Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

Minions: The Rise of Gru

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

Minions: The Rise of Gru is a prequel that gives you a little bit of insight into Gru’s childhood in the 70s. At the tender age of eleven and three quarters, his role models were a group of villains called the Vicious 6. After betraying their leader, Wild Knuckles, they had an open position. Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) applied for it and earned an opportunity to interview with them. At this point in time, Gru lives with his mother who sells Tupperware on the side. The minions are living in the basement of the house working on Gru’s evil lair.

The minions are supportive of Gru’s interview with his heroes until they realize that they’re not invited to go with him on it. That doesn’t stop a few of them from tailing him on the way there. The Vicious 6’s headquarters is at a record store that’s run by a tinkerer (voiced by Russell Brand) who gives Gru his first gadget.

The Vicious 6 didn’t expect Gru to be a child and dismissed him right away. They told him to come back when he impressed them. Taking that as a challenge, Gru manages to steal their prized zodiac medallion with the help of the new gadget and the minions. The Vicious 6 gives chase and on the way back to Gru’s lair, the medallion is traded for a pet rock.

The rest of the movie revolves around Gru, the Vicious 6, and Wild Knuckles all seeking the misplaced zodiac medallion. Along the way, Gru makes a new friend and some of the minions learn Kung Fu. Like the previous minion movies, there’s a lot of slapstick humor that’s bound to make you chuckle. I also enjoyed the two short films on the Blu-ray. My favorite of the two was the Dungeons and Dragons based one called Minions and Monsters.

For the most part, this film is family-friendly. You will be exposed to seeing some minion rear ends and plenty of cartoon violence. The voice acting is superb (I love the Minion gibberish) and I liked how the crustacean-themed villain Jean-Clawed, is voiced by Jean-Claude Van Damme. The nun villain, Nun-Chuck cracked me up as you don’t expect to see nuns as the “bad guys”.

If you enjoyed the previous Minion movies, this one is definitely worth checking out. The Blu-ray sells for less than $25 on Amazon and it supports Dolby Atmos audio.


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Gigi & Nate

Thank you Roadside Attractions for sending us a screener of this film to review!

Gigi & Nate is based off of the true story of Ned Sullivan and his capuchin monkey service animal. The film begins with Gigi the capuchin monkey being rescued from a poorly maintained petting zoo that looks like a run-down travelling circus. The group that rescues Gigi trains her to be a service animal.

Meanwhile, Nate is living it up as a teenager in North Carolina and he completes a dare to dive from a high waterfall ledge. Little does he know that this dive will give him meningitis, which only has a 20% survival rate. Thankfully, Nate survives but is wheelchair bound and in pain. His parents have to sell the North Carolina property and move to Tennessee to build him wheelchair accessible accommodations and hire a caregiver and a physical therapist.

Nate is very depressed and is not making much progress with his physical therapy. His mom looks into service animals and introduces the family to Gigi. Not everyone is onboard with the idea of having a monkey in the house. (Especially their dog!)

It takes Gigi a while to be comfortable enough with Nate to help him with his therapy. The family almost returned her! When Gigi starts helping Nate, she really makes a difference with his mental health and physical dexterity. She helps Nate with reading books by turning the pages for him and Gigi also helps him with grocery shopping. That’s when Gigi gets the attention of an animal rights activist who pushes for banning capuchin monkeys as service animals. The family and town will have to fight to keep Nate and Gigi together.

I’ll leave the rest of the details as a surprise since I don’t want to spoil this heartwarming film. There are some appropriateness issues worth noting before showing this film to younger kids. Some mild language (hell and sh*t) is present. Nate and Gigi attend a college party which starts trending on social media as both of them consume alcohol there.

If you’re looking for a comedy film, Gigi & Nate isn’t it. However, it is a touching story that shows that it’s not always humans rescuing animals, but it’s sometimes the other way around. The actors do a great job and the picture quality is great. I highly recommend this film if you don’t mind the language and alcohol usage.

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Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

Thank you Paramount for sending us a digital copy of this move to review!

