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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

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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We Are Alright

alright

Thank you Borys Nieśpielak for sending us this digital film to review!

Making a video game that’s fun and stands out from the crowd takes a lot of time and effort. Many indie games remain obscure and don’t get insanely popular like Mojang’s Minecraft. In fact, many game developers get discouraged and quit once their game releases and fizzles shortly afterward.

We Are Alright is a sixty-four minute documentary about Lichthund’s founders Bartek and Rafel and the preparations/launch of their first title, Lichtspeer. The audio is in Polish, but thankfully, it’s subtitled. The film begins five months from release day and continues on though the game’s launch on Steam and PS4.

Until the launch, there are several bugs and issues that need to get sorted in order to get Sony’s approval. Time and money are tight, as the composer is seen asking for his money and in order to break even the developers are hoping to sell 10,000 copies or 300 a month to make ends meet.

Lichtspeer has a lot going for it with some great looking merchandise and highly praised gameplay feedback at the PGA conference. Both of the developers quit their jobs to finish working on Lichtspeer, which has been in development for two-and-a-half years.

After many trials and tribulations, the launch date drew near and it was time to get influencers to check it out and spread the word. Sadly, many of them did not respond. Our site was too niche to be contacted but I can see the importance of launch day coverage after watching this film.

I won’t spoil the ending or divulge the sales numbers as I recommend checking out this film if you have any interest in developing games. It will give you some valuable insight into the struggles of game development and getting coverage for your title. If you don’t mind drinking and strong language, you can rent this film for $2.99 or own it digitally for $9.99 on Steam.

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Big Hero 6: The Series: Back in Action!

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

Judging by how many times it's been watched, Big Hero 6 is hands down my kids’ favorite Disney movie to date. Although Big Hero 6: The Series: Back in Action! has a little bit of a recap in the first episode, I still strongly recommend watching the movie before embarking on this series. The main characters are still present including Hiro Hamada, the younger brother of the deceased renowned science student, Tadashi Hamada. Hiro is a newly registered student at his brother’s school, San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. Although younger than them, Hiro quickly becomes buddies with his brother’s friends who happen to do super hero work on the side.

Fred is the founder of Big Hero 6 and lives in a huge mansion. Fred’s father was also a superhero and is played by none other than comic book legend Stan Lee. Honey Lemon has a unique purse that can produce helpful beads with different abilities. In one episode her purse gets stolen by a villain and becomes quite a formidable threat. GoGo is pretty fast and good with razer blades. Wasabi is a big guy who uses some powerful laser slicers when he’s going through an adrenaline rush.

Baymax is Tadashi’s unfinished loveable medical robot who will assist anyone in need, friend or foe, if they simply say “ouch!” Baymax’s helpfulness and honesty often leads to some funny moments in this 175 minute DVD. There are seven episodes and some shorts that are bound to bring out some laughter.

I like how the episodes deal with the problems and consequences of lying, stealing, and procrastinating. There is also a message of hope and not giving up on people. If you don’t mind some cartoon violence and poor decisions that teach good life lessons, this DVD is a wonderful addition to any Big Hero 6 fan’s library. My only complaint is that it’s not available in Blu-Ray format. The 2D art style wouldn’t look much different though. This collection can be yours for less than $10 on Amazon.


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Little Women

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

The book Little Women was originally published as two volumes in 1868-1869. It was written by Louisa May Alcott and is loosely based on her and her three sisters. As popular as this book is, I still have yet to read it. I am, however, glad to have seen it in the recently released television series.

There are three episodes that are roughly an hour long each. My family was hooked after the first one and we watched an episode a night until it was finished. Even though the main characters are girls/women, my husband and son enjoyed their stories and felt for Laurie who had his love advances thwarted on several occasions.

Each of the sisters has a different personality yet they generally get along pretty well with the occasional spat here and there. Meg is the oldest sister and is quite social and beautiful as she attends various balls and festivities in town. Jo (Josephine) is rather tomboyish and wishes that she was born male. She’s strong willed and an excellent writer. Beth is gentle, sweet, and great at playing the piano. Amy is the youngest sister and is a good artist.

