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The Avengers (2012): Movie Review

Marvel’s The Avengers is a box office hit, topping The Dark Knight’s midnight premier

The Avengers (2012 film)

The Avengers (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

records and emerging as #1 opening weekend at $207,438,708 [1] in the United States and Canada alone. However, is this highly acclaimed film worth the hype? Or is it simply another blockbuster blown out of proportion? Even many of the staunchest critics agree – The Avengers is a superhero masterpiece.

Incorporating elements from the previous films, The Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man II, Thor, and Captain America, The Avengers embodies a fantastic medley of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and villains, all the while, paving the way for the next installments. It is highly comedic and intensely action-packed, superior to the Transformers series which attempts a similar plot-line in Dark of the Moon.

The Avengers opens up with a most ominous, alien voice, rambling on about some plot which entails the power-hungry Loki, banished of Asgard, like something produced by Garage Band’s “deeper vocals” voice modifier. Following this singular introduction, we find SHIELD agents and scientists (some from Thor) working diligently at unlocking the secrets of the divine Tesseract, a source of seemingly ultimate and limitless power. Albeit, as one might expect of the suspenseful setting, their experimentation goes terribly wrong. The Asgardian device suddenly reacts with a violent burst of light and generates a portal, which may be likened to the destructive force which presumably annihilated the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, sending forth the vengeful Loki who is bent on conquering Earth with an army given him in return for the Tesseract. The available SHIELD agents surround the self-proclaimed “god,” albeit are disposed of by a few blasts of Loki’s newly acquired staff. Nick Fury arrives on the scene, shooting a few rounds in vain, whilst Loki uses his staff to mind-control the mercenary Hawkeye and Dr. Erik Selvig to aid in his escape. The next few moments are without respite – the SHIELD complex sinks underground, collapsing inward as a maelstrom, due to the effects of the Tesseract. Fury and company give chase, although lose their quarry and are forced to flee.

On less dramatic grounds, fan-favorite Tony Stark and his girlfriend Pepper Pots, are debating who deserves the most credit for Stark Tower – a top of the line, self-sufficient complex inspired by the reactor core. Amusing quarrel aside, SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson -promptly arrives with a briefing for Iron Man, in preparation for the “Avengers Initiative” – it would appear the world is once again in peril and only the aforementioned team of heroes can save it.

In another part of the world, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), after dispatching with a Russian general, is sent to extract Dr. Bruce Banner (The Hulk), and Director Fury introduces Steve Rogers (Captain America) to the Initiative. The team slowly comes together as the peril grows greater, and there is much dissonance among the members, as they fight to recapture Loki, and then amongst themselves (Thor vs. Captain America & Iron Man) to retain him. All the while, the preparations for Loki’s army is nearly complete… will the team be able to come together and save the world, or will the alien apocalypse fall upon them?

The Avengers is a barrel of fun, with enough intrigue to keep the audience guessing until the end and a good portion of comedy to provide the necessary balance. It introduces [to the series] the developmental process of a team, rather than a single protagonist. The villain is likewise in control of a massive army and it is evident another power is pulling the strings at the start, adding depth. In this way, it separates itself from its superhero predecessors outside of the animated realm, attaining the claim by some that it is “the best superhero movie ever.”

Family Perspective

This time around, the violence gets a little bloody, with the death of a great number of characters (as opposed to those scenes which are given little reflection), some more evident than others which are merely suggested.

Language is fairly minimal, albeit a few curse words are used in the course of the film.

Natasha Romanoff, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, remains a source of eye-candy, albeit not as overt in as in the Iron Man films and much more of an independent protagonist. Her top, during the Russian interrogation, is low cut and gratuitous during fighting scenes, yet the “buck stops there” so to speak, in that the female form is not exploited for the vast remainder of the film (note: at the beginning, Pepper Pots wears “short-shorts,” she, however, plays a minor role in the film and takes up only a small fraction of screen time), aside from the skin tight suits.

The Avengers is better suited to teen and adult audiences, especially on account of much more mature conceptions and visuals.

Notable Quotations

“Earth’s mightiest heroes type-thing. / Yeah. Takes us awhile to get any traction, I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a headcount here. Your brother the demigod, the super soldier living legend who kind of lives up to the legend, a man with breathtaking anger management issues, a couple of master assassins, and you, big fella, have managed to [anger] every single one of them.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“You miss the point, there’s no throne. No version of this where you come on top.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“I’m in the middle of an interrogation, this moron is giving me everything.” -Black Widow

“I’m bringing the party to you. | I don’t see how that’s a party.” Iron Man | Black Widow

“How desperate are you? You call on such lost creatures to defend you. / It burns you to have come so close. To have the tesseract, to have power – unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share, and then to be reminded of what real power is.” -Loki

“Well, let me know if real power wants a magazine or something.” -Nick Fury

Christian Perspective

The Avengers delves deep into what it means to be a hero, as clashing egos and selfish motives are put aside for teamwork and integrity.

