to church, but later doubts that God existed.

There’s a bit of a story twist, but this film’s main focus is on scaring it’s viewers. The demon like creatures are very creepy with their black bodies and bright eyes. After being startled from the trailer I was on guard for the movie and didn’t get freaked out while watching it. In all honesty I wasn’t very entertained either and have no desire to watch this film again.

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Pup Star: Better 2Gether

Thank you Air Bud Entertainment for sending us a screener link!

After losing to Tiny in the first Pup Star movie, Bark isn’t taking it lying down. In his local singing club, The Bark Easy, there’s a small dog with a big attitude named Scrappy that just so happens to look a lot like Tiny. Bark comes up with the plan to replace Tiny with Scrappy and have her take the fall to Bark in the upcoming season of Pup Star. Scrappy isn’t keen on this plan at first, but once her back alley home gets destroyed she’s onboard with it.

With the help of a skunk, the dog switch happens and those closest to the two dogs immediately detect the personality differences. Lots of hilarity ensues as the little dogs adjust to their new roles. Tiny’s human family considers a vet visit, holy water, and possibly an exorcism to bring back the dog they’re used to.

Many characters return including Lady Paw Paw, Simon Growl, and Dog Marley. Some new characters like Jimmy Kibble and Katty Purry are introduced. Like the previous movie, there is a character that’s extremely flamboyant. Even with the theme of deceit running throughout the movie, the pursuit of integrity and forgiveness is promoted. One final nitpick is that one of the dogs says OMG.

My kids enjoyed this movie and its over-the-top humor that adults will see coming from a mile away. Without spoiling the story, this film is heartwarming and shows the importance of family, friends, and acceptance. If you enjoyed the first movie, chances are that you’ll like this one too. This movie will be in theaters on August 29th. If you enjoy the music the soundtrack is available for purchase on Amazon.



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The Passion of Augustine

Thank you EG-PR for sending us a press screener of this movie to review!

The Passion of Augustine is a Canadian film that was originally released in 2015. Since this film takes place in Quebec, the native language is French. There is English closed captioning which doesn’t kick in until ten minutes or so into the film. The beginning of the movie starts off in Latin and the nuns are waking the girls up in Latin and attending a church service conducted in Latin. Had I not known that Catholic services used to be conducted in Latin, I would have assumed that the subtitles were misconfigured. Thankfully, we stuck with it and enjoyed the rest of the film that we were able to understand.

The rest of the film is fairly easy to follow if you don't mind subtitles. Later in the movie there is a scene where a student is singing a love song in a foreign language and I wish I knew what the lyrics were. Despite the language barrier the story is worth sticking around for. It’s based in the ‘60s and tells the tale of a struggling convent. Between the Vactican II changes and the state’s push for public schooling, the mother superior, Augustine, is doing what she can to keep the all-girls school running. Unlike the public schools, this convent focuses a lot on music theory and has won a silver medal award at a prestigious piano contest.

With the rising cost of heating oil, and the need for better musical instruments, the mother general is not fond of music and thinks that mother Augustine is too proud of her school and its students. One of the recent transfer students is Augustine’s niece, Alice, who gets into trouble and sometimes it’s not even her fault. Other times it is and Alice and another fellow classmate get in big trouble for sneaking out to a “Love in” dance club.

Mother Augustine is protective of Alice because of mistakes that she has made when she was younger. There is a flashback scene that isn’t very clear of a medical procedure being done to Augustine when she was younger. Given some later conversations in the movie, I believe that it was an abortion.

Because of the religious backdrop, there isn’t much cussing in this film. You do see some kissing, but nothing more. Part of the Vatican II changes included modernizing the church and that involves changing the attire of the nuns. There are scenes of them changing their clothes, but like the rest of the film, it is done in good taste and nothing is seen.

We viewed this movie using Vimeo which usually provides good service, but we ran into several buffering delays and had to set the quality to auto instead of the 720p maximum. Even on auto, it still had buffering issues.

Overall, we enjoyed The Passion of Augustine and recommend checking it out when it goes to video on demand. The DVD is available on Amazon but the $40 asking price is pretty hefty. Hopefully the paid rental service is more reliable than the method we used to watch this film.