I’m a long time fan of Mel Brooks and I haven’t seen his name in recent movies until Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. Not only does Mel Brooks lend his voice to The Shogun, but he contributed to the screenplay. There are some similarities between this computer-animated film and his classic: Blazing Saddles. And yes, there’s a hilarious bean and fire scene in Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank.

The film begins with a high-ranking official, Ika Chu (voiced by Ricky Gervais), anticipating a visit from The Shogun. In order to impress The Shogun, he wants his palace to be immaculate and doesn’t like the “eye sore” village of Kakamucho ruining the view of the landscape. Wiping this village off of the map isn’t easy and this town is known for being under the protection of a powerful samurai.

Kakamucho’s samurai eventually turns tail and leaves the town to be raided by Ika Chu’s thugs. The town reaches out to The Shogun to send a replacement and he tasks Iku Chu to supply a replacement. Ika Chu has to obey the order despite not wanting to aid the town. To fulfil the order and cripple the town, Ika Chu has the brilliant idea of sending a canine prisoner, Hank (voiced by Michael Cera), who is about to be executed to the all feline town of Kakamucho as their Samurai.

Hank wants to be a samurai, but lacks the training. Fortunately, there’s a retired Samurai, Jimbo (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson), in Kakamucho who begrudgingly begins training him. Throughout the training, you’ll see some humor and multiple instances of breaking the fourth wall. While Hank is training, Iku Chu is planning more attacks on the town before The Shogun arrives. Iku Chu’s personal guard, Ohga, is voice by George Takei and you’ll hear his signature phrase ‘Oh my!” used multiple times in this film. While there is no swearing, Samuel L. Jackson’s character utters the phrase “what the mother-father cocker spaniel is going on here?” Violence is a given and there are many cartoon-like battles throughout the film. Even though you’ll see an arrow going through a character’s hand, no blood is shown.

My family enjoyed watching Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank together, though we’re not in a rush to watch it again. We had some laughs, but it’s not anywhere near the caliber of Blazing Saddles.


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Sonic the Hedgehog 2

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

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 picks up after the first movie with Doctor Eggman trying to make the best of living on a distant planet filled with various mushrooms. He unsuccessfully tries to make a mushroom-infused coffee while contemplating on ways to leave the planet and getting revenge on Sonic. With the help of one of Sonic’s quills, Doctor Eggman is able to generate power and send an SOS beacon which gets the attention of Knuckles, who is also trying to locate Sonic. Knuckles is under the impression that Sonic knows the location of a powerful emerald that grants the wishes of its owner.

Meanwhile, Sonic is still living with the Wachowskis who treat him like a son. In the middle of the night, Sonic moonlights as a superhero, but often leaves chaos and disorder after his attempts at justice. After Sonic’s latest justice attempt makes the front page of the morning paper, Tom Wachowski and Sonic have a man-to-man talk about growing into their roles and not diving in prematurely. Shortly after this conversation, the Wachowskis head to Hawaii for a wedding.

Sonic enjoys having the house to himself, but it’s not long before he has unexpected company. Tails locates Sonic and warns him that Knuckles and Eggman are looking for him. Upon meeting Knuckles, Sonic and Tails realize that their brains and speed are no match for his strength. A tactical retreat is necessary so they can form a battle plan to have a chance against Knuckles and Doctor Eggman’s minions.

Doctor Eggman has a loyal lackey, Agent Stone, who runs a café shop. Agent Stone is either obsessed or in love with Eggman as he often makes latte art of Dr. Robitnik in his customers drinks. When Eggman comes in town, he sets up his headquarters at Agent Stone’s coffee shop. Chaos shortly ensues, but I’ll leave the rest of those details out so I don’t spoil this movie for you.

Other than Agent Stone’s fascination with Doctor Eggman, there are some other moral issues to be addressed in this PG-rated film. Slapstick violence is commonplace and you’ll see people beat up, blown up, and crushed, but no blood or death is shown. Language has some near misses for the sake of humor. In the beginning of the movie as Doctor Eggman is leaving the mushroom planet, he says that he’s leaving the Shiitake planet. Last but not least, lying and deception is shown by multiple characters.

If you enjoyed the first Sonic film, this sequel is definitely worth checking out. If you haven’t seen the first movie, I strongly suggest watching that before this one. A third movie is hinted at and has a target release date of December 2024. I look forward to the latest installment. In the meantime, this Blu-Ray (with Dolby Atmos support) can be yours for under $23 on Amazon.


