Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey all,

No review today, as thanksgiving is deserving of its own day. As you celebrate with family, friends, or even alone. Remember we all have so much to be thankful for. Our lives, our struggles, our comforts… All are from the Lord to grow us to be more like him. Let’s be sure to praise and thank him for that above all else. :)

Best wishes on my favorite day of the year!

Austin

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Movie Review: Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers

A war is going on in Long beach. A war between races- whites, blacks, latinos, asians… all killing each other daily to “protect their own” like their parents before them. Most however, don’t expect to live to the age of 18. They go to high school, because they are made to do so. It is a place for them to be babysat for the day, until the bell rings and they can go back to the streets and fighting the war for respect.

Until that is, a brand new english teacher walks into the school determined to change the mindset of these students. The first week- prompted by a racist sketch  she lectures them not on english, literature, or grammar. But on their lives, and so begins an unorthodox, yet memorable class we come to know as “The Freedom Writers”.

Things I Liked

Erin has a deep love and concern for the students in the school where she teaches. When they treat her like dirt, she responds not like the others- being a babysitter. She engages them and invest her time, money, and energy into making school something worth caring about. Not because School does something for them, but because they are leaving the lifestyle they are in to get to a better place.

The students also, after some persevering persistence from Erin, begin to take ownership of their own lives. They set aside different colors of skin and begin to work together in term of education, but also personally. When they decide they want a foreign historical figure t0 come to their school and speak, they create fundraisers and do so. They join together as a class and accomplish great things, completely dismissing their previous presupposed notions of racial segregation.

We see from the board of education one woman has no heart at all for the education, but rather for the promotion of the teachers. She is cold and flippant toward the students and won’t even let them use new books for fear of them getting destroyed. When confronted about this she criticizes Erin’s teaching style of loose schedules, trips, and family style classes. She says “we have ten million people to get educated, this is not a universal solution to achieve these means.” What she misses completely, yet we are shown, is the gross inadequacy of our current educational system.

One thing that really got me was the showing the gang members and such truly are people just like the rest of us, and they deal with their problems with violence and fighting. It is the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. We see why they live the way they do, but instead of going all psychological and exuding it because of their past- they are challenged to change for the their own success and to stop living in futility.

We see these changes in great ways. One guy goes back to help and live with his family. A girl takes a stand which endangers her life, but is the right thing to do. A guy stoops selling drugs off the street. A girl forgives a  race of people and becomes friends with them… The list goes on.

Things I Didn’t Like

Through the course of the teaching, Erin works long and late hours, she takes on two more jobs to pay for her job, and this results in a broken relationship with her husband (who is still trying to find himself). It results in a sad end for both. “Why can’t you just stand by and support me like a wife would?!” Erin asks in desperation. Her husband replies “I’m not your wife… I wish there was a better way to say it.

As the students come from gangs, we hear every curse word in the book, as well as slang and sexual jargon. There is one F- word, and many of the other ones. God’s name is used in vain a few times. There are easily 50+ expletives.

We see flashbacks to student’s past violent lives. A man is shot in the chest, women are beaten profusely, and we see a young kid shot as well. You can tell the filmmakers kept this intentionally mild, and in no way went as far as they could. This is still present nonetheless, and as such is worth mentioning.

Closing Thoughts

Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room.
~Miep Giles~

Based on a true story, Freedom Writers touches on a time back in the early 1990s and focuses in on one teacher’s efforts to influence the students in her class to live a better life. Incredibly, in real life, it worked.

It would be one thing to make a fictional account of gang students changing for the better, but to take a story of something like this actually happening, and showing it on film? That’s powerful. It is amazing to see what one leader can do to influence others both for good, and for bad. The bad we are told of in this film is Hitler. Through the Holocaust he led millions to believe in lies and commit atrocities one cannot even fathom. There good, is shown through Ms. G, or Erin Gruwell. She invests time into these young adults, and we see once the teens understand she cares about them- truly believes in them… Awesome things happen.

This is a profound lesson we can, and should learn from. It only takes the investment of one person into another’s life to change it for the better or worse. When we interact with someone, we influence them positively or negatively. Are we going to influence for the better? Or for the worse?

This movie is a well written and well composed drama which addresses the importance of good role models and personal investment. It shows the insensitive folly of the educational system in place, and also humanizes a world which many of us have never seen. The unfortunate part of this, is through the teaching of this class, Erin’s marriage is lost. We also hear easily over fifty curse words from the streets and students.

