Thursday, April 27, 2023

Film Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie


Sexuality/Nudity No Objection

Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity No Objection

Anti-Catholic Philosophy No Objection

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is not the deepest movie ever made.  But it sets out what it intends to do: give you a fun time at the movies.

The film is the first step into theatrical animation that Nintendo is taking.  Understanding the importance of their intellectual property, they decided to play it very safe, which was probably a smart move.

The story is very straightforward: Mario (Chris Pratt) and his brother Luigi (Charlie Day) are plumbers struggling with their new business in Brooklyn.  However, they get transported by a magical pipe to another dimension and are separated.  Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom and Luigi is taken prisoner by  Bowser (Jack Black), the evil king of the Koopas, who has just acquired the power of the magic star.  With this he plans to invade the Mushroom Kingdom.  Because of this Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) must make an alliance with the Jungle Kingdom and enlist Mario's help in defeating Bowser.  Together, along with Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) and eventually Donkey Kong himself (Set Rogen), they set out to face their enemy once and for all.

As I mentioned, this is not a story with a lot of depth.  The golden age of PIXAR has spoiled me a bit with children's films that also touch on some level of universal profundity like Up and Toy Story 3TSMBM doesn't try to match this level of thematic richness.  Instead, the film makers focus on trying to emulate the feeling you get from playing a Super Mario game: pure fun.

I can still remember sitting in front my TV one Christmas night, playing Super Mario Bros. our brand new Nintendo until the wee hours of the morning and for dozens of hours after that.  The plot of the game really didn't make much of a difference.  What mattered was that despite all the frustration, I was having fun.

TSMBM is like that, without all the stress of having to avoid falling off the edge of a cliff.  The film makers pack this movie to hilt with Easter eggs from all over the Nintendo universe from Punch Out to Kid Icarus.  And throughout the movie, the visuals evoke some of the best moments from the Mario Games including Mario Kart, Smash Bros., Donkey Kong Country, etc.  In this way, the movie not only is a treat for current Mario fans, but for us old-timers who grew up with original games.  All the while, the script churns out several jokes per minute so that if one does not land, another one will come along that might.

Speaking of the visuals, the movie absolutely nails the aesthetic of Mario's world and makes it a cute and delightful place to visit.  Even the harsher environments carry with them an attraction.  The designs are flawlessly interpreted for the big screen.  The bright and bold color patterns make for a vibrant visual experience.  Before the movie came out, there was a lot of chatter about how Pratt did not sound like the Mario from the game.  The movie was able to have a few moments of the traditional sounding Mario as well as the accent of the Brooklyn native similar to the old live-action bits from the kid's TV show.

Pratt does a fantastic job with his voice acting.  He knows just how to turn a comic phrase and when to crank up the sincerity.  Jack Black chews up the scenery with his lines.  It worked for me, but if you are someone who does not care for Jack Black, then this may be a little bit of a turn off.  But he completely commits to the role.  His silly and heart-felt ballad "Peaches," had me laughing out loud in the theater.

Thematically, the movie is primarily about the power of believing in yourself.  Mario is a dreamer and everyone tells him that he is destined for less.  Mario is determined to be more than he is.  And this spirit of determination, of never giving up, is a great message for kids.

Once again I emphasize that this is a kid's  movie.  That doesn't meant that can't also be sophisticated and thematically rich.  But what it does mean is that the movie should never lose sight of who its primary audience is.  Like the Minions movies, TSMBM is silly in the way that reaches young children.  And it is wonderfully refreshing to have a movie that does not try to sneak more mature themes into content meant for youngsters, as we found in recent Disney offerings like Baymax, Lightyear, and Strange World.  Part of the great power of The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the innocence in which it presents its story so as not to affect the innocence of its audience.

Nintendo has a monster hit on their hands with The Super Mario Bros. Movie.  They have cracked the code for success in area of big-budget animation: create a fun and family-friendly experience for everyone to enjoy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Trailer Time: The Flash Trailer #2

The opening to this trailer got to me.  The monologue by Michael Keaton's Batman gets at the heart of his character and the heart of the entire dilemma behind The Flashpoint, the inspiration for this movie.

