The “coming-of-age” genre usually produces a mixed bag of things to chew on, many of them worthy of spitting back out because they are pure junk.
Our culture sucks at helping kids grow up well. We teach them how to burn themselves out physically and emotionally before they are even in their 20s. We teach them to place their identities in fragile, superficial things. We teach them far too early about sex (often a toxic version of it) but not about true love and creating healthy relationships. We drive a wedge between children and their parents and then wonder why both fall apart. We give kids unrealistic expectations for life and misplaced priorities and then watch them unravel over time. We encourage children to do foolish, bad things and then act like holding them accountable is wrong (FYI, that’s not how the adult world works, so we are setting them up for a fall).
We glorify trauma at a level that waters genuine trauma down and also extends the power trauma has over children’s lives. We over hype life’s BIG moments but fail to cast a vision for the long journey that life is.
And unfortunately, coming-of-age movies usually add fuel to the fire…but occasionally, a gem of a movie comes along.
Chang, a 16-year-old Asian American, bets the highschool basketball star that he can dunk by homecoming. The bet leaves 5’8′ Chang on a quest to learn to dunk–not only to impress his crush Kristy, but gain the respect of his highschool peers as well. But before he can rise up and truly throw one down, he’ll have to re-examine everything he knows about himself, his friendships, and his family.
Disney+ film description
I had seen a trailer a few months back and thought it might be cute but not necessarily memorable. Instead, I found myself gripped on a human level by the simple story of a kid who believes if he can just dunk a basketball, his life will change for the better. The story is simple, but the portrayal, meaning, and themes are rich and deep. We watch a kid learn what it means to grow up and grow up well. You come away from the movie having learned something and feeling encouraged, a rarity for movies in this genre.
Chang is a relatable hero if a flawed one. His dysfunctional relationship with his mother is one that can ring true for many families. His friends are genuinely positive relationships that shape and guide him throughout his story. His absent father is a subtle, never-seen character in the movie, but his lack of presence is felt in both the lives of Chang and his mother. That being said, his character is also shaped by an incredible mentor figure who gives him wisdom and guidance when he needs it the most.
Chang’s life and perspective are shaped by both lack and blessing. You see him rise high, and you see him fall hard. It’s sometimes a painful and even intense experience. These harsher moments are balanced out by moments of light humor, life-giving conversations, and actions of love and redemption.
This movie surprised me with the layers of depth and symbolism they wove into the story and characters. Plot threads were laid down well and followed through. The character arcs were realistic and messy in how they were lived out, but graceful and triumphant in their resolve.
If I went into every detail of this movie that I found beautiful, this article would be ridiculously long, and I would spoil the whole story. Instead, I will give you the highlight reel.
Chang is faced with many obstacles. He overcomes them, but not without facing failure, the death of some of his expectations and beliefs, and even a miserable amount of humiliation. This movie is more honest about what it looks like to fall, but the great part is watching how Chang gets back up. He accepts his lessons with humility, and he receives the wisdom offered to him by his friends, mentor, and even his mother. He does not park his life in his pain and failures (a terrible lesson we are unfortunately teaching many young people) instead, he grows through them and perseveres until things do get better. We watch Chang grow in character and in peace with both himself and others.
Chang’s mother is not likable for most of the movie, sometimes she is wrong and that is clearly shown. But rather than just painting her as a straight-up villain like many coming-of-age stories, we are also given a compassionate view of her broken heart, as well as the guilt she carries over her failures. She’s shrinking down to nothing inside, and she doesn’t know what to do. She and Chang spend much of the movie at odds with each other, but progress is made when they choose to love, forgive, and turn toward each other. This movie actually paints positive parent-child relationships as a necessary and desired part of life. How refreshing!
Chang’s friends are supportive of him, but also honest. The girl he likes, Kristy, has a healthy self-esteem and identity that is separate from being “the pretty girl everyone is interested in”. She encourages him in his relationship with his mother and also calls him out on the carpet about his crap. His best friend Bo supports him with his time and belief in him and is a good sounding board.
Chang’s mentor speaks life, wisdom, and affirmation throughout the movie. His powerful words of grace and gratitude put to shame the cheap, superficial jargon about small dreams, self-obsession, and empty goals many other movies of this genre have. He sees who Chang is, and who Chang will be, and he actively helps him on the journey of becoming that person. He is for Chang what his mother is struggling to be, and what his father won’t be.
Chang’s great moment of humiliation is intense and miserable, but you are shown that this awful experience is not the end of his life (we need to stop teaching kids this, it’s literally killing some of them)…in fact, this moment for him is the beginning of something deeper and richer. By the time you reach the end of the movie, you see a dream come alive that’s bigger than just dunking a ball. You see Chang for who he was made to be, and it is beautiful. He has grown, and we have grown with him.
If you are looking for a movie that will actually encourage your children to grow and thrive, Chang Can Dunk will do that. Don’t waste your time on the fluff and filth many other “classic” coming-of-age movies have to offer, go straight for the meat.
I recommend this movie for children aged upper elementary through high school for the intense emotions and light language (there are a few uses of hell, damn, and oh-my-g**). A teenage boy and girl share long kiss alone in a darker room (at about one hour into the movie). They are fully clothed and nothing extra is implied. We see public humiliation and bullying as well as the beginning of a physical fight between two teenage boys who we see are bruised after the fact.
