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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

'Till Kingdom Come

'Till Kingdom Come

Thank you Abramorama for providing us with a screener to watch!

‘Til Kingdom Come is a documentary about the strange political and religious partnership between the United States and Israel. In the 1980s Evangelicals were often viewed as KKK/white supremacists by Israelites. In 1983, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein founded the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews which is now known as International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Their goal is to build bridges of understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews. Not long after its founding, some popular televangelists like Pat Robertson and John Hagee supported this ministry with over four million in donations through telethons and other financial gifts. Through these gifts, poor people in Israel overlooked by the government are given food items and care that they could not afford on their own.

Binghamtown Baptist Church in Kentucky is located in a poor county with nearly half of the children living below the poverty line. This church, in their own words, "indoctrinates" the youth about the importance of the Jewish people and Israel's role in the end times. They fully believe in the promise of Genesis 12:3 in receiving blessings from God by blessing Abraham’s people. They have raised thousands in supporting Israel and continue to do so faithfully because of this promise. Interestingly enough, they are doing well financially even with the economy in a downturn. Their associate pastor, W. Boyd Bingham has miraculously survived cancer and dedicated his life to serving the Lord faithfully. He’s also depicted cleaning his guns and shooting targets in a forest.

Meanwhile in Palestine, a Christian church is experiencing a decline in membership due to the political unrest and loss of territory. Through Trump’s presidential run, he relocated the US Embassy to Jerusalem and granted Israel settlement rights to the West Bank. Although Christians and Jews have different views on religion, when partnered together politically they are an unstoppable force.

If you want to see how this all plays out, check out the 76-minute documentary when it becomes available!

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The War With Grandpa

The War With Grandpa

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

The War With Grandpa is a star studded comedy featuring Robert De Niro, Uma Therman, Rob Riggle, Cheech Marin, and Christopher Walken. The grandpa (Robert De Niro) is a widower who is struggling to get by since his wife passed away. Most technology eludes him like self-checkout registers at stores and smart phones. After a legal scuffle, he agrees to live with his daughter’s (Uma Therman) family though the transition won’t be easy for either of them. The grandson, Peter, is forced to give up his room and relocate to the attic where he shares living space with mice and bats. It goes without saying that Peter is not happy with his new accommodations.

After sharing his struggles with his friends, he follows their advice and declares war on his grandpa to get his room back. At first, his grandfather brushes off the declaration of war and first couple of pranks. Upon realizing that Peter won’t be giving up, he decides to fight back as long as they agree to no collateral damage and no tattling on each other. Let the games begin!

Prepare for some funny pranks though a couple of them involve obscured nudity. Grandpa has a tendency of dropping his pants unintentionally. Thankfully, any naughty bits are obscured by conveniently located plants. There is also some language including hell and *ss.

Though the themes of bullying and revenge carry through the movie, the ending is heartwarming and shows the value of familial love. The lesson of war being brutal and having many casualties is also true. Another takeaway is the importance of keeping your word.

Overall, my family enjoyed watching this ninety-five minute movie together. If you have a house full of pranksters, they’ll be sure to enjoy this film. The asking price of $23 on Amazon is reasonable for the Blue-ray edition.


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Insert Coin: Inside Midway's '90s Revolution

Insert Coin

Thank you UberStrategist for sending us a screener to review!

Insert Coin is a documentary about the rise and fall of the popular arcade game making company, Midway. Though Midway has been around since 1958, this film covers the 80s through their bankruptcy in 2009. The 1981 acquisition of Bally is also discussed with their rivalry with Williams. These companies combined are well known for their pinball and early video games like Defender, Joust, Robotron 2084, and Rush. In the mid-80s people were getting tired of the copycat and low-quality games and as a result, the industry was losing its audience.

In 1988, the recently re-branded Midway released Narc which was an arcade hit and stirred up some controversy with its bloodiness and dismembering of body parts. Smash TV did well in the theaters but Midway had to learn from a mistake of teasing the gamers about a nonexistent hidden area (Pleasure Dome) and shipped out ROM chips to actually add it to the game. Countless quarters were spent trying to find that mystical area.

It’s interesting to know that a successful arcade game was one that generated $700/week. NBA Jam was such a success that the arcade machines were deemed defective because their quarter holders were filled to capacity! Their most popular franchise, Mortal Kombat is covered in detail with its over-the-top violence and backlash for it. The film adaptation is also covered. Mortal Kombat was so edgy that Nintendo removed the blood from their SNES release. SEGA left the game intact to attract an older audience.

