Archive for the ‘ Adventure ’ Category

After Earth

After-Earth-2013-Forest-ViewThousands of years in the future, man no longer lives on earth. They live on foreign planets. Full of terrible creatures and inhospitable conditions. The reason for this? Pollution of course. Destruction of the natural resources resulted in a planet barren and uninhabitable. However, Earth is a fighting planet, and through the course of thousands of years, it has regrown and rebirthed. Earth remembers what killed it for centuries- Man. So now, everything has regrown and evolved to do one thing.

Kill Humans.

So the humans live on other worlds, relying on the Rangers to protect them against fearsome beasts. The greatest of these beasts is the Ursa. A creature who cannot see, but hunts through sensing fear in its prey. They are deadly, as one look at them and instant your heart would jump into your mouth. Kitai’s father, has been the only one to “Ghost” or to be completely without fear in the face of certain death, and has killed many- protecting the remaining mankind. Kitai desires, and longs to be a Ranger like his father, but events of the past and decisions of the present have kept him from realizing this goal.

When his father invites him on a spaceship ride to accompany him on a mission, he accepts. But something goes terribly wrong, a space storm hits their ship, and they must crash land, then survive, on one planet.

That Planet, is earth.

Things I Liked

Cypher, Katai’s father, is man respected in the world, but not by his son. When he comes back from a trip, we see the divide between him and his family. His wife offers some excellent advice, when he voices his displeasure at being so distant from his son. “Katai doesn’t need a commanding officer, he needs a father.“. The next day, we see Cypher put that advice into action. He not only intentionally pursues and builds a better relationship with his son throughout this film, but also listens to and supports his wife in a sensitive way. Cypher is humanity’s best and most reliable solider, but he also has a heart who loves his family. That’s a real man.

Katai deals with many emotional wounds of the past, mainly the fact his sister was brutally mauled and killed by an Ursa when his father was away. He witnessed it at a very young age, but lived because she kept him sealed in a special case of glass. He feels guilt, anger, and confusion because of this event. He lashes out at his father, but Cypher always is there to firmly challenge him on what he thought. Never does Cypher tell him whether he was right or wrong. He treats his son like a man, and makes him figure it out for himself. To get past his fear, and to live decisively.

In the end this results in an incredibly display of father and son love and commitment to the other. It is the largest theme of this movie, and is portrayed in an excellent manner.

A solider, who just lost a leg, stands himself up to salute Cypher to show respect.

Things I Didn’t Like

There are a lot of graphic images of humans being killed, or have been killed by the Ursa. This includes men being impaled through the chest, mauled and thrown, and crushed. After the ship crashes, we are shown many dead bodies strewn throughout the wreckage. Later we see the other survivors, who left the ship, dead- impaled on trees. We see a pile of dead monkey bodies, limbs, and other appendages strewn across a clearing after a predator has done its work.

Cypher sustains some serious wounds in the crash, and he has to do some bloody work on himself to survive. This was more gruesome than the actual battles shown with the Ursa, as the blood flows freely on screen.

Kitai also has to face many dangerous things on earth. He is bitten by a leech and has to inject himself with serum to survive. He fights with a straight Sythe, which he uses to cut animals who would attack him. W In a dream he sees his sister with a bloody and beaten up face, who then warns Katai to wake up. The image is short, but creepy nonetheless.

Closing Thoughts

Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed. ~Cypher~

While advertised to be a survival action flick, After Earth delivers a surprisingly rich and message driven plot. One often lost in Science fiction movies. The movie shows a type of “Rite of Passage” for Kitai. He must deal with and face his past guilt. His indecision, his anger toward his father, and his pride in his abilities. Through the journey of recovering a rescue beacon, he learns being a Ranger is more than just following orders and Having skills. It is a matter of Character.

What is most sweet about this learning process, is his dad guides him through the entire process. Even though Kitai is at odds with him, and Cypher shows barely any love for his son, in the end, they work as a team which each learns from the other. They sacrifice for the other and work towards the common goal- working out disagreements and distrust. It was great to see a semi-accurate development of a father son bond, with respect going both ways by the completion of the journey.

