Friday, December 18, 2015

Toy Story (1995) 20 Year Anniversary

On November 22, 1995, Toy Story, a revolutionary film premiered.
I remember seeing that film in theaters and being amazed by the story. It was the first film to be fully computer animated, the beginning of a animation revolution. The story was creative and relate-able. I saw a lot of myself in Andy, an imaginative child who loves his toys.
What child could not relate to Andy and the games he played?
What child hasn't imagined his/her toys coming to life?... See More

P2 (2007) Learning Priorities for Christmas

Imagine the terror of being locked in a dark parking garage with only the light of your small cell phone to guide you. No friends. No car. No reception. No way to contact the outside world.
Such a unique scenario is the basis of this Christmas thriller. It is Christmas Eve, and Angela, a workaholic executive, is the last to leave the office... as usual. The last thing she suspects when she clocks out and walk to her car is that she would spend half the night trapped in that garage with a mentally unstable security guard named Thomas. See More

Holiday In Handcuffs (2007) Owning Her Calling

Call me a sap, but I rate Holiday in Handcuffs as one of my favorite Christmas films. Despite its TV Movie status, it is a brilliant comedy/romance.
Trudy is a struggling artist/waitress with an insufferable family. They are so insufferable that she dreads the idea of joining them for Christmas with nothing to impress them. She fails at an interview with a promising job, and she hasn't yet established herself as an artist. Her only hope in surviving the holidays is her successful boyfriend... until he dumps her. See More

Pan (2015) Neverland’s Savior

In light of the Christmas season, Pan wouldn't appear to be of much relevance. On the surface it is a fantastical origin story of one of the most famous Disney stories of all time, Peter Pan.
The original Peter Pan is the story of a strange flying boy who takes three English children to his home world, Neverland, in an attempt to keep them together. Neverland is a world of which every child dreams. Magic, tree houses, waterfalls, mermaids, Indians, pirates, fairies, and above all, the opportunity to stay young and carefree forever. See More

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Big Hero 6 (2014) Living Through Legacy

Hiro is a fourteen year old genius with purpose or direction. He spends his time engaging in illegal robot fighting, and the only guiding force in his life is his older brother, Tadashi. Both young men are raised most of their lives by their single aunt after their parents tragically pass away.

Fortunately, Tadashi is able to to convince his difficult little brother to pursue a more productive path and using his genius for good by joining him at college. The science department of this college requires revolutionary, life-changing inventions of its students.

One such invention is Tadashi's health care robot, Baymax.

Unfortunately, Tadashi meets an untimely demise, and Hiro slips into a deep depression.

Baymax in his own objective, unsubtle way is able to continue Tadashi's work in keeping Hiro off a destructive path. Hiro's develops the need to avenge his brother while Baymax's only goal is to keep Hiro safe and healthy.

Neither one expect this path would lead to a team of super heros, but there you go.

Throughout the film, Hiro meets a series of challenges that test his character, especially when faced with the opportunity to seek revenge against the man responsible for Tadashi's death. With Baymax's guidance he might have failed.

Baymax serves as a guardian angel, and he continues Tadashi's work in providing correct guidance to Hiro. Baymax keeps Hiro happy, productive, peaceful, and safe. Ultimately, he follows in Tadashi's footsteps in self-sacrifice for the good of others. By then, Hiro no longer needs guidance. He takes control of his own life and follows his brother's footsteps in the goal to invent and keep people safe.

Big Hero 6 is a incredible story with both hilarious and heart-breaking moments.

Most importantly, it leaves a haunting question: If I died today, what influence, what impression, what legacy, would I leave behind?

God made us all with a purpose and limited time to fulfill it.

Tadashi had two purposes: inventing Baymax and guiding his brother down a moral path. He is productive enough to fulfill them before his time comes to an end.

Are you?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Goosebumps (2015) Tearing down walls

Goosebumps is a fantastical story with a brilliant mix of humor and horror where every monster from every Goosebumps book comes to life.

The film opens on a new kid in town. It becomes immediately evident that he struggles with the many changes in his life. The move from the great city of New York to a small town in Delaware is hard enough, but it's even worse that his own mother works at his new school or that his new friend is the most awkward boy in school. However, all of these things pale in comparison to the recent death of his father.

In such a situation, it would be expected to the poor boy to wall himself off to the people close to him, but his walls are nothing compared to the walls put up by his neighbor. He is rude, controlling, and very secretive. What can Zach make of it?

