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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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New Life

Thank you MPRM Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

New Life is a touching movie that begins with a seven-year-old Benjamin as he moves to the U.S. and meets Ava, the girl next door.  Their childhood friendship develops into an adolescent romance and things get rocky in the college years as they attempt a semi-distant relationship.   While they’re only a couple of hours apart, they barely get to see each other with Benjamin juggling two jobs.   

Ava begins her teaching career and gets a sweet marriage proposal from Ben and accepts it.  It doesn’t take long for Ben to get lost in his work again and this puts a strain on their marriage.  Things also get more difficult for this couple, but I don’t want to spoil it.  All that I will say is that this is an inspiring movie about love, family, faith, and perseverance.  Even though life gives us challenges, God provides family and friends to help us cope through our struggles.  

Although this movie isn’t overtly Christian, there are some references to prayer.  Also, while pregnancy is a topic, this film leaves the conception part to your imagination.   There isn’t any language, but before showing this to younger children, be warned that there are scenes involving sickness and death.

Story wise this film is good and the acting is well done.  I was nearly brought to tears in some scenes.  If  you’re looking for a cheerful movie, then you may want to look elsewhere.  However, if you want to see love story that brings hope in the midst of despair, thenn I recommend watching this film.   You can own the DVD for less than $13.  Unfortunately, I don’t see a Blu-ray version available.   Even in the inferior DVD format, it’s worth picking up!


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The Gruffalo

Thank you JG PR for sending us this DVD to review!

The children’s book The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson came out in 1999.  Since its release, it has received numerous awards including Smarties Prize and the Blue Peter Award for the Best Book to Read Aloud.   Given the awards and the 5-star rating on Amazon, it’s safe to say that it’s a good book and deserves the DVD treatment.

The 30-minute DVD has a suggested retail price of $9.99, but is available to stream for free for Prime members.   Digitally renting this movie is possible for $3.99, but you may as well buy a physical copy for an extra dollar.  

The story begins with a squirrel mother gathering nuts for her young children.  Instead of food, they’d rather hear a story about a mouse or a monster.  The mother squirrel compromises and tells them a story about both.

A hungry brown mouse is trying to make his way to a nut tree for dinner.  It’s quite a ways away and throughout his journey he gets stopped by a fox, an owl, and a snake.  They each invite the mouse over for a meal, with him being the main course!  The wily mouse outsmarts all of them by telling them that he’s on his way to a meal with a gruffalo and describes its fearsome traits to them.  When each of the animals hears about the gruffalo’s hideous features and discovers that they are its favorite meal, they promptly release the mouse.

The mouse’s tall tale gets more complex with each retelling of it.  Imagine his surprise when he comes face to face with an actual gruffalo who matches his description to a tee!  The mouse’s next feat is to convince the gruffalo to not eat him!  Will he succeed?  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that my daughter and I both enjoyed this movie and its sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child.


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The Gruffalo’s Child

Thank you JGPR for sending us this DVD to review!

After the resounding success of The Gruffalo, the author, Julia Donaldson released The Gruffalo’s Child in 2004. The Gruffalo’s Child was one of the biggest best-sellers of 2004 and won WHS Children's Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. Like the prequel, this children’s storybook has a 5-star rating on Amazon and a DVD based on it.

As spontaneous as the gruffalo came into existence, his daughter followed suit. Still being convinced that all the animals in the forest fear the mouse, he instructs his daughter to not go into the “deep dark wood” to avoid running into “the big bad mouse”. Because children are known to be curious, the young gruffalo defies her father’s orders and sneaks out in the middle of the night to see the mouse with her own eyes.

Along the way, she runs into the same snake, fox, and owl who have been out-witted by the mouse before. They gladly tell her the way to the mouse’s home since they believe that it enjoys feasting on gruffalos. The young gruffalo does indeed meet the mouse and joins the other creatures in being out-witted by him.

I’ll leave out the specifics since this thirty minute movie is worth experiencing first hand. While deception and lying is encouraged in this tale, there is a lesson taught about trusting and obeying your parents since they know what’s best for you.

The Gruffalo’s Child can be rented on Amazon for $3.99 or owned for a dollar more. It’s well worth picking up if you enjoyed the prequel. The best bargain is a double feature DVD that includes both movies and typically sells for less than $6.50.

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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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Joseph and Mary

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

Most Christians are familiar with Mary’s role in submitting to God’s will and bringing our savior into this world.  She agreed to carry the Lord’s child knowing that her future marriage and life would be endangered as a result.   Because of a dream Joseph received from the Lord, he knew that her pregnancy was indeed a miracle and continued the engagement knowing that his reputation would suffer as a result.  The movie Joseph and Mary doesn’t focus on the angelic visit and begins with Joseph (Kevin Sorbo) crafting a wooden cradle for their future baby.  

