GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is Marvel’s latest attempt of expanding their cinematic universe by introducing a set of new characters, in a new galaxy. The hero of the story isn’t so heroic. In fact, he is a thief.

Peter Quill is a human who lives in a galaxy of odd aliens and creatures. Originally from earth, Peter was kidnapped from his home in the dead of night in 1988 when he was a young boy, right after his mother passed away due to cancer. Raised by a group of alien thieves and misfits, 20-some years after his abduction, Peter is a “junker” who finds and many times steals items of value for the black market. When he gets hold of a coveted and mysterious orb, he’s immediately targeted by the evil Ronan, who wants to use the orb and its power to obliterate the peaceful society of Xandar, and the entire galaxy with it.

With his wit and cleverness, Peter evades Ronan’s men for a brief bit, but Ronan’s master, Thanos (another villain who’ll appear in a future AVENGERS movie), sends his personal assassin Gamora to track down Peter. Trying to sell the orb, Peter is finally caught by Gamora on Xandar. To make things more complicated, a talking raccoon bounty hunter named Rocket and his tree-like humanoid accomplice, Groot, intervene in Peter and Gamora’s fight, so they can hand Peter over for reward money. Their fight is cut short when Galaxy’s military, Nova Corps, arrests all four of them.

Imprisoned, Rocket vows he can break out of any prison. Together, Peter, Gamora, Rocket, and the innocent looking Groot decide to team up, break out of prison and sell the orb still in Peter’s possession for an exuberant price. With the help of a new member, a physical brute named Drax who vowed to kill Ronan because he killed Drax’s family, the five successfully escape from prison.

However, when they try to sell the orb, Drax is overcome by vengeance and he reveals their location to Ronan so he can avenge his family. This mistake causes the team to lose possession of the orb and almost results in their death. Tempted to count their losses and get as far away as they can before Ronan destroys everything, the five criminals reluctantly decide they need to stand together and fight to avoid the deaths of billions of lives.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY has its good aspects, but it’s a step down for Marvel in terms of storytelling. With a second act that borders on the somewhat boring side and an ending with three climaxes, the structure is flawed. The diverse characters are interesting and fun in their own way, but at times there are just too many characters to follow. While the special effects are excellent, many of the sets and costumes are quite campy. Additionally, the science fiction world the story is set in lacks a believability and normality that movies such as STAR WARS and STAR TREK have mastered.

Thankfully, Director/Writer James Gunn brings a lot of humor through character and music, most of it being clean rather than vulgar. There are also many exciting and entertaining moments that make this flawed movie very enjoyable.

Following in suit of other recent Disney titles in making edgier movies, GUARDIANS sets out to tell a tale of five criminals who discover meaning by becoming heroes. The arc isn’t as strong as IRON MAN’s, but the message is commendable. However, the movie’s not not packaged in a family friendly way, like they think it is. In a passionate speech, Peter expresses that they’ve been given a chance to be selfless and to care for others. Enemies become friends, and friends become brothers. Peter also struggles with letting go of his mother, and it’s not till he becomes selfless that he feels he’s become the man his mother would admire. While the rage-filled Drax holds onto his vengeance, his thirst for revenge nearly kills them all at one point. This causes him to be remorseful. There are even two references to heaven and angels.

Overall, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is not family approved. These gritty character use coarse language and don’t live moral lives. There are sexual allusions (though nothing shown, thankfully) and some intense action violence. Movieguide® advises strong, and for some, extreme caution for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.


