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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Thursday, March 27, 2014


It's no surprise by now that we are a fallen people. We've all made mistakes in the past. Most of these we move on easy from. When you were 4 you took a cookie out of the cookie jar when your mom told you not too. You bothered your little sister a little too much. Perhaps you cheated on a test once. Perhaps you lied to you parents about who broke the radio. These are things we generally move on pretty easily from as we get older.

But what about the bigger things?

We all have dark secrets. Things we'd be ashamed to let others know about. As you're reading this, perhaps that something has come to mind. Everyone has sinned, but a lot have that really big one that in their minds is the worst thing they've ever done. Something they wish they could go back in time and erase. But they can't, they just have to live with it.

Or is there something that could be done?

There's a lot of people saying something they did in the past is too horrible to be redeemed. Sure, depending on the scale, one might serve jail time for it. But often that something is more of a personal thing than outward. Many believe they don't deserve God's grace because of that sin. This is true. We don't deserve God's grace.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." ~Romans 3:23

But God is a loving God. He sent His Son to die on the Cross, therefore redeeming everything we've done. We can be redeemed if we pledge our life to Christ. No, doing that does not erase what you did. You have to live that with that decision, and sometimes it will come back to haunt you. But with Jesus, you're forgiven. You can live life knowing that you're redeemed. You can be happy, not live in the past.

Everyone has that dark sin from the past. Your parents, your pastor, your best friend, everyone has committed something so big that they wish could be erased. You are not the only one. I too live each day knowing the error of what I did in the past. But when I asked Jesus to come into my life, that sin, and all my others, were washed away. They didn't disappear, but they were forgiven, which is is truly awesome. You too can have your darkest sins redeemed. Ask Christ to come into your life and He will give you


Wednesday, March 26, 2014


FROZEN is one of those movies that became a mega hit seemingly from nowhere. No one expected this much acclaim. Everyone loves it, some even calling it the best Disney musical in years. The DVD just saw release and it's selling like McDonald's hotcakes on a Saturday morning. While working the register someone actually asked if we "had the Frozen DVD," at a supermarket. That's how much it's liked by people, that they're willing to overspend at a supermarket instead of taking the trip to Wal-Mart. Anyways, I was very intrigued going into this movie. I was expecting something like Tangled, which was pretty solid in its own right. FROZEN isn't a Disney revolution, but Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee deliver a solid adventure with some unique twists.

A lot of the story is a little different than what we're used to seeing from Disney. Elsa has powers, and that's to freeze things. Sadly she accidentally freezes her sister's mind at a very young age. So, the parents bring them to the trolls for healing. The trolls heal and then warp her memory, making her remember things differently so she wouldn't know about Elsa's powers anymore. What follows is Elsa shutting out her sister, to protect her. Eventually, with their parents dead, responsibility to the kingdom falls on Elsa, and there's a coronation to celebrate her becoming queen. Sadly, she's provoked into using her powers and accidentally freezes all of Arendelle, creating an eternal winter. She escapes into the woods, unknowing of what she did. Anna journeys into the woods for a very intriguing adventure to talk to her sister.

Elsa may me the most marketed character, but it's really Anna who's the star. Both of these girls are great in their own rights. Elsa is a strong willed character afraid of hurting her sister. So she runs off and builds and icy castle for herself, thinking she's a danger to everyone else. Anna too is strong willed, and isn't afraid of danger. The sister relationship is nicely established from the intro until the end. The next major character would be Kristoff. He's not bad. Hans was perhaps the most intriguing character. He appears early on as the man Anna has been dreaming of. The film in this regard is quite brilliant. While we may laugh at the idea of someone getting engaged to someone they met the same day, the writing is smart to make Hans seem ultra genuine to the point where it seems this isn't just generic love at first sight. Then there's the plot twist...