The last things he would have suspected is that his reclusive neighbor is none other than famous children's horror author R.L.Stine. In his house, Zach discovers a bookshelf filled with manuscripts. Each one harbors a real monster. Each monster is written into existence though Stine's anger at the world and his desire to hurt it.

It is not until his wish comes true and the monsters are released upon Madison and he is forced to team up with Zach, Champ, and his daughter Hanna that he realizes the true value of real relationships. Once he lets go of his anger at the world is he able to save it from his own creations. He writes his own story in which he traps his monsters once and for all, and he emerges a changed man.

Through their adventure, Stine and Zach help each other tear down their walls and move forward with happy, open lives. They both find love. They both make friends. They both develop a deep respect for each other.

Goosebumps is much like the books it represents with humor, horror, twists, and above all personal growth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Backstrom (2015) Brilliant Detective or Hopeless Case?

Rainn Wilson makes an incredible performance as Lt. Everette Backstrom, an unhealthy, unhappy detective who leads a specialized crime unit in Portland, OR.
The show only survived thirteen episodes, but it was a very entertaining one season.
Backstrom is a genius. He solves every case put before him mostly with his sheer instincts and a unique empathy for the suspects. However, the has many serious demons ranging from an abusive father to a broken heart.
He breaks the rules.
He is rude and offensive.
He has a multitude of diseases. 
He is a drunk.
He partakes in unhealthy foods.
All in all, he is man on death's door.
However, there is still something that makes us route for him. I think deep down, we envy his shameless directness.
To address the ever present question:
Does his drive to bring justice to murder victims justify his outrageous behavior?
I think the real question is what could his doctor, staff, and loved ones do to save him from himself?
Throughout the season, they do a great job in looking out for him. They challenge him and don't let him bully them. Most importantly, they are loyal to him. Despite how hopelessly he acts, they never leave his side.
Surprisingly, their efforts win out in the finale where he finally admits his faults and seeks the help he needs. The finale's ending scene could not have been more moving. I cannot watch it without crying. Somehow, I am left with the feeling that Backstrom will be all right as long as his colleagues remain by his side.
There is no such thing as a hopeless case. We are all subject to change due to our experiences and the people we keep close. We all evolve over time whether it be for better or for worse.
Backstrom was able to change for the better. Can you?

Dr. Phil (2002 - Present) Fourteen Years Strong

The fourteenth season the The Dr. Phil Show premiered in September, and already it's proving to be a compelling year. Of all the shows to be on air for over a decade, Dr. Phil absolutely deserves to be. And I hope to see fourteen more.
Dr. Phil is my hero. In the four years I have frequented his show, he has taught me more about how to handle the problems in my life than anyone else has in my life's entirety.
Here are a few of his characteristics that I admire:
1. He cannot be intimidated.
2. He has zero tolerance for abusers and bullies.
3. He hates drama.
4. His key interest lies with achieving a peaceful, healthy living for all of his guests.
5. He is not afraid to stand up for himself, his family, and his staff.
6. He is incredibly generous.
7. His language is clean, objective, and clear.
After watching his show for four years and striving to follow his example, I feel as if I have become a better person. Now, I have a goal in life to set these examples for those around me, especially for my nieces and nephew. I can only pray that I have a fraction of the success that Dr. Phil has had.
God bless this amazing man and his campaign to make the world a better place.
Stay tuned on OWN for his daily episodes. Also visit his website for the multitude of services and resources available.

Halloween Wars (2011-2015) An Exciting Halloween Treat

I look forward to this program every year. Its seasons have simple four episode seasons that air every week for the month of October. Food Network's Halloween Wars follows five teams as they compete for a $50,000 grand prize. Each team is comprised of three masters: a pumpkin carver, cake decorator, and sugar artist. Together, they create huge, mind-blowing displays that will either make them or break them.
The third episode, Grave Robber, of its fifth season premieres tonight at 9pm. Bex Taylor-Klaus will guest judge the three remaining teams.
Next week, the exciting finale, Undead Dinner Party, that will determine Season Five's winning team with the infamous Elvira as guest judge.
This season has already had so many exciting moments, including a tumble that nearly caused a team to lose their display. However, they were able to piece it back together in time and pull through to the next round.
This is one of the things I love most about the show. It is a true test of character. Every season I witness contestant snap under the pressure these challenges bring. This affects their ability to work well with others, and their art suffers for it. Meanwhile, the teams that work well together make the best creations and ultimately win the contests.
The next two episodes promise to be as exciting as the last. I look forward to seeing them as much as I look forward to the seasons to come. May there be many. The next episode airs tonight at 9/8c on Food Network. Tune in for an evening of creativity and fun.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Facing Inner Demons

