Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

My Review of THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

The House With a Clock In Its Walls, rated PG
***

The House With a Clock In Its Walls is a PG rated dark, mysterious, creative and a bit wacky fantasy film, with some content concerns for Christian parents. The film is directed by Eli Roth (Hostel) in his first film not rated “R”. The screenplay is written by Eric Kripke based on the 1973 young adult novel by John Bellairs.
The film is set in 1955 in the small town of New Zebedee, Michigan. Ten-year-old Lewis, played by Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home, Daddy’s Home 2), is orphaned, his parents having died in a car accident. He is then sent to live in a mysterious Victorian mansion filled with clocks with his eccentric uncle Jonathan, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Jack Black (Bernie, The School of Rock) who was excellent in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Lewis eventually finds out that his uncle he has never known is a warlock and his uncle’s best friend and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman, played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), is a witch.   Lewis asks his uncle to teach him magic, which he reluctantly agrees to. Continue reading

Advertisements


Leave a comment

My Review of JUMANJI: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, rated PG-13
***

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an action comedy that is very entertaining, but has some mild content concerns, and will be too scary for very young viewers. The film is directed by Golden Globe nominee Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), and the screenplay is written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. The film is considered a sequel to the 1995 film starring Robin Williams.
The film opens in 1996. A man finds a Jumanji board game on the beach. He takes it home to his teenage son and overnight the board game turns into a video game version. The movie then fast-forwards twenty years. Four teens, two boys and two girls are serving detention after school in a Bratford, New Hampshire high school. The school principal instructs them to clean up a storage room. As they begin to do so they come upon the Jumanji video game, and they plug it in. Rather than cleaning the room, the teens decide to play the game, with each picking one of the game’s avatars. Instantly, they find themselves transported to the Jumanji jungle (the jungle scenes were filmed in Hawaii), where they show up as the avatar they chose.
This is all played for laughs as the nerdy Spencer is now in the muscular body of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone; the female Instagram loving Bethany is now in the body of Jack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon; the muscular football player Fridge finds himself in the body of Kevin Hart as Franklin Finbar; and the smart non-fun-loving Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse, a commando in the body of Karen Gillan.  One of the game’s characters is not available since there are just the four teens.  Will it be used later?  You’ll have to watch and see.
The objective of the game that has come to life is that the four teens are to find a giant glowing emerald that has been stolen, and return it to the forehead of a huge jaguar that has been carved out of a mountain. This would free Jumanji of a curse.
To accomplish this, the four have to work as a team and finish the game if they have any chance of getting back home. To do so, they have to overcome a number of obstacles (snakes, vicious men on motorcycles, hippos, etc.) put in their path by villain Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale). Each of the characters has three bars tattooed on their wrists, signifying that they have three lives. Each of the characters also has special powers. However, all but one of the characters also has a weakness.
I found this film to be extremely funny, especially as you see the actors playing against their own type. Jack Black had to be my favorite character, as Bethany transformed into a fat middle-aged man.
There are some concerns however. There are a number of profanities that are certainly not needed, almost all of them coming from Kevin Hart’s character, along with an abuse of Jesus’ name. It also has some anatomical humor and sexuality played for laughs.  Themes include courage, working as a team and sacrifice.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is very entertaining, but not quite family friendly.


Leave a comment

Movie Review ~ Kung Fu Panda 3

Kung Fu Panda 3Kung Fu Panda 3
**

In this third film in the Kung Fu Panda series, Jack Black returns as Po, the Dragon Warrior leader of the Furious Five (Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane and Viper), who get little screen time in this film. As the film begins, Po’s master tells him that he has taught him everything he can, now Po is to teach others. But we quickly see that is a disaster, shattering Po’s confidence.

We are then taken to a spirit world, where we see Po’s former master Oogway relaxing in bliss when he is confronted by a supernatural entity Kai, who he defeated five hundred years ago. Kai wants to rule the world and needs Oogway’s chi (an Eastern spirituality concept defined as the force that sets the world and everything in it into motion. It is also the force that sustains all things once they are created). When Kai gets Oogway’s chi, he then returns to the mortal world with a goal of taking Po’s chi so he can rule the world. Got all that straight? And this is a fun animated children’s film about a dumpling loving fat panda?

Meanwhile, Po is suffering through an identity crisis. All of this is complicated when his biological father Li shows up and takes him back to a Secret Panda Village, much to the chagrin of Po’s adopted father Mr. Ping, who has raised him for twenty years. Li tells Po he was sent by the Universe (another Eastern religion/philosophy concept). Po will need to save the world against the evil Kai.
The film includes a lot of Eastern religion/philosophy content (chi, universe, ying and yang, etc.). It was not nearly as fun or entertaining as the previous two films. Although there were a lot of children in the theatre, we didn’t hear a lot of laughter during the film, and one wonders what they make of concepts such as chi, universe and ying and yang.

Several scenes seem included just to show off 3D. Overall, we were very disappointed in the film, despite excellent animation and the stellar cast that provides the voices for the characters – returnees Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Lui, Jackie Chan, David Cross and newcomers J.K, Simmons, Bryan Cranston and Kate Hudson. The film is directed by Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh and written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger.