Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Category: Movies (page 1 of 15)

‘Lego Batman’ and the Importance of Family

Lego Batman movie poster“You can’t be a hero if you’re only thinking about yourself.” -Barbara Gordon

The team behind the 2014 surprise box office hit, The Lego Movie, had produced a fun, kid-friendly comic book movie in The Lego Batman Movie.  Will Arnett, who returns as the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, is the perfect humorless, brooding Dark Knight.

The film is full of fast-moving bricks that successfully draws on decades of Batman lore. From the 1960’s television series to Batman v. Superman, references to the Dark Knight’s multifaceted phases are made . . . . and they are brilliant! The references include the “na-na-na-na” theme song and the classic “POWS.”

The pop references do not stop there. The Joker unleashes a myriad of Warner Bros. villains onto Gotham city, who have all been chilling out in the Phantom Zone. Villains such as Voldemort, King Kong, Gremlins, Eye of Sauron, the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys, and Godzilla. These references are clearly placed for the benefit of the parents. And, so, on behalf of all parents, I say, “Thank you.”

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“Believe” and the Meaning of Christmas

believe_keyart_49bEmmy-nominated director Billy Dickson has written an endless number of family-based, faith-based scripts. Most them, however, have only collected dust.  Dickson told Jacob Sahms for ChristianCinema.com, “I had been writing family-based, faith-based scripts but they were collecting dust because people wouldn’t take a look at them. They were too soft; there weren’t enough gun fights.” His new project, Believe, seeks to be the faith-based film that crosses barriers. It has a little bit of everything. And promises to be a new Christmas classic.

The small town of Grundy, Virginia looks forward to one thing every year – the annual Christian pageant provided by the Peyton family. Matthew Peyton (Ryan O’Quinn) has inherited his family’s business, and the responsibility for the Christmas pageant. The family business, however, has fallen on financial hardship, with implications of the same happening to the whole town.

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50 Life Lessons

AAA State of Play recently released an infographic that features some wise advice from some of children’s entertainment’s beloved characters. These inspiring quotes provide some solid life lessons. What I found particularly interesting are the quotes about our past. Whether it is Rafiki from The Lion King or Alice from Alice in Wonderland, some these characters understand that while the past may shape us, it is not our present. Sometimes, to quote a certain ice queen, we need to “Let it go.”

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Pete’s Dragon and the Magic of Believing

The little boy wanders through the forest, alone and scared. Unsure what to do or where to go, he clings to a book about Elliot the dog. It is the only source of comfort he has. There is a wide range of dangers lurking in the darkness. Among them  lurks a little magic.

This is how Disney’s new Pete’s Dragon begins. It is gripping, demanding the audience to settle in to their seats and throw a few more pieces of popcorn in their mouths. Before the title appears on the screen, we have been introduced to the main character, a little boy named Pete, and met the mysterious creature in the woods. This magical creature shines compassion, erasing any fears we may have.

Pete_Elliot

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Mickeys_Christmas_CarolMickey’s Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Christmas specials for a number of years. It is the retelling of the Charles Dickens’ classic short novel, “A Christmas Carol.” It has a large number of cameos from various Disney characters. It is one of those rare animation specials where all these characters from different Disney-Verses show up in the same place. And, the animation is incredible. It is one of the last great animation specials with hand-drawn animation. It feels like a lost art today.

Obviously, Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge, is the main character. McDuck was actually based on Dickens’ Scrooge. Scrooge’s home was in the comics, but was in an animated film once prior to this one: 1967’s Scrooge McDuck and Money. Scrooge is a grouchy, old man who is more concerned about his money than he is the welfare of others.

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A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

22charlie-brown-thanksgiving22-standard-printYear after year, during the week of Thanksgiving, families gather around the television to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Since it first aired on November 20, 1973, it has become as much of the holiday tradition as the turkey, the Macy’s Parade, and backyard football.

It is a welcome site when our television screens begin projecting this classic cartoon. We find comfort that Charlie Brown still doesn’t kick that football, and that Snoopy is given more responsibility than the average beagle. Comforting especially when department stores quickly replace Halloween decorations with Christmas ones; when politicians debate who should and should not be welcomed; and when saying, “Thank you,” seems to be nothing more than the reminders of a nagging parent.

In the special, Sally tells Charlie Brown that she went to the store to get a turkey tree and there was all this “Christmas stuff.” Later she laments, “I haven’t even finished eating all my Halloween candy!” (even though she was in the pumpkin patch with Linus on Halloween). We feel Sally’s pain. Before we even get to Thanksgiving, we are bombarded with Christmas music, Christmas sales, and Christmas decorations.

Has the materialism of Christmas caused a forgetting of the tradition of Thanksgiving?

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Lost Dino!

In anticipation for their new film, The Good Dinosaur, Disney invites you and your kids to look for Arlo. When you do, there is an exclusive clip from the film, which opens November 25.

Arlo is missing

Click here to find Arlo. 

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Discussion Questions

I wrote this for our middle schoolers a few weeks ago to use in their Sunday morning small group. It’s a discussion that focuses on doubt and faith, and that we can trust in God.

great-pumpkin-charlie-brown-1

 

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Where Hope Grows (2015)

I wrote the following review of the film “Where Hope Goes” for ScreenFish.net.

Where Hope GrowsCalvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) is a former baseball player who is searching for a new purpose in life. After his formative career ended, a drinking problem began. This added to his struggles as a single father to his teenage daughter, Katie (McKaley Miller). Katie is dating a boy that Calvin knows is no good, but the more Calvin tries to steer Katie in a different direction, the wider the gap between the two becomes. While the character of Calvin is a bit of a cliche, he provides the foundation for what will be a warming tale of hope.

Everything begins to change for Calvin when he meets a young man whom everyone calls Produce.

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Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson (2015)

mickeymatsonpiratescode-smPirate’s Code is a sequel to the earlier film Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure. This time Mickey (Derek Brandon) comes face-to-face with the evil Admiral Ironsides (Frank Collison) and his gang of misfit pirates. Their goal? Destroy civilization by removing technology. Their invention, the Tesla Coil, will send out an electromagnetic pulse throughout the world, destroying every electronic device.

Mickey and his best friend Sully (Francesca DeRosa), along with the secret government organization they belong to, set out to stop the pirates from stealing the last needed part for their weapon of mass destruction.

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