Captain America, Steve Rogers, stands for traditionalist, Christian America, when, after a remark is made about Loki and Thor’s “godhood,” retorts “I mean no disrespect ma’am, but there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that!” All the while calling for team to unite and realize their duty.

References are made to the macro-evolutionary theory, as Loki jokingly states he had thought “humans were more evolved” than they were behaving. Loki, furthermore, observes the depravity of man and the hopeless nature therein (without a remedy).

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Review)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Image via Wikipedia

“A five minute game?”

-Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)

“If you think you can manage it.”

-Professor Moriarty  (Jared Harris)

Take the world’s most famous detective, a singular and most riveting case, add an arch rival, comedic brother, and a medical companion with a knack for gambling – stir, bake for 25 minutes under the cover of a bullet proof oven and out will come a piping hot Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. 

Critical analyses go anywhere from five stars to zero – with a plethora of praises and distastes. The film takes an initiative of which its predecessor partially abstained. In the first film, one may recall a deal of action, yet the overall plot was filled with a rather supernatural air of mystery and peril, with Sherlock Holmes’ deductions casting light on a seemingly foggy night. Once the big reveal is made, we find a case of dramatic proportions.

“This is so deliciously complicated.”

-Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows rids itself of superstition and focuses entirely on action and rapidly-paced deductions. A war is on the brink, and only Sherlock Holmes can stop it. The stakes are higher than ever before, thus, an action film rendition of Conan Doyle’s literary feat is what we find at the theaters.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opens onto a crowded London Street, following the urgent pace of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams). With a singular-looking package in one hand, and a homeless gent following quick behind, we find ourselves immersed in a suspenseful endeavor. The man rushes up beside her, covertly steals her package, and warns there are two men behind Irene with “unsavory” motives. Sherlock Holmes is on the case with one of his many disguises. Irene makes a humorous jibe about Holmes’ apparent situation of poverty, then enters an empty alleyway and stops three men joining her. Irene takes back the rectangular package from Holmes and reveals the men are her guards, ensuring the safe delivery of the package. With a few flirtatious remarks and a kiss goodbye, she hurries off – leaving Holmes to deal with the formidable thugs. A fight immediately breaks out, and it is uncertain who has the upper hand. Sherlock knocks one man to the ground while another shoves his head through two unsteady wooden beams. Holmes recovers and once again joins the fray. As two police officers walk by, Sherlock Holmes plops into an odd seating position and the thugs toss him a few coins, feigning innocence. During this time Sherlock Holmes deduces their next moves in the fashion of the first film (boxing scene deductions) with slow-motion observations with voiced over deductions, with a speedy follow-through of punches, jabs, grabs, and slams – leaving the enemy out cold. After scaring off his final opponent, Sherlock resumes his investigation.

“Did you kill my wife? …you just threw her off a train!”

 -Dr. Watson

“I timed it perfectly.”

-Sherlock Holmes

One thing happens after another – Irene dies, explosions abound, and Watson decides to get married.

Professor Moriarty. From the Sherlock Holmes s...

Prior to the marriage comes a party filled with gambling, fortune telling (by Sherlock Holmes to a key character gypsy), a rotund and comical Mycroft, and  a series of thwarted assassination encounters. Watson gets married, boards a train to honeymoon, and finds himself in danger as Sherlock “knocks antlers” with his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty, the criminal king who is bent on fortune and glory. Will Sherlock manage to best his foes, or with he lose all that is dear to him? Such secrets are hidden in a game of shadows…

“Now are you sure you want to play this game?”

-Prof. Moriarty

“I’m afraid you’d lose.”

-Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes Featurette

Critical Review

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the best installment yet, and I certainly hope for a third to exceed my expectations. Robert Downey Jr. makes for a brilliant Holmes, utilizing all the quirks of Conan Doyle’s original character with a few new aspects, such as a greater romantic interest with Irene. Likewise, other characters have been “remodeled.” Mycroft Holmes, the self-secluded introverted twin of Holmes (sharing the same, even better, deductive abilities) became a comedic relief in the film, creating the only nude scene present (again, for humor. The nude scene consists entirely of Mycroft holding a newspaper while talking to Mrs. Watson about a telegram he has received from Holmes and Watson who have delved deep into their investigation. He acts normally, and there is no sexual innuendo aside from the fact of Mycroft’s nudity. He is ignorant of the opposite sex and is acting purely out of this vice.) I personally enjoy the extra additions of action and suspense and appreciated the film’s dramatic “reference” to The Final Problem (Sherlock Holmes book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). (Spoiler [highlight to read: the scene is question is the second to last. Where Sherlock Holmes plummets into the waterfall’s depths with Moriarty, leaving the audience to think them dead. The final scene where we find Sherlock Holmes camouflaged, sitting in a chair while Watson types his memoir, was not in the novel, albeit I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.)

“Competent but predictable – now allow me to reply.”

-Prof. Moriarty

Christian and Family Perspective

The spiritual concerns I had noted with the first film (drawing of the pentagram by Holmes, and virtually the entire nature of the case until we learn it is all faux) are not a problem with this sequel. There is a fortune teller, however, and before she has the chance to make any prediction, Sherlock interrupts and (mockingly) informs her that he would like to tell her a fortune. He picks up the cards and uses them for illustration in his points: she has been driven to drinking, has a brother whom she holds dear, and a client who has come to kill her.

From a Christian and family perspective, this movie is a bundle of fun with a plethora of concerns. There is a gypsy woman whose occupation is fortune telling. The demonic is not, however, as fully pressed in this movie as it was in the first. Before she can even get out a word of Sherlock’s fortune, Sherlock tells her he would like to give her fortune. He uses the cards while presenting his points, then rescues her from an assassin. Therefore, it is not as dark as one may suspect from the previews, yet the concept should be noted. There are many fights, such as those between Sherlock and Watson against various mobs, including at a place where gambling is taking place. This movie, taking into account the action, flirtatious content (to be discussed in the full review), should be suitable for children aged 15+ (Common Sense Media recommends age 14+, however, it may be a bit much even for fourteen year olds, depending on their maturity level and “tolerance”).

-Adventure Writer's Blog: Preliminary Review

In addition to the points noted above, there is also a great deal of alcohol consumption.

“Never let these gypsies make you drink (paraphrased).”

-Sherlock Holmes, who proceeds chug down the gypsy's wine.

This film is certainly a pleasure to watch for the most part, although it is certainly not a family film, as it is unsuitable for younger children due to the above points.

Puss in Boots: Movie Review

Puss in Boots

Image via Wikipedia

It began a long time ago… you may want to sit down for this.

-Puss (Antonio Banderas)

Puss in Boots is back, and this time around there’s no sign of donkey, Shrek, or the usual storyline. Puss In Boots brings a fresh, rollicking, action-packed adventure to the table – abundant in sword fights, dance fights, and angry goose mothers.

The story kicks off with a Casanova-like Puss, escaping from an unknown villain at the dark of night. After a narrow escape, he ventures to a saloon for a glass of leche. Here he receives news of the infamous golden eggs, and the fantastic goose who lays them, residing in a castle far into the heavens. The only way to get there is to obtain the magical beans and plant them in a specific spot to create beanstalk. Simple, right? Until Puss learns of the bean’s current “owners,” the notorious Jack & Jill who seek the goose of legend for the great wealth it may provide. A race to obtain the beans ensues and Puss finds himself intercepted by the elusive Kitty Softpaws, who extends an offer of partnership, one that puss would readily accept…

I’ll steal you blind before you even know it. 

-Softpaws (Salma Hayek)

…if it wasn’t for his orphan “brother.”

I smell something familiar… *great whiff* … something dangerous… *contemplates* … something breakfasty… HUMPTY ALEXANDRE DUMPTY! How dare you show your face to me?

-Puss

Puss first met Humpty in an orphanage as a mere kitten, and they forged an immediate friendship and a club dedicated to tracking down the magical beans. They had many an adventure together – stealing beans from local vendors, and planting them whenever they had the chance, hoping one day to find the ones they were looking for. One day, however, a raging bull escapes from its pen and charges through the town, heading straight for an elderly woman. Puss swoops in, saves her, and consequently becomes the town hero – receiving his well known boots and cap as a reward. From this point on, Puss vowed never to steal again, an oath which Humpty observed with annoyance – for although Puss had taken the path of straight and narrow, Humpty would not, and continued to strive for his goal by whatever means necessary, even by breaking into the head soldier’s household and stealing gold so that he may escape from town. Puss arrives on the scene as Humpty hobbles out of the grounds, unaware of his theft. Humpty prompts him to drive him away, and Puss obeys. Soon, however, he realizes the depth of their situation. Soldiers chase them until they reach the town bridge, and all the while Puss furiously chides Humpty on deceiving him. The next moment, their cart overturns and the gold falls into the river. Humpty, unable to stand up, rolls around and asks Puss for help. Puss, however, regards him as a traitor and runs off, leaving him to the guards.