As the console systems took off, arcades became less popular. In 2001 Midway phased out their coin operated machines and closed their doors for good in 2009. They have made some great games and seeing their inspiration and backstories in this documentary is truly fascinating. Some of the executives and game developers have unbridled tongues so you may want to think twice before letting young kids watch this movie. There's also a lot of violence and blood/dismemberment shown in the game footage too. If you’ve enjoyed Midway games, you should check out this film on demand or at virtual cinemas!

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Oligase

As a Christian who’s interested in bridging the gap between faith-based entertainment and entertaining execution, I look forward to big-budget productions that can nail Christian themes while still being something that can work in a secular space. While not necessarily a huge blockbuster (premiering at an online version of a Filipino film festival earlier this week), director John Valdes Tan adapts Filipino author Pio Arce’s Oligase for film. Endorsed by CBN Asia (the Asian chapter of the Christian Broadcasting Network), it’s a film that shows the uncomfortable struggle of an indigenous girl who wants to leave her tribe in order to pursue an education.

Based on the indigenous tribe of the Matigsalug tribe in the Bukidnon province of the Philippines, Oligase is a legend of a mythical demon of fear, who consumes innocent children that dare to learn outside knowledge of the tribe. In essence, this legend is shown to be a deterrent to leave, but protagonist Laha stumbles across a school when selling crops with her mom in town. Inspired by the teacher Connie (and disbelieving of the Oligase), she longs for the day when she can leave the village and educate herself.

Laha’s plan is settled as she realizes that she has been forced in an arranged marriage to the village chief, and runs away with farmhand Salantay in order to escape to the city. Unfortunately, this causes problems for Salantay, who is forced to leave the village and head to a bible school that his father went to; Salantay’s dad is known as one of the only people in the tribe to be able to read, and has been chastised for it.

Laha’s life continues to spiral up and down as while she does receive her education, a series of unfortunate events cause her blessing to be a curse. She is raped by Connie’s husband and forced on the streets as a prostitute, trying to find a way out of her situation. Meanwhile, Salantay learns about the misconceptions of the Oligase, and that while demonic spirits are out to prey on the tribe, the Lord Jesus is there to cast them out.

As a novel, Oligase is a heartfelt effort to shine a light to the indigenous Filipino’s plight. The author of the original novel worked with the Matigsalug for decades and wanted to explore their culture and lifestyle in a way that would be digestible to the metropolitan Filipino. In his journey, Arce also wanted to use this opportunity to evangelize and share Jesus’ love to those who need it the most, and to change the hearts and minds of the people within the provincial areas by providing assistance as well as education to these areas.

The film dances around this idea in the beginning and end, with the Gospel story being uttered by Salantay and Laha in the final scene. The cinematography of the scenery is done quite well, as the directors do a great job of showcasing the provincial Filipino areas of the Manobo tribes as well as the city of Davao. For someone who would want to travel to the Philippines, it does a great job with highlighting the lush areas of the place. It’s neat to see that most of the actors are from the Matigsalug tribe itself, and most of the performances contribute well to the film. The raw nature of some of the inexperienced actresses complement well to the gritty nature of the movie, though I couldn’t help but laugh at the actor portraying Chief Pinon. It was almost comical for the few scenes he has.

Unfortunately, this does get into “the book was better” territory (even if the novel isn’t available outside the Philippines currently), as the character development feels rushed, especially in the middle. I understand that the director wanted to emphasize the metaphorical horror of fear by stressing the unfortunate world of human sex trafficking in the Philippines, but due to the hour and 40 minute runtime, feels like it lingers a little too long in these areas. It doesn’t help that (most likely due to budgetary reasons), almost a third of the book is excised. I might not have noticed it if I didn’t read the novel, but considering this omission includes the redemptive arc of Laha finding faith from a passerby as she’s smuggled into Japan, it’s quite apparent. (For context, the film stays solely in the Philippines, specifically the Bukidnon and Davao areas.) This also cuts back on Salantay’s arc as a budding pastor, as a lot of his scenes are gone, making him a bit of a flat character in comparison to Laha.

In terms of content, I would probably peg Oligase to something like a hard PG-13, to the point where I was surprised that CBN Asia would allow the director to show some of it. There is some uncomfortable subject matter involved in Laha’s journey as she is violated by multiple men. Thankfully, nothing explicit is shown, but the scene where she is raped does portray the man getting half-naked (while Laha is fully clothed, the implications are there). There’s also a montage of her time in a brothel with some indecent acts beginning and implied to have a sexual ending, including a forced threesome with an adult film director. None of these scenes are played in a titillating light, and it’s constantly shown that Laha wants to escape from this accursed lifestyle.