The remake of this classic horror films surpasses the original, a genuinely terrifying and suspenseful story. It is one of my favorite horror films of all time. The cinematography is absolutely brilliant making it almost impossible to tell the difference between the real world and their dream worlds.
A group of teenagers with a shared secretive history all become haunted by the same dark figure, an evil ghost who seeks to punish them all for causing his own demise. However, he can only attack them in their dreams. As long as they stay awake, they are safe.
However, the body needs sleep. Sooner or later, they all fall asleep. Their attempts to avoid and deny their affliction cannot last for long. Not only that, but they make matters worse by isolating themselves and pushing away their friends. Not coffee, energy drinks, prescription drugs, or even adrenaline can keep them awake.
This monster picks them off one by one until there remain only two. Confronting this monster is inevitable. So, the remaining two, Nancy and Quentin, embark on a journey to find the truth behind this gruesome figure, and what they find is unspeakable. However, the truth also gives them the motivation to destroy this demon once and for all.
It is not until they destroy him that they are able to find peace and get their much needed rest. These unfortunate young people are unable to suppress the truth. Their ignorance and isolation cost many of them their lives.
Nancy and Quentin are only spared because they work together and find the truth. Not only do they face their demon, but they tackle it head on.

The Expectations of Love.

Recently, I found myself in a moment of conflict between my Christian self and my family self. As a Christian I believe in forgiveness. I believe in active communication. I believe in building bridges. I believe in a love without conditions.
So, what can I do when I witness time and again a "fellow believer" who not only refuses to forgive, but even worse, refuses to give the injured party the opportunity to reach out?
Clearly, this is a violation of the fundamentals of God's message.
God forgave us through Jesus Christ. No questions. No conditions.
As a follower of Christ, I feel compelled to show that same grace to those in my own life, which at times has not been easy. Some people have needed a lot of it. However, I do it very willingly, because I belong to a mission greater than myself. I belong to God, and God love.
1 Corinthians 13 says, "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures though every circumstance." (NLT)
To the people with whom I have this problem, I say you must forgive. You must mend the breach. At the very least, I would implore to stop the gossip. If don't have the courage to say it to targets of your words, then you have no business talking about it to others. They don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it.
Even if you were as wronged as you claim, you still need to talk through it directly. You owe it to God. You owe it to them. You owe it to yourself.
Colossians 3:13 says, "Make allowance for each other's fault, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." (NLT)
Do the right thing. Mend the breach.

HACKED AGAIN

Yesterday, I encountered the third of however many more hack attempts on my website. Fortunately, it was also one of two FAILED attempts. So, the only thing I suffered was the stall of my Goosebumps preview.
At first, I would tell myself these attacks reflect how well I've been doing my job. The things I write are meant to challenge my readers, and I can't help if people feel uncomfortable with my words. In fact, they should feel uncomfortable.
On the other hand, I also wonder if there is something else these attackers want from me. It can't be money, because everything I provide on this website is free of charge.
I may never know what they want from me.
The important thing is that I remain secure. Idetentity theft and internets hacks are a very real threat. It is imperative that we understand this and take drastic measures to protect ourselves.
The second thing I want my attackers to know is that they can never and will never stop me. As long as the Lord inspires me, I will continue to write, whether it be through Christ in Culture or some other media.
God gave me this gift. I was born with this calling. Writing was my focus in college. I even write novels in my spare time. I will never stop writing. So, bring it on. I am not afraid of you. Your attempts to cripple me have failed and will continue to fail. Even if you do succeed in hacking Christ In Culture, you will gain nothing from it.
To my readers, I continue to urge you to stay safe. Always stay safe. Change your passwords regularly. Stay off shady websites. Scan your computers for virises, malware, and spyware.
For more details on internet security, please regard my previous post about security.

Goosebumps (2015) In theaters Friday

The Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine played a big part of my childhood. There were very popular, and I absolutely loved them. Each book is a gem filled with scary, intriguing, and even funny. So, you can imagine my excitement the first time I saw the trailer for the upcoming film.
The brilliant and entertaining Jack Black plays R.L. Stine, author turned professor who spends his time away from the classroom secluded in his home with his young daughter. He is a defensive, secretive man.
What kind of secret does he harbor?
A secret that two boys investigate when they stopped by for a visit. A secret that brings his books to life. A secret that takes them on a fantastical mission to save the town (and the world) from all of his monsters.
Will they succeed? The only way to find out is to see the film, which premieres in theaters on Friday.
Goosebumps promises to be a magical, funny, and action-filled film that I look forward to seeing. Keep updated for the full review.

