Movie Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams

(Four Stars)

“Some things are stronger than blood.”

Redemption. This story, indeed the entire Star Wars trilogy of trilogies, is about redemption. What you were does not determine who you are. (Your last movie need not condemn your next.) Certain critics may demur with good cause, but for the casual viewer it’s good enough.

“You were a spice runner? “You were a stormtrooper.”

This may not be the movie George Lucas would have made, but he whiffed a few himself. It is an appropriate and satisfying conclusion to the series he started over four decades ago. Is it really five stars? No, but I rounded up. I saw the original Star Wars movie within a week of its initial release. I’m relieved as well as satisfied.

“Who’s ever ready?”

Technically overpowering. Too loud, too many special effects, too fast. Who cares? Cameos? Lots. Some surprises. The nerds will go crazy. Hopefully that’s good.

“They won by making you think you are alone.”

Hard to say too much without spoiling. Even the apparent spoilers of the previews, out of context, don’t necessarily reveal what they seem. One spoiler: long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, the end is not necessarily the end.

“The Force will be with you.” “Always.”

Book Review: Hard Times by Charles Dickens (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Hard Times by Charles Dickens

(Four Stars)

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls noting but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.”

Stinging indictment of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get materialists of his time and ours. Though he wrote it a century and a half ago, Dickens’ critique of hard-nosed realists  true today.

“The only difference between us and the professors of virtue or benevolence, or philanthropy—never mind the name—is, that we know it is all meaningless, and say so; while they know it equally and will never say so.”

Probably not Dicken’ best story–it lacks the clear central character, the redeeming (if not sticky sweet) ending and the sentimentality of other tales–but Hard Times may be the most–dare I say–Christian of Dicken’s stories. Beyond the numerous references and allusions to the Bible, Hard Times is also a story of Continue reading

Book Review: The Potter’s Field by Ellis Peters (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Potter’s Field (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #17) by Ellis Peters

(Four Stars)

“Earth is innocent. Only the use we make of it can mar it.”

Murder, maybe. Red herrings, false accusations, and budding romance abound. Mystery’s video got close to right.

“I made a choice. It was even a hard choice, but I made it, and I hold to it. I am no such elect saint as Ruald.” “Is that a saint? It seems too easy.”

In the midst of a twisting whodunit, Pargeter explores the nature of a religious vocation and issues of life and death. Well plotted.

“If I am become a mere subtle, suspicious old man, too prone to see devious practices where none are, then I would rather not draw any other man into Continue reading

Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin

(Five Stars)

“Every feel like everything in your life is building to one big moment? This is it.”

Not just a really good Christian movie, a really good movie. Well written, well acted, well filmed and well produced. Based on the story behind MercyMe’s song by the same name.

“God can forgive you, I can’t.”

All about redemption, in many different forms.

“I saw God transform him from the man I hated to the man I wanted to become.”

Christian books and movies need to be good books and movies. They don’t get a bye because they are faith-based. This movie vindicates that opinion.

“The dad I wanted is about to leave me. How is that fair?”

Book Review: The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #2) by Liu Cixin

Four Stars

“It’s part of the plan.”

I struggled through the first hundred pages, thinking it’d be a shame to give up when I liked The Three-Body Problem so well. Slow pace and lots of references to the first book. Yes, I’ve read it, but I’ve slept since then. No clue who many of the players were or why I should care.

“It’s a wonder to be alive. If you don’t understand that, how can you search for anything deeper.”

Finally came into focus midway through. The pace accelerated and Liu swept me away again. Until the last hundred pages, I was still going to give it four stars, but the denouncement was great, if a lot more obvious to us than to the protagonist.

“I can’t see humanity. I can only see individuals.”

Speaking of obvious, once again Liu telegraphs his punches. It’s almost no spoiler to tell you what happens halfway through, but I’m not. Read it for yourself. Once again he explains the involved physics in excruciating detail. Lots of “as you know, Bob” data dumps.

“Thought control is everywhere in modern society.”

Love the references of psychohistory from Asimov’s Continue reading