Christmas Miracle: A DVD Review

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A Vivendi Entertainment film

Going grocery shopping one day, I saw some of Wal-Mart’s recently released movies along side the checkout aisle. Some were terrible so I just ignored them completely, especially the Holiday Fluff films which companies claim to be representing the “Christmas” season, but I did see one film of interest: Christmas Miracle which inspired me to take a closer look. I read the description and saw the concept was interesting, and I also enjoyed the fact this was made from the same company who released A Mile in His Shoes and both WWJD movies; for those wondering one had John Schneider the other had John Ratzenberger.

Christmas Miracle concerns a group of strangers who get stranded together due to a snowstorm on Christmas Eve; how they all get stuck is suspenseful indeed. One car contains a father whose marriage is falling apart, one contains a widower who used to be a Pastor, another car has a newlywed couple with a bit of an age difference, another has an upper class couple who have been married for years but fight constantly, and the last vehicle is a former EMT worker. Each set of travelers contain their own set of baggage, and must band together within an old abandoned church in order to survive. What will they learn and experience within the old church? And will they have a good Christmas if even having one at all?

Right off the bat I have to say George Canyon, the actor who plays the EMT, is an excellent singer and I love the songs he sings in this movie. I also felt the events and lines written in Christmas Miracle were well done and for the most part were not unrealistic. The acting was very good, and although this was primarily a drama there were a few funny moments too. The theological messages portrayed throughout and at the end of the film I cannot help but feel are necessary for Christians and non Christians alike to hear; especially non-Christian viewers, because then believers can talk to  unbelievers about it. I recommend this as a good Christian, Christmas movie to add to your Christmas movie viewing pleasure and will tell my friends about it.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Christmas Angel: A DVD Review

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A Pure Flix Film

Lately I’ve been in the Christmas movie mood. In order to plan for a special movie night for my Christian movie group, I’ve been doing some recent research on finding more Christian Christmas movies besides the ones I was aware of thus far. Checking out a lead on Pure Flix’s YouTube Channel, I saw they just came out with the new movie Christmas Angel. The trailer actually looked pretty cute, and since it was also recently released on Netflix I couldn’t wait to test it out before it would arrive at my mailbox.

Christmas Angel is a story about some kids who discover a “magic” house which seems to grant certain wishes after the kids throw rocks at it. More is going on though than meets the eye in this Christmas story. Olivia is a 5th grader who is looking for a great guy to be with her mother, while she is also trying to solve the mystery of the “magic” house. Why is it that some of the kids’ wishes are granted while others are denied? What is the strange blue glow coming from within that “magic” house at night…? Is it really an Angel like Olivia thinks? And what purpose does Dr. Davis have for even owning the rundown building in the first place?

I absolutely loved Christmas Angel. The actress who plays Olivia and the rest of the kids themselves, are very cute and play their roles well. It was also really neat to see the grownup actors apart of the cast, very nicely done I must say to whoever arranged that. I really enjoyed the story itself as well, because it captivates many different moods appropriately while also providing a message that closely relates to the Christmas season.  We need more films like this to be made, and someone ought to get Christmas Angel to be played on national television because a new trend needs to be set with our culture’s “entertainment”. We need to kick out all of the Holiday Fluff which is poisoning the purpose of this time of year. This is definitely a film you can enjoy with the entire family, and I am glad to have added this to my Christian movie collection. I am confident if given the opportunity, those I show this to will also enjoy it as well!

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The Heart of Christmas: A DVD Review

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Produced by Image Entertainment

Christmas time is already approaching, I mean you can see it in the TV commercials so it MUST be true! Lol. Anyway, I wrote a blog entry not too long ago about the Three Types of Christmas movies, which I recommend you read when you have the time, and I started thinking about Christmas movies. At one point I even thought: “I should do research and see if there are more Christian Christmas films out there…” One day I went to my local Family Video and saw they had The Heart of Christmas available, and so I had some hopes on this being a really good and hopefully real Christmas film.