This movie can be enjoyed by all people, but I think moms and dads will especially appreciate the topics this movie covers. Chang Can Dunk presents a wonderful opportunity to launch some powerful discussions with your children about life, perseverance, and relationships.
This happened over 80 years ago and it still feels like good news.
And it happened in the course of just a few weeks.
The year is 1943, and the German occupying government is planning to crack down hard upon the Jews. They will round up over 7,000+ Jews on the night of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). They will stamp out the Jews in Denmark as they have so many other countries in Europe.
It is a brilliant plan…a plan destined to fail.
Word reaches the Danish people, and an act of God takes place over the next several days.
It’s an incredible story, the central characters created to tell this story are Dr. Karl Koster and his wife Doris (Mia Farrow), teenage son Henrik, and daughter Else.
Through the eyes of Dr. Koster we understand the incredible efforts and coordination that took place among every member of the Danish population to save their Jewish friends and neighbors. People of all walks of life came together and provided hiding places, money, transportation, and information to protect the lives of Danish Jews.
Through the eyes of Henrik we experience the young Danish Resistance and their fearlessness in facing down the evil the Nazis presented.
Through the eyes of Doris we feel the fear and strength of a woman who has to walk the line of caring for her neighbors while carrying the weight of protecting her family as well.
Through the eyes of Else we understand what it must be to be a child growing up in a terrifying time.
It’s inspiring. It’s beautiful. It’s encouraging.
The same historical event is the setting for the classic book by Lois Lowry Number The Starswhere a young Danish girl and her family save their Jewish neighbors. I highly recommend the book as well.
So many countries failed to protect the Jews. We find stand-out heroes in every nation who stood up and said “No” when everyone else said nothing. But to see an entire country of people who not only worked together but were so completely successful is something else entirely. What might have happened if other nations had done the same thing?
Thousands upon thousands of people exist in the world today because those 7000+ Danish Jews were saved. They are a living testimony to the righteous courage of the Danes and their efforts to protect their fellow human beings. Not only were most of the Jews saved, but only 500 Jews were caught by the Nazis and taken to a ghetto. Out of those only 51 died.
When the Jews returned to Denmark after the war had ended the Jews found that their friends and neighbors had also protected their homes and businesses for them so they would have something to return to.
To quote a line from the history article I have included in the links, historian Leni Yahil said the Danish Jews were protected by
“a living wall raised by the Danish people in the course of one night.”
This is life as it should be. This is brotherhood. This is God’s heart. And it is something we can all learn from today, whatever our circumstances or difficulties are.
War is plague just as coronavirus is a plague. Hatred is a plague, and hatred and evil killed millions of people during WWII. It’s important to recognize the heroes and find stories where good men and women decided that doing nothing was not an option.
We are not fighting Nazis today. That word gets thrown around a lot in the media and by ignorant people who have no idea what Nazis actually were. This movie tells the true story of Nazis, and the people who opposed them. And it does it well.
To sum up, I’ll quote a beautiful speech from the movie that is delivered by Georg Duckwitz. He truly was an ally in this situation and shared information with Danish people that allowed them to outwit the Germans and save the Jews.
At the end of the movie when asked why he, a German, did what he did, Duckwitz replies with this beautiful speech that we can all learn from.
I came to this country (Denmark) as a young man, ambitious, a little homesick as young men are, and the Danes welcomed me. And some of them were Jews. It’s easy to persecute the nameless and the faceless, but these people are not faceless to me. I could have walked away…but…you know, a man must live with himself a long time. And if he can do something to ease a little of the terrible ache in this world…he must. I love Denmark. It’s my home now, and when your home is on fire you want to save it. That’s all it was. My home was on fire. Miracle At Midnight
In these days where we feel like the world is upside down and we do not know what to expect, we can learn so much from the beautiful Danish people and how they responded to their time of crisis.
*Parental warning, this movie contains shooting, at few on-screen deaths, implied suicides (a shadow of a hanging man’s legs is shown on the wall), and blood from injuries. Characters are shown being terrified and in danger. A young man and woman lie down in the woods (fully clothed) and pretend to be making out to distract German soldiers. Some characters are separated.
This movie can spur on so many lessons. If you are looking for a neat way to educate and engage your children, I highly recommend this movie. I will include a few links to get you started.
This movie is a gem about a story that I hope none of us ever forget.
The original Tronmade a splash in the film world in 1982 for a good reason. It was a pretty revolutionary concept and introduced a new type of “world-building” that the population was still wrapping their minds around.
In terms of a great story and character depth itself? Ehh…Bruce Boxleitner’s Alan Bradley/Tron performance stole the show from Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn/Clu. Kevin Flynn was not as solid of a character as I had expected, but then again he was only the protagonist while Tron was clearly the hero.
This classic was given a sequel in 2010 with Tron: Legacy. A decent movie in terms of motivation and storytelling. The most compelling aspect to me was the idea of Sam Flynn being able to bring Quorra (a program from The Grid) back into the real world with him where she became as human as he was.
Tron and the Tron: Legacy sequel fully deserve their place in the sci-fi hall of fame. But the strongest member of the Tron family and storyline is not as well known, nor has it gotten the amount of credit it deserves. It was only given one season, but the world needs to know that this story exists.
