Saturday, June 29, 2013

Album Review: Hunter Hayes (Encore)

Please note that all the songs in Hunter Hayes's first album ("Hunter Hayes") are included in this new album, resulting in this particular post serving a sort of double purpose. Stacy has kindly agreed to share her thoughts concerning most of the songs from the first album. I have also reviewed his song from Act of Valor titled "Where We Left Off."

Title: Hunter Hayes (Encore); Single "Where We Left Off"
Author: Hunter Hayes
Genre: Country, Pop
My Rating: ****
Age Group: various
Official Rating: Teen, Young Adult

My Summary:
I'm going to do this by song because it seems like the most efficient way to review an entire album.
(Note: I apologize for the length this method caused, but because of the content of the album and how it is distributed, I thought it would be the best way to review this particular work. Due to the length, I have inserted a break in the post. Please click the link to read my analysis of each song.)

My Thoughts:
It seems like I am constantly asking the same question: Why is it that someone with such a great voice and cool music sings songs which border on being inappropriate?
Please don't take that the wrong way. There are truly good songs on this album, and Hunter Hayes does sing some other good ones (take "Where We Left Off" from Act of Valor, which I reviewed along with this album). Still, many of his songs tip-toe on that line between "This is appropriate" and "Turn off the radio!"
At times it seems like one has to choose between quality music and a good voice. It's one or the other, not both. Not in this case. Even the message in many of these songs is a good one, all things considered. Sure, at times it feels like he was so close to seeing the bigger picture, and then he falls short, just barely, of something great. This is almost disappointing at times, sort of like C. S. Lewis is to some Catholics (he was so close! we say). Still, someone knows how to write extremely catchy songs. In fact, these are great road trip songs.
As long as no young children or easily influenced teens are listening. But aren't we all easily influenced? The question, then, is a very personal one: how much can you take before it's too much? Never cross that line.
Then decide if you take Hunter Hayes on your road trip. I know I will, even if I hit the "skip" button a few times.
At the very least, he will keep you awake.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Author Alcove: Homer

Homer is assumed to be the author of The Iliad and its sequel The Odyssey. Legend has it that he was blind. We do know Homer was a Greek poet who sang his epic poems from memory, probably while playing the lyre as accompaniment. These are extremely long poems, and having them memorized is incredible. Reciting them would have taken days. Homer's work is some of the oldest we have left today. It has been translated left and right, but to really get a feel for its beauty (without learning Latin or Greek), one should read a translation which keeps his work in poetic form and does not change it to narrative.

Homer treats the Greek mythological stories like any other Greek of the time did. They are matter of fact, not glossed over, and full of al the scandal they are known for. Homer does not avoid the parts of Greek mythology that push it toward a PG-13 or even R rating. There are prostitutes, married people having children with those they are not married to, characters who are the children of both god and human, and more. Enter the world of Greek mythology. It was, and still is, a huge mess.
As he sings of great wars and conquests, glorifying heroes in a warrior culture, Homer does not stay away from including as much gore as humanly possible. If the man-woman relations do not push his work to an R rating, the gore certainly does. On the battlefield, the fighting is brutal and disgusting and Homer describes it with all the eloquence that a Greek poet can muster. People lose their insides even as they are still alive, teeth are knocked out the back of a man's head, bodies are mutilated, and that's just the beginning. There seems to be no end to the gore he includes.

Homer sang in what is called the dactylic hexameter, a type of meter for poetry. This results in the repetition of phrases such as "swift-footed Achilleus" and "rosy-fingered Dawn", phrases the author was aware would help him keep the meter. There is no rhyming, but if one pays attention, there is a sort of beat. He is incredibly clever. In the original Greek, he made all sorts of clever moves with words meaning two things. I know these are noted in Penguin's translation of The Odyssey by Robert Fagles and I do recommend you skim the notes after each chapter to really get the most out of the story.

Homer also happens to be a classic author. Not only has his work been read since he wrote it (a good long time ago!), but it teaches the reader about the culture he was living in. Reading his work is valuable as an introduction to Greek culture, Greek literature, history, mythology, epic poetry, and so much more. In addition, because he is so classic, other classics make hidden references to his writings and Greek mythology in general. If these references are missed by the reader, the full power of the story is lost.
While his writings may be particularly gruesome when it comes to their content, when the reader is old enough to encounter such things, it would be a great loss not to read at least one of his works.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Movie Review: White Fang

Title: White Fang
Author: based on the book by Jack London
Genre: Survival, adventure, animals, historical fiction
My Rating: **
Official Rating: PG
Age Group: 10+ (could be 6+ depending on the kids)

Jack has come searching for his father's claim, hoping to find gold along with it. Perhaps he searches for family again, now that he has lost his. Perhaps he seeks manhood, something that will be challenged in the great wilderness. Whatever it is, his search is joined by an abused wolf-dog that he rescues and attempts to tame, along with a reluctant partner in the gold mining business who knew Jack's father. Can the threesome manage to survive in the wilderness? Will they find gold?

Word of Warning:
Not many problems in this movie. Most of the problems are dramatic but amount to almost nothing once the drama is over. Depending upon the kid, this might be acceptable for 6+
  • Death. Jack's parents died (off screen). A man is killed by wolves (off screen. We hear one or two screams, along with a gun going off). A man who is already dead is in a coffin, and in a crazy slide down a hill, flies out of the coffin. He is blue, comical looking, and holding an apparently dead dog. The two fall into a lake (along with Jack) and are pushed aside in Jack's desperate attempt to escape.
  • Abuse. Dogs are beaten and abused, taunted, not fed, and put in dog fights. More than one of these dogs die. Hardly any blood is seen (if at all).
  • Women. There are women who appear to be prostitutes, though the hint is very well hidden. Jack makes a motion to one who is standing in the doorway watching him, suggesting he has no money, but doesn't look particularly interested anyway. He moves on. Another woman owns a bar, and Jack's partner flirts with her (rarely and hardly at all), kisses her once, and it is implied that they get married by the end of the movie.
  • Danger. Jack falls through the ice and nearly dies of hypothermia. He is pulled from the lake, shaking and gasping and white, and the two with him pull off his coat and shirt before wrapping him in a blanket. They say something like "Let's get the rest of these wet clothes off" after that (implying the only thing he has left, that is, his pants) but nothing happens. Jack and his partner are attacked by wolves but are uninjured. Jack and another man are bitten by the wolf-dog. Jack and his partner are shot at and nearly burned to death in their cabin (the drama is thick, but they escape completely unharmed). Jack is buried alive in a mining accident but survives.
  • Men steal and drink. They are harsh, sometimes cruel, and toughened by their time in the wilderness.
  • A wild hare is chased down by wolves. We assume it is killed, as in a later scene a mother wolf brings her pup the limp white rabbit. A mother wolf is injured in a fight and shot. She dies with her pup by her side. The pup wanders about, innocent and apparently in danger, but is ultimately unharmed.
  • Most of the drama comes from assuming the viewer has some understanding of what is going on and is able to predict the worst possible outcome. I can't think of one point during the movie where the worst possible outcome actually happens, which results in much of the drama feeling like a let down, but does make the movie appropriate for a bigger age range than if the drama had been followed through with and things had actually happened.

My Thoughts:
Honestly the only reason I rated this so low is because it was incredibly boring. It's a beautiful story, but the short bursts of intense action which wasn't as intense as it should have been (resulting in a sort of let down feeling), just did not keep me interested. Still, the scenery is lovely and wild, the dogs and wolves are fantastic, and even the acting is well done. Overall, there were very few problems with the movie and it is generally pretty acceptable, just not as thrilling as I'd hoped it to be. In that sense, it feels a lot like the book.
The beauty of this movie is that it is older and relatively acceptable for most audiences. It does have some exciting scenes in it, is full of historical fiction information, and the boring parts (like the nearly twenty minutes of a wolf pup wandering about the wilderness) can be fast-forwarded with almost no loss to understanding of the story. It would make a good family movie night movie.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Movie Review: Bella

Title: Bella
Genre: Drama
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: PG-13
Age Group: 14+

My Summary -
When Nina is turned away from her job at a Mexican restaurant, she has no idea how she is going to support herself. As an unwed mother living in poverty, she has little to look forward to in life, and much to regret.
Jose works in his brother's restaurant out of a sense of duty, but his heart lies in his former professional soccer career. His dream was ruined, however, by one horrible mistake that changed his life forever.
These two people are thrust together and mutually begin searching for answers to their messed-up lives, and a beautiful friendship begins to form...