The Heart of Christmas, is a story about a busy business mom whose kids and husband don’t feel like they see or spend time with her enough. This mom barely manages to go trick or treat with her kids and when she does, she uncovers a house with Christmas decorations. She asks “why the early decorations?”, and a local hands her a business card and replies: “read this blog and you’ll understand.” So she starts reading the story of a boy named Dax and the painful journey his parents are making for him… The acting was very good from all the cast members, the quality and script were quite original, and the song by Matthew West is awesome! But, what I am about to write might sound heartless to some people and I apologize for that in advance. It is not my intent to be a jerk, however I feel this needs to be said.

The Heart of Christmas is misleading, because this is not a conventional Christmas film like you may imagine when observing the movie’s cover appearance and the title itself. So if you’re hoping for a movie which heavily relates to the Christmas season, and with which you can laugh/enjoy beside the whole family, this isn’t it. No, The Heart of Christmas is a very painful journey through the lives of a group of parents whose child is fighting off cancer.  I get the idea that you’re supposed to see this film and then say to yourself: “Wow… I could have it a whole lot worse. I should be grateful of what I have.” However, I felt it was unnecessary for that to be most of the movie itself, because I can’t imagine this being a film I can watch again and again and again. Basically, no disrespect intended, this movie was designed to be emotional porn meant to make you cry. (I am not misusing that word, look it up.) Though this is a necessary message for some people to hear, because there are a lot of ungrateful people out there and we also have to be realistic in that Christmas isn’t always full of smiles and giggles, it doesn’t really talk about WHY Christmas is even worth celebrating; it just hints Dax “just needs one last happy moment” with his family. I won’t discourage you from watching/purchasing the movie, because there are somethings within the movie I felt are worth seeing especially if you haven’t experienced Cancer for yourself, but I won’t be adding it to my library; I’m sorry if that sounds heartless.

Movie Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

p.s. Please don’t misunderstand my words. I take what they produced very seriously and my heart goes out to all children, especially the children involved apart of that kind of situation. I just can’t watch a movie like this again and again and again, because this will emotionally shock you just as certain horror films are designed to emotionally shock you; hence why I called this ’emotional porn.’ Also keep in mind I would rather watch this than many of the Holiday Fluff films being currently released like Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special.

THE Three Types of Christmas Movies

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It’s one day from Halloween, and I’m writing an entry about Christmas, yes I know I am weird lol. But seriously, I couldn’t help but think about the idea of Christmas movies for a few reasons. One reason is due to the fact I am planning a special Christian Christmas movie night at the end of November; hopefully we’ll have snow by then so we can go tubing. Besides that though, I know very soon companies will start releasing their DVDs, TV Specials, commercials, products, etc for the “holiday season”. Because there are plenty of movies out there which are and have been made for the Christmas time of year, I couldn’t help but think more about them. At one point, I remembered some of my previous blog entries and movie reviews about Christmas, and I also remembered some of the previous Christmas films I’ve watched in the past and have heard other people talk about. And then it hit me. Really when you get past all of the details, there are really only three types of Christmas movies.

Before I get to what the three types are, I’m sure some of you maybe wondering… “Ben why does it matter?” Well it matters, because of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Christmas is supposed to be about many things, but there are somethings which are emphasized which may not necessarily be as important as other details if even important at all. In fact some of these details are reasons why some don’t celebrate Christmas and even hate those who do practice it; or at least hate the time of year… Now this is very important to note, because some of those said people think that’s why people celebrate Christmas, when that isn’t true in actuality and if someone is actually doing it for those grrr-able reasons then they ought to reexamine their life. What are those details to which I am referring? They’ll be addressed as I’m revealing to you THE three Types of Christmas Movies:

1) Secular Christmas Movies. These were the common format for what a Christmas movie was back in the day. (when I say ‘back in the day’ I mean within the 90s and earlier.) I have enjoyed and currently own many of these types of movies. These type of Christmas Movies have to take place around Christmas time; in fact any Christmas movie must. These also emphasize certain ideas within the plot like Family, Peace, Joy, Love, Friendship, and Forgiveness which are very good things. What makes it secular, however, is the fact these movies won’t say much about Jesus; though might give a quick slip of a reference indirectly. Now I’m not saying that’s a completely bad thing, because I don’t expect all movies to talk about Jesus but with Christmas being what it is, all those other themes I mentioned a few sentences ago are secondary themes. Primarily this is done simply to reach out to a broader audience, which I can respect depending on how it’s done of course. I would argue such movies as Trapped in Paradise, All I Want for Christmas, A Muppet Family Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and others are good examples of Secular Christmas movies.