The March family is blessed but they still have their struggles. In the beginning of the series, the father is away at war and later becomes quite sick. The mother is good at keeping peace in the house and instills charity and other valuable lessons to the girls. I like how they tend to a family in need by offering their Christmas meal to them. When the mother gets word of her husband’s illness she leaves to tend to him. The girls fare pretty well but have some serious health hurdles of their own to contend with.

I won’t spoil any more of the story in hopes that you check it out on your own. The acting is well done and Angela Lansbury does well at contrasting her Ms. Potts role in Beauty and the Beast for a cranky old aunt in this series. The characters are likable and relatable in this film. I could relate with some of the sisters more than others though. I highly recommend this series for those like me, who have been meaning to read the book. The DVD sells for $15 and the Blu-ray can be yours for a little over $22.


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GameChangers: Dreams of BlizzCon

Thank you FilmRise for sending us this DVD to review!

Before watching this documentary by John Keating I was aware that eSports were big and getting more popular every year. I also knew that Koreans dominated it. I just didn’t realize how huge eSports are or what it takes to make a living as a professional gamer. I’m also now aware of the dedication and commitment required to pursue dreams of competing in BlizzCon someday.

This documentary follows two professional gamers, MC and MMA, as they rise up the ranks to compete in Blizzcon 2014. MMA is twenty-six years old and nearing retirement. He’s considered ancient in terms of professional gaming as many of the rising stars are teens and older gamers cannot match their reflexes. Seeing these guys play StarCraft 2 for hours on end and clicking away at their keyboards and not even looking at their fingers is super impressive. I have no doubt that they would kick my butt in a matter of seconds as I use my mouse to issue orders instead of keyboard macros.

I like how the documentary goes into the family backgrounds of MMA and MC. MMA’s father is a preacher and wishes for his son to follow in his footsteps. MMA takes care of his family by providing them with fresh fruit that his mother loves and by donating his paychecks to their church/ministry. MC’s father died when he was very young and he was raised by his mother. To make ends meet his mom had to work a lot and suffered from depression as a result. MC is one of the highest paid professional gamers and his paychecks go towards caring for his mom.

I won’t reveal any spoilers as to which of these pro gamers made it to BlizzCon, but I highly recommend watching this 89 minute documentary for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the dedication and sacrifices required to succeed in the pro gaming world. With eSports having more viewership than the NHL and the US Golf Open, it’ll probably be around for a while.  If you're interested in seeing what eSports is all about, GameChangers: Dreams of BlizzCon will be available for purchase and rental on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu on June 12th.

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Samson

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

Samson’s story in the Bible is an incredible one about a man who had God-given strength as long as he kept the Nazarite vows. Since his birth, he was forbidden to cut his hair and abstain from grapes, raisins, and wine. Samson was a judge and was supposed to lead the tribe of Dan, but he was too busy womanizing. Instead of settling down with a nice Hebrew girl, he preferred Philistine women. The Philistines were oppressing the Hebrews so it was difficult for Samson to get his parents' blessing on marrying the girl he fell in love with. In the movie, the Philistine slave he proposes to is named Taren though her name is not revealed in the book of Judges.

While this one hundred and ten minute movie is rated PG-13, it’s for the violence rather than sex scenes. Intimacy is only alluded to and not seen. Samson is shown taking down a lion with his bare hands, killing thirty Philistines for their tunics, and using the jawbone of a donkey to slaughter one thousand Philistine warriors. Tying ignited twigs on three hundred fox tails is also seen though I doubt that any animals were harmed while filming. The special effects are pretty good though not as high tech as many big budget films out there.

Though this film portrays Samson in a positive light, it does deviate from the scriptures a bit. The Philistine woman Samson married is given to Prince Rallah instead of the best man. Rather than being a harlot, Delilah is Rallah’s wife. True to the scriptures, she does entice Samson to reveal his weakness, but the movie only shows two out of four attempts.

If you’re familiar with the book of Judges, you’ll know how this film ends. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that Samson was definitely used by God to reveal his power to the Philistines. My husband and I enjoyed watching this film and its fresh take on one the Bible’s strongest men. On Amazon the Blu-ray sells for less than $18 and the DVD edition is under $15.

 


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Nature: Sex, Lies and Butterflies

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

I didn’t think I’d be showing my children a movie with sex in the title anytime soon, but I did. This film is aptly titled as it goes into detail about the mysteries and impressive feats of caterpillars morphing into beautiful butterflies. A caterpillar spends its time eating and once it becomes a butterfly, its primary purpose is to mate. Butterflies are shown reproducing as well as aiding flowers in pollination. Since these events are part of nature and can be seen out in the open, I consider this film safe for all audiences despite its PG rating.

Christians should be cautioned, as there are references to evolution throughout this movie. The scientists discuss the butterflies originating from moths and adapting over millions of years. Scientists also marvel at how the butterflies and flowers are designed to complement each other, but if you believe in an intelligent Creator, the answer is simple.

Another marvel is the distance that some species of butterflies travel. The Painted Lady butterflies travel from Africa to the Arctic Circle. Despite their wings taking a beating, they still continue their impressive 9,000 mile journey. Monarch butterflies are known for travelling long distances too, but Painted Ladies go twice as far.

While the Monarch and Pained Lady butterflies are eye catching, there are lots of beautiful butterfly species out there. In fact, there are approximately 20,000 different species fluttering around in the wild. Not surprisingly, many of them have similar coloring. This can be exploited as a survival technique as non-poisonous butterflies mimic the appearance of poisonous ones.

With the vibrant colors and zoomed in details, the Blu-ray format is highly recommended. This fifty-three minute educational film can be yours for less than $18 on Amazon. I highly recommend it for any caterpillar and butterfly lover out there!

 

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Pup Star: World Tour

pup star world tour

Thank you Airbud Entertainment for sending us a digital screener along with a box of aprons, cooking utensils, a stuffed bear, dog treats and a squeaky ball toy.  

Pup Star, the ultimate dog singing contest, is about to go international. This time, Tiny won’t be singing but judging in the competition. Her equally talented lookalike, Scrappy, will be defending her title against many hopefuls from around the world. The four-month Pup Star tour will be voting on talent from India, Africa, China, and Mexico. Each of the judges, who carry over form the previous films, will pick a hopeful to mentor and compete with them in the final episode. The problem is that one of the hopefuls is a fake who is being manipulated by Bark who wants to reclaim Pup Star by whatever means necessary.

Although Bark is imprisoned at a Canine Correctional Facility, he still runs the show. Roland, the bumbling human correctional officer does Bark's bidding. Tiny’s family is being manipulated as well by a dog named Julio. Their housekeeper, Ida, is smitten by Tiny’s pupil and literally caters to his every need. Julio has made himself home there and doesn’t hesitate to tug on the heartstrings of people by retelling the sob story of how he lost his family and that they are all he has left now.

Much of the same slapstick humor is to be expected in this film. Silly violence takes place and is all in good fun. There is one use of the acronym OMG. Tiny’s flamboyant manager is still around though his job is put in jeopardy as the story of deception unfolds. There is some blackmailing and a stolen kiss takes place where Tiny is the victim. Her significant other P.U.P. is hurt by all of the tabloid articles surrounding this event. To find out what happens to P.U.P. and Tiny’s relationship and the future of Pup Star you’ll have to watch this film!

If you enjoyed previous Pup Star entries then you’ll find the same quality of characters, stories, and jokes in this hour and twenty-seven minute movie. It’s available now on Netflix and will be arriving in physical format soon.