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Power Rangers 2017 Movie Review

Go Go see a different movie. That's all I can say about the 2017 Power Rangers movie. It was truly an odd experience for the ages. I want to make a few things clear before I write why it was so awful to me. Power Rangers has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, so I guess you could consider me a fan of the series. This includes what Power Rangers is based off of: the Super Sentai series in Japan. I would also like to make it clear that I am working with a slight bias: while things like the Power Rangers should be meant for a younger audience first, this doesn't mean I can't enjoy things not targeted towards me. So let's rush to the command center; this is a Power Rangers movie.

Power Rangers starts with Zordon, leader of the first team of Rangers on Earth 65 million years ago. His Green Ranger, Rita Repulsa, has betrayed her team and she is ready to rip out the source of Earth's life, the Zeo Crystal. After Zordon hides the power coins, he calls on Alpha 5 to send a meteor crashing down to Earth. We then fast forward to years later when our first protagonist, Jason, is caught stealing the football mascot of a rival school. As punishment, he loses all opportunities given to him and is forced to attend detention every day as a troubled student. Along the way he meets the four other future Rangers. The characters Billy, Kimberly, Trini, and Zack end up in the same spot the coins are hidden. When they try to escape gold mine security, they end up getting hit by a train. Though it seems this is the moment they die, they wake up at home faster, stronger, and better. Eventually they meet Zordon and Alpha 5, who warn them Rita Repulsa will return. If they can't learn to morph and work together within eleven days, the world shall end.

So first let me give thoughts on the two elephants in the room. Billy is made to be an autistic kid, and they let you know very earlier on how different he is. Speaking as an autistic man, it seemed more like they were playing autism like it was down syndrome. He would constantly remind the movie audience that he was autistic. He would also have a lot of strange quirks that replaced character. Not only was he token, he was a poorly developed character. Trini, the lesbian character was a much bigger token. I'll hate myself later for putting it this way, but she was a “millennials'” version of coming out. In the scene where she admits to her team she's gay, she says, “My family is just so normal, all they care about is labels.” This story arc doesn't go anywhere and it seems to be just thrown in for brownie points. While it seems people on different sides got worked up over these characters, the controversy wasn't worth it. They used these things to replace actual character. The theme song could have been "Go Go Token Rangers anyway". Jason was token jock, Zack was token smooth talking loner and Kimberly was token cheerleader brat. 

The Rangers might as well have been a super hero retelling of the Breakfast Club without any real character development. Despite a scene around a bonfire sharing their deep dark secrets, none of them really have any reason to work together and the audience doesn't really know them. Like I said early, they go through the movie as character traits, not characters themselves. By trying to make these Rangers more “realistic and relatable” they come off as more fake and unrelatable. They hate their town right until they face Rita Repulsa. Most of their time as Rangers are spent training in montages. When they can finally work together, they spend about 5 to 8 minutes of time fighting in the suit while the rest of the climax is a long zord battle. The only two characters that at least tried to be a little fun was Zordon and Rita. I actually found it quite interesting that they tried to set Zordon up as a previous Yed Ranger. While Rita was slow in the beginning, she became a corny, over the top and insane villain, and that's what a Power Rangers villain should be. Yet Zordon's potential was thrown out when you realize they set up this idea of him being revived only for him to sacrifice himself so he could revive Billy when Rita drowns him. Rita’s monster, Goldar, did not look threatening at all; living molten gold doesn't look good no matter what you do. 

The cinematography didn't do anything for the movie. If it wasn't just shaky cam, they had a lot of close up shots to the face during emphasized dialogue. Someone must really hate lighting in this movie as well. The colors of the movie seemed to have had to fight to really stick out from all the grays and dark lighting of the movie. It seems modernizing a story means trying to force it to be dark and edgy without reason. Not every superhero has to have a miserable background before becoming a hero. Inspiration can come from the top.

Morality wise, aside from the implied homosexuality of the Yellow Ranger, this movie has low brow humor and a lot of rage and hatred that border between teen angst and blind rage. You're constantly reminded until the very end of the movie how much they hate their town and their own situation. This idea of being a bad kid, an outcast in detention is slightly glorified as well.  They push that whole 'it's cool to be different from the crowd' ideology in the wrong way. It's sad this is being pushed so hard towards kids. I say the movie earned its PG-13 rating at least.

