Movie Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Love Has No Value

A response to “Diversity & Inclusion – Love Has No Labels”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnDgZuGIhHs

James White responded to the ad too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eUsjNH93ck

James White’s Channels:
https://www.youtube.com/user/AominOrg
https://www.youtube.com/user/DrOakley1689

Music:
BACH: JESU JOY OF MANS DESIRING (by RFCM Symphony Orchestra)

Music License:
http://www.neosounds.com

Miscellaneous Images:
Found from a Google search

Sound Effects:
http://www.freesound.org

Contact:
artisticlayman@hotmail.com

Just saw “Strange Magic”

AL Strange Love

This movie is what would result if “Epic” and “Moulin Rouge” survived a head on collision with George Lucas.

Despite the incredibly detailed modeling and animation there is not much else in this joke of a song-catalog musical. What’s really annoying is that there are little elements of good peppered throughout the film but there isn’t much payoff to them. It also doesn’t help that the established songs used such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Wild Thing” are more obnoxious than memorable.

“Gnomeo and Juliet” is a much better version of what this was suppose to be in more ways than one; since “Strange Magic” was apparently inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Just saw “Left Behind”

Left Behind

If you can get past the made-for-television quality it can actually be engaging.

The main goal of this movie, and the book series that the movie is based on, was to illustrate what the rapture might look like and how the remainder of humanity would deal with the situation; basically a more realistic version of “This Is The End” with Seth Rogen. Unfortunately it is still bogged down by limitations that most faith based films suffer from; low production quality and sermonizing dialog just to name a few. Nicholas Cage however does liven things up with his usual off-beat personality that any lesser actor would have made too stoic.

Not the best attempt but I did leave the theater curious about what would happen next.

Just saw “The Equalizer”

The Equalizer

A fun action movie whose main purpose is to say Denzel Washington is awesome.

As cool as it is to have a good guy be near-perfect its just so hard to make him/her interesting except during the moments of violence that contrast his/her kindly behavior. Denzel’s character is a man who’s past is revealed over time but it’s never really used to give the story more depth, most of which is already established in the beginning by referencing The Old and and the Sea and Don Quixote books the man is reading. Fortunately the action scenes are great and there is a awesome last fight which makes up any short comings of the film.

There could have been more to this but that would get in the way of saying Denzel Washington is awesome.

Just saw “The Boxtrolls”

The Boxtrolls AL2

A movie that looks so beautiful that you can’t help but notice the sub-par story.

This was a concern that I had after the later trailers came out revealing details of the plot and characters. The story is not necessarily bad but it’s presentation is so mishandled that there is no overarching theme like there was in ParaNorman or clear a adventure like there was in Coraline. However the movie does try to compensate for this lack by having a cast of bizarre and awkward characters that feel as if they came from a Monty Python universe. I’m not sure how consistent that is with the book the movie is based on but it is something to enjoy along with some witty dialog and astonishingly beautiful and detailed practical stop-motion animation.

Although I have mixed feelings I am ultimately disappointed and hope Laika Studios will do better again in the future.

Finding Christ in Steven Universe

Top Line2

Being born in a Christian home I believed that anything and everything was complementary to Jesus Christ and Christianity, especially my favorite cartoon series. As I got older and became a believer I realized that almost nothing is complementary to Jesus Christ and Christianity, much less my favorite cartoon series. However because cartoons are essentially fiction I could try to find middle ground between the messages in the series and the message of the Gospel. But after a while I realized that trying to find Christ in entertainment is not only tiresome but often fruitless. Cartoons are made primarily to entertain not edify so any connection I can find to Christianity is more or less a coincidence. Recently however one show has had enough Christian coincidences contained in it that I am compelled to wonder if I’m the only one noticing them. That show is Steven Universe, which is in my opinion, the most awesome cartoon currently in existence.

Show Line

For those who haven’t heard Steven Universe one of the is the newest animated series on Cartoon Network created by Rebecca Sugar; former writer and storyboard artist of the same studio’s popular series Adventure Time. Best described as a coming of age story Steven Universe follows the life and adventures of a boy named Steven as he figures out his place as one of the Crystal Gems; a quartet of heroes who protect humanity by wielding weapons and abilities from the magical gems attached to their bodies. Steven inherited his magical gem from his late mother and throughout the series he learns new abilities while dealing with magical monsters, the Gem’s conflicting personalities, and just being a curious, musically-inclined, always-willing-to-help little boy.

