Monthly Archives: May 2013

Three Reasons Why I Like Star Wars


Last night our family watched Star Wars – A New Hope (1977 PG) on the big screen of our local Salvation Army Community Center.  This was a fundraiser for their Hero’s Wanted Scholarship Campaign.  Fun evening!

Here’s why I like Star Wars:


1.  Families can share it together.  People brought their small children to the movie.  My daughters sang along with the Cantina song (they knew it because their high school jazz band performed it). I reminisced about my favorite lines with my girls:

  • Han to Luke after he shoots down a TIE Fighter:  Great kid, don’t get cocky!
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke about Mos Eisley:  You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
  • The Jawas when they steal R2D2:  Oo-tini!


2.  Star Wars allows people to show their creativity.  Our friend is a new member of the 501st Legion, also known as Vader’s Fist.  He spent many months building his Storm Trooper costume, pouring over movie stills and schematics to get it just right. You can see him in the picture – pretty amazing, right?!

From Chewbacca to the Sand People, these creative adults spend their free time sharing their talents with each other and with the public.  For movie snacks, we even could chose from Light Sabers (large pretzel sticks dipped in white chocolate), Death Stars (round cocoa puff rice crispy treats), and TIE Fighters (s’mores shaped like the bad guy’s fighter ships).


3.  The actors have become familiar to us.  I’ve read Carrie Fisher’s books – did you know she was only 19 when the movie came out, and used the money to buy her very own New York City apartment where she reunited with her estranged father?  Harrison Ford has grown in his four decades of movies, although I don’t think my daughters recognized him as the same person in 42 (2013).  Kids recognize Darth Vader’s voice (James Earl Jones) in The Sandlot and The Lion King and Jack and the Bean Stalk.

Fun movie!



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War Movies over Memorial Day Weekend


My husband and I watched three old war movies (thanks, Turner Classic Movies!) during our Memorial Day weekend get-away.  Here’s what I learned about war from Hollywood:

  • The enemy does not play by the rules, and Americans must make difficult choices.


In Torpedo Run (1958), a submarine commander (Glenn Ford) is sent to sink the Japanese aircraft carrier from which the attack on Pearl Harbor was launched.  But the enemy is hiding behind a transport ship filled with POW’s from the Philippines. The commander’s wife and daughter are on that ship.  Will he do his duty?  Will he sacrifice the American and Filipino prisoners?  Will his crew support him in his decision?

  • New military tactics are sidelined until they prove their worth in battle.


In They Were Expendable (1945), Navy PT boat commanders (Robert Montgomery and John Wayne) fight to demonstrate that these swift boats can torpedo enemy ships with great success, and shouldn’t just be given messenger duty.  This movie give glimpses of the courage shown by the Filipino people, the cut-off Marines, the bare-bones Army hospital personnel, and the Navy in the face of certain defeat in the Pacific early in WWII.

  • A few sacrifice so all can be free.

a sergeant york gary cooper SERGEANT_YORK_D1-12

Sergeant York (1941) is based on the true story of a sharp-shooting country boy (Gary Cooper) who is against killing, yet doesn’t qualify for a religious exemption during WWI.  His commanding officer reminds him that many have fought before him in the Revolutionary War and Civil War so that he may be free.  In the heat of battle, when his troop is being attacked, he does what he needs to in order to stop the guns that are killing his friends.

Thank you to all our American soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, past and present, who have made difficult decisions in the face of battle, who have worked to make our forces stronger and more advanced, and who have sacrificed so that we can be free!

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Into Darkness: A Beginner’s Star Trek Review


We saw Star Trek Into Darkness (2013 PG13) as a family.  This movie is kind of a prequel to the TV show of the 1960’s, as the last scene is when the crew of the Enterprise takes off on their “five year mission to boldly go where no man has gone before.”  Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if they said “no man”, or “no one”.  Did you catch it?