While the Bible doesn’t specify the ages of Mary and Joseph, I’m willing to bet that they were much younger than the actors used to play their roles in this film.  I’m also willing to wager that they were not Caucasian either.   The miscasting continues in the temple scene with Simeon and Anna. Their actors are much too young for their roles.  Both of them were promised to see the Messiah before they died and Anna was in her eighties when she saw baby Jesus.

The acting is still decent regardless of their ages and the main story of the revenge seeking rabbi, Elijah, is pretty good.  King Herod’s taxes are causing an uproar and people who resist paying taxes are made examples of.  Rebekah’s husband, Aaron, is killed in front of her despite Elijah’s attempts of appeasing the tax collector.  The husband’s dying wish is that Elijah takes care of his wife and he does so.  Her oldest son grows fond of Elijah and they become a family.  That is until Herod demands the deaths of young male children.  Rebekah vows vengeance on the soldier that carried out Herod’s orders on her family and she pressures Elijah into killing him on her behalf.

Elijah refers to the Deuteronomy 19 verse 21 which states a life for a life and an eye for an eye for agreeing to kill this legionnaire.  Joseph is trying to convince Elijah to forgive the man and have compassion on him instead.  As Jesus grows up and speaks in the temple, Elijah is convinced that there’s something different about this child and starts to believe that He’s the Messiah.  Can he accept Christ’s teachings and learn to forgive?  I’ll leave the rest for you see for yourself in this hour and twenty-two-minute film.

Because this film deals with the murder of innocents, there are some violence scenes. Other than those moments, this film is family friendly and teaches a good moral lesson.  This DVD can be yours to own on Amazon for less than $15.


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The BFG

Thank you Public Media Distribution for sending us this DVD to review!

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) book written by Roald Dahl came out in 1982 and the ninety-minute film adaptation was released in 1989.  This 2016 version has been digitally restored and comes with a before and after special feature so you can see the difference in real time.  Another added bonus is a documentary on Roald Dahl.  

The rest of this timeless classic remains the same where a young orphan girl named Sophie is woken up in the middle of the night and sees something peculiar.    There is a giant wandering around the town and is blowing something into the windows of her neighbors.  After she’s been spotted, the giant reaches into the orphanage, grabs Sophie, and takes her to his world of giants.

Sophie is afraid that the giant will eat her, but unlike the others, BFG does not eat humans.  He shares with her some of his other foods which are quite different from our world.  One of the beverages he offers her has the bubbles going down instead of up and as a result instead of burping, this drink causes the drinker to whizzpop/fart.  Needless to say that this song and other flatulence based humor in this film brought smiles and laughter out of my children.

The dated visuals are noticeable, but don’t detract from the story of friendship and courage.  There is also a good message about not judging people by their appearance and tolerating language mishaps.  Overall, my family enjoyed this film and look forward to watching the live action remake.  

I can see why this family friendly story is popular in schools and highly recommend the book or this animated rendition of it.  The 1989 version can be yours on Amazon for less than $8 but the remastered blu-ray is $29.99.


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Jessica Darling’s It List

Thank you MarVista for sending us a screener of this movie to review!

This one hour and nineteen-minute movie is based off of the popular book series by Megan McCafferty.  The main character is Jessica Darling who is about to enter seventh grade and wants to start off on the right foot.  Her older sister with a passion for fashion gave Jessica a list of four things to do to be popular in junior high.  Here’s the contents of her sister’s “It List”:

1. Wear something different every day

2. Make the cheer team

3. Pick your first boyfriend wisely

4. Stick with the It clique

The first item on the list doesn’t apply to Jessica since she doesn’t really enjoy shopping for or wearing exquisite clothing.  Jessica also struggles with making the cheer team since she lacks the grace and gymnastics skills to outshine the other cheer leader hopefuls.  She does land an interesting and humorous gig that is cheer team related though.

While noticing boys, Jessica doesn’t fall head over heels over any of them in her school yet.  Though the boy in her wood working class seems to like her.  Unlike her friends, Jessica wasn’t able to get into the home economics class.  

Friendship is something that Jessica learns a lot about.  She discovers that many of the girls in the It clique are very shallow and their feelings towards her come and go.  Jessica must first find her own identity and then discover who her true friends are and appreciate them.

Overall, Jessica Darling’s It List is a cute and funny film that teaches some valuable lessons on being yourself and being a good friend.    It’s a family safe film without any language or sexual content to worry about.  All of my kids enjoyed watching it, though my girls enjoyed it more since it’s geared more towards females.


