Movie: Captain Underpants
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.
Movie: Despicable Me 3
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).
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
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).
Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
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.
Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean — Dead Men Tell No Tales
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.
Movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming
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.
Television Series: Star Wars Rebels
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.
Movie: The Emoji Movie
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.
Movie: The Mummy
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.
Movie: War for the Planet of the Apes
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.
Movie: Wonder Woman
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