The tribal practices also might cause some to squirm, with the death of a horse shown (though just the end when people finish stabbing its remains). There are some scary sequences concerning the Oligase itself, who is portrayed as an old, imposing creature with a frightening countenance, normally accompanied by a jumpscare. While almost the entirety of the film is spoken in dialects of Tagalog, there are some English instances of the word a** and s***. The translated subtitles include every PG-13 swear except for f***. I would recommend this film to older teens and adults who want a look into the life of the provincial Filipino, and who can deal with something as intense as The Passion of the Christ in terms of faith-based entertainment.

If you’d like to watch Oligase, you can do so for free until December 13 through the Mindanao Film Festival channel.

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Pretending I’m A Superman – The Tony Hawk Video Game Story

Pretending I'm a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story

Thank you Wood Entertainment for sending us a screener to review!

Skateboarding has been around since the 1950s and its popularity has had its ups and downs. Skate parks would come and go and when they disappeared, underground and street skating took off. Pretending I’m A Superman – The Tony Hawk Video Game Story features many professional skaters like Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen, Chad Muska, and Eric Koston who share their experiences with this sport and various milestones before it became mainstream.

The popular Thrasher magazine started circulating in 1981, and the following year Tony Hawk became a pro skater. In 1986 Atari released 720°, a skateboarding game followed by California Games and Skate or Die in 1987. In 1989 the movie Gleaming the Cube was released. In the mid 90s skateboarding started to become popular and was showcased in the X Games, which was founded in 1994.

In 1997, Sega released a popular arcade game with a moving skateboard called Top Skater. Once Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater dropped in 1999, the sport would never be the same. Each new release would get better and when the fourth one came out, the other three were still in the top ten sales charts. Not only did this game revitalize the sport, but the skaters in the game became household names and the bands like Primus and Bad Religion got a whole new fan base. The inclusivity of minority and female skaters appealed to many people as well.

All in all, this is a fascinating documentary about a beloved game series that’s about to be re-released very soon. I look forward to checking it out with improved visuals! There is some language including a couple of F-bombs so be warned if you plan on watching this documentary with youngins. It’s available on popular streaming platforms including Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon Prime Video.


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Think Like a Dog

Think Like a Dog

Thank you Lionsgate for sending us a screener to review!

Oliver is a twelve-year-old genius whose parents are considering separating. To comfort him in these difficult times is his dog, Henry. Oliver also has a friend Xiao, in China, who plays online VR games with him. Xiao is also quite smart and is an accomplished hacker.

At this year’s science fair, Oliver shows off his mind-reading device. A fictional technology tycoon named Mr. Mills is in the audience and Oliver wants to make a good impression on him. Although the experiment didn’t go as planned, Mr. Mills (Kunal Nayyar) is impressed with Oliver's work and sees potential in it. At home, Oliver fine-tunes his project and with the help of a friend, hijacks a satellite to give the mind-reading device enough power. This move doesn’t go unnoticed by government officials. The project is a success and Oliver can hear his dog’s thoughts while wearing a special collar.

As it turns out, Henry is quite smart, talkative, and funny. Henry’s simple views on life are quite insightful and may help in repairing Oliver’s parents' marriage. There’s a school dance coming up and Oliver needs to work up the courage to ask his crush to the dance. The rest of Henry’s plans to rekindle Oliver’s parents’ romance revolves around them being at the school dance to hear their wedding song.

Oliver's date doesn’t go as planned, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not a happy ending. You’ll have to see this 91-minute film for yourself. It’s pretty family-friendly and contained an OMG. I don’t recall any other language other than Oliver being told several times throughout the film that he needed to “grow a pair.” If you like movies where animals talk, you’ll probably enjoy this film. It’s just as corny as the rest of them.


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The Road to Edmond

Thank you Tripp Fuller for sending us a screener link to review!

The Road to Edmond was released in 2018, but now it’s available to watch on Amazon Prime for free. The movie begins with a young youth pastor named Cleo who is forced to take a 2-week sabbatical for telling one of his students that God loves her just as she is when she came out as gay. Cleo’s stance of acceptance goes against his church’s doctrine and that’s why he’s being reprimanded.

Not sure of what he did wrong, Cleo decides to clear his head by packing some camping gear and heading out on his vintage Schwinn bike without a particular destination in mind. On a rest stop, Cleo declines the advances of a lady, and later witnesses his bike getting ran over. The guy who ran over the bike is named Larry and he’s on a road trip with his father’s ashes. Without any better transportation options, Cleo decides to join along for the ride.

Please note that the rest of this post contains spoilers.