I have never been a fan of the casting of Ezra Miller as Barry Allen, even before all of the scandals regarding his behavior.  Despite that, I found myself looking forward to this movie.  I don't think its an accident that this leans very heavily into Keaton's performance.  And I have to say, after 33 years since the original Batman, Keaton looks pretty darn good in the role.  

Without getting too spoiler-y, I think that one of the two Barry Allens is going to take on the role of the Reverse-Flash.  What I find interesting is that I cannot tell which one it is going to be.  I'm intrigued by the possibility that the Barry that we begin the movie with might morph into the villain.

Visually, the movie looks excellent. I love how it really adapts to the look of both Tim Burton's Batman and Zack Snyder's Man of Steel.  The last shot even evokes the "moon logo" gag from 1989 film.


Saturday, April 22, 2023

Casting Call: Superman Legacy


The reboot of the DC Cinematic Universe is in pre-production now.  Very soon they will begin filming their flagship movie: Superman Legacy.  

From what I'm gathering it will be less of an origin story and more about the effect Superman has on the world.  One of the things I am heartened by is that James Gunn recognize the purity and nobility of Superman, who stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

Here are some thoughts I have about casting.  I would invite all of you to either comment or participate in my online poll.


Chris Pratt

File:Chris Pratt by Gage Skidmore.jpg

Pratt is a bit older than most people who take up the part, but I think he would actually be the best choice.  He is used to playing comical characters, but in recent years I have noticed him really honing his dramatic talents.  

He is physically fit enough for the part and can darken his hair.  His age would actually be helpful for the idea of him being a bit of an elder statesmen in the DCU, in the same way that Affleck was when he was cast as Batman.

On top of that, Pratt can embody the idealism of the character without feeling false or cynical.

Ryan Gosling

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He is one of the most versatile actors working today.  If you don't believe me, watch him transform between Lars and the Real Girl and Crazy Stupid Love.  Playing Superman would be a challenge for him, but he could rise to the occasion.

Gosling has never done the "big franchise" route.  But he has the chance to shape a new version of a classic character.  He could bring a level of calm and cool to the character that would be a new interpretation to the character.

Taron Egerton

Taron Egerton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg

This is the youngest person I am considering.  When he first came onto the scene with Kingsman, I wasn't terribly impressed.  But he is someone who has worked hard over the years to develop as an actor.  The last two things I saw him in (Blackbird and Tetris) have only confirmed his growth as an actor.

We know he can do the action required of the part.  He has grown in his ability command the respect that Superman commands.

John Kransinski

File:John Krasinski 2018.png
photo by MTV International

Like Pratt, Kranskiski has great comic instincts, but he has also established himself as a strong dramatic actor and action hero.  Also like Pratt, Kransiski has built up a lot of good will in the audience where people intuitively like and trust him.  Kransinski has the stature, both in physicality and character, to pull off the part.


Alison Brie

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Since leaving Community, Brie has taken up a great deal of dramatic parts.  She has loads of charisma and could embody the spirit of the intrepid reporter.

Kristen Bell

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I have been a big fan of Bell since her Veronica Mars days.  I can see her portrayal of Lois as an extension of her Veronica Mars.  With that level of aggressive intelligence, you could see her going toe-to-toe with both Superman and Lex Luthor.

Emily Blunt

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This is not simply a case where it would be great to see Blunt and Krasinski working together again on screen.  Blunt is a fantastic actress who would bring great maturity and charisma to the part.  If they are going to cast the part as slightly more mature, she would be an excellent choice.  She was able to match the power and talent of Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow and could bring that level of intensity to Lois.


Bryan Cranston

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This was the casting that everyone wanted for Batman v. Superman.  Cranston turned in one the best television performances of all time.  We know that he could not only play someone with the presence, intensity, and evil of Luthor, he could also infuse him with a level of humanity we haven't seen in other portrayals.

Giancarlo Esposito

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As we've seen in Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian, Esposito commands respect on the screen.  At the same time he could believably order the deaths of millions without blinking an eye.  You could imagine the Man of Steel getting into his face and not blinking an eye.