The film didn't really have a villain, until Hans emerged. It was quite the plot twist, no one can see it coming. The generic route would be that their kiss wouldn't have worked with Anna realizing then that Kristoff was actually her true love. Thankfully directors went this route. Olaf is the little comic relief guy always making the audience laugh. He was definitely a highlight, and cemented himself as one of the best Disney creations in recent years. And who can forget the giant snow monster Marshmallow? Thanks to him the film had some much-needed action sequences. There aren't really any other notable characters to speak of. There's the Duke of Weaseltown Weselton, but his character was so ridiculous that you have to wonder how he got put in charge of Weselton. Oh, we can't forget Kristoff's reindeer, Sven. While he's no Maximus from Tangled, he was still one of the funnier characters in the whole thing.

The film's subtle scene early on of the parents dying on the ship was amazingly done. Unlike BRAVE, this film knows how to convey emotion on a grand and personal scale. One of the biggest things acclaimed is the soundtrack. This movie is part musical, so if you don't like those things, chances are the abrupt songs within scenes won't be to your liking. With that said, it's hard not to smile at a good majority of the songs. 'Let it Go' is definitely an award-winner. The film isn't that long, and doesn't feel long thanks to the solid pacing. There aren't any real major negatives to be mentioned. Some of Kristoff's lines were remarkably un-fuuny. (I'm still shuddering from his conversation to Elsa about noses...) And this could have really all been avoided if Elsa would have simply confided in Anna about why she wears the gloves. It's one of those plot things people don't understand but accept.

Overall, FROZEN was definitely solid. It's a far better movie than BRAVE ever hoped to be, and ranks with Tangled as one of Disney's modern best. Which is the better movie? It's tough, but I think I'm actually aiming more toward the latter. FROZEN does feature some more memorable characters than the former however. Elsa is a Queen, and actually the only really heroic one from Disney! Anna is much like Rapunzel from Tangled, adventurous, outgoing, and wanting to be in the outside world. It's hard not to smile whenever Olaf is on screen, and the film actually boasts a couple of impressive action sequences with Marshmallow. I don't think it's a perfect movie, but in the future it could be remembered as a Disney classic of the 21st century.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Justice League: War Review

The first arc of The New 52's Justice League will always hold a special place in my heart. If it wasn't for this big reboot, I wouldn't have been reading DC comics on a modern basis. The New 52 was a gamble, because while it did open a gateway for new readers, it risked the chance of alienating longtime fans. Fast forward three years later, and it looks like it's been a success. Flashpoint was adapted into a movie not too long ago, and the after-credits scene gave us the indication that The New 52 will be the standard for DC animated movies to come. War takes some liberties, but for the most part captures the essence of the comic, even improving on a few aspects.

The story is the origin of the Justice League. When an alien invasion hosted by a malevolent being threatens the Earth, the world's super beings must unite. Character portrayals was one of the things hotly debated when The New 52 launched. Some were great, (Cyborg) and some not so great. (Superman.) For better or worse the portrayals pretty much match their comic counterparts. Batman is by far the best character, even beating his comic book appearance. He's the leader here, and really the star, just as with the first arc. Green Lantern is somewhat annoying, but to a much lesser extent than his comic self. In fact, a lot of his comic relief scenes were actually funny.

I never liked Superman's New 52 portrayal, and still don't. He was made into trying to be an 'edgy' version of the character, and the writing ends up being more obnoxious than anything. It doesn't help that the costume used here is terrible. The comic version looks much better. (Seriously, it's by far the worst Superman look I've ever seen.) Still, I'm glad they got his strength nailed. The now classic scene in the comic where he pulverizes Batman and Green Lantern was one of the best scenes in the film. If he and Batman were to fight for real, chances are this is how it would go down. (Superman completely obliterating him.) Wonder Woman got a lot of action to herself. In fact, she may have looked the best out of the characters power-wise. I personally love her costume, I'd say it's one of the better redesigns in recent years. My complaint with her from the comic was that her dialogue was a bit cardboard. She's definitely more fun here. Despite the rather cheesy ice cream scene, she was solid.

