Monster’s University

monsters_university_ver2The lovable monsters of Monsters Inc have once more invited us to come along with them on a journey, only this time, it’s down memory lane…. And their college experience.

Mike has always dreamed of being a scarer. He can give you every fact and every scary pose in the book. However, he has a problem. He’s not really…. Well… scary. Enter James P. Sullivan, or Sully as we best know him. Sully can scare. In fact, he was born with the ability what with being the son of one of the most famous scarers ever. His problem, though, is that he’s not book smart, and he’s got no self confidence—or at least not the kind of self confidence.

Both of these monsters want to be the best, so when they stumble into one another, it’s a full out war, a war which lands them outside of the scaring program. That is until they get a chance at redemption. The scare games.

There’s just one problem… They have to work together. And if that weren’t a big enough hurdle, they have to work together with the geeks of the Oozma Kappa Fraternity.

Positive Elements

Monster’s University has two themes at the heart of its film. The first is one which every generation is in need of, especially our current one: you do not have to succumb to the expectation of others based on your size, skin color, illnesses, or, as we see in this movie, scariness.

Throughout history we have great examples of men who rose out of horrific circumstances or illness and defied what others said they would do/amount to (coughpresidentTeddyRooseveltcoughIsaacNewtoncoughEinsteincough). Now that theme is being delivered in a movie that is very kid-friendly and can resonate with a much younger audience than Einstein normally attracts.

The second prominent theme in this film is the gift of friendship and how much easier our goals are when someone’s got our back.
But perhaps my favorite part of the movie was the end, when we see our heroes own up to their wrong doings and face the consequences of their actions. And then, instead of seeing them defeated, we see them once more team up and start from the ground in order to work their way to being the Monsters we first fell in love with in MI.

Negative Elements

Dangit and son of a gun is the worst language that you will have in this movie, and the most sexualized content is when Sully’s hand falls into Mike’s face while he is sleeping and he proceeds to kiss it.

As for violence, it’s mostly slapstick, cartoony violence that doesn’t really result in anyone being truly harmed. Monster’s get thrown from a building into water, Mike accidentally runs students over with a buffer, and glowing spiky urchin looking things cause several students participating in the Scare Games to swell up as a type of allergic reaction.

The only other negative elements is Mike and Sully’s initiation ceremony (which some people might not appreciate but is done for the sake of humor), the red cups in the college party scenes (It isn’t portrayed as alcohol, but it is a college party, so some parents won’t appreciate that), some characters break into MI for a look at things and when the police come one of the group shouts that he can’t go back to jail, there is the typical college fraternity bullying issues, and obviously there are several scenes with monster’s scaring kids.

However it should be noted that all of these elements are very soft elements and as child friendly as possible.

Conclusion

I adored Monster’s Inc! It made it on my favorite’s list, actually. So when MU hit theaters, I had to go! And I wasn’t unhappy when I left the theaters.

My best friend laughed multiple times beside me in the theater, and I enjoyed watching the movie. However, it didn’t measure up to Monster’s Inc, in my opinion. As I said, it wasn’t that the movie was bad. I enjoyed it, and it had some good points. Plus, I like finding out all the back-story, so that was an added bonus. But, Monster’s Inc had a strong story line that was original and amazing. Monster’s University was not as original, nor as stunning from a writing standpoint.

However, I would recommend the movie to anyone who didn’t have an issue with watching Monster’s Inc. The movie is more about friendship and not letting the world define you than it is about scaring and college life, and that is something that is good for us in any kind of dosage, no matter how potent or mild.

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Man Of Steel

Man_of_Steel_Wallpaper_Movie_Review

“What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?” ~ Jor-El ~

In the final dying throes of Krypton, a baby is launched to a new planet. The planet called earth. The child is named Clark, found and adopted by two parent from Kansas. He grows up in conflit with who he is. He has the power to save people, but his father tells him he shouldn’t. Not yet. He believes the world isn’t ready, and in part, he is right.

So Clark lives a life of anonymity. He works for a fishing rig, as a waiter, or some other “low status” job. Always traveling. Always moving. This continues until General Zod arrives. He declares he is going to destroy the earth, even after Clark turns himself in.

At that moment, Clark makes a choice. He chooses to become superman, and attempt to save the people he has committed himself to serve.