*slight spoiler warning ahead
Meet Tron: Uprising
Unlike the movies that start in the real world and insert real-world characters into The Grid, this story takes place entirely in The Grid and is told from the perspective of a program named Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood). He works as a mechanic and does not plan on becoming a vigilante or freedom fighter…until one of his best friends is derezzed unfairly by someone representing Clu’s evil establishment.
And a hero is born.
Tron is a legend, but no one has heard from him in years. They think he’s likely dead and gone due to the level of suffocating tyranny and control they live under. No Users have been seen or heard of in ages either.
Beck is on his own…or is he?
Over the course of just 18 episodes, we experience a deeply engaging and complex story where we watch Beck go from just another program to a symbol of hope and change on The Grid.
And he is mentored by none other than Tron himself, voiced by the one and only Bruce Boxleitner.
The voice pairing alone would have been a treat. Elijah Wood brings such a fresh vulnerability and openheartedness to the character of Beck, and Boxleitner gives great gravity and generousness to the mentor role Tron plays in this story. The development of Beck from raw recruit to a skilled warrior, as well as his and Tron’s rapport is stunning character work.
Other characters add spice and layers of complication. Fellow mechanics such as Mara (voiced by Mandy Moore) or Beck’s boss Able (Reginald VelJohnson) create interesting sounding boards for the character who struggles to balance his day job with his night work.
The good characters are balanced out with some strong villains, and a few…undecided characters.
The questions raised in this series are entirely relatable and applicable. Right and wrong, control vs freedom, why do we believe what we believe, do you fight for what you believe? Etc.
The stakes are high, you feel the struggle of these characters so deeply and are rooting for their triumph. The villains are threatening and there are permanent consequences to many of the choices made by characters in this series. The finale was something special.
I had not seen either of the Tron movies when I saw this series for the first time. I was just on Netflix and looking for something interesting to watch. Normally I would be turned off by this type of animation, it’s not my favorite. The color palette, soundtrack, and look the whole show is so outside of my comfort zone.
But I gave it a shot, and then I couldn’t stop watching it. The fact that this show didn’t look like something I would love and I found out that totally loved it should be even higher praise for this beautiful piece of storytelling.
*Parental warning – this is an intense series. Characters are derezzed (killed), tortured, imprisoned, put through gladiator type games, betrayed, and lose people close to them. it is not a light-hearted series, but it is one of purpose and depth.
I felt more watching these 18 episodes than I do in many TV shows, and definitely, more than I felt watching the Tron movies. It is a crying shame that this series did not get a second season. So many worthless shows go on forever and then gems like this one are stopped at just one season.
My hope would be that more people discover it on Disney+ and ask for a new season. After all, that’s the gift of only using actors’ voices, it doesn’t matter if they have aged. This show deserves to have more of the story told, and the story could easily be picked up where it was left in the season finale.
The Chosen. A TV series that shows the life of Jesus, told through the stories of those who knew Him best. The largest crowdfunded media project of all time. A show about Jesus paid for by people who love Jesus. I’m not going to share all of the technical details, instead, I’m going to tell […]
A TV series that shows the life of Jesus, told through the stories of those who knew Him best.
A show about Jesus paid for by people who love Jesus.
I’m not going to share all of the technical details, instead, I’m going to tell you a piece of my story and share my heart.
This article is for anyone who will read it, regardless of your religious background or your beliefs about God. I’m just a person, like you, and this a conversation from my heart to yours.
I have known God is real my entire life. My parents are believers, and I was raised in a home where Jesus was a regular part of the conversation.
My mama read me Bible stories and I watched Bible stories onscreen.
But it goes deeper than that. God called me to Himself. He chose me.
Many children who are now adults have many of the same ingredients to their origin story that I do, and yet they have never met God for themselves. Nor do they realize the value of who they were created to be.
To them, Jesus was just another topic around the dinner table, or maybe He is merely their parent’s “thing”. Here’s a common one, “He was a good man and teacher with good ideas but nothing more“. Calling Him something as wild as the Son of God on earth is like something out of a fantasy story, right?
I beg to differ. My life is not built on a fantasy, in fact, it has been quite the opposite. My life has been just as grounded and down-to-earth as anyone else’s.
I’m mature enough now to honestly tell you this, “I have a lot to learn.”
But there is one thing I am confident of in this crazy world of unknowns.
God is real Person, He is GOOD, and He called me.
How did God call me and how do I know it was Him?
God is the Creator of the Universe, He knows all things, He knows all people because He created all people.
He speaks your language before you do. Each person has a unique collection of interests and dreams that set them apart from others. Where do those things come from? From a Creator, Someone Who lovingly made you an individual.
Because I am a storyteller, God called me to Himself with the stories of the Bible. God touched my artistic soul with my love for the beauty of the world that I felt came from somewhere deeper. He used my strong memory and intuition to communicate things to me that some would say I was too young to understand, but I did.
I have never experienced anything like that anywhere else. It was more real, more wonderful, and more powerful than anything we humans can create on our own.
Life in a fallen world happens, we grow and we are faced with pain, suffering, and broken people. Doubt enters the picture and creates room for lies that hide the truth of God’s love.