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Kindergarten Cop 2

Thank you Click Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

The original Kindergarten Cop starring Arnold Schwarzenegger came out in 1990 and was an instant classic.  Unfortunately, things have changed a lot since then and this sequel reflects many of those differences with the modern day kindergarten students.  One of the students is gluten free while another has peanut allergies.  The upscale private school that this movie takes place in caters to all religions and sexual orientations.  Not surprisingly, one of the students has two moms and a distrust for men.  Gone are time-outs and sitting “Indian style”; it’s now called “criss cross applesauce “ as the undercover FBI agent, Mr. Reed, soon learns. 

Mr. Reed (Dolph Lundgren) is a well-built ladies man that has no experience with children.  Reed’s partner (Bill Bellamy), has five kids and offers to help Reed, but he’s too proud to accept it.  To complicate matters, agent Reed has a tendency to fall for women while undercover, and this mission is no exception.  The other kindergarten teacher is attractive and nice and may have some information on the hidden flash drive that has the FBI’s data on it.  

The FBI aren’t the only ones after the stolen witness protection database as the syndicate boss, Zogu, seeks to silence a witness that is listed in it.  Time is running out and the FBI agents have to earn the kids' trust to uncover the secret location of the flash drive hidden somewhere on the school grounds.  

One would assume that a movie about kindergarten students would be safe for the whole family to watch.  Sadly, it’s not.  This 140-minute film is rated PG-13 and has some sexual references, violence, and plenty of blaspheming along with foul language.  Pretty much every cuss word is used with exception to the F-bomb.

In the end, this movie misses the mark and is okay at best.  The characters are not very likable and the story is sub-par.  Adding the politically correct nonsense only makes this film worse.  I recommend sticking with the original and renting this one before buying it.

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The Finest Hours

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

The Finest Hours is based on a true story and is considered to be the most heroic rescue in Coast Guard history.  The main character, Bernie Weber (Chris Pine), is a Coast Guard crewman who follows the rulebook and knows all of the regulations.  He’s very familiar with the ocean and knows how dangerous the bar can be to cross during nice weather, let alone during a severe winter storm.  When he was sent to assist the crew of the SS Pendleton, which split in half on February 18th, 1952, he did not hesitate knowing full well that this was a suicide mission.  It was up to Bernie and his crew to attempt to rescue the stranded men since all of the other Coast Guard ships were assisting another split oil tanker, the SS Fort Mercer.

The tiny rescue boat defied all odds and reached the SS Pendleton despite missing crucial navigational equipment.  The next hurdle was bringing the thirty-two rescued men to safety on a boat that’s designed to carry twelve.  Some tough decisions had to be made, but they paid off in the end.  I won’t spoil any of the details because I recommend watching this thrilling movie.

Although The Finest Hours is a Disney movie, it is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril.  There are some deaths and injuries shown and one of the characters cusses (d*mn).  Other than those issues, this movie is safe for most audiences.  

The acting was good and I recognized some of the actors in this film.  There were some blue visual artifacts and other inconsistencies that I noticed, but they didn’t detract from the story in any way.  For example, sometimes Bernie’s nose would be pink from the cold and a few frames later it was back to normal and then suddenly pink again.  

In the end I highly recommend checking out The Finest Hours.  It has a lot of intense action and edge of the seat moments, but there is also a love story in there too.  This 117-minute film can be yours for $25 or less on Amazon.


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Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales

Thank you Click Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales first aired on Disney XD in the summer of 2015.  With its recent DVD release, everyone can now enjoy the retelling of the Star Wars saga from C-3PO and R2-D2’s perspective.  The overarching story is that R2-D2 has been kidnapped and while chasing after his captor C-3PO recalls and shares his adventures with different audience groups during some downtime.  This 115-minute DVD is broken down into five episodes and here’s a quick summary of each one:

Exit from Endor – The victorious rebels are celebrating and Luke Skywalker sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu.  At the campfire,C-3PO recalls the story of Anakin’s childhood and run in with Qui-Gon Jinn and Queen Amidala.  Extra comedy is added into the retelling of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones including several severe injuries of Jar-Jar Binks and Darth Maul’s overuse of the word awesome.

Crisis on Coruscant – While still tracking down R2-D2’s whereabouts, C-3PO shares his version of what happened in Revenge of the Sith.  General Grievous and Count Dooku “kidnap” the emperor in order to lure Anakin to join the dark side.  Darth Vader makes his appearance in this episode.  On a lighter note, Yoda’s line, “Oh heck what the” cracked us all up.

