Beauty and the Beast – Movie Review

Belle is my favorite princess.  I love that she is inquisitive, odd and that she loves books. I love that she looked past the ugly beast and saw a tender heart. I love that she saw past Gaston’s looks and saw his vanity. I love that she encourages her father. I also love the sacrificial love of the beast towards the end. The dance scene of the animation of 1991 is enchanting.  There is magic, books, learning and unyielding love in this Disney cartoon and it’s heartwarming. I was 10 years old when this animation came out, and as an awkward book nerd that may have enjoyed solitude a bit too much, Belle came along and helped my little weird self.

I say all this because I may have a bias when it comes to the new live action of Beauty and the Beast. First of all I didn’t like the lighting, it looked fake. It was like they were trying to capture the cartoon’s magical essence, but it just seemed forced. They should have gone real. Real trees, real stone, truer colors. The props, especially in the village were a bit gaudy, and frankly looked like props that could be found at any local theater. Secondly, I don’t think Emma Watson was a good fit for Belle. She’s smart and pretty, but a Belle she is not. And she didn’t really act very well either. I think they would have done better with an actress that we didn’t know so well. And lastly, it was too musical! I know it’s a Disney movie but ugh, it just seemed longer than it needed to be. The new songs were okay, but not really as uplifting as the originals. They should have left well enough alone. They also added a bit of back story to Belle and how her mother died and there was this magical map that the Beast had that transported them to any place in the world. It just didn’t seem to flow well with the story, and when her dad was in danger, why didn’t they use the map to help save him? And I hated to have to think about all this because it’s not part of the original story anyway! Also, the ballroom dance scene, didn’t awe me throughout. Yes, it crescendos into a very beautiful scene, but it starts off fairly lusterless. Kinda boring.

What I did like about the movie though was the Beast. He was witty and funny! I am not sure if his voice was altered, but it sounded  perfect for the beast. I had never seen Dan Stevens in any other movie, and his acting really stood out above the rest. Luke Evans’ acting was also okay, but I would have liked a more muscular and taller Gaston.

Recommendations: The movie was okay. Out of 5 stars, I have noticed that it is at a solid 4 from most critics. I would have given it 3 stars if I had a star system. But I know little kids will enjoy the movie. I really don’t think my generation will find it that magical – the cartoon is just way better.

To the Christian: I am not in the dark about the “gay” controversy. I know the homosexual agenda is forcibly being pushed on Christians more than it ever has. They no longer just want us to accept their lifestyle, we must also celebrate it. I get it. The problem I have though is that we Christians seem to single this sin out too much. I haven’t read one article about Lumiere’s obvious pre-marital sexual relationship with Plumette. Is not all sexual sin the same in the eyes of the Lord? Thankfully, there is no actual scene where a man kisses another man. I was worried about that, but nothing of the sort happened. What can be found in the movie is a man who is attacked with ribbons and dresses and walks away happy and that same man ends up dancing with LaFou in the last scene for about 2 seconds. The scene is obviously gay to me. Just like Lumiere is obviously a philanderer. Both are sexual sins, but there was not one peep from my children about it. These scenes have a more silly feel. I felt more uncomfortable when Lumiere aggressively caressed Plumette as she plays hard to get. Also, we have to stop seeing “gay” things everywhere. American men and boys seem to have a problem showing affection amongst themselves because of our incessant fear of them looking gay. David and Jonathan (I Samuel 18); Jesus and John (John 13:23); the Centurion and his servant (Luke 7), Paul calling Ampliatus and Stachys his beloved (Romans 16) and more had healthy platonic relationships with other men. For a great article on this subject click here.

So my dear Christian, let us be consistent in our righteousness. Let us not oust one sin, and overlook another because one is more acceptable in Christian society. All sexual sin violates the beautiful institution and self-sacrifice of marriage . This world isn’t going to exalt the sacred, even secular companies that love children will try to infiltrate their minds and hearts. My children and I live in this world where they will see sinful sexual behavior. It is up to me to guide them with the help of the Holy Spirit, to teach them using God’s Word, to use any opportunity to encourage them in the road of their Salvation, to provide a shoulder when repentance brings them to their knees, and to show grace where grace was shown to me.