Justice Smith

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Justice Smith/ Greg2600

I really liked him in Dungeons and Dragons.  His chemistry with Pratt was very reminiscent of the sidekick energy that he could bring to the part.

Gaten Matarazzo

File:Gaten Matarazzo by Gage Skidmore.jpg

He is easily one of the best parts of Stranger Things and he is no old enough to play the part of the cub photographer.  He could bring a sense of innocence and wonder to the part.


Please participate in our online poll here.  The results will be posted on this blog.  CLICK HERE. 

(photos by Gage Skidmore)

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Film Review: Dungeons and Dragons - Honor Among Thieves


Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable

Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable

Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

This movie was a lot better than I thought it would be.

I think this is a case where the marketing of the film did not really allow the fun of the movie to come through.  I felt the same way about the original Guardians of the Galaxy, where the trailers made the movie look awful, but I was wonderfully surprised at how good it was.  And while D&D is not as good as that original Guardians, the parallels are strong.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves starts with Edgin the Bard (Chris Pine) and his barbarian friend Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) as they escape from prison after a heist gone wrong.  They go to find Edgin's daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) who has been living with Edgin's former associate, the con man Forge (Hugh Grant).  But things do not go as planned.  I do not want to give away some of the story's interesting twists and turns, but Edgin and Holga must pull off one more heist to get Kira back.  They turn to another former associate, the mediocre magic user Simon (Justice Smith) and the humorless shape-shifter Doric (Sophie Lillis).  Along the way they also are aided by the noble warrior Xenk (Rege-Jean Page) as they get into a series of adventures that will involve magic helmets, talking corpses, dungeons, and yes, dragons.

One of the things that this movie does incredibly well is the incorporation of sweeping visuals.  While there are at times an overwhelming number of green screen CGI shots, directors John Francis Daley and Johnathan Goldstein took a page out of Peter Jackson's playbook and shot a number of scenes in beautiful and exotic vistas.  I have nothing against CGI per se, but there is something transportive about locations that you know are real but look magical.  These are the same directors that gave us one of the best comedies in years: Game Night.  What both of these movies have in common is a strong visual style that is used for great effect.  In D&D, the directors draw you un with their sweeping, dynamic use of the camera that makes you feel as if you are part of this epic adventure.

That is not to say that the CGI is bad.  In fact, there is a particularly wonderful "single-shot" sequence where the Doric is shape-shifting her way out of danger that is both imaginative and visually exciting.

The movie has to walk a tricky balancing act between the comedy and the action.  Like Guardians, there is a lot of wacky humor and is always dangerously close to slipping into parody.  But also like Guardians, it never takes you completely out of the movie.  The stakes are real and the humor does not take that away.  

One of the sources of this disjointed humor is the the variations in performances.  In The Lord of the Rings, everyone treated the material with seriousness of a Shakespearean tragedy and spoke in vaguely English accents.  In D&D, everyone feels like they are performing in a slightly different movie.  Pine acts like he is in a Marvel film.  Grant plays things like an over-the-top comedy.  Page plays everything straight like a BBC drama.  Smith and Lillis act like a mismatched pair from a teen rom-com.  this should make everything into a muddled mess, but instead it works for two reasons.

The first is that despite the different styles, everyone is fully committed to the story.  They are all invested in the reality of their world and their dangers.  For that reason, you as the audience will also become invested.

The second is something that will really only makes sense to people who have played role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.  When you sit in that circle and begin your adventure, you usually have people with different characters and different attitudes.  Some take the game very seriously and even speak with the cadence of the character they play.  Some are a bit more casual and play the game basically as themselves.  And there are others who use the game as an opportunity to have some fun, cause some mayhem, or crack a lot of jokes.  Every game of Dungeons and Dragons feels different based on the people you bring to the table.  And each unique personality creates a strange brew of fun.  That is the feeling I got when watching Honor Among Thieves.  Each character felt like someone in the real world was playing them to great effect and having a good time.

