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Image Movie Poster — All Saints

Movie: All Saints
Rating: 3/5

Sometimes we set out to accomplish something we think we should do, only to learn that God has a different plan entirely. All Saints is a film based on the true story of Michael Spurlock, a recently ordained minister assigned to the arduous task of closing the dying All Saints Church, despite the objection of its small elderly congregation. When confronted with an influx of Burmese refugees in dire need of help, he feels called by God to start a farm, in hopes of saving both the church and the refugees. The film was a good watch, however with the recent rise of quality amidst Christian movies, I found All Saints to be a little subpar. To be fair, the story was compelling and coherent, even managing to surprise me by the end credits, but some of the scenes felt overacted and at times the soundtrack didn’t quite fit the film.

Image Movie Poster — Birth of the Dragon

Movie: Birth of the Dragon
Rating: 3/5

Birth of the Dragon is the (very) fictional take on the real-life confrontation between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man. This film has been met with quite a bit of criticism since its release. Mainly for the under usage and portrayal of the main character. For a Bruce Lee biopic, he’s barely in the movie (being almost completely absent from the second act); and he is presented as a vain and arrogant man, only wanting to use Kung Fu to become a star. If nothing else, this movie would have been better served if it was advertised as a movie about Wong Jack Man, as most of the film shows his point of view. I thought that the movie was fun, with entertaining Kung Fu choreography and great performances by Philip Ng and Yu Xia. The fictional narrative was silly at times, but that didn’t ruin the film for me.

Image Movie Poster — Black Panther

Movie: Black Panther
Rating: 4/5

PG-13: prolonged sequences of action, violence, and a brief rude gesture

Black Panther takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its audience into the futuristic, fictional, African-nation Wakanda, as young T’Challa claims his rightful place as king. The film is very solid, with one of the most cohesive and believable plots from Marvel in the past few years. The tone is balanced, serious, and action-packed, with enough subtle humor to keep things fresh. Language is still an issue, but it’s amount and consistency have been toned down from other MCU entries. The one thing that dampened my affection for this movie is the not-so-subtle social messaging in its latter half. Opinions about social issues both past and present come across as forced and distracting, which kept me from being immersed in the story and setting I had grown to love. Other than that, Black Panther is an excellent film that stands on its own, thanks to its impressive performances and story.

Image of Captain Underpants Movie Poster

Movie: Captain Underpants
Rating: 4/5

Behold, a hero nobly promoting only the lowest form of comedy: potty humor. Captain Underpants, a character created by George and Harold, comes to life after they hypnotize their cruel principal Mr. Krupp. I’ll be honest, I never really read the Captain Underpants books as a kid. However, the trailers convinced me to watch the “First Epic Movie,” and surprisingly, it was better than I expected. Many of the jokes were actually funny, and the comedic portrayal of the elementary school experience provided both nostalgia and entertainment. The movie is also very touching and emotional, especially regarding the two main characters. George and Harold’s friendship felt very real, and many of their fears, such as being put in separate classes, were relatable (I couldn’t help but think about my own best friend in grade school). Older viewers might be turned off by the immature style, but rest assured, this film is fun.

Image Movie Poster — The Dark Tower

Movie: Dark Tower
Rating: 3.5/5

The Man in Black: a handsome and mysterious magician devoted to releasing all evil. Roland: an experienced gunslinger bent on avenging his fallen father. Between the two men stands Jake, a young boy with the power to tip the balance in either side’s favor. Stephen King’s critically acclaimed Dark Tower series is adapted and continued on the big screen with 2017’s The Dark Tower. Having never read the series, I enjoyed the film despite its fast escalation and use of the frankly overused “Special Child” motif. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey were the highlights for me; Elba made the stoic, disillusioned gunslinger feel compelling, and McConaughey’s sly charm made for an entertaining and threatening villain. Much of King’s signature horror element was missing, which may disappoint longtime fans of the author and his work, but the film should satisfy anyone in need of a two-hour vacation away from reality.