During my walk with the Lord for the past 19 years, I have fallen prey to many of the lies that made me doubt His love.
God as a “Loving Father” seemed more like a phrase used to sell Christian calendars rather than what God actually was.
I felt that He was far away, harsh, and constantly disappointed with me. I was really good at failing as a Christian/human, I must be a shame to Him. I didn’t believe I was going to hell, but I didn’t really think God liked me that much. Nor did I feel that I could trust Him with the deep needs and desires of my heart and life.
You live frightened, confused, angry, sad, judgmental, and empty. That’s how I felt so much of the time. And so have so many others.
This is not the entire summary of my walk with Him during those darker years, He still reached me where I would dare to open up to Him. But it was a slow, sometimes really painful process.
My heart was longing for more.
The things I had experienced as a child, the things God had used to call me to His heart were still in there, but they were buried. I had a deep heart cry, a question that I carried with me.
Is there more? God, are you more???
The Chosen series Season 1 gently inserts us into the lives of normal, broken people living in first-century Judea.
God feels distant and unreachable, while his problems are threatening to tear his life away from him. Does God really care about his needs, orhas he already failed so badly that God will never acknowledge him again?
She once was loved, she once believed, but she has fallen so far, had so much taken from her. The words of prophecy regarding a Savior her father taught her seem like useless garbage in the face of her constant torment.
He’s alone in his own little world where no one understands him, nor do they care. He’s considered a traitor to his own people, so why would God acknowledge him?
Everyone around him seems content to carry on with the traditions they have been taught for generations, he desires to respect what he knows but he keeps hoping against hope that God is more.
As if life isn’t hard enough, Rome’s conquering presence is all around them, fear is a regular part of every character’s daily reality.
And their lives are suddenly turned upside down.
You’d think that people who lived 2,000 years ago would have nothing in common with those of us living in this futuristic world of the 21st century. While the show creators do an excellent job of painting the first-century world with great detail and richness, the core elements of the story and characters confirm this: these people are just like you and me, and they are asking the same questions we ask today.
“Am I going to be okay?”
“How do I get through tomorrow?”
“How do I take care of myself and my family?”
“Does God actually care about me and my needs?”
“Am I worthless? Should I just end it and be done?”
“Is this truly all there is? I feel like there should be more.”
Israel was the nation of God’s chosen people. They had known God for literally thousands of years. Their story was God’s story, His miracles and words are a part of their very DNA and culture. You would think out of everyone on planet earth THESE people would have it figured out! Much like the Church today, you would think these people would understand God!
One glance at these characters in their various walks of life testifies for the opposite.
Simon (the fisherman) fears God’s judgment and believes in His disinterest.
Mary (the broken woman) feels forgotten and unloved by God. She’s too unworthy to be saved.
Matthew (the tax collector) struggles with anything he cannot explain, but this Jesus keeps doing the inexplicable. Matthew is fascinated, but he expects to be rejected by Jesus as he is by all Jews.
Nicodemus (the Pharisee) wonders if he is just an old fool for wanting God to be more. He also fears what his peers will say about him for seeking beyond what they already know.
Does any of this sound familiar? Whether you are a Christian or not, this is familiar to the human struggle with questions about God and our relation to Him.
I myself have asked many of these same questions, even though I have known God is real my whole life. Even though I met Him and His true heart at age 5, I still had/have questions.
And the older I got the more I became desperate for answers, much like The Chosen characters are at various levels of desperation when we step into their lives onscreen.
Let me show you something really special from Episode 4, The Rock On Which It Is Built.
Andrew, brother of Simon the fisherman, comes to him in a flurry of excitement. He’s seen Jesus. “It’s Him, it’s the Messiah. The Lamb of God.”
“I don’t need a Lamb, I need fish.” is Simon’s reply. (The Chosen, Episode 4 – The Rock On Which It Is Built)
Simon is out of options, he’s so in debt to the tax collectors that if he cannot pay an exorbitant amount by the next day he will be taken to prison, or be killed. His family will likely fall into ruin without him. It’s an awful, awful circumstance to be trapped in. He’s desperate, and God seems to be ignoring him, and he believes he deserves it.
His brother and fellow fishermen help him cast nets all night. Nothing.
Jesus arrives on the shore of the lake in the morning following an entire night of desperate, useless fishing. See what happens.
At Jesus’ word, he lets his nets down one more time.
And his boat almost sinks for how many fish are in his nets.
Jesus watches in pure delight as 5 grown fishermen splash and scream for joy because their desperate need has been met by the Lamb of God.
This God whom Simon has been avoiding out of shame and fear came to him in his moment of need and loved him like no one else has, unconditionally and overabundantly.
He didn’t expect it. He didn’t think he deserved it. He as much as said he didn’t need a Lamb. He’s broken so many rules of the religion and done much that he knows is wrong.
If God is who Simon had expected Him to be, angry and judgmental and only rewarding of those who always “do” good, Jesus would have walked right past him without a second glance.
Jesus loves Simon so much, and that love is captured in this scene in such a raw and beautiful way.
This kind, beautiful, compassionate, humorous Jesus is taking people by surprise. It’s both beautiful and sad all at once.