Based on a popular French book, ERNEST & CELESTINE is the story of an unbelievable friendship between a bear, Ernest, and a young mouse named Celestine.
Celestine, an aspiring talented artist, is a young orphan who resides in the thriving underground world of mice. At the orphanage where she lives, the warden, commonly referred to as the Gray One, tells terrifying narratives about the malevolent nature of the bears that inhabit the outside world, but Celestine, unlike the other orphans, is highly skeptical about the stories.
Celestine’s passion is to paint, but the authoritative adult figures in her life force her to study dentistry, which is the profession most of the mice practice. In order to prepare for the field of dentistry, she’s required travel to the outside world of the bears to gather bear cubs’ fallen teeth from underneath their pillows.
On one such occasion, a cub’s parents catch Celestine in the act of stealing their cub’s tooth and chase her into a trashcan where she spends the night. The following morning, Ernest, an impoverished and starving musician, finds Celestine and tries to have her for breakfast. She manages to successfully persuade him not to eat her and directs him to a basement full of sweets and goodies. This sparks an unlikely connection between the two. Sadly, Ernest and Celestine will shortly discover that the respective societies where they belong don’t accept their unprecedented friendship.
ERNEST & CELESTINE has a strong moral worldview. That worldview is mainly evident in the unlikely but genuine friendship between Ernest and Celestine. Their friendship teaches that differences in background are irrelevant when the friendship is grounded in mutual love and appreciation. Their friendship also teaches that friends should help each other become better people.
The genuine and loving friendship echoes the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. Like Ernest & Celestine, who were ostracize by their respective societies for having a relationship with each other, Jesus was also ostracized by the religious leaders for being friends with sinners. Matthew 9:9-13 says:
“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And, he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And, when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But, when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means. I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
Along with having a positive moral worldview, ERNEST & CELESTINE is a charming animated movie. The animation isn’t your typical cartoonish animation, but rather one that’s very artsy and artistic. The drawings are like early rough draft sketches, which make ERNEST & CELESTINE unique and set it apart from generic animated movies. The color of the animation isn’t flamboyant, but rather light and warm. This contributes to the heartwarming mood the movie successfully creates. The artistic animation, along with the central message, are reasons this movie was nominated for an Academy Award and a serious contender to win the most coveted award.
Overall, ERNEST & CELESTINE is a heartwarming movie that contains a moral worldview, which should inspire Christian moviegoers to develop and continue genuine friendships that imitate the kind of friendship Jesus had with His disciples.


THE FLUFFY MOVIE is a comedy concert movie that captures the comedy stand up performance of Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, during his “Unity Through Laughter” tour, in the Bay Area in Northern California.
In the beginning, there’s an opening segment (or five-minute movie) depicting the meeting of Gabriel’s parents, his birth, his father’s absence, and his childhood. This short opening segment serves as the introduction to Gabriel’s comedy stand-up performance. During his stand-up routine, he openly speaks (or jokes) about his struggles with obesity, adoption of his stepson, and his first meeting with his father after being abandoned by him 30 years before.
THE FLUFFY MOVIE is centered on a biblical and moral worldview. The positive message is overall evident in Gabriel’s personal testimony of redemption, where he forgives and reconciles with his absent father and cares for his adopted stepson, who was also abandoned by his biological father.
The lesson of reconciliation and forgiveness in the life of Gabriel Iglesias serves as a reminder of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:14: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Also, Gabriel’s loving care for his adopted stepson serves as a reminder of how God the Father has adopted us into his family through the atonement of his son Jesus Christ, and now he lovingly corrects and cares for us.
That said, Gabriel’s use of foul language, some sexual gestures and potential insensitive jokes about obesity, race and sexuality derive from a culture of paganism.
In terms of aesthetic worth and value, THE FLUFFY MOVIE is entertaining and well made. It was really creative to begin the movie with a short segment about Gabriel’s early life in order to set the stage for the stand-up routine. It set the humorous/funny mood for the movie and the audience. The short movie or segment itself wasn’t shot well, but that was clearly intentional and self-deprecating.
The great comedic ability, and showmanship, of Gabriel Iglesias also contributes to THE FLUFFY MOVIE. His ability to make people laugh stems from the fact that he tells hilarious jokes and has great vocal impersonations. His great showmanship mainly stems from his proficiency to incorporate real and personal issues into his comedy routine, which allows him to connect with the audience.
Overall, THE FLUFFY MOVIE is a hilarious movie centered on a moral and positive message, but it’s marred by some foul language and lewd references. Caution, therefore is advised, especially for pre-adolescent children.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign: Notes on Comic-Con 2014


Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign:  Notes on Comic-Con 2014

By Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor

The first two days of Comic-Con 2014 may go down as a watershed sign of major new trends in American culture.

In fact, there were several such signs.

First, and perhaps most important, the Christian groups holding signs preaching the Gospel on the street corners here at the San Diego Convention Center have been met with even more pagan signs mocking them, saying things like “Bow down to Zod” and “Zeus is Lord.”

Interestingly, the pagan sign-holders seem even younger than the nice young Christian folks preaching the Gospel.