Image: Despicable Me 3 Movie Poster

Movie: Despicable Me 3
Rating: 3/5

Gru and the minions are back, this time with the ex-villain’s secret and extravagant twin brother Dru. Together, the team will be facing-off against the failed-child-actor-turned-super-villain Balthazar Bratt, and his array of weaponized ’80s paraphernalia. Being the third entry in the Despicable Me series (fourth overall counting Minions), much of the humor is consistent with the previous films; and while it’s still funny, it has definitely lost some of its charm. Bratt is a good example of why who we worship is just as—if not more—important as how we worship. When we put anything above the Lord in terms of importance and attention, it becomes an idol, taking God’s place in our lives. Jesus Himself reminds us of this when He was tempted by Satan in the desert: “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him” (Luke 4:8).

Image Dunkirk Movie Poster

Movie: Dunkirk
Rating: 3/5

Dunkirk, a World War II period piece directed by Christopher Nolan, was a movie that I had been excited to see. The movie uses three different narratives—the soldier, the sailor, and the squadron—to tell a unified story of one of the most miraculous wartime rescues in human history. The emotion is tangible, relying on its actor’s performances to sell the scenes without using words in most cases. It’s easy to feel the anxiety as bombs drop and bullets fly, and it’s hard to watch the fear and despair on their faces. It’s easy to become downcast when situations seem hopeless, but Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

(The movie had a four star rating but lost a star due to five instances of intense profanity.)

Movie: Everything, Everything
Rating: 2.9/5

Maddy is an 18 year old with SCID, a disease that prevents her from leaving her house. When a boy named Olly moves in next door, the two quickly fall in love. While I’m not a fan of romantic films, I figured I’d give Everything, Everything a shot, and objectively—as a film—it’s pretty good. Both young actors played their parts very well, (Amandla Stenberg perfectly portrayed someone who’s never been outside) and the concept, while nothing new, leads to some interesting drama. However, I take issue with the lessons it teaches. Many decisions are flesh-driven, made without any thought of the consequences, and though the world portrays this as romantic, in reality it’s selfish. Also, I cannot agree with the unnecessary sensual scene placed in the film. Everything, Everything is actually a good lesson on what not to do in relationships. (Look up 1 John 2:16).

Image Movie Poster — Forever My Girl

Movie: Forever My Girl
Rating: 4/5

PG-13: thematic elements, some bullying, war images, and brief language 

Country superstar, Liam Paige, is a man that has everything he ever wanted—except for the only girl he has ever loved. Forever My Girl, based on the novel by Heidi McLaughlin, is a romantic drama that plays out like a country song. Directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf, the plot centers around Liam and his ex-fiancée, Josie, as they come face-to-face for the first time in a decade. The film reveals that for every decision—whether good or bad—unintended consequences may follow. Galatians 6:7 says “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” As Christians, we must be wise in the decisions we make. Whether for better or worse, every action we take impacts our witness for Christ, and affects not only ourselves, but those close to us.

Image Movie Poster — Goodbye Christopher Robin

Movie: Goodbye Christopher Robin
Rating: 4/5

PG: thematic elements, some bullying, war images, and brief language

Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the story of how the beloved Winnie the Pooh stories began, and of their author, A.A. Milne. A few years after the birth of his son, Milne decides to relocate his family to a remote countryside as he tries to recover from his traumatic war experiences. Despite being centered around the creator of one of the happiest books in history, this movie is anything but. Apart from a few key scenes, this film is very somber; it can go from heartwarming and sweet to infuriating and bitter in a snap. I’m glad the creators of the film decided to go with this “no pulled punches” direction, because it allows the audience to feel the complexity of the Milne family dynamic. If you’re a fan of the Winnie the Pooh series, or a fan of tear-jerking films, I definitely recommend Goodbye Christopher Robin.

Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Rating: 2.9/5

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels more like a comedic space opera than a superhero movie. When Peter Quill suddenly runs into a strange man claiming to be his father, the Guardians are given a chance to save the Galaxy once again. The film stands well on its own; I never felt lost even though I skipped the first film. Each character holds their personality consistently while maintaining an element of depth. Star Lord is a displaced 80’s kid, and many of his references reflect that; and Baby Groot is probably the cutest thing to ever come to film. My main complaint for Guardians is the large amount of profanity and the overly crude nature of the jokes. Guardians is a fun movie to watch with its space theme and zany characters, but it was sad to see such a clever and creative film be dragged into cheap innuendo.

Image Movie Poster — I Can Only Imagine

Movie: I Can Only Imagine
Rating: 5/5

PG: thematic elements including some violence

I Can Only Imagine is one of the first Christian songs I can remember. Ever since I was a little kid, I would hear it on the radio whenever we were in the car. When it was announced that a film based around the song was in production, I was nervous; Christian biopics often come across campy or overly preachy. Thankfully, I Can Only Imagine avoids this by telling the story of Bart Miller in a grounded way, which allows the film to present messages naturally. Forgiveness is difficult. Too often people are hurt by the ones that should love them and it’s easy to feel justified in bitterness. But take a look at Colossians 3:13: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” If we have been undeservedly forgiven, shouldn’t we extend that same grace to our enemies.

Image Movie Poster — Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Movie: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Rating: 3.5/5

PG-13: action, suggestive content and language

In the age of sequels and reboots, there is a wide margin for error, especially with a 20-year-old franchise. Thankfully, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle manages to land solidly on its feet. When four high school students find themselves stuck in detention, they discover Jumanji, and in an instant are changed into their chosen characters in a race to escape the game. I’ll start with the bad: there is a bit of crude humor, and the costume design for Karen Gillan definitely isn’t of the most edifying persuasion. As for the good, the main cast fills their roles very well; watching Jack Black play a teenage girl stuck in an overweight man’s body is hilarious for the most part, and having the Rock be the avatar for an insecure nerd is priceless. In the end, this Jumanji reboot is a fun ride full of laughs and fun.

Image Movie Poster — Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Movie: Maze Runner: Death Cure
Rating: 2.5/5

PG-13: intense sequences of violence and action, language, and some thematic elements

The Maze Runner trilogy races to the finish line in The Death Cure. Picking up a number of months after the events of The Scorch Trials, Thomas hatches a plan to free their friend Minho from WCKD’s experiments. That said, the movie is more spectacle than substance. The action scenes are great, but the overall narrative gets lost amidst the explosions and chaos. There are a few exceptions of course, with a sequence of scenes that captures emotional weight decently. As mediocre as this movie was for me, the title gave me a thought: it was the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection that would pay for our sins. His death is our cure. This Easter, let us remember 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Image Movie Poster — Murder on the Orient Express

Movie: Murder on the Orient Express
Rating: 4.5/5

PG-13: violence and thematic elements

After another successful case, Hercule Poirot’s vacation upon the Orient Express is cut short when a fellow passenger winds up dead. The mystery in Murder on the Orient Express is compelling, thanks in part to the various shots and filters used to show what’s important as Poirot sleuths around. The unknown fun doesn’t end there; in addition to the main conundrum, each suspect has their own slew of intriguing secrets, and with an all-star cast containing the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, as well as many other high profile talents, it’s easy to become invested in the characters and their motivations. I’ve been a fan of murder mysteries for a long time, especially those of the British variety, so Murder on the Orient Express was a refreshing break from the overabundance of action/adventure movies. This remake reintroduces the famous and unorthodox Belgian detective, Poirot, from the Agatha Christie novel, and I highly recommend it.

