Film · Iron Man · Marvel · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized

Avengers: Infinity War – Review

Infinity_War_Dolby_poster_1This review contains Mild Spoilers. Don’t forget to look for The 602 Club and Cinema Stories reviews out next week!

Never in the history of film has their been a build up like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For over 10 years and through 18 films, Marvel has carefully laid out the pieces to it’s master puzzle for Infinity War and the forthcoming Avengers 4. Now, part one of the juggernaut has arrived and the question on everyone’s mind is, “Does it live up?”.

Thanos

Shrouded in mystery and relegated to end-credit sequences for most of Marvel‘s ten years, he finally comes out of the aether and becomes the saga’s most formidable villain. For all the accolades Marvel has received, it’s greatest area of weakness has been it’s villains. To say this has been fixed in Infinity War is more complicated than a “yes” or “no” answer.

On the plus side for Thanos, he’s what you hoped when it comes to the challenge he presents to these heroes, especially since he does achieve his goal by the end of the film, he does rewrite the universe, leaving only 50% of it alive. The downside is the explanation as to why. Apparently, in the past, on his home planet of Titan, the population had grown too large. Thanos’ solution, just arbitrarily pick 50% of the people, from every walk of life and kill them. Shockingly enough, his people’s leaders reject this idea and it leads to the destruction of his home world.

Ergo he believes the only way to save the entire universe is to enact his aforementioned plan, but on a universal scale. So you could say it does make sense, but only from the most warped point of view and that view is compounded by his god complex. He believes himself to be a god, who is the only one willing to make the hard choice and the power to enact it. He sees his plan as a form of mercy, since those that are left in the universe will have “better” lives as a result.

This leaves Thanos as a middle of the road villain in the Marvel universe. He’s definitely the strongest and most challenging foil for the entire line up of heroes, yet his motivations only raise him slightly above mustache twirlier.

Only Part One

The most frustrating thing about the movie is that it is all set up for the coming, Avengers 4. It’s not bad, but it’s never great. No characters get to truly shine because there is just so much going on, your focus is always divided. And most frustratingly, the “gut punch” moment near the end, is moot, as we know it will mostly be washed away with the coming of part two. Sadly this film feels more mandatory than marvelous.

On top of all this, the action in the movie is rather banal, which is surprising since the Russo Brothers have given us some of the MCU’s most memorable action set pieces in Marvel. There are none of the stand out moments like the Cap vs Winter Soldier or the Cap vs Iron Man moments from Winter Soldier and Civil War, respectively. Instead the action devolves into clichéd CGI battles that lack the heart or character focus which has been a hallmark of the previous Russo entries.

The best thing the movie does is cull the hero herd for part two. Fans know, moving into this final chapter of the first ten years of Marvel, that some of these heroes will not make it past the next Avengers. With the heroes left on the board, the next film will have the time to full make their end what is should be.

Conclusion

Infinity War is a mixed bag that has the effect of one being served a gourmet burger and then only being given a minute to eat it. There is so much happening, yet there’s so little pay off, leaving the audience unfulfilled, wanting a better movie and resolution. We all know the conclusion is coming in 2019, so now that the compulsory is over, we wait and wait and wait. Infinity War is rated 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

 

Avengers · Comics · Film · Marvel · Movie Review · Movies

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Review

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-IMAX-HR-3In 2012 Marvel did something with it’s heroes that had not yet been seen from either of the two major comic companies, it put its biggest superhero team on screen, together. It had one of the biggest opening weekends in box office history and is now considered a classic. The question became, “Can you ever top this?” The Age of Ultron is now upon us and as the sequel to The Avengers, it has very big shoes to fill. Luckily it does have some intriguing themes.

Mad Scientists

There is an interesting conversation that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have about being mad scientists. Tony is already responsible for creating the Ultron program that has run amuck after he tried to bring it to artificial life. Tony believes that merging the construct that Ultron was creating for himself with Jarvis, he will be able to create Ultron’s doom.