Our world and our perspective are so broken that we are truly taken by surprise when the Man who literally came to earth to die an excruciating death that we might be saved actually loves us.
To see this truth of a loving, real-life Jesus played out on screen the way it is portrayed in The Chosen is shocking people, many of them Christians.
As for non-Christians, this is probably a new version of Jesus to you too.
What happened to that really solemn, super “holy” guy? Where’s the Jesus who is constantly put out by the disciples’ failings? What happened to that angry God who hates you because you are sinful? Whatever happened to earning your rewards, your favor, your place in the world? Whatever happened to someone wanting something from you before they help out?
You know, like how our world works. Whatever happened to the Jesus who barely tolerates us?
What is it with this guy who just shows up on people’s worst days and completely changes everything with a heart so kind it almost frightens our abused, broken hearts?
Romans 5: 6-8
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. (ESV)
I can hear potential accusations from some very confused people in the Church.
That’s not really Who Jesus is, this is Dallas Jenkin’s (creator of The Chosen) version of Jesus, a watered-down mushy version aimed at getting people in the door without actually convicting them of their sin!
I can hear the doubts of people who are suspicious of all things Christian.
He can’t be that good, you all are just making up a really shiny story so that we get sucked in by a lie! And then we’ll end up as miserable as you all are because your God is mean!
To the first group, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I reply to your doubts and criticisms with my testimony.
In 2016 I was less than a year out of being graduated from high school, and I was searching for the next thing in my life. Little did I know that my world was also about to fall apart dramatically and everything I thought I could count on would be turned upside down.
It was at this time that my need to know if God was morebegan to burn to a point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I couldn’t bury it for fear that I would be disappointed.
That’s what had held me back all of these years, fear that God would be just as miserable as I thought He might be. Fear that the loving God I hoped for would just be another instance of my unrealistic idealism. And if that was the case, would I give up?
Perhaps it was because I was already asking a lot of new questions as a green adult that there was a new space for God to move in my life.
I believe He knew it was time, and I was ready.
One day I saw a documentary calledFinger of God. It was about God and His heart for us, His Created Ones.
I saw things that blew my mind. I saw people being touched by a love so radical, so pure, so joyful, so unearthly that it changed the entire course of their future in a moment. I saw people being healed, inside and out. I saw people tasting what I had tasted the moment I had asked Jesus into my heart.
Radical, unearthly joy and a love so powerful that you can literally feel the warmth of on your skin.
As I write this it is a shiny new year, 2020. In the four years that I have lived in between that day in 2016 and now, I have walked the hardest, darkest, most shattering days of my life.
And God has never been so real, so good, or so full of love.
Logic says that if someone is going to fall away from God, it would be when the worst of life and people smack us in the gut and leave us bleeding out. We see this happen all the time. And we know the questions that get asked,
God, if You really are good then where are You? What happened? Why did You let me down?
But we are talking about human logic here, human logic based upon broken perspective and limited experience. God logic works differently, He goes beyond what we expect and loves us more than we know what to do with. He comes bursting into our worst moments in surprising ways. He doesn’t base His decisions upon a small window of experiences or choices, but rather upon His never-changing Heart for us.
I got desperate and curious enough to reach, and this is what happened.
Jesus was God on Earth, and He only did what He saw His Father (God) doing. He didn’t walk in His own agenda, He walked in His Father’s will. (John 5)
So to those who fear the Jesus portrayed in The Chosen, this is what I have to say to you.
The Chosen does not scare me because I already recognize the Jesus I see portrayed here.
I know this guy! I see the Heart of God that I have been getting to know apart from this show for the past 4 years!
In 2016 The Chosen was just a twinkle in God’s eye and Dallas Jenkins hadn’t even crossed paths with the idea yet. I cannot blame the Jesus I know on Dallas or anyone else involved with the show, because I have already met Him in my own life.
Let me clarify, The Chosen is not meant to be a replacement for Scripture. The creators of the show have said this repeatedly. The stories told in The Chosen, the miracles shown are 100% true. The characters were real people that even secular authorities will confirm existed.
Some of the arrangement of these stories and the fleshing out of these characters has been worked with and adjusted by a team of people to create a watchable show.
But I recognize the fingerprints.
There are more than just men and women working on this show, I believe that God’s Hand and Heart are woven into it as well. I think God is tired of seeing His children fear Him. I think He’s tired of seeing the lost people in the world only view Him through lies. His heart is bursting with love for us and by its very nature Love needs somewhere to go and someone to touch.
Now, to the second group, my brothers and sisters of the human race who are not Christians.
I get it, there are a ton of really mean and really unhappy Christians out there. There have been so many instances of cruelty, harshness, and hurt in the Church. I get it, I have been touched by it myself. But to you, this is what I want to say.
Having worked with children in professional settings before, I can attest to the truth of this statement.
The children who are more confident in their parents’ love and their own identity in their family are far calmer, more secure, and less easily given to offence. They are far easier to get along with and they have a greater trust for authority. Often they take direction better and are teachable. They are more likely to treat those around them with kindness even if the person is different from them. While not perfect, they stand apart as someone enjoyable to be around.