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Bill Nye: Science Guy

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

When I was growing up, I used to enjoy watching Mr. Wizard’s World and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The way they taught science was both informative and entertaining. Aside from Bill Nye’s evolution DVD (we figured our children would hear about this in school soon enough), we let our kids watch the others. Our kids have enjoyed the DVDs and checked them out multiple times apiece.

Many schools still show Bill Nye’s timeless TV show. Mr. Wizard’s world ran in the '80s and Bill Nye: the Science Guy came out in the '90s; nobody else has carried on the torch and reached children as these shows have. Granted there are some popular YouTubers out there, but TV/DVD format is ideal as YouTube can be a dangerous place for a youngster to browse by themselves.

Bill Nye is concerned about children being indoctrinated by religion and not science during their formative years. This concern and climate change are the focus of this documentary. Like many documentaries, you’ll see Bill Nye’s humble beginnings and rise to fame as Bill Nye The Science Guy. Clips from the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham is shown too. Now knowing that the income that flowed from that debate funded Mr. Ham’s Ark Encounter, Mr. Nye probably regrets accepting the invitation. News footage of prominent Christian politicians like Mike Pence and Sarah Palin are seen as negative media influences. Bill Nye makes it clear that he’s not anti-religion. He’s okay with religion being taught in religion classes. However, he’s not okay with Intelligent Design of any form being taught in science class.

Ice cores are mentioned in both the debate and climate change segments. By drilling and examining ice cores scientists are able to measure the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) from hundreds of thousands of years ago. This process goes against the beliefs of young earth creationists. Scientifically minded Christians are shown in the documentary in a positive light.

Bill Nye’s inspiration and astronomy teacher, Carl Sagan, helped found The Planetary Society. As The Planetary Society’s current CEO, Bill Nye helped achieve Carl Sagan’s dream of launching a solar sail into space. The construction and launch are both shown in this 100-minute documentary. If you want to see what Bill Nye has been up to in the past twenty years, this documentary will fill you in on his latest crusades. 

If you agree with climate change and evolution you'll enjoy it more than we did. The Blu-ray sells for $18 and the DVD retails for $13 on Amazon.

 

 
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Learning to See: The World of Insects

Thank you JGPR for sending us a screener DVD to review! 

Learning to See: The World of Insects was successfully Kickstarted in 2013 and promised to document the journey of Robert Oelman who has spent the last two decades photographing rare and never before seen exotic insects in Columbia, Peru, and Ecuador. The film is directed and produced by his son, Jake. According to Jake, his father is a mix of John Wayne and a hippie. Robert is certainly fearless when it comes to handling exotic and often poisonous insects and spiders. He wasn’t always into insects and spent his earlier years as a psychotherapist. He wasn’t happy with his career choice and his family was well aware of it.

Despite being warned of the crimes and danger in Columbia, Robert packed up and moved there in the ‘90s. After being robbed a couple of times, he had to make some adjustments, but still enjoyed living there. He purchased property near a mountain and began photographing the locals there. When hummingbirds started visiting his home, he wanted to photograph them. Because of their wings' flapping speed, he had to learn some camera techniques to capture their beauty sufficiently. These methods came in handy when he discovered the wonderful world of exotic bugs shortly after.

Photographing insects is tricky work and with the help of his assistant, Christian, they travel several hours away to capture stunning photographs of rare and newly discovered species. Many of the places they travel to are impacted by deforestation and it makes many people wonder how many species are going extinct as a result of this.

It’s a shame that the beauty and intricacy of these insects is credited to millions of years of evolution. Also, finding his calling and purpose is attributed to a “Life Force”. If you don’t mind these references, there is a lot of stunning artwork and the majesty of God’s creation is truly remarkable in this film. More information on this movie can be found at its website. The film is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu. Be sure to check out Robert’s photography on his Flickr page.

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Animals With Cameras

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

Scientists have been tracking and studying animals for decades of their lives and despite all of their time and effort, they still have many unanswered questions and much to learn about various species. While meerkets can be observed when they’re above ground, what happens in their tunnels is a complete mystery until now! With the help of excellent engineering and tiny cameras and collars, scientists and viewers can now see what their tunnels look like from the inside and how they sleep in groups despite their hierarchy. Footage of newborn pups was also captured as an added bonus.