The Bad:
This is a movie about an unwed mother. Though she doesn't go into a whole lot of details, Nina does explain somewhat how this came about. She considers an abortion, and through much of the movie, it seems as though she will go through with it. She even asks Jose (who comes from a very pro-life background) if he will accompany her to the clinic. We see her checking a pregnancy test.
Jose's great burden lies in the fact that he killed a little girl in a car accident. We see him suffering from the memory, and experience his flashbacks of the incident. While we do not see the body of the girl, the emotional build-up of the accident is very sad and traumatic.
Nina had an emotionally distant mother, and explains to Jose that she tried gaining her mother's attention by acting out, becoming drunk and flinging abuses at her.
Jose's mother asks him if he is the father of Nina's child.
Nina and Jose spend the night on a beach - it is completely innocent, for they are just friends, but the scene could be taken the wrong way.
Nina promises to pay for something at a convenience store, but never does.
Jose is proud and reckless at the beginning of the movie.

The Good:
This whole movie is pro-life, in a subtly beautiful way. The pro-life "agenda" is never forced, but is always beneath the surface. We see Jose struggle not to argue uncharitably with Nina as she expresses her opinion on abortion, but we also see him refuse to accompany her to the abortion clinic. Jose brings her to meet his large and very Mexican family, who are obviously open to life. He even offers to adopt her child if she decides not to have the abortion.
Jose and his brother do not agree on anything; Jose argues with his brother about his treatment of the workers in the restaurant, stating that they are people with families and lives, not servants. This estranges the brothers until the end, when Jose's brother finally recognizes Jose's wisdom, and Jose apologizes for being so uncharitable toward him.
Jose risks everything he has to help Nina, even his relationship with his family.

My Conclusion -
This is a simple story told in a simple way. There is no romance, no powerful themes running through the movie, but its very simplicity makes it great and beautiful. It is not necessarily a happy movie, or a movie that you love to watch over and over again, but once you watch it, it sort of sticks with you forever. There is hardly any dialogue - most of Jose's "talking" happens through his intense, understanding gazes. There's very little character development, the plot is shaky, and so is the cinematography. But somehow, the movie is still... good. I think "good" is the only word to describe it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Hello all. While Stacy did nearly all the work on this post (and did a super amazing job!), we agreed that I (Maria Gianna) might add some things in italics. Not really necessary, but the movie's awesomeness makes a review very challenging to write.

Title: Man of Steel
Author: DC Comics
Genre: Action, Adventure
My Rating: *****
Brothers' Rating: After intense discussion, our two brothers decided to give it (Pi x 1.5) stars, which, I have calculated, equals about 4.7. So I've determined that they also give Man of Steel 5 stars.
Official Rating: PG-13
Age Group: 15+

My Summary:
Krypton is a dying planet. The Kryptonians have exhausted its resources, and have destabilized its core during the process. They have become an immoral race, and Jor-el, realizing his planet's impending doom, attempts to save his beloved people by sending his only son, Kal-el, to the thriving planet Earth. He also sends the Codex of the Kryptonians, which holds the genome of the race, for future reproduction.
General Zod also wants to save his people, but his way is much bloodier - he is willing to do anything to get the Codex back and reestablish his race, even if it means annihilating humanity.
Kal-el crash-lands in Kansas and is raised by two loving people who try to hide his real identity from the world. It's kind of hard to do, though, when Kal-el (now named Clark) develops superpowers and unsubtly uses them to save lives. When he grows older, Clark starts town-hopping: doing good here, saving someone there, always disappearing when someone notices his extraordinary powers.
Lois Lane, however, isn't easily deterred. As a nosy journalist, she insists on finding this Superman who may be the first alien life on Earth. And after being personally saved by him, her determination becomes insatiable.
But General Zod is determined too. He's searched for over 30 years for Kal-el, knowing that Jor-el has given him the key to the Kryptonian race. When he finally discovers Earth, he issues an ultimatum: surrender Kal-el, or Earth will be destroyed.

