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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

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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Anne of Green Gables - The Good Stars

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

Anne is settling into her new life and is acclimating to school and her household chores, though she’s not too fond of geometry or chickens. Out of all of the girls in school that Gilbert tends to tease, he seems to fancy Anne the most. She’s not too keen of his antics, but eventually she warms up to him. As she spends more time with Gilbert, her friends are a little upset and feel neglected.

Upon turning thirteen, Anne feels that she has some difficult choices to make and seeks the council of the adults in her life. Marilla urges Anne to be sensible while Matthew wants her to pursue romance. Anne also learns that loyalty is more important than honor and makes a difficult decision as a result. Unfortunately, the movie ended before we could see the impact that it made. Thankfully, there’s still one more movie left in the series for us to watch.

It’s pretty safe to say that my kids and I are hooked on this series. So much so that we’ve decided to do like Anne did and bake an apple pie from scratch for Thanksgiving this year. However, we’ll be mindful of the time and not let it burn. Like the previous movies, there are several funny mishaps that Anne must learn from. As usual, most of her mistakes are innocent ones and she tries to right any and all wrongs that she has done.

This film is family friendly and even has some Bible stories told by the newly married pastor’s wife. Forgiveness is a strong theme in this ninety-minute film. Like the rest of the entries, it’s only available in DVD format. It’s a shame since this island is so beautiful and can really benefit from Blu-ray visual enhancements. Either way, it’s still worth checking out for free on Amazon Prime or buying for $15 on PBS’ website.



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Puppy Star Christmas

Thank you Air Bud Entertainment for sending us a screener to review along with a stuffed bear, an apron and hat, candy for a ginger bread house, dog treats and toys!

Puppy Star Christmas begins with the wedding of Tiny and P.U.P. and puppies arrive several months after that. In total, there are four puppies who could not have fit inside the mother without being born premature or delivered via C-section. The three female puppies take after their mother in appearance and the boy pup, Brody, looks just like his dad. Brody and his sisters, Charlie and Rosie, tend to get in trouble while Cindy tries her best to stop them to no avail.

With some of the trouble the puppies are getting into, Tiny and P.U.P. are wondering if they are being neglectful parents. In an attempt to spend more time with them, they put together a Puppy Star Christmas show and have managed to book Santa Claus as a special guest. News of this spreads like wildfire and catches the attention of the mischievous Bark and his co-conspirator, Kano. Roland assists them in their plan to take over Christmas as long as he gets to fly Santa’s sleigh.

Bark’s objective is to monetize Christmas further and make every family pay for the privilege to receive gifts and not coal. Not only does this provide a lot of income, it nullifies the penalty for being on the naughty list. As long as you have money, presents are guaranteed.

With Christmas in danger, everyone wants to re-kindle the Christmas spirit of love, forgiveness, and selflessness. Christ’s birth is not mentioned whatsoever in this film. I do like the aspect of forgiveness and not carrying a grudge against those who have wronged you.

Puppy Star Christmas is ninety minutes long, rated PG, and has some comedic violence. There is also some gross humor as a character discovers that reindeer poop tastes like toothpaste. Many of the same characters and actors are back in this film, including the effeminate Shep, though he does manage to find love in this movie.

If you enjoyed the silliness of the previous films, then you’ll probably like this one as well. My kids and I enjoyed watching it and it’s now available on Netflix.  Though it's listed on Amazon, it's not yet available for purchase.

 


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Anne of Green Gables

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD set to review!

Anne of Green Gables was written by L.M. Montgomery and published in 1908. The book has sold over fifty million copies and has been adapted into several films. PBS first aired Anne of Green Gables on November 24th, 2016. This 90-minute movie stars Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert who lives with his sister Marilla on a beautiful farm called Green Gables. They’re not getting any younger and can use some help with their chores and seek to adopt a boy to live with them.

Instead of a boy, Matthew and Marilla are greeted by a chatty redheaded girl named Anne Shirley. Matthew is more welcoming than most others that Anne meets, but even the meanest people are nicer than those that Anne dealt with growing up. She was physically punished in orphanages and lived with a family that had a drunk and often violent husband.

As rough as her past was, her future is looking bright at Green Gables and Anne gets to experience many firsts while living there. Her first friend, prayer, church service, school, and even ice cream! There are many humorous moments that my family enjoyed while watching this film together.

This movie is the first in a three-part series and I look forward to watching the rest with my children. The visuals are stunning, but are limited to the DVD format. I wish it was available on Blu-ray for even more vibrant colors. The acting is superb and there are many likable (and unlikable) characters that I look forward to being further developed in this series.

If you’re a fan of the book or for some wholesome family friendly entertainment, you should check out this film. Amazon Prime members can watch it for free as part of their subscription. PBS also sells the DVD on their website for $14.99.



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Pixar Animated Shorts: Volume 3

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

Pixar movies are great and they always have the added bonus of a wonderfully made short to precede them. Sometimes they’re funny and other times they’re insightful. Volume 3 contains eleven shorts, two mini-movies, and some bonus features that are exceptionally made. While I have seen some of them, many of these shorts were new and thoroughly enjoyed by my family.

Here’s a breakdown of each one:

Bao – An eye-opening tale about a mother’s love for a rebellious son.

Lou – Lost toys come together to teach a bully a lesson and the benefits of forgiveness.