In conclusion, I see both sides of the argument. But I think we are giving attention to something that our children really don’t see or get. In Mulan the soldiers cross dressed as concubines, in Princess and the Frog there is a Voodoo godmother, in Brave there are pagan traditions, in Moana there are demi-gods and reincarnation, in Pocahontas there is spiritism, and even in Narnia there are creatures only found in Greek mythology – some even known for their sexual prowess. (And don’t get me started on how dads and men are portrayed as stupid, spineless and useless in countless of kids movies.) My kids saw all of these, and they had no clue! We give these cartoons power by drawing attention to their worldliness.  They are nothing. And if/when questions arise let us use that time to teach and to guide (Proverbs 4, Deuteronomy 6).

Kong: Skull Island – Movie Review

First of all, I am grateful that this movie was only 2 hours long. The last King Kong movie I saw directed by Peter Jackson was like 3 and half hours long! Thankfully, not this movie. The CG is phenomenal. The details of the creatures found on Skull Island were almost exquisite. There is a scene of a close up of an ox-like creature that just took my breath away. The fights between monsters was also action packed. The visuals were outstanding.

The movie begins with a serious tone, the team gets on the Island at the cost of many lives. I really liked that Kong was introduced early on in the movie. He is really the protagonist here – as he should be, after all, he is the king. I was a bit annoyed though that the movie then becomes a little silly with the introduction of Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) – a man who was lost on the Island for 28 years. He’s a bit silly and granted – funny, but it really changed the mood of the movie. The movie didn’t feel as suspenseful as it had been the previous hour, and that is when I started noticing everyone’s hair looked perfect! They’re in the jungle, the CG is phenomenal, the Island looks very humid, Kong has never looked so real, the creatures are from my nightmares and then you introduce a loon and everyone’s hair stays styled. It was so irritating! The movie felt real, Skull Island could be out there somewhere, but you ruined it with everyone’s perfect hair, and Marlow’s sense of humor. Also, I really like Samuel L. Jackson. His interviews are funny and he seems like a nice guy. But his angry voice and stance makes me laugh. He really doesn’t do well when he’s on a furious tirade. I found his character annoying. I will say his stare-down with Kong was pretty good though. The overall acting was okay. The most moving scenes came from the CG not the actors themselves.

I took a pack of teenage boys to see this movie and they loved every minute of it. There is blood, monsters, guts, fights, explosions, military weapons, and fires. A teenage boys dream.

Recommendations: I recommend this movie to those who love action movies and great CG. The movie isn’t inspiring, but is great if you want to just eat popcorn and be entertained. Teenage boys and men will really enjoy this movie. The movie is set during the Vietnam War, so those with military backgrounds would also like this movie. (Just FYI – The rank on Lt Colonel Packard (SLJ) is blatantly wrong, even I noticed that!)

To the Christian – This movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language. There is a short scene where some men are at a racy restaurant, but there is no nudity and a woman is dancing and you can see her bra. Other than that, there is no other sexuality. There are cuss words used in the movie, and God’s name is taken in vain.

The movie is violent and gory, but most of it comes from animals that don’t even exist. I had to turn away from one scene because it was a bit gruesome. Some questions to ask would be: What is man’s role in nature? What does God mean when he told man to subdue the earth and all that is in it? Why aren’t there large animals like Kong and the creatures on Skull Island here on earth?

13 Hours – Movie Review

I was a bit nervous choosing to watch this movie. Michael Bay being the director, I couldn’t help but only think of Transformers part 2-6 where I can’t even stand to watch the trailers. Would he fudge this up also? I saw that the movie had been on Netflix for some time and it was recommended by two friends that have a pretty good sense of movies and who know me. I say “who know me”, because lately I have been very sensitive on who produces or who is acting in movies and I hate it that I think this way!  I understand people have different points of view in politics and religion, but it just feels like sometimes these opinions cause division and I find myself not wanting to see movies with certain actors. Was it always like this? This is especially true with military movies that may represent soldiers in an unappealing light. Yes, there are horrors that have happened during wars, but because this was a modern war involving the Obama administration, I was very afraid they would politicize the movie. To my surprise, they didn’t in the way I was expecting. Throughout the whole movie, they never mentioned any of the leadership involved. But silence and inaction can be fairly loud during a crisis and this is more what was ringing in my ear as the movie finished.