The Bad: (In no particular order)
Lots and lots of violence. Basically, if you see a building, expect it to be destroyed. There is not really any blood, per se, but there is definitely death.
General Zod attacks the Kryptonian capitol in an attempt to take over - we see him shoot several people with a laser gun, and they all die.
General mayhem ensues as Krypton self-destructs.
A tornado rips through Kansas, and the death of one man is presumed.
Clark faces some frightening situations in the beginning of his career as a hobo/lifesaver, including an exploding oil rig and a violent trucker.
Both Clark and Lois are attacked by a robot. Lois is wounded, and Clark cauterizes her wound (off-screen). She screams.
Zod is an unscrupulous killer. He is willing to destroy the human race in order to save his own. We see visions of this desire, including one of Clark sinking into a sea of skulls.
The last half of the movie is basically all destruction and violence, and so I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail. Essentially, a whole town is destroyed during a fight (we don't find out what happened to the people there), Metropolis is semi-destroyed, we hear people screaming, both from a distance and, in one case, as a close-up. We do not see too much death up-close, except in a few cases, but death is certainly presumed (pretty horrifically). A man drives a plane with several people in it into imminent danger; all the people die. Superman and Zod fight almost constantly in various circumstances. Because this violence isn't bloody, it isn't too hard to take, but it will pose a problem for some people.
One particular instance of violence is more remarkable. Superman must kill an evil man in order to save a family. His action is totally justified, but hard to watch.

Beyond violence, there are only a few objectionable issues. Several swearwords are used, including various forms of a**, two or three h**ls, and one very noticeable and crude comment about d**ks. We see a baby boy naked several times, and Clark is shirtless and almost pant-less during one scene (not awkwardly, however). A trucker makes unwanted, inappropriate advances on a girl in a bar. Superman, when exposed to a Kryptonite atmosphere, begins coughing blood.

Minor problems include Clark stealing out of necessity and wrecking a truck out of revenge/annoyance. He also is disrespectful to his adopted father (who has questionable views when it comes to morals and Clark's actions) in one scene. Superman and Lois kiss. There are a few slightly inappropriate pick-up lines used by male characters, and Lois makes an awkward comment about the bathroom situation in the Arctic Circle. We see a woman giving birth.

Things I'm not sure about: Jor-el's "consciousness" exists outside his body. The Kryptonians use artificial means to reproduce - Kal-el is the first person in centuries to be born naturally. This is obviously wrong, but the problem is never fully addressed in the movie. While I agree that this problem was not entire developed, Jor-el did blame the fall of Krypton on their decision to put into place this artificial reproduction system, citing a sort of chain reaction which, according to him, started with the unnatural births. Unfortunately, this sub-plot remained entirely too "sub" so that it nearly disappeared altogether.

Note: I know I'm missing things in this list. I think I've covered most of the main stuff (except for the violence), but be forewarned that there might be more. I apologize for this.

The Good:
For all its imperfections, this is a good, moral movie. Honestly, I don't know where to begin on this one. There's courage. There's manly strength. There's awesome father figures. There's awesome wisdom from the father figures. There's strong, loving, really cool women. There's self-sacrifice. There's respect for life. And the whole story is an allegory (albeit an imperfect one) for the Christ Story. Superman's story has always been this way, but never have I seen this particular connection made so strongly before, even with his story. It was clear and the movie never let the viewer forget it. In a word, it was beautiful.
Soooo... I'm not even going to try and dissect the awesomeness.

