February End of the Month Review

Another roundup of what I watched, listened to, and read last month is due. I can’t believe the month is already gone? With it brought some good entertainment though.

Movies

Earlier this month Regal was doing a buy one ticket, and get another free for the showing of Birdman. We decided to hop in on this deal, and we were glad we did. I enjoyed the movie, but my husband enjoyed it much more than I did. It’s beautifully shot and acted though, and the story is constantly moving.

An ex-movie blockbuster star is now not the big thing, and he’s looking to strike a comeback with his theatrical show on Broadway. The relationships between his daughter, lover and other coworkers threatens to take his attention away from the show though, and not only that but it seems the critics of Broadway already have it out for him anyways.

The Guest was a movie I don’t know how to define. It’s a mixture of suspense and horror that incorporated an artsy vibe as well. I didn’t expect to enjoy the movie as much as I did, and I already plan on adding to some of my favorites to check out around Halloween.

A war veteran returns home to connect with his friend’s family after he dies in battle. What makes the movie particularly thrilling is the way you never know until the end whether The Guest is a good or bad guy. Along with a cast that brings the movie to life well, it’s a movie that flows well. The music as well adds to the attitude of the movie for a feeling of leaving you on the edge of your couch watching it.

Director, Jason Reitman, is never a miss, but his movies sometimes aren’t always hits. He aims to connect with people though, and sometimes you’ll connect so strongly his movie will become a favorite, or other times you’ll feel a bit disconnected like I did with Men Women and Children.

The movie follows the lives of several teens and their parents as they learn how to connect with one another, and learn from their mistakes that are connected by the media. There are a couple of stories that ring powerfully true, but the movie suffers from some unlikable characters that detract too much from the message trying to be conveyed by their relationships, especially Jennifer Gardener as the overbearing mother.

Walk the Line was a beautiful and real movie. I like how the movie doesn’t gloss over some of the allegations of what might have been risked both Johnny Cash’s and June Carter’s careers at the time. It also doesn’t leave anyone being the clear good guy in the movie. It also makes me wonder about the more focused on love story in the movie, and how much it is played up for the movie.

Johnny Cash is a guy who is passionate about getting into the music industry even if it is crushing his marriage. When he meets June he is drawn to her kindred interests and her care for him. What plays out is a riveting movie with well adapted songs.

I checked out Focus this weekend since I was in a movie mood, and it did impress. The main reason I wanted to see it is because the people involved in this movie are supposedly involved in Crazy Stupid Love, which I loved. This movie has the same surprises and vivid storytelling it did.

A con man meets a con woman, and the story begins. Now the world is a confusion of when the other person is being real, and the development of a guy who has found one person he doesn’t want to con, but con with. It’s a very flirty and lively movie that never has a slow pace. I think the runt time of only an hour and 40 minutes keeps it hopping well too. I heard that a lot of people didn’t head out this weekend to see it, but I recommend it.

I can see why people liked The Interview and also disliked it. I was someone who had a few laughs, but ultimately it isn’t something I would watch again. I usually enjoy the movies more, especially Neighbors, but for someone this one didn’t hit my comedy bone. I will at least never listen to Katy Perry’s Fireworks the same again.

More than likely if you like Franco and Rogen humor then you’ll enjoy this. It’s not as much about trying to assassinate someone as it is a joke about news journalist, and poor reporting skills.  The movie got a lot of talk that misled the ultimate idea of what it was. I liked how the movie ended up playing out, but I thin the almost 2 hour run time got to me. I can’t think of any comedy I can sit and watch that is a lengthier one.

Television

I’m sure a lot of people were unsure whether a spin off of one of the best shows of the past decade could work? For me Better Call Saul did work, and Saul was the only character on the show it could have worked for. Choosing Bob Odenkirk’s character allowed for plenty more humor to grow, and a likable guy.

Saul is a lawyer trying to hit more popularity with potential clients. Currently, he’s only looked at as a lawyer for people perceived as criminals.  Saul knows he might have to fake it till he makes it, and if there is one thing he does well it’s conning people. If you’re like me and Saul entertained you in Breaking Bad, then this show should be a must watch.