This movie definitely has the crowds divided. Critics hate it and most audiences adore it. Its opening weekend scored the movie a strong $ 40.5 million. All I ask is for readers to remember that high sales does not equal quality. Some of that old Power Rangers camp might have actually made this movie better. For this writer, I give it a 3/10. Effects are cool the first time you see it but the rest of the movie is a shallow cash grab banking on nostalgia and ”relatable teen” story tropes. Go Go far away from this movie.

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My Many Sons

Thank you Well Go USA Entertainment for sending us this DVD to review!

My Many Sons tells the true story of Don Meyer (played by Judge Reinhold), the “winningest coach that nobody knew.”  In 2009 Don Meyer passed Bobby Knight’s NCAA winning record and held it until 2012.  Coach Meyer’s dedication and work ethic helped put Lipscomb University on the map and because of him, they were able to move up to division one basketball.  Despite the university offering to double his salary, coach Meyer refused to coach division one basketball since he was investing more into the students than basketball skills.  

Besides teaching the students valuable basketball maneuvers, he taught them to be accountable, respectable and to clean up after themselves and to pick up litter.  Like many coaches, Don threw verbal taunts like calling them numb nuts. No other foul language was used in this film though.  On a few occasions he got physical with them and had to apologize for his actions.  He was not an easy man to get along with and was known for culling the weak links from his team relatively quickly.  After his first month at Northern University in South Dakota, Don only had seven players left on his team!  

Though his team didn’t lose very often, they found out that coach Meyer took to their losses pretty well. He didn’t rub it in any further since they did a pretty good enough of a job to themselves.  Don promised to be there for his students when things got rough and he kept his promise.  During his near fatal car accident, his students return the favor and visited while he was recuperating in the hospital for nearly two months.  When he was released, he showed up at work the next morning! 

While not perfect by any means, Don Meyer was a faithful and self-less man that wasn’t shy about his faith and work ethic.  He has touched the lives of many and his story is a good one that’s worth seeing.  Even though I’m not into basketball, I enjoyed this sports-themed movie that tells a great story of perseverance.  This ninety-eight minute film can be yours for less than $12 on Amazon.

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In-Lawfully Yours

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us a DVD to review!

In-Lawfully Yours is a Christian themed romantic comedy that stars and is produced by Corbin Bernsen.  Not only does it have a unique love story, there’s a positive message about God’s love and redemption.  This is another Christian movie that pleasantly surprised us with some funny moments and a good story.

Upon receiving the news of her father-in-law’s illness, Jesse went to inform her husband, Charlie.   Once she tracked him down, she caught him in the arms of another woman.  Divorce paperwork and the death of his father soon followed.  Charlie’s mother, Naomi, takes the loss pretty hard as she lost her daughter six years prior.  Packing up and moving out of her mostly empty house is not something she’s looking forward to, but her son is pushing her so she can move in with him.  Prepping to leave this small town behind she starts packing her things with Jesse’s help.

Jesse is from New York and is not familiar with how quickly rumors spread around small towns.   Besides the humorous and unwelcome treatment she gets at the only restaurant in town, Jesse is also treated rudely when visiting the local church for the first time in her life.  She has many faith questions and learns the hard way that it’s not proper to interrupt the pastor during his sermon to ask them.  The pastor, Ben, is her widowed ex-brother in-law who still wears his wedding ring. 

At first the relationship between Ben and Jesse is awkward, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that it has some potential.  However, before things get too serious Charlie comes back into town stating that he wants to fix his marriage.  Is Charlie truly changed, jealous, or is he up to no good?  To find out Charlie’s true intentions and the future of Ben and Jesse’s relationship, I recommend watching In-Lawfully Yours which can be yours for less than $15 on Amazon.


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Pup Star

Thank you Air Bud Entertainment for sending us a screener link!

Reality singing shows like American Idol and The Voice are enjoyed by many humans.  With the help of Evolution treats, dogs have gained the ability to talk, sing, and enjoy competing in their own singing show titled Pup Star.  The contestants must sing original songs and are judged by canine judges with similar names and personalities of their human counterparts.  The judges’ names are Blake Sheltie, Dog Gnarly, Lady Paw Paw, and Simon Growl.  There’s plenty of silliness in this tale of love, revenge, and perseverance.