Unlike the chimps, the meerkats didn’t accept the collars right away. The chimpanzees enjoyed playing with the cameras and taking selfies with them. Capturing footage of them quickly and gracefully swinging from tree to tree is awe-inspiring. The strength in their arms is tremendous and the cameras had to get redesigned to compensate for their incredible power. One of the cameras did get lost in the jungle but the engineer thought ahead and placed tracking devices in them.

Some of the cameras were designed to fall off after several hours or days. The hook on the devil ray’s floating cameras purposely eroded away in the salt water and rose to the surface for retrieval. The radio collars on brown bears in Turkey were fitted with cameras that fell off in a few days. The footage from the bears' cameras revealed that they have been frequenting a nearby garbage dumpster as a food source.

Many of the scenarios for using the cameras are purely scientific while others are trying to find answers to avoid conflict between humans and wildlife threatening their livelihood. A group of baboons have temporarily stopped raiding a farmer’s butternut squash field and he wants to know what’s keeping them away so it can be done more often. In France, sheep were being attacked by a pack of wolves nearing extinction. Cameras placed on guard dogs proved that they were effective in driving back several wolf attacks.

My kids and I learned a lot by watching these three hour-long episodes and look forward to many more seasons of this show. The DVD can be yours for less than $16 and it’s worth considering for any animal lover in your family.

 


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Lady Bird

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

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is a senior at a Catholic high school. Her parents are hard workers, and when money gets tight, it adds to the tension between family members. Lady Bird gets along with her soft-spoken dad, but her mother tells it like it is and shares her disagreement with her daughter’s college choices. Many of the students in the high school are well to do, and Lady Bird lies about her financial situation to fit in. Deceit plays a big role in this film.

Other moral concerns include smoking, drug, and alcohol consumption. There are homosexual relationships and premarital sex is shown in this film. While the actors don’t show much skin, a snapshot from a Playgirl magazine is shown in its entirety. Last but not least, is the amount of swearing and use of F-bombs.

Though there are some good lessons about friendships and family ties, the moral issues are too plentiful to recommend this film to parents struggling to connect with their teenagers. As a mother of one teenager with another soon to be, I could somewhat relate with one of my daughters being similar to me with the other having differences that drive a wedge between us a little bit. Thankfully, our relationship isn’t bad enough to cause us to cuss at and berate each other.

Despite this movie having rave reviews from The New York Times, Rolling Stones magazine, and Rotten Tomatoes, my brother and I really couldn’t get into this story of growing up and cherishing your relationships. The many moral issues also make me hesitant on recommending this film to others. However, if you do enjoy it, Amazon sells the Blu-ray for less than $20.

 


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LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Complete Season Two DVD Set

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

The Freemaker family has been known for their expertise in salvaging and repairing ships for the Rebel Alliance. Occasionally, they’ll be assigned to rescue missions when the need arises. The youngest family member, Rowan, is a Jedi in training who has caught the attention of the Empire. So far, Lord Vader’s attempts at capturing him have failed. The Emperor has commissioned a new prototype robot soldier named MOC to accomplish the task.

Lord Vader is concerned about his job security and tries to trip up the robot as much as possible in this season. In order to earn back the Emperor’s trust, Lord Vader must rebuild the Death Star. Everything is in place with the exception of some special crystals. Rowan is also looking for these crystals to complete the ship he envisioned called the Arrowhead. While searching, Rowan encounters an alien race that worships the crystals that their ancestors left in their care. Rowan befriends a girl that doesn’t believe in the Force or her family’s religion.

Who will secure the highly volatile crystals first and complete their project? You’ll have to watch this twelve episode season to find out. The DVD set consists of two discs with six episodes on each one. Since this show is geared for kids it’s pretty family friendly. There is space combat and cartoon violence. When it comes to language there is some name calling including terms like Scum Weasel and Nerf Herder.