What I wound up walking away with though, was not only an renewed appreciation for teachers who do invest their being into their students. But moreso the calling for young adults to step up and take ownership of their lives. So yes Props definitely go to Erin for pushing students to be better. The true credit goes to the students who decided to stop living in their wars and path of ruin, and turn it around because they took responsibility for themselves. That’s what made them Freedom Writers.

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
~1 Timothy 4:12~

Movie Review: Black Hawk Down

BlackHawkDown

Of all the military tragedies in American history, the Somalian incident in October of 1993 is definitely among the worst. In a miscalculated snatch and trap mission, a standard operation turns into an hours upon hours long battle with the soldiers in the city. A black Hawk helicopter is shot down by an RPG. Then another. It is the directive of the commanding officer- No man get’s left behind. And so begins a bloody and death ridden operation to save the survivors and recover the dead American soldiers in the crash.

Things I Liked

The shining gold medal of this film is the way the soldiers, once they are in a mess, do sacrifice themselves for each other without even thinking about it. We see men put themselves in harms way even to save a solider’s dead body from being destroyed. They believe in “No man gets left behind” and carry it out to the fullest.

The commanding officers takes full responsibility for his actions in the failure of the mission.

Things I Didn’t Like

While in war movies I understand there is going to be violence, how that violence is portrayed, shown, and resolved greatly affects the quality of the movie in terms of story, character, and morality. This movie shows violence constantly and consistently in the most gruesome of ways. What is worst however, is the complete lack of care shown in the deaths of the soldiers. Because there is no character development or clear mission, there is no feeling of loss when a solider is killed. It is shown as a “Here is what happened” for two hours, with no apparent thought that the viewers might like to get to know these people and begin to care about them before you kill them off.

That being said, the tactless and distasteful violence is everywhere here. If you can think it, it probably was shown in this movie. Men are blown to bits with RPGs, shot everywhere, limbs are shown to be blown off, blood flows profusely, etc. It is shown in a most inconsiderate fashion, which is unfortunate considering the immense amounts of real loss it represented twenty years ago.

On solider is shot and mobbed, then his corpse is carried around by the Somalian mob, we know his body is dragged through the street, but in a rare instance of good taste being shown, we don’t see that.

The F word is used at least two dozen times, as well as D—, B—–, and Hell used out of context. Gods name is used in vain profusely, which bothered me more than the F bomb to be honest. But it is a war movie, so that makes it OK, right? /sarcasm/

Closing Thoughts

“When I go home people’ll ask me, “Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?” You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a —- word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”
~Hoot~

The story of this war tale isn’t a happy one. It doesn’t end well here, because it doesn’t in real life. Lives were lost due to mistakes and unforeseen circumstances which we can read in any history book. Black Hawk Down succeedes in the history department, and showing the bond between soldiers. Where it falls short though, is the human aspect of the story.

I’d venture to say anyone can write a war movie full of people dying for each other to communicate sacrifice. That isn’t hard to do. This film contains that among the Ranger brothers, and we definitely see an unmatched love for each other which is mind boggling. But that’s about it. There is no character development, no real enemy, not even a cause- save for getting out of a mess they were not even sure they were supposed to get into in the first place.

The result of all this death and disaster is from a decision we hear virtually nothing about. And because of that, this movie lacks the necessary insight and conviction to make it memorable or even something to appreciate. There has to be a reason for the sacrifice, and this movie avoids that question and answer constantly.

This film was classified as a drama, and honestly it is nothing of the sort. It is a documentary style, two hour shoot-em-up film full of sensationalized gore, dozens of F- bombs, with no real resolved justified purpose of why they are doing what they are doing. The characters are all but faces to be killed off, as we get to know none of them. There is no tact, artistry, or even an attempt at some emotional connection.

Bottom line is, Black Hawk Down provides a gore fest like no other, sure to satisfy the people who drink up these blood ridden films. If you want something other than a 2-hour footage showing men getting shot by men and dying saving another (not to disparage this in any way to be sure!), I’d recommend Saving Private Ryan, Act of Valor, or We Were Soldiers.  Black Hawk Down, is a successful attempt at recreating a historical event, with no compelling or even interesting story to show for it.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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With the victory of the Hunger Games a year behind them, Katniss and Peeta continue to live a double life for the state. For the camera, they are a lovestruck couple, smiling and grateful to the state for the gifts they have been given. When the lights go down however, they are torn and tired of the play acting.