Things I Liked

Clark is one of the most upstanding characters I have ever seen in a movie. The amount of positive traits shown through his actions and words truly is… Super. Early in life clark is bullied.  We see him not only refrain from beating the kids up, but save some who are in desperate trouble. As he grows, the values instilled by his parents are shown as he works in a diner. He called out a man for being a bit to agressive towards a lady. When the man attacks him- Clark does nothing but walk away. (I’d like to note he does get back- just not physically) Just because a man has the power to fight back, doesn’t mean he should. Clark displays this excellently.

Clark’s father is a man of incredible wisdom, humility, and kindess. He never denies the fact Clark is different, but rather tell him he was sent for a reason. And that “You owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.” Clark’s Mother also give him the perspective of how important life is. When some damage is done to the home due to Clark, he apologizes. His mother hugs him and says “It’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. You can’t.

When Clark is grown into Superman, General Zod comes to earth and demands the return of Superman. Or else the world will face destruction. Superman, without hesitation, turns himself into the US military to save earth. When asked why he did it, he says: “I’m not surrendering to Zod. I’m surrendering to the people.” In that small statement, we see a man who could destroy all of earth, choose to be a man of service to the people on the planet.

Superman is well known to be a Christ-Figure. This movie is one of the most nods towards that idea that I have seen. Clark is 33 when he puts on the suit. When he talks to a priest, we see a Painting of Christ behind him who looks quite similar. When Clark leaves a ship, he falls out in the shape of a cross. He is the first natural birth on Krypton in centuries… And more. One quote in particular I liked regarding this topic

“Sometimes, you have to take a leap of Faith. The trust comes later.”

A solider fighting against Superman rashly declares “Why are you fighting? It is useless. We are more evolved than you. And Evolution always wins.” We see and learn Krypton was destroyed by genetic engineering of their people to fill an exact role and purpose. Because of that, They have no choice in life, as their destiny’s are chosen for them. This creates the strife which takes place in Man of Steel. What is fascinating though, is we see character and good morals in Superman win out over science and evolution in General Zod and his soliders. We see Evolution, in fact doesn’t win.

Things I Didn’t Like

“For every one person you save- we will kill a million more.”

While I knew there would be a certain amount of smashing up in this film, I did not expect the amount of destruction actually shown. Aside from the standards explosions of gas stations, trains, cars, and more. Zod launches a “terra-former” to level earth and establish his world. Sykscrapers full of people are flattened instantaneously. The people fleeing from the machine are lifted from the ground, and slammed into the cement below. Zod’s soliders dispatch the  American military savagely and easily. We see arms broken, and faces punched. The death count in this movie, counting all the people in the buildings which are leveled, is unfathomably high. At one point, I was actually getting bored watching the amount of destruction occurring through the CGI lens. For me, it was over the top, and unnecessary at the level by which it was portrayed.

But perhaps the most disturbing scene of all is when Superman kills another, to protect a woman and her child. He choose one life over another- and a situation like that is always lose-lose. After he snaps the person’s neck (we see and hear the sickening crunch), we watch Superman cry out, devastated by what he has done. It is heart and gut wrenching to see him not only kill someone, but be torn apart on the inside by that action. This is not the original superman of earlier days. This is darker, made to fit our modern day culture.

Clark and Louis Lane kiss in one scene.

There are half a dozen uses of profanity and some crude sexual references regarding the measuring of certain body parts. God’s name is taken in vain three times.

Closing thoughts

You’re not just anyone. One day, you’re going to have to make a choice. You’ll have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, he’s going to change the world. ~Jonathan Kent~

Man of Steel is an excellent story which commends an incredible amount of biblical character traits. It is said the meek shall inherit the earth, and in this movie, Superman is the most meek hero and character I have ever seen to touch the big screen. He is almost flawless in courage, compassion, humility, submission, and sincerity. I say almost, because as a mortal being, he has a few flaws. But that just makes him all the more real.

I recommend Man of Steel to any older person without hesitation. It is a moving story of  a boy who is taught by his parent to serve, and through those teachings, saves humanity. The apocalyptic violence is intense at times without doubt. And superman killing someone… That still disagrees with me immensely.