It raises some very interesting questions. As Tony and Bruce work, they are meddling in things they don’t completely understand, their motive is pure but their methods are flawed. They are taking terrible risks. The alien technology they are trying to use has barely been studied and the consequences of their actions has already created one “Murder-bot”. You’d think they would have seen The Terminator and Skynet and learned something. Tony willing does not tell the rest of the team about his creative activities feeling there is no time to discuss it in committee. He also does not want to be told yet again that he should not be meddling in things he doesn’t understand. Tony and Bruce have not seemed to consider that just because one can do a thing does not mean one should.

These men want peace. They want to proactively protect the world. Captain America reminds Stark that every single time someone has acted preemptively, innocent people have ended up in the crosshairs. There must be responsibly in creation and Tony cannot see the line of how his will to protect could actually create the world’s greatest weapon. There is often a good chance that one will become the thing they hate if they are not careful. Ultron is very much a mirror for Iron Man, it is one of the strongest themes in the film, the hubris of thinking you can control everything through technological creation. History shows us that humanity is it’s own worst enemy, creating it’s own doom from which we desperately need salvation.

Why We Fight

This is really well done in the movie. The ideas of why these heroes do what they do. They are on the side of life and will do whatever it takes to protect it. That means that they do fight to kill and take out the threat. Vision reminds the heroes that even though Ultron is a unique creature, its aim is total annihilation of the world, therefore there is only one choice. Honestly it’s the best reason I’ve seen in a comic book movie for taking out the villain for good. As a hero you are protecting life by making sure the destruction planned by the bad guys can never happen again. Now of course there are people the heroes will go up against where these measures will not be needed, but something like Ultron or Zod, these are treats that have to be eliminated.

The Movie 

GDgeek_2015-May-03While the movie has some good themes, it feels extremely busy with not enough narrative focus. It is as if it’s trying to serve too many masters. the film is trying to finish the second phase of the Marvel franchise, set up the third phase, as well as tell a compelling story. There is so little explanation for the things happening on screen and if you blink you’ll miss the small amount that was there. From the enhanced twins, to Thor’s sight bath, so much is glossed over and never fully fleshed out; partly because it’s feels like it’s just set up for the next action scene. The action is good and there is a moment near the end of the movie that looks like splash pages from Avengers comics which is a lot of fun. Yet, it’s nothing revolutionary and it might just be because theirs so much action to digest that it begins to wash over you like a raging waterfall.

There are new characters in the movie, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision. Vision and Scarlet Witch are the two most interesting, with Vision stealing some scenes from the likes of Thor. Quicksilver, who’s character was seen in Days of Future Past (albeit with a different actor) and who’s scene was the stand out in that film gets nothing like that here. It’s as if they realized there was not topping that so why bother trying.

The rest of the main characters play off each other with ease. It’s a well oiled machine at this point. Unfortunately there are some things that get short shrift, like the romance between The Hulk and Black Widow. This really deserves it’s own movie as does Black Widow herself. The humor and banter, a Joss Whedon trademark are well represented with Captain America’s line about Iron Man watching his language getting huge laughs. It was also nice to see Hawkeye get something more to do than be mind-controlled. Renner gives some of the best lines in the film, bringing a humanity and levity to the craziness. He seems to be speaking as much to the audience as Scarlet Witch when he talks about a flying city, evil robots and he’s got a bow and arrow and how none of this makes any sense. It’s a nice wink to us in the seats.

Conclusion

This is a competent Marvel movie. All the actors and action are good, it’s the story that bogs down the film with the weight of all that’s it’s trying to accomplish that left me underwhelmed. It feels formulaic, as the plot is much the same as the original Avengers – team ends up fighting amongst itself, gets beat down, gets a pep talk from Fury, saves the day. One of the pitfalls of Marvel’s cinematic universe is that there is not always enough distinction between the films. I one of the things that made Winter Solider so good, it continued on the Captain America story while feeling fresh and new. Here’s hoping that Anthony and Joe Russo can bring that same sensibility from their work with Cap to Avengers: Infinity War part one and two. Age of Ultron is rated 3 out of 5 Captain America shields.