My Thoughts:
I firmly believe that every story that has ever been written is Christ-centered in some way. Many stories are so warped that their reflection of Christ is almost impossible to decipher. However, the same number, if not more, portray Beauty as it really is. And Beauty is Truth, and Truth is Christ.
Fairy tales and myths, I think, come closest to this ideal. And in some ways, modern superheroes are our attempts at new fairy tales and myths. Some are more Christ-centered than others, but in general, the awesomeness of self-sacrifice shines through our heroes. Superman, however, is probably the epitome of modern myth. Superman is probably most Christ-like. And this definitely comes through in Man of Steel. I think that's why I liked this movie so much.
There can only be one Christ, nevertheless. Nothing can beat His Beauty. And so every fairy tale and myth falls short of His ideal. Superman does too. He is utterly human (in a Kryptonian sort of way), and he fails. He's willing to take petty revenge for an insult, he's disrespectful to his father, he initially rejects the reality of his superpowers, and he kills a man. I think there's an important lesson in this, too: while lauding heroes who do good, it is utterly necessary for us to remember that Christ is the real Hero.

Aside from the Christian aspect of this movie, it honestly was completely cool. The plot was intriguing, the characters awesome, the soundtrack beautiful, and everything else sorta added to the awesomeness. There were some very cringe-worthy moments, violent or otherwise, but the overall arc of the story made up for everything.

Do I recommend this movie? With a resounding YES.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

Hello all! Today we have a guest blogger. She is the co-author of the blog Caution: Moms At Play and has graciously agreed to review a book for our blog. Many thanks to RealMom4Life!

Title: The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: Children's Fiction
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: Children's Fiction (G? PG?)
Age Group: 3 or 4 on up for a read-a-loud.  Possibly a little older for solo readers...taking into account the warning below.  But, that depends on the child.

Summary:  The story begins with a little boy staring at an old wooden candy store that is for sale. Pretty quickly into the story he meets the new owners of the  building.  They are a monkey, a pelican, and a giraffe who happen to be talking animals that work together and have their own ladder-less window cleaning business.  After his introduction to this unique group a car pulls up and requests their presence at the home of the rich old millionaire who lives in town (he wants his windows cleaned).  Since the boy is more familiar with the town, they invite him to partner with them.  Together they go to the millionaire's home.  During the cleaning process some burglars are discovered and caught by the team.  The millionaire is so thankful that he hires the animals on as permanent employees and gives each of them a sort of permanent gift (the pelican loves salmon, of course the millionaire happens to have a salmon stream on his property and let's the pelican eat all he wants).  As a gift to the boy he purchases the old wooden house, converts it immediately into a candy shop, and they run it together.

Word of Warning:  The were a few words that surprised me...damnation and damninable (both spoken by the old millionaire).  Since I was reading this aloud I simply skipped over them.  There is also one mention of some sort of candy called Devils Drenchers that cannot be sold to children under the age of 4 (again, very easily skipped during a read-a-loud). 

 My Thoughts:  It's a very whimsical story and my 5-9 years olds enjoyed it.  I had no problem glossing over the items in the warning above.  The part I am always a bit surprised at in these types of books is how the boy simply goes along with 3 "characters" he just met, accompanying them to a strange old man's residence. Maybe the reason it doesn't disturb me more is because the story revolves around three talking animals...making it very clear this is a work of fiction.  We did, however, take a few minutes to discuss some bad decisions the little boy made when he went off with these strangers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review: Many Are Called

Title: Many Are Called
Author: Story by Gabrielle Gniewek, Art by Sean Lam
Genre: Adventure, Romance

Format: Manga/Graphic novel
My Rating: ****
Age Group: 10+

My Summary:
The princess has been in hiding for many years to protect her from the dark prince until her fiancĂ©, another prince, is able to wed her. When the day comes for the good prince to bring home his bride, he faces all sorts of dangerous obstacles. Those who should support him fail, people work behind his back, his father is ill, and he is injured. When all seems lost, it goes one step further: the princess falls.

