Tag Archives: Family

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Review

guardians_of_the_galaxy_vol_two_new_poster3Don’t miss The 602 Club episode!

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Marvel is a machine. It’s been pumping out hits (with the occasional miss) since Iron Man in 2008. This summer is no exception as the ever popular Guardians of the Galaxy are back in Vol. 2. The first movie was cotton candy, summer fun, so the question is, can this second film find more depth than the first? Luckily, it does.

Family 

Guardians of the Galaxy was about a group of misfits finding family together and Volume 2 is a continuation of that theme. The concept of the the Guardians as family is challenged in this movie as both Peter and Gamora have to deal with prior or blood relatives. Peter finally comes face to face with his father and as Luke found out in The Empire Strikes Back, knowing who your father is, is not always the best thing. Peter’s story mirrors much of Luke’s as he must choose between ruling the galaxy with his father or saving it as a Guardian. He also finds that he may always have had what he was looking for right in front of him.

Peter’s dad is a Celestial, basically a god, who has lived for millions of years and in that time learned to create worlds. Being alone for so long, he found a way to create a physical form and travel the stars, looking for companionship and love. This is how he met Peter’s mother. Ego, the name of Peter’s dad, decides to turn his back on love and embrace a “higher” calling, to expand the universe, remaking worlds in his image.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-2-kurt-russell-chris-prattEgo has spent millennia trying to create progeny that can assist him in his quest to remake the galaxy and Peter is the first child to share his abilities. He’s no longer alone, but it’s not truly family that he is after, it’s just power. He’s come to see himself as above all other life, since he’s immortal, at least as long as his essence is kept alive at the core of the planet he’s constructed. He has divorced himself from the family of beings in the galaxy, placing himself on a higher plane because of his immortality, which enables him to rationalize exterminating whomever and whatever, since comparatively they are inferior. It’s a reminder that the moment people being to see themselves as better than others, it usually leads to marginalization or at it’s worst, extermination.

Gamora and Nebula finally get something to do in this film! They get the opportunity to deal with what has driven them apart and left them at each others throats for so long. They come to terms with the ways in which Thanos drove a wedge between them, used them and realize that they are actually on the same side. Forgiveness is given and it’s a beautiful scene in the movie. It was great to see them really give these actors a storyline to dig into.

The Movie

This movie is not as slickly put together as the first, it does not seem to flow quite as well as the original, but it has more depth and that makes up for it. It’s nice to have the characters go deeper into themselves. It’s still a little cliche, but it feels stronger and more resonant as a film. Because of these things it’s rated 4 out of 5 Baby Groot dances.

PS

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The Hollars – Review

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Life is so unpredictable and the choices we make are made with so little information, yet they can lead to the most unexpected things. The Hollars, John Krazinski’s new film, is all about life in its messy, glorious joys and sorrows. The story revolves around John Hollar, who is recalled home when his mother is diagnosed with a brain tumor. He is quickly dragged back into his utterly flawed family, a pursuant ex-girlfriend and the need to juggle the pregnant girlfriend he left back in New York. What follows is a poignant reminder of just how important living life to the fullest can be.

The Struggle of Manhood

I really like the way the movie deals with the issue of manhood and how hard it is to live up to society’s expectations as well as our own. John Hollar is in a job he’s not proud of, with a dream of being a graphic novelist, yet he feels inadequate for the task of completing his book. On top of that, he’s left feeling like he’s a failure in the eyes of his girlfriend. She comes from a wealthy family and he knows he can never provide the kind of life she’s accustomed to.

Don Hollar is John’s dad. He’s spent his life running a plumbing business that is now falling apart. The pain for him, as his life’s work crumbles and the love of his life is in the hospital, threatens to crush what’s left of this sensitive soul.

Ron Hollar, John’s brother, is by all accounts the black sheep of the family. Divorced and forced to live in his parents’ basement because he’s out of work, he’s wrestling with the consequences of his life decisions. It was he that wanted the divorce a few years ago, but now he’s realizing the mistake he made and how much he wishes he could go back.

Each one of these men portrays a different aspect of manhood and just how hard it can be to navigate. Feelings of inadequacy drive men to do many things–pull away from those they love, search for greener pastures or just give up. Each Hollar man in the movie has to find the courage to move forward in the choices he’s made. John finds a way to fully commit to his girlfriend Rebecca, Ron must face the consequences of breaking up his family and Don must find the strength to deal with his business and his wife’s illness. In each situation true manhood shines when responsibility is taken for where their decisions have led them but also when they realize that manhood does not require you to walk though life alone.