Then, when president Snow visits Katniss and tells her that she has become a beacon of hope to the rebellion, he threatens the death of her entire district. She has to convince him that the love between her and Peeta is real. Or else suffer the consequences. But the dual victory set in motion events which cannot be stopped by mere acting. Rebellions and outbreaks are becoming more and more common. To distract from this, the President declares for the 75th hunger games, all living victors of games past much be selected as part of the reaping.

So again, Katniss finds herself in the arena. Not with inexperienced kids, but adult trained killers. Allies are the key to her physical survival, but her death means success to the state. The game isn’t just inside the arena now, it is in real life. A political, manipulative, and deceptive game which will result in one victor. Moves and countermoves, are the key to one ideologies’ success.

Things I Liked

Katniss has grown a lot since the last games. She still lives in fear, but no longer lets that consume here. Rather, we see her decide to make a stand. This is first evidenced when see gives a speech in honor of her lost friend- Rue. She is consumed by the heartbreaking loss she experienced in the death of her friend, and she defies the state in a compelling way. This results however, in civilians showing rebellion, and many being punished for that.

If anything, Katniss does not want to hurt anyone deemed “innocent” in her eyes. This was shown in the first film in part, which caused immense moral ambiguity which I had problems with. Now, we are shown that if one is for the state, and actively pursues punishment of acts of rebellion, then Katniss has no desire to protect them. We see her transform from a girl trying to survive into a cunning solider of the rebellion.

Peeta remains the compassionate and caring person we found him to be in the first film. He is there to comfort Katniss in times of nightmares, and to be “just a friend” to get through the difficult times. When a tribute is dying a painful death, he directs their gaze to the sunrise, and provides them a peaceful passing while viewing the beauty of the new morning.

Haymitch, Cinna, and Effie all subtly rebel against the state in ways to promote the expansion of the rebellion. In fact, almost all the protagonists do so, knowing that it could cost them their lives. Katniss’ family tells her she can’t live in fear of losing them- because the rebellion is “Bigger than any one person”. Gale stands up against peacekeepers raiding district 12. Cinna designs a dress which embraces the symbol of hope all have come to believe in. We see over and over people placing the good of the people over their own personal interests. Even in the games, some tributes sacrifice themselves so Katniss may live.

Which brings me to the antagonist side. The state. It is shown that the government, controlled by the president, is in no way concerned or worried about the interest of the citizens. Rather, it delights in reigning through fear and oppression. It lives in gluttony as well, living like the greeks and drinking elixirs which makes them throw up so they can eat more. Perhaps most despicable though is the forcing of the citizens each year to murder each other in the games many delight in. It has no law, save for what the president decrees. The reign of terror reminded me of the way jews were treated in the holocaust. People have no rights, no protection, and no due process. They have no freedom, and are commanded to sin against each other. That is a just reason to rebel.

Things I Didn’t Like

Katniss kisses Gail and Peeta many times. The love triangle continues… *groan*  A female veteran Tribute provocatively undresses in front of Peeta, Katniss, and Haymitch due to mental instability. We see only her face and back, and the reactions from Peeta (awkward discomfort) and Haymitch (enjoys it).

The violence in Catching Fire is scaled down immensely compared to the first film, but that doesn’t mean it is without blood on its hands. The most disturbing images are brought in as rebellion begins. A man is shot in the head for a simple gesture. Masses are burned and gunned down for whistling the cry of a mocking jay. Several men who stand against the peacekeepers are brutally beaten with lashes or punched to death.

In the Victor’s Game in the arena. The initial start up results in us seeing a few tributes shot by arrow and killed via axe. After this, a preference is given to hearing a cannon go off, rather than watching each of the 24 tributes die. The ones we do see die, are killed by the environment, rather than the other tributes. Once is gored by a rabid monkey, another is consumed by a poisonous mist.

There is a twice bleeped out F- word on a TV show when a person speaks out against the state. Once used are the S-, D, and B- words. God’s name is used in vain about six times.

Closing Thoughts

You don’t win the games, you merely survive. There are no winners.
~Haymitch~

The second film in the “Hunger Games” series, I went into this movie quite skeptical to be honest. In fact, I was not going to see this one, but because of the overwhelming requests to review it, I decided to do so. I will say, I was in some ways pleasantly surprised, yet in others saw what I expected.

We find all the established characters grow into developed roles and figures. Katniss, the symbol of hope, Peeta, the symbol of compassion, and many others. These people finally determine the state is in no way to be supported, then commit wholeheartedly to that position. The result is powerful examples of courage, sacrifice, and strength. The leadership by example passes to other tributes, and to the common people as well.