Overall, the performances are very good.  This might be Pine at his most charming.  He has great chemistry with everyone in his group.  Rodriguez plays the tough-girl part with surprising depth instead of the flat way should could be portrayed.  Grant chews up every scene he's in, but looks like he is having fun.  Smith's nerdy turn could get old, but the story allows for growth in his character.  Lillis has a difficult time with Doric, since she is not given much of a personality except humorlessness.  She's the kind of person who seems like they often fold their arms and say "That's not funny."  She does create a nice contrast to Smith, but it would have been nicer to see more personality come through.

In terms of plot, the movie is relatively straightforward: find the person who helps you find the thing you need to get to this objective so that you can perform the task... etc.  It works, but this is not a plot with a lot of surprises.  The main MaGuffin is a tablet of resurrection.  Early in the film I could see where the plot was going to take us.  And yet when the moment arrived I still found it touching.

The movie actually has a number of nice themes at play.  One of the big ones is redemption.  Edgin made mistakes and became a thief.  But this life took him away from his daughter.  The movie focuses on overcoming those mistakes and making up for his past.  One of the other really big themes is that of failure.  Almost all of Edgin's plan fail in some way.  But Edgin gives an excellent speech about failure and how it is a part of life.  The movie explores the idea of how to deal with failure and use it to learn.  It is not the most original theme, but the movie effectively captures how the only way to really fail is to not try.  It is a good reminder in all areas of life, especially the spiritual life where anyone failure is a common experience.

The movie never quite hits the heights that Guardians does.  Sometimes it leans just a little too heavy into the humor, but never in a way that makes the story unlikeable.  This is a fun movie and an enjoyable adventure that is much better than it should be.  

I recommend taking a trip to the realm of Dungeons and Dragons.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Film Review: John Wick - Chapter 4


Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable

Violence Mature
Vulgarity Mature

Anti-Catholic Philosophy Mature

There is a reason that the John Wick  continues to be wildly successful: these movies promise to offer us bloody, satisfying action and they always deliver.

Chapter 4 begins after the events of the previous film  John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has been nursed back to health by the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne) after being shot by the manager of the New York Continental, Winston (Ian McShane).  John kills the head of "The High Table," the assassin organization that runs that underground world.  As a result, the Table designates a Marquis (Bill Skarsgard) and empowers him to stop John no matter the cost.  This includes destroying Winston's Continental and higher the blind assassins' and friend of John's named Caine (Donnie Yen) to kill John or the Marquis will kill Caine's daughter.  John turns to friend named Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada), who runs the Japanese Continental.  But this brings down the wrath of the Marquis, to this dismay of Shimazu's daughter Akira (Rina Sawayana).  It is here that we are introduced to another free-agent assassin Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson) and his dog who is interested in keeping John alive long enough for his bounty to go up.

If that plot seems complicated, it really isn't.  One of the things that the John Wick movies do very well is streamline their stories.  John is a man on the run who is looking for a way out.  As the movies have gone on, the mythology of the assassins' underworld has become more complex and labyrinth, but it doesn't not detract from the story.  In fact, it tends to pull you in with its strange ways and customs.

As always, the action is superb.  You can tell the care that goes into each sequence so that the audience gets the maximum thrill.  Like Tom Cruise, Reeves and the John Wick filmmakers want to give the audience the best, most tangible action experience that is possible.  They are also looking for new and better ways to portray the action visually.  There is one sequence in particular that will stand out for audiences.  John enters the floor of a dilapidated building to fight the bad guys and the camera slowly transitions into a long bird's eye angle of the entire sequence.  

There is another sequence where John uses a pair of nunchucks, which have been my favorite weapon ever since my childhood Bruce Lee obsession.  Not only does he use them expertly, but he uses them in a way I have never seen, which gives the fights added flair.  I also like how the world stays consistent with the logic.  They have bulletproof suits, so the fighters will constantly pull their coats up to cover their faces.  

If there is a complaint here it would be that the filmmakers are so enamored of their fight scenes that they let them go on a bit too long.  Chapter 4 is close to 3 hours long.  You could easily cut out about 30 minutes of the action and the movie would sail along much faster.  Yes, you would lose some cool moments, but even the most exciting action can be fatiguing if it goes on too long.