Present day, Humpty asks Puss to join him (and Softpaws this time around) in capturing the beans. After much hesitation and backstory, Puss agrees, wanting to use the golden eggs to pay back the villagers and head Soldier… will Puss, Humpty, and Softpaws succeed in their endeavor or will Jack and Jill get to the castle first? All the while there is treachery afoot…

Christian & Family Perspective [See CS & PI for more information]

Puss in Boots is a fantastic movie, easily comparable to the rest of the related-Shrek series. It’s highly enjoyable for all ages – the audience I sat with consisted of elderly individuals, young people (children & college aged), as well as middle-aged adults.

Regarding age and religious confliction, the film is suitably rated PG and is mostly quite humorous, even “dark” foreboding scenes are somewhat predictable and not at all extreme in violence, imagery, or language. There are some concepts which parents may need to discuss with their children, but otherwise its a great, family-friendly movie for ages 7+ (Common Sense says 6+).

Excerpted from Adventure Writer's Blog:Preliminary Review

The character of Puss transitions from a thief, to an unrighteously accused outlaw, seeking to making up for crimes he did not commit. He does also, however, constantly retain a rogue-romantic-avenger aspect – flirting with female cats (most especially Softpaws, with whom he wishes to have many more adventures), and shaving off opponent’s hither and thither.

In conclusion, I greatly enjoyed Puss in Boots and would certainly recommend it for the family setting. It has, in my opinion, far surpassed the Shrek series.

Puss in Boots: Notes and Quotes

Just like last time with Captain America, here’s our Puss in Boots: Notes & Quotes!

The full review is now available here!

Chatbotté1885

Image via Wikipedia

Preliminary Review (Full-Review Monday)

Puss in Boots is a fantastic movie, easily comparable to the rest of the related-Shrek series. It’s highly enjoyable for all ages – the audience I sat with consisted of elderly individuals, young people (children & college aged), as well as middle-aged adults.

Regarding age and religious confliction, the film is suitably rated PG and is mostly quite humorous, even “dark” foreboding scenes are somewhat predictable and not at all extreme in violence, imagery, or language. There are some concepts which parents may need to discuss with their children, but otherwise its a great, family-friendly movie for ages 7+ (Common Sense says 6+).

Highlighted Movie Quotes

It began a long time ago… you may want to sit down for this. -Puss (Antonio Banderas), regarding life story.

I’ll steal you blind before you even know it. -Softpaws

You’re better than that. – Orphan Caretaker & Puss (3x) – marks many turning points in the film.

I smell something familiar… *great whiff* … something dangerous… *contemplates* … something breakfasty… HUMPTY ALEXANDRE DUMPTY! How dare you show your face to me? -Puss [see teaser]

Holy frijoles! -Puss

Cowboys & Aliens: Movie Review

Cowboys & Aliens

Image via Wikipedia

I woke up in the desert, like I’d been dropped out of the sky

Jake Lonergan [Movie Trailer]

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) is the man with stolen alien technology, and a criminal track record to boot, as well as having the original dilemma of Jason Bourne. He’s forgotten everything – his name, his past, his home… and whatever his fancy wristband is. So when a group of outlaws decide to surround him and attempt to take him in for a possible bounty, he does the logical thing (again, like Jason Bourne) and knocks a few out cold, shooting the rest dead. He proceeds to strip a man of his clothing and horse then ride into town, breaking into a preacher’s house to use his sink to wash off, only to be held at gunpoint (you don’t mess with pastors in these parts) by the owner. After a brief explanation of, “I don’t know who I am,” the preacher, Mr. Meacham, decides to take kindly to him. Only moments after this quaint acquaintance, a barrage of stray bullets tear through the house and we’re taken back to the primary, action-oriented layout of the film. A few more character introductions, gun shots, and bar fights later, the movie starts to unfold… into what the audience likely expected from the trailers.

Where’d you get that weapon?

Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford)

I don’t know.

Jake Lonergan [Movie Trailer]

You’re coming with us.

Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde

Colonel Dolarhyde is a ruthless rogue of a man on the outside, with a caring human heart for the inside. When his son, Sheriff, and other townspeople are taken, he forms a group of men and an accompanying Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), to hunt after the aliens that took them.

Critical Perspective

Cowboys & Aliens could have gone wrong in so many ways… yet it only erred in a few respects. The film is another terrific blockbuster to be added to the belt of director Jon Favreau, and likely to make a [somewhat] lasting impression on the box office (although it has been a bit short of its goal [1]). The plot was in the fashion of a typical action movie.

Entrez-vous antagonist, followed by viable love interest/s, and the monter d’un cran, or call to action. Considering it’s a Western, somebody will end up riding off into the sunset, and a few poor ole’ chaps will bite the dust before the film is through… one of which ends up being (spoiler follows) Jake’s primary love interests. His original love (who was never developed much, other than identified as a prostitute) and his second love, Ella Swanson.

The film left many unanswered questions – which, depending on your perspective, may have proved quite a faux pas.

Christian & Family Analysis

Quite a few issues here…

  • The original love interest is identified as a prostitute.
  • Ella appears naked from the back, enough to indicate nudity, without revealing anything which could be deemed drastically inappropriate. The scene itself, however, although fairly void of innuendo, is still highly suggestive.
  • Christianity, as voiced by many of the film’s characters, is not properly conveyed. Mistruths are scattered hither and thither. Christian values are often contradictory with the characters behavior.
  • Plenty of violence, quite a few deaths and up-close examinations of injuries. A tad bit gory at times, however, without the extensive borderline R-rated content of war films and other more violent presentations.
  • The aliens are quite repugnant, and may prove to be quite scary to younger children. Especially when they have tentacles coming out of their chests, attempting to devour human flesh. Not kid friendly.
  • Common Sense recommends Age 13+, I’d say 14-15+ due to all the factors listed.
  • Check out PluggedIn.com for more Christian outlook resources.
If you liked this film, you may be interested in:

Captain America: The First Avenger – Review

Captain America: The First Avenger

Image via Wikipedia

“You win wars with guts…”

…and boy does this guy have guts! Captain America: The First Avenger is the latest film in The Avengers lineup and its nostalgic nature, explosive action, and sentimental qualities make it stand out among its predecessors as something uniquely distinct, and a film worth watching if you’ve taken positively to previous installments.

“There are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them.”

Captain America: TFA, takes place during World War II when America first gets involved and the recruitment process is in full swing. Propaganda posters are plastered on any available space, and Uncle Sam calls the men of America to action. Many bold young man take up the challenge, seeing the war as one of life’s great adventures or the chance to serve one’s country. One of these men is Steve Rogers – a thin, almost frail young man, who passionately desires to serve on the front line. He attempts to register many times, each with the same result.

“Just give me a chance…”

“Sorry son – I’m saving your life.”

In each of his efforts, he is never granted his place on the front lines, but rather a stamp of REJECTION. Until one day, a German doctor (serving the United States) named Abraham Erskine, offers him a chance.

While in Germany, Abraham Erskine had been developing a serum to strengthen the human metabolism, structure, and immune system. In it’s early stages of development, however, he was interrupted by Johann Schmidt – a Nazi, working under Hitler, under the control of HYDRA Division – a science & cult division of the military which would in the future secede to wage its own war for world domination. Schmidt saw a potential use for the serum in military practice, able to create the perfect army (reminiscent of Hulk), but first he had to try it out on himself. Dr. Erskine attempts to inform the commander that the serum is not ready for human testing, to no avail, Schmidt injects the serum into his system with an atrocious result – the birth of the Red Skull. An effect of the serum was that it enhanced a human’s values and character, and as Schmidt was a self-centered, wicked man, the serum amplified the evil within, as well as providing a horrid face defect that essentially explains his newly gained title (the Red Skull).