Piper – Teaching a baby seagull to feed himself, and overcoming the fear of the ocean waves.

Sanjay’s Super Team – Mostly based on a true story. Sanjay is trying to watch his superhero TV show and his dad is trying to meditate by their family shrine. After Sanjay loses the battle over the television volume, he joins his father in worship physically while mentally he daydreams fighting bad guys alongside some of his gods.

Riley’s First Date? – Inside Out characters in the minds of the boy, parents, and Riley. The mother tries to pry information from Riley with “hip talk” while the father attempts to intimidate Jordan.

Lava – A Hawaiian-themed musical short about a lonely volcano looking for love. Will he meet the “lava” of his life?

The Radiator Springs 500 ½ - Stanley Days is interrupted by some young punks looking to challenge Lightning McQueen to a race. Unfortunately, they’re given some bad directions and have quite the adventure.

Party Central – Mike and Sullivan save a lackluster frat party at Monsters University by stealing food and students from another one.

The Blue Umbrella – In a city full of black umbrellas, a bright blue one stands out from the crowd and takes a liking to a vibrant red one. Eventually, they go their separate ways, but will they meet again?

The Legend of Mor’du – A witch shares the tale about a king and his four sons with different skills. When the king passed, the eldest son wanted to rule the kingdom by himself and not share it as his father had decreed. War ensued and resulted in a stalemate. The oldest son enlisted the help of a witch who gave him a spell of choice: great strength or to restore his bond with his brothers.

Partysaurus Rex – The characters of Toy Story gang up against Rex who ruins their fun. They call him Party Pooper Rex. Rex meets some new bath toy friends and introduces himself as Partysaurus Rex. Since he has arms he can draw the bath water to keep the party going after bath time.

There are also two mini-movies:

Marine Life Interviews – A bunch of fish and a couple of seals recall their time with Dory. This one is shorter than most of the shorts.

Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool – The bus from Cars 3 has an infomercial that is pretty intense. Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez are her most recent graduates.

Lastly, there are two bonus features:

Making Bao - Bao means steamed bun or precious. It’s neat that the whole crew learned how to make dumplings from the director’s mother. I didn’t realize it until this behind the scenes that the short takes place in Toronto.

Caricature: A Horrible Way of Saying 'I Love You' – A look into mean caricature night at Pixar. I’m glad I don’t work there…

Despite that a couple of the shorts don’t align with Biblical teachings, but they’re all family friendly. I do like the theme of forgiveness and making things right in Lou. This seventy-six minute collection can be yours for less than $25 on Amazon.

 


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Incredibles 2

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

It’s been fourteen years since the original Incredibles move was released. Incredibles 2 takes place shortly after the first film where performing heroics is still illegal and has been for fifteen years. It was just a regular day for the Parr family when a villain rose up and robbed a bank in broad daylight. The Incredibles took it upon themselves to stop this criminal and to save the city from his out-of-control drilling vehicle heading towards City Hall. Even though that crisis was averted, much damage was done to other buildings and all superheroes were further chastised and told to stay out of the crime fighting business. In fact, the agency that has been helping the Incredibles is shutting down due to this incident.

Though most of the public are against superheroes, not everyone is. A very rich entrepreneur wishes to reverse this law and uses Elastigirl as his ideal example. She was chosen for her performance and lack of damage caused to personal property. Her husband’s ego is shattered, but he wants his wife to succeed as it will benefit all superheroes in the future.

While Helen is fighting crime and making televised appearances, Bob is taking care of the kids at home. He has to learn “new” math, cope with his daughter’s dating drama, and discover Jack-Jack's multiple new powers. I won’t spoil any of the story, but I will say that the whole family must work together to untarnish the reputation of superheroes.

For a film geared towards families, I was surprised at the language in it. Hell, d*mn, and the Lord’s name taken in vain can be heard in this two hour and five minute film. Cartoon violence is a given. If you don’t mind that you’ll probably enjoy this film despite its predictable ending.



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Solo: A Star Wars Story

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

Solo takes place before Star Wars IV: A New Hope. As the title suggests, it’s about the reluctant hero, Han Solo, and even shows how he gets his surname when he enlists in the Empire. Han and his girlfriend Qi’ra grew up on the streets in Corellia. Like many street kids, they are forced to steal and bring their loot to Lady Proxima in exchange for food, shelter, and their lives. In attempt to escape Corellia, Han makes it out and promises to come back for Qi’ra.

In order to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot and reuniting with Qi’ra, Han enlists with the Empire. Instead of flying, he’s put on the front lines where he meets some thieves who have infiltrated the Empire's army. Han has a nose for sniffing out trouble and likes to hang around fellow troublemakers. He also meets Chewbacca and the two become inseparable.

The Millennium Falcon's original owner, Lando Calrissian, is also introduced. Lando’s co-pilot is an independent and sassy droid named L3-37. She’s hilarious. Both Han and Lando are fond of gambling and one of them is a cheater. Like other Star Wars films, you can expect to find spaceship violence, blood, and death. There is some language (d*mn) and it’s implied that Han and Qi’ra have been intimate. Kissing is shown, but nothing else.

The Rebellion is in its infancy as the Empire is getting stronger and more hostile by the day. Something needs to be done about them and Han must choose his alliances carefully. I enjoyed this 135-minute film and recommend it for any Star Wars fan. It’s rated PG-13 and I agree with that rating.



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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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