One problem was the inclusion of Shazam. He DOES NOT belong. He was NOT in the original story, Aquaman was. Seriously, Shazam could have been written out. He's supposed to be up there with Superman in power, but out of the characters he gets pummeled by Darkseid the most. Not to mention that Billy Batson is a jerk. He's like that in the comic, so technically it's a faithful portrayal. Doesn't make him any less unlikable. The Flash is pretty normal, just like his comic self. He sadly doesn't really contribute anything besides taking out Darkseid's other eye, which I suppose makes up for his lack of doing things. Cyborg was a surprise inclusion for the story back in the day. It's hard to picture him anything other than a Teen Titan, but it works. He's one of the best written characters in the movie, and despite a limited time his emotional story with his father is fully realized.

Darkseid was an immense disappointment in the original comic. He barely had any lines and was more of a brute than tyrannical mastermind. He was basically just a big obstacle. This was definitely fixed in the movie. While he may not be as well written as his DCAU counterpart, he was for the most part solid. Steven Blum voices him, but it's hard to tell since his voice was covered with a lot of robotic overtones. Nonetheless, it's hard to not call his voice cool. Alan Tudyk as Superman doesn't fare as well sadly. He didn't sound like Superman, and it seems like he was literally just reading lines off a paper without getting into character. Jason O'Mara as Batman was pretty solid, I don'r mind that he'll be sticking around for future films. Everyone else is pretty good, beyond Superman there's no real complaints to be had with the voice acting.

There's a lot of action throughout. In fact, this one may have the most action out of any DC animated movie. Most of it is against Darkseid's minions, and those things kept coming. The climax with Darkseid was good. Since Superman was out of the game, it was interesting seeing the heroes struggle against the monster. Wonder Woman was the power hitter, though sadly Shazam did almost nothing other than power-up the Mother Box. Again, he just didn't belong and felt shoehorned in. The soundtrack is solid, it's pretty much what you'd expect. There's no standout themes, they just simply blended into the scenes they were in.

Overall, Justice League War is a fun film and pretty solid adaption of the original comic. It doesn't reach the greatness of a good majority of other DC animated movies, such as Superman: Doomsday, Batman: Under the Red Hood, The Dark Knight Returns, and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, but it's worth a watch whether you like the characters, read the original story, or never even seen or read anything DC related.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Review

The last time the Marvel Universe banded together for a world-encompassing game was in the less than stellar Ultimate Alliance 2 five years ago. (Yes we're all still wondering why The Avengers game adaption was replaced by Battle for Earth.) The LEGO format by now is no stranger. We've had the very successful LEGO Star Wars and more recently LEGO Batman. (If that wasn't enough, expect LEGO The Hobbit soon.) As shocking as it may be, Warner Bros. actually produced this game. That's basically the equivalent of a Marvel show airing on Cartoon Network. So, does this game cash-in on the Marvel Cinematic Universe phase using the LEGO format or is it something a little more? LEGO Marvel Superheroes is a very nice time for longtime and new fans alike. It perfectly strikes a balance that appeals to everyone. In a world where gory violence dominates the industry, it's very nice to see a happy and cheerful gaming experience.

Loki has returned and alongside Dr. Doom has banded together all the major villains of the Marvel world. It'll take the combined forces of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-Man and more to stop them and the hungry Galactus whom is edging closer and closer to Earth. The game knows what it is: a parody of the comics and Cinematic Universe. It's a lot of fun, and surprisingly the writing is very good. I say surprising because with anything modern Marvel related when it comes to cartoons and the like, you'll see the writing is geared toward the younger audience with no care whatsoever about its longtime fans. Here it's legitimately funny, you'll find yourself smiling throughout the surprisingly long playthrough.

The gameplay is identical to the other LEGO games. Of course, playing as the Marvel heroes should be a different experience, and it is. Every character's abilities is wonderfully realized. From Spider-Man's webslinging to Storm's lightning, the game makes great use of the characters and their unique abilities. The actual levels are pretty well thought out. Despite the game's often large cast per level, each character is put to good, equal use. The playthrough is definitely long, you'll most likely be spending a week on it. Plus, that's only about 12% of the entire game. The Hub World (New York City) is home to an abundance of other things to do. So this game has plenty of replay value after you beat the main story. (And the fact there are over 100 characters to unlock adds to that incentive.)