Tiny is a Yorkie who loves her owner, Lou.  Sadly, Lou lost her mother recently.  Lou and Tiny sing together and encourage each other to follow their dreams.  Tiny competes in Chicago’s audition’s for Pup Star and gets the golden bone and a chance to compete in the finals that take place in New York City.  Lou has to get her father’s permission to take her there though.  Sadly, the trip planning gets postponed due to Lou running into a truck and breaking her arm and Tiny getting dognapped by Roland, the greedy owner of Happy Ranch kennel.  

In the kennel Tiny learns that Roland only releases dogs that have a reward on them and that if they’re not claimed within a year they’ll be put down.  A dog named Charlie is nearing his execution date but has an escape plan and begrudgingly takes Tiny along with him.  As Tiny and Charlie travel to New Orleans, New Jersey, and New York they learn about love, friendship, and infusing their experiences into the songs that they sing.

Charlie has a bone to pick with the current Pup Star champion, Bark, and wants to pay him back for stealing his music without giving him proper credit for it.  Along the way Tiny gets to meet Charlie’s love interest and her personal idol, Emily Rose.  With all of the help and support of friends Tiny has what it takes to dethrone Bark, but needs to get past Kano the bounty hunter that’s after her.  I’ll leave the rest of the movie a surprise as it’s worth checking out.

The music is cute and has many different styles ranging from country, rap (performed by Juicy J), to rock and roll.  The lip syncing/special effects are well done and the dogs do a nice job of dancing while performing.  

While Pup Star is family friendly, it’s worth noting that there are references to Hinduism, Buddhism, and one of the dogs has homosexual characteristics though it's not expounded upon. With that being said, there’s a far more positive message about rescuing dogs and loving them unconditionally.  

Currently Pup Star is available on FandangoNow and we highly recommend checking it out!  We double dog dare you!

 

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Peter: The Redemption

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this DVD to review!

Many of us have lied or made mistakes before.  Fortunately for us, our misdeeds are not recorded in the Bible.  Luke 22:54-62 recounts Peter denying that he knew Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted.  After Jesus’ resurrection He restores Peter by having Him affirm him three times in John 21:15-19.  The movie Peter: The Redemption depicts Peter living his final months in a Roman jail and refusing to confess to burning down the city under Nero’s rule.  Despite being given several opportunities to recant his faith, Peter holds firm and refuses to deny Jesus any more in his lifetime.  Unfortunately, several other Christians are persecuted and tortured as a result.

There are many bloody and uncomfortable scenes as Christians are seen getting beaten and bloodied.  For this reason, younger children should probably refrain from seeing this film.  Fortunately, the scenes with them being set on fire are not shown, but the screams of torture still hit home.  Many popular actors are in this ninety-minute film including John Rhys-Davies as Peter and Stephen Baldwin as Nero.  

Besides the story of Peter’s strong faith, there is a budding romance between a dedicated Roman soldier named Martinian and a palace servant, Suzanna, who is tending to Peter’s many wounds.  Suzanna is a Christian and is treading on thin ice as Nero detests Christians and enjoys using them as torches to illuminate his garden.  To make matters worse Nero takes a liking to her and his wife is extremely jealous.

I won’t spoil this movie, but unlike many Christian films out there, Peter The Redemption tells a good story about faith, love, forgiveness, and perseverance.   Not all of the believers keep their faith as some of the prisoners recant to regain their freedom.  However, others die for their faith and those strong Christians inspire unlikely individuals to become saved and get baptized in Jesus’ name.   

For less than $10 for the DVD, Peter: The Redemption is worth picking up.  Though there doesn’t seem to be a Blu-ray version available, the visual quality is surprisingly good for a DVD.  My husband and I were pleasantly surprised with the overall quality of this film and highly recommend it to believers and non-believers alike.

 


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Last Days In The Desert

Thank you Broadgreen for sending us this DVD to review!

The fourth chapter in the book of Matthew mentions Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted and fasting for forty days and nights.  The Bible tells about three of the temptations, but the movie Last Days In The Desert uses some artistic license to add many more.    The beginning of this hour and thirty-eight minute movie is a bit slow starting as it shows the “Holy man” as He’s referred to wandering aimlessly in the desert.  You’ll see Him sleeping and hear Him praying for guidance to His Heavenly Father and even laughing at the wind blowing sticks around.  Later on in the film He laughs at a fart too.

