Monthly Archives: May 2011
Everybody’s favorite Kung-Fu fighting panda returns in this latest film! And although the film is the second highest grossing in the United States, the inevitable question must be asked: did DreamWorks make the cut in meeting fan’s expectations with this sequel, or did they fall short?
The film starts with a history of its primary antagonist - Lord Shen, heir to throne in Gongmen City, and a dastardly peacock with plans for world domination (or at least all of China). He has taken the beloved recreational firework and turned it into a destructive weapon of war, yet he does not stop with this apparently inexcusable act.. After learning of a prophecy told by his parent’s soothsayer that he will one day be thwarted by a black and white warrior, he ascertains a team of wolves and makes a mass genocide of the panda species – gaining the attention of his parents who banish him after learning of his evil deeds. Enraged, he takes over the royal palace (which has now come under the control of Kung Fu masters Thundering Rhino, Storming Ox, and Croc) a short time later (once his parents have died of grief), using his firework cannon to defeat the legendary Kung-Fu masters – exterminating Rhino, and locking Ox and Croc in the dungeon.
After the brief introduction, we join Po, the Dragon Warrior, on a fairly usual day. After some training with Shifu (pay close attention, as the particular move he is taught will become a pivotal point in the film) Po joins the Furious Five on a mission to town where wolf bandits are stealing all the metal they can find in order to mass-produce cannons for Lord Shen. While fighting, Po sees a “vision of the past,” incurred from a symbol he spots on the head bandit’s sleeve – portraying his birth mother and father, and a great fire seeming to envelope them. While thus distracted, Po is knocked down and the bandits flee into the mountains with a fair amount of the metal. When the warriors arrive back home, Shifu briefly tells them of the attack on the Kung-Fu masters (shown at the beginning of the film), before sending them out on a mission to defeat Lord Shen. All the while, Po remains in great complexion over his past, at one time inquiring of his goose father, Mr. Ping, “where he came from.” When the warriors arrive at the city and encounter Lord Shen, they found themselves poorly equipped, and nearly defeated. The future seems dim for Gongmen City, but there is hope on the horizon if Po can master “inner peace,” and grow as the Dragon Warrior.
From a family perspective, the movie is quite enjoyable! Suitable for a variety of ages, with content fitting for each. The violence and images are about at par with the first movie, never displaying blood and gore, though with evident death. The movie is rated PG and should be reserved for kids beyond their toddler years, around 6-10+. From a Christian perspective, the movie is abounding with philosophy from Eastern religions, entailing inner peace and other such conceptions – Bhuddist philosophies which have been been pointed out by a recent Freshly Pressed post. The lessons within the movie must be taken with spiritual discernment – having confidence in oneself is a must, however, having foremost trust and confidence in God and His Son is vital. The world we live in now is not an illusion – we have been created and placed here for a purpose and given free will to choose. We have been made for love – to have passion for our God and passion for his work. We are not good in and of ourselves, we find righteousness in the process of sanctification – following God and defying self through the power of the Holy Spirit given us.
Look out for the Kung-Fu Panda II: Kaboom of Doom review sometime tomorrow! If you’re unfamiliar with the Dreamwork’s series, be sure to check out my review on the first film: Kung Fu Panda.
Thanks for reading! -Adventure Writer
(Listen to the Sound of France)
Here’s something new I’ve been working on – a purely sound-based exploration of France! Tour guides, church bells, street music, and so on. Sound has a way of stirring up images as videos cannot.
The video below contains sounds from around France, which you may either leave to your imagination, or view the explanations as they appear.
Today, the Location is: Bomb Crater Site, Normandy, Subject: Normandy Bombings
“The tonnage in high explosives that they dropped on here is equal or exceeding the [equivalent] tonnage of explosives represented by the atomic bomb they dropped on Hiroshima.” -Tour Guide
It’s time again for the Weekly Photography Challenge!
I captured this first image while in Monet’s Garden, a tranquil display of trickling water and flowers.
The next photograph was taken on a day that was not so peaceful, capturing the riots that took place during October 2010, and consequently, the time of our vacation to France.
Over the next few days I’ll post some World War II “tidbits” – photographs and the stories behind them.
Today, the Location is: Omaha, Beach, Subject: Jewish Soldiers.
“[Out of] the British and Canadians, a few were Jewish. / On your dog tag they always showed your religion, but they would change the name of a Jew, particularly Jews who had escaped to occupied Europe. They used to change their name to a very English name, and would give them another religion. [In case] they were captured. But the American forces didn’t do that. And I brought a couple of Israelis here not so long ago and asked them about this (indicates pebble upon Jewish grave marker). Putting a stone on their [marker]. And I thought it was to show that someone just visited the grave, but it’s just a sort of act of earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. And it’s a tradition in Israel – the Jewish faith. You make some little marker.” -Tour Guide
This summer (I constitute summer as “anytime after this Friday until August”) I’ll be finishing my second, and hopefully third and fourth years of French with Rosetta Stone. It’s a lengthy process, but it’ll definitely be worth it! I’ve always found other languages most intriguing and exciting to learn, and French is no exception! This way, if I receive a chance to go to France again, I’ll actually be able to speak fluently.