Steve Rogers is offered the same serum, which has been modified to a point of seeming perfection, which he eagerly takes up. In the process of prior military training, he meets a woman named Peggy Carter, a strong-willed woman who would prove to be his life-long love interest. After being given the serum, Steve Rogers becomes Captain America – a propaganda tool in the hands of the U.S. military. He is made to dress up in showy costumes, among pretty girls, and put on a show for the American people and soldiers abroad. He advocates recruitment, bonds, and other war-supporting mediums, becoming an American icon like Uncle Sam. Rogers, however, is not satisfied. He is grateful that he has the chance to serve his country, but he has not yet had the chance to do it battle. He would soon have his chance, however, when his friend goes missing while on a mission to invade HYDRA. Against orders, he sets out alone and rescues the division, coming back with a team that would serve him throughout the rest of the war. Yet a dark shadow looms over them all, as Schmidt paves the way for world domination. Will Captain America be able to save the world? And how will he suddenly end up in the modern Avengers? Well… that’s all explained at the end. SPOILERS FOLLOW, HIGHLIGHT TO READ Captain America successfully takes down Schmidt with the same technology he had been planning to use against the world (stolen from Asgard), but sacrifices himself by plummeting into some area of Northern Canada with a colossal HYDRA bomber plane. After the American forces lose his signal, Stark Sr. and Peggy make a desperate search for Rogers, which only bears fruit in the modern day, years later. Captain America is discovered buried under the snow, preserved in his state at the time of the crash. SHIELD, the government organization which investigated Thor and recruited Stark Jr. and Stark Sr., takes in Captain America while he is still in a coma (or deep sleep) and places him in a facility that attempts to imitate the time which he lived in, to enable an easy transition into the modern day. When he awakes, however, Rogers sees through the deception and tears his way to the New York streets, before being intercepted by SHIELD. After a thorough explanation, Captain America decides to join the team. After the credits are all over, there is a special ending showing Rogers training in a (most likely) SHIELD facility. Followed by a preview of The Avengers.

Captain America: The First Avenger, although not at the level of acclaim as Iron Man, is an overall splendid film and a suitable addition to the Avengers line-up (Further Analysis Tomorrow). Content is appropriate for older children (12-13+), considering some scary images and violence related with HYDRA and the Red Skull. (In-depth Christian and Family Perspective Tomorrow) The movie contains Biblical values of moral character and perseverance, yet has some iffy themes as well (click Christian for details from PluggedIn.com).

Green Lantern: Movie Review

Green Lantern

Image via Wikipedia

“Billions of years ago a race of immortals harnessed the most powerful force in existence. The emerald energy of willpower. These immortals, the guardians of the universe, built a world from where they could watch over all of existence. The planet Oa. A ring powered by the energy of will was sent to every sector of the universe to select a recruit. In order to be chosen by the ring, it was said one must be without fear. Together these recruits formed the intergalactic peacekeepers known as… THE GREEN LANTERN CORE. The gravest threat the core ever faced was Parallax, an entity that fed on the yellow power of fear. After defeating the core’s finest warrior, the search for a successor began, and for the first time the ring chose… a human.” -From the official movie trailer

In Brightest Day,

In Blackest Night,

No Evil Shall Escape My Sight,

Let Those Who Worship Evil’s Might,

Beware My Power – Green Lantern’s Light!

Initial Impression

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Green Lantern has received mixed reviews which, as a consumer, make it difficult to ascertain a proper outlook on the movie. In this review, I hope to set forth a proper idea of how the movie may be received, and how it measures up in terms of enjoyability.

Green Lantern has been released at a time where Marvel films are all the rage and on the rise, setting a high bar of expectation and anticipation. Before I saw the movie, I had my doubts that it would match up to films such as Thor, and X-Men: First Class. I must say, however, that all in all it is a movie that is good in quality and worth seeing. Now for the nitty gritty…

Storyline

Green Lantern takes off on a different tangent from other origin stories, straying from the storyline of animated films Green Lantern: First Flight and Emerald Knights and portraying a fresh, new outlook on the life of Hal Jordan and his initiation into the lanterns. The film starts with the trailer introduction then fades into a scene where we see Hal sleeping in bed – a woman at his side. Instantly we have a glimpse of his character – the naked woman (covered by a blanket) instantly gives the impression that the man is not married, and most likely has little relational commitment, preferring the bachelor life. He wakes up with the start of his alarm clock and jumps out of his bed, wearing only his underwear. He throws on his clothes, and rushes out the door, turning only to tell the girl, “Make yourself at home! There’s… water in the tap” – this guy is definitely no Tony Stark. From this point, we get a quick look at Hal’s life – he’s a fighter pilot working for the United States military, today he’s been given the challenge of testing out the capabilities of two freshly engineered automated fighters by engaging them in battle. He displays a show of recklessness and overall carelessness in his work, taking the situation quite lightly, even when he’s at the brink of death. During Hal’s theatrics he is also distracted by continual flashbacks of the past, where a young Hal watches his father emerging from the cockpit of his plane, only to be killed by an explosion, much to young Hal’s horror. All the while, his wingman Carol Ferris (or woman, rather) is flying beside him, and Hal makes a spontaneous decision to use her as bait. After a “successful run” (in Hal’s perspective), he finds himself being lectured on how idiotic he performed, rather than the praise he most likely expected.