However, this movie isn’t complicated. It is one of a man with incredible strength, who uses that strength to save the world- After he first surrendered to those he choose to protect. Man of Steel will probably be my favorite movie of the 2013 year. It is simply- Super.

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.

Nacho Libre

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What do you get when you cross a Christian Brother, with Mexican masked wrestling, a Skinny Sidekick, and a nun which this brother is attracted to?

You get the life of Nacho. He dreams of becoming a pro luchador, for the fame and glory the title possesses. He also wants to help the orphans too, and of course impress the Sister Encarnación. Unfortunately, going pro is a bit harder than anticipated, and believe it or not, the church looks down upon the violent sport.

Will Nacho succeed in his quest for fame and food for orphans? Only through his stretchy pants and the Lucha mask will we find out.

Things I Liked

Nacho has a heart to serve the orphans which live at his parish. While a bit of what he does is for the glory, it is clear throughout the film his heart lies in making it possible for the orphans to live a better life.

What is a hero without a sidekick? For Nacho, not much. Esqueleto is that sidekick. He is loyal as a dog, and honestly, portrayed not to be much smarter than one. When everyone abandons Nacho in his quest, his friend sticks with him and provides words which encourage Nacho to continue on and persevere.

Things I Didn’t Like

One of the foremost things I did not like was Nacho does things which are wrong, to help “the greater good”. That good being the orphans. He lies, steals, cheats, and breaks his oath in fighting in the wrestling matches. He isn’t a hero we should admire. He pride himself in gags and passing gas. He is rude with food and possesses poor manners, if any at all. Immature, boisterous, rebellious, and crude. Nacho is all of these things.

Then comes in Sister Encarnación, and things get, quite frankly, grossly sticky in terms of innuendo and tension. Nacho is infatuated with the nun, and asks her personal questions which are grossly uncomfortable. He displays his body in front of her, especially his gluteus maximus, and talks about breaking their solemn vows to run away and start a family. In addition to that, at a party an aggressive woman chases Esqueleto in order to love him. We see him being dragged across the floor to her.

The violence in this film dips to the grade school level. Crotch shots, hair pulling, biting, and other forms of slapstick beat up Nacho and his sidekick quite soundly. Early in the film, we see two men tussle in the dirt like school boys over some chips. A man is smacked on the head with a cello… Overall the violence can be described as a crudely twisted humour which is meant to be funny, but winds up just losing the match. This movie is gross- and that grossness is meant to be funny? Nacho eats a raw eagle egg. Or at least tries. He snorts food out of his nose, he accentuates the fact he is overweight, and more.

The dirty language in this flick includes a lot of implied cursing, but it is never actually spoke. A man is called a douche, boyish insults fly constantly, and trash talk is exchanged in the ring.

Closing thoughts

With any Jack Black movie you can pretty much expect the following: Crass slapstick humour, a bumbling hero, and a weak message.

Indeed, we find all of these in this movie too. I watched this at the recommendations of some adult friends, who guaranteed me it was “Hilarious”. Expecting something different than what I had watched earlier (School of Rock), and knowing the rich culture behind Mexican Free Fighting, I thought this would be more mature, more refined.

I was wrong.

Nacho Libre is a  crude comedy which dabbles in just enough innuendo to remain “harmless”, yet imply exactly what is meant to be conveyed. Ridiculous half naked fat stunt men slam, smack, and bite each other in clearly fake wrestling matches, meant to be funny I assume… And the “hero” is given justification for stealing and breaking his oath for the “greater good”.

The little light in the move is, as I have mentioned, the care about the orphans. But that light is dim compared to the rest of the film.

So what’s the point of the movie? I’m not sure really, but I’m calling this one pinned. Pinned by the depths of  gross humor, the crude sexual jargon, and immature violence. Don’t waste your Libre (freedom) on this film, or at least, know that is is not funny as the fans make it out to be.

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.

Epic

epic_ver10M.K. hasn’t seen her dad in a long time. But at her dying mother’s request she promised to go back and try to patch things up with the tiny-kingdom-of-small-people-who-live-in-the-forest obsessed father. His obsession is actually what drove her mom away, and M.K. isn’t too sure she’s going to be sticking around long after making an effort with her dad. Especially after she gets to his house and assesses the situation.

Things don’t go the way M.K. was hoping.