This movie is also devoid of innapropriate sexual content, foul language, and over the top ridiculous special effects. It tells a uplifting story of boy and father versus the wild. I will say, the battles of boy vs beasty are quite intense, and there are some graphic images of dead animals, and people killed by the Ursa. This is what earned the film the PG-13 rating, and you should be aware of that if you check this one out.

To put it simply, After earth is everything it should be, and hardly anything it shouldn’t. Strong positive messages about the importance of family over careers, concepts of fear- how misplaced it is, and the growth of a boy into a man is something not only to applaud, but also to support and reflect upon.

The Wolverine

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A man can run out of things to live for.

When you are immortal, that phrase has a bittersweet ring. Logan has seen and done it all. Fought in every war since the Civil war, been everywhere in the world, and even saved the world by stopping a rouge mutant. But now, Logan lives without drive, without purpose. He has nightmares every-night of the ones he has loved and lost. Of the wars he has fought. Of the hundreds men he has killed. He decides that he isn’t going to be that monster anymore.

So he lives on a mountain unkept and alone with his nightmares. His only friend is the grizzly bear who roams the mountain with him. While he may not be the killing monster on the mountain, he is anything but at peace. When some hunters come with illegal weapons, and kill the bear. Logan seeks out vengeance on them. Before he can do so however, he is approached by a mysterious japanese woman who tells Logan her employer, Sir Yashida, has a gift for him. A thank you, for saving his life many years ago in WWII.

The Gift of peace. The Gift of Mortality.

Things I Liked

Logan (The Wolverine) appears to be a man of changed heart in this film. we find he lives by himself for one main reason- so he no longer hurts others. When called “The Wolverine” he replies- “That’s not who I am anymore.” In truth, we see that change of character come out in Logan through the movie. When Yashida offers this gift, Logan goes mainly out of politeness. He respects the dying man’s wishes to thank him in person one last time.

When He arrives in Japan, he finds himself in the midst of a feud. He chooses to protect the daughter of Yashida when assassins come. And that is his prevailing purpose in the film. “Think of me as your bodyguard” Logan tells her. What makes that interesting though, is he is tricked into becoming mortal. For at time at least. During this time, he learns bullets are dangerous, and what it means to be vulnerable. “I’ve never had to ask for help before.” he tells Mariko, Yashida’s Daughter. Watching him learn to live as such was a great thing, and I appreciated again things I had taken for granted in everyday life. Logan also sacrifices much in this movie. He risks his mortal life protecting others. And through that he begins to find his purpose once again.

Things I Didn’t Like

The Wolverine isn’t the most violent of films when you add up the body count, but it could be argued it is the most savagely violent of the X-Men Series. Logan slices, impales, thrashes, and throws many would be assassins to their deaths in various scenes. He throws a man off a balcony. He stabs the illegal hunter’s hand with the man’s own poisoned arrow. We watch the man’s reaction to the poison. In his nightmares, we see him accidentally kill people he loves. Logan at one point, cuts open his own chest.

A antagonist mutant, Vyper, kills various people with kisses of poison. She kills a man with a poisoned pen. She tortures men by scratching them, them breathing poison onto their face. She also sheds her face, which results in a kinda creepy scene.

Other hordes of ninjas/assassins shoot people with arrows, rods, and swords. in one scene, Logan takes dozens to his back. In fact, Logan gets pretty beat up in the movie too. When he is mortal, he is shot several times, and he realizes that healing isn’t something his body does anymore. So wounds and such remain on him, blood and all. When he regains his power, he is sliced and cut and impaled in ways which are incredibly painful to him. Early on in Nagasaki, we see his body burned an charred while protecting a Japanese solider, and the painful process of his body instantly healing him.

Logan winds up kissing Mariko, and sleeping in the same bed with her at a secret refuge. Mariko wears a thin nightgown. Logan often goes shirtless. In one scene he is being given a bath by some old Japanese Maids and we see a bit of his rump. Another scene shows a politician who is busted by Logan, is found with three young women all in lingerie and is shown for a few seconds before they all flee.

Logan drops an F-Bomb, and several other curse words. Included are D—, B—–, and S—. God’s name is used in Vain twice.