While He’s never called Jesus, Satan who is also played by Ewan McGregor (He's Jesus too) refers to Him as Yeshua.   Satan takes on many forms, but is most often identical in appearance to Jesus.  One of the forms Satan takes on is that of a topless woman whose hair covers the otherwise  would be seen nipples.  

During Jesus’ fasting in the desert He happens upon a nomad family that is struggling emotionally.  Their mother is deathly ill while the adolescent son and father barely communicate and cannot relate to one another.  The father is a skilled carpenter and wishes for his son to live in the desert with him, but the son longs to set his own destiny in Jerusalem.  The mother wishes for him to fulfill his dreams as well, but the family cannot afford an apprenticeship for him.  

Satan offers a wager to Jesus to fix this family and even tells Him of their future had Jesus not crossed paths with them.  I found it odd that Satan could see the future, but Jesus couldn’t in this film.  Jesus was able to foresee many events including His own death (Matt 26:2), betrayal (Matt 26:21), resurrection (Matt 16:21), coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), and even the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:43-44).  Even though Jesus is perceived as weak (despite eating) and doubting of His abilities, there is a decent story about humanity, family, and relationships in this film.  Just don’t expect much Biblical content because much of it goes against God’s word.   

 


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God’s Club

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this movie to review!

Does a Bible Club belong in a public school?  That’s the premise of the movie God’s Club.  Christine Evans was getting pushback from launching God’s Club at the Echo Grove high school in Vermont.  This small community has a number of outspoken (and often jerkish) atheist families who are trying to stop the club from launching.   Her husband reluctantly supports her efforts, but doesn’t get too involved until she dies suddenly. 

Michael Evans (Stephen Baldwin) takes his wife’s death pretty badly and holes himself up in his house for twelve weeks (often wearing the same shirt).  His nearly angelic teenage daughter tried to get him out of the house without much success.  One of his colleagues (Corbin Bernsen) pays him a friendly visit and reminds him that he could lose his job altogether if he doesn’t return to work soon.  To inspire him, he suggests that Michael launches the Bible club in his wife’s honor. And he does so, not anticipating the uphill battles ahead.

At first the Bible club has a few members and a couple of them joined up just to heckle the teacher.  Other students are positively impacted by the gospel and it stirs up trouble with their non-believing parents.  One of the parents is a lawyer (Lorenzo Lamas) and is looking for any creative way to shut down the club for good.  Some of the students resort to vandalism to let God’s Club know that they are not welcome as well.

With so much stacked against them, Michael and his daughter press on with the club realizing that their lives, jobs, and reputations are on the line.  But their faith is strong and unwavering as Psalm 62 proclaims.  Other verses quoted include Mark 11:25 and Romans 8:28.

While a bit corny and stereotypical at times, there were some enjoyable moments in God’s Club.  I’m in no rush to see it again nor am I eager to loan it out to fellow believers telling them that it’s a “must see.”  Overall it’s a decent film. However, I certainly won’t be handing it out to non-believers because of how they are portrayed in it.


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Noah’s Ark (2015)

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this DVD to review!

Our family has watched many faith-based movies and most of them show the biblical figures as upright, holy, and serious.  While those films don’t stray from the Bible and teach valuable lessons, they are often hard to relate to in modern times.  Noah’s Ark (which originally aired on BBC television) changes that formula by telling a well-known story with a modern twist and personable characters.  Although Noah was close to 600 years old (Gen 7:6), he is shown as being a fit man who joins his sons (Ham, Shem, Japeth) in diving, swimming, rough housing and some joking around.  

Besides the added dialog, there are some new characters brought into the story including an adopted son named Kenan.  Ham, Shem, and Japeth are all married though having grandkids is a little challenging for them since everyone is all living and sleeping in close proximity.  Some of the couples are discussing the lack of privacy and the need to move out to start their own families.  Kenan is nearly eighteen and falls in love with a non-believing girl in the nearby town.  He sneaks out to go partying with her almost every night.

The townspeople are shown as evil with implied pedophilia and valuing science over an all-powerful and loving God.  Some of the arguments made by the townspeople are the same as those used by modern day skeptics.  Instead of being told directly by God (Gen 6:13), an angelic messenger is sent to Noah to build an ark for the upcoming flood.