As my teenaged daughter has not seen any of the other Star Trek movies, or any of the TV series, I wondered if she would enjoy the movie.  So, I prepped her by telling her basic character descriptions, such as that Chekov has a Russian accent, and that Spock has pointy ears because he is part alien.

Here’s her take on the Star Trek characters after seeing the movie:

  • Captain Jim Kirk – a little self-absorbed, kinda bossy
  • Spock – odd, weird, overthinks everything, never lies
  • Uhura – is like, “Ok, I’ll do that,” to everything
  • Bones – magically has an answer at the end
  • Scotty – is smart, over exaggerates
  • Sulu – a calm team player
  • Khan – coy until the end, needs to be nice but is very evil
  • Chekov – a little kid in an adult’s body

We all liked the move – great action, rare foul language, with small gifts to Star Trek fans.  However, did we really need to see the blond girl strike a pose in her underwear?

My daughter also liked it, but to her the story is over.  She isn’t likely to seek out more Star Trek movies from past years, or future sequels.  Unless she is with her parents!  Fun movie!


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Robert Downey Jr’s Forgotten Gem: Heart and Souls


Before he was Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr starred in the film Heart and Souls (1993 PG-13).  It’s a fun movie that’s worth seeing!

An uptight business man (Robert Downey Jr) has to help four ghosts with unfinished business.  These four different characters have been linked to him since he was born (their bus crashed just as his mother gave birth on the way to the hospital), and have watched over him as he’s grown up.  Strange premise, but don’t let that keep you away from this warm and funny film!


Robert Downey Jr, who rarely over-acts, gets the chance to show off a bit by acting like each of the four characters as they briefly inhabit his body to complete various tasks.  He becomes a:

Here is the trailer.  The trailer seems dated now, but don’t let that stop you from watching this fun movie!

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Home Run: A Triple Play in the Theater


I always try to catch faith-based movies in the theater, to support Christian film making.  I live with God in my life, and cannot imagine being without His comfort and peace.

The problem is that sometimes faith-based movies are not as well made as mainstream movies.  The message may be important, but often some of the ingredients that make a movie great are lacking.

Home Run (2013 PG-13) is an excellent example of a Christian message movie that is a great movie on it’s own.

FIRST:  Quality Actors Make a Difference.  A professional baseball player (Scott Elrod) gets suspended after knocking down a bat boy (Juan Martinez) during a drunken rage over an umpire’s call. Forced to return to his home town to attend a 12 step program called Celebrate Recovery, he also must help coach Little League with a classmate from high school (Dorian Brown).  His agent (Vivica A Fox) helps to smooth out his messes.

Watch this clip; you can tell who is a real actor and who was just put in place.  Fortunately, all the important rolls are played by professional actors!

SECOND:  It’s Good Not to Notice the Cinematography.  It is distracting to have strange camera angles (like a view up an actor’s nostrils) or abrupt cuts (like from a dark interior to a bright sunny day).  The cinematographer-director David Boyd (known for shooting TV’s The Walking Dead) was in charge of directing the cameras and the actors, and his experience shows in that the camera work doesn’t show! 

THIRD:  This Movie About Addiction Isn’t Only for Addicts or Christians.  Anyone can enjoy this movie.  The characters are not just recovering from addiction, but also from abuse.  The people mention God, but the director keeps from preaching.  Producer Carol Mathews says, “I think the thing that I just want to say over and over again is that I believe that there’s a huge population of believers, Christians, who sit in our churches week after week and they’re feeling very alone.  And they’re good-willed people, they worship, they do the Bible studies, they’re decent people, but they’re buckling under a load of shame and guilt from past decisions or habits they can’t break. And I believe that this movie is for them, because I think it says, first and foremost, that they’re not alone, and that everyone struggles, and that there’s hope for change.”

As the movie finished the woman sitting near to me turned and said, “This theater should be packed.”

I agree. This is a quality film, an entertaining movie, with a message of hope.

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A Fun Movie You Probably Missed: The Sapphires


The Sapphires (2013 PG-13) is a “based on a true story” movie that bounced around film festivals, then tried to make it in theaters.  It’s a comedy with heart that tells about an important part of history!