Closing Thoughts

Your grandfather called me a ronin, a samurai without a master. Destined to live forever, with no purpose to serve. ~The Wolverine~

The tale of the Wolverine is a darker one in the Marvel series. A tragic hero, we see Logan suffer so much, even though he will live forever. It is painful to watch Logan experience such sorrow and grief over losing people he loved, because he couldn’t die with them. This movie, taking place after the third X-men, shows Logan at the bottom of the barrel with some of the most intense violence of the series.

The Wolverine rips open the idea that Eternity on this earth isn’t a gift or remotely desirable, and kills it with savage intensity. Showing that it is a curse which brings only sorrow and misery if you have no eternal purpose. Wolverine found his purpose in the movie, the credits rolled, and people moved on. What the movie fails to mention, is that purpose, when rooted in the world, will change based on circumstance.

The tragedy of the Wolverine lies not in the fact Logan lives forever, but the fact he will be forever wandering trying to find himself in the world. As Christians, we know without Christ, that walk can, and will last forever if you are immortal on the world. Only Christ can quench the thirst men crave for ultimate purpose. While Logan is lost to this fact, we can perhaps guide others to it through this film. Not to say by any means is The Wolverine full of redeeming value. But this is one rare film where the internal struggle and resulting destruction shows what a man can do without any lasting purpose in his life. That is something to definitely challenge others in, and ask if they are doing the same.

Monster’s University

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It has been Mike Wizowski’s dream since first grade to be a scarer. Finally, he has made it to Monster’s University. the Ivy League school in scaring careers. When he gets to the class though, he find monsters much scarier than himself. One in particular names James P. Sullivan.

Sullivan is a famous name in the scaring world, and James is pretty sure becoming drafted for a scarer is a walk in the park. Mike however, is determined not to be sent home. The study begins. Mike spends the time reading books and doing all kinds of prep. Sully Spends it attending parties.

When the day of the exam comes, each are prepared in their own way. But do they have enough to be one of the best scarer’s of the class?

Things I Liked

After 12 long years, the greatly anticipated sequel for Monster’s Inc. has been released. It is great to see some well known characters, albeit in a younger fashion. Of course, the two main characters are Mike and Sully. Mike is a nerd and Sully is the cool guy on the block. We know theses guys are best friends, and this movie tells the story of how that happens.

Mike is the cliche perfect student. He gets straight A’s, is super friendly (though no one like him much), and even has a retainer to boot. Mike’s work ethic is something to be commended. We see him study and put his whole self into whatever it is. That can be a book, a game, or a competition. There is no halfway for the passionate Wizowski. Something we definitely can learn from.

Sully is the opposite of Mike. He is big, scary, a cool guy, and lives life with the entitlement of the last name he carries. His father was a famous scarer, and he thinks that is enough to get him to work for Monster’s Inc. He doesn’t study but instead parties. He hangs out with the cool kids at the expense of other Monster’s feelings getting hurt. What he learns however is- a last name does not a good monster make. We see him learn, often the hard way, that if you want something in life, then you have to work for it. Cheating, partying, and degrading others will get you places in the short term, but that’s it.

These two guys start off on the wrong foot, and generally go through the whole movie fighting each other for the position of scarer. Mike has the wits, Sully has the brawn. They learn through some bad choices they make (which get them trapped again in the human world) that both of them are imperfect, and both have specific strengths. They learn what being a “team” means, and is is quite cool to watch how that happens.

There is no profanity nor is God’s name taken in vain.

As always, Pixar dazzles you with bright colors, creative creatures, and a charming screenplay in terms of humor, story, and characters. This Prequel tips it’s hat to many things in the first movie. It tells why Randall hates Sullivan so much. It shows characters we know from the past like Roz. It explains how the doors work and are made. And more. It is a very well thought through and developed film, and very enjoyable to watch.

Things I didn’t Like

Perhaps the scene I have the most issue with, occurs when the Scare games are taking place. The Scare games are a series of challenges designed for competition among groups in the University. After a particularly hard loss, Mike breaks his team into private property for Monster’s Inc. After they are inspired, they get caught, and they race out of the property and get away. There is no consequences for this action, nor is it even implied that it  was wrong.

This movie is full of slapstick humor and scaring (of course). Monsters are pricked with urchin-like objects and swell to immense size. They get thrown out of a building, run over by a cleaning machine, and are spanked with wooden paddles. In order to return to the monster world, Mike and Sully have to scare people. They way they do this can be frightening for younger children- so bear that in mind.