I love how this film depicts his family’s (realistic) reactions to such a bold mission.  Having not seen rainfall in over a year, the family is doubtful to say the least.  Noah keeps his faith and embarks on building the ark on his own.  His family slowly comes around, but when Noah tries to warn the townspeople, they nearly kill him.  Some do come around and join him on the ark before the storm comes. A couple of Bible discrepancies include Genesis 7:7 stating that it was only Noah’s family onboard, and God shut the ark’s door (Gen 7:16) instead of Noah.

The actual flood and gathering of the animals takes a backseat to the storytelling and portrayal of Noah’s family.  Despite some artistic license taken with this Biblical event, my family enjoyed watching this movie.   This 92 minute film has a faith friendly 12+ rating and I think that's fair given some of the bedroom discussions.  I wasn't familiar with any of the British actors, but they all did a fine job.  I highly recommend the 2015 Noah's Ark movie if you’re looking for a different spin on this great story of faith.


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Bridge of Spies

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

Bridge of Spies takes place during the Cold War in 1957 and is based on true events.  A Soviet spy has been captured and needs to be tried for his crimes.  The people are afraid of nuclear warfare and want swift and deadly justice to keep our country safe.  But who wants to defend this war criminal?  An insurance lawyer, Jim Donovan, gets the patriotic privilege of being Rudolf Abel’s legal counsel.

Despite his family’s concerns for their reputation and safety, Jim accepts the job and represents Mr. Abel honorably.  In fact, the cards are stacked against Rudolf and some legal shortcuts were taken to get him into court.  Even when the legal discrepancies are brought forward, they are disregarded by the judge.  Jim Donovan doesn’t give up and stands his ground and pleads for the court system to spare Rudolf’s life as a good gesture towards Russia.

While the arraignment proceedings are taking place, a top secret U.S. pilot is shot down in Russia and a U.S. student is captured while being on the wrong side of the newly erected Berlin wall.  Jim Donovan goes above and beyond the call of duty of simply representing Rudolf Abel, and is instrumental in negotiating his safe return to his family.

Without spoiling any more details from the movie, I will say that it’s well worth watching for yourself. When I saw that Bridge of Spies was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Tom Hanks, I had my expectations set pretty high.  I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed and highly recommend it.  Bridge of Spies is rated PG-13 due to strong language (a few SOB’s and F-bombs) and violence.  There are some emotional scenes with people losing their lives trying to reunite with loved ones on the other side of the Berlin wall.  Anyone who likes movies about war or justice should definitely check out Bridge of Spies.


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Lyfe’s Journey

Thank you Falco Ink for sending us this DVD to review!

David Lyfe had a good life, a nice house, a great job, a pretty wife and daughter, and a baby on the way.  He was a wonderful dad and a loving husband.  Things couldn’t get much better until he found out that his company was merging with another bank.  He detested having to fly out to California to lay off the people he personally hand-picked for that location.  To make matters worse, once that was handled, he was given the same lay-off spiel by his boss! To cope with the news David decided to drown away his sorrows at the hotel bar.

It’s there that he meets a lonely housewife named Amy and they share stories about each other’s life and spouses.  David is happy in his marriage, but Amy is not since her husband doesn’t pay much attention to her and her desire to have kids.  I’d like to say that they parted ways but instead David makes a mistake that will cost him his family, house, and job opportunities.  

When David hits rock bottom, he meets up with a pastor and starts to stay at their homeless shelter.  The pastor’s daughter took an interest in David since she sensed her deceased mother’s “presence” around him and knew that he deserved a second chance.  Can David repent of his sins and regain his wife’s trust and earn her forgiveness?  You’ll have to watch this eighty-two-minute film that has earned Dove awards for yourself.  It’s recommended for audiences that are twelve and older and I agree with that rating.    Although intimacy is not shown, it is implied and there are alcohol references.

Overall I found the movie enjoyable, but predictable.  The acting is decent and the main character is a good guy who makes one mistake and pays dearly for it.  The wife is rightfully hurt and her mother (who was cheated on numerous times) is pushing for her to divorce him.  As a Christian I like the message of redemption, but I’m not so fond of the spiritual sensing that the pastor’s daughter had with the local homeless residents. 


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

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Full of Grace

Thank you BH Impact for sending us this DVD to review!

Most Christians agree that Mary played a crucial role in bringing our savior into this world in His human form.  His conception was divine since Mary was not yet married and a virgin.  When she was visited by an angel, she accepted God’s will without thinking about the social stigma that would be placed on her or the emotional suffering that was to come.  She is truly a role model of humble submission. 