Ex_Machina (2015) Playing With Fire

Ex_Machina is a mystery that can boggle with the mind. Artificial Intelligence is growing more possible with the progression of technology. However, we must be conscious of just how intelligent our robots become. It is a dangerous road to walk.
This is a lesson Nathan unfortunately learns the hard way. Nathan, an arrogant man who idealizes himself Godlike, invents his own Artificial Intelligence named Eva. It is the first of her kind and the most intelligent and lifelike robot of its time.
But to play God is to play with fire.
Even more dangerous than the robot is the game Nathan decides to play with it. He uses young and lonely Caleb to interact with it in order to subject him to its manipulation.
How far would it go to escape? Or to survive?
What Nathan fails to realize is the answer to those questions:
As far as it takes.
Eva may be intelligent, but it is alien to any human emotion. It has no sense of right and wrong. It possesses no empathy, love, or kindness. All it possesses is the insatiable will to survive.
Unleashed upon the world, and we have a recipe for disaster. It would have all the appearance of a human, all manipulative powers of a woman, and no conscience.
Nathan plays with fire in his attempt to play God and pays the ultimate price. This ending left me feeling outraged. His fate is unnecessary, but it is a fate he brings upon himself.
However, it also gives me a sense of awe. Nathan's failures act as evidence to the absolute complexities of a human structure. It is a feat only God can achieve. We as humans are His greatest work of art. Treasured, loved, and impossible to replicate.
Praise be to Him.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jurassic World (2015) When will they learn?


My first impression of this film was, “When will they learn?!”

For this is the fourth Jurassic film, the fourth time these people attempt to play God, and the fourth complete disaster.

This time, the creators of Jurassic World somehow manages to successfully and safely run the park for several years. With every passing year, the scientists become bolder with their experiments and creations. Bigger. Scarier. More teeth. Their greed is insatiable. The pressure is crushing.

The amount of research and funding going into this theme park should enough to raise eye brows. It begs the question: what is their real goal here?

It is unfortunate that the answers don't come until after disaster strikes putting thousands of innocent lives at risk. The purpose of these experimented animals goes far beyond mere entertainment. There is indeed a much more sinister plan in place. Certain people from within the program blissfully seek to use these animals as weapons, “assets”, and something to control.

However, it becomes quickly evident that the risk is far greater than the rewards. In order for them to become effective weapons, they would need to be controlled. These animals could never be controlled. Otherwise, the animals can and do turn on them in a heart beat, thus becoming an enemy instead of an asset.

The island of Jurassic World turns from a theme park into a terrifying Pandora's Box, and many people pay the price. Only the few characters who treat the animals with fear and respect they deserve manage to secure their own safety. They come to realize how dangerous it is to play with nature.

If only everyone could learn that lesson. The devastating cliffhanger suggests there is more to come...

How many more will it take? At least one more.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Beastly (2011)

Galatians 6:2-3 says, “Share each others burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

It is an interesting modern take on the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast. Kyle is a handsome young man with a superficial girlfriend, a rich father and a bad attitude. He spends his days verbally assaulting and embarrassing the downcast and less fortunate. One day, he picks on the wrong girl who casts an unreal spell on him in return. He becomes a scarred, tattooed “freak”.

Peel back the layers, and we find he is only the product of his father's own selfish, superficial beliefs. The same father who exiles him to a secluded location as soon as he loses his physical beauty. The same father who is willing to stop at nothing to restore his appearance even at the risk of his safety. The same father who hires a blind tutor for him and a private maid.

Thus begins the most important lesson of life. His condition forces him to look at people for who they are instead of how they look. The only to break the spell is to achieve the love of a girl who can not only see past his physical appearance, but who is also worthy of his love. The only way to achieve this goal is to first strip away his father's terrible conditioning and teach him to feel empathy and humility.

Empathy comes from experience. 

It is his new found empathy that makes him fall in love with Sloan. As they spend time together, he realizes they have more in common than he thought. Stripped of his father's conceit, it turns out they are a match made in Heaven. His real challenge is making her see that. Can she see past his mutilation into his newly discovered heart?

