“Cars 3” Review: How Lightning Got His Vroom Back

It's official: I'm just never going to "get" Pixar's Cars universe.Despite the studio's ability to make me care for friendly monsters, plastic toys, foodie rats, wisecracking bugs and personified emotions, I've been left cold by the adventures of Lightning McQueen and his buddies. There's just something about their design that makes it hard to connect. Aside from their windshield eyes and bumper-lips, these are still just vehicles moving around roadways and tracks, and something in me … [Read more...]

The Truman Show, Freedom and Less-Wild Lovers

In their book “The Sacred Romance,” Brent Curtis and John Eldredge discuss the rut that many people often find themselves in. Yearning for lives of adventure and romance but finding that those very things require risk, many settle for what the authors call “less-wild lovers” — distractions that temporarily pacify desire without requiring too much.There are two forms these “lovers” often take. The first is addiction  — drugs, pornography, materialism — that give the rush you’re looking for wit … [Read more...]

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Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” keeps Marvel weird

It's easy to forget that "Guardians of the Galaxy" was the first big question mark for Marvel. After having great success with its earthbound heroes, the studio took its first big leap into the cosmic realm, anchoring it to a group of misfits that included a Walkman-wearing Earthling, a green-skinned assassin, a tattooed warrior, a badass raccoon and a sentient tree named Groot. It was easy to see this as a possible bridge too far for mainstream audiences, especially since the Guardians were at … [Read more...]

Logan: Wolverine’s R-rated redemption

I've been wanting to write about "Logan," Hugh Jackman's final go-round as Wolverine, since I walked out of a theater a week ago, stunned silent by James Mangold's film. It's the rare comic book movie to provoke a visceral, emotional response, one of the few that is about something more than blue lights, shiny gizmos or franchise setups. It's not just a great superhero movie; it's a great movie, period. So, let's talk about it.Warning: From here on out, spoilers for the entire film.  My own … [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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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...]

“Doctor Strange:” Marvel goes magic

When "Iron Man" debuted in 2008, some wondered just how much leeway the public would give Marvel before things got too weird. Sure, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America weren't that hard to see as possible hits; despite their bizarre origins, they were basically just action heroes with a comic book gloss. But at that time, audiences wanted things grounded and gritty, and the farther one delves into the Marvel universe, the deeper they go into a mythology that includes intergalactic adventures, … [Read more...]

The Monthly Catch: Harry Potter, Sing Street, Kubo and more

I can't believe we're September already (sorry, this is coming a day late). It's been a fast summer, and it feels like it was just yesterday that I was gearing up for Memorial Day weekend. Now we're prepping for Labor Day, the start of school and cooler weather. It's been a busy month, both on the blog and in my personal life. But there's still a lot I read and watched that I wasn't able to write about, so here is your annual roundup of what I was loving during the past four weeks!  … [Read more...]

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Catching up: “Midnight Special,” “Kimmy Schmidt,” “Zootopia” and Linklater

So, for regular readers, I know that my writing's been a bit sporadic in the past few weeks. I apologize. Things at my day job have been a bit crazy as the semester winds down, which has robbed me of some writing energy in the evening, and we're still figuring out how to best navigate two kids, two jobs and extra writing. But for the moment, things appear to be getting back to normal-ish, so I thought it might be a good time to do a post where I catch up on some of the things I haven't been able … [Read more...]

Review: “Everybody Wants Some!!”

My college career was nothing like Richard Linklater's.I didn't attend school on a baseball scholarship or live in a rowdy dorm. I didn't spend my weekends smoking, getting drunk, and chasing girls. I was a painfully shy introvert who went to college only about 10 miles away from where I grew up. Three days a week, I went to class and headed home (or to work). I had my first alcoholic beverage long after I turned 21, and I might have gone on two dates during my entire college career. The c … [Read more...]