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Secret Headquarters

Thank you Paramount for providing us access to a digital screener to review!

Secret Headquarters begins with a picture-perfect (Kincaid) family of three on a camping trip together. Just as the mother is about to play some acoustic guitar by the campfire, there’s an explosion in the night sky and a ship comes tumbling down a couple of miles away from their location. Since they’re in the middle of nowhere, the father (Owen Wilson), drives down to the crash site to offer assistance.

Upon arriving at the crash site, Mr. Kincaid finds a wounded pilot near the wreckage of a U.F.O. Near the alien ship is a hovering orb that rejects the military officer as its new owner, but accepts Mr. Kincaid as becoming its new guardian.

This alien artifact allows its owner to see futuristic events and produces energy far beyond any means available on Earth. The orb also creates structures and useful gadgets surpassing anything humanity can presently do. With this new technology, Mr. Kincaid becomes a superhero named The Guard who travels around the world at supersonic speed to stop crime. With great superpowers comes great sacrifices. The time commitment of saving the world from crime costs Mr. Kincaid his family as his wife files for divorce and their son hardly has a relationship with him anymore because of all of his “business trips”.

 

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Cinergy Dine-In Cinema Experience

Thank you Cinergy for providing us with dinner and a movie!

My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened Cinergy Dine-In Cinema in Wheeling, Illinois. We got to dine on $4.99 Sour Patch Kids Candy, a $14.49 Kong Burger, and a $13.49 BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger while watching Thor: Love and Thunder. We sparingly drank our fountain drinks to avoid mid-movie bathroom visits, but refills are easily requested via a QR code menu if we needed more. Cocktails, wine, and beer are also available if you’re 21 or older. If you do find yourself needing to use the restroom, they are modern looking with a marble finish that goes floor to ceiling.


There’s more than just movies at Cinergy. Patrons 18 and older can enjoy pool and/or shuffleboard for $12/hour. In the future, they plan on adding attractions at this location for younger audiences to enjoy. Other Cinergy locations offer VR, bowling, and laser tag so those are within the realm of possibilities. When other entertainment possibilities become available, so will the option of hosting birthday parties and private screenings.

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5 Most Recommended Shonen Anime For Starters

 

Anime has a complex scope, covering a wide variety of genres unique only to its essence. The Shonen genre stands out because of its appeal to a large number of audiences. Since it is the most popular category, there is no question that it has an overwhelming number of titles. However, that doesn't mean that it's hard to get into. If you're just entering the anime realm and are interested in this niche, we will provide you with a list of gateway titles that are newcomer-friendly and perfect starters for your new obsession.

 

My Hero Academia

 

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I Am Mortal

Thank you RLJE Films for sending us a Blu-ray to review!

I Am Mortal takes place 213 years into the future in the year 2235. According to this film, mankind pretty much dresses the same way (in the 2020s) and occasionally reads paperback books still. It’s assumed that humanity has been through some devastating warfare as the main city is in a domed environment and much of the Earth’s surface is barren. The main character, Logos, is a terraforming engineer trying to restore the land to its pre-devastated state.

Humanity’s leader refers to himself as “The Pilot” and he believes that God is a fantasy and that free will is undesirable. His gods are science and technology and he has discovered a way to modify people’s genes and wipes their memory if they defy his orders. In order to fit into The Pilot’s society, people must take a daily medication called “maintenance” that keeps them compliant and suppresses their critical thinking abilities.

When The Pilot deems people to be at their peak, he grants them the opportunity to become immortal in exchange for their service and compliance. Logos is days away from his gift of immortality, but he’s not looking forward to it as much as he thinks he should be. Sensing Logos’ hesitation, a group of rebels contact him to let him know that he’s not alone. The resistance group meets in an abandoned church and wants to tamper with the maintenance medication to let humanity know that God has a purpose for them and that they are intended to die in order to truly live.

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American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story

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

American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story is based on a true and remarkable story. Kurt Warner is considered the NFL’s greatest undrafted player. Kurt was inspired by Joe Montana’s Superbowl XIX performance and actually broke his record in Super Bowl XXIV. However, it took him a long time to get into the NFL.