Actions speak louder than words. He sacrifices his hope of being restored in order to give a chance at her own goal. That is the ultimate act of love. Love is selfless. Love is not hesitating to make sacrifices. Love is to discover how petty our own desires are in comparison to the needs of others. Only by sacrificing his appearance to give Sloan a meaningful future can the spell be broken. 

And it is. In his willingness to set her free, she finally professes her love for him. Not only is his outer beauty restored, but his inner self becomes just as beautiful as his outer self. 

This is a lesson from which we can all learn. Our inner beauty must surpass our outer beauty. We must show others empathy, kindness, and selflessness. We are all brothers and sisters. Sooner or later, we all face hard times.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all had someone in our lives on whom we can rely?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Inside Out (2015) An Emotional Roller Coaster

The new Pixar film, Inside Out, premiered June 19th. It is a fantastic story that explores some very complex theories about human psychology. In a nutshell: Though our emotions drive our decisions, it is our experiences that make our personality.


Such is the case for eleven year old Riley and her emotional struggle during a very stressful, devastating  move. She loses her best friend, a beautiful home, and her favorite hobby. In that process, any memory of her otherwise happy past begin to turn blue.



Such a loss would devastate any child. With such a loss, any parent would understand a child's despair. Instead, Riley's mother pressures her into hiding her sadness and being happy.


Thus begins the struggle between Joy and Sadness, two of Riley's five emotions, but something goes terribly wrong when both of them fall into Riley's subconscious leaving Anger, Fear, and Disgust in charge.


Without Joy, Sadness, and all five of Riley's core memories, Riley loses her personalities. All she can do is express her remaining emotions, and it's not pretty. She gets herself into trouble, even tries to run away, a decision that nearly plunges her into complete darkness.



There only way to save Riley from becoming completely catatonic. No only must Joy accept Sadness as her equal, but she must allow Sadness to drive Riley through her challenging times. Joy must relinquish control.


Without sadness there cannot be joy. Without joy there cannot be sadness. Unlike the other three, sadness and joy need each other, which is why they are both lost together. They are both recovered together. They even share the same eye and hair color, much like sisters.



In the end, all five emotions find a way to work together instead of fighting for control, and Riley is able to progress to a new level of maturity because of it.


Pixar does a fabulous job in the creation of this film. I could literally feel every emotion that Riley feels: joy, fear, anger, disgust, and most of all, sadness. I can't watch the end without crying. It is a colorful roller coaster from start to finish.



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monk (2002 – 2009) The Ultimate Love Story

Monk remains one of my favorite crime series of all time. The story of Adrian Monk, a brilliant detective plagued with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His personality makes him very difficult to deal with. However, he has an incredible attention to detail that makes him invaluable to the San Francisco Police Department.

Police work is all he knows. All he has. All that keeps him functional. Adrian Monk is a man with a strong sense of purpose. He knows what he can do, he does it well, and he does it with the best intentions. No obstacle is too big in his search for truth. Public opinion doesn't matter to him. People try and fail to intimidate and threaten him. He takes no bribes. Not even his crippling fear of germs can stop him. When it comes to saving lives and bringing justice, he sets aside everything to achieve his goals.

His work ethic is inspiring, especially with his ultimate mystery. Who killed his wife? It takes him twelve long years and a murder attempt, but he solves it nonetheless. In those twelve years, he shows an unyielding devotion to Trudy. Even though she has passed on, Monk only explores three possible relationships, but they do not work. The idea of being with any other woman than Trudy is inconceivable to him. He loves her too much. Her untimely demise nearly destroys him.

He is just as devoted to Trudy before they meet as he is after she passes away. He remains virtuous until their marriage, and he remains faithful to her right up to the finale. Meanwhile, he treats every other woman he encounters with dignity and respect, especially his assistants Sharona and Natalie. He is a perfect gentleman if ever I saw one.

People don't understand Adrian Monk, because he struggles with interaction. He can also be obsessive and difficult to work with. However, it is a small price to pay considering the service he provides. Never in my life have I seen someone with such a strong devotion. To his wife. To his colleagues. To his work. And to every murder victim to whom he brings justice.

Adrian Monk inspires me. He is the embodiment of the phrase, actions speak louder than words. He has taught me to embrace my own anti-social, hyper-observant personality as long as I use it for good.