Other minimal things include a pretty cruel prank pulled on Mike’s team at a sorority party. There are some awkward comments about a guy telling a college student who is marrying his mother “Just view me like an older brother married to your mother. Wait- No…

Closing Thoughts

“You aren’t scary Mike, but you are fearless.” ~James Sullivan~

Unlike so many other movies, Mike is not happy being good. He wants to be great. He wants to succeed and is passionate in working to that goal. What he finds though, is he is not cut out to be a scarer. Through the whole movie we see him trying to be someone he is not. And the results on a personal level, are devastating. To often we hear the phrase “You can do anything if you believe in yourself.” in modern society. This is incredibly false. There are some things people can’t do which others can. We are designed to do specific things. Mike believed with all his heart he could be a scarer, but when push came to shove- he couldn’t do it. We can’t do things which we weren’t designed to do, and this movie shows that incredibly well.

In the Monster World, scarers are the equivalent of our sports and hollywood stars. They are elite and worshiped by many. Scarers are put on immense pedestals of importance. And if you aren’t scary, well, you’re worthless. This film shows that just because you aren’t “famous”, doesn’t mean you are worthless. We see Mike, after not being a scarer, choose to excel in “menial” jobs, and he is rewarded for it. It was a perfect example of being faithful in the little things, because they are just as important as the big things.

While not quite topping the original Monster’s Inc. , Monster’s University is a more than adequate prequel and welcome addition to the monster world pixar has created. Monster’s University has everything we’ve come to expect in a Pixar film- A touching story, some great laughs, and memorable characters. Solid values and minimal potty humor make this one I’ll not only be recommending to others, but adding it to my collection.  We don’t need to be scared of this film- it definitely passed the test.

Jurassic Park

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What if we somehow, someway, could bring back dinosaurs? What color would they be? What would they sound like? How would they act?

John Hammond has found a way to bring dinosaurs back. With all of their secrets. Through DNA preservation, filling, and extensive scientific genius he has created a park. It is filled with Dinosaurs of all kinds, and has grand and glorious expectations of making it an incredibly profitable theme park. Think of a Zoo, on steroids.

So he brings in a panel of people to review his masterpiece. Some love it, some hate it, and some… want to steal it. Regardless of their opinions however, a storm comes through and kocks out the power grid containing all the dinosaurs on the island. Including the T-rex, and Velociraptors.

Now it is a perilous and mad rush to escape the island. The predators have other plans however. It becomes a fight of survival of the fittest. And who is more fit? Man, or Dinosaur? These poor folks are about to find out.

Things I Liked

While the first thing you think of when hearing “Jurrasic Park” may be Dinos eating people, there are some postive elements in this movie. The largest one is probably the view of man manipulating nature. John is accused of Playing God in the movie. Taking an extinct species, rebuilding the DNA, and releasing them back into the wild. All for the purpose of making money in an amusement park. The consequences of these actions are profound, and it is very telling of what happens when man thinks he knows better than God in how the world should operate.

Another character, Dr. Alan Grant, had this thing against kids. Through the movie however, we see him stuck with two children and he learns kids aren’t that bad. He also risks his life on several occasions to save the children, which takes guts, when the attacker is a T-Rex. He and his assistant, Ellie, are people of character who continually put themselves in harms way to protect others.

Things I Didn’t Like

This movie is famous for a reason, and that reason is not from acting, a powerful story, or otherwise. It is famous because digitized Dinosaurs run around, chase people, and eat them. In this movie, I was surprised how low the body count was, but revolted at how those few bodies went. One guy is poisoned in the face, and then jumped on by little dinosaurs. A man hiding in the bathroom is picked up by the T-rex and viciously shaken back and forth, we hear his back snap, and then watch and the T-rex swallows him whole. Another guy, hunting a velociraptor, is tricked by the beasts and pounced upon. Lastly, we see the remains of a man. That is- his bloody arm, in a particularly tense scene.

Otherwise, there is a lot of chasing in the movie. People are always running from something, and while it may sound ridiculous on paper, the music score combined with dark sets makes a particularly scary experience. There is cursing, and God’s name is used in vain as well. Some derogatory crude speech is used, and a man is reprimanded for saying he should go outside to get something, instead of a girl.