My son and I both enjoyed watching this show. The humor and storytelling can entertain adults as well as children. We’ll have to catch up on the first season now which is available in Blu-ray or DVD formats. I’m not sure why the second season is only available on DVD. Both seasons can be purchased on Amazon.



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Leaving My Father’s Faith

Thank you Jolson Creative PR for sending us a screener to review!

Tony Campolo is a well-known author, pastor, and evangelist. He was a spiritual advisor to Bill Clinton and recently made headlines in 2015 for fully supporting gay marriage. Up until his 2011 bike accident that resulted in a concussion, Bart Campolo was following in his father’s footsteps as an evangelist. However, after the bike accident, Bart changed and abandoned his faith entirely.

The movie Leaving My Father’s Faith chronicles e-mail exchanges between Tony and Bart and shows them dialoguing over what caused Bart to abandon Christianity. Bart doesn’t completely blame the bike accident for his departure, but mentions that there were several things in his life that cast doubts and slowly corroded his faith.

The first issue that caused Bart to leave Christianity is God allowing for people to suffer. Tony responded saying that according to Philippians 2:7, God emptied His power and doesn’t reclaim it fully until the end days mentioned in Revelation. In college Bart’s faith was further challenged in a religious class that dealt with contradictions in the Bible. Bart’s teacher told him about the writing of Karl Bart that conclude that Jesus was the perfect word and that the Bible is just merely a witness to it. Karl Bart’s works were so inspiring to Tony that he named his son after him. Not surprisingly, both father and son disagree with the Bible’s stance on homosexuality.

Most of the movie talks about Bart’s upbringing and doubts. It claims to be fair and representing both sides equally, but I can’t help think that more time is spent on Bart than Tony. Because of the imbalance, I don’t really recommend this movie to believers. In the end, I’m glad that their relationship with each other is amicable. If you find this exchange interesting you can read the book Why I Left, Why I Stayed which this film is based off of.

 


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Wonder

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

Wonder is based off of the 2012 book with the same name. The book is about a boy named August (Auggie) Pullman that was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome. This genetic disorder affects one in 50,000 people and makes those with it look different because they lack ear and/or facial bones. Like the book, the movie shifts from different perspectives as Auggie starts fifth grade at Beecher Prep School.

Before starting school, Auggie who loves Minecraft, Star Wars, and anything space related, often wore a space helmet out in public. On his first day at school, he didn’t wear his helmet and got stared at quite a bit. Auggie is used to the stares; however, the mean notes/drawings and bullying took a toll on him and his loving family.

Auggie’s sister, Olivia (Via), is used to Auggie getting a lot of attention from their parents. She’s a great sister and very understanding. However, she is experiencing troubles with her best friend at school, but her parents don’t notice right away because they’re focusing on Auggie’s acclimation. The different perspectives in this film are eye opening and from what my children who read the book tell me, the movie is lacking a couple of perspectives that the book has in it.

I don’t want to spoil the story, and I highly encourage you to check out the movie, book, or both! Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts did a wonderful job acting as Auggie’s parents. There are many humorous scenes between Auggie and his father. Conversely, there are some tear jerking moments and yes, I did cry at the happy ending.

This nearly two-hour film is available in DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K formats. Like many movies, the higher the visual quality the more expensive it will be. I highly recommend adding this film in any format to your movie collection.


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Bilal: A New Breed of Hero

Thank you Vertical Entertainment for sending us a screener DVD to review!

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero is inspired by the true story of Bilal ibn Rabah. Though Bilal was one of Muhammad’s most trusted companions, this movie focuses more on slavery and equality than religion. Bilal’s master, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, was a wealthy man who made his fortune by selling idols in the town of Mecca. His son, Safwan ibn Umayya, treated Bilal and his sister very poorly. Bilal protected his sister even if it meant getting beaten later on for defending her.

