Movie Review: Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards (Five Stars)

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Theatrical Release Poster

(Expanded December 17, 2016)

Movie Review: Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards

Five Stars

The Dirty Dozen long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Good job. Good independent story with good tie-ins to Star Wars series. Almost anything I say will be a spoiler. Don’t read any synopses.

Loved the atmospheric quality of scenes set on planetary surfaces.

Caveat: This is a combat movie. The intensity of some scenes would be inappropriate for children, even/especially those who have seen other Star Wars movies and think it’s more of the same.

Inevitably, we compare it with both The Force Awakens and the six Star Wars movies. In summary, it’s different; it’s better. For loyal Star Wars fans it has many hooks to the greater story, especially to The New Hope (Episode Four, the original movie), as it grew from a line in the opening scroll of that movie. It’s also its own movie, with its own, though related music, book ends, and tone. It’s still set in that galaxy struggling between good and evil.

Part of what make this movie and most Star Wars stories connect to viewers is that they feel real. They take the viewer into the epic struggle each of us has with his own life. They are stories of dreams, challenge, self-sacrifice and redemption. They touch something deep inside us. Something not satisfied with the flash and cynicism of most Hollywood offerings. It’s not that these stories are true, but that they resonate with the truth in each of us.

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Movie Review: God’s Not Dead 2 (Three Stars)

theatrical release poster

theatrical release poster

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead 2 directed by Harold Cronk

Three Stars

I didn’t see this in the theaters partly because even Christians acknowledged that the first God’s Not Dead movie was shallow with poor production values. This time the production quality was good, the script was good, and the acting superb.

On the other hand, Rotten Tomatoes reviewed it as “Every bit the proselytizing lecture promised by its title, God’s Not Dead 2 preaches ham-fistedly to its paranoid conservative choir.” On the other hand, audiences loved it.

This was the final film role of Fred Thompson.

Non-Christians will not be inclined to watch this movie, but they’re missing a good experience on two counts. First, it’s a good story, well told. But send and most important, individual rights are under attack in our culture. Observe the condescending tone of the negative reviews.

Movie Review: Heaven is for Real (4 stars)

Heaven is for Real (movie)

(Four stars out of Five)

Occasionally Hollywood gets it right: “it” being a Christian movie. Not that Heaven is for Real is perfect, but it follows the book well and where it diverges it improves–by condensing and focusing. Not a big-budget blockbuster, but a solid, well-told story. Greg Kinnear, as Colton’s father Todd Burpo, is the only big name.
This “based on a true story” film about a child’s near-death experience, captures the emotion, the uncertainty, and the growing wonder of the book well. It doesn’t have easy answers and, in fact, when it dramatizes young Colton Burpo’s reports of heaven is where it goes farthest astray. A respectful, is necessarily compact, exploration of the other people’s reactions–both positive and negative–to Colton’s reported experience.

Connor Corum‘s portrayal of four-year-old Colton is nothing short of amazing, and worth the price of admission.
Quibbles: I doubt that many blacks lived in western Nebraska. Hispanics, yes. Sonja Burpo (played by Kelly Reilly) was just a bit too sexy. Why did they have to film it in Manitoba?