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A Few Quick Things 

As a quick aside, the marriage of Don and Sally Hollar is just beautiful. Both young when they married, they might have gone on to do other things, yet they honor one another in the commitment they made to each other. And they show true sacrificial love towards the other, being the rock each other needs in the worst of times. They are far from perfect in their marriage, but they are inspirational.

Another quick aside. Ron’s ex-wife Stacey is seeing the new youth pastor at the church. Now, many times the “Christian” character in the film is there to be the butt of jokes, but here, he’s actually everything you’d want him to be. He’s kind to Ron, looking to actually help him. He steps in after Ron has been arrested in the movie and “rescues” him from the police. He does not force his beliefs on Ron, but gives him a sounding board and helping hand. It’s always a pleasant surprise when Christians in movies are portrayed in a positive light.

Conclusion

The Hollars is one of those rare films that comes along, in the midst of towering blockbusters, to remind you of the power of a well-told story. I recommend you go seek this one out and enjoy the simple pleasures of explosion-free cinema.

Help for the Helpless

unborn-baby-imageThe single greatest travesty of our time is that people think there is something more important than protecting the most helpless among us, the unborn. If you do not star there, you cannot say you respect life. All life has to be respected from beginning to end. If someone is willing to sacrifice the most helpless among us on the alter of convenience, what else will they be able to sacrifice. David in Psalms reminds us why we protect the unborn, because it is not some parasite or collection of cells it is God own creation,

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)

And we reflect His image.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:26 ESV)

How you deal with the most helpless among us shows where your character lies and what your moral standard is built on. Ours is build on the author of all creation. Jesus calls us to take care of the needy,

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40 ESV)

There is none that is more in need than the unborn. Now this means we, the family of God, have a responsibility to care for the mothers who find themselves in this position. We need to be the ones they know they can run to for help because our arms are open to all that are in need. Love has to be our heart and what guides our actions. We should not be judging them but loving them, they need someone to walk beside them and help them make the most difficult decisions of their life knowing that they will be supported throughout the entire pregnancy as well as in raising their child if they decide to not give it up for adoption.

Christ’s words also call us to care for those in need, whoever they are. We are called to generosity and open arms. We must care for people from birth to death, physically, mentally, spiritually, in a word, holistically.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17 ESV)

Here is our call believers, here is our mission, to support those in need from the unborn to the elderly and everyone in between. Forgive me Lord for failing at this for so long and give me the strength to take up the work you’ve left for us to do. Fight the good fight, run the race remembering,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

Lions, Babies and Death; Oh My

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Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)

From the beginning of time, we have been charged with caring for the earth, its plants and creatures and filling it with descendants that can carry on that mandate. Our goal is to be God’s representation on earth and govern well the gift we have been given. We are to treat with respect, this planet and it’s inhabitants in our care. To do that we are called to raise families, have children that will take up that mantle and carry forth the mission.

cecil_the_lionMuch has been made in the last few days about a man who hunted a lion in Africa. I have no problems with hunting if the end result is someone is going to eat the meat that animal provided with it’s death, but I would argue that killing for sport goes against our second mandate from God, to have dominion over the earth and care for it as God would. So it is tragic when an animal dies but for no other reason than to prove a man with a firearm can kill a defenseless animal.

One does not have to look hard to see that before the command to take care of the earth and it’s myriad of creatures and plants, there is something else, something paramount to allowing the completion of the second: humans are to be fruitful and multiply (that’s Biblical poetic language for have sex and babies).

plannedparenthood3Longer than the story of the lion, there has been something else lurking in the news shadows, videos of Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the sale of aborted baby parts. The very idea seems like something out of a Nazi-infused nightmare. It should come as no surprise. To make palatable the wholesale murder of innocent human life we have conveniently devalued it by calling it a fetus and “questioning” whether it is really human or proto-human or just some kind of parasite that may become a human. The argument has been leveled that science has not determined when life truly begins, therefore it is acceptable to take the life of a fetus within a certain time frame. But is this how we define life or humanhood?