Film · James Bond · Movie Review · Movies · The Dark Knight Rises · Tolkien · Uncategorized

Best Movies of 2012

We are at the end of the year, so I thought I would go back over the list of movies that I have seen and give a quick rundown of my favorites. There is still one from this year that I would like to see and I may not have time to squeeze them in, Zero Dark Thirty. Unfortunately, Zero Dark Thirty is playing in limited release and is not in Dallas, so I will have to wait to see it in January when it goes national.

salmon-fishing-in-the-yemen-poster10. Salmon Fishing in Yemen 

I was won over by the performances in this film. I really enjoyed Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor together. This is one of those movies that is not afraid to have a happy ending and I like that. There is so much to enjoy here so I recommend this; it’s perfect for any weekend.

 

MV5BMzgwODk3ODA1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjU3NjQ0Nw@@._V1._SY317_CR0,0,214,317_9. Brave

I have been critical of Pixar in the past. I did not enjoy Ratatouille, Cars or Cars 2. Because of this I was extremely pleased with Brave. The animation is gorgeous and being set in Scotland won me over immediately. Kelly Macdonald and Emma Thompson are perfect as a mother and daughter that just can’t seem to see things from each other’s point of view. There are not a lot of children’s movies about mothers and daughters and Brave finally gives us a film about that dynamic. It is also refreshing to see a movie for kids about a nuclear family, since this is also a rarity. Well done Pixar; this is fun for anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale. For more on Brave go here.

The-Avengers-Movie8. Avengers

Even thought this is on the list at seven, it does not mean that I did not like this film. This is one of the best comic book romps ever. The casting is perfect and it all works, no matter how silly the story might be. This film will leave you excited to see the next time the Avengers assemble. My full review can be found here.

 

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7. Moonrise Kingdom

I enjoy Wes Anderson movies yet I am different than a lot of people in that I do not love The Royal Tenenbaums or Life Aquatic. This year I could not wait to see Moonrise Kingdom because, from the moment I saw the trailer I knew I was going to love it. I did not get to see it in the theaters, but that is the beauty of Netflix. This is a melancholy masterpiece. The story of identity, love and acceptance will leave you in tears if you let it; and as predicted, I loved this movie.

MV5BMTc3MjI0MjM0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTYxMTQ1OA@@._V1._SY317_CR0,0,214,317_6. Argo

Ben Affleck has been making a name for himself as a world-class director over the last few years. First he gave us Gone Baby Gone, then The Town and now he has branched out with his political thriller Argo. Affleck has not only directed but stared in this movie and everything he does works for me here. His casting is perfect and the story could not me more timely. Argo is a wonderful adult film that will leave your heart racing and your mind thinking long after it is over.

The-Hobbit-Part-1-An-Unexpected-Journey-2012-Movie-Poster-e13483392812555. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

There is not a movie that has had greater scrutiny this year than The Hobbit. So many critics gave this movie dismal reviews and yet the public has responded in droves. This movie lives up to it’s predecessors. The moment it starts you are back in Middle Earth. There could have been some editing down and there are a few moments that I did not love (Rock people and the last bit in the cave with the goblins), but over all it is worthy to stand alongside the other Lord of the Rings films. The messages of love holding back evil in the little things that people do every day is a powerful reminder. The Hobbit is fun from start to finish and will leave you longing for part 2 and 3. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on The Hobbit check out, The Observation Lounge episode, Wizards and Dwarves and Hobbits and Orcs and Goblins Oh My!.

220px-Dark_knight_rises_poster4. The Dark Knight Rises

This was the film I was most worried about. Ending a film franchise is one of the hardest things to do. Many have complained about Nolan’s last Batman film, but I am not one of them. I believe this is the best film in the group. This is a film about Bruce Wayne and the coming to terms with the consequences of creating the symbol of Batman. The questions of truth and living a lie come to the forefront, leaving each character grappling with the choices they have made in the previous two films. This was the end that surpassed every expectation I had for Batman’s final chapter. My full review is here.

220px-Silver_Linings_Playbook_Poster3. Silver Linings Playbook

I have just gotten a chance to see this film and everything that I have heard about it is true. This is an amazing film. The acting is superb. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are spot on as people going through intense emotional and psychological issues. I was not sure how I they would work together on screen since he is 15 years her senior, yet she never for a moment lets you believe that she is not his equal.