Larry is very talkative and tries to cheer up Cleo with crude humor and insightful questions. Having a religious background, Larry asks Cleo for his “Jesus Pitch” and it’s not very convincing. In fact, Cleo’s faith is shaky and on the road trip Larry gets him to swear, drink, and try marijuana. They even go to a gay wedding.

Though the movie praises Cleo for being accepting and open-minded, I found it sad that it depicts a youth pastor becoming corrupted with worldly ideas instead of Biblical truths. God loves you the person no matter what, but your sins against Him are repulsive. Sure, God loves someone with homosexual temptations who resists to do His will instead, but when you fall prey to them, you spit in His face.

Because of the sexual humor and foul language, I don’t recommend this movie for younger audiences. Evangelical Christians won’t like the message. People who celebrate pride month will probably enjoy this film though.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Jason Gress
I was the other one to watch this screener with my wife, Cheryl. (We watch most movies together.) Whether intentional or not, th... Read More
Sunday, 17 May 2020 11:50
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I Still Believe

I Still Believe

Thank you Lionsgate for sending us a digital screener to review!

I Still Believe is based on the true story of Jeremy Camp’s college days before he became a popular Christian artist who sold five million CDs. This film was supposed to be released in theaters on March 13, 2020, but those plans were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Christians and fans of Jeremy Camp’s music can support this film by renting a premium video on demand on sites like Amazon for $19.99. The digital rentals are good for 48 hours.

This film has a star-studded cast including Gary Sinese and Shania Twain as Jeremy’s parents. Jeremy Camp is played by KJ Apa who does not lip-sync, but puts his own spin on the popular Christian hits sung throughout the movie. I must confess that I’m not familiar with Mr. Camp’s music (despite owning a CD!) so none of the songs performed in it sounded familiar to me. It’s really fascinating knowing the inspiration of two of his hit songs “I Still Believe”, and "Walk by Faith”.

The events in the movie are based loosely on Jeremy Camp’s written biography, I Still Believe. Some artistic liberties have been taken. In the film, the love triangle is between Michelle Henning, Jeremy Camp, and his musical mentor, Jean-Luc La Joie. In reality, the love triangle was with a friend from Jeremy’s Bible study instead.

Without giving away too much of the story, this movie depicts the genuineness of Jeremy’s faith in God and love for his on-and-off again girlfriend who eventually became his wife despite her health issues. It’s amazing how God uses people and how miracles still happen. This film is pretty family-friendly though some blood is shown.

I recommend checking out this film that will certainly pull at your heartstrings. It’s a shame that it didn’t debut in the theaters, but you can still enjoy it if you have high-speed internet.


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Sonic The Hedgehog

Thank you Paramount for sending us a digital screener to review!

There have been many movies adapted after popular video game franchises. Sadly, most of them are not very good. This film had a rocky start after fans heavily criticized Paramount’s original design of the blue blur. Sonic’s final appearance looks much closer to Sega’s design with the exception of his arms being blue instead of cream colored.

Sonic is voiced by Ben Schwartz and he does a great job with bringing out the attitude that gamers have grown to love. While Sonic is often cocky, there’s a lot of loneliness shown as he must remain hidden from humans while living on Earth. In the fictional town of Green Hills, Montana, Sonic watches many residents of this small community without being detected (for the most part).

When Sonic lets his emotions get the better of him, he causes a mass loss of power and the government calls upon Dr. Robotnik to discover the source. Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Eggman is quite funny and he provides a lot of humor in this film as expected.

With the help of a cop that Sonic dubbed the “Donut Lord,” they head to San Fransico to retrieve Sonic’s Rings. On this journey, a beautiful friendship is born, and some valuable life lessons are taught to both Sonic and the police officer (James Marsden), whose real name is Tom.

This film is family-friendly for the most part. There is some violence with most of it taking place in a bar fight that Sonic started. Language is pretty mild as I recall the start of a curse word being cut off before it’s said in its entirety.

Overall, my family enjoyed this movie and wouldn’t mind owning it in the near future. The Blu-ray is available for a little over $20 on Amazon. I’ll probably wait for a sale though. Fans of the Sonic franchise will enjoy this film and the hinting of a potential sequel.

Buy it on Amazon for $22.99

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Patterns of Evidence: The Red Sea Miracle - Part 1

Patterns of Evidence: The Red Sea Miracle - Part 1

Thank you Thinking Man Films for sending us a screener to review!