2) Christian Christmas Movies. I know that might sound like an oxymoron to some people, but unfortunately in today’s culture it is not. Now again I am not demonizing Secular Christmas movies, because there are some very good ones out there besides the examples I mentioned a moment ago. However, a good Christian Christmas film will do everything a Secular Christmas movie does, and will also not be afraid to tell people that Jesus is the reason for the season. It is, after all, THE Primary reason we ought to celebrate Christmas in the first place. If someone grrs at that idea, that’s too bad because that is nonnegotiable. I do not expect, nor should every Christmas movie to be a reenactment of the Nativity scene, because that isn’t the only way a movie can talk about Jesus Christ and some of those reenactments are questionable for interpretation anyhow. Sure movies like Christmas With a Capital C , Saint Nicholas, The Perfect Gift, and others are great movies made by Christian based groups, however not every Christian Christmas movie needs to be necessarily made by a Christian company. I mean there are other movies/TV Specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Noel, Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey, and others which are examples of Christian Christmas movies not necessarily made by a Christian based company.

3) Holiday Fluff. I wrote and talked about this a little bit last year, but it needs to be said again. Holiday Fluff in short is a concept which appears very sugary sweet and might even taste good with a quick lick, but when heavily consumed it gives the person a stomach ache and doesn’t satisfy their hunger. Unfortunately, this is the type of “Christmas” movie which is more popular in modern times. These types of movies promote stuff like shopping, decorating, Santa Claus, finding a tree, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, having family over at the house, wrapping presents, Frosty the Snow man, snow, opening presents, and other things/ideas which don’t necessarily need to even be apart of Christmas to make it Christmas. Holiday Fluff are also the types of movies which will absolutely REFUSE to talk about and show anything referring to Jesus Christ, the Nativity, or anything else which is Christian based at all; unless it’s in a negative way. Because of this complete refusal, companies will even go as far as trying to reinvent what it means to celebrate Christmas, and much of what they try to promote are what makes some people grr at the Holiday Season. Honestly, if Christmas was all about what Holiday Fluff tries to paint this time of year to be, I’d be standing right next to the protest sign holding Atheist in support. Despite this, however, there are some likeable Holiday Fluff movies including Elf, Christmas With The Kranks, and A Christmas Story. But then there are others like Gremlins, Die Hard, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Four Christmases, Olive the Other Reindeer, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure, Home Alone 4 and others which make me think “How is this Christmas???”

Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler: A VeggieTales DVD Review

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A Big Idea Film

While waiting for The League of Extraordinary Vegetables to be released, I was interested in finding more titles to watch from the people of Big Idea. One in particular, gave me some interest because I have enjoyed some of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I know when Veggietales makes a remake of a story they tend to do it very well. Yes I wanted to watch Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler, because of the story element, and I was also curious what they had to say about friendship… Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler is actually two separate stories contained within one DVD feature.

The first story is called: The Asparagus of La Mancha which is a spin-off of the literary classic Don Quixote De La Mancha, (literary classic worth checking out by the way) in that it involves Don a dreaming Asparagus and Mr. Lunt who plays his sidekick Pancho, a spin-off of Sancho Panza. Don and Pancho together own a restaurant called “La Mancha”, which was popular until a competitor called “The Food Factory” moves in next door and starts stealing their business. When business is waning Don gets desperate due to the influence of his strange dreams, while Pancho is being tempted to leave his friend and work for the Food Factory. The second story, which is Sheerluck Holmes, concerns Sheerluck Holmes and Dr. Watson; played by Larry and Bob. They are assigned a huge case involving the theft of a treasure contained within the Palace. But there is more to the story than the mere mystery of who and how, this also is a commentary on how to not be a good friend. What lesson does Sheerluck Holmes need to learn in order to not only find the Golden Ruler, but also keep his friendship with Dr. Watson?