At this point you might be wondering how one could possibly find Christ or Christianity in such a show and at first I didn’t. I only saw a series of magical adventures and a possible middle ground message of “putting away of childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). That was until the 20th episode that one Christian coincidence made me remember and reconsider the other Christian coincidences that I previously disregarded.

(Warning: The following will have spoilers to elements of Steven Universe)

Caoch Steven Enjoy

In the episode “Coach Steven” the most intellectual and protective of the Crystal Gems, Pearl, is concerned that Steven is too focus on achieving physical strength rather than inner strength. Disheartened, Pearl starts off a musical soliloquy where she eventually states:

“And I want to inspire you
I want to be your rock
And when I talk
It lights fire in you”

The song itself was beautiful as Pearl’s voice actress Deedee Mango-Hall carried the lyrics with such conviction, but what struck me the most was the use of word “rock”. My mind immediately thought of Jesus’ beatitude of building your house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27), and Jesus himself being the cornerstone of the church. It’s so rare for me to hear the word “rock” used in that way during sermons or worship, much less in a cartoon about a magical boy.

Indirect Kiss Enjoy

Another Christian coincidence was in the episode called “An Indirect Kiss.” After realizing that he doesn’t have his mother’s magical healing tears Steven is worried that he will never be useful to the Crystal Gems and won’t be allowed to be with them because of it. However his lady friend, Connie, reminds him that he doesn’t need powers to be with her and starts leaning in to kiss him. Suddenly Connie twinges in pain and realizes that she can see without her glasses; her eyesight has been healed. It turns out that Connie was taking a drink out of Steven’s juice box and came into contact with his saliva. It is concluded that Steven doesn’t have healing tears but healing spit. At that point I couldn’t help but remember the stories of how Jesus heals the blind; where Jesus uses His spit to restore a person’s sight. (Mark 8:22-25) (John 9)

Aslan Parallel

It was when these coincidences were considered that I reassembled a collection of coincidences that form together what I like to call the “Aslan Parallel.” In C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Alsan was the name of a sentient lion who was a literary metaphor for Jesus. During a Crystal Gem mission in a desert Steven befriends a lion, who he also names Lion, who has some very interesting characteristics. Although Lion was found in the wild he is actually tame. While technically being Steven’s pet Lion only selective obeys Steven’s commands, only helps Steven in dire moments, and mostly wonders off doing whatever he wants. While giving Steven and Connie a ride Lion takes a detour into the nearby ocean revealing that he can walk on water. Aside from being able to open teleportation portals and smash structures with his magical roar, Lion can deliver a magical sword to Steven by taking a royal bow and having the sword emerge out of his head. So just to recap: Lion is a tame lion, who does what he wants but helps in dire times, and can walk on water. All that Lion needs now is to have the sword emerging out of the mouth instead of his head and have a voiced played by Liam Neeson for the parallels to be complete on an almost transcendent level.

To be clear

To be clear I am not suggesting that there is direct Christian influence in the creation of Steven Universe. For all I know the “I want to be your rock” line was inspired by Beyoncé’s “You are my Rock” while the healing spit and “Aslan Parallel” are just whimsical hodgepodge ideas created for the sake of humor and entertainment. Not to mention that most of the episodes have almost no middle ground connections to Jesus Christ or Christianity. The newest episodes, “Mirror Gem” and “Ocean Gem,” are long awaited epic moments of action with hints of greater adventures to come. These coincidences are as superficial as the Zeitgeist Movement’s Christianity-to-Paganism connections, and are merely speculations born from the mind of a Christian fanatic. What I am trying to say is that it is rather amazing that a cartoon show that engages me in every secular way actually reminds me of Jesus Christ and Christianity. I am also gratified to realize that Jesus didn’t need to be referenced directly in order for me to be reminded of Him; a factor that I plan to implement in any future artistic endeavors. However I do hope that at least one member of the staff at Cartoon Network is at least aware of these Christian coincidences. I can’t be the only one who notices them.