The Walking Dead kicked off the second half of season 5 this past month, and they are proving there is still plenty of story to tell. It might be the best this show has been since the crew discovered Woodberry, and potentially even better than that.

Spoilers! Since the world went to crap when the show began in 2010, we’ve been watching the crew battle zombies, survive, and more recently have to put up with some very odd people, including cannibals, gangs and cult like groups. Now the group might have to battle the biggest challenge for them all, how to not live like you’re surviving everyday. I still wonder how long this show can go on, but they are proving they have more to tell.

Twin Peaks is an odd breed of television show, and it’s understandable why it suffered cancellation in the 1990s. If only FX had been around then we might have seen more seasons. The good news is the show is being revived for HBO, which is much more suiting place for Kyle Maclachlan and the weird town.

A popular teen girl is found murdered in the small town of Twin Peaks. As the show continues it shows the dark life that Laura Palmer was leading, and just how little the town might have knew her. Agent Cooper leads the investigation into her crime, and he finds himself becoming more apart of the dark crimes of the small town.

Books

Stephen King released two books in 2014. One Mr.Mercedes, and the other Revival. I had the chance to read Revival, and it is one of my best reading experiences I’ve had. Instantly after putting down the book I didn’t know if I liked the book or not. The story is great, but the story is also dark and disturbing. King goes to realms I don’t think I’ve read him hit before in this newest novel.

The story focuses on a man from the time he was a boy to an adult. Over the years many changes and tragedies happen to him. One constant remains, and that was the preacher he met as a kid. They go through changing moments in younger times, and as older men that will forever scar their worlds.
Music

I’ve always heard a lot about Purity Ring, especially in Relevant magazine, but I hadn’t listened to them. From the descriptions it didn’t sound like much of what I listen to, but I wanted to check it out anyways.

Overall, the newest album, Another Eternity, has it’s highlights. The vocals are very present and moving, and the dance throttled beats keep the album moving. The songs also show range as they jump from one to the other. After a while I should have taken a break from the beats as it ran together. Still this will probably make an enjoyable one for fans.

What was your favorite book, show, movie, or album you checked out last month?

Book Review: Trip Lee’s Rise

Trip Lee is an author, rapper, and now pastor. He’s juggling a lot of cards right now including being a father and husband, so when reading Rise you’ll find a lot of real life narratives that Lee has put to use in his own life. Each chapter focuses on an occasion to rise for God, and show your faith. The book has a lot of motivational speech, and grows in depth as you read.

Summary: God created people for more than what they may be rising to now, and Lee wants to encourage the younger generation to rise up more than they are now for God. He doesn’t just encourage others though, he puts himself in the hot box with everyone else. Lee leaves no problem that maybe hindering the reader untouched, and he finds a way to continue to motivate the reader past the issue they maybe dealing with. The book gets personal more toward the end as he recounts his decision to marry at a young age, and outside of his race, and also his recent battle of being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Disease.

If you’ve heard Trip Lee’s music you might know that he’s breaking the mold of faith based hip hop, and him and Lacrae have gotten their names out there. Lee though doesn’t seem to have let this fame go to his head, and he has instead remained humbly dedicated to his passion. Not only that, but he seems in tune with reminding people of their purpose to serve Christ.

The book does inspire, but I also was reaching for depth that I could never really find. I liked the honesty that Lee begins revealing to the reader at the end, but for the first part of the book I couldn’t help but feel I was being yelled at. I also felt the target of the audience was mixed. It’s aimed at people my age, which is in their twenties or thirties, but I felt maybe the audience was a bit younger than me.

I also felt while encouraging people to overcome certain sins and step into church service, some of the difficulties of this were overlooked as well. There are many reasons people maybe dealing with what they are dealing with, and while this book may inspire them in the moment, the issue may need a lot more dealing with than a simple change of mindset.