Reeves once again delivers.  It is amazing how much he does with so little.  If I'm not mistake, he has the fewest lines of any John Wick movie to date.  And this is perfectly appropriate.  We now know the character to his core and he is a man of few words.  And the few times he does speak, they are very effective.  At one point he is having a conversation about what should be on his tombstone.  His answer is at the heart of the entire character.

There is another sequence that I love where Caine talks to John after he lights a candle and prays to his dead wife.  Caine asks if he believes that she hears him in the afterlife, but John says no.  When pressed as to why he does it, John simply says, "What if I'm wrong?"  There is something wonderfully humble about his answer that I cannot help to find admirable and endearing.

Director Chad Stahelski moves the camera with elegant grace and gives real beauty to these scenes of carnage.  He also knows how to use the camera and the space for effect.  Some of the shots are absolutely gorgeous because he knows how to use the beauty of the environment, like churches and cityscapes, to great effect.  There is one shot in particular that goes on too long so that the effect is intentionally very comical.

The rest of the cast is very good too.  You can feel the history between John, Caine, and Shimazu.  All of these men carry both intense power and sadness.  They are powerful warriors who seem powerless puppets of fate, and all of these actors play those parts perfectly.  Yen is particularly wonderful in his disdain for the work he is forced to do.  Mr. Nobody brings a nice, unpredictable element to the chemistry.  McShane is wonderful in the ease of his elegance.  Skarsgard does a good job of being unlikeable, but he could have been infused with a bit more menace.

Each of the John Wick movies has a specific focus.  The first is about grief.  The second is about obligations.  The third is about freedom vs. servitude.  This film is primarily focused on the idea of friendship.  The movie does an excellent job of showing the horrible obligation of friendship and what it can cost.  It is particularly tragic that Caine and John are locked in this death spiral because it is very clear that they are still very good friends.   This is the heart of the movie's dramatic conflict.

If this is the last John Wick movie, then it does a satisfying job of wrapping up the franchise.  However, I have a sneaking feeling that the future holds more bloody good times ahead.

Monday, April 17, 2023

New Evangelizers Post: Easter Was Not A Pagan Holiday



I have a new article up at  

For years, opponents of the faith like spread conspiracy theories about our most beloved Christian Holy Days. More commonly we find these ideas spread about Christmas. But social media has recently been circulating that Easter is actually a pagan holiday.

The argument goes that the word “Easter” is taken from the goddess Ishtar who used eggs and bunnies in her worship services. The idea is that Christians simply appropriated all of the pagan imagery for their own.

Like any good conspiracy theory, the most important thing is that it sounds true rather than actually being true.

There are a number of problems with this theory right off the bat. The biggest one is that “Easter” is what the Holy Day is called in English. Modern English as we know it really didn’t take shape until 16 centuries after the Resurrection. And even if it is derrived from a Middle-English word, this wouldn’t happen until the Dark Ages at the earliest. Even the secular Britannica online admits that the idea that the word “Easter” is of pagan origin is “a rather dubious presumption.”

In most of the world, the word used for “Easter” is taken from the Hebrew word “Pesach,” which means “Passover.” Holy Week changes from year to year because it follows the Jewish Passover each year. It is one of the reason why we call the death and resurrection of Christ the Paschal (I.e. Passover) Mystery.

The point is that the conspiracy only works if you ignore all the other languages of the world. In other words, you could only fall for this if you believe that Easter is called “Easter” all over the world, which it is not.

You can read the whole article here.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Film Review: SHAZAM! - Fury of the Gods


SHAZAM!: Fury of the Gods is a better sequel than most people are acknowledging.

The movie takes place a few years after the first film.  Billy (Zachary Levi/Asher Angel) is trying to hold onto this newfound family of his.  But as the others are reveling in their new powers, their interests are pulling them in different directions.  This is especially true of Freddie (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody) who really wants to make a name for himself as his own hero.  However, the daughters of Atlas, Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu), have recovered the Wizard's staff.  They plan to use this in order to rebuild their broken world.