The book of Exodus documents many of God's miracles from the twelve plagues of Egypt to guiding the Israelites in the desert and parting the waters allowing them to cross on dry land. Director Cecil DeMile was so inspired by this book that he made the movie The Ten Commandments twice! I have fond memories watching the 1956 Charleston Heston version and these movies have also inspired film maker Tim Mahoney to create the Patterns of Evidence series. Sadly, many of these miracles are downplayed or considered mere fairy tales in today’s society. The Red Sea Miracle aims to determine where the parting of the waters occurred and the path that the Israelites took to eventually get to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

Before seeing this film, you should watch Patterns of Evidence: Exodus and Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy to understand the non-conventional timeline they use for dating these events. Like the previous films, Tim interviews several Egyptologists and scholars on their thoughts on where the Israelites went and where the parting of the waters took place.

There are two schools of thought on how epic of a journey this truly was. The Egyptian theory is that there was 50,000 or less Hebrews and they didn’t travel too far before having shallow water part before them. The Hebrew view is that there were roughly two million Israelites who traveled a great distance for about a month before having a large body of water parted for them.

The goal in this two-part movie series is to break down the six-step journey. This film focuses on the first few objectives including determining where the departure point was, the direction they were heading, the size of the desert they crossed, and where the detour was before arriving at the dead end. The sea was parted at the dead end and there are many theories on where that took place.

The evidence provided to state their case is very convincing and it seems like they are on the right track given the teaser clips for the second half of this film series. I look forward to seeing remnants of Egyptian chariot wheels and other relics now covered with coral reefs. The Red Sea Miracle part 1 will be in theaters nationwide on February 18th. Part two will be coming to theaters in May of 2020.

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Arctic Dogs

Arctic Dogs

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

Arctic Dogs begins with a flashback of Swifty (an arctic fox) all dressed in white and nobody noticing him because he blends in so well in the snowy town of Taigasville. He wants to be noticed and recognized like the delivery dogs that the town kids all look up to. In the present day, Swifty works at the delivery company, but not as a delivery dog since he’s underweight and under-qualified.

His childhood crush, Jade, needs a package urgently delivered, but she missed the shipment time because Swifty covered her with snow on his way to work that day. Without his boss’s permission, he offers to deliver it personally. By doing so, he jeopardizes his job and the town’s safety.

I won’t give away any spoilers in case you plan on seeing this film. With that said, there are a couple of political messages worth noting. The premise of being something that you’re not designed to be is very politically correct these days, but oftentimes, restrictions are in place for a good reason. Swifty isn’t even twenty pounds and struggles pulling packages weighing more than he does. Perhaps there was some logic in the company not taking his dream position seriously.

Global warming is another theme present in this film; however, the arctic town’s heat wave can be pointed at the walrus nemesis instead of carbon-imprinting humans. The walrus is voice-acted by the legendary John Cleese. Other popular actors lend their voice talent, including Jeremey Renner (Swifty), James Franco (Lemmy), Heidi Klum (Jade), Alec Baldwin (PB), and Angelica Houston (Maureen).

The animation is well-done and looks great. It’s a shame that the writing falls flat at times. There was only one scene where I chuckled. If you’re looking for a funny film, you’ll definitely want to look elsewhere. I appreciate the message of honesty and being true to yourself, but I’m not a fan of promoting being whatever you dream of even if you’re not qualified to do so. There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids to be realistic.


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The Moses Controversy

The Moses Controversy

Thank you Thinking Man Films for sending us a screener to review!

Many Christians believe wholeheartedly that Moses wrote (with God’s guidance) the first five books of the Bible. Exodus 24:4 states that Moses wrote what the Lord instructed him and in John 5:46, Jesus mentions that Moses wrote about Him. Many agnostic and non-Christian scholars don’t believe that Moses wrote the Torah since the Hebrew language used in the dead sea scrolls didn’t exist during the Exodus.

How could God’s word have been preserved accurately in Moses’ lifetime? Oral tradition changes over time and if the Torah can’t be trusted, what credibility does the rest of the Bible have? Investigative film maker, Timothy Mahoney, travels around the world to find answers for several questions and determine if it is possible for Moses to truly be the author of the Pentateuch and how it was done.

This two and a half hour film is very informative and gathers input from Archaeologists, Egyptologists, Christian and Jewish scholars. In order to validate Moses as the author of the Torah, a suitable language that was like Hebrew had to be used, the origin of it in the region of Egypt, and used during the Exodus’ time period.

The key to solving this puzzle was discovered by an Egyptologist named Flinders Petrie. Unlike many archaeologists, he was looking at relics with a scientific mindset instead of a profitable one. Flinders and his wife, Hilda, discovered the Proto-Sinaitic script in the winter of 1904-1905. To understand the significance of this discovery, I recommend watching this film, since I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

If you haven’t seen Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, I recommend watching that movie first. That documentary focuses on a timeline discrepancy that’s heavily relied on for this film. Both of these films are thought provoking and it’s great to have your faith bolstered by science instead of “The Bible says so.”

In the end, my faith was strengthened by this film. Though I didn’t doubt Moses’ authorship, it’s fascinating to see how it could be validated with science. Today's Hebrew was not around during Moses' lifetime, but its origins were. The alphabet is something we truly take for granted, and yet it’s a gift from God that has been used to solidify and translate His word to thousands of dialects.

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Abominable

Abominable

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

Abominable tells the story of a teenager named Yi who stumbles upon a Yeti on the rooftop of her apartment complex. The Yeti escaped from some bounty hunters and longs to go back to his home on Mount Everest. It’s quite a trek since Yi and her family are from China. At first, her cousins Peng and Jin were not on-board with escorting the yeti they dubbed Everest back home. As it turns out, they have quite the magical adventure along the way.

My family enjoyed this film in the theater and we’re happy to own it now as it’s very heartwarming. It teaches the value of family and is safe for all ages. There are some instances of tranquilizing and Everest is injured in the beginning of the film. There are some references to Buddhism and the characters believe that their ancestors watch over them from the stars.

Along with the movie, there are several bonus features to enjoy including:

Marooned – A lonely space robot tries to leave the moon and return back to Earth. If only he had some help. There’s a great message here about determination and sacrifice.

Show & Tell - Everest tries to show the other yetis about the neat things he has learned about on his adventure including playing violin, basketball, and love.

There are also a few deleted scenes that are roughly animated, but fully voice acted. The making of/inspiration behind Abominbale is also fascinating to watch. Aspiring artists will enjoy watching how it was animated and videos teaching people how to draw the characters. It’s also cool to see how the voice acting is done. There’s even instructions on how to make the pork buns that everyone loves in the movie.

If you’re looking for a heartwarming film to show your family, look no further than Abominable. It’s available on Amazon for less than $23 in Bu-ray and has 4K and 3D versions available.


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Frozen II

Thank you 4DX for providing us five tickets to see this film!

Frozen II begins with a flashback of Elsa and Anna as children hearing a story about an enchanted forest where a war between Arendelle and the natives began. Nobody knows who started the war, but as strange events are currently happening in Arendelle, the townsfolk are forced to evacuate, and Elsa must discover the truth before things get any worse. To make matters worse, Elsa is hearing a singing voice that nobody else can and it's interfering with her day-to-day activities. She needs to discover the source for her kingdom and her sanity!

Meanwhile, Kristoff has an engagement ring ready for Anna but is having a difficult time finding the right opportunity and words to successfully propose to her. His blundering attempts usually upset Anna instead of winning her over. His reindeer, Sven, tries to assist in the process any way he can. Olaf is trying to grasp the concepts of aging and maturity as he defies the typical lifespan of a snowman.

The five begin their journey to the enchanted forest, which is surrounded by a thick mist. With Elsa leading the way, they are able to make it past the protective barrier. Once there, they must tame the spirits of wind, fire, water, and earth. The fire spirit is my favorite character, he’s adorable!

The 4DX enhancements are all present in this film. 3D makes the magical scenes come to life as they expand beyond the movie screen. The unidentifiable fragrance is used multiple times as well. As the characters burst out into song, the seats will sway along. You can also expect to get spritzed in the face with water and have the back of your legs blasted with air for an added surprise.

Overall, this is a great sequel that even managed to win over my skeptical teenage daughter. I daresay that it’s better than the original film. Any Frozen fan should definitely check this film out, especially in 4DX if it’s available near you.

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Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari

Thank you 4DX for sending us five movie tickets to see this film!

As a proud owner of a Ford Mustang, I felt obligated to see this film. It’s the first 4DX movie we’ve seen that’s not kid-focused. Ford v Ferrari is rated PG-13 for language (including the f-bomb) and mention of sex. There is some kissing, but nothing beyond that is shown. Unfortunately, God's name is taken in vain a few times. It’s also worth noting that one of the characters dies, but the details are left to the viewer’s imagination. If you don’t mind these issues, this movie could be enjoyed with older children.

The film begins with Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) winning the 24-hour Le Mans race and having to retire shortly thereafter due to a heart condition. He still focuses on designing cars and works closely with a fellow car enthusiast and racer, Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale). Meanwhile, Ford is in a funk and wants to expand its market and get their name out there in the race and sports car circles. Ferrari was going bankrupt and while offering to partner with them, the Ford businessmen were insulted instead. Henry Ford II wanted to retaliate by having a Ford racecar dethrone the multi-year winning Ferraris.