During college, Kurt spent four years on the bench because the coach there didn’t like his playing style. I’m not savvy on football terms, but apparently Kurt didn’t stay in the pocket enough. When he did play, he did extremely well.

While in college, Kurt met Brenda, a divorced mother of two with one of them being blind. Their relationship had highs and lows and Kurt had to prove that he was going to treat her better than her ex-husband. Eventually Kurt got noticed by the Green Bay Packers, but only lasted two days in their training camp.

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The King's Man

 

Thank you 20th Century Studios for sending us a Blu-ray to review!

The King’s Man is a prequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle. This origin story takes place in 1902 with Orlando (the Duke of Oxford), his wife, Emily, and their son, Conrad, supplying provisions through the Red Cross. A marksman’s bullet takes the life of Emily and wounds the Duke’s leg. Before she dies, Emily makes Orlando promise that their young son won’t see warfare again.

Fast forward twelve years during World War I and Conrad is a strapping young teenager and instead of pursuing females, he wants to jump into the battlefield to protect his country. The Duke has high-ranking military official friends who can only deter Conrad so much. In a last-ditch effort to convince him that there are other ways to save the country instead of being on the battlefield, the Duke takes Conrad on an undercover mission to assassinate Grigori Rasputin. Though the mission was successful, it didn’t change Conrad’s mind and he enlists anyway.

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The Addams Family 2

Thank you MGM for sending us a Blu-ray to review!

My family saw the first computer animated Addams Family movie in the theaters in 2019. The film was mildly entertaining, but mostly a disappointment. I’m happy to report that overall we found this sequel to be better than the original movie on many fronts.

The Addams Family 2 begins at Wednesday’s science festival which has many uninspiring science projects including the typical baking soda volcano. Wednesday’s entry is quite fascinating as it transfers the intelligence of her octopus, Socrates, into her Uncle Fester. When it comes time to announcing the winner of the science fair, Wednesday is visibly disappointed when everyone is given a participation trophy. The professor takes note of her disappointment and consoles her while asking for her data so he can improve upon her work. Wednesday tells him it’s a family secret.

Gomez Addams also takes note of his daughter’s disappointment, but she rebuffs any attention and consolation he offers her. In an effort to strengthen the family bonds, Gomez and Morticia decide that a family road trip is in order. Instead of bringing the family closer, a wedge is further driven between Wednesday and her family. Apparently, she discovers a mix-up of babies at the hospital she was born in and wonders if she is even an Addams.

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Rumble

Thank you Paramount for sending us a screener of Rumble to review!

Most stories start with a “what if?” scenario. Some famous examples include “what if toys had feelings and lives that nobody could ever see?” or “what if a robot was sent back in time to murder the mother of an influential enemy leader before he was born?” When someone inevitably decided to take fantasy’s most gruesome residents and the most physical televised sport and put them together, they (namely Paramount) created Rumble: a movie whose premise is based wholly on monsters wrestling. (For those of you invested in the cast, there are a few names in there you’re bound to recognize.)

The film follows a young adult by the name of Winnie, who lives in a small town known for its monster wrestling. The town, named Stoker, is famous because of a coach-monster duo that are considered the greatest of all time. However, this duo was lost at sea several years before the story begins – leaving Winnie without a father. When the monster champion that replaced that duo decides to leave town for bigger and better things, Stoker is in a conundrum: monster wrestling is their biggest source of income. Since the town no longer has a use for the stadium, they plan to tear it down. It’s up to Winnie to find a champion for the town that will replace the one that left them before it’s too late to save the stadium.

I won’t go into too much detail on the plot (to avoid spoilers), but I will say that there are a lot of parallels and thematic elements in the story that I immensely enjoyed. The plot is stereotypical, but the characters make the movie and bring it to life. Their interactions are hilarious, and they don’t feel like comedy. They just feel real. There’s a certain sense of uniqueness with the dialogue that isn’t really represented in a lot of other movies I’ve seen. There are a couple of very minor plot inconsistencies, but it’s a kids movie. Paramount probably put those in because of its target audience.