With that said, there are arguments in Christian circles that some denominations put too much emphasis on Mary believing that she can mediate between Jesus and mankind, that she too was sinless, and remained a virgin after marriage.  The Bible clearly states that Jesus is our mediator (1 Tim 2:5), all have sinned (Rom 3:23, Luke 2:24), and that Jesus had earthly siblings (Matt 12:47).  

The movie Full of Grace does not show any of her offspring caring for her towards the end of her life.  Instead, a (presumably fictional) woman named Zara is shown tending to her.   Sensing that her time on earth is dwindling, Mary sends word to Peter that she would like to speak with him one more time.

Meanwhile, Peter is being pressured by members of the early church seeking permission to interpret scriptures to teach the spiritually hungry new believers.  With issues like denying the trinity, not believing that Jesus was fully man as well as God, and believers picking and choosing Christ’s teachings, the early church is already harvesting seeds of discord.  Peter doesn’t want to spread false doctrine and is not sure how to proceed, so he welcomes the diversion of tending to Mary before giving the church elders a decision.  

Mary and Peter talk about their time together with Jesus and Mary implores him to go back to the beginning to understand the end.  Peter is soon accompanied by Simon and John who question him on Paul’s ministry and his rejecting the Old Testament ways.  Many good topics like law versus tradition, and limitless grace are discussed.  While this movie is slow-paced, it’s interesting to see how the early church struggled with its rapid growth and human failings.  

On her deathbed Mary shares with Jesus’ disciples and friends her earthly memories and wisdom.  She refers to the people there as her children and reminds them that she will always be with them.  Before passing, she has communion with them and has oil placed on her head. Her body is shown being carried away and buried instead of ascending to heaven like some denominations believe. 

Even though I didn’t recognize any of the actors, they played their roles well.  The background music and singing set the tone and the scenery was authentic, beautiful, and gloomy when it needed to be.  It lacks some of the triple A movie special effects, but the message of the movie is made clear without the need for unnecessary fanfare.     

I won’t spoil what Peter learned in case you wish to see this one hour and twenty-three minute film.  My mom, step-dad and I found it somewhat interesting while my husband managed to fall asleep.    If you want to see a movie portraying the possible struggles of the early church, than look no further than Full of Grace.  Just make sure you're well rested beforehand. 


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War Room

Thank you Sony Pictures for sending us this DVD to review!

The Kendrick brothers have been upping the ante with each film they have released.  I have enjoyed their previous entries including Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous.  While I have heard good things about War Room, I wasn’t familiar with the movie’s premise.  I assumed it took place in strategy room during a major war.  While I wasn’t completely off-base, this movie wasn’t what I anticipated at all and it exceeded my expectations.  I think it’s safe to say that the movies from the Kendrick brothers get better with each release.  

War Room begins with Clara Williams by her husband’s grave forty years after his passing.  He was a decorated war strategist and was very good at his position.  She realizes that war is a part of life, especially when it comes to spiritual warfare.  Clara is a devout Christian and spends much of her day in her bedroom closet praying for her family and friends.  While her closet is lacking clothes, its walls are covered in Bible verses and prayer requests.  At first glance it does look like an old fashioned war room.    

When it comes time for Clara to put her house up for sale she meets Elizabeth Jordan (played by Priscilla Shirer), a real estate agent whose marriage is falling apart. Their biggest issue is that they are putting their careers over the needs of each other and their daughter, Danielle.  Their romance is gone and Danielle is growing more distant and feels neglected each day.  

Clara pushes Elizabeth beyond her comfort zone and insists that she puts God at the throne of her heart and to start letting God fight her battles for her.  While her marriage currently seems hopeless, nothing is impossible for God!  It’s not an easy change for Elizabeth, but she perseveres even when things continue to crumble.  

Without spoiling the story, I will say that there are many emotional moments and a few humorous scenes as well.  I watched this film with my life group and kids.  It’s family friendly and the women in the room immediately recognized Beth Moore’s cameo in the film.  I recommend this movie for anyone whose prayer life can use a booster shot.


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Susie’s Hope

Thank you Greenleaf and Associates for sending us a screener to watch!