This movie portrays so well the truth that putting our faith in the wrong thing always leads to heartache and disappointment. The things that we put our faith in need to be secure enough and big enough to withstand that faith. The answer of the film is partially correct, putting our love, trust and faith in the right person. What is missing is that it cannot be a human being. No human can ever fully or completely love another and not disappoint them in some way. There is only one thing that can fully sustain our full trust and faith, the immutable and unchanging God. Only he can full know and love us as the way our hearts desire.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

MV5BMjM1MzMzOTA3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTE3NzA1OA@@._V1._SY317_2. Skyfall

The Craig era of Bond has been the closest we have ever come to seeing the origin story of the most famous spy in the world. Sam Mendes has created one of the best Bond films ever. From the opening shot to the closing credits this film is gorgeous! This is Bond at his best; very few gadgets, spectacularly maniacal villain and supporting characters that truly have a place to shine. Mendes should be praised for giving Dame Judy Dench so much to do, she is truly the Bond girl of this film. Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw are all welcome additions to the cast and will be great assets to the future films. This works not just as Bond movie, but also as a movie that has something to say about our world. It asks tough questions about how we respond to the scary, shadowy world we live in and because of this it deserves to be on every top ten list out there.

lincoln-poster_743x11001. Lincoln

No movie this year was more moving or more timely than this one. Coming out right after the election it was a painful reminder of how far politics has fallen in the United States. Lincoln was not afraid to use the power of the presidency to make this country better for the people, all the people. Daniel Day-Lewis is outstanding as Lincoln, showcasing home-spun wisdom while at the same time not being afraid to use ruthless political acumen in passing the 13th amendment, Lewis is perfect. Steven Speilberg has created a American masterpiece. My full review is here.

What where your favorite movies of the year? Leave me comment and let me know so I can make sure to see it!

C.S. Lewis · Christianity · Government · Politics · Superheroes · The Avengers · Tim Challies

Owl Post 5-24-2012

Click the title for the full article

Two perspectives on The Hunger Games:

Why Hunger Games is Flawed to Its Core:

Almost everywhere I go, I’m asked about The Hunger Games (book, not film). The questions used to fly about Twilight and Potter, but Katniss and dystopic death-matches have taken over.

Amusing Ourselves at Their Deaths:

Neil Postman begins his ground-breaking – and still controversial – Amusing Ourselves to Death by famously pitting the dystopian vision of George Orwell’s 1984 against that of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In summary, he noted that Orwell’s great anxiety was that the world would be controlled by fear and the suppression of truth, whereas Huxley suggested it would be manipulated through hedonism and distraction from truth. Big Brother inflicts pain, whereas the World State inflicts pleasure. Part 1, Part 2

Seven Key Ideas from C. S. Lewis:

I have heard it said that many well-known thinkers have only two or three key ideas that they develop from various angles throughout their lives. It might be asked: What are C.S. Lewis’s key ideas? I have chosen seven to summarize in this essay.

Joss Whedon on Comic Books, Abusing Language and the Joys of Genre:

Geeks love Joss Whedon. In his TV shows and movies — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, Serenity, Firefly — he gives them not necessarily what they want, but definitely what they need.

His characters are smart and self-aware. He’s steeped in pop culture and has a clever way with the twists and turns of science fiction tropes. And he infuses the potential clichés of genre writing with emotion and heart. Plus, he writes female characters who kick ass, which makes him so rare as to besui generis in Hollywood.

The Age of Innocence:

The people who pioneered democracy in Europe and the United States had a low but pretty accurate view of human nature. They knew that if we get the chance, most of us will try to get something for nothing. They knew that people generally prize short-term goodies over long-term prosperity. So, in centuries past, the democratic pioneers built a series of checks to make sure their nations wouldn’t be ruined by their own frailties.

U.S. Craft Beer Brewers Thrive, Despite Small Share Of The Market:

It’s a good time to brew beer in America. According to beer expert Julia Herz, U.S. brewing isn’t just on the upswing, it’s on top. “We’re now the No. 1 destination for beer, based on diversity and amount of beers,” she says.