As one young Christian lady told me, however, the young pagans holding signs near her (they were gone by the time I talked to her) were just misguided young people who need to be told the Good News.

The young people probably don’t really believe the pagan signs they hold. They’ve just grown up in an increasingly secular country where evolutionary humanists, socialists and revenge-minded, hate-filled perverts have doubled down on their attacks against the freeing Grace of the Christian, biblical heritage that made America into the economic powerhouse that defeated Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, but that now seems trapped in impotence in the face of Muslim terrorists, illegal immigrants and the new Russian tsar, Vladimir Putin.

Clearly, we need a new Great Awakening in the United States, a new revival based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who sets the captives free from tyranny, corruption, deprivation, and depravity.

This brings me to my second important point.

Apparently, there’s a new TV series being made where the protagonist is a young female doctor who becomes a zombie cannibal and helps the police solve crimes with her forensics expertise. To survive, she has to feast on the brains of recently deceased crime victims and perpetrators in the morgue. By doing so, she also gets the memories and personalities of these people, which helps her solve the crimes for the police.

Thus, since the 1960s, Americans have gone from worshipping Jesus Christ, believing the Bible and turning cowboy stars into heroes to getting rid of Jesus and the Bible in the public schools, allowing abortion, making the southern border with the corrupt Mexican society meaningless, and turning witches, vampires and, now, zombie cannibals into heroes.

Concerning television, it’s also important to note that, at this year’s Comic-Con, TV seems to have overtaken movies as the entertainment medium of choice in the United States.

With Hollywood blockbusters hitting the financial doldrums at the box office this summer, the movie studious seem to have pulled back a little bit on their Comic-Con presentations while there seem to be more popular TV shows than ever before at the Con. These TV shows are getting much lower ratings, of course, than blockbuster TV programs of the past, like I LOVE LUCY or BONANZA, but there are a lot more of them, and their fan base is just as fanatic.

On a lighter, perhaps more hopeful note, there were several interesting, positive revelations so far at this year’s Comic-Con.

One of the directors of the new MADAGASCAR movie from DreamWorks, THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, told Movieguide® they plan to have some uplifting songs with heart in the new movies, just like MADAGASCAR 3 and the Disney hit, FROZEN.

As Movieguide® readers know, FROZEN was named the Best 2013 Movie for Families at the 22md Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry. It truly is a great, uplifting movie, which, even better, shows that sacrificial love is the greatest love of all, just like Jesus said it was.

Also, MADAGASCAR 3 has been showing up on Cable TV a lot, and it seems to get better each time I watch it. Not only that, but the two songs playing at the climax (“Firework” by Katy Perry and “Love Always Comes as a Surprise” by Paul Asher) are really joyful and inspiring.

John Malkovich, who plays a villain in the new MADAGASCAR movie, told the press, including Movieguide®, that, contrary to popular opinion, playing a bad guy is not more fun than playing a hero. He said it depends on how interesting the character is.

That said, he added that he truly enjoyed playing the new MADAGASCAR villain, who he called a “lazy psychopath.”

The cast and crew of SLEEPY HOLLOW, last year’s runaway hit on Fox TV, said redemption will be a major theme of the show in the second season, which premiers this fall.

SLEEPY HOLLOW has some strong Christian, biblical, moral, patriotic, and even conservative content, but it also has some strong occult content featuring villainous demons and scary violence, so it warrants strong caution.

Also, a panel featuring several STAR TREK fans who also live out their passion professionally, one of them as an author of a three-volume set on the original STAR TREK series and another as a professional actor playing Captain John T. Kirk on a fan-produced remake of the original series, discussed why the original series was so great.

One of the conclusions was that the character of Captain Kirk, as envisioned by William Shatner, is a truly great, iconic hero that strongly inspires viewers.

Thus, the original STAR TREK series proves Movieguide®’s aphorism that people want to see uplifting stories with great and good heroes who conquer evil and defeat the monsters within us and beyond us.

Also, the cast of the FALLING SKIES science fiction series on television expressed their feelings about the announcement that next season will be their last. They feel they are going out on top and promise to give fans a final season that won’t disappoint them.

FALLING SKIES is another show featuring a strong and positive hero, played by Noah Wylie, who played a heroic, compassionate young doctor on the old E.R. series.