Though the show has been off the air for the past six years, I remain a fan of the show. I will always love Adrian Monk. It is the kind of show that will never age.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ant-Man (2015) A Story of Redemption

Ant-Man is a brilliant addition to the Marvel Super-hero franchise. It acts as a stand-alone, but it also ends with a tease of merging with the Avengers stories.

Scott Lang begins as a convict struggling to rebuild his life and reestablish a relationship with his daughter. He is also a highly educated man and a brilliant engineer, which is what makes him so good at burglary. When he reaches a point of absolute desperate conditions, he makes a wrong decision to return to his criminal ways.

However, the burglary leads him down an unbelievable path; an opportunity for redemption. Dr. Hank Pym, the inventor of the Ant-Man suit, joins forces with Scott to stop the evil Darren Cross from weaponizing his invention. Dr. Pym is one of very few people who sees value and potential in Scott enough to trust him with his greatest invention. No one else in Scott's life is willing to give him a second chance at life. A chance to make his daughter proud. A chance to be a hero.

However, Scott is not the only person in need of redemption. Dr. Pym on a journey to right his wrongs. Wrongs he can only right with the help of Ant-Man. For it is his research and technology that run the risk of falling into the wrong hands. If so, the consequences have catastrophic potential. All the more reason for Dr. Pym to find the perfect person to bear the responsibility of the suit.

The movie subtly expresses four aspects of being a proper hero.

1. The Suit: The suit is designed to shrink a person to the size of an ant. It makes the person as strong as an ant, and it is resilient to physically protect the person. The suit also includes equipment enabling the person to communicate with ants, thus making millions of allies.

2. Intelligence: Scott is a brilliant man. His experience in engineering and understanding of how things work grant him the ability to infiltrate several buildings successfully and discreetly. He is able to learn the exact timing of shrinking and regrowing. Most importantly, he knows how to improvise a solution when his suit goes subatomic, and he is nearly wiped from existence.

3. He's Disposable: Dr. Pym has a capable daughter. Why does he overlook her in favor of a stranger? She struggles to understand why her father disregards her. What she fails to realize is because he loves her that he cannot bear the thought of endangering her life. Dr. Pym has no emotional connection to Scott, which makes him a better candidate for dangerous work.

4. Heart: Scott's passion for justice is so strong that it becomes not only the cause of his earlier incarceration, but also the drive to risk his own life to save others. His love drives him to sacrifice, and that is the most heroic quality of all.

Ant-Man is unique, because it is a member of the Marvel franchise. At the same time, it stands alone. As unlikely as it appears, I would love to see more of him in upcoming Marvel films.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pixels

Pixels is a story of the mother of all misunderstandings.

When NASA sends a recording of an 80's video game tournament into outer space, they have no idea it would reach alien life, let alone give the impression of a war declaration. However, that is exactly what happens.

Though we never see these beings in person, they prove they have superior intelligence. They study the package down to the letter. They learn English. They learn animation techniques. They even learn the the rules and “battle strategies” of our video games. They create perfect replicas of these games. They are also moral and otherwise peaceful beings. Their methods are non- lethal, and they follow the rules of our games.

By the time Earth figures out what is even happening, it is far too late to negotiate. We have no choice but to defend ourselves. The countries of Earth must pull together using unorthodox, nonlethal weapons to save humanity. Soldiers work with gaming champions in order to win lifelike video games.

The problem lies with a language barrier. When that kind of issue occurs, the last thing one wants is to make the wrong impression. Every piece of information put into that package would make a very strong impression. What kind of impression does NASA chose to make? Fighting, battle, war. No wonder the alien beings misinterpret the message. 

What kind of message could we have sent that would avoid misunderstandings?

LOVE.

For Paul say in 2 Corinthians 13:11, “...Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Violet Van Patten's love for her son pushes her through the Donkey Kong battle causing her to save him.

Love and respect for himself breaks Sam Brenner out of his numerical methods and help him to have faith in his instincts. 
Love for his country and his people give President Will Cooper the courage to embrace unorthodox methods, trust his friends' expertise, and personally engage in combat despite the ridicule of the press and his colleagues.

Loves saves Ludlow Lamonsoff in a sword fight with his video games idol, Lady Lisa. Unable to destroy the woman he loves (as unreal as she is), he lays down his guns, which leads her to lay down her swords and join his side in combat.

It is love for their fellow humans that brings the people of Earth together to defeat the alien forces and ultimately brings peace between the two races. The aliens gladly go home, the damage by the pixels is restored, and Earth remains free. 


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

We're the Millers

How far would you go to dig yourself out of a financial hole?