I wish I had seen the movie with my husband because he would have been able to explain a little more of the scenario for me and would OF COURSE point out any errors in tactics or praise whenever something was acted out correctly. But from what I gathered, the CIA had an operation in Benghazi about a mile or two from where the American ambassador was staying. When they found out the ambassador’s home was being attacked they were told to stand down and then eventually went and helped out. The CIA base was then attacked. For 13 hours the small force within the CIA base stood their ground. The lack of help from our government is resounding.  I also found it so frustrating the inability to know who was “friendly” or not. How difficult to have to fight an enemy that isn’t a certain nationality, but who has a different and dangerous set of beliefs in his mind. Several died and by the end of the movie the ringing silence of American torpidity echoed.

The acting is just great and heartfelt even funny at times. John Krasinski as Jack Silva was incredible. These kinds of movies really help me to understand just a little bit what my husband went through during his tour in Iraq. This movie was stirring and I loved it.

Recommendations: I recommend this movie to those in our armed and military forces. I believe those with more of a conservative view on politics would enjoy this movie. Young men and teenage boys would probably like this movie also. There are some pretty awesome techy weapons used in the movie they would appreciate.

To the Christian: The movie does have a lot of gore especially towards the end. There are swear words. There is no nudity or sex in the movie, except for two bunnies mating in a video one of the guys is watching. The scene is really short. Some questions I would ask after the movie would be, “How do you determine what is right or wrong in a tense situation?”, “Where do we draw the line on helping other countries?”, “What is God’s role in all of this?” This movie is rated R.

 

Sing – Movie Review

This animation is about an entertainment business koala who is about to have his theater foreclosed on. In a desperate attempt to keep his theater, he promotes a singing contest, but things are not what they seem. Also, in the story line, we get to see into the lives of several contestants and their various plights, and most of us could identify with at least one of them. I, personally, identified quiet a bit with Rosita the pig.

What a fun movie! I saw this with my 8 year old daughter and we both just loved it! There was even a time when I had to force myself to stop laughing because I thought I was starting to annoy people – if you go see it, it’s the Koala car wash scene towards the end. Oh my! I’m chuckling here thinking about it!

The plot wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be so that made it even a better movie. And the music is fantastic.

If you like reality shows like the Voice or American Idol you will really enjoy this movie. All the contestants have extraordinary voices. Meena – the elephant, all I can say is just “wow”. I read that there are about 85 different songs in the movie, so the kids will be entertained.

To the Christian: This movie is a great movie to watch with the kids and will not be a hardship to watch for parents like other animations can be. All the songs are secular. Except if you want to count “Hallelujah” as a non-secular song. (K-love might. Don’t get mad, you know it’s true!)

A great topic to talk about with your kids is what common grace is. God has given all a common grace and one of those common graces is the ability to sing beautifully. Most singers are not saved, but can still produce beautiful music that can point us to a Creator. “How does God use music and other forms of art to reveal His beauty?” and “How can the world use it to influence us negatively?” are both good questions to ask your kids after watching this movie.

There is nothing that really stood out to me as being inappropriate in the movie.

Star Wars Rogue One – Movie Review

 My husband introduced me to the Star Wars movies, and I have been a fan ever since! My favorite character is Chewbacca. I just love him! Deep down inside, I think Chewy would understand me and somehow I would understand him.

Anyway, on December 17th, we saw the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One. And although the movie did start off a bit slow and was a little confusing because of the lack of introduction, we soon figured out what was going on. To help you out if you haven’t seen it, the movie ties part 3 – Revenge of the Sith and part 4 – A New Hope together. If I would have known that going into the movie, it would have helped me a lot to understand what was going on.