There is no scientific reason for defining life by existential means such as an organisms ability to survive. Speaking scientifically, biological history is riddled with organisms that weren’t able to survive. It did not define whether they were alive in the first place, only whether they’d continue living. As for a scientific argument we might look at verifiable evidence rather than a philosophical conjecture that is not falsifiable. A fetus contains DNA. A full grown adult also contains DNA. The DNA code that determines exactly what species, deficiencies, or anomalies an organism will be and have never changes. So, speaking scientifically, there is no demonstrable difference between an organism as a fetus and the same organism full grown other than replication of the genetic code stimulating the growth and development of the organism. So I’m afraid your definition of life is not a scientific one, but a philosophical one that rests squarely on existentialism. Neither verifiable nor falsifiable. – Steven Nelms

The road here is full of danger. If the argument of humanity is based on anything other than the DNA of science, it becomes too easy to begin rationalizing, as Peter Singer has, the death of a child up to two years old or euthanasia. The slope here is more that slippery, it is a black hole and moral abyss the likes that have been seen before. It is no different than the treatment of anyone the Nazis found lacking, they changed their name, devalued them and made it acceptable to treat them as nothing more than animals or worse. And let’s be honest here, this same attitude that use to be applied to African-American slaves so as to morally legitimize their treatment as mere cattle or in many cases worse.

Can we not see that our lack of historical understanding has lead us to the greatest crime perpetrated by humanity on itself? How often we become our own worst enemy.

Houston-1Is it not our duty then as human beings then to err on the side of life? If the DNA is the same and science has proved that, does not science cry out that it is always a human, from conception, nothing more, nothing less? On top of that science is medical science that is allowing babies as young as 20 weeks to survive outside the womb and fetal surgeons to repair defects in babies in as young as 18 weeks. The contradiction is astounding, Why would it matter if this is not a human? Science is proving the point for us, from conception it is a human and therefore deserves out respect and care.

We should be outraged when life is lost because of deliberate death, all deliberate death of innocent beings. The lion was as helpless as the baby, each one is at the mercy of someone else to protect it. What is unimaginable is that the violent reaction from the world has not been for the death, dismemberment and sale of human babies, but instead a lion. I mourn the death of one of God’s creatures because of “sport” but my heart bleeds for the 125,000 abortions per day around the world. And unfortunately you will see no pictures on celebrities Instagrams of babies or aborted babies, but you will see a lion. The most helpless among us and we do nothing to protect them, what does that say about us?

Our call, from the very beginning of time has been to have children and raise them up in the way they should go so that when it is their turn they can care for the incredible planet God has given us. We’re failing at both.

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Unexpected – Review

large_unexpected_ver2Summertime is usually know for movies that contain multiple explosions per minute but sometimes those small independent films find their way to a theater near you and make your summer. Unexpected is one of these movies and like it’s title it’s an unforeseen treasure. Colbie Smulders stars as Samantha Abbott, a science teacher at a closing Chicago high school who finds out that she’s pregnant, while at the same time her star student Jasmine finds herself pregnant as well. What follows is surprising story of two women, from contrasting backgrounds and the struggles faced trying to bring children into the world.

Expectations

Unexpected does a wonderful  job of showing the unrealistic expectations that are on women these days. They are suppose to go to college, meet someone, have a career and find the perfect time to have a child. Samantha’s mother remarks that her having a child is happening all out of order, that she should have had a wedding first and then gotten pregnant. While at the same time chiding her for even considering being a stay at home mother. Luckily Samantha does have a supporting husband, John, who has the ability to support her if she decideds to stay home. What is heartbreaking is to see the struggle for Samantha to be able to admit that she does want to stay home, that it is ok for her to want to do that while her child is young. Her mother, later in the movie, reminds her of something quite poignant, that whether you work or stay home, either one is a sacrifice, but that being with your child is always rewarding.

The expectations that women face today many times leaves them in their 30’s before the thought of kids even enters the picture. And with the way society has fractured, so that families are smaller, organized religion is no longer providing community, many people find themselves alone when pregnancy hits. They don’t have friends that have children, they may not have grown up with siblings, so women find themselves woefully unprepared with no where to turn for guidance. Society has downplayed the importance of family and children so much that when people find themselves soon-to-be parents they have no experience from growing up or around them to draw upon and that leaves many feeling not joy but fear.

unexpected-movieOne of the most interesting things is the parallel of Jasmine with Samantha. Jasmine, from the outside seems to be behind the eight ball. She is from a poor neighborhood, has been raised by her grandmother after mother abandoned them because of drugs and is soon to be an unwed mother. Yet Jasmine is surrounded by a community to help her and because of that support she’ll be able to attend college in the city and be with her baby. Samantha spends so much of the movie trying to help Jasmine, when it is really Samantha that has no clue what to do. It becomes clear that nothing can replace community.