A very important question in today's struggling society.

In the film, We're the Millers, we meet four desperate people: David, who is wiped clean in a brutal robbery, Rose, who is wiped clean by her shady ex-boyfriend, Kenny, an innocent boy with a neglectful mother, and Casey, an angry teenage runaway.

Each one with a tragic story. Each one feeling lost and alone. Each one unaware of how much they long for a true family.

When David's Drug Lord of a boss presents a supposed “opportunity of a lifetime”, they all feel as if they have no other choice than to accept it. However, the risk becomes increasingly greater than the promised reward. The more time they spend together, the more like a real family they feel.

Until a slight oversight made by David sticks them in a situation where they require assistance. Cue the Fitzgeralds, a devout Christian family with an unnatural regard for following the law. They are not only a nightmare for “the Millers, but they are also a threat the entire operation. Their “opportunity of a lifetime”. At the same time, they are a kind family who offers the Miller help with ZERO expectations for anything in return.

The Fitzgeralds are kind, open, giving, and trusting people. They are the embodiment of true Christ followers. Their love instills a change in this makeshift family where they finally experience what they are all missing and unknowingly long for. Not only do the Millers learn to embrace, but they begin to express it among each other. One night with the Fitzgeralds gives the Millers a lasting impression.

For love is contagious.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.”

The things we do, the mood we share, make a lasting impression on those around us. As the Fitzgeralds' cheerful ministry is indeed medicine to these broken spirits. It is a message powerful enough to pull the Millers away from their path of destruction and accept a true chance at redemption. A chance to do the right thing instead of relying a false message that lies in this “opportunity”. Above all, a chance to legitimize their family.

We're the Millers is a beautiful story hidden under a shell of vulgarity. Some might find that disturbing, but not me. Such is the world. Vulgarity is everywhere. People swear. People steal. People break the law. People neglect and abuse their children. Look through it to the message beneath.

The real question remains. What can the church do the break into this vulgar world and make it better? Where are all the Fitzgeralds? Where is the ministry we've all been called to do?

Sources: 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Seventh Son

Based on the book by Joseph Delaney, Seventh Son is an exciting, fantastical story of good vs. evil. Thomas Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, becomes the recruit of Master Gregory, the last witch hunter call a Spook, after the escape of Mother Malkin, the queen of witches.

She immediately launches a campaign to eliminate all Spooks and rule the world. Unfortunately for Thomas and Gregory, they are the last of the Spooks. Even more unfortunately, Thomas must learn everything necessary to become a Spook in one week.

Time isn't the only thing working against them. While the two struggle with training, Mother Malkin assembles an army of witches, warlocks, and other dark creatures to ambush the two Spooks and the villages that support them.

Can two men compete with a powerful legion?

While his paternity is no mystery, his maternity comes as to a complete surprise. Thomas is one of a kind, a seventh son and the son of a witch. He represents the union of two competing worlds. This mix makes him more powerful than any other Spook. He is the only one with the power to defeat the dark forces working against him. He is the only one capable of wielding weapons belongs to both Spooks and witches. The combination of both weapons enables him to defeat darkness.

Being the child of both worlds, Thomas struggles to chose a side. His heart is compassionate. He does not allow prejudice to determine his actions. He cannot even bring himself to kill his supposed enemies. He is the only one compassionate enough not to express a prejudice against the world of which he is unfamiliar unlike Gregory with his prejudice against witches and Malkin with her prejudice against humans.

No good comes from such an attitude. One prejudice cannot fix or replace another. Thomas' unique situation grants everyone around him the opportunity to overcome prejudice entirely. For it is prejudice that leads to hate, and that hate leads to darkness. Mother Malkin fancies herself a queen of darkness. In truth, she is a slave to it, and it inevitably consumes her until she falls.

Scripture gives us such a warning: "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death." (Proverbs 14:12

Our choices make us what we are. Not our heritage. Not our gifts. Not even our teachers. If we do not choice a path of compassion, understanding and love, then the choices we make may lead down a path of darkness and destruction.



Sources:
Official Website, Bible Gateway, IMDB


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hitman: Agent 47

Katia Delriego is a woman with a uncertain past, a dangerous present, and indefinite future. She lives most of her life with no guidance and only a blurry photograph for direction. Her only skills are her keen senses that enable her to survive. She has no idea who is really is or what she is capable of.

Agent 47 is a man with superior skills after a life of nothing but guidance. His entire life with one purpose, a questionable purpose. So much so that his final mission is to put an eternal end to the program that created him, including eliminating its creator and his daughter.

