30 April 2013

Quickie Movie Reviews for April 2013

Rated: Not Rated (Dove approved for all ages)
Starring: Ruby Marie Lewis and Jefferson Moore
Released: September 15, 2007 (DVD)
Another Perfect Stranger: The sequel to 2005's The Perfect Stranger--not to be confused with the Halle Berry film--features Nikki Cominsky's daughter all grown up and at her own spiritual crossroads.  While on a plane ride to a art college's campus, she starts up a conversation with a guy who seems to share her disdain for religion...but is he who he seems to be? Anyone who liked the first film will likely enjoy this one, and it serves as a conversation starter as well.
Parents might be concerned with the fact that a date rape is discussed.

Score: 3.5/5
Rated: Not Rated (Dove approved for all ages)
Starring: Natalie Grant, Michael Rosenbaum, and Rusty Whitener
Released: October 16, 2011 (Gospel Music Channel premiere) / March 6. 2012 (DVD) 
Decision: When Jackson's father dies in a terrible accident, his life begins to unravel.  His classmates are bullying him; his very pregnant mother, Ilene, is struggling to make ends meet; and, to make matters worse, his principal comes to his house and announces that he will be held back a grade.  To help him out, Ilene sends him to live with her father for a while, to get himself back on track.  While Jackson is with his Grandpa, they both learn some very important lessons.  Though the movie is well-made, some plot threads are not resolved by the time the credits roll, and Jackson's turn-around seems too quick and unrealistic.  Still, it would make a good diversion for a night, if you can find it at your local library.
The only concerns I can think of are a small amount of mild violence and a little emotional intensity, as well as a discussion of a girl getting pregnant at the age of seventeen, which might confuse some kids.

Score: 3/5

Rated: PG (for reasons unspecified by the MPAA)
Starring: Dan Aykroyd and John Candy
Released: June 17, 1988
The Great Outdoors: I saw this movie on some family-oriented network--either Pat Robertson's Family Channel or the Disney Channel--as a kid, and thought it was great.  When I saw it on DVD at a local yard sale, I picked it up...only to be offended almost as soon as I started watching it tonight.  In the first five minutes, there were at least three or four profanities, and a scene that alluded to sex that implied a woman was topless while people other than her husband were present.  This is one of those old-school "PG" films that is definitely in need of a "PG-13" instead.

Score: 1/5

Rated: TV-G (Dove approved for all ages)
Starring: Candace Cameron Bure, Jeannie Neilson, Erin Bethea
Released: December 4, 2011 (Gospel Music Channel) / October 16, 2012 (DVD) 
The Heart of Christmas: I bought this at an after-Christmas sale at my local Christian bookstore; I thought it looked interesting.  What I didn't know was how emotional, gripping, and heart-wrenching it would be.  More than just a mindless Yuletide flick like Fred Claus or Jingle All the Way, The Heart of Christmas shows one family's struggle against unthinkable odds, and the effects it has on the entire planet.  That may sound vague, but I really don't want to give away any of the movie; it's as involving as it is heartbreaking.  I don't even feel that my normal categorical assessment would be right in this case, which is why I'm doing a "quickie" review.
Though the Dove Foundation may have approved this for all ages, I would caution parents that it is emotionally intense, which could be a bit much for some kids.  That's to be expected, though, given the subject matter of the movie.

Score: 4/5
Rated: Not Rated (Dove approved for ages twelve and up)
Starring: Aaron U. Brown, Jaycee Lynn, and Samuel Potter
Released: May 27, 2008 (DVD) 
Overcome: This movie was of particular interest to me, as I like most Christian films, and the Apostle Paul is one of my favorite people from the Bible.  Though the details are a little bit different--in what verse do you read about Paul becoming best friends with a tennis star?--the movie was still an enjoyable Christian drama that makes some very good points, and made me realize something I didn't before: Saying "sorry" doesn't mean anything unless you take some sort of action to make amends.  Some people may quibble with how quick the lead guy and girl go from non-friends to best friends, though.
Content concerns include a car crash--non-graphic--some depictions of bullying, drinking, and other sinful behavior--though all of it is vilified--and usage of terms such as "jerk" and "shut up".

Score: 4/5
Rated: TV-G (Dove approved for all ages)
Starring: Paige Turco, Shawn Christian, and Barry Bostwick
Released: April 17, 2010 (DVD)

Secrets of the Mountain: Another film made as part of the "Family Movie Night" venture by Wal-Mart, this one features an action/adventure story reminiscent of Indiana Jones.  The good news is that the content in Secrets of the Mountain is milder than any of Indy's celluloid adventures; the bad news is that the first half of Wallyworld's film is a bit pokey, and the ending is too pat and abrupt.  Those two extremes put this movie into mediocre territory.  Renting it would be a good idea, as it's not something that one would likely watch again and again.
As for content concerns, there is a bit of violence; two characters get into a literal firefight--that is, with real flames--and one character punches another in the face.  Along with the expected peril, there is a scene of bullying, and a creepy sequence that featured decaying skeletons; one has its skull crushed by a foot.  Nothing goes beyond "PG" territory, though.

Score: 2.5/5
Rated: Not Rated
Starring: Christopher Daniel Barnes, Sara Ballantine, and Roscoe Lee Browne
Released: April 30, 2002 (DVD) 
Spider-Man: The Ultimate Villain Showdown: It seems that Marvel is in need of better titles for their television-episodes-turned-movies.  The first one I watched, Daredevil Vs. Spider-Man, actually had the two of them as allies, and the former superhero was actually absent for the last third of the film.  This one features plenty of action and heroism, but still doesn't live up to its title.  The first part, where Doc Ock causes Spider-Man to have amnesia, is great; so is the second part, where the human arachnid battles the Green Goblin.  Not only are they exciting and well-made, but the origin stories are different that what you see in the theatrically released films.  Unfortunately, the last part, which has Peter Parker battling against these weird criminals with advanced technology, completely falls flat.  The back cover of the DVD edition I had implies that Spidey battles Kingpin, but that wasn't so; though Kingpin is mentioned and seen, he and the wall-crawler never come to blows.
Content concerns: Along with the expected violence--the TV-Y7-FV variety, of course--there is a female character featured in the first part who wears a midriff-baring outfit in every scene.  Some kissing is also present.  The biggest concern, though, is the character of Madame Web, who is a fortune-teller that uses some tarot-like cards.  Quite a few parents would likely quibble with that.

Score: 3/5
Rated: Not Rated (Dove approved for all ages)
Starring: Lexi Johnson, Levi Bonilla, and Kody Brown
Released: February 2, 2005 
The Sugar Creek Gang: Episode One: Swamp Robber: Based on a popular kids' book series, this premiere episode has the feel of a TV pilot...with none of the satisfaction of a full-length movie or series.  By the end of the movie's seventy minutes, many plot threads are left wide open, and even the resolution is tedious and doesn't make as much sense as I would have liked.  I doubt I'll be watching any more from this series; mystery fans should stick to The Boxcar Children, Agatha Christie, or Scooby-Doo to get their whodunit fix.

Score: 2/5

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