Closing Thoughts

“God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God, man creates dinosaurs.”

Jurassic park has three prevailing themes. One, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Two, never try to play God. Three, don’t fight dinosaurs- they always win and get lunch at the same time.

John had an idea and pursued it wholeheartedly. However, he failed to think about the impending consequences of such a plan. One thing we can be reminded of when watching this movie is to really think through our actions and to take the feedback we are given. He didn’t, and the results were terrible.

The idea of “playing God” as quoted in the movie was fascinating to me, as they clearly rejected such a Creator when speaking of evolution. When things got serious though, it was incredible how quickly they resorted back to the idea of a supreme creator who has a hand over all nature. In our age of incredible scientific advancement, it would be wise to consider this movie when attempting to do this which indeed are unnatural. They disrupted the state of nature, by bringing from the dead dinosaurs using genetic manipulation and cloning. Something our society is pursing today.

But while these themes are excellent to consider and put forth in a persuasive fashion, it is that persuasive attempt which makes this movie about as appealing as meeting a velociraptor in real life. Granted, most of the time people are being chased around with great background music, the few deaths which are shown are gruesome and terrifying indeed. And if you aren’t careful- you start to enjoy seeing these massive beasts “live” in the world which they are placed. The hunting, and the aftermath.

In short, Jurassic park is a great idea conceptually, but when it hits the picture, instead of seeing a film focused on man’s mistakes and learning from them, you see for about an hour people getting chased, killed, and eaten by dinosaurs we have only imagined. The message, already small and weak, is crushed by the prehistoric predator’s actions in relating and dining on humans. The movie is no walk in the park, more like a mad rush through a dark alley.

Expecting at any moment, that one predator is going to jump out, and get you.

Everyone’s Hero

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Yankee Irving has always wanted to make the big hit. The swing that wins the game. The run that will make him a hero. Sadly however, on a sandlot with kids twice his age, that chance doesn’t come often. Then when it does, he fails. Miserably.

Depressed more than usual one night, his dad decides to show him Babe Ruth’s bat. The legendary “Darlin’ “. Yankee adores Babe Ruth, and loves the opportunity to view it. The next day, it is found the bat is stolen, and his dad is fired because of it. With some deductive skills and some baseball cards, Yankee figures out that the opposing team’s pitcher- Lefty MacGinnis stole the bat to keep the Yankees from winning the world series.

No one believes him however, so he sets off to recover the bat himself and get his dad’s job back. With the help of a wisecracking baseball, he finds his way to the thief. But when the time comes to step up to the plate and save his dad’s job, will he make that hit he has dreamed of? Or strike out like he always has before?

Things I Liked

Yankee is a young boy with whom many people can relate. He wants to make the big play and help his team, but he always winds up hurting them instead. Through the movie we see him over and over fail in his attempts to help others. We see however, failure isn’t permanent, and shouldn’t put you down. Yankee learns this from his parents and several others along his path of rescuing Darlin’. Yankee’s motivation in this movie is not fame, glamour, or riches… It is simply to get his dad’s job back by finding the stolen bat. He loves his parents, and goes across the US to help them.

Speaking of parents, Yankee’s are quite a commendable mother and father. This family isn’t broken, divorced, or angry. It is a simple one where the mom encourages and the dad teaches. Yankee loves them immensely and is respectful. He obeys and takes a punishment even though he knows he did nothing wrong. It is a great lesson and example to young kids regarding submission to those in authority over you. That they aren’t always right, but we should obey them anyway.

Many people are encouragers in this movie. Older folks teach and encourage Yankee to continue doing what he is doing. A girl gives him support when some bullies come around to give Yankee trouble. Even Yankee gives encouragement and hope to Screwy the baseball and Darlin’. When Yankee meets Babe Ruth, we see Babe also support and encourage Yankee in actions which some say are ridiculous. The power of sweet words is shown all throughout the movie.

Things I Didn’t Like

While this movie is mostly clean, there is a bit of crude humour and violence to be aware of. Lefty gets beaten up quite a bit via comic style violence. He is shocked with lightning, takes a couple crotch shots, slams into poles, chokes on a clothesline, and get run over by a train (not shown). He makes it out every-time with some bruising and dirt on his face.