Like any good second chapter of a hero's story, this one focuses on the inner growth of the characters.  Billy has received his powers and taken on the leadership role, but he has not yet come to understand the part of about sacrifice.  He is too busy trying to hold onto everyone rather than let them go.  You can see this in his relationship with Mary (Grace Caroline Currey), whom he talked out of going away to college in order to continue to be a superhero team member.  In many ways he is still a child playing with adult powers.  But the course of the movie shows Billy come to that heroic understanding of self-sacrifice for the greater good.

What I found very interesting about the story is that in many ways, this is also Freddie's story.  A good deal of time is spent on his arc.  His transformation into his superhero persona has a lot more resonance because of his handicap.  Being transformed is almost like a drug to him.  But one of the things the movie does really well is showing us how heroic Freddie is without his powers.  His humor is armor that he uses to those who would hurt him.  And that armor is strong, sometimes strong enough to withstand the tortures that come his way.  This heroic side of him helps win him the affections of the new girl at school played by Rachel Zegler, which is one of the driving forces of the film.

Director David F. Sanburg does an excellent job of making fun and exciting action sequences.  The opening scene is almost like something out of a horror movie and sets up how deadly and cruel or villains are.  The fights that the SHAZAM! family takes part in are dynamic, colorful, and full of life.

Plot-wise, the movie moves things along at an exciting pace, though it does take quiet a few too many shortcuts in the script.  There are too many coincidences where the heroes happen to be in the right place to encounter a specific plot point.  There is also a magical pen named Steve that acts as an exposition device throughout in order to have the heroes get caught up on the information.

Levi is very good again as Billy.  He still acts a bit younger than the 17-year-old Billy, but he has a enough charisma and charm to make not to be a big problem.  Grazer has great chemistry with both Levi and Zegler and he really is the glue that holds this movie together.  The other members of the SHAZAM! family do a good job, but they are not given enough to explore.

The first SHAZAM! explored the theme of family and its meaning.  This one continues that, but it looks at what happens when that family dynamic begins to change.  It wrestles with the universal experience of watching that stable structure begin to transform and all of the discomfort that comes with that.  It also explores the idea of real, adult heroism more deeply.  There is a small subplot of one Pedro (Jovan Armand) being same-sex attracted.  In and of itself, there is nothing about this storyline that violates Catholic morality.  In fact, there is a nice moment where the family simply acknowledges and accepts him in love.  But since this movie is mainly targeted at a younger audience, this felt out of place.

The movie never quite hits the depths and the heights that it could.  The side characters never get a chance to shine the way they should.  The real tragedy is that this movie should be building up to a confrontation with Black Adam, but the realities outside the world of the movie are making this impossible.  Perhaps it is unfair to hold a movie accountable for what it is not rather than for what it is, but I could not help but feel this way about this film.

SHAZAM! The Fury of the Gods does not make a big enough impact, but it is a fun couple of hours of movie-watching adventure.

Star rating 4 of 5.png

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Film Flash: Air


15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon) 

Fascinating insight into sports marketing.  Good Affleck/Damon story about high risk, high reward.

Star rating 3.5 of 5.png

Film Flash: The Super Mario Bros. Movie


A poster featuring various Mario characters (Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Peach, etc.)

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon) 

Fun and faithful game adaptation. A light kids movie with no depth or lecturing.

Star rating 3.5 of 5.png

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Trailer Time: The Marvels

I was not someone who hated Captain Marvel, nor did I detest Ms. Marvel.  I didn't think that either were the best that Marvel had to offer, but there was a great deal of intense emotion about these characters.

Despite this, I was not looking forward to seeing what we had in store for The Marvels.  And I think those lowered expectations have helped me enjoy this trailer.

The part that won me over was how Kamala freaks out after the "cat" eats those aliens.  What I liked about it so much was how real it felt.  Kamala has a very normal human reaction.  So often in the MCU, someone will experience an horrific death and it is followed by some cynical quip.  I know that if I witnessed what Kamala witnessed, I would need a change of underwear.

What I also noticed was how Carol Danvers did not feel