Not to give people excuses, but I feel there are just so many layers to the surface layer being addressed. If you’re looking for a quick read that is tying to motivate you in something you’re already feeling pulled to do then it works for that.

I love how Lee tries to relate to his reader as well, but I think theologically we are different as well. I’m a huge person who takes into account the cultural surroundings of the Bible, and while I think Lee does that, it leaves the book still reading with a different vibe for me. I didn’t disagree with what he said, but I had some thoughts where my mind began to wonder.

This book was provided by Book Look Bloggers in exchange for a review.

Movie Review: About Last Night (2014)

So if you went out for Valentine’s Day this past weekend you might have noticed several options for viewing, but surprisingly none of those included a Nicholas Sparks’ based movie. So instead you were left with a couple of romantic comedies and one more romantic drama to choose from. Well I went to see About Last Night for my date. I think it was the right choice, especially since the theater I went to had in theater dining, and you were able to order drinks. There was enough wine to amp up the laughs.

Summary: Kevin and Danny meet friends, Joan and Debbie at the bar. Well they also both go home with these women as well and end up in bed with them back at their separate places. The night after though leaves budding relationships for Kevin and Danny, but they both handle the situations very differently. Danny is ready for a relationship with Joan, or so he think, while Kevin admits he may not be as ready to jump into something with Debbie. The two though may have more feelings swirling around than they thought.


Acting: Well depending on how you perceive acting either everyone is going to seem pretty solid in their roles or you feel some need to push themselves more. I felt though that everyone was pretty solid, and the humor is created well by the situations they are bringing to life. Michael Ealy is Danny, and Ealy isn’t the most entertaining character in the movie, but he does have chemistry Joy Bryant who portrays Joan, I felt their relationship contrasted Debbie and Kevin’s very well. Kevin Hart plays the comedic relief that you come to expect and perhaps even hope if you are a fan of Hart. I think Hart enjoys playing the parts he does, and he’s not looking to do anything different. I appreciated the fact that he does just bring his usual humor to the screen because it was needed for any comedy aspect. There is also Regina Hall as Debbie, and surprisingly she might even be the funniest in the cast. She has great chemistry with Hart, and I thought they did portray some of the realer aspects of a relationship that couples will be relating to when watching the movie.

Filming: The whole movie captures the romantic vibe very well. The lights, the setting, everything is going for romance. Even the music utilizes songs that most people will enjoy in this type of movie. The movie though starts off really strong with the comedy, but then somewhere about midway through it drops off a lot and gets very serious, and honestly I just wanted more comedy.

Plot: The plot goes through the natural steps you might be expecting or hoping for when watching a romantic movie. The relationships start off good, they then bring in confusion, then turmoil, and then reconciliation. It may seem repetitive, but there are plenty of movies as well that try to go off the chart by ending badly, and to be honest who in the heck wants that when they are going to see a Valentine’s Day movie? What counts is that the cast has chemistry and for the most part everyone feels true to their story. What I was hoping for more though was for the story to create humor and it does that.

About Last Night is a remake as well, and I haven’t seen the original, but from the reviews I’ve read this remake is actually better reviewed so far. So you might not be missing much if you check out this one instead. It makes a great date movie as well. It has a lot of elements that work to create the atmosphere those looking for a date night are hoping for.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

Movie Review: American Hustle (2013)

David O’ Russell has brought some Oscar worthy movies to the screen such Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. American Hustle seems to be meeting the bar that he has set. The movie has an array of interesting characters, some more likable than others. It’s a movie that also keeps you wondering what will happen next. Straight from the beginning O’Russell sets you up for a movie that will be quirk, and leave you wondering which parts happened, and which parts are fake.

Summary: Irving Rosenfield is a con man who is great at what he does. He meets Sydney, and they team up to begin conning people. Richie is a cop though who catches up to them, and in order to have the charges dropped against them they are forced to work with him to help him catch a politician, Mayor Carmine Polito, in the act of taking a bribe. Irving though begins to like Carmine, and his wife, Rosalyn,  refuses to stay away from his affairs as he tries to work the work the con. Not only that but she threatens to blow their cover.