Screwy makes some crude jokes about beans and the underwear drawer. There isn’t any profanity, but rude words are used occasionally such moron, jerk, butt, name calling, etc. Lefty has a “booger ball” as one of his pitches, which he blows his nose on the baseball. We see Screwy covered in snot.

Yankee runs away from home to rescue Darlin’ and leaves a note explaining where he has gone. This opens up good opportunities to discuss with kids why/if they would run away from home. It should be noted this is something which is not encouraged, but justified in the movie.

Closing thoughts

 “You can be the smallest, you can be the weakest, you can be the worst player on the field, but when people tell you you’re no good, and say you should give it up, you know what you do? You just keep on swinging.”

Everyone’s hero is a film with a message of perseverance and endurance of character. We see the message of never giving up. Unlike other films though, which focus on a single hero making it, for the most part, on his own. This movie takes a refreshing turn and demonstrates just how important encouragement and mentoring is for a young person’s success. Without the dozens of people involved in helping Yankee in his trek, he would have given up a long time ago.

Kids too, can benefit from watching this movie in seeing a kid they can relate to submitting to those above him, and wanting to help his family. Then, seeing the reward which comes from doing the right thing… Even when it is hard.

This movie isn’t as well animated as Pixar films, it isn’t as funny, it isn’t as compelling either. However, it tells an exceptionally clean and rewarding story about a boy and his desire to serve others. It is because of that story, that Everyone’s hero is indeed a Home Run. A movie which the entire family can enjoy, and everyone- adults included, can learn from.

Man of Steel

man_of_steelSuperman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all times, which has led some to question whether a revamping and remaking of the Superman franchise would work. The answer? You better believe it!

While this retelling has all the original elements portrayed in Kal-El’s, or Clark Kent if you prefer, story, it also brings something else to the table. Old villains are given a new face, the iconic S symbol is given a back-story, and the tale of Superman takes a much more humanic turn as the storyline deals with the physiological aspects of being a superhero, and just what exactly is the price that comes with so much power.

Positive Elements

The beginning of this film takes us back to the Superman Origins, showing us how Kal-El came to be, why his parents sent him to earth, and the tumultuous existence that was Krypton at the time of his birth. In this opening we have so many positive elements portrayed that it is hard to pick just a few to share. Both Jor-El and Laura-El sacrifice much in order to ensure their son is given not only a chance at free will, but also a chance at life. Amidst moving tears and remorse over never seeing their son walk or say their names, the parents choose to do what is best for their son, no matter how great the personal cost or how hard they will have to fight to ensure he escapes the fate planned for him. They also show that our yellow son isn’t the only thing that made Kal-El a superhero—he came by it naturally, for amidst the evil schemes of General Zod, Kal’s parents stand up and fight for what is right, regardless of the cost that will be extracted from them for it.

But the El family is not the only family Kal-El has. Upon arriving on earth he is adopted by a new kind of family. A Human family. A family that names him Clark Kent. The Kents are good people, and they impart great wisdom to their son throughout his life, making him into a good man who values life, unlike his predecessors. Jonathan Clark is often a living example for his son, and his last act on earth is spent in helping others, leaving a lasting legacy for his son. The Kents also teach their son self restraint, an attribute that Clark needs in order to survive this world. Throughout the story we see Clark demonstrate power under control. From being a bulled teenage boy resisting the urge to sock his attackers, to an adult man enduring embarrassment and insults when he comes to the defense of a young woman.

Which brings us to the character of superman himself. Clark is not only a good kid and man, but he has this innate desire to save those around him, be it literal or metaphorical. No matter how dangerous the exposure to himself is, or whether or not his actions will lead him to a new alias, Clark continually risks much in order to help the needy. And it is because of his other’s focused actions that cause human soldiers and civilians alike to unquestioningly accept the alien from outer space. It is because of the good character instilled by his parents that Clark is accepted by the world and not rejected.

Also worth noting is the fact that artificial population control is inadvertently shown as destructive and that “evolutionary advantage” isn’t what wins a fight. The heart and passion behind the warrior is.

Negative Elements

Kryptonians, we learn, were engineered from birth to carry out whatever lot in life has been planned for them by their government, essentially denying them free will. However, while some would view this as a negative element, I challenge that it is not a negative aspect in this film because the movie clearly depicts this as an evil thing that brings great destruction and harm.