Image Movie Poster — Pacific Rim: Uprising

Movie: Pacific Rim: Uprising
Rating: 3/5

PG-13: sequences of violence, and some language

Jake Pentecost, son of the legendary Stacker Pentecost, wants nothing to do with Jaegers. Except for the money he can make by selling their scrap parts, that is. However, when the Kaiju threat returns, Jake and a team of new recruits rise to face it. As a fan of the first Pacific Rim, I found the brighter tone and streamlined design to be off putting, but not enough to kill my love of giant robots punching giant monsters in the face. Uprising feels like the creators wanted to have more fun with the concept and it shows; the fights are flashier, the action is fast, and the geek-culture references are smartly placed throughout. The original film created a world that felt very real despite the ridiculous premise, and to depart from that gritty and realistic feeling is unfortunate. Nonetheless, Pacific Rim: Uprising provides an enjoyable ride with some great moments.

Image Movie Poster — Paddington 2

Movie: Paddington 2
Rating: 5/5

PG: some action and mild rude humor

As Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday nears, Paddington is set to find his dear aunt the perfect birthday present: an old pop-up book of London. Unfortunately for the young bear, it’s going to be much harder than he realizes. Paddington 2 is one of those movies that I thought would only be OK at best, but turned out to be amazing. The writing is excellent despite its uncomplicated nature, the story moves smoothly, and the light tone is refreshing after a seemingly endless string of action movies. There’s something about the way Paddington makes life so simple (even if the situation is ridiculous), that makes the film a joy to watch; and I think the industry needs more films like it. We may be early into 2018, but I’m willing to say that Paddington 2 is one of my favorite films of the year, and I highly recommend it.

Image Movie Poster — Peter Rabbit

Movie: Peter Rabbit
Rating: 4/5

PG: some rude humor and action

When mean old McGregor dies, Peter thinks his days of sneaking and stealing are over. Unfortunately for him, his troubles aren’t over as a young new McGreggor arrives to keep their rivalry alive. I was first introduced to Peter Rabbit in Kindergarten, and I loved it. 2018’s Peter Rabbit is nothing like the stories I remember. Much of the charm and good nature of the books feels absent in the movie adaptation; instead, it is replaced with a rambunctious energy that seems to be aimed at today’s youth. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie by any means; most of its jokes are funny, with its slapstick variety standing out above the rest. Domhnall Gleeson was my favorite by far, playing a very pretentious and psychotic McGregor to hilarious effect. While not the best family movie of the year, if you’re looking for a casual, Friday-night flick, this is a good option.

Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean — Dead Men Tell No Tales
Rating: 4/5

The dashing Captain Jack Sparrow has set sail once again, this time in search of the powerful trident of Poseidon. I found this recent installment to the Pirates franchise to be entertaining—albeit unambitious—in its narrative, hitting many of the same beats as the previous films. Jack is as zany as ever, but the interactions between the Captain and co-stars felt flat. This is especially evident with Henry Turner, the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan. The two characters rarely interact, and when they do it’s mainly exposition. Javier Bardum’s portrayal of Armando Salazar combined with the ghostly submerged effect was one of my favorite things about the film, however the villain is criminally under-used. There are still some instances of inappropriate humor, but they are few and far between. If you are a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean, then you’ll probably enjoy this addition.

Image Movie Poster — Same Kind Of Different As Me

Movie: Same Kind of Different As Me
Rating: 4.5/5

PG-13: thematic elements including some violence and language

How many of us would be willing to reach out to a homeless stranger? Same Kind of Different as Me is a heartwarming movie about friendship and unconditional love that follows Rob and Debbie Ray (a rich but struggling couple), and Denver (a volatile homeless man who wants nothing to do with them). The acting has come a long way for Pure Flix Entertainment; the main cast performed excellently amidst the vast emotional spectrum within this film. What really stood out to me was the narrative; plot points were set up early and addressed in a timely and appeasing progression. The core of this film is the relationship between the Rays and Denver, a relationship that really portrays the command Paul wrote about in Colossians 3:12: “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Image Movie Poster — Samson

