Doctor Strange – Movie Review

This past weekend I went to see Doctor Strange in the movie theater with my family.  We are admittedly Marvel movie fans.  So we all piled into the car after school on Friday and, with popcorn in hand, found our perfect seats to watch this much anticipated film.

I won’t share any spoilers for you, but I would like to delve into some of the themes of this film.  If you know the marvel comics at all, you will know that they are setting the stage for the infinity war.  Doctor Strange deals primarily with the metaphysical and dimensional space…thus you will inevitably have a very mind-bending kind of film = I was not disappointed!  strange

The special effects reminded me of Inception on steroids, in that a lot of city scenes are folded as reality is bent and even broken.  It’s a very trippy experience that some non-marvel fans who are going to just see a movie might not like.
I loved the humor and the comedic timing of this film, as well as the traditional Stan Lee cameo and teasers (2 of them) at the end of the film.

Underlying Spiritual Themes: 
There was a pivotal moment in the film that had me kind of cheering in my seat.  There’s a scene (not really a spoiler) where Doctor Strange, who has been injured and has irreparable damage to his hands seeks out a mystical healer in Nepal.  As he tries to comprehend how this healer is able to break new ground in medicine, it becomes apparent that it is something so much more.  This mystical healer, who is actually “the ancient one” tells Doctor Strange that somethings cannot be explained by medicine and science, and that there is so much more to the universe.

I have to stop right there and say, I loved that spiritual illustration…this man had spent his entire fortune seeking out a scientific breakthrough to help fix his damaged hands and could not find a solution – and what this Ancient One offered could not be explained in the physical realm.  As a Pondering Pastor, I have to say that this is how faith works…when reasoning fails and when science cannot explain – there comes a point that we must admit that we do not know all of the mysteries of the universe and all of the infinite possibilities of God.  strange3

…and here is where our philosophies diverge.  
The cure for Doctor Strange isn’t found in the physical realm, but instead it is found in the metaphysical – and in his own mind.  What he had perceived to be impossible is possible in this other realm, and he must call upon Eastern meditation, mysticism and astral projection to get there.  If I were only paying attention to this underlying theme of the film, I would have had a hard time accepting it.  I don’t necessarily embrace that philosophy of teaching in my life…but as whole film, and action packed as it is, I recognized this to be a movie – fiction and a really good one at that!  I hope others see it that way too!

Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job, in my opinion, in the role of Dr. Stephen Strange.  His character is egotistical at the on set of the movie, but you journey with him to his lowest point.  You begin to sympathize with him, and then cheer for him as he discovers his powers.

I look forward to a second installment of Doctor Strange as well as his cameos in other upcoming Marvel films.  He is an intriguing character and takes the word “trippy” to a whole new plain.

So, should you see this film?  Yes!  Go watch it, take some popcorn, and enjoy another great Marvel movie.

I give this film  two-thumbs

Something more to Ponder today!

Movie Preview: “The Peanuts Movie”

peanuts2The iconic creations from Charles Schulz’s – “Peanuts” is back!  
This coming Friday, November 6th,  “The Peanuts Movie” will hit theaters across the country!
If you’re anything like me, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Pigpen and the rest of the gang have been members of my home since I was a child.  This year, the comic strip gets another edition on the silver screen, and I can’t wait to see it!

What The Critics Might Say: 
Some might bemoan the fact that Peanuts is being revived, while inwardly they’re hoping and praying that the Peanuts writers never  sell out and go the way of other childhood iconic figures *cough, cough*  like Jim Hensen’s “The Muppets” which has since incorporated edgier adult humor and consequently ruined childhoods everywhere.

Others might watch the movie trailer and attempt to compare the new glossy high definition images to that of the old iconic childhood films that were grainy, aged and represented a seemingly bygone era of family neighborhoods.
These same critics are probably  of the mindset that you just don’t attempt to recreate a classic.

There will be the cynics out there that will undoubtedly paint the new Peanuts movie as just another way for the film companies to make money by cashing in on Schulz’s creations.

Here’s What I Think: 
peanuts3I can’t wait to see this movie!
I don’t care what the cynical critics might say, this comic strip is not only sentimental and a window into my childhood, but has always engaged in realistic discussion of life, love and hope.  Charles Schulz always had a way to teach us something new about ourselves while we watched his films or read his comic strip in the newspaper.

Another reason that I am excited for the new Peanuts Movie is that it will be 100% family friendly!
There will not be adult humor slipped into a children’s movie unlike other “children’s movies” who have sold out.

My Recommendation:  
Go and take your kids to see Charlie Brown in the new Peanuts movie!
Go and relive your childhood!
Go share the simplicities of the Peanuts universe with your children or your grandchildren!
My hat is off to Director Steve Martino and Writers Bryan & Craig Schulz (Charles Schulz’s sons) for giving new life to the Peanuts universe once more!   From every kid who is now a grown adult who loved Peanuts (and still does) I say Thank you!