The Ledger:

Near the center of every religion is a ledger. Every religion acknowledges, on one level or another, that people do good things and bad things and every religion then maintains a tally, supposing that one day there will come a reckoning. Every religion hopes that on the day of accounting, the day of the audit, the good will outnumber or outweigh the bad. There is hope for those who come to that day with a surplus and no hope for those who come with a deficit.

Marvel Movie Infograph:

atheism · Christianity · Identity · mbird.com · Movies · The Avengers

Avengers – The Review

Avengers-Alternative-Minimalist-Movie-Poster-063I went into the theater with trepidation. So many summer comic-book movies have let me down in the past few years. Green Lantern was a CGI mess and Captain America and Thor left me wanting more. I have not truly been surprised by a comic-book movie since the original Iron Man. Avengers had a lot to live up to, especially since it involves the aforementioned characters, plus the Hulk, who has his own string of failed films. Lastly there are two characters who are relatively unknown; they have had very minor roles shoehorned into the previous Marvel movies. So, here is the good news (that all of America already knows because they have already seen the movie): Avengers is simply amazing. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves a thrill ride and a movie that will make you think, if you are paying attention.

Director Joss Whedon had a very important decision to make with these characters: Who should be the center of the film? Should it be the narcissistic, billionaire, genius, philanthropist playboy? Maybe the rage-weary scientist who can’t seem to keep a lid on his temper (and you won’t like him when he is angry)? There is the aloof demigod from another world who sounds like Shakespeare in the park. Or maybe the damaged spy with a thirst for redemption and salvation from a past filled with bloody mistakes. Penultimately there is the archer, silent and strong, but he was taken hostage by evil in the first 10 minutes. So this leaves us with the virtuous man out of time, Captain America (aka Steve Rodgers). Even his name harkens back to a bygone era where the name America did not engender hate, and being captain of it would be a badge of honor and courage. As the other “heroes” bicker and literally fight one another to prove that they are the most worthy, it is Captain America that serves as the voice of moral reason and sanity. Rodgers is able to stand between the other heroes and help them see that this is not about their petty differences and personalities; like a good soldier, he helps them to see the importance of the mission and teamwork to accomplish what none of them could do on their own. Rodgers gives us a picture of what has been lost to our past – a clear moral compass, a sense of duty and honor, and doing unto others as you would have them do to you. It is this heartbeat that that enables the team truly act as one in the end.

“Kneel before me. I said… KNEEL! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.” – Loki

This is a huge part of the movie, this idea of freedom and subjugation. Loki says that all people are looking to be ruled and of course, as any good bad guy, he believes that he is the one best suited to do that ruling. He craves the adoration and the worship of others. He craves them because of the inferiority complex that he suffers because his brother is Thor, the biceped demigod of Asgard. In the end, Loki is as much a slave as we all are, driven by a desire to be loved and validated as a person. In his quest to rule he makes himself a slave to his need for control and power. Recently Joss Whedon made a speech in accepting the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Society. He is an atheist and was talking about what the atheist response should be to the world. He said,

How do we codify our moral structure without the sky-bully looking down on us telling us what we’re suppose to do?…..The enemy of humanism is not faith; the enemy of humanism is hate, is fear, is ignorance, is the darker part of man that is in every humanist, every person, in the world. That is the thing we have to fight. Faith is something we have to embrace. Faith in God is believing absolutely in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary. (From mbird.com)

What I am struck by is that this flies in the face of reason and plays out in the movie. Loki, who longs to be free and to rule, is driven by his fear and feelings of inadequacy. Each of the heroes is also a slave – slaves to narcissism, pride, guilt, shame, fear, anger and so many other things. In the end, the axiom is proved that we are all slaves to something. I like the way cinemagogue.com puts it,

We lose our joy in a mad scramble for identity by attaching it to something lesser, binding our hopes and dreams to a celebrity, a politician, a spouse, a fictional universe or hero, a national identity, a career, a co-dependent relationship, or vicarious achievements through our children. We “freely” soil our knees on these shifting foundations hoping these things will satisfy, give us purpose and worth. Worst, we effectively see ourselves as “god”, the center of our own life and universe, and find ourselves kneeling to an identity that is certain to let us down, shackled to our own fallibility and finitude.