Follow in the prince as he searches for his bride, desperate to protect her, even at the cost of his own life. Can he succeed? Will the dark prince seduce the good prince's one true love?
You will, of course, have to read to find out.
Word of Warning:
  • The prince is bloodied fights. Others are defeated.
  •  Betrayal, self-centeredness, and sacrifice (yes, sacrifice is good, but it can result in some rather challenging moments to face)
  • A man flirts with a woman the reader assumes to be his wife. They kiss.
  • Guns, swords, hand-to-hand combat
  • A man is shown nearly shirtless. Another is shown shirtless but partially wrapped in bandages.
  • A man attempts to seduce a young woman, but not toward sexual actions, merely toward turning her love from another man and toward himself. The seduction is more of a shift in loyalty, shifting toward evil, but because it involves evil it is very much a seduction.
  • A kiss between a newly married couple.
My Thoughts:
Where to begin? The entire thing is a mishmash of parables, with guns and swords and planes and excitement thrown in. As a story and nothing religious, it's great. But as something religious, it's incredible. I admit that I have never been a big fan of the graphic novel, though I do like the occasional manga-style picture. That would explain why I gave the book four stars instead of five.
However, this particular book is incredible. There is so much in it spiritually it could almost be used for daily prayer and meditation. And for those readers who are just looking for a great adventure, that's here too, in abundance (guns, motorcycles, swords, planes, and more!). The art is beautiful, reflecting the story, and the entire thing is filled to the brim with goodness.
What more could you ask for?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Book Review: October Baby

Title: October Baby: a novel
Author: Eric Wilson and Theresa Preston
Genre: Fiction
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: Teen, Young Adult
Age Group: 16+

Hannah is a relatively normal girl with a few health problems (asthma, hip surgeries, etc). She has friends, parents who lover her, and a crush on her childhood friend. Why then does she always feel so empty?
At age nineteen, a terrible accident occurs which reveals to Hannah the truth behind her birth and all her medical problems. It might even explain the feeling of loneliness she has lived with all her life. In a desperate attempt to find out who she really is, she joins her childhood friend Jason, his girlfriend Alana, and four others on a Spring Break road trip. On the way, they will pass through Mobile, Alabama. It is there that she will find answers.
The question is: will she make it that far? And will the answers do her any good?

Word of Warning:
  • This is a story of abortion and survival. It follows that young women are pregnant before marriage, get abortions, and so on. Generally abortion is mentioned as a procedure. A child is born missing an arm because of a failed abortion attempt.
  • Children are aborted, unborn children are referred to as tissue and not children, and many of the other things which go with abortion.
  • Hannah's parents keep secrets from her. Later in the book we see that they have been struggling too, but early on it is hard to forgive them for not telling her the truth.
  • Hannah's parents let her decide whether to go on the trip or not, but strongly advise she not go. She goes anyway. Because of how they acted about the trip, she is in a certain sense going against their orders (almost).
  • Hannah and Jason end up sharing a hotel room, Hannah on the bed and Jason on the floor. She can't take it and leaves to spend the night in the lobby on a bench. Jason joins her.
  • Hannah says she's never been with someone, physically speaking. Jason says he hasn't either, and it was a hard choice ("I am a guy") but it was the right choice.
  • Depression is mentioned. Hannah has a "shrink."
  • There are two kisses at the end, presumably short and chaste. There is not much description.
  • The biggest thing to keep in mind is that this is the story of an abortion survivor.
My Thoughts
The story is beautiful. I would have given it five stars had the writing style not suffered far too often. Sometimes, it was a bad word choice, sometimes something was worded strangely, other times italics was not used. Many of the mistakes felt amateur and frustrating.
Other than the writing style mistakes, it is a beautiful story. For those of you who have seen the movie (if you haven't, do so right away*), there are more scenes with Jason and Hannah (along with more screen time for Truman, stronger moments for Alana, and others) that really add to the story. For those of you who have not seen the movie, the book is a very moving story about forgiveness. How does one face abortion, being a survivor? Hannah was not wanted. How does she come to terms with that? And Hannah's birth mother, what will she do? Characters have to face hard facts about life and the journeys they take are beautiful and incredible.
A story of beauty. A story of goodness.