Movie: Samson
Rating: 3/5

PG-13: violence and battle sequences

One of the most well-known and tragic judges of all time returns to the big screen in Pure Flix’s Samson. Destined from birth to deliver God’s people, the brash Nazarite struggles between accepting his fate and his personal desire for peace. This version of Samson takes a lot of creative liberties with its hero and his story, deviating from the biblical account. Many of Samson’s flaws have been overlooked, providing a more polished and clean image, and the women in Samson’s life are given sympathetic motivations. There is an important lesson: the struggle and consequence of following our will instead of God’s. God’s will may be different than ours, but we would be wise to remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

Movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming
Rating: 3.5/5

Everyone’s favorite wall-crawler is back for the third time in a decade. Peter Parker, upon returning home after his adventure in Captain America: Civil War, longs for his chance to join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and impress his new-found mentor Tony Stark. When alien weapons begin to surface among New York’s street thugs, Peter believes he has his chance. I found Spider-Man: Homecoming to be enjoyable overall. Spider-Man’s presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe felt natural, and the high school atmosphere is a setting that has been largely unexplored in previous entries. The movie works thanks to Tom Holland’s stellar performance. The young actor presented the awkwardness of Peter and the witty confidence of Spider-Man perfectly, seamlessly switching from scene to scene. As is the trend with current Marvel flicks, the amount of profanity is increasing, which is—especially for a hero aimed at younger audiences—disappointing to say the least.

Image Movie Poster — Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Movie: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Rating: 4/5

PG-13: violence and thematic elements

With a runtime of 152 minutes, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars film to date. Fans of 2015’s The Force Awakens will be happy to continue the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe, and every scene containing Luke or Leia is sure to score some nostalgia points with longtime viewers. The visuals are as strong as ever, and the battles at the beginning and end are excitingly fun and tense simultaneously. The movie does suffer from a few issues: some of the subplots feel unnecessary, and (without providing any spoilers) many creative choices surrounding the characters and story may leave a sour taste with viewers. As a fan, I wouldn’t say The Last Jedi is my favorite venture into a galaxy far, far away, but it is entertaining and engaging enough to warrant a watch or two.

Image of Star Wars Rebels Poster

Television Series: Star Wars Rebels
Rating: 5/5

Star Wars Rebels bridges the gap between Star Wars: Episodes III and IV, with many nods to the entire series spread throughout, rewarding fans both new and old. Now in its fourth and final season, the core team of courageous rebels—consisting of Ezra, Kanan, Hera, Chopper, Zeb, and Captain Rex—continue their efforts against Grand Admiral Thrawn and the cruel Empire, as well as establishing their allies among the Rebel Alliance on Yavin IV. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of Rebels mainly because of its differing art style from that of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. However, as I’ve watched the show, I’ve had a change of heart. The action is fluid and fun, entertaining for adults, yet tame enough for kids to watch safely; and the diverse range of characters gives every viewer someone they can relate with.

Image Movie Poster — The Amazing World of Gumball

Television Series: The Amazing World of Gum Ball
Rating: 3.5/5

Network: Cartoon Network

The Amazing World of Gumball is a comedic children’s cartoon airing on Cartoon Network. The show revolves around a young kid named Gumball and his adoptive brother Darwin, as they cause (and suffer from) mischief in their hometown of Elwood. Each episode is charmingly ridiculous, with crazy antics that are synonymous with cartoons. This is successfully achieved by a non-conforming artistic style that simultaneously uses elements of 2D and 3D animation, claymation, live action, and even puppetry. This wild diversity of styles branches into the humor of the show as well, but it’s slapstick and social commentary are probably its strongest tools. However, the series does suffer from instances of off-color humor, such as anatomical jokes or potentially offensive gags; as with every film or TV show, it’s important to use discretion when deciding what to watch. Personally, I’ve enjoyed The Amazing World of Gumball more than most other modern cartoons.