Susie’s Hope is based on a true story about the origin of North Carolina’s House Bill 1609 (dubbed Susie’s law) that authorizes up to ten months of jail time for people found guilty of cruelty to animals.  The movie begins with Donna and Roy Lawrence playfully bickering over the gender of their first unborn baby.  Since they don’t have kids yet, their gray poodle named Baby Girl is treated as one.   She is quite pampered and is dressed up in unique outfits with tiaras for various events.  

Despite it annoying her husband, Donna has a soft heart for animals that are neglected in her neighborhood.   Donna and her friend Ramona started taking care of a pit bull nearby that was malnourished and tied to a tree for several days.  After days successfully caring for it, Donna was brutally attacked by this dog and barely survived.  Thankfully she was able to break free and managed to meet Ramona who took her in the hospital in the nick of time.  The wounds were severe enough for Donna to lose her baby and any chance of getting pregnant again.

Both Donna and her husband mourned the loss of their unborn child, but Donna wished that her life was taken as well.  She wondered why God spared her and what the purpose of her life was.  Donna found her answer at a playground when she was taking a walk with Ramona.  In the grass was a mangled puppy that they thought was dead.  Surprisingly, it was still alive and was taken to the Guilford County Animal Shelter where they worked around the clock to treat the third degree burns, broken jaw, and hundreds of maggots found on the puppy.  

Putting the puppy out of its misery would have been easier and less expensive, but Donna sensed that this pit-bull mix puppy was a fighter and deserved a chance at a better life.  Without talking to her friend or husband first, she volunteered to pay for the $17,000 medical expenses to save the dog and was convinced that God would provide a way to have it funded.  

Donna named the puppy Susie and she made headlines in the papers and was on the evening news.  Generous donations were made to the animal shelter to help offset the medical costs.  The next step was to bring justice to the man who beat and burned this puppy alive.  Although he was brought to court, the North Carolina laws at the time were not strict enough to enforce jail time.

While the man responsible was put in jail, I’ll leave the details out so you can enjoy this family friendly movie for yourself.  No animals were injured in the making of this film and the budget is low enough where you can tell that the injured puppy is an animatronic.  It is cool that Susie does star in this movie as herself.  The rest of the cast is relatively unknown with the exception of Jon Provost who played Timmy in Lassie.  All of the cast did an excellent job in telling this story about faith, hope, and love.  It’s available on Amazon for $15 on blu-ray or free to watch with your Prime membership.


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Halo: The Fall of Reach

 

Thank you Content Media Corp for sending us a screener to review!

The Halo series began in 2001 and after a few studio swaps, is still going strong to this day.  The current studio, 343 Industries, and Microsoft have worked together to make Halo: The Fall of Reach. It is based off of the popular book and is a prequel to the games, which discloses the backstory of John 117, also known as Master Chief.  

John and seventy-four other genetically superior children were handpicked by Dr. Catherine Halsey to participate in an elite soldier program called Spartan.  These six-year-old children were taken from their families (with robotic clones left in their place) and raised in a harsh military environment.  In order to survive, or even be fed, these children had to learn to work together as a team.  John was a natural born leader and it showed.

After several trials that sometimes proved deadly, the worst was yet to come, augmentation.  The surgical procedures shown in this film are a bit gruesome and the fatality rate was 36% as these procedures were experimental and inhumane in many cases.  The doctor questioned her motives, but in the end was convinced that the ends would justify the means as these Spartan soldiers were humanity’s only defense from the Covenant threat.

The alien races working together as the Covenant are convinced that they’re doing God’s work by wiping out the human race.  Their technology is light years ahead of human capabilities but like many things, there is always a vulnerability.  John and his team have to find it.

 Not only is the story great in Halo: The Fall of Reach, but there is plenty of action, character development and references to various games in the series.  For example, some ODST soldiers make the mistake of picking a fight with John during a workout session.   

Since we were sent a low quality screener, I can’t vouch for how crisp the visual or audio quality is in the final product.  The movie is computer animated and is not as modern looking as some triple A video games.  Even still, I’m curious how it will look on blu-ray which goes for less than $15 on Amazon.  The movie is relatively short and clocks in at an hour and five minutes.  According to the reviews, like many situations, the book is better.  As a casual Halo fan who has played the first two games, and hasn’t read the books, I enjoyed watching this film. Because of the violence and language, it's best suited for older gamers and not children.


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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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