Though whippings, beatings, and warfare is shown in this film, there is very little blood seen. This film is rated PG-13 due to the violence and warfare in it. Religion is watered down with a few references to a singular creator God and a prayer ending in amen. There is no mention of Allah and the only hint of Islam is that you see gamepeices with crescents representing the new movement versus the idol worshipers on a strategic game board. The idol priests are depicted as powerful and able to sense people’s needs and desires. I like how they’re associated with snakes.

The quality of the film is exceptional with top notch visuals and voice acting. The overall message of equality is great and I like how they reinforce that true strength is in the mind and not weapons. Bilal’s mother taught him that a great man is not bound by internal chains of anger, vengeance, or fear. Even though Bilal seeks to be a free man physically, he realizes that even his master is a slave to greed. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that Bilal does speak his mind and stays true to his convictions and beliefs.

Though this film was originally made in 2015, Bilal: A New Breed of Hero will be coming to theaters worldwide on February 2nd, 2018. Hopefully it will do better in the Western box offices than it did in the MENA region despite its positive reviews. It’s definitely worth checking out if you don’t mind some harsh imagery and violence.

 

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Jennifer Brownz
"Bilal: A New Breed of Hero" is simply one of the best animated films ever made: The plots is brilliantly developed, the animation... Read More
Friday, 30 March 2018 01:39
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Halo: The Complete Video Collection

Thank you Shout! Factory for sending us this six-disc Blu-ray set to review!

Back in 2015 we enjoyed and reviewed Halo: The Fall of Reach. Since we only had access to a low-resolution screener it’s nice to have a higher quality Blu-ray disc of it now. I have enjoyed the first two Halo games and my kids have been playing the original game, so we have a little bit of an understanding of the franchise. Thankfully, each of the discs features different characters and stories and don’t require an in-depth knowledge of the game to enjoy them. With that said these films are dark, bloody, and have some language in them so they’re not for younger children.

Aside from Fall of Reach, there are two other movies, Forward Unto Dawn and Nightfall. The first disc, Halo Legends, has all seven of the short animated films. If that’s not enough Halo lore for you to enjoy, there are also two discs worth of bonus content. This set is sure to please any Halo fan.

Each of the Halo Legends episodes is different in art style and storytelling. The history of the war with the Covenant and the Flood is retold from varying perspectives, including Cortana’s. Other side stories are told as well including some somber ones and light-hearted tales. Since the episodes are pretty short, I won’t spoil any of the details here. This disc is nearly two hours in length.

Forward Unto Dawn tells a ninety-one minute story of some fresh recruits that hope to be Spartans one day. Each of the cadets have their own viewpoints on the war and reasons for enlisting. Many of them have family members that will be hard to measure up to. Taking orders does not come naturally for the main character, Thomas Lasky. All of their sweat and training will come in handy when their academy gets attacked by the Covenant. Do they have what it takes to survive?

Nightfall stars Mike Colter who I recognized from the Luke Cage series. His character, Locke, is an ONI soldier on a mission to save the planet from a biochemical warfare attack from the Covenant. The fate of the planet relies on a handful of soldiers who must endure the harsh atmosphere of what’s left of the Halo ring. Humanity's acts of selfishness and selflessness are both shown in this ninety-eight-minute film.

While my family and I enjoyed these films and short movies, they are not for younger kids due to language and intense violence. There is plenty of blood and alien worms eating people alive. Pretty good nightmare material for young ones. Those who are old enough to enjoy the games will find a lot to like in this set though.

 


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All Saints

Thank you Affirm Films for sending us this DVD to review!

All Saints tells the true story about the recently ordained pastor, Michael Spurlock, who takes over a church slated for closing in a few weeks. Michael used to be a corporate salesperson and he has a history of clashing with his bosses. After getting to know the twelve church members, he realizes that the All Saints church is a big part of their lives and closing it down may hurt them spiritually. On top of that, some Karen refugee farmers have started attending and their growing numbers quickly fill up the pews in the chapel.