Finally, one of the things I’ve learned from coming to Comic-Con is that the restaurants nearby are okay, but not great. In fact, a really good restaurant is hard to find. Even the McDonalds I finally found was really sub-par, and it was the only one around for miles!



MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT is Woody Allen’s light comic attack on the supernatural, with some thoughts on the nature of romance. It’s a really entertaining movie, but its humanist, atheist worldview doesn’t really deal with any of the real philosophical problems in such a worldview. To its credit, however, it does let one character ask a question of the movie’s atheist protagonist that he can’t answer. On the other hand, the movie has a lot of dialogue so one question or one argument really isn’t all that much.
The movie opens in 1928 in Berlin. British magician and committed atheist Stanley Crawford poses as his alter-ego, a Chinese magician, to amaze an audience with his tricks. After the performance, an old magician friend, Howard Burkan, asks Stanley to come to Southern France and expose a young medium named Sophie. Sophie and her mother are about to bilk a family out of part of their fortune. Also, the family’s young handsome but vacuous heir, Brice, is smitten with Sophie and wants to marry her. Howard tells Stanley that, despite his own knowledge, he was unable to determine how Sophie was accomplishing her occult tricks. Stanley, however, prides himself on being able to debunk any psychic anywhere and agrees to help expose Sophie.

When they get there to the family’s estate on the Riviera, however, Sophie is able to escape all of Stanley’s “rational,” scientific attempts to reveal her alleged fakery. Could Sophie be real? Is there really an afterlife? If so, it would upset everything this hardcore atheist believes. Making matters worse for Stanley is that he seems to be falling for this beautiful, interesting younger woman, even though he’s romantically involved with another hardcore, “rational” atheist like himself.
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT is extremely well done and often funny. It also has some fun twists and great dialogue that will captivate most viewers. Admittedly, however, the second act seems to drag a little bit. The twists at the end make up for this problem. Or, at least they seem to do so.
At any rate, MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT has some interesting, entertaining debates concerning atheism versus religion and mysticism. In the end, however, since Woody Allen is himself a committed atheist, the movie comes down firmly on the side of atheism. Thus, in the end, it eventually rejects all religion, not just the occult. This atheism is tempered by the movie’s contention that, although materialist science is the ultimate truth, there’s a mysterious “magic” in romantic love between a man and a woman. Humorously, Stanley’s hardcore atheist materialism doesn’t let him really understand this magic, but he comes to accept it nevertheless.
Despite the movie’s ultimate endorsement of a hardcore atheist worldview, one piece of dialogue undercuts this worldview and gives hope to believers in God. At one point, Stanley is encouraged to start praying for something. In the middle of his prayer, he stops and rejects the whole idea of praying. Later, however, Sophie points out to Stanley that, although he stopped praying, another person went through with their prayer for the very same thing, and the prayer was answered in a positive way. So, she points out, there’s really no reason for Stanley to believe that prayer doesn’t work.
Of course, as any intelligent God believer knows, although God may answer a prayer request with a big fat “No”, praying to God for something is a positive end in and of itself because it gives us an attitude of being dependent on God. Thus, Jesus Matthew 6:9-13 encourages us to ask God for “our daily bread,” as well as to ask Him to “deliver us from evil.”
These basic points of Christian, biblical theology, which are perfectly rational and reasonable, are, apparently, lost on atheists like Woody Allen. In fact, most atheists the MOVIEGUIDE® staff encounters appear not to seem familiar with such arguments. Certainly, however, this new movie by Woody Allen, for the most part, seems to stack the deck in favor of hardcore atheist materialism. Strangely enough, MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT accepts the mystical, mysterious or “magical” quality of romantic love. It accepts this as a human truth even though the movie’s atheist materialism clearly can’t account for it. Christianity, however, has a broader view of logic and truth. This view, which comes from the Bible, teaches us that a Rational Creator created man and woman as helpmates for one another. Thus, romantic love isn’t a totally mysterious, irrational event but a perfectly logical, and even scientific, part of God’s rational plan for mankind.
Because of its rather pat endorsement of atheist materialism, MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT ultimately is abhorrent, despite its high entertainment quality and lack of any really crude or lewd content.