The children who feel less confident in their parents’ love and their place are either very shy and insecure or very loud and insecure. Their feelings can be easily hurt, they are often harder to manage, and they expend a lot of energy trying to be admired or at the very least noticed. It’s harder for them to trust and harder to get them to respond to instruction or discipline. They can be mean very quickly and form fast grudges. These children, while every bit as precious as the first type of child, require a lot more energy and patience to be around.
There have been thousands of people throughout the history of the Church who have never understood their own Father’s love for them.
Therefore, they are miserable, and they often spread that misery to others.
That’s why. And on top of that, just know this, Christians aren’t perfect.
I, a Christian, make mistakes. I make choices that are wrong, sometimes consciously, just like anyone else. The difference is that because of Jesus inside of me, I am counted as righteous in God’s eyes and He looks on Jesus’ sacrifice of blood on my behalf, not on my shortcomings.
There is a whole array of characters shown in The Chosen that represent each one of us where we are at right now, Christian or not. We have only begun to meet them, and over more seasons (8 Seasons are planned) even more beautiful characters and more incredible stories will be shown.
As a summary for Season 1, this is the message I hope to convey to those reading this review.
Each one of the characters represented by the above questions finds their answer.
And it’s the same answer I myself have found.
Yeah, I know, it’s crazy different. Different from what we have known, what we have heard, and often what we have experienced. But to quote an awesome line in Episode 7: Invitations.
Get used to different.
Friend, whether you are already a Christian, or at least brave enough to read this whole article #youareawesome, this is what I want you to walk away with.
You do not have to be afraid of God.
You do not have to be afraid of His Son Jesus.
Love has come, and His name is Jesus.
The Chosen has created a beautiful open door for people all over the world to step into an introduction to get to know the beautiful, radically loving heart of Jesus our Savior and of our Father God.
God is already using The Chosen powerfully to reach people in some of the darkest places and in every country in the world.
People in Iran who have lived a life without hope are watching it. People in China living through the coronavirus are watching it. People living in the US who have everything and yet nothing are having their hearts broken open by Love.
If you want to give the first episode a watch it is completely free on The Chosen‘s YouTube channel.
I just got back from this film. Definitely a walk on the darker side for me, I don’t typically go for darker fantasy.
Still, I cannot escape my fascination with Asa Butterfield (Jake), and if he is in a film that fits my moral standards, I am going to be there. I love watching him, not only because his eyes are mesmerizing, but there is this quality in his acting that he brings out every single time, in any character. This level of curiosity, concern, and protectiveness. He’s one of a kind.
So is this movie. It was, unique, to say the least. I would not recommend this film to younger viewers (under 13) as it is very dark and violent. Children are in mortal danger and other children have been brutally murdered.
Still, in terms of a creepy movie that won’t ruin your soul and will give you an engaging story, endearing characters, and a comfortable ending, Miss Peregrinewill fit the bill.
It’s no great masterpiece of tight plot, but your interest in the characters and their fate will keep you watching this film. All of the children actors were incredible. Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), was fascinating. She was almost musical in her mannerisms, confident in her actions, and vibrant in her style. I enjoyed her thoroughly and wouldn’t mind cosplaying as her.
The scenery was beautiful or horrifying by turns. Every mood was captured appropriately.
The villain was not exactly what I could term terrifying, he was actually on the casual, almost nonchalant side. He was not the most horrifying of the evil things, so, his lightness was okay. It was almost relaxing to have a nonchalant villain who just did his thing and seemed amused with those people in his way.
Some parts of this movie were just plain bizarre, but if you relax and anticipate weirdness, you should enjoy this film.
Here are some more specifics if you want to know whether or not this movie is appropriate for your family. *warning, some spoilers, I will keep my terms as general as possible
Sex/Nudity- One child’s peculiarity is invisibility, whenever they need him to be completely invisible he has to become naked. Naked and invisible, chilly, but not really an issue.
One female character removes her outer clothing, a male character glances away as if unsure, but she is only going down to an undergarment layer the equivalent of a tank top and shorts. The scene is non-sexual and purely practical.
2 sweet and brief kisses between older teenagers.
Violence/Gore- Prepare yourself, this is a long section.
Multiple characters are shown lying dead with their eye sockets empty. The evil creatures need to feed upon the eyeballs of other “peculiars” in order to accomplish something.
A character picks up a bloody object. Another character is found holding an even bloodier object.
Characters are shown dead.
Characters go through something like an electric shock, which leads to a disturbing body transformation.
Monsters are shot with crossbows, or stabbed with objects.
A dead child is kept in a room, his eye sockets empty.
A child has a knife held to their neck to be used as leverage. The child is fine.
One character does lose their eyeballs on screen, this is not a beloved character.
A villain tries to drown a child, the child is shown underneath ice. The child makes it.
A villain tries to freeze another child. That child appears to be dead, but is revived.
A character is grabbed violently through a window and never seen again.
A character who’s “peculiarity” is to animate things to life creates disturbing little toys, toys that then fight each other and “die”. This character does end up using their power to accomplish good and is better by the end of the film.
A large battle between skeletons and monsters takes place.
Language/Profanity- One oh my g**, maybe 2 at the most
Frightening Scenes- It starts out frightening, it is frightening throughout, it is weird, but the ending is comfortably peaceful and happy.
Heroes/Role Models- There are many heroes in this film. Miss Peregrine’s role in life is to protect “her” children. She puts their safety above her own.