Acting: The acting is brought really great from everyone in the movie, and it’s one of the reason the movie is as good as it is. Everyone is dedicated to making the chemistry real and bringing them to life in a way that makes them feel like real individuals. Christian Bale gives one of his best performances as Irvin, and even gained weight for the role. He shows his range and ability to create a guy who we begin to care for even though at the beginning he starts off as a jerk. By the end the guy begins to show signs of being a real human being though. Amy Adams is Sydney and sadly I think everyone is letting Jennifer Lawrence steal the spotlight from her. Don’t get me wrong, Lawrence actually was my favorite character as Rosalyn, but Adams does a great job with Sydney and making her this character you can never know the motives of. Speaking of Lawrence, she is just really great and funny as Rosalyn. If not for her the movie wouldn’t have been near as compelling and funny without her. I’ll be honest and say I was waiting for the moments she would come back on screen. Jeremy Renner is the politician, Carmine, and also gives his strongest performance I’ve seen. He takes a guy I expected to dislike, and makes him into one of the most well intention guys in the movie. There is also Bradley Cooper as Richie, and Cooper isn’t the shining moment as he has been, but he’s still good, but unlike the other characters he adds no layer to the guy that is easy to like.

Filming: From the get go the goal of this movie is to capture the 70’s, the setting the movie is based in. I love how even the companies that put out this movie are done in a fashion that reflects the era. Plus, the music is great, and makes certain scenes highlights of the movie. I loved the scene where Richie and Sydney go dancing in the night club. The lighting and music are perfectly aligned to capture this vibe where it seems like a pivotal change in the movie.

Plot: The movie progresses each character to grow in their own way, and I couldn’t help but think of how each character would be affected by the choices they made after the movie went off, and I mean characters like Carmine. If you watch then you’ll know what I mean. The story does feel slow at certain points, and you feel like you’re waiting for other moments that you want to see come to a blow. The characters are what drive the interest though, more so than the actual plot does. The plot isn’t near as interesting as the people themselves.

American Hustle is a well crafted movie. It shoots to capture some crazy characters, and put us right into the 70’s. Everything from the hair, the fashion, to the music, and you have something that puts you there. The movie also has these funny moments that get you to laughing more than you expect, especially with scenes that introduce technology that was new to the era. For some reason this movie did feel like a really long sit in the theater though.

Rating 8.5 of 10.

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Book Review: Robin Jones Gunn’s Summer Promises (Christy Miller Book #1)

Summer Promises was released in 1989. To be honest the book has aged well as I couldn’t tell it was from 1989 minus some different language used then that isn’t used so commonly by teens now. Gunn though looks at Christy the eyes of a mother more so than another teen might look at her. She shelters her, coddles her, and assumes that she might be surrounded by the impure acts that teens can get involved in, but would never actually do herself. We get a perception of a teenage girl through a worried mother’s eyes, than how a teen might actually perceive themselves.

Summary: Christy Miller is leaving her home in Wisconsin for the summer to spend time with her aunt and uncle at the beach. With the growing frustration of finances at her home her family feels it is best for her to spend it somewhere more enjoyable. Aunt Marti wants to help Christy transition more into a teenager. Christy doesn’t seem very confident about her dress or appearance, but with a makeover her summer seems more promising for dating. After meeting Todd though she finds boys are a little different than she expected, or at least he is. His attention is placed on someone that is above the shallow things that Christy hopes will get his attention.


Characters: I don’t know why but many of the female characters in Christian books are so annoying. They usually seem to always be PMSing. Christy has these freak outs and melt downs that were embarrassing to read. I know I’ve acted emotionally before, but never over a wrong assumption regarding a boy. She seems to grow very attached to someone who hasn’t been very open about how he feels too. Todd never initiates much between them. He never gets physical, doesn’t ask to kiss, and even invites other female companions on their dates, yet she pursues him with the tenacity of a stalker. Todd is a bit of a likable character, but he doesn’t seem realistic. I hate to say it but I’ve just never known a guy or boy at any age of my life like that. Plus, I was very confused by the age of Christy. She seemed more like 12 instead of on the verge of going to high school.