Michael must again clash heads with those in authority over him as he refuses to cooperate with the building appraisers. To keep the church afloat, Michael proposes that they use the land for farming and the expertise of the refugees for maintaining it. The diocese reluctantly agrees to keep the church off of the market until after the first harvest.

The church members work together to plant and tend the fields. Farming is hard work and requires a lot of time and water and both of them are in short supply. Friendships, marriages, and people’s faith are tested and strained throughout this journey. I’ll leave the rest of the details for you to watch in this 108 minute film.

The credits show some neat pictures and stories of actual All Saints church members. It’s also great to see that some of them are in the film. This movie is rated PG and shows a bit of blood and violence. Most of the movie is family friendly and I recommend checking it out. The Blu-ray is available for less than $20 and the DVD is $16.99 on Amazon.

 


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All I Want For Christmas Is You

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

All I Want For Christmas Is You features Mariah Carey’s song with the same title and she is the narrator of this cute Christmas themed story. The main character is a little girl named Mariah (big surprise!) who has been asking for a puppy for many years without any success. While her father is allergic to dogs, he also struggles with saying “No” to her and would rather come up with an excuse to leave rather than give her a response. This year is a little different from before as Mariah agrees to be in a doggie fashion show without the required dog. Her friends are still okay with it since Mariah assures them that she’s getting one this Christmas.

Mariah’s grandmother is in her corner and tries to get her parents to reconsider after seeing a cute hypoallergenic poodle-bichon hybrid puppy at the local animal shelter. Mariah sets her sights on getting this female puppy that she names Princess. Her father, on the other hand, has different plans. He brings home a troublesome puppy named Jack and promises that if she can take care of this wily dog, then they’ll consider getting Princess for her.

Jack is quite the troublemaker, destroying many items in the house, and even manages to tarnish Mariah’s impeccable reputation at school. Because of some of his hijinks, she is forced to trespass into her neighbor’s yard to “borrow” Mrs. Claus’ outfit since Jack destroyed the one she needed for the fashion show. Unfortunately, her grandfather trespasses into their neighbor’s yard all of the time out of jealousy to interfere with their obnoxious Christmas decorations.

While there is justification for lying and jealousy in this film, it does have a good message about love in the end and how it does not require perfection to thrive. I won’t spoil any more of the story or the ending, but I recommend checking out this film if you’re a fan of dogs or Mariah Carey. All I Want For Christmas Is You sells for less than $15 on Amazon.



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The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

Thank you Team Click for sending us this movie to review!

Life isn’t easy for a squirrel. Everything is out to get them: cars, bikes, gum, and humans. They had the easy life in the closed down nut shop, but good things don’t last forever. Sadly, it exploded and the easy life is now gone for Surly and his friends. Surly’s love interest, Andie, wants him to go back to the park and live as a wild animal again. However, the greedy mayor wants to remove Liberty Park since it’s not generating any income.

Instead of going back to the park, Surly and his friends decide to steal their meals from humans. Their life of crime is short lived after discovering that it’s not worth the hassle. Aside from stealing, there is some alcohol consumption and a spoiled rotten child being given her way when she throws a temper tantrum. Some gross humor is also shown when it comes to dogs and vomit.

The comedy begins when the ground breaks in the park to construct a new amusement park. The animals team up to stop the construction team from making any progress. The mayor brings in reinforcements and things get serious when Precious the dog gets taken by the mayor’s daughter. The daughter’s dog loves Precious but the feelings are not mutual.

During Precious’ rescue, Buddy gets injured and the animals rally together once again. With the renewed comradery, the animals vow to take down the newly opened amusement park. The animal exterminators come in full force and capture everyone but Surly. Does he run and take the easy way out or does he save the park and his friends? I’ll leave the rest as a mystery as you should see this movie firsthand.

My kids and I enjoyed this movie and recommend picking it up. The Blu-ray/DVD combo can be yours for less than $20.


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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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