A short while afterwards, Hal visits the bar with Carol and their romantic interest begins to develop in the storyline. They have a dance at the bar, but Hal runs out when the touchy subject of his father is brought up. As if it couldn’t get any worse, Hal is suddenly picked up by a sphere or emerald energy, and shot across the city at lightning speed, only to be dropped off at an alien crash site – go figure! Here Hal encounters a dying Abin Sur, the heir of the ring belonging to the first Green Lantern, Avra (see my Green Lantern: Emerald Knights review, coming soon, for more information!).

Christian & Family Perspective

The Green Lantern isn’t quite like he was in the cartoons, which explains the PG-13 rating (although the animated First Flight film also had a PG-13 rating). There is a great deal of images that would frighten a young child, cursing, and even further content that is only appropriate for teens and older. Hal and Carol have conversations that at times reference a prior sexual relationship.  The Green Lantern film actually has some parallels with the Christian life – especially in the concept of fear. Fear is to be overcome, as it says in II Timothy 1:7…

7  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)”

Human willpower, however, is not almighty – it only by God’s power alone that we truly overcome selfishness, fear, etc.

True Grit

True Grit

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The 2010 film, True Grit, retains the feel of a classic Western, abounding in gun fights, cocky outlaws, and cowboy jargon, all executed with a truly exceptional cast. The movie follows the life of a strong-hearted girl named Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), as she seeks out a bounty hunter (equipped with her father’s pistol) to avenge her father’s murder. In her efforts she finds a man named Reuben J. Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), known for having True Grit. What she discovers, however, is quite disconcerting. He proves to be an obstinate, lazy, egotistic man who takes kindly to alcohol and the like. Mattie, however, refuses to stand down, and soon recruits the man after much persistence. On their journey they accompany a Texas Ranger who goes by the name of LeBoeuf (Matt Damon). Mattie, who had already been acquainted with him back in town, doesn’t take too kindly to him and after a few snide remarks, the ranger whips out his belt in anger and promptly spanks her. After a torrent of protests from the girl, Cogburn draws his gun on LeBoeuf and after a slight quarrel between the two, they part company. As Mattie and Cogburn journey on, they find a hanging corpse, a wandering bear-skin-wearing doctor, and interrogate a suspicious duo. Following these events, they acquire enough information to set a trap for the murderer, though instead become involved in a chaotic shoot-out between their party and a group of outlaws. LeBouef, who somehow managed to be entangled in the firefight, gets mistakenly shot by Cogburn, and decides to rejoin them in their search for the outlaws. After many more days, the group loses their morale and Marshall Cogburn decides to retire from the quest, determining they’ve come upon a cold trail (LeBoeuf also leaves, but not before starting a sort of friendship with Mattie). The morning of their departure, however, new events determine otherwise. As Mattie retrieves water from the river, she spots her father’s murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), who, followed by the girl’s failed attempt at intimidation, kidnaps her and takes her back to the gang. In short, LeBouef rescues her, the marshall arrives in time to kill off the remaining outlaws, and the movie jumps forward some twenty years in Mattie’s life, where she retains a chosen widowhood. THE END.

In conclusion, the film as stated before, retains the qualities of a classic Western, though with a very melancholy conclusion. The cast is made up of well-seasoned actors, and a rising young actress. Matt Damon made for a very amusing LeBoeuf, adding a spark of personality and likeability… except for the scene where he spanks Mattie. Mr. Bridges conveyed a very convincing Marshall Cogburn, sustaining the character’s groggy air in movement and speech. Hailee Steinfeld, who has never before acted in a full-length film before True Grit, gave a tremendous effort in portraying Mattie Ross, receiving the honor of Best Actress in a Support Role [1]. The film is rated PG-13 for it’s violence and possibly crude language (as there is a deal of cursing). I wouldn’t recommend it for the family setting, taking these two factors into account. It’s rather more appropriate for, as Common Sense Media determines, ages 15+. For Christian families, however, there’s even more things to look out for, regarding which I refer to Pluggin.com‘s review. I must say it’s a dark movie in terms of how it plays with the emotions, and the tone it would seem to take – the concept of revenge is ever-present, and the one-armed, widowed Mattie provides for a very dreary ending.