In the course of these events however, much loss is to be heard of and seen. These are tragic to witness and listen to. We see peacekeepers take out any unarmed citizen who displays a glimmer of rebellion. This was violence I was not prepared for, and it hurt deeply to watch the brutality shown against a defenseless folk.

Perhaps the strongest theme shown, is hope. We see how powerful the gift of hope can be. It was touched on in the first film, and the thread continues to be woven in this one. We are told hope is greater than fear and finally begin to see the positive effects of that hope, and less focus on the results of living fear.

So while The Hunger Games is still a disgusting film full of child murders and selfish violence all around… Catching Fire provides the purpose (and attempts to justify it) to the first movie. It shifts focus from brutal murders, to the cause of these murders- which is from the state. We are shown a brave small group of people who decide to rebel against these scheduled killings and immorality.

It is not without faults, but what started out as a complete dismissal of the benefit of The Hunger Games Series, there is building a glimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe, there is something worth value of discussion with others after all.

Movie Review: Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl

Curse of The Black Pearl

After a terrible mutiny, Jack Sparrow is on a mission to reclaim his ship. However, when a certain damsel, Elizabeth Swan,  falls into distress and he rescues her, he winds up in a prison cell. Busted out by an attacking ship, Jack find out that the damsel has been captured, and a secret admirer- Will turner, is dead set on rescuing her. With a new ally, Jack commandeers a ship, gets himself a new crew, and sets out to recapture his beloved “Black Pearl”.

Unfortunately for him, The crew of the black pearl has been cursed with a terrible immortality, and they have no desire to give up the ship, but rather use Elizabeth as a life sacrifice to rid themselves of the curse. It is now a race against time to save Elizabeth. Or is it to recapture the pearl? Or is it to get revenge? Or is it something else entirely? With Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm, no now will know until he does, and he does not know the knowing himself….

Things I Liked

Jack Sparrow is a near perfect allegory of man’s inner struggle to do good/bad. And you know what? It is an accurately portrayed one, because he mostly does bad. Rarely, he saves someone else’s skin. But we see him struggle with those choices in the movie. Sometimes this works out for him, but most of the time it doesn’t. This movie shows man’s inherently flawed nature, and offers no excuse for it.

Will Turner is a respectable young man, ready to do anything for Elizabeth Swan. He genuinely loves her and acts as such. Even when she is cruel and does things to hurt him, he is always forgiving and moves on. He also always keeps his word.

We see the result of theft and deception being a curse of immortality without feeling. Such decisions result in an entire crew being alive in the mind, but trapped inside of dead bodies. A terrible torture and punishment for greedy and immoral actions. We heard of a man who stood up for what was right, and dies for it.

To be honest, the script and story are incredibly witty, funny, and well thought out. The story contains plenty of twists and poetic justices which work well with the rough and tumble feel of the movie.

Things I Didn’t Like

In the port of Tortuga, you might as well call it pirates Las Vegas. There is much shown in the ways of immorality, yet much not shown to keep the Rating at a lower level. Many pirates get drunk and brawl with each other. Women with much exposed cleavage dance with open dresses over drunk pirates heads.

The cursed pirates are shown to be normal humans by day, but rotted out beings by moonlight. The creepy skeletal figures kill many british soldiers with swords, shots, etc. They are gross, disfigured, and can’t be killed. We see one curse pirate’s arm torn off, and anthers head broken off- yet they still fight and fix themselves. This results in immense death to whomever they attack. Bloody is rarely shown. Rather choosing to focus on the sounds of hacking, slicing, and other means. One person’s hand is sliced open, a few men are hit on the back of the head bottle style.

The D- word is used, and another inappropriately uses the word “bastard” as an insult.

All the characters lie and deceive each other to achieve their own ends.

Closing Thoughts

 The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do.
~Captain Jack Sparrow~

Sometimes you come across a movie where there is no “hero” No person you can root for with a good conscience. Where all the characters are out for themselves, and the result is a mess of death, lies, deception, and (in this film’s case) humor. That’s the corroded beauty of the Pirates of the Caribbean Series, and this film in particular. It displays real people- not glamorous superheroes dressed up and saving the world. Sometimes, yeah it is nice to see super characters like that. But to see actually people struggling against each other, because they all want what is best for them, is an incredible witness and testimony to the uselessness of man’s struggles.