Her dad is still crazy, and he’s still talking about tiny people in the forest that ride on hummingbird backs. She tried. Now she’s done. After all, she’s old enough to be out on her own. So, she grabs her recently deposited stuff and heads for the door only to be sidetracked by the escaping three-legged dog from her childhood and escapes to find him.

What she finds instead is wounded creature. A tiny wounded creature. One very much like the little people her dad babbles on about. And before she knows it the little creature tosses her a glowing flower pod. Without thinking M.K. catches it. Then she begins to shrink.

Positive Elements

Despite the fractured family element in the beginning of the movie, Epic has a lot of family tie themes running through it. Between Ronin taking in the son of his fallen comrade and friend to raise as his own, and M.K.’s journey to reconciling with her father, the very core of the film is about family, despite the fact that the family relations of both groups are strained at times.

Several characters are willing to put their lives on the line for others. In fact, Being upright, heroic and self-sacrificial for the sake of one and all is encouraged, especially with the leafman mantra we hear over and over again, “Many leaves, one tree. We’re all individuals, but we’re still connected.”

There is also a very obvious good vrs evil struggle in the film. The leafmen are good. They are heroic. They are protectors. The Boggans are evil. They destroy. They love darkness and decay.

Negative Elements

To be honest, this movie is one of the cleanest animated pictures I have seen in a long time. There is no sexual content. No language (besides an occasional jerk or idiot comment). No alcohol content. The multiple combat scenes are rather child-friendly—all in all this movie was as clean as they come, content wise. The only objection some parents will have is the magical element.

Queen Tara is a kind of Mother Nature figure. She, essentially, keeps the forest alive and thriving. Contrasted by that is the evil Mandrake (we’re not sure what exactly this creep is) who causes anything he touches to wither and die. There is a contestant struggle between their magic in the film, but while they both have magical elements, the magic element of the movie takes a backseat to the story, for the most part.

Conclusion

This movie is without doubt a tale of good struggling to conquer evil. It’s cute, has some hilarious characters, and is beautiful from an animation standpoint. The colors are vibrant, the characters are likable, and the themes are timeless. Epic may not have been… epic, but it was enjoyable in so many ways and did exactly what I hoped it would. Take me on a fun ride.

Iron Man 3

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We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all done wrong. In doing so, we’ve made demons. That is, negative consequences for the choices we have made.

Tony Stark is no exception. “I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can’t I sleep?” Tony has a lot of trials he’s facing in life. Ever since the Avenger initiative, things haven’t been the same. He tasted death and he doesn’t like it. Not. One. Bit. He spends days on end “tinkering” on his Iron man suit, making it better, adding cybernetics to himself, and testing new ideas. Locked away in his shop, he comes out to be with his girl, and occasionally make a trip to the local bar.

Until that is, a terrorist force grips America in fear. The government is powerless to stop a teacher called “The Mandarin”. What’s more, strange explosions, with no evidence of bomb material are occurring throughout the world. Tony decides to make the fight personal. He challenges The Mandarin to try to take him out and makes a promise Ironman will remove this blemish from the face of the earth.

The Mandarin strikes first, and as seen in the trailer, destroys tony’s multibillion dollar home, and everything along with it. Now without a functional suit, superhuman killers hunting him, and a girl to protect, Tony learns even Ironman isn’t invincible.

And Demons, can come back to haunt you.

Things I liked

Tony Stark is a pained man in this movie. He struggles with anxiety, pride, and purpose. Sadly, he fails to recognize any of those. One of the most powerful lessons in this film, is that of what pride can do to a man. “Pride goes before a fall” The scriptures say… And boy. Do we see Tony fall. Because of his pride he loses his home, his health for a time, his suits, and more. Because of his pride, he created a demon years ago which now comes back to bite him in a very painful way. Pride is the great destroyer in this movie, and Tony has to stoop low and ask for help from common people, even a boy, if he is to fix the monster he unknowingly created. Does he learn the value of humility  Quite honestly, no. He doesn’t. But we can, and it is painful to watch his fall, and see him learn the hard way.