The obvious negative is the really odd decision to make the characters invincible. It's impossible for you to lose. If you explode into a million LEGO pieces, you reform seconds after. It doesn't really hurt the gameplay experience, but it must be mentioned. Every video game should be able to make you lose, otherwise there's no challenge. That's what a game is, you win or lose. That's why I don't like the recent things Nintendo has done with their games, such as in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U where if you keep losing the game gives the option of bypassing the level.

Despite being in the loading screen, the Silver Surfer doesn't do anything in the story and ends up being knocked out for most of it. Fans of Galactus will probably be disappointed with his portrayal. Throughout the story he's hyped as the big boss but in the end Loki ends up controlling him for the final fight. (Gotta love how Marvel prioritizes him over characters like Galactus.) The boss fights are definitely solid. The final battle is nicely grand in scale. I am particularly pleased with the way Spider-Man was portrayed throughout. (He's better portrayed here than in his own cartoon!) This being based mainly on the Cinematic Universe, you'll be having plenty of laughs. (Such as Coulson promising Cap he'll make sure the Statue pf Liberty is repaired.) Speaking of that, it was genius to have Magneto controlling the Statue of Liberty and using it as a weapon, I don't think we've ever seen something like that before.

Overall, LEGO Marvel genuinely surprised me. I wasn't expecting much, but it ended up being one of the most fun times I've ever had with Marvel. The writing is fantastic, you'll be having a blast watching the cutscenes. With a pretty solid comic book-like soundtrack, the game rarely becomes boring. There's plenty to do to in the really expansive New York City hub world. Whether you're a fan who's been reading since 1962 or a brand new fan thanks to the movies, LEGO Marvel Superheroes is well worth your time.


Monday, March 3, 2014

A Smile Says it All

There's a lot of harshness wherever you go. Whether you're in the 'glamorous' Las Vegas or Lower East Side, you'll run into plenty of cold-hearted people. That's why a smile is one of the greatest things in the world. It shows you giving acknowledgement to another individual. And it also makes you happier on the inside, a cool psychological effect.

Let's look at the Christain perspective.

One song I've recently discovered is 'Smile' by Kutless.

 Though everything's the same inside there's something real
A faith which causes me to change.
I think a smile says it all

In any given situation, the Christian has the ability to smile, even through the hardest of things. Why is that? Because we know Someone is always with us, and that we'll be experiencing true happiness in the end. As the Casting Crowns says it, "I will praise You in this storm." Look at it another way. The atheist, the unbeliever, doesn't have much reason to smile unless they're "high up in the food chain."

A non-believer struggling in various aspects of life has absolutely no reason to smile, because they have nothing to look forward to and more often than not feel alone with an emptiness inside. There's always the saying, "I'm lucky to be alive." But if one is living in poverty or struggling greatly in another area and doesn't have anything to look forward to, there's not much reason to be happy, or even pretend to be, is there?

Always smile. Even when you don't feel like it. You'll more often than not make someone else feel good. And especially if you're going to wear a cross chain, go to church, or call yourself a Christian, just remember that


Sunday, March 2, 2014


They call him Jesus of Nazareth.

Despite being the Bible, it has not been explored in the movie industry as much as it should have. In fact, the last major Christian movie was The Passion of the Christ, which was ten years ago. And before that, the last 'big one' was The Ten Commandments, from 1956! Since The Passion, there have been a number of Christian movies such as Fireproof and Courageous. But outside the the Biblical audience, those films aren't that well known to others. That is what's so exciting about Son of God. The announcement came almost out of nowhere, I was shocked that it would be an actual theatrical release worldwide. Now that it's officially out, how exactly was it?  There will be complaints, of course. Liberties are taken. But in the end, it does what it sets out to do: tell the story of Jesus Christ.