Lee Iacocca (played by Jon Bernthal) asks for Shelby’s help in making the GT40 racecar Le Mans worthy. They only have ninety days to improve upon the car’s design. Ken Miles is the most familiar with the car and its flaws, but due to his short temper, Ford does not want him representing their brand. There are many hurdles to cross in order to for these two parties to work together peacefully. I won’t spoil any details, but this movie can even be enjoyed by people who are not car enthusiasts.

Ford v Ferrari is the first 4DX movie that we’ve seen that did not require 3D glasses. With the movement and rumbling of seats during all of the car scenes, this film was very immersive and I didn’t miss the lack of 3D whatsoever. One of the scenes has some fragrance to it but it wasn’t too recognizable. During some rough driving scenes, the air blasts behind our ankles was startling. The timing for all of the 4DX effects is spot on and I’m grateful to have seen this film with these enhancements. I highly recommend seeing this film in any format, but if you have an opportunity to see it in 4DX, take it!

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The Peanut Butter Falcon

Thank you Lionsgate for sending us a Blu-ray, 2 t-shirts, and some peanut butter!

The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of Zak, a twenty-two year old young man with down syndrome who lives in a nursing home. He doesn’t like it there since he can’t relate to people who are generations older than him. However, he doesn’t have any other family to take care of him. Zak dreams of becoming a professional wrestler and tries to escape from the nursing home to live his life and make his dream a reality.

Eventually, Zak does break out from the nursing home with nothing on him but underwear. Zak stows himself away in a boat owned by Tyler (played by Shia LaBeouf). Tyler is a fisherman who doesn’t think twice about fishing in areas without being properly licensed. After destroying equipment from a competitor, he flees the scene of the crime in the boat that Zak is hiding in. Needless to say, it wasn’t a warm welcome when Zak was discovered.

Although their relationship was tense at first, the two men bond and help each other out. Since they are both being pursued, they’re constantly on the run. Tyler helps Zak follow his dream and teaches him important skills like swimming and how to shoot a rifle. Though Tyler is rough around the edges he’s got a good heart and tries to look out for Zak. With that said, he still manages to expose Zak to undesirable things like alcohol.

Zak doesn’t like to swear, but people around him will do so freely with almost every word used including the f-bomb. God’s name is taken in vain a couple of times as well. Wrestling is a violent sport and there is some blood shown and during one of the matches where a wrestler appears to lose at least one tooth. I think the PG-13 rating is fair and my tween/teenage kids enjoyed watching this film with us.

In the end, The Peanut Butter Falcon delivers a heart-warming story that’s bound to especially resonate with those who know someone with disabilities. While it’s unethical in execution at times, the overall theme of helping people achieve their dreams is admirable.


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Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Thank you Sony Pictures for sending us this 4K Blu-Ray to review!

If you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame you’ll want to hold off on seeing this film. Spider-Man: Far From Home opens up with a touching tribute to the Avengers that gave their lives in the showdown with Thanos. The world is still reeling from the aftereffects of those who have re-appeared at the same age they were after “the blip” happened. Those who have survived Thanos' judgement have aged five years. As you can imagine, this really messes with high schoolers who are not too keen on re-taking a year of school and suddenly being surrounded by kids that used to be way younger than them.

Although Peter Parker likes being a neighborhood hero, he does enjoy his teenage life and has plans to express his feelings for MJ during their European school trip. Unfortunately, the world needs saving and the bad guys just so happen to be where the high schoolers are touring.

Though Peter Parker is young and naive, he really made an impression on Tony Stark who gave him some powerful eyewear and put in a good word with Nick Fury. Given that Nick Fury is one of those who has blipped back, he’s not as familiar with his surroundings as he needs to be. He needs intel from Peter, wants him to commit to either being a student or an Avenger, and most importantly, he wants Peter to answer his phone when calling.

With the attacks from huge elemental monsters happening in Europe, Spider-Man needs to assist. Can Peter keep his alter-ego a secret with all of his classmates nearby? Will he win over MJ? To answer those questions, you'll have to see the film for yourself.

Spider-Man: Far From Home does earn its PG-13 rating for blood, violence, language (b*tch), and sexual references. There are some “caught with your pants down” scenes that are innocent but taken in the wrong way. Blackmail and revenge are also referenced.

Overall, I enjoyed this entry and am warming up to Tom Holland’s rendition of Spider-Man. I’m still partial to the Tobey Maguire movies though.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Abominable

Abominable
 

Thank you 4DX for sending our family tickets to see this film!
 