Mission to Mos Eisley – C-3PO heads to Tatooine to track down R2-D2.  He reminisces about A New Hope where he and R2-D2 are sold to Luke Skywalker after all of the other robots scavenged by the Jawas mysteriously break during their inspection.  Luke Skywalker begins his Jedi training with Obi-Wan and Yoda and later destroys the Death Star.  At the end of this episode, C-3PO reunites with Chewbacca and continues his quest of rescuing R2-D2 from his mysterious captor.

Flight of the Falcon – C-3PO retells the events from The Empire Strikes Back to Chewbacca and Nien Nunb as they head to the old Battle Droid Factory.   The rebels faced the wrath of Darth Vader after destroying the Death Star.  Luke trains with Yoda in Dagobah and hilarity ensues.  Han Solo got a little terse with C-3PO by telling him to shut his protocol hole.  By the end of this episode, R2-D2’s captor is revealed and both robots are in danger of being recycled into battle droids.

Gambit on Geonosis – While C-3PO and R2-D2 are stalling for time, C-3PO shares the events in Return of the Jedi with the interested Stormtroopers.  Han Solo is freed from his carbonite prison and the rebels have to deal with Jabba the Hutt.  While Luke is portrayed with two different colored hands, the details are not revealed in this series.  In the end, R2-D2, General Ackbar, and the Ewoks save the day and provide a happy ending.  

My kids enjoyed this series and I recommend it for any Lego and Star Wars fans out there.  While it’s not as funny as the other Lego Star Wars DVDs, it’s still worth checking out.  The DVD sells for less than $13 on Amazon.


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My All American

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

My All American is based off of the book Courage Beyond the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story written by Jim Dent.  Both the book and movie are based on a true story about a young man who lived for playing football.   Freddie wasn’t very tall for a football player, measuring in at 5’ 9”, and as a result not many colleges responded to his applications for scholarships.  Some of his taller friends had no trouble hearing back from prestigious colleges.  Freddie compensated for his height with speed and strength and was a very talented safety.

His high school coach saw his potential and worked him pretty hard.  After school’s training, Freddie’s father worked him even harder!  Freddie was very disciplined physically, academically, and spiritually by praying and attending mass daily.  Due to financial constraints Freddie’s family was relying on his football skills to land him a scholarship to pay for his college tuition.  Despite the lack of responses from colleges, Freddie and his family did not give up.  

Freddie’s high school coach put in a good word for him and one of his taller friends to University of Texas’ coach Royal.  Freddie was finally given a scholarship and a chance to show his prowess on the field.  Instead of taking the credit, Freddie said it was an answered prayer.   Getting the scholarship was half the battle, maintaining it is even harder.  Freddie survived the cuts that weeded out half of the prospective players.

Despite having some leg pain, Freddie didn’t let it stop him from achieving his goals.  His dedication and skills set him apart on the field and his efforts made the 1969 Texas Longhorns national champions.  Once they won the “Game of the Century” that was attended by Richard Nixon, Freddie got his leg examined by a doctor and the diagnosis was startling.  

I won’t be spoiling the end of this one hour and fifty-nine minute movie for you.  I will however highly recommend it while cautioning that it’s probably not suitable for younger children and earns its PG rating.  There is language from the coaches as they give the team pep talks.  One scene shows one of the teammates streaking in his jock-strap which shows off his butt cheeks.  Other than those issues, this movie is very well done and shows a good example of courage and sportsmanship.  


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Thank You For Playing

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Thank you Falco Ink For sending us a screener of this movie!

When Joel Evan Green was a one-year-old, he had brain tumors and was only given four months to live.  His parents had a choice.  They could distance themselves and prepare for his death, or celebrate each day of his life.  While the tumors came and went with chemotherapy, Joel lived a few more years and was showered with love each and every one of those days.  Throughout Joel’s treatment, his parents documented their journey for this documentary and their game immortalizing Joel’s battle with “That Dragon, Cancer”.  

Both the film and the game capture the struggles and testing of the family’s faith and hope for saving their son’s life.  Lots of emotions are shown and they’re all genuine.  A couple of swear words are said so keep that in mind for younger audiences.   

It was really neat to see the behind the scenes discussions and work put into the making of “That Dragon, Cancer.”   Ryan and Amy Green worked together on the script and their sons lended their voice talents in the game as well.  While the laughs in the game are Joel’s, the crying is not.  

Though the characters in the game are expressionless, this movie leaves nothing to the imagination and has lots of footage of Joel and his family.  Many videogames promote violence but not too many tell an emotional story.  Too many families have been impacted by cancer and they don’t talk about their struggles.  One of the goals of this game is to break down those barriers and allow people to share, uplift, and mourn together.  At its PAX appearance, many gamers who play tested “That Dragon, Cancer” were moved to tears.  Both the film and game are powerful and worth checking out.  Just keep some tissues handy.

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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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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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