As the first in a series to an epic climax, The Curse of the Black Pearl focuses on showing the negative results of selfish choices, rather then the benefits of making good ones. A unique twist, seen from an illegal perspective. There is much material that is indeed scalliwagish. And the Curse of Cortez is something most gruesome.

So to watch to not to watch? It all comes back to leverage. This movie can be taken as a pointless, dark, and violent pirate comedy at a moments notice. However, it can also be leveraged as an excellent film demonstrating, through shown examples, the folly of man and what selfishness will do to an individual. It is a complex film for mature minds and hearts. Savvy?

Movie Review: We were Soliders

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The Vietnam war was terrible and controversial to the core. However, many sacrifices were made in that war, and in this film, we see a group of stranded, outmanned, and outgunned Americans fight for their life in North Vietnam. Commanded by Lt. Col. Hal Moore, they fight for their survival while waiting for backup. If it doesn’t arrive soon, then not one of them will be getting back home.

Things I Liked

This movie is filled with great examples of sacrifice, leadership, and commitment to other soldiers. Hal leads by example, telling his men he will be the first to step foot in, and last to leave the war zone. Bravery and courage is seen by all, including even a Photojournalist who came along to record the true horrors of war.

Back at home, we see the wives and women come together and support one another in times of celebration and ultimate loss.

Things I Didn’t Like

Obviously, a movie like this will have immense amounts of violence. While never glorified, it is agonizingly ridiculous the amount of gore and bloody deaths which are shown. Shots to the every part of the human body are seen. Limbs and heads are blown off. Napalm destroys a man’s face. Blood sprays from every direction in fights. A helicopter mows down dozens of soldiers with a machine gun. Men are burned to death, and worse still, some survive the burns with terrible disfiguring. Knifes and bayonets are used to kill men as well. There is more to be sure, but the violence is one and the same all through this movie.

The F- word is used four times,  with about a dozen S- words. God’s name is used in vain about 15 times. Mild for a war film, but still unenjoyable nonetheless.

Something crude, but not necessarily bad in terms of morality, is several men urinate on a overheated mortar gun to cool it off.

Closing Thoughts

I can’t promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear, before you and before Almighty God, that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me, God.
~Lt. Col. Hal Moore~

As yet another war movie worthy of appreciation yet also harrowing to watch.”We Were Soldiers” puts a bit more focus on the emotional side of war than other films past seen like “Saving Private Ryan” or “Act of Valor”. You feel the loss a bit more, and you gain understanding that the other side of the line. The “enemies” had terrible loss of life too. And that it was truly life.

If anything is to be gained watching this film apart from what you can gain watching other war films, it is seeing the war from both sides. Seeing how the vietnamese were people too. With families, feelings, and souls- all lost in the bloody and controversial conflict which engulfed Vietnam. We also see a unique perspective from the homefront, where wives and mothers came together and supported the other in terrible times of loss.

As with all movies of this nature, the violence is reviling and unapologetically graphic, it is sickening to the core. They say though, that those who forget history are bound to repeat it. Movies like these help us remember not only how terrible war is physically, but morseo how it tears humanity apart emotionally. This movie painfully helps us to remember this now, and for years to come.

Movie Review: Star Trek (2009)

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Kirk was never one to follow orders. As an older captain he did so when he thought it was right, and as we see in this film, he does the exact same.  There is a force which has destroyed an entire fleet of ships, captained by the romulan Nero. His single goal is to have revenge on Starfleet and the people who let his planet get destroyed.

Spock and Kirk of course, are having none of that. As fresh recruits in Starfleet, they gun the engines on the Enterprise, and take off full throttle to save the universe like they always do. This time however, there is a problem in the time continuum. What was may not be, and what will be has never happened. Gone is the original timeline of the Star Trek Series, and Kirk may have, just once to many times, bitten off more than he can chew.

Things I Liked

I don’t believe in no-win scenarios. ~James T. Kirk~

James Kirk is about as bold and proud as they come. In some ways, this is a good thing, giving him courage in the face of battle. But is mostly a detriment, getting him in unneeded amounts of trouble. He begins to learn, bit by bit, that arrogance brings adversity. And while he never grasps the entire point, we see him learn and mature into a Starfleet officer. He is a continual optimist, and never believed he can or will be beaten. This is a dangerous, yet powerful mindset.

Spock has to deal with his split heritage of being vulcan and human while growing up. He is mocked for being impure on the Vulcan planet, yet performs the best out of any other student. When he turns down acceptance into the best school in the universe, he again is mocked by the Vulcan council. His only support comes from his mother, who loves him so dearly, it tears him apart when she eventually dies. He carries this with him and has to learn how to deal with emotions, rather than let the emotions control him.