Jake is not a heroic figure to begin with, but he grows into an intelligent and strong protector, embracing his destiny. He also enables the other Peculiars to become braver and use their gifts to defeat evil.
Abe has been protector of the Peculiars his whole life.
How can we be brave?
What does bravery mean?
How can we use our gifts and talents to help those around us?
I enjoyed this movie, despite it being outside of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel, but we shall see what happens.
The third installment in the incredibly popular reboot,Star Trek: Beyondwas everything I could have hoped for and more.
This movie was the cleanest movie yet and a heck of a lot of fun. A great story paired with great characters, humor, and the clever cunning of the Enterprise crew which has been a delight in every film.
This movie was unique in that the writers switched up character pairings into new sets that we haven’t seen before. This enabled us to get a fresh view of characters in a way that was fantastic. Bones and Spock, people, those scenes were absolute gold.
While I don’t appreciate and endorse every personal choice made by Kirk’s character, I do love him. My favorite thing about Kirk is how intensely he loves his crew and how he will do anything for them. He has grown a lot in his sense of maturity, there is a heavier gravity to his character in this film than the previous two. But never fear, the traces of the rascal are still there. He’s unorthodox in his methods, and that’s why he’s the best captain Starfleet has.
Spock was delightful in this film. His emotional progression has been steady and engaging for all three movies. I liked him in the first film and I have not stopped. His awkward way of putting things is one of my favorite aspects of these movies. His facial expressions have only gotten better each movie. I do hope he and Uhara eventually tie the knot in this series, I have enjoyed the deep love and maturity of their interaction.
Uhara was the same beautiful, classy, and intelligent woman as always. She is one of the best female characters I have seen on screen. My favorite thing about her is that she is not just her body, she is so beautiful, but that is merely the lovely frame holding her heart, soul, and spirit. I plan to write more on her in the future.
Bones. Oh my word! Bones has always been hilarious with his poor-timed pessimistic lines, but this movie gave him more of a spotlight. It was awesome. He was perfect. I won’t say any more for fear of spoilers, but seriously, Bones was the MVP of this film.
Chekov. Oh Chekov, seeing him was bittersweet given the recent death of the actor, Anton Yelchin. I was happy to see that he did have a more prominent role in this film and got a lot of screen time beside Captain Kirk. No one could know that his death would happen when making this film, but this movie couldn’t have been made in a better way to preserve his memory.
Scotty. Simon Pegg co-wrote this film and you can tell. It has a distinctive flavor that is unique from the previous two, while also being cohesive. Scotty was very sweet and we go to see a new side of his character in his interaction with new alien girl, Jaylah.
Sulu was on top of things as usual. He has guts and focus that make him perfect for his role. He has never been my favorite, but he is a strong asset to the team.
Jayla. I had rather expected her to be a kick-rear, emotionally sterile character that is good in a fight, but not really enjoyable. She was actually much more approachable than I had anticipated. Her character was young and vulnerable, and actually quite funny. I hope that she will be in the next film.
This entire cast is made up of strong men and women characters, and even better, a stronger team who are all pulling for each other. No sacrifice is too much. That relational aspect has been incredible in every one of these new Star Trek films, and it was the thing that held them together during the chaotic events of this movie. The characters of these films have shown both their strengths and their moments of vulnerability. They are well-rounded and engaging.
One of my favorite things in this series, the aspect that really drew me in first, is the colorful visuals. They are stunning! To often space looks boring and black. Sure, planets are colorful, but often space travel seems dull and boring. Star Trek has always been a visual feast that I have enjoyed.
Now, here are the nitty-gritty details to help you decided if this film is suitable for your family.
Sex/Nudity- During Kirk’s Captain’s log entry, he mentions the potential situations arising from having a crew made up of both sexes, leading to a small montage:
You see crew members give each other meaningful looks.
One couple is kissing and walk into a room where they shut the door behind them.
A door opens and a man is shoved out, shirtless. And fully-clothed but indignant alien girl throws his shirt at him in a huff. This montage is very brief.
Kirk is shirtless when washing his face.
A camera angle zooms in on Zulu’s left hand at one point, revealing a wedding ring and a photo of a little girl. During a stop-off at a space station, Zulu goes running up to a man and little girl, his partner and their daughter. They embrace and walk off together with the child. No kisses are exchanged.
Violence/Gore- There is a lot of blasting, explosions, people are sucked out into space, some punching, etc.
The villain’s minions blast people with a green blaster that seems to age and suck the life out of them, leaving them gray and lifeless. You only see a closeup of one person after they have been shot. A main character is threatened with a similar weapon and the edges of his face begin to gray, but he is not killed and is fine.
Two people are hung upside down in a machine that sucks the very life out of them. They scream in torment. The sounds are the most disturbing part.
A minor character is disintegrated. Later on another character is disintegrated, but it is not horrifying.
Kirk and the villain exchanged blows that leave them bloodied.
A character has a shard of metal stuck in his torso after a bad landing. Another character rips it out and quickly cauterizes the wound while the injured character yells. It’s not graphic.
Language/Profanity- The cleanest one yet. I only heard a few words and only one or two times per word.
oh my g*d
Two uses of the word horses***. Used for comic relief during a moment when one character is in a lot of pain.
Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking- An alcoholic toast between friends celebrating a birthday, and then later champagne at a party. Everyone drinks responsibly and there are no drunken scenes.
Frightening Scenes- A ship is attacked violently and taken down, people are killed, at least 3 violently, the villains are aggressive and show no remorse, a city is attacked and people are screaming.
Heroes/Role Models- There are great many heroes in this film. As I have said before, the love and teamwork displayed by the crew of the Enterprise is inspiring and beautiful. The characters are willing to make sacrifices to protect those that they love. Each person knows their role and does it well so that the whole team can function. They are brave in the face of long odds, and they are willing to protect the innocent. No one is ever left behind. They are creative and resourceful.
Why is being on a team so important?
How can we be good team members?
Can we be brave for those we love, even if it means we might get hurt?
How do we make sure no one is left behind?
Are you willing to make sacrifices for those you love?
Are you willing to protect those who cannot protect themselves?
Where do we find our identity?
How can we persevere and find the hope to keep moving forward?
Captain America: Civil War is unlike any other Marvel movie that I have yet seen. It was intensely personal, deeply-thought provoking, and causes you to engage more emotions than any of the previous movies. While it is a roller coaster, it is chock-full of great talking points and discussion starters for your family. For those parents who want a thorough opinion on whether or not this movie is appropriate for their children, I have put together a quick review from the perspective of a pretty cautious movie-watcher. (Warning, some slight spoilers ahead. I have tried mainly to use vague generalities, but in a few cases I have to be more detailed in order to give full information.)
Sex/Nudity – This section is barely applicable. There is one kiss in this movie that never moves beyond sweet. Scarlet Witch’s costume during a fight scene is low, exposing quite a bit of cleavage. There aren’t many moments when you get a full-on view of her, and the ones that do happen are brief.
Violence/Gore- This movie feels a bit more violent than the previous Cap movies because of the extremely personal nature of the battles. It is friend against friend. One battle is less heart-breaking and more comedic, while the second battle between friends is pretty gut-wrenching. I did not feel that they were unnecessary with the gore or violence in this movie. There are a few moments I would classify as,”gory”. One is short scene where we see man’s disfigured face. There is a scene where a man is bound and suspended upside down above a sink that is slowly filling with water. You see the water cover up his nose before the camera pans away. Another scene where the limp hand of a dead man is shown with blood trailing (a frontal view is shown of the body later on a smaller screen). Be prepared for a lot of smashing, crashing, banging, and bruising. There are a few scenes with some screaming in terror and pain. Also, there is one very highly-upsetting murder shown on a screen where someone has their face bashed twice, killing them. You are shown the entire scene for the emotionally devastating effect of it. It is an emotionally charged moment that might be too much for younger viewers. This scene leads to the final fight between friends that is also deeply upsetting, but it doesn’t end poorly.
Language/Profanity- This movie was lighter in many ways in terms of language. According to imdb there are 5 uses of s***, 2 g**d***, 2 s**of a b****, and 1 a**. I do recall more than one a** than mentioned above. There were also many uses of oh my g** and h***during intense moments.
Heroes and Role Models- Captain America/Steve Rogers has been an admirable role model from the very beginning. His high moral standards, determination to do the right thing, and stubborn fight for freedom make him a hero for the ages. In this film you get to see another dimension of Steve in that he is faced with many difficult choices that bring him into conflict with some of his best friends. Watching Steve navigate these complex issues is amazing as you see him continue to stand firm in his beliefs, while refusing to give into hate or vengeance.
Tony Stark is a more difficult character to watch in this film, as he too is fighting hard for something that he believes in. However, Tony’s foolish actions in both this movie and his previous appearances in Marvel films have caused a lot of heartache and difficulty. Still, he had the desire to be a hero and do the right thing, making him a heart-wrenching and difficult character in this film. Unlike Steve, he approaches much in this movie with unsteady emotions, and sometimes, a hateful vengeance, either for himself or for others.
Talking Points- There are a lot of great discussion starters in this movie. It is complex plot that shows many angles to one question. Beloved allies become foes, and you see all kinds of reactions based out of many human insecurities. This movie may be a bit difficult to mentally wade through for younger viewers, but it could also be a great launching pad for some enriching discussion and conversations with their parents.
How do you hold yourself accountable? Are you principled enough to hold yourself to a high standard?
How do you feel about others holding you accountable to a specific set of standards or beliefs?
Can we trust other people to do our thinking for us? Why or why not?
Is it a good idea to keep secrets from people we care about?
How do we deal with grief?
How do we deal with guilt? Do we let the fear of it drive our future actions?
What happens when you let a thirst for vengeance drive you? Why could that be a bad thing?
What should drive our actions?
Can we learn to forgive ourselves while still taking responsibility for our mistakes?
What will you do when you are alone in what you believe? How do you stay true to what you know to be right in the face of a majority?
Can you have the humility to admit when you have been wrong?
How do you treat others who don’t agree with you?
This is a wonderful movie that Marvel should be very proud of. It is a brilliant story, a wonderful set of characters, and introduces many questions that we can all relate to. I highly recommend it to adults, teens, and families who are comfortable with this content. I hope this review can help you determine whether or not it is appropriate for your family.