*Although we do not have a review of October Baby (the movie) up at this time, the issues are generally the same when it comes to "Word of Warning" and the story really is the same when it comes to "Summary."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Movie Review: Megamind

Title: Megamind
Author: DreamWorks Animation
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ***
Brother's Rating: **** (a ***** had it not been animated)
Official Rating: PG
Age Group: 6+

Evil always loses--and never gets the girl. Destiny is chosen, just do the best you can with what you get handed.
When Megamind finally manages to win, and kill the superhero, he's got everything.
Or not. What's an evil guy to do when he's got no good guy to beat him up all the time?
Create a new superhero of course. He's got to have someone to fight, after all. On the side he dates the old superhero's former girlfriend, but in the disguise of some guy named Bernard.
Things go wrong when Megamind's new hero turns evil and now Megamind has to deal with a really pathetic but powerful villain. In the process, he ends up rethinking his take on life. Is super villainy really the only thing he's good at? What exactly is destiny?

Word of Warning
  • Buildings are destroyed.
  • People are in danger (but none seem to die or get injured).
  • Guns (often science fiction ones) appear constantly.
  • Evil is seen as good for most of the movie. This is because the main character (the one everyone is supposed to care for) is a super villain.
  • Hal is shot in the nose with a pill. The result is similar to a bee sting.
  • A character appears to die, but doesn't.
  • Another character appears to die and a skeleton is shown.
  • Megamind impersonates Bernard to date Roxanne and doesn't intend to tell her the truth.
  • One animated kiss.
  • Loud rock music and comical dramatic dancing.
  • Metroman is seen in his bathrobe. Megamind dresses behind a screne (no shadow) and then snaps his skin-tight elastic pants.
  • Hal gives himself a wedgie to prove his invulnerability.
  • Roxanne's outfits are a bit tight, but rarely have low necklines.

My Thoughts
It's funny. It's creative. And it's sweet. By chance, Megamind ended up getting a prison as his home. Metroman ended up with the perfect life. But Megamind proves to us that just because you're dealt the short stick doesn't mean you have to be content with it. Actually, you do. You can use it as a dagger, not a sword. That's exactly what Megamind does. He uses what he has to become something much greater than Metroman ever was or ever could be. He chooses his own destiny.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

TV Show Review: Bonanza (1959-73)

(Please note that I am not reviewing specific episodes, but just all of them as a whole. As a result I will comment on trends, not necessarily particular problems with each episode.)

Title: Bonanza (1959-73)
Author: N/A
Genre: Historical Fiction, Western
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: None (probably PG--a few possibly reaching PG-13)
Age Group: 10+

Mr. Cartwright and his three sons own a huge chunk of land known as the Ponderosa, located in Nevada. The Bonanza TV series tells the stories of their battles with the land, and those living on it, attempting to keep their belongings safe from those who would take or destroy them. In typical western style, there are horses, guns, and fights everywhere.

Word of Warning:
  • Guns are used, but people are rarely shot. If they are, it is even more rarely the good guy who is shot. Even if the bad guy is the one who is shot, people still feel bad about it and try to make up for it. The Cartwrights are especially wary of shooting at another person, which often puts their lives in danger.
  • Fist fights.
  • Drinking. All the time. Sometimes it ends up in drunkenness, but usually this is not the case.
  • The youngest of the three brothers, Little Joe, is always falling for a new woman. This results in flirting and some kissing.
  • A few deaths here and there.
  • A rough and tough way of life. Sometimes under a roof, sometimes under the stars. Sometimes on the run, sometimes at home in bed.

My Thoughts:
For those of us who love westerns, this is right up there with The Lone Ranger. Only in this case, it's just a family (minus the mother who passed on years ago) fighting to protect what's theirs. The West is a harsh place, and the boys are brought up not only to protect themselves but also to do what's right. The episodes are filled with mini lessons and illustrations of moral virtue. Granted, they don't always make the right choice, but they always try. When they mess up, they confess and try to fix the damage they've done. It is, in a sense, what true story telling is meant to be.