Loki is right again: we crave subjugation and lose our joy, chasing a “freedom” (that is actually enslavement) and declaring it as our identity.

We are constantly waging this fight for freedom and like Wheedon says, the last thing we want is some cosmic sky-bully telling us what to do. Like Adam in the garden we want to be like God, to know it all and be our own master, captain of our own ship. Bonnie over at Mockingbird.com says,

I agree with some parts of Joss’ point. He considers the “dark part of man” to be the enemy of humanism. And every person has this dark part inside of them. I don’t disagree that there is evil inside all of us (we call it “sin” or peccator). What I am surprised (and a bit confused, to be honest) by is why he would still put his faith in humanism if the enemy of humanism is in every person, including every humanist?

Is not looking for something different even after you have seen it proved again and again a definition of insanity? The thing is, we are meant to live in freedom, freedom from living as masters of our own fate and in submission to the one who is truly Master, even over death. The apostle Paul reminds us of our place in his letter to the Colossians:

He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

It is only by understanding our place in the universe that we can truly have freedom, and this brings us back to the heart of the story, Steve Rodgers. It is his belief in good, right and wrong, and the duty of a soldier to put himself in harm’s way to protect others that give us the clearest picture of the gospel. It also flies in the face of atheism and the glorification of humanism and self. In the end, it is all the other heroes that take on the characteristics of Captain America and become willing to lay aside their desires and even their lives for the lives of others. This is clearly seen at the end of the film where Tony Stark, the most egotistical and self-centered hero in the group, is willing face to certain death to save the world.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 ESV)

It is only in letting go and thinking of others before ourselves that we truly become free. We are not slaves to serving others, we are freely putting aside our insecurities and self to make others a priority. I can be a slave to myself or freely give to others. Which will you choose: the way of Loki or the way of Captain America and the Avengers?

Really liked this video from Cinemagogue.

Books · Christianity · ebooks · mbird.com · Michael Horton · Movies · The Avengers · The Gospel · Tim Challies

Owl Post 5-5-2012

 

DOUBLE LIVES “The Avengers” and “Headhunters.”

If you are a Marvel fan, then “The Avengers” will feel like Christmas. Thanks to the merry doings of the director, Joss Whedon, all your favorite characters are here, as shiny and as tempting as presents under the tree. You get Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.); Steve Rogers, or Captain America (Chris Evans); Natasha Romanoff, or Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); Bruce Banner, or the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), whose real name is Thor. None of the weirdos from “X-Men” make the grade, nor do half-pints like Ghost Rider or the Silver Surfer, though I think that Whedon missed a trick: for old times’ sake, why not zip back to the first Marvel movie and wheel out Howard the Duck?

Joss Whedon on The True Enemy of Humanism:

The enemy of humanism is not faith; the enemy of humanism is hate, is fear, is ignorance, is the darker part of man that is in every humanist, every person, in the world. That is the thing we have to fight. Faith is something we have to embrace. Faith in God is believing absolutely in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary.

Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop Selling Kindles:

Target, signaling its growing irritation with its rival Amazon, announced on Wednesday that it would stop selling the online retailer’s Kindle e-readers.

Letting Herself Go:

A short time ago blogger and author Rachel Held Evans wrote an article she titled “Thou Shalt Not Let Thyself Go?” She began it this way: “In my quest for biblical womanhood, I’ve found that sometimes there’s as much to learn from what the Bible doesn’t say as there is to learn from what it does say.” Her article, she suggested, reflected something the Bible doesn’t say. She looked to Mark Driscoll, Dorothy Patterson and Martha Peace and pointed out how each one of them has at one time suggested that a woman has to be careful that she does not “let herself go” after having children or after being married for some time.

Has the Gospel-Centered Emphasis Gone Too Far?

R. C. Sproul, James Boice, and J. I. Packer were already stirring many evangelicals with the vision of a great God who saves sinners by a grace that is amazing from start to finish. Out of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, chaired by Dr. Boice, a host of annual conferences sprouted up across North America. Ligonier Ministries gained a national platform. Inspired and nourished by these efforts, several of us started the White Horse Inn and Modern Reformation 20 years ago out of a concern that we need to recover the riches of the Reformation, with the gospel of justification in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, at its heart.