In the Australian Outback of the 1960’s, three sisters (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, and Miranda Tapsell) yearn to escape their small town lives by singing for the American soldiers in war-torn Vietnam.  The problem is, they are Aborigines.  In Australia, that means they are black, and they are treated as second-class citizens.  Much like African-Americans were treated at the time in the United States.  The other problem is they don’t have a manager to help them update their style and to guide their careers.

The second problem is solved when Dave (Chris O’Dowd), a down-on-his-luck talent scout, hears the girls sing country-western and hears their plan to audition for the US Army, and determines to make them into the Australian version of The Supremes.  Can he teach them to sing soul?  Can he keep the girls safe in a war zone?  Can he stay sober?

The first problem, racism, is an issue for the entire film, as it was for the entire world in 1968.  The sister’s light-skinned cousin (Shari Sebbens) is recruited because of her singing abilities.

It’s fun to watch the girls grow and learn a new style of singing.

Once they get to Vietnam, the girls start to shine when they realize they have talent and they are appreciated.  There is danger and romance and music and always the issue of racism.  Fun movie!


My teenaged-daughters and I loved the movie!  Afterwards, I asked them which songs they recognized.  “None of them,” they replied.  What?!?  My daughters have never heard Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, What a Man, or I Heard it Through the Grapevine before?  We have neglected their education of great American music!  That’s going to change!

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Oblivion: A Special International Review


Oblivion opened in 45 countries around the world it’s first weekend.  We are friends with students from around the world, some of who saw Oblivion in the US that same opening weekend.

In the future, Earth has been attacked by alien forces.  The people of Earth fought back and won, but the aliens destroyed our planet during the war.  Now, two people are left on Earth to maintain the drones that kill the remaining hidden aliens, and to watch over the large machines that are sucking up all the water for use in the people of Earth’s new space home.


The two report daily to headquarters from their home high above New York.  Despite the loneliness and potential danger, Andrea Riseborough‘s character maintains perfect posture and enticing swimming exercises, prepares creative meals and morning coffee, all with spiked heels and flawless lipstick.  Tom Cruise‘s character repairs damaged drones while collecting Americana and wondering about a woman he remembers.


This is a science fiction film, with a lot of explanatory dialogue.  If you miss the dialogue, you miss the plot.  Why is Tom’s character tied in a chair?  Morgan Freeman‘s character explains it to you in a long speech.  But what if English is your second language (or third)?

So, here is the review by our three college student friends who are in a USA language school working to improve their English.

What do you like about the movie?

  • Korean Girl:  Everything was good.  The whole story was impressive!! After the movie ended, I was thinking about the movie again and again.  I don’t want to give spoilers for you.  I totally recommend watching this movie.
  • Saudi Arabian Boy:  When Tom Cruise went to another area and then he saw himself.
  • Korean Boy:  First I’m addicted to it’s graphics.  They made a great fictional world in the movie.  Although the Earth is totally destroyed, that virtual world is enough to catch the eyes.  And it’s background was interesting.  Although the movie’s story was hard to understand at the first time, it is so curious.

How could the movie be better?

  • Korean Girl:  It was very awesome, but I want Korean subtitles in the film.  It helps me understand the story better.
  • Saudi Arabian Boy:  Add more actors.
  • Korean Boy:  For me, it’s really perfect.  If I’m the movie director, I’ll put more actors, not only Morgan Freeman, but also the other famous actors.

Will the movie be popular in your country?

  • Korean Girl:  Yes, I’m sure about that.  This movie has a nice story and a spectacular scene.
  • Saudi Arabian Boy:  I think yes because a lot of Saudi people like fancy special effect movies.
  • Korean Boy:  Tom Cruise is one of the most famous actors.  Because of his fame, this movie is advertised well.  And it’s CG special effects are really nice.  If you see the movie, you would be a big fan of it!

Thank you for your reviews!  I’m happy you liked the movie!


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