The sexual content in this film is minimal, but not nonexistent. We see Clark confront a man in a bar who is behaving inappropriately towards one of the waitress’ (it is a very brief scene), Clark and Lois kiss, and hear another woman refer to Superman ad hot. Laura-El also wears a dress that, for a brief moment, shows a fair amount of cleavage.

Language in this film was not excessive, but a couple of times when it is used, it is rather offensive in nature. There’s around four a—references, two of h—, and one of d—. There is also two crude references to the male anatomy (one as a put down, one as a feministic comment).

As for violence…. It’s a superhero movie. It’s not really optional. While the violence is not excessive or violating (it’s your average superhero violence), we do see Superman snap someone’s neck. There is much destruction and turmoil in the film (Metropolis is nearly leveled), and many characters receive some whopping hits to the abdominal region, but it is all done well in terms of filming. If you’ve watched movies like The Avengers and Iron Man, you won’t have an issue here.

Conclusion

This movie is not Superman Canon. Snyder and Nolan chose to do things in this film that we haven’t seen before in the Superman franchise, but to be honest, I think that was a good thing.

Origins were given to details like the Superman S (which isn’t an S, thank goodness!), Louis Lane wasn’t saddled with the idiot reporter image (I mean honestly, what woman would be fooled by a pair of glasses?), and the suit was just plain awesome (I’m sorry, but the spandex original was lame and impractical), for a Superman suit. And yet, despite these changes (and the fact that Superman does kill someone with his bare hands, something many fans will be upset over), this film still has the Superman Origins at its heart. It took a story that was good but unrelatable and made it relatable. They humanized Superman in a way that made him seem much more realistic than his earlier renditions.

Despite a few comments I could have lived without, I enjoyed Man of Steel. Superman may not be my favorite Superhero, but Snyder and Nolan did a good job in portraying a Superman that raised the bar in the Alien’s franchise.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness_1440x900Kirk is in some ways, the ideal Starfleet captain. He is brave, confident, and strong. However, when he breaks the prime directive to save one of his crew, he loses not only the enterprise which he commands, but his rank as well. Outraged at the regulations in Starfleet, Kirk plans to leave the academy forever.

But before he does, a new threat rises in the city. A terrorist and former Starfleet member, John Harrison, begins savage attacks on civilians and Starfleet headquarters. Through tragic and unforeseen events, Kirk again gains command of the Enterprise. He is given one directive- eliminate John Harrison at all costs. Just one problem, Harrison is in the Klingon sector, and has not received a trial for his crimes.

Kirk is torn between morals and duty. Having virtually no experience in crimes of this scale, he doesn’t know who to trust, what is right, or how to command. He doesn’t know what he is supposed to do, only what he can do. Can he lead the Enterprise and do what is right? Or will he learn the hard way, leading a military vessel can come at an immense cost?

Things I liked

While “Into Darkness” revolves around many characters, the main character of focus is James T. Kirk. Jim has a lot of strengths, but a lot of issues. He is confident, but ignores rules. He cares for his crew, but is arrogant. He is brave, but often takes unnecessary risks. Early in the film he boasts to a higher officer who is reprimanding him- “I haven’t lost one crew member. Not one.” To which the officer replies:

“Do you know what a pain you are? You think the rules don’t apply to you. There’s greatness in you, but there’s not an ounce of humility. You think that you can’t make mistakes, but there’s going to come a moment when you realize you’re wrong about that, and you’re going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.”

This is the place from which Jim starts. A young arrogant buck who thinks he has it all figured out. Through the movie we see that arrogance replaced with an understanding of humility. Unlike the recent movie I watched, Ironman 3, Kirk learns that rules exist for a reason, and that arrogance does bring a very hard fall.

Christopher Pike fills the father figure role in Kirk’s life. When no one else believes in him after he is stripped of his command, Pike comes and encourages and mentors him. He gives Kirk a second chance, which Jim does not deserve in the least. Grace is a powerful teaching tool, and Pike uses it to equip Jim for future success.