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

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Movie Introduction & Synopsis: The Run Down 

X-Men: First Class provides an in-depth view of the origins of primary X-Men characters Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), as well as Raven (Mystique) – and their relationships therein. The movie kicks off with a most foreboding introduction, taking place at a German concentration camp during the Holocaust. We see a young boy struggling as he’s taken away from his parents – when the guards shut the gates, he reaches his hands out and attempts to crush the gates with his fledgling electromagnetic-manipulation [1]  powers. Afterwards, he has a confrontation with a Nazi scientist (Dr. Schmidt) who kills his mother when he is unable to use his powers – this action fuels his rage and triggers his abilities, leading to him wrecking the Dr. Schmidt’s office, much to the man’s pleasure. From this point on, Erik is establish with a motive for revenge, and this single goal will drive him to make drastic decisions. In contrast, we are introduced to Charles, a respectable young boy born into a wealthy home. We begin to see his kind, benevolent character at his confrontation with Raven as she attempts to steal from his home. Instead of being angry, he welcomes her with joy and invites her to stay at his family’s luxurious home – glad to find another child with unusual abilities much like himself. All three characters grow older, developing their motives and values – we discover that Raven has grown self-conscious of her looks, with much internal conflict. She sees herself as a socially unacceptable monster, while Charles continually insists there is nothing wrong with her.

Even further on, Charles and Erik meet – forming an alliance and developing a brother-like bond as the movie continues. They differ dramatically in opinion, which ultimately determines the movie’s finale. Throughout the film, Charles attempts to persuade Erik to let go of his vengeful nature and rely on less hostile methods – his efforts prove futile. Raven, the originator of nicknames (she comes up with Magneto, Mystique, etc. MacTaggert, a female CIA operative, comes up with Prof. X), ultimately falls in love with Erik – locking in her future alliance with him. Much of the other characters are introduced when Charles and Erik join the mutant division of the CIA – together training for a seemingly imminent nuclear war.

The movie’s finale takes place during the Cuban Missile crisis where the X-Men team intercepts a rogue Russian ship controlled by Dr. Schmidt who has formed his own team of mutants. The two parties face off – Erik gives into his hatred and kills the doctor, Charles is indirectly shot by Erik, and the Russian and American militaries open fire their missiles upon the mutants (which Erik deflects). Once the “coast is clear,” and Schmidt’s mutants are without a leader, the two parties divide themselves into teams (to put it quite simply) – Erik, now Magneto, forms his team of Raven and Schmidt’s mutants, while the remainder stay loyal to Erik, and effectively serve him in future movies.

Character Analyses (TBU: To Be Updated)

  • Charles Xavier: TBW (To Be Written)
  • Erik Lehnsherr:  TBW
  • Raven: TBW
  • Dr. Schmidt: Doctor Schmidt is a man without morals who cares only about his own selfish ambitions. When a young, Jewish boy is presented before him with extraordinary powers (Erik Lehnsherr), he seeks to exploit his abilities and scientifically examine them. When Erik cannot activate his powers, Schmidt has two Nazi soldiers bring in the boy’s mother, only to be held at gunpoint. Schmidt counts down from five, threatening Erik that he will shoot his mother if he cannot demonstrate his powers before then. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Erik tries desperately to use his powers, emotion and fear overwhelming him, yet his efforts are to no avail. Dr. Schmidt coldheartedly shoots Erik’s mother dead, then laughs as Erik’s anger triggers his powers. “Good, good!” he says. “We’re going to have a lot of fun together.” From the beginning, the doctor is set up as a merciless human being, and his qualities will transfer into Erik’s undeniable hatred.

Conclusion

X-Men: First Class is certainly a successful prequel – the cast was splendid, and I eventually overcame the initial surprise of having James McAvoy as Prof. X (instead of Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia). As a fan of the previous movies, I greatly enjoyed the nostalgic look back at the origins of many pivotal characters. If you haven’t seen the movie, though plan on seeing X-Men: First Class, I would advise against it. A friend of mine, who watched the movie as well, did not find the movie to be well-developed, having no prior introduction to the series. Watch the other movies first to gain a taste and feel for the series, then enjoy First Class with prior knowledge of it’s characters, not having to feel empty when the character development appears unfulfilling. From a family-Christian perspective, the movie has some very questionable content. One of the mutants was a stripper before joining the team, many of the female characters wear low-cut outfits, and there’s some evident sexual content. Many of the beliefs presented oppose those of Christianity, being Evolution-based in nature – thus removing the spiritual side of humanity.

Kung-Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda film poster, with Po in the middle.

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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.