Pondering Movie Review – The Martian

This past week, I had the opportunity to see “The Martian” with my wife and a group of friends.
Here is a Pastorsponderings Movie review of this film:

Author Andy Weir
Author Andy Weir

I remember hearing Andy Weir on Adam Savage’s (Yes, that crazy hyperactive ginger  from Mythbusters) Still Untitled Adam Savage Project podcasts.  Andy is a science geek, and he has this insatiable, inquisitive nature about all things science and space exploration.  His book “the Martian” was actually self-published after he had blogged it chapter by chapter.  Often times, others would offer suggestions and/or check his math within specific components of astrophysics and other complex formulas.  His process, to me, was astounding and although there is an element of fiction within his “fiction novel” the science is already available for such an amazing feat of humanity ingenuity.

                                                                             The Movie: 
movieMatt Damon plays the lead character astronaut – Mark Watney who is accidentally left for dead on Mars following a horrible storm.  His crew believes he was swept away and killed,  so they make a rapid launch and plot the long course for earth.   The only problem?  Watney is of course not dead, he is alive and now marooned on an inhospitable planet with only a NASA designed artificial habitat pod to survive in.   “Will he survive?”  This was the question that I was asking myself over and over again during the film.  It truly was “edge of your seat” with many tense scenarios where almost everything that could go wrong – did go wrong.

I really enjoyed this movie!  Damon does a great job making Watney come to life in a very authentic and organic way.  The science behind the plot makes it plausible and is not too far fetched to be unbelievable.  I loved the conflict that the leaders of NASA had to weigh – do they tell the public that Watney is alive or do they maintain the story of a lost hero and space explorer?

A few parental suggestions – 
There is some language in the movie and one naked butt scene, so parents be mindful of this adult content.

My Recommendation –
I found Ridley Scott’s depiction of Mars to be mind blowing and visually pleasing – I thought to myself while watching , “this is what I think of when I think of Mars and its crazy violent red surface!”  Everything seemed to be was captured so well on film for us to all imagine what it would be like to be stranded on a violent uninviting rock such as Mars.  I loved the survival story of Watney, I wont tell you if he survives or not, you’ll have to see it for yourself to find out!  It truly is like, as writer Andy Weir describes it,  Apollo 13 collides with Cast Away.  My recommendation to you – go see it for yourself, experience the edge of your seat, nail biting intensity that is the Martian!

As A Christian –
I watched this movie and was able to marvel at the ingenious complexity of God’s creation of the Universe! Watney (Damon’s character) even prays out loud to God in a moment of utter frustration and hopelessness.  The Martian is an existential tale that brings life and death, the fight to survive, hope vs hopelessness all back into focus.  I was also reminded of just how creative we humans were created to be, especially in times of crisis and survival as depicted in The Martian.

I give the Martian – thumbscheck it out for yourself and tell us what YOU think!

Something more to ponder today!

Into The Woods…more than a Fairy Tale (in a bad way)


***Spoiler Alert****
If you don’t want to know about this movie before you see it, then stop reading.

“And they lived happily ever after”…oh wait they don’t.
That’s right, Jack (the bean stalk Jack) is orphaned.
Little Red Riding hood is too.
The Baker is a widower.
The Baker’s wife cheats on her husband then dies.
Have I forgotten anything else?  Oh, yeah the witch commits suicide.
And fairy tale endings now suck.

This is my impression of the recent Disney release of musical made for movie film – “Into the Woods”.
I didn’t watch any stage productions of this before watching the film…maybe I should have.
I can’t but help feel jipped somehow.  I feel like this movie was portrayed to be some sort of Kids movie in the advertising only to find out that it wasn’t…it really wasn’t.  In a way I feel like I’ve been taken by a snake-oil salesman.
Sure, there were some funny moments in the film.
There were some intriguing scenes.

Here come the “Buts”…
But perhaps the writer(s) real life experiences spilled over into this script…
but the plot was thin.
but the actors were a little stiff.
but the message was cynical at best and dark at worst.

I feel like I just watched the movie “Hugo” all over again.
Do you remember that film?  It was also portrayed to be some sort of kids movie with mystery and awe…but it just turned out to be an adult homage to a long retired film maker.

Perhaps you’ll disagree with me…that’s fine.
We all have our opinions and this is just mine.
Perhaps you have more sense of this movie than I do, and you actually saw the musical on stage.
I didn’t like it.
I felt cheated out of two hours of my life.
shrekI went to the movies expecting this to be a funny Shrek-like film when what we got was a Fable-turned Shakespearean tragedy full of “life sucks” themes.
My kids were unimpressed.
I just can’t buy into this philosophy.
Who knows…maybe this film just wasn’t for me…but advertisers: could you have just been honest with us?

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