The supporting cast of the Enterprise is a great one to watch. Spock is loyal to the core in regulations, and reminds Kirk of moral implications of acting against those rules. Scotty forgives Jim many a time with no hard feelings, an excellent reminder not to hold grudges. Uhura in one place, shows the value of communication over violence. And Dr. McCoy shows mercy and care to the enemies of Starfleet. All the characters learn from each other in their strengths, and remind each other of their weaknesses. The teamwork shown in the Enterprise is great fun to watch.

John Harrison is a man consumed by hatred, grief, and revenge. He strives to avenge earth of the crimes committed against his family, and that means destroying all of earth. Through the movie he manipulates others to get what he wants, but in the end is destroyed by his passionate lust for vengeance. It is good to be reminded we should not hold in our hearts bitterness and anger for those who have sinned against us.

Similarly, there is a member of Starfleet driven by fear and desire of power. He is destroyed as well. Every-time a character who breaks regulations or acts selfishly, that person ultimately comes to a terrible end or suffers severe consequences.

Finally, I loved seeing the enterprise, the crew, and space created in such a way which completely redefined how we view Star Trek movies, but tipped the hat many times over towards the Original Series. The characters replicate perfectly the personas of the originals. The dialogue is witty at times, and deep in others. It is a very well made movie from a cinematography and script writing perspective.

Things I Didn’t Like

Into darkness brings a level of violence never seen before in the Star Trek world. John Harrison is ruthless in his killings. We see him gun down a room of people from a ship, take out an entire legion of Klingons, crush a man’s head with his bare hands, breaks a girl’s leg, and generally pummel anyone who opposes him. Spock has his share of physical altercations as well. Twisting arms and using the Vulcan neck pinch.

Aside from Harrison’s deeds. People are blasted with phasers, we see multiple crew members get sucked into the vacuum of space when the hulls of ships are blown open. A man dies from radiation overexposure. Many people are shown bloody and beaten up. When a ship falls into earth’s orbit, it takes out dozens of buildings. Presumably with people in them.

Kirk is shown in bed with two female looking aliens wearing lingerie. Carol Marcus tells Kirk to turn around as she needed to change clothes. Kirk, of course, looks, and so does the camera. there is a few second shot of her in nothing but a bikini style of dress. Spock and Uhura kiss a few times. And McCoy dips into his well known use of profanity and suggestive comments. Many different crude words are used, many times.

God’s name is taken in vain about six times.

Closing Thoughts

The core of “Star Trek: Into Darkness” lies not a terrorist manhunt, a rouge Starfleet officer, or a memorable cast of shipmates. This movie, ultimately, is about leadership. Kirk is a powerful leader, and he knows that. What he doesn’t realize, before learning through some difficult lessons, what leadership is. He learns leadership isn’t having the title of captain, or having a big ship, but rather it is service. In a climatic moment Kirk makes a choice where he offers himself for the crew of the ship. It is at that point we realize Kirk isn’t the arrogant young kid anymore… We watch him change into a captain worthy of commanding the Enterprise. Kirk learns from his mistakes, and becomes a servant to his crew. That is the most powerful message in this film.

There are many other great things shown. The crew of the enterprise embody sacrifice and courage. John Harrison and other people who act selfishly are destroyed by their own flaws. Much wisdom is shown through Spock’s advice- that sometimes you must disobey authority to do what is morally and biblically right.

The movie also has its downsides. The sometimes savage violence makes one flinch at times. The brief undress shown of Carol Marcus is enough to make anyone with a sound mind to turn his/her head. And even though it is “the military” the expletives are frustrating and unpleasant.

Even with these inexcusable flaws, I found this film to be a great teacher of not only how to lead, but also the importance of making a moral choice, not blindly following the commanded one. Into Darkness makes it clear the right or moral choice is sometimes hard to find. When the right choice is found though, there is then the difficulty of deciding to act upon it. Kirk always does. No, he doesn’t follow regulations perfectly. But he always puts what he feels is right and moral above anything else. While the lack of God is prevalent in Kirk’s choices, we can clearly apply this mindset and many principles shown in this flick to our Christian walk.

That’s why I’ve decided while this movie may indeed dip into darkness, the overacting themes of  learning humility, leadership, and acting upon conscience are incredibly commendable. A light is shone on what a true leader is, and the suffering selfishness brings. It leads with an imperfect message, like all films, but this is one from which I’d say we all can learn and benefit.