The acting in this film is so top notch I have to mention it. All the characters mimic the original ones perfectly. The recreation of young classic personalities is so well done you would think they are truly the younger versions of all the people we see in the original series.

Things I Didn’t Like

Kirk has a consistent flaw in sleeping with other women and aliens. We are shown him and a green woman in bed making out, until Uhura walks in, where he jumps under the bed to hide. He then watches Uhura, (so does the camera) undress to change into civilian clothes. Uhura finds him, and kicks him out while he is just in his boxers.

Spock and Uhura have a “thing” in this film. They kiss several times.

With the amount of violence rivaling all the original series episodes combined, this movie brings to us breathtaking spacial battles, but a mind blowing body count. Nero’s ship has the ability to destroy planets, and he does so- killing billions of people on it (much like we see in Star Wars and the Planet Alderan). His ship rips apart and entire fleet of StarFleet cruisers and battleships. We see the aftermath- bodies and debris floating everywhere.

Other less epic, but just as deadly, violences includes some people and aliens get vaporized by energy beams. Phasers take out many people and aliens. Kirk is beaten up by Nero, and also by some guys in a bar. One alien is stuck by some swords. Another Starfleet officer is gored in the gut by a trident type weapon.

McKoy in his true form, lets loose a barrage of foul words and phrases. Most the S and D word paired with the Lord’s name. The B- word is used occasionally, and Hell is used out of context.

Closing Thoughts

Spock, in this case, do yourself a favor: Put aside logic. Do what feels right.
~Spock Prime~

This much needed reboot of the Star Trek franchise brings all the characters we know and love in the original series back with incredible authenticity. We are given the character interaction, the personalities they all have, and the classic Star Trek adventuring spirit which made the original series great.

And with this reboot, we find similar flaws that are in the original series- Kirk’s involvement with women, Mcoy’s classic expletives, and violence found in any star trek film. This one ups the ante, like all good modern hollywood films do, and stays true to the content we would find… illegal as well.

At the core however, we find what makes Star Trek truly great- the adventure of both universal and personal discovery. All the characters are attempting to figure out where their place is in the universe. For Kirk, it is resolving his father’s death when he was young. For Spock, it is resolving his half human/Vulcan heritage. Through these conundrums we see them make decisions both bad and good. We are shown the Kirk’s attitude is not only immature, but destructive. We are shown Spock’s division is misplaced.

While the movie definitely feels and is one of the greatest reboots in the last decade, it is logical to recognize and criticized the amped up violence and continued immoral life of Kirk when it comes to women. It is the mission statement of Starfleet to “Boldy go where no man has gone before!”. In some ways regarding character development they have done so, but in others in terms of content, it is what we’ve come to expect. Star Trek brings back everything we love and hate about the series, and for that, I’ll give J.J Abram the Vulcan salute and wish this next generation of reboots to “Live Long and Prosper“.

Movie Review: The Rookie

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Every since Jim’s college injury, he has given up his dream of pitching for the MLB. Instead, he works as a high school baseball coach, with a dying team of non committals and low funding. After one terrible loss, Jim challenges them to change their attitude. They reply with a challenge of their own. If they win the championship, Jim has to go try out for the MLB again.

He takes them up on their deal, and incredibly, they make it through and win the series. Now Jim, a 40 year old Father of two, has to go and retry out for a position he let go of so long ago. But hope brews inside of him, that maybe- just maybe, he’ll get a call.

Things I Liked

“I’m talking about wanting things in life … having dreams. If you don’t have dreams, you don’t have anything!”
~Jim Morris~

Jim is a impressive example of what a father, a husband, and a coach should be. He is wise in his actions, humble in his demeanor, and loving towards those he cares for. When he is on the road, he calls home and helps his son with his homework. He talks for hours with his wife. We see him heartbroken working away from his family, because that’s where his heart is. His wife is amazing as well, as she supports him through the difficult financial times and never criticizes once a decision is made together. The picture of a family in this film is remarkable admirable. It isn’t perfect, but it is selfless. Both are willing to give all for the other, and that’s something worth commending.

As a coach, Jim turns several young mens live’s around due to his influence as a leader, not a screamer. He challenges them to raise their standard, or upset expectations. To dream big. Now, what’s best about this, is we see him also say that without hard work, nothing will happen to those dreams. Through immense amounts of practice and work, the team comes together and pulls out a championship. The Rookie tells us without hard work, dreams don’t happen.