AND SO IT GOES follows the transformation of Michael Douglas playing Oren Little, a hard-nosed grouchy realtor who lives alone.
After his wife dies of cancer, Oren retreats to a small house as a temporary residence while he waits for his old house to be sold. Living alone in a temporary house lends itself to Oren’s tendency to be cantankerous and generally unpleasant. In his stage of life, he cares little what his neighbors might think of him. All he wants to do is sell his house and retire.
As he patiently waits for the right buyer, his estranged son Luke turns up to ask his father for a favor. Luke wants his father to look after Luke’s daughter, Sarah, while Luke’s in prison. Oren knows of his son’s past struggle with drugs and hasn’t forgiven him for his wild and rebellious adolescent years. So, taking care of his granddaughter, especially on the verge of selling his house and retiring, is out of the question.
A few days later Oren awakes to the sound of his son dropping off Sarah in his front yard. The commotion also brings Leah, Oren’s charming and beautiful next-door neighbor, to the yard, where she immediately accepts the child under her nurturing wings.
Over the next week, while Leah looks after Sarah, Oren tries to track down Sarah’s mother, intent on finding her to relieve himself of his responsibility to the child. When he does find the mother, a very unstable drug addict, Oren has a change of heart and begins to love and care for his granddaughter. When the real reason his son was imprisoned is revealed, Oren is spurred to fight for his family, but is it too late?
The acting in AND SO IT GOES is very good, but this is by no means one of Director Rob Reiner’s best. It does have enough humor to keep the audience’s attention and the Michael Douglas/Diane Keaton combo is sure to help those from the Baby Boomer generation reminisce on the movies of another era.
Regrettably, this movie is not in the least bit original and is sometimes excruciatingly predictable. That being said, the movie doesn’t even try to be either of those things. One can’t help but wonder, if instead of trying to make an autumn romance, the filmmaker should have focused on the much more compelling story about the father, son and granddaughter relationships.
Another negative feature of this movie is the all too candid discussions about sex, and a brief fornication scene is certainly unnecessary to create conflict between the two leads. In addition to these crassly themed conversations, there’s frequent profanity from multiple characters and a number of lesser obscenities often used in a comedic context.
All in all, AND SO IT GOES is a fun, if predictable, movie for an older audience. Younger generations probably won’t relate to the characters and it certainly isn’t an acceptable movie for kids.


Brett Ratner’s HERCULES stars Dwayne Johnson as the mythical Greek hero and demigod Hercules. It twists the mythic legend into a more human tale.
The movie begins with his legend being told. Born the son of the Greek god Zeus and a human woman, Hercules is feared by all, but the gods look unfavorably upon the demigod. As he grows, they decree his strength must be tested by battling the greatest beasts. As legend has it, Hercules conquered each of “twelve labors” put before him and became the greatest, most fearsome warrior the world has ever seen.
Now, Hercules travels with his small band of fellow warriors, fighting as mercenaries to whoever will pay and living up to the heroic tales most people believe to be true. What the people don’t know, however, is that the tales are merely stories, conjured up and exaggerated to help spread fear of Hercules and his name.
The king of Thrace and his beautiful daughter summon Hercules to help defend their kingdom from a ruthless army supposedly pillaging villages and killing men, women and children. With promise of payment, Hercules agrees to train Thrace’s weak army into a deadly force.
Hercules is haunted by a past involving a dead wife and three children, who were murdered by an unknown assailant. The mission for which he is being rewarded and the circumstances surrounding it become more and more mysterious and unclear.
HERCULES has three things going for it, a unique take on the mythical tale, some campy humor that works in its favor and entertaining action. Otherwise, this movie is a big miss. Instead of focusing on the fantastic mythology surrounding Hercules and the great beasts he defeats, this version avoids the unexplainable for the most part. Yet, it still shows the pagan Greek religions as a backdrop embedded in Greek culture. The movie has some moments of redemption where Hercules and his men (and a woman) fight for the innocent and are willing to lay down their lives for each other and other people. In the end, however, it has a ridiculous message that states, “If you believe you are a hero, then you are.” Dwayne Johnson brings little to the legend other than his massive physic. Also, the writing is, for the most part, canned and unimaginative.
Thankfully, the violence is more action-oriented than titillating, but the movie’s pagan worldview and some brief foul language still warrant extreme caution.


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