Abominable tells the story about a teenager named Yi who stumbles upon a Yeti on her rooftop. The Yeti escaped from some bounty hunters and longs to go back to his home on Mount Everest. It’s quite a trek since Yi and her family are from China. At first, her cousins Peng and Jin were not on-board with escorting the yeti they dubbed Everest back home. As it turns out, they have quite the magical adventure along the way.
 
Everest has the ability to alter nature and can cause plants to bloom and yield fruit at his will. The 4DX effects definitely enhance the experience as well. While they are soaring in the sky on a giant dandelion the theater seats swayed back and forth. The scents were also used and I couldn’t place the fragrance they were going after. It wasn’t bad nor good.
 
There’s plenty of action scenes and it was cool to see the theater lights flicker and flash with lightning and car headlights. Water misting is another 4DX enhancement that you can expect to experience in this film as well. Last but not least are the smoke effects which were very fitting. Out of all the 4DX films we have seen so far, Abominable has benefited the most from the 4DX enhancements.
 
My family enjoyed this film and it’s very heartwarming. It teaches the value of family and is safe for all ages. There are some instances of tranquilizing and Everest is injured in the beginning of the film. There are some references to Buddhism and the characters believe that their ancestors watch over them from the stars.
 
Unfortunately, we were the only ones at the 6:40PM showing on opening weekend. Hopefully more people check out this film as it’s definitely one worth watching.
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The Secret Life of Pets 2

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

The Secret Life of Pets 2 takes you back into the lives of your favorite animals while you’re not at home with them. Many of the same funny and lovable characters are back with most of the same voice acting talent. Patton Oswalt now provides the vocals for Max who is well adjusted with his fellow canine roommate, Duke. At the park, Max gets rather annoyed with the rambunctious children there and enjoys his peaceful life. As fate would have it, his owner soon falls in love, gets married, and has a son named Liam. Though Max still does not like children, he is over the moon and overprotective of Liam. Keeping a toddler safe in this world is a lot of work and stresses out Max. Due to his nervous scratching, he soon gets fitted for a cone of shame and is not too happy about it. Things look up when his family is planning a vacation to a farm.

Meanwhile, Snowball the bunny is taking his superhero costume seriously and gets enlisted in a rescue job by a cute dog named Daisy. It’s up to Snowball and Daisy to save a young white tiger named Hu from a cruel Russian circus owner named Sergei. Hu is guarded by several black wolves and a feisty little monkey.

Gidget is on a quest of her own: to become like a cat in order to rescue Max's favorite toy. While under the influence of catnip, Chloe agrees to assist her. As you can expect, hilarity ensues on all three of these adventures. As funny as this film is, there are some moral issues worth mentioning.

Sergei is quite mean and threatens to harm the animals and is shown wielding a gun, cattle prod, and whipping Hu. There is some gross humor involving cat and dog poop and some mild language (p*ssed). My older kids enjoyed this film, but this may be too much for younger children. If you enjoyed the first movie and don’t mind the language and animal cruelty, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is worth checking out!


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Avengers: Endgame

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

Note: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow!

After spending a lovely day with family on Mother’s Day in 2018, I thought I would end it with seeing Avengers: Infinity War with my husband. I didn’t expect such a downer of a movie! Not all of the Avengers are down for the count and they want to undo the devastation that Thanos caused to our beloved planet. With the help of the over-powered Captain Marvel, they have a slim chance of setting things right in Avengers: Endgame.

Avengers: Endgame begins with Hawkeye spending time with his family before they literally blow away in the wind. Earth is reeling from the chaos that Thanos caused. The remaining Avengers are not taking it well and are bickering more than getting along. Even five years after the event, people are still mourning and the world is a dump. After Ant-Man's return, they find a new, high risk approach they can take - if they survive.

As good as this film is, it’s not without some moral issues. Like any comic book themed movie violence is a given. There’s a fair amount of language and blaspheming. Even Captain America says S.O.B. Other words used include *ss, sh*t, p*ss, and d*ckhead. Last but not least is a scene where a homosexual man is talking about his dinner date with another man. Please exercise caution if showing this film to a child.

On the standard Blu-Ray disc, you’ll find 7.1 DTS-HD Master English audio, descriptive English, French, and Spanish along with subtitles. Commentary and an intro from the directors is also available. Also, like other recent Marvel releases, you have to purchase the 4K UHD Blu-Ray in order to get the Dolby Atmos mix, which is the highest quality mix available. The bonus disc contains featurettes (Remembering Stan Lee (my favorite), Settings the Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr., A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America, Black Widow: Whatever it Takes, The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame, The Women of the MCU, Bro Thor), deleted scenes (with minimal CGI). and a gag reel. For $25 or less, you can add one of the highest-grossing movies of all time to your collection.

 


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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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