Jim also is forgiving of his father from some past wrongs done to him, and keeps the big picture of the “Why” he is doing what he does constantly. It isn’t for himself, but for his family’s financial freedom.

Things I Didn’t Like

A few profanities of the D- word. God’s name is taken in vain.

Closing Thoughts

You quit. You quit out there. You quit on me and, worse, you quit on yourselves. Now, what is it? You think we don’t care about baseball around here? Think the school’s gonna drop the program? You’re just making it easy for ’em. Sad part is, I see it and you don’t. ~Jimmy~

There comes a time in every person’s life when they have to decide whether or not they will truly pursue their calling (or dream- depending on how you phrase it). Jim’s calling is baseball, and we see him attempt to go pro early one, fail, and settle for a high school coaching position. Then he has the opportunity to pursue the MLB once again, and he takes it.

Like the team he coached, in many ways, Jim had quit on himself, his goals, his dreams. Shrouded in the terms of “practicality” “affordability” and “Economical”, it was Jim’s wife who pulled him out of that mindset and put him back on the track to reaching his goal.

This movie is very nearly a “perfect game” in every way. We see the importance of hard work to accomplish your goals, strong family values, and individual sacrifice on both sides.  Every pitch Jimmy is thrown results in him handling it well and like a true man of his house. And the resulting rewards are indeed great. Whether you like baseball of not, The Rookie tells an excellent story of lasting value. It is a worthy addition to any family’s collection.

Movie Review: X-men Origins: Wolverine

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Logan is one of them. The Mutants with the “X” gene. The gene that causes human bodies to grown in a way many would consider unnatural. He has bone claws, he heals incredibly fast, and is immortal due to this process. Because of this, Logan is among the oldest of all the X-men. He has fought in every major war since the 1800’s, and because of this, he has become a killing machine. He does not let himself love, as that only bring heartbreak. He is a man without hope, doomed to walk the world for eternity.

So when a man comes and approaches logan about a special mission, Logan grudgingly accepts- it will entertain him a little while right? So he goes along with the man, and performs missions, until he realizes the mission is to eliminate other humans like himself, or cause mass genocide among african villages. He leaves. And burns several bridges in his path.

He swears to leave his brutal ways, and takes up working as a lumberjack in the North. He finds a wife, settles down, and is happy in his simple life. His past and secret safely kept to himself. However, one day he finds his wife, murdered, by none other than his brother.

This leads him to find the weapon that will give him the ultimate revenge and promise of certain victory. The bonding of Adamantium to his bones. The animal, is born again.

Things I Liked

Logan is a man portrayed as at least wanting to make good decisions. He desires to leave the life of killing and carnage, and start fresh doing good honest work. He keeps being drug back however, to face his enemies and those who would encourage him to live otherwise. It is a tragic thing, to see Logan fighting to be alone and live peaceably, but then being prodded back into the world of death he so well knows. Where does this desire come from? It never says specifically. But hints at many things. One thing is certain, we see Logan kill many people, but almost always it is from the cause of people inflicting pain upon him. He is not a hero to be cheered, but rather one to sympathize, and in this movie, I found myself doing so. Through it all however, we see him make choices which we would consider to be “above the beast” or, not indulging in his natal nature. He fails, like we all do, but in the end, when the true test comes, he makes the one which is considered “moral”.

Logan and his brother (who also has powers of regeneration) fight a lot, but truly do look out for each other. “Nobody kills you but me.” Logan’s brother tells him. And at times, we are fairly certain he is going to do just that. In the end though, we again see resolution between the two. “After all, we’re brothers. And brothers look out for each other.”

The Antagonist of the film, Stryker, is man who is eventually shown to be completely despicable in his actions and are in no way condoned or praised. He acts in such a way “because he is a patriot”, but his motives are self serving, and suffers the consequences of such.

Things I didn’t Like

As with any wolverine film, it is guaranteed there will be violence to an extreme level. This one doesn’t back off any as well. From the beginning- even as a child, we see wolverine as a killer. He kills a man with his claws, and it just goes from there. We see flashbacks from wars where he and his brother are violently getting shot, yet staying alive and causing mayhem. In another scene, a group of mutants dispatch (matrix style I might add) a room of guards to steal something from a crime lord.