Writing: The writing style seems like something a bit suiting for those younger than the 7th grade and up reading level that is given for the book. Now the content seems more suited for those who are middle schoolers, but I’ve never heard a kid that age talk the way these do, then again maybe in the 80’s kids acted a little younger than they do now. I also didn’t feel Christy was a very strong female character to be portraying to females.

Plot: There are female characters in novels that act like females, but you still can walk away feeling something inspired from them. With Christy I didn’t feel empowered as a female after reading. I just felt like this makes girls look really insane. I get that the transformation was that Christy was turning to Christ, but it just felt very cliche. I assume it has to do with the early 90’s trend that moved into Christianity, but I think that the approach taken in this novel might be a bit outdated. I saw plenty of kids and teens find Christ in this way when I was younger, and it just never seemed to be this very deep life changing thing that stuck with them after they left school. It’s sad, but it seemed the deeper people delved into their theology as teens the more likely they were to have more deeply rooted faith.

I think as a nice, fun, and more innocent read this book works for younger girls, especially for parents wanting to try to open a conversation with their daughters who are becoming teens. Now the best teenage Christian fiction I eve read though was the Diary of a Teenage Girl novels. They may read different now that I’m older, but I just found they were much more complex, and easy to relate to as a teen, plus the teens in those books actually sound like teens.

Rating 5 of 10.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing in exchange for a review.

Book Review: Lisa Wingate’s Firefly Island

Firefly Island is a tie in to two previous novels before it. I couldn’t make sense of how these characters existed in past novels though, unless a lot of the characters there were already there before the previous book and the focus was on new additions. Regardless, this book was just very long winded. There were so many unnecessary passages working through the lead characters thoughts, and very cheesy scenes all over the place. I guess what is shocking for me is all the great reader reviews I’ve seen regarding this book. I just don’t get it.

Summary:  Mallory is 34 and working in congress as a staffer. When she bumps into Daniel at her office though a whirlwind romance begins. She goes from having no males in her life to two. Daniel also has a son, Nick, that she instantly becomes a mother to. Daniel though has revealed he is moving to Texas for a job, and for Mallory to feel comfortable coming along she gets married to Daniel trusting in her love for him. She leaves all she knows behind including her family. After arriving in Texas though she finds suspicious deaths have happened, and her husband is going to work for the man rumored to have caused them.


Characters: Oh my gosh. There isn’t a blander set of characters then you’ll find here. Mallory is a walking piece of cardboard. She goes through all the typical female things that are just embarrassing to read. She’s a 34 year old woman who blushes over sex, nags her new husband, and instantly attaches herself to a child out of motherly instincts. The woman who didn’t raise Nick, her new stepson, is painted out to be an evil woman who didn’t want children and chose her job over family.  It’s such an embarrassing and archaic stereotype. Let’s move on though. Daniel is also very bland, and his dialogue doesn’t sound like a guy’s. Christian Grey sounded more like a man than he did. There is also the kid, Nick, and also not interesting. Plus, Wingate tries to mimic the accent of some of the people living in this area of Texas. Now some people can pull off accents great, like Stephen King, then there is this, and I didn’t know what they were saying.

Writing: The writing rambles forever. If you write a novel from the perspective of someone then don’t try to cheat your way out of that by giving them a million assumptions to play over in the narrative, and then magically they all come true. Also, it’s like her husband can her mind along with most other characters. It’s just so generic. I just don’t like reading about the other puzzling over what her husband might assume about Jack West and then poof he tells her that is exactly what he was thinking. Plus, Mallory just isn’t written in a way that makes her an appealing character.

Plot: The plot for over half the book drags. She is going to Texas with this huge weight over her head that they are going to work for a killer. Her husband is irresponsible enough to drag his very new family that is in fragile territory considering they have been dating only 2 months before into a very rocky circumstance. It just makes Mallory look really desperate. We don’t even get into the mystery of the killer till the last bit of the book, and it is so underwhelming. Also, why at 34 does Mallory seem so immature? She isn’t acting like an independent, mature working woman. She is acting instead like she just got out high school.

There is an audience for Firefly Island, for those who like a clean, romance, alternative there are people who eat this up. I feel that just because you’re wanting to be more “faith” based, and more absent of sexual scenes that doesn’t mean your novel has to be bad. I feel that this book wasn’t even really faith based. It’s published by a Christian company so it’s almost like Wingate forced in some passages from the Bible, and a few prayers to show that characters are Christians, but more focused on developing their love lives than their faith in Christ.

Rating 2 of 10.

This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for a review.

Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Steve McQueen has only directed three movies, and all three are some of the best movies released in the past decade. To follow up all the talk, acclaim, and controversy that surrounded Shame, McQueen tackles the true story of Solomon Northup. With McQueen you can expect that he won’t lightly tackle the real horrors that happened to Northup. The true accounts are rare of what Northup experience along with many other slaves considering that most who lived through slavery couldn’t read or write.

Summary: Solomon Northup is a free man living in the north playing the violin, and living with his wife and two children. He’s offered a job playing in Washington and takes the job. He travels with the two white men to D.C., but after arriving there he wakes up to find himself chained. He’s been kidnapped and is being taken to be sold back into slavery. Now Solomon is preparing to be sold to a slave owner while his family is back in the north unaware of his whereabouts. Even as he he sold back into slavery though he is hopeful he can somehow return home.


Acting: Well someone better get a nomination this year it better be someone from this movie. Most likely it will be Chiwetel Ejofor who portrays Solomon in this movie. He plays the part with patience and power throughout the entire movie though you can’t imagine how you couldn’t have given up in his circumstances yet. Michael Fassbender is another one of the main roles in the movie, Edwin Epps, who is a slave owner. He’s probably in one of his first roles as a guy who is intentionally for bad. He’s scary and a bit insane, and it shows just how diverse Fassbender can be. Benedict Cumberbatch appears early in the movie as Ford. Cumberbatch plays something a little different from his usual as well. He’s a kinder guy who is more swayed in what is the popular opinion instead of by his own heart in the movie. Another performance that is the strongest and the most memorable for me is Lupita Nyong’o’s performance as Patsey. I feel she should get at least a supporting actress nod for the saddest role in the movie. It resonates with you long after the movie is over more than any other character in the movie. Patsey shows just how dark and terrible slavery was in America in ways another movie hasn’t.

Filming: The filming is very simple, but there is the way it is shot and the way the score is woven in that adds to the dramatic storytelling of the movie. We transition in a mixture of flashbacks and the present that builds the story as it goes. Once you realize some of the bits at the beginning were flashbacks of how Solomon got to where he is then it moves the story a lot more. There is never a slow moment in this movie as each piece already feels short as it is. Every moment seems to have reason in telling his story. Hans Zimmer did the score for the movie and it is soft when it needs to be and powerful in other moments as well.

Plot: Not a lot of movies depicting slavery are based on novels from the people who lived in slavery. There might be a few, but I haven’t known of any. McQueen bringing Northup’s book to light on what he lived through does really bring to reality just how gruesome it was. It’s one thing to hear about it and read about it in history books, or even see it through fictional accounts in movie, which are disturbing enough, but to see what was a man’s life it is even more powerful and sad. The story might not end on a bad note, but there is just something that is somber about this movie that doesn’t leave you with a good feeling, and that is becaue what happened was real.

12 Years Slave is one of the best, if not the best, of this year. I would be shocked if it didn’t get a lot of attention this upcoming year when the awards make their rounds. It’s powerful, it’s moving, it’s sad, and it’s also real. Steve McQueen also just keeps hitting his movies with hard realities no matter what it is that his characters are being dealt with.

Rating 9 of 10.

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

With the last movie being much more focused on character growth, this movie turns around and shows how Thor’s experience from the last movie has changed him. He’s become more conscious of others, and even a bit naive. One of the things I like about Thor is how with each movie the part that Thor thinks is okay about him will lead to repercussions. Whether it’s his ego that causes him to be cast as a mortal to earth, or well his new self that wants to believe in the good of others.

Summary: We left off with Thor returning home to Asgard and Jane left on earth waiting for his return. Jane isn’t the type to wait though and with Darcy she begins seeking out where she can find a passageway to his realm. Jane accidentally stumbles upon something though that is a huge threat to Thor and his world. Just as Thor is finishing bringing peace to all nine realms he finds that Jane has stumbled upon a weapon that can’t be destroyed, Aether, and that the Dark Elves now are wanting her to get it back. If the elves get it back though they will continue their mission to destroy Asgard.


Acting: Chris Hemsworth is good as Thor and he suits the role. Whether he’s being the overly arrogant guy from last one, or the guy more caught up in trying to find his way back to his love in this one, he conveys the many emotions that Thor is capable of well. I also like Natalie Portman as Jane. I think Portman brings out the feminine aspects of her character well without making her weak. Jane’s strength is her brains and I like how she plays that up in the movie. There is a huge cast of other characters as well like Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Rene Russo as Frigga. The other huge name that will most be aware of is Loki who is portrayed by Tom Hiddleston. It’s difficult for anyone else to be more stand out than him in the movie. The actor constantly has us guessing about which side Loki really falls on making him the main reason the movie stays compelling.

Filming: The movie has tons of special effects and they are all pulled off well.  Nothing looks like it was badly done as effects go in the movie. Everything as far as the action glides well too. A movie like this shows you how action can be done without it having to be cheesy. The scenes even at time look sort of terrifying. The vibe though of this being a fantasy movie and action/hero movie do work though. I felt like I was watching a The Lord of the Rings version of what a superhero would be like from there.

Plot: The plot builds very well from the last movie. We see how Thor has grown since he learned from his father’s punishment and met a woman that he loved. We also see how the realization of how evil his brother is has affected him. There are plenty of other events in this movie that will cause us to wonder where Thor goes in the next movie. The movie gets you involved enough with the characters though to be sad when tragedy happens and relieved when they find something to celebrate. Plus, the action scenes are quite intense. While this movie fails to be as funny as the first with dialogue it still brings in more seriousness well.

Thor is one of the better superhero movies there is. I find that Thor’s character development is more interesting and I like the romance in the movie. I think it just is more appealing than even Iron Man in the romance department. I’ve never felt the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Gwyenth Paltrow like I have between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth.

Rating 8 of 10.

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Book Review: Ted Dekker and Bill Bright’s Blessed Child

There were parts I enjoyed and others I found weakly written. Considering I’ve enjoyed Ted Dekker’s solo work I’m going to attribute this to Bill Bright. There are just times the book reads a little lame as far as the dialogue. The bad guys seem like they have B movie scripts written for them, and it just takes away from the book. Plus, the non-Christians are smoking and hanging out at bars while the Christians never are described as doing anything like that. The two leads don’t start out as Christians, but there most threatening thing is that they just don’t believe.

Summary: Caleb is an abandoned boy left in an Ethiopian monastery. As the country is becoming more endangered, Jason agrees to take Caleb away from the country along with a nurse, Leiah. Not long after escaping the country though they find there is something special about Caleb, he can heal. When they arrive in America his ability will land him at the center of attention. What would be believed to be welcome to those who need help, is also resisted by many who fear the boy’s power though.


Characters: The characters become more likable as the story continues on. Jason is the most likable of the group. He has has a severe loss in his life, and he has a lot of growth for a character that seems more real. Leiah isn’t bad as a character as well, but I guess since this book was written by two men I never felt she was a real woman. Caleb is the center focus of the book, and honestly I think the weakest character of the ones features. Some like Donna had more substance. Caleb is a different type of kid, but at no point would I have picked up on the fact he is a child apart from his use of Dadda. How does a kid talk so intelligently and maturely as Caleb does but yet he can’t say just Daddy?

Writing: The story line is fast paced and it has it’s parts of action, but the dialogue really struggles. It reads like a B-movie at times. Especially the dialogue with Crandal and Robert who are the villains of the story. There are also parts where the characters are discussing aspects of what is happening with each other that just doesn’t make for a realistic conversation. It would have been better explained in a narrative.

Plot: The plot though is unique and it doesn’t bore at all. The authors have taken someone like Caleb, who could easily leave anyone like us confused, and made him a good guy who has people who don’t only view his healing powers as a good thing, but instead maybe a sign of the anti-christ. That I could see as something really happening considering many people, even Christians, are skeptics nowadays of occurrences like this. The authors do a good job at exploring different views of Caleb, and ultimately summing up Caleb’s approach to his power as one he realizes isn’t something he can do himself, and he’s not able to heal everyone.

Blessed Child isn’t one from Ted Dekker I would recommend for anyone to go out to read, but the co-author help is a factor in that too. It lacks in some realistic character conversations, and I felt that only a few characters came off as people you could relate to. Plus, it felt like the authors thought everyone needed a severe problem to make them come across as someone you had empathy toward.

Rating 7 of 10.

This book was provided by Booksneeze in exchange for a review.

Book Review: Ted Dekker’s A Man Called Blessed

It’s a new cover on an older Ted Dekker novel. It’s pretty obvious though that this one features a co-writer as it doesn’t seem to have the vibe that other Dekker novels have. It’s probably one of the weaker ones from him that I’ve read. Nonetheless it is intriguing, but the writing seems very forced and at times I feel they are rambling to make a book. Like the conversation features dialogue that seems more suited for narrative instead of two characters talking. At these moments I wonder how much Bright was responsible for the writing as I hope Dekker isn’t like I remembered him to be.

Summary: In the follow up to Dekker and Bright’s first novel in the series, A Man Called Blessed, has us on a search for a man who may be the key to finding the ark of the covenant. That is if Rebecca can find him. This man though also has some past experiences he is hoping to face like his childhood ability to have faith that he seems to have lost. Finding him though and seeking to find this artifact will effect everyone in ways they don’t expect though. It’s another masterful journey from Dekker that explores complex themes.


Characters:  The characters don’t seem like anything that need expanding on after the first book. Leiah and Jason are still bland, but their conversations are at least better written. Caleb has turned into what is an attempt at a more interesting character. The thing is it always feels like the author’s are holding back on making him more complex. He has these doubts, but then quickly is over them. Rebekah is a new character introduced and lacks a lot of female characteristics that would make her more interesting to read. She says things that dumb down the writing quite a bit.

Writing: The writing for some reason just drones on and on. I really wanted to be done with this book, and that isn’t my usual feeling toward Ted Dekker. I definitely wouldn’t read any Bill Bright considering I think it was his contribution that did it. The thing they did improve on was making the narrative work better and the conversations. While it’s not the most interesting of books they at least seem to be having realer conversations.

Plot: Again, the plot was just dull. I think the plot was trying to mimic Indian Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark, too much in vibe. The characters felt very one dimensional though, and because they are limited in what they can react and do since it is supposed to stay family friendly it limits the possibilities of conflict that can be encountered as well. You have Rebekah awkwardly try to seduce Caleb, and the whole scene just feels out of place and weird to a character who claims she hasn’t been that physical with a guy, and then you have characters with stereotypical names like Abu. I hate to say, but it’s difficult to part that name from Aladdin.

A Man Called Blessed has a more mature vibe to the writing than Blessed Child did, but overall it says it’s a series that is better left behind. Dekker has much stronger series to invest time in and check out. This one just seems like one he teamed up with someone with to pass the time. It tries to explores doubt and faith, but as someone who has dealt with that it never strikes a chord with me.

Rating 4 of 10.