In our last visit to France, it was evident that most of the city populace spoke English, while people in regions such as Bayeux, Rouen, and Giverny tended to speak very little. A baker could understand what we wanted, interpreting a few English words, but it helped when we counted in French, identifying the quantity of items. It’s always nice to know some of a language when you go travelling, and the natives will certainly appreciate it.
Simple phrases such as “Je voudrais” (I would like), “s’il vous plaît” and various common nouns and figures of speech were invaluable in communicating, and additional words can be picked up along the way. After all, the supposed “best way to learn a language,” is to live where it’s spoken – although that wasn’t a possibility for us.
As sad as it may sound, Star Wars (which film in particular, I do not know) would have to be the answer for me. My father first introduced me to the classic trilogy when I was younger, and from there I was a fan. I went to see Ep. 1, Ep. 2, and Ep. 3 in theaters, and received the DVD set for my birthday. Now, however, I am not as avid a fan of Star Wars as I used to be. Though I may watch a movie occasionally on a simple whim. The Star Wars series is quite imaginative, and historically innovative – responsible for introducing some of the major special effects we have today. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, don’t make the easy assumption that it’s for “Sci-Fi geeks,” plenty of supposed “cool” or “normal” people have seen it as well, whether or not they want to admit it.
Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, has the reputation of being a “mind boggler,” or as Wikipedia alternatively calls it, a techno-thriller, even compared to the popular Inception film. Whatever the case, Source Code is sure to grab your attention!
The plot would seem fairly complex and disorienting at first glance, though it’s actually quite the opposite. All elements within the film are explained, though they may leave movie-watcher’s with a “What did I just see?” mentality. The film is about a man named Colter Stevens, a U.S. military captain who was stationed in Afghanistan. When he wakes up, however, he finds himself in unfamiliar territory – on a train en route to Chicago. And that’s not the half of it, there’s also a woman across from him named Christina Warren, who refers to him as Sean. Suddenly a man pops open a bottle of soda and a woman spills coffee on Colter’s shoe – today is definitely not his day. Anxiously, the Captain quickly explains his name is not Sean, and proceeds to the bathroom, leaving Christina with the impression that he’s gone insane. What he finds in the bathroom mirror is another man’s face, and a wallet that is not his own. He rushes out, now more confused than ever. Christina confronts him, saying “Everything is going to be alright” – a phrase the audience will be hearing a lot of. However, the opposite is true. The next moment, the rear passenger car erupts in flames, then their own, blowing up into oblivion – now Colter finds himself in what looks like a sci-fi ship’s escape pod with an LCD screen on the wall which soon flickers to life, as well as woman’s voice saying, “Welcome back Captain Stevens.” One or two “freak-out’s” later, Colter discovers he’s in a military program called the Source Code, designed to gather intel from the brain waves of the deceased and recreate their experiences [for eight minutes] in another dimension utilizing a host brain – that’s the Captain. He has been given the mission to discover the location of a bomb, as well as it’s owner. If he fails, he’ll simply be sent back to try again and again – this takes up roughly three fourths of the movie. Once Stevens has gathered the needed information, a team will be sent out to arrest the bomber, successfully preventing mass-scale destruction. Attempt after attempt, Colter learns more about himself and the people who he is working for – ultimately discovering that he died in an Afghanistan air raid. Which leaves both the audience and the protagonist wondering: what’s next? Will the captain live on somehow in the Source Code, or will he be terminated forever? That’s what you’ll have to find out.
General Analysis & Christian – Family Perspective
The Source Code is exceptionally thrilling, and the mysterious elements behind it ingeniously maintains the audiences’ attention-span, despite technological and philosophical jargon. It is a movie that keeps you on your toes, and engages its viewers every moment. The only deterrents for me, which are great indeed, were spiritually motivated. Christina mentions that she received “really good advice” from Sean (the man whose identity Stevens is assuming), which involves “finding herself” among guru’s in India. That is only one tiny observation, however. The real issue for Christians would be the film’s basis – entailing alternate dimensions (and the alternate lives therein), as well as the relativity of death and life, not to mention the presence of fate. Each and every belief imposed must be taken with a grain of salt, and other than a few acts of seeming selflessness, Source Code has little Christian relevancy or redeeming qualities. For families, this movie is quite borderline in some areas, concerning young audiences. I’d suggest taking the PG-13 rating as is, and not bring kids 12 and under to the film. With a madman bomber, a bloody fist fight or two, the intense presence of death, confusing technological jargon, and various other elements, it is intended for a mature audience.