In all honesty, though Sheerluck Holmes was a decent story, I actually liked The Asparagus of La Mancha better between the two tales. For some reason there just seemed to be more detail to The Asparagus of La Mancha plotwise, and it provided a deeper message to me. Both stories are good about talking about how to be a good friend, both at times were funny, the silly song: The Gated Community was a goofy barbershop quartet, and I like their overall theological message. Yes I do give this movie a strong recommendation, it’s worth checking out if you haven’t heard about it yet.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The Mark: A DVD Review

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A Pure Flix Film

One night when hosting my Christian movie night, the movie Escape was voted upon; great movie by the way. While we were checking out the previews before the movie, a preview for this movie: The Mark began playing. When my moviegoers and I saw this preview we were all like “Whoa!”, and some of them even asked me to check this out and see if it was worth nominating for a future movie night. Of course besides them asking me about it, I wanted to check out The Mark because I felt the plot was very promising and I was also just thinking of the whole microchipping thing…

The Mark concerns paid mercenary: Chad Turner who has been hired to protect some medical workers. In the middle of a chaotic attack, one of the scientists injects something into Chad’s arm… When Chad comes to he learns he has a very unique microchip which has been bonded to him for life. Chad is told by one of the members of Avanti, the corporation which designed the microchip, he needs to go to Berlin to present it before the G-20 conference. While on the plane for Berlin, Chad is warned by a reporter what he has in his arm could very well be the prototype to “The Mark of the Beast”… Does what she say have some legitimacy? And why are there people who will stop at nothing to steal the chip? What fascinated me the most about this movie is the fact they based the plot off of something real; the RFID Chip… It is scary to think about for various reasons.

One reason being the part where Eric Roberts says if the terrorists try to remove it from Chad’s arm that it’ll kill Chad and destroy itself, because that is real. Of course, another reason is the fact this insidious idea could very well be the actual Mark of the Beast described in the Book of Revelation someday… In regard to this movie, I thought it was pretty good. There was plenty of action and drama. If you don’t believe in the rapture you might not like certain things being talked about in this movie, but I think for the most part it is enjoyable to watch even if you don’t. The only downsides I have with this movie is that much of the movie is shown in the preview, and I also think they could have tied in certain details better. But then again, they showed immediately at the end of the movie that they plan to make a sequel! Overall this is a good movie and I plan to share it with others.

Movie Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

A Mile in His Shoes: A DVD Review

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A Vivendi Entertainment film

Whenever the topic of sports is brought up when it comes to Faith based films, the first thought someone always has is Facing the Giants. It’s a good movie don’t get me wrong, but there has to be more than one great faith-based, sports movie… right? I mean there are plenty of sports out there like soccer, hockey, tennis, basketball, and even baseball. Baseball, oh yeah that’s right my wife and I recently watched A Mile in His Shoes. We originally watched this back in August on Netflix, because we were interested in seeing a faith-based, sports movie as well as the fact this was directed by the guy who did Angel’s in the Outfield (a movie we both liked as kids) intrigued us too.

A Mile in His Shoes concerns a failing baseball team whose coach is in desperate need of a better pitcher. The baseball team’s manager insists the coach, played by Dean Cain, finds a better pitcher or he’s fired. The coach hears of a potential prospect out in the country so he hurries out of the manager’s office, and on the drive there his truck gets stuck in a ditch. This seems like bad luck at first, until he receives some help which turns out to be a blessing in disguise. The coach while calling for a tow truck sees Mickey, a young man with Aspergers syndrome, who has an incredible arm; he notices Mickey is throwing apples at a target for his pig. After a brief conversation about baseball, Mickey joins the team. Will he adjust to these new, difficult changes and become a great pitcher? Will he be warmly welcomed and bring the positive change the team needs?

My wife and I loved A Mile in His Shoes. This had all kind of great stuff going on. There was some pretty funny moments, like when Dean Cain is trying to explain to Mickey how to do certain things. I also enjoyed what they had to say throughout the movie in their theological themes. The acting was well done and the story was very good as well. This is certainly a sports film which is worth adding to your library if you are one of those people who really liked Facing the Giants, because it is great for the whole family.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.