Image Emoji Movie Poster

Movie: The Emoji Movie
Rating: 3/5

I’ve never really been a huge fan of emojis. They’ve always been sort of ‘meh’ to me (see what I did there?). The movie bears many similarities to the massively successful Warner Brothers picture The Lego Movie in terms of plot and characters. The movie tells the story of Gene, a ‘meh’ emoji with the ability to display more than one emotion, something that face emojis aren’t supposed to do. Along with his friend, High Five, Gene goes on a journey through the phone’s various apps in order to secure his place in society. The animation, story, and the actors’ voice performances are all pretty standard—nothing exemplary—making it seem like the producers were relying solely on the popularity of emojis to sell the movie. The film, while generic, isn’t as bad as some movie critics have claimed; it’s a safe film that is enjoyable for kids.

Image TV Ad — The Good Place

Television Series: The Good Place
Rating: 3/5

Elanor, Michael, and the rest are back in the second season of ABC’s supernatural comedy The Good Place. While the show isn’t biblically accurate by any means, there are things to like about this fictional situation. The set design is very well done—a colorful, happy, perfect suburbia, which for those who know the true nature of
The Good Place makes the design that much better. However, the show falls into the dirty comedy section at times. The show is based around the idea of the afterlife, and it reflects much on what society thinks Heaven and hell are like; good people go to Heaven, bad people do not. However, that’s not what the Bible tells us. Accepting Jesus Christ and living for Him is the way to Heaven (John 14:6).Often, defending our faith means confronting the misconceptions of the world, even if they look nice and pleasing on the outside.

Image Movie Poster — The Greatest Showman

Movie: The Greatest Showman
Rating: 4.5/5

PG-13: thematic elements including a brawl

Hugh Jackman returns to his musical roots in The Greatest Showman. Based on the real-life ringmaster, P.T. Barnum, and his beloved circus, the film follows his efforts to support his young family and provide joy to the masses after his former employer goes bankrupt. Being a musical amidst blockbusters, the film relies heavily on its music to distinguish itself. Thankfully, every bit of the score is vibrantly colorful, setting the tone of a scene or delivering exposition in any way but boring. The most important, yet underused theme of the film is a home for the rejected. Throughout Scripture, Christ shows love for those considered the “least” (Matthew 25:40), from the Samaritan woman at the well, to the hated tax collector Zacchaeus. “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17b).

Image Movie Poster — The Lego Ninjago Movie

Movie: The Lego Ninjago Movie
Rating: 3.5/5

The brilliant, self-aware humor of WB’s Lego franchise returns with The Lego Ninjago Movie, an adaptation of the popular TV series of the same name. As members of the secret ninja force, Lloyd and his friends face the dangerous threat of Lord Garmadon, an evil warlord who also happens to be Lloyd’s father. The animation quality and voice acting is as good as ever, pulling in talent like Dave Franco, Jackie Chan, and Michael Peña, but much of that talent was criminally underused, almost to the point of unimportance; Peña’s character Kai had very few lines throughout, and the rest of the non-Garmadon characters received similar treatment. The humor isn’t quite up to par with The Lego Movie or The Lego Batman Movie. Garmadon played a carbon copy of Will Arnett’s Batman, and the normally continuous nature of Lego humor was missing, but the film is still entertaining to watch.

Image Movie Poster — The Mountain Between Us

Movie: The Mountain Between Us
Rating: 2/5

PG-13: a scene of sexuality, peril, injury images, and brief strong language

A neurosurgeon on his way to save a patient, and a photojournalist headed for her wedding are in a private plane as it flies through a storm. When things turn south, they are stranded on top of one of the coldest mountains in the world. At the conclusion of the film, I left with mixed feelings. Idris Elba convincingly plays an emotionally broken, yet logically sound doctor determined to survive, and I constantly found myself rooting for him. Until that is, I realized I had been duped; this is a romance disguised as a battle against nature. The Mountain Between Us is pretty solid for the first quarter of the movie, as the characters come to grips with their situation, but after that the survival element melts away into an awkward emotional negotiation. The romance detracts from the tension of survival, and the movie suffers for it.