What is the measure of a man? Certainly not a fancy suit which can fly. We see that here. Tony relies on technology so much in his life, we see how dangerous it is to learn to lean on things, which can break, instead of people. Tony finds he must ask others for help instead of a computer program. That he has to use his own mind, instead of letting a algorithm do it for him. In our age of smartphones, tablets, and the internet I find it fitting to see a message of how important it is not to base our sustenance off these things.

Another great lesson taught is the importance of every interaction we have with others. Because of the way Tony treated one man years ago, the terrible threat he faces today is the result.  It was a great reminder, every person we come into contact with we share Christ as a witness, or not. And every interaction has ramifications, either good or bad.

Every great thing begins with an idea, then is eventually destroyed by compromise. That’s what the movie says anyway. Compromising on principles and values are shown to have devastating consequences. We also see some genetic manipulation of people result in terrible effects as well, showing what happens when you try to make God’s creation into something it wasn’t meant to be.

Things I Didn’t Like

Even though Tony goes most of the film without his suit, the violence and body count is extremely and grossly high. Terrorists vaporize civilians with a new technology. A bodyguard, the lone survivor, is shown badly burned, scarred, and bloody. The technology is, quite simply, using people as bombs. They heat up and then… explode. The pain in their face is shown as they become bright hot and then… Boom.

A woman who is enhanced genetically attacks Tony in a bar, and a vicious fight ensues. In the aftermath we see her body hanging from electric lines. A man is shot through the chest with tony’s Arc Reactor. Dozens of soliders and public officials are gunned down, beat up, shot, and shot again. A civilian is shot in the head on live TV.

Stark’s enemies wind up facing Tony in his suit, and he shows no mercy. They are killed in many ways… Being shot, broken, tossed, drowned, vaporized…. the list goes on. Because of their inhuman enhancements, we are tempted to forget they are still human… but they are, and they die in many painful ways at the hands of ironman.

Tony and Pepper are living together, yet not married… But that is just the start of a lot of sensual stuff that isn’t extreme, but most definitely unneeded. Girls are displayed in Bikinis and lingerie more than a few times in the film. A one night stand is talked about and there is a flashback about that. There is also a lot of innuendo about certain actions.

The language was very frustrating in this film, mainly because there was an attempt at humour through it. God’s name is used in vain various times. The S, A, D, P, B and many other crude words are used… many times.

Closing Thoughts

“Ladies, children, sheep… Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes, there is no such thing.” ~The Mandarin~

What makes a one a Hero? A hero is one who has incredible qualities worthy of emulation. Qualities of selflessness, courage, and service to others- No matter what the cost. A hero is one who takes whatever they have, and uses it for the benefit of others to the point where they themselves, have given everything they have in the process of helping another. Christ, of course, is the only perfect Hero.

Ironman 3 gives Tony Stark  a chance to become a true hero. In the previous two films he has done his thing of zipping around, beating up a few bad guys, and calling it a day. In this movie, it is different. Tony doesn’t always have his suit, and the bad guys aren’t exactly easy to find or beat up. Tony discovers something in this film that he hadn’t realized years past.

“My suit was never a distraction or a hobby. It was a cocoon. And I’m a new man.” ~Tony Stark~

To be honest, I wanted to like this movie. I wanted to see Tony becoming a hero we could emulate, like we see in The Dark Knight Rises. I wanted to see that new man who choose once, just once, to do something not for himself. After pondering this film over the weekend with the various quotes and actions Tony makes, I can say this new man isn’t really that new. Refurbished might be the better term. In reality, Tony is the same guy, just humbled and puts himself back together again. I look at his actions for Pepper, and see they are self serving, not self sacrificial.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie has some excellent teaching points regarding pride, the importance of our interactions with others, and the destruction greed can bring. It brings up interesting points on Bioethics, government, and business. Conversely, It also reveals foolish sensuality, crude speech, and ups the ante yet again in terms of violent content.

So if you go see this movie, don’t go expecting to see Ironman turned into a true superhero, like I did. But rather, Expect to see Ironman made into… a man. A man who learns he isn’t invincible, but fails to realize the value of selfless living. That’s what makes this movie, more or less, like the suits Tony tinkers with. Sure they have purpose, they teach lessons, and they have the flash, bang, and sizzle we’ve come to expect from films like this. But open the suit up, and instead of  finding a hero just as incredible as the suit, you’ll find it hollow. Wanting of someone more than the person who made it.