What a lot of people don't know going into the theater is that this movie was actually part of The Bible mini-series awhile back on the History Channel. What they did was splice together certain parts for a movie experience. Some of it you can tell has more of TV budget than film, but it's nothing too bad. The intro I particularly liked, a very nice prologue featuring all the key Bible Scriptures from the Old Testament. After that, we head on over to the main story. The film is over two hours, so I can't believe I'm saying this, but it could have actually benefited from another hour. The birth scene could have been longer and more detailed. The fact that the Satan scenes were removed didn't help matters. How great would it have been to see the Three Temptations adapted for the big screen? It was a truly missed opportunity.

Diogo Morgado had an interesting thing ahead of him; portraying Jesus is always a challenging but accomplishing task. I am definitely pleased with how the portrayal came out. He portrayed happiness, righteous anger, and sadness effectively. He nicely delivered all the core verses Jesus said in the Scriptures. The Disciples, while technically getting screen time, don't stand out other than being "the disciples of Jesus." Only Peter and Judas really are given importance, even John the Baptist is surprisingly not a big deal in the film. But, Mary Magdalene is. She was definitely one of the best written of the people in the whole thing. The strange thing however is that she's featured a lot more than John, (almost every five minutes) and was made out to be a more important figure than what was said in the Scriptures when compared to The Baptist.
The 'antagonist,' Pilate, (Greg Hicks) is done well enough. He's a harsh Roman emperor, and the film displays that perfectly. The story does a nice job displaying how big the Romans were at the time in comparison to the citizens. What I personally like about this film more than The Passion is that since it covered the life of Christ, it managed to have key scenes the aforementioned movie couldn't include. We have the paralyzed man from the roof, the woman who was about to be stoned before Jesus said, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her," the resurrection of Lazarus, and when he knocked over the tables in the Temple. The latter scene I felt was very well done. It could have gone the other way and make Jesus look like a berserk man, but the film nailed it perfectly. (The tax collector scene was also very good.)

The thing, however, about the movie is that it assumes the viewer knows everything about the Scriptures it's based on. So key scenes such as Judas hanging himself are rushed because it assumes the viewer knows this ahead of time. Also, some of the lines are very robotic and could have been handled better. The biggest culprit is perhaps the scene where Peter denied Jesus three times. We know it's going to happen, but the problem is that it feels and looks scripted, as if he's reading an off-screen paper with the lines. Mary surprisingly doesn't play a huge factor here. But, her actress does a nice enough job displaying the emotion of a mother losing her son.

It's hard not to compare the final act to The Passion. Let's get one thing out of the way: yes, the Passion's portrayal of it was definitely more powerful and emotion inducing. But, that's not to say the Death wasn't handled that great here. It does the job very well, with great emotion portrayed by Diogo. It's a nice reminder that while He was God, He still had the flesh of a man, and thus felt pain. The entire Cross scene was well done. I also like how well the film does explaining the reason why Jesus was crucified. (Aside from the Spiritual reason.) Here we have this Man forgiving people's sins and claiming to be the Son of God, a clear blasphemy to some of the Jews at the time. The story does a great job explaining this, even more than The Passion. The soundtrack is pretty much what you'd expect. It goes nicely with each scene, and has good choir for the emotionally powerful ones.

Overall, SON OF GOD is a pretty great watch. Yes, it does take some liberties, and changes a few things, but in the end, it's hard to complain since what we get is a great telling of the life of Jesus. It could have used more scenes detailing certain things, and the fact that the Three Temptations wasn't included was immensely disappointing. But, despite any lingering complaints, the film succeeds in what it wanted to do. It might be a long time before we see Jesus on the big screen again, so the film is special in that regard too. We're all going to have our personal faults with it for taking some liberties, but by the end when He's on the Cross you'll forget about everything. SON OF GOD is definitely worth a watch, for anyone.

I am coming soon.