And once wolverine’s wife is found bloody on the forrest floor… it gets really messy. He takes out several armed vehicles, two unarmed people are shot by Stryker’s men, Wolverine causes a helicopter to explode with a man still in it. When Wolverine and his brother fight, they stab, throw, and claw each other, but since both can heal, we just see them beat up with no blood or permanent injuries. A mutant is beheaded. Mutants fight other mutants with their special powers.

Wolverine’s Adamantium procedure is a cruel one. Needles bore and drill into the bones of Logan, causing extreme pain. After the procedure is complete, we see him jump off the table, buck naked, and kill several people trying to wipe his memory. We see his rear several times. A man also stabs another who disagrees with what he is doing.

Several profanities are in the film including the D word, S word, and Hell being used out of context. God’s and Jesus’s name are use in vain 10-12 times. Wolverine also gives someone the bird with his newly made Adamantium claws.

Closing Thoughts

Well, I found it. It helped us to create a metal compound so strong, that you’ll be able to withstand virtually anything. It’s called adamantium. I can’t put Victor down myself, Logan. To kill him, you’ll have to embrace the other side, become the animal.
~William Stryker~

A movie as torn as this, (pun intended) brings into consideration many ideas and questions regarding human instinct (the evil/animal) and human conscience (the man). All through the X-men series, we see Wolverine constantly fighting the urge to kill without thought or caring. We see him battle grudges of betrayal and learning to trust others. A man as old as Logan, you’d think he would have learned something.

But as we sadly see in this film, without Christ, man truly learns nothing worth anything in terms of morality or conscience. We watch a man torn apart by his own brother’s betrayal. His one constant friend, instantly taken from him by the actions of Stryker. That’s the most I can say, without spoiling the plot.

The plot however, is not what is truly important, what is memorable is the way Logan handles the hand felt to him in a most twisted way. Whether or not he lets his animal nature rule him, or whether he chooses to act according to his conscience. The messages there were profound for me, and left me thinking a lot on how often we fight against our animal nature.

While the messages, for me, were deep and engaged several good conversations from watching this film, the insane amount of fantastical brutal violence which accompanies it makes me wonder at times whether or not I’m embracing the animal when critically watching this film. So I will say viewer beware,  the darkness of The Wolverine can be consuming, but it can also be enlightening. It is all in how you delight in it.

Movie Review: Equilibrium

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In the future, man has found a way to end all wars. It has found a way to resolve major social disputes. It has found a way to live, for the most part, in perfect harmony. How you ask? Simple. They just suppress their emotions. Through the institution of the Tetragrammaton Council, all items that inspire emotional content are banned. Rated “EC” for emotional content. The Tetragrammaton have one job- to rid the world of all art, literature, and otherwise inspiring materials. They also serve as law enforcement against the would be rebels.

This “underground” persay, consist of the people who reject the idea that the emotion eliminating drug- Prozium, is better for society. So the Tetragrammaton hunt these people, and when they find a group, eliminate them without second thought.

John Preston is the best of the best in the Tetragrammaton Council. A ruthless hunter and master of the pistol, he is esteemed in the world. However, one day he captures a woman in the underground, and is influenced by her emotion. He misses a Prozium treatment, and he discovers what it is like to feel. In this way, Preston must choose which is better- to live without emotion, or to feel and suffer the consequences.

Things I Liked

When preston sees the flaws in the ruling government, he begins to sacrifice everything he has to over turn it. All of his power, prestige, and safety he puts into jeopardy in order to stop the ruthless practices the Tetragrammaton Council has implemented.

We are shown that emotion is not such a bad, thing, but rather the lack of control of emotion is what is flawed.

Things I Didn’t Like

Many people are gunned down when found they are Offenders. We see Preston shoot many men with deadly accuracy from his two guns. A man’s face is sliced off. And we hear a group of dogs being executed as well. Blood spray is present.

The F word is used twice, as well as the D word occasionally.

Closing Thoughts

Without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock ticking.
~Mary~

This Post-Apoloypic Sci-fi flick went relatively unnoticed when it was released back in 2002. This could be because of the lack of star studded cast or because of the somewhat cheesy special effects. It is so incredibly similar to the matrix in the gun scenes it is laughable at times.

But production value aside, Equilibrium surprisingly delivers a compelling and unique story. We are shown what happens when man tries to alter himself from God’s original standard, and we see the negative consequences of living as such as well.

Equilibrium is truly about finding a balance in ourselves. We are shown both extremes of emotion vs no emotion, and told the truth lies somewhere in the middle. And balance, is something to which we all can relate.