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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

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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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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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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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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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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