I was a little disappointed that they didn’t start the movie with the usual music score that will be forever famous in American culture. And like I said before, there was no traditional written introduction that helped us understand what was going on as the movie opened. I felt lost for about 20 minutes trying to figure out where exactly the movie was in regards to the series.

The director does do a great job in bringing back that Star Wars feel the older movies have. The CG is awesome, but it still feels “old”, but not in a bad way at all. It’s nostalgic and the director does a superb job in reproducing that, especially in the garb of all the characters. I was a little disheartened that they changed some of the classic star wars scores a little, but I ended up getting over it.

The end of the movie was spectacular and reminds us that the hope that was given to the Rebellion in The New Hope – Star Wars IV, did come with a tragic cost.

I recommend this movie to the star wars fan. You will love how everything ties together! It is not a good movie to start with if you would like to begin watching Star Wars movies.

To the Christian: The movie is great and clean! It also contains a good message of sacrifice and selflessness that you could talk about with your kids afterwards. As 21st century Christians we too are standing on the shoulders of many who sacrificed a lot for Christianity. A good subject to talk about would be how we got our Bible in English.

I took my 8 year old daughter and she did mention that it wasn’t as exciting as Star Wars 7 – The Force Awakens. Rogue One is rated PG-13

I really liked this movie!  It had tons of flying bullets, great cinematography, well developed characters, and a satisfying ending. It was a stereo-typical good guys versus bad guys Western,but it wasn’t at all banal. And the ending was explosive! The only problem that I did have with the plot though is that the villain identifies himself as a capitalist. It is only one small line at the beginning of the movie, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but I was a bit on the defensive for about 10 minutes. Thankfully, the movie gets going. And just to clarify, the villain wasn’t a capitalist, he was a tyrant, him saying he’s a capitalist is very misleading.

So the villain takes over a mining town, abuses and kills a bunch of the villagers and takes away their guns! I wanted a little bit of a “right wing” agenda there, but I never go it! I wanted Mr. Chisolm (Denzel) to tell them that they should never let anyone take away their guns. Actually, one of the first things the Magnificent 7 does for the townspeople is arm them to help them defeat their oppressors!

I was grateful for the lack of sexual exploitation of women that tends to be the norm in Westerns. There were prostitutes, but they just floated around in the background and were not in many of the screen shots. The female lead, Mrs. Emma Cullen (Haley Bennet) is fresh and a natural beauty. She doesn’t woo over any of the Magnificent 7 nor gives a forced faux-tough-girl-anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better perception. She’s real and I enjoyed cheering for her throughout the movie.

The movie ended well. I was a bit shocked about who died and who didn’t die. There is some depth to the movie that wasn’t obvious at first and I was glad for that surprise.

I did expect the movie to be funny and it didn’t let me down. The writers did a great job with the witty jokes and comebacks. The Mexican in the Mag 7 gang saying “cabron” all the time did get a little old for me. My mother is Mexican, and neither I or she speak like that – well maybe my uncle does. Either way, it was just over used. It was funny the first 10 times, but after that I was like, “I get it! You’re Mexican!” Thankfully he wasn’t portrayed as a stereotypical drunken, womanizer Mexican , oh wait, never mind. It was funny though!

The acting was great. Ethan Hawke did a marvelous job portraying Goodnight Robicheaux, a Civil War hero suffering with PTSD.

To the Christian: There were a couple of swear words and the name of the Lord was used in vain. The movie is violent, but not gory. People are killed with guns, explosives and arrows. There are some dirty jokes towards the end of the movie. The church plays as an undertone in the movie – both the opening scene that sets the plot, and the tragic ending of the movie take place in the church. And the preacher is portrayed to have respect among his parishoners.

Recommendations: I recommend this movie to the Western lover and to those who prefer tragedies. Also any Denzel fans, the man still looks great – he’s 61 years old!

The movie is rated PG-13.

Magnificent 7 – Movie Review