However, something changes when the two are united. Instead of killing her, he takes her under his wing by protecting and teaching her. The humanity we are believed not to exist in him makes a full broadcast.

It begs the question. Can a man truly be stripped of his conscience and ability to make choices? Our ability to make choices is what makes us human. Free will is a gift from God. This allows us to think for ourselves. Make our own conclusions. Answer to our own conscience. Live our own lives.

Without it, we may as well be God's little puppets. We are not puppets. Not to any person. Not to any organization. Certainly not to God. Agent 47 is a story about two people who discover their free will and take control of their own lives.

Just like Agent 47, we are called to evaluate our lives, repent, and make changes. Agent 47 makes a choice to cherish Katia's life instead of ending it. Though he disobeyed his orders and lost his job, he is granted a partner and the chance at a real life. That is something on which you cannot place a price tag.

Sources: Fox Movies, IMDB


Friday, August 21, 2015

Ashley Madison client list leaked.

Scripture is abundantly clear about the negative consequences of infidelity.
One such verse states, "Run from sexual sin! No other sin affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body." (1 Cor 6:18)

So, far be it for me to condone a website that profits off of infidelity. Even farther would I pity the people whose identities were hacked in this Ashley Madison scandal. If one is foolish enough to cheat, they would be even more foolish to leave a financial trail.

It is my general belief to always stay safe online. You can never be too careful.
In that light, anyone willing to pay online for immoral services reap what they sow, especially when hacking is such an immanent threat.

I've mentioned this before when my website was one of the many that was hacked by the Russian mob last September. It is imperative to remain secure online.

For more information, Check the Cable is a source for security tips.

My own tip is simple: RESPECT YOUR SPOUSE. Never cheat.

At the same time, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and we are required to show grace and forgive.

Christ says, "Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive." (Luke 17:4)

That leaked list can turn into quite a slippery slope. One could easily become obsessed with finding a familiar name of it. I won't even look at it. I would recommend you do not do the same. The only way to fight these hackers is to show a refusal to support them.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Scream Analysis: Who is the killer?

Growing up, it was one of my favorite horror franchises. Though an obvious satire, I found it to have an unique mix of mystery, suspense, terror, and humor. With each sequel, I was always left surprised at the final reveal. Naturally, I found myself intrigued at the announcement of the new series.
Though the acting leaves something to be desired and none of the original characters are present, the mystery hooked me.
Who on Earth could the killer (or killers) be?
First thing we must do is deconstruct the typical Scream characteristics:
  1. Most importantly, it is self-aware.
  2. All films except the third provide a killing duo. So, that can be a certain possibility for the series.
  3. All films repeat the same character types:
    • Sidney, the victim
    • Randy, the horror film enthusiast friend
    • Gale, the ambitious reporter
    • Duey, the cop 
    • Other minor characters (not all repeated but present in the series include the missing father, the mother and her incredibly complicated past, and the suspicious boyfriend.
  4. The films never repeat a character type for the killer.
     Scream 1 – the boyfriend and the creepy friend
     Scream 2 – a “reporter”/ the boyfriend’s vengeful mother and a horror enthusiast.
     Scream 3 – Sidney’s secret half-brother/film director.
     Scream 4 – the remake of the Randy and the remake of Sidney. (True, she is a relative as well, but that only gives the remake Sidney a connection to the true Sidney.)
With this in mind, we can naturally rule out these character types for the series.
Here is what we know about the killer:
  • He/she knows every secret in town, including the identity of the mysterious “Daisy”. 
  • He/she is incredibly tech savvy with skills in hacking computers and security cameras.
  • He/she is strong and fit.
  • He/she is obsessed with Emma and her mother.
  • He/she began the murders directly after an act of cyber bullying, which also happened to be after the sheriff’s son came to town.
At this point, the killer could be anyone. I am not ready to rule out any of them. As always, I expect to be surprised to see who the killer really is.
My theory is that all the extra stuff happening in this series that did not appear in the film is a bunch of fluff meant to distract us from the real format. This includes the cyber-bully video, blackmail secrets, teacher-student scandal, and Brandon James kill spree. Keep true to the franchise and focus on the parallel characters. It is there I hope to find the killer(s).
Last week, we were sad to see the boyfriend character eliminated. There are only two episode left before the finale when the killer(s) is/are revealed. What suspect will be eliminated tomorrow night when the next episode airs?