Image The Mummy Movie Poster

Movie: The Mummy
Rating: 3/5

When soldier/treasure hunter Nick Morton unwittingly unleashes the vengeful Princess Ahmanet, the quest to stop her begins. As a reboot, the film avoids many of the elements of the previous franchise, instead opting for a more gritty and frightening version in an effort to start Universal Studios’ Dark Universe. The action never really stops, jumping from one scene to the next, often using many horror elements to heighten the intensity. Many of the scenes are unnecessarily sensualized, but it did make me reflect on the threat of temptation. All of the characters, much like ourselves as Christians, are tempted by something: riches, power, acclaim. But we don’t need to fall. James 4:7 says, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” God does not leave us without help. With the Holy Spirit within us, we can resist all temptation.

Image Movie Poster — Thor: Ragnarok

Movie: Thor: Ragnarok
Rating: 3.5/5

PG: intense sequences of violence, and brief suggestive material

Take the neon of the 80s, Roman gladiators, and the god of thunder, and what would you get? Thor: Ragnarok, that’s what. Marvel’s favorite Norse hero returns for a crazy interplanetary adventure, teaming up with his mischievous brother Loki and fellow avenger, the Hulk, to stop the goddess of death from conquering Asgard. The film is fun and comedy-filled, albeit to the detriment of the plot and a bit self-defeating. There are scarcely any scenes without a joke; about halfway through the film, the jokes become predictable, lessening their effect. It was hard for me to truly grasp any sort of important or serious moment, since it would be immediately smothered by a laugh. That said, the film expands upon Thor’s story and character in meaningful and entertaining ways, which is sure to appeal to both casual viewers and dedicated Marvel fans alike.

Image Movie Poster — Tomb Raider

Movie: Tomb Raider
Rating: 4/5

PG-13: sequences of violence and action, and some language

As a reboot to the movies of the early 2000s, 2018’s Tomb Raider recounts the origin of the dangerously adventurous Lara Croft, before she became the legendary tomb raider. I enjoyed this version much more than the previous films, and I think that it’s superior in every way that counts. The film feels more like an Indiana Jones flick than a video game adaptation, and that works in its favor. Alicia Vikander does a very good job playing a younger and unsure Lara, and her performance allows the audience to see her character’s growth from start to finish. Also, the set designs and locations look really good and function well in this film, particularly the tomb of the Death Queen: it’s creepy, dark, dusty, and full of rotting dead people. There isn’t much to be said about the side characters or story, but the action scenes are a treat to watch.

Image War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Poster

Movie: War for the Planet of the Apes
Rating: 4/5

War for the Planet of the Apes, the third entry in the recently rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, continues the saga started in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. War continues the story of ape-leader Caesar, a chimp gifted with enhanced intelligence due to advances in human technology, as he tries to find a safe home for all apes, while a vicious human colonel meticulously plots their downfall. War came as a pleasant surprise. The story was executed wonderfully; I never felt lost despite having not seen the previous two movies, and even though it is told through the eyes of an ape, many of the themes (family, revenge, forgiveness) were easy to relate to. There is very little profanity and the action, while intense, is never gruesome—easily making War for the Planet of the Apes one of my favorite movies of 2017.

Image Wonder Woman Movie Poster

Movie: Wonder Woman
Rating: 4/5

DC Fans may breathe a sigh of relief. This origin story of DC Comics’ leading lady is entertaining and coherent, full of a bright and hopeful tone absent from previous Warner Bros superhero installments. Diana is the bright young Princess of the Amazons. All her life she has dreamed of defending the world—and when a handsome young pilot discovers the secret Paradise Island, bringing news of World War I and its horrors along with him, she gets her chance. The acting in this movie was the highlight for me. Gal Gadot shines as Wonder Woman, showing a sweet, naive hero one moment, and a no-nonsense, epic warrior the next. Some of the CGI was subpar (notably at the end), but it served its purpose. Overall, I liked the film; however to my disappointment, despite all of the optimism and high-action points, it was soiled by cursing, innuendo, and perverse joking.

Micah Trimmer | Salt Lake City | Intermountain Division