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The Addams Family 2

Thank you MGM for sending us access to a digital version of the film to watch!

My family saw the first computer animated Addams Family movie in the theaters in 2019. The film was mildly entertaining, but mostly a disappointment. I’m happy to report that overall we found this sequel to be better than the original movie on many fronts.

The Addams Family 2 begins at Wednesday’s science festival which has many uninspiring science projects including the typical baking soda volcano. Wednesday’s entry is quite fascinating as it transfers the intelligence of her octopus, Socrates, into her Uncle Fester. When it comes time to announcing the winner of the science fair, Wednesday is visibly disappointed when everyone is given a participation trophy. The professor takes note of her disappointment and consoles her while asking for her data so he can improve upon her work. Wednesday tells him it’s a family secret.

Gomez Addams also takes note of his daughter’s disappointment, but she rebuffs any attention and consolation he offers her. In an effort to strengthen the family bonds, Gomez and Morticia decide that a family road trip is in order. Instead of bringing the family closer, a wedge is further driven between Wednesday and her family. Apparently she discovers a mix-up of babies at the hospital she was born in and wonders if she is even an Addams.

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The Boss Baby: Family Business

Thank you DreamWorks for sending us a Blu-ray to review!

This film takes place thirty years after the previous one and all of the babies have grown up now. Tim is a stay at home dad with an over-active imagination. His mega-successful brother, Ted (the star in the previous movie) is a busy CEO and showers Tim’s family with lavish gifts instead of his presence at holidays. Tim’s second grader daughter, Tabitha, is growing up and no longer finds his antics humorous. Tim is afraid that they are growing apart. The youngest daughter, Tina, is an agent at Baby Corp. The school that Tabitha attends may be part of the reason that she is growing distant from her dad. In order to investigate matters Tim and his brother Ted must infiltrate the school as youths.

In his youthful form, Tim goes by Marcos Lightspeed and befriends his daughter. She confides in him and he learns her true feelings about him. Marcos/Tim and Ted also learn about an evil plan that will allow babies to rule the world without their parents getting in their way. Despite their years apart, Tim and Ted must set aside their differences and work together to save the world.

The main theme of this movie is that just because people grow up doesn’t mean they have to grow apart. That’s a great message. From an appropriateness standpoint, it’s worth noting that you’ll see some butts. There are a couple of moments where Ted is naked, but there are objects conveniently placed that prevent seeing anything between his legs. Many computer animated films are promoting the LGBTQ agenda and I did see a rainbow bumper sticker on one of the cars.

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Flexclip

Thank you Flexclip for providing us with a one-year business membership!

There are many programs available for editing movie clips. My kids laugh at me for still using Microsoft’s Moviemaker software for editing our YouTube videos. Flexclip was developed by PearlMountain Limited and have over three million worldwide users and nearly four hundred thousand registered accounts. Over six hundred thousand videos have been made/downloaded using their online tools.

Through the website, you can create a video for free and use various tools including their converter, trimmer, compressor, and recorder. In total, there are four plans available and they all have different features and limitations. The Free plan allows one stock (premade) video and twelve projects. This plan is limited by 480p SD downloads and the video length can’t exceed one minute. The freely made videos will have a FlexClip intro on them. The $5.99/month Basic plan lets you make three-minute 720p HD movies. There is still a one stock video limitation, but you can have an unlimited number of projects.

The Plus plan is $9.99 a month and allows you to use five stock videos and they can be up to ten minutes in length. The videos are offered in Full-HD 1080p. Like the previous plan, you can have an unlimited number of projects.

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

 

Thank you Paramount for sending us a screener to review!

SpongeBob Squarepants has been around since 1999 and is still going strong. Now that my kids are getting older, I haven’t watched it on TV in a while. The main characters are still there and the 3D rendered versions of them look great.

There are some impressive cameos in this film including Keanu Reeves and Snoop Dogg. Another new character is King Poseidon who is super paranoid about his appearance and is desperately seeking out a snail to use its slime to remove facial wrinkles. Poseidon posts a bounty for someone who can give him a snail amidst the shortage of them.

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'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.

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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.

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Insert Coin: Inside Midway's '90s Revolution

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.

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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.

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