Review – John Wick: Chapter Two

I've seen several movies begin with a car chase. "John Wick: Chapter Two" is the only movie I've seen begin with a car fight.John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is the former contract killer who sought revenge on the criminals who killed his puppy and stole his car in 2014's sleeper hit. He ended that film with a new dog; as the sequel opens, he's returning for the car.As a mob boss (Peter Stormare) panics about Wick's impending return, the title character stalks through a warehouse like a slasher, … [Read more...]

Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

See, Zach Snyder? Batman can be fun.Since  Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" plunged the Caped Crusader into morally dubious territory in the 1980s, Batman has been defined by a grim aesthetic. Tim Burton made him a tortured weirdo; Chris Nolan a grounded-but-haunted vigilante. "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" depicted him as an angry dudebro, branding his symbol into thugs' flesh and trying to kill Superman. He's become pretty one-note.Sure, Batman's always been a character t … [Read more...]

Have you caught up with “It’s My Favorite”?

Hey everyone,Not going to lie: it's been a week. Work, school and home life have been busy, and the general insanity of our world right now has really robbed me of a lot of energy and will to write.It's a shame, because I have some really good stuff on deck for you. One new series I want to write and one Oscar-related miniseries of articles, and I'm hoping that starting this weekend those will start posting. And in the weeks ahead I'm going to really be jumping into the reviewing pool … [Read more...]

The Story of God: Proof of the Divine

Season two of “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on the National Geographic Channel. Once again, I’m writing about it here each week from a Christian perspective as a preview. This post is about episode three, the season finale, "Proof of God." In the final episode of "The Story of God's" second season, Morgan Freeman travels the world speaking to people who believe they've experienced proof — often tangible, sometimes powerful — of experiences with … [Read more...]

Let’s talk Oscar noms!

Some quick thoughts on the 2017 Academy Award nominations, which were announced earlier today. A full list of nominees is available here. At first blush, my biggest surprise is that there isn't a ton here I would bicker with. The list of nominees this year is really darn good, spread out over several movies. Maybe it's because I saw fewer movies than normal this year or simply because so many of the nominated films are on my best-of list, but I can't really find a bad choice among the … [Read more...]

The Story of God: Heaven, hell, hope and justice

Season two of "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on the National Geographic Channel. Once again, I'm writing about it here each week from a Christian perspective as a preview. This post is about episode two, "Heaven and Hell."Years back, I was out to dinner with a friend when we began talking religion. She was agnostic and I was in the middle of a pretty ugly bout of cage-stage Calvinism. She kept trying to change the subject, and I kept bringing i … [Read more...]

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Wrestling with ‘Silence’

Raised in a Christian community, I constantly heard stories of martyrdom. The Bible is replete with such tales, whether it's the three men thrown into a fiery furnace or early apostles stoned for threatening the status quo. Youth leaders would solemnly tell of saints who were burned at the stake, singing songs of praise even as the flames lapped at their feet.These were not stories of tragedy but of triumph. The focus was not on those who killed the missionaries, but on the faith that … [Read more...]

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The Story of God: Chosen

Season two of "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman" debuts Monday, Jan. 16, at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on the National Geographic Channel. Once again, I'll be writing about it here each week from a Christian perspective as a preview. The first episode of the season deals with "The Chosen One." Given its topic — chosen people in various religions — I initially assumed that this first episode would deal with the central figures of various faiths. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha. But it takes a differ … [Read more...]

From “Rogue One” to “Empire Strikes Back”: What I watched on my winter vacation

Don't let the headline mislead you: this isn't all about "Star Wars."As I write this, I'm coming off a very long vacation. On Dec. 23, I left work for two weeks to enjoy the holidays and recuperate from a very busy fall. I go back to work and school tomorrow and, as providence would have it, it's also shaping up to be a busy week for this blog. For now, I'm enjoying the last few hours of break. It wasn't the greatest vacation — quite a few stressors made it a bit hectic — but for the first ti … [Read more...]

My favorite films of 2016

Conventional wisdom holds that 2016 was, to use the technical term, a dumpster fire. I'm not going to argue against that; it was a year in which American culture finally curdled and icons were taken from us at an alarming rate. But bad times make for great art, and 2016 was another wonderful year of cinema. Unlike other years, in which the majority of great releases were clustered around the fall months, my list for favorite films of 2016 includes films that were released throughout the calendar … [Read more...]