New Life 

Hollywood is not particularly known for being overly pro-life in it’s films, yet Unexpected is. There’s a beautiful moment when Samantha and John are at the doctor’s office for their first ultrasound and she sees the heartbeat on screen for the first time and it becomes real to her, that there is a life inside her. It can be so easy to forget that since the baby is hidden, but as that window opens, so do her eyes to what’s truly happening; she carrying a human baby. Neither of these women planned for their pregnancy, yet each of them decides to do the best for that new life. John Lennon famously said that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans and that is exactly what happens to the characters in this film. Having a baby is never going to be convenient, but it is always going to be a blessing whether that’s to the biological parents or the adoptive parents.

Conclusion

Unexpected is a true summer gem. Seek it out, you won’t be disappointed. Colbie Smulders is fantastic as Samantha and Gail Bean as Jasmine will melt you heart. This movie, for it’s celebration of life, in all it’s messy glory is worth your support. Unexpected is rated 4 and a half sonogram heartbeats.

Inside Out – Review

inside-out-5492d0c4e3912There are times when a movie comes along and grabs you right away, and in less than five minutes you find moisture welling up at the side of your eyes. Pixar seems to understand this effect well. They did it with the movie Up and have found a way to improve upon it with their latest masterpiece, Inside Out. The film follows Riley Anderson and her emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust as the Anderson family relocates from Minnesota to San Francisco. As Riley tries to acclimate to her new surroundings, her emotions try to keep up with the new experiences as well as the general task of growing up. What follows is one of the best and most poignant films ever made about growing up.

The Problem of Evil 

One of the most surprising themes of the movie is how sadness, disappointment and bad things actually have their place in our lives. Riley’s emotions are lead by their fearless leader Joy, who is the true operator in this young girl’s life. Oh Fear, Anger and Disgust have their place, but it is Joy that they all look to. Joy is so much at the forefront that Sadness often feels left out, unimportant and seen as a nuisance to the other emotions. It is here that the themes blossom. So much of our lives are driven by the desire to avoid sadness and experience nothing but happiness and joy. We don’t see the use of sadness, disappointment or heartbreak, doing all we can to minimize them. This is played to perfection in the movie as Joy constantly tries to do exactly that, basically putting Sadness in the corner to keep her from messing everything up.

The situation escalates as Sadness and Joy find themselves lost in long-term memory with Riley’s core memories, the ones that make up who she is. As they journey back to the control center they learn the importance of Sadness to Riley’s existence. The revelation is truly the best explanation for the problem of pain that I’ve ever seen. Joy learns how it is Sadness that leads to the fullest extent of joy in a persons life. It is only when we have known deep despair or troubles that joy can be felt to the maximum. As Charles Kingsley said, “Pain is no evil, unless it conquers us.” Pain often brings us closer to others, as it does for Riley and her parents, and is often God’s way of drawing us closer to his side. So much of the time happiness allows us to think that we do not really need God, but it’s through suffering that we realize how helpless we truly are. Psalms reminds us, The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Inside Out powerfully and emotionally helps illuminate for everyone the ways in which the worst things in our lives can actually become the best, sadness and joy going hand in hand. It’s here that complex emotions are born; things are never simple but a jumble of joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust.

Conclusion

Pixar continues to create brilliant original movies. Inside Out may be their best work because it’s not only good for children but adults and everyone in between. It’s a movie that will have you tearing up the whole time as you remember those moments that defined your life and changed the way you viewed the world. With themes that resonate like this, let’s hope that Pixar continues to pursue original works. Go see this film, it’s a five out of five emotions.

The 602 Club 22: All Good Dragons Go to Heaven

tsc-022-th-squareDragonheart.

There are so many movies that come out in theaters and most of them will not be a mega hit. A majority of movies come and go with little fanfare after their initial run, yet there are some that find an even greater audience beyond the theater. These films become cult classics.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Suzanne Abbott to talk about the cult classic, Dragonheart. We discuss famous dragons, the big themes of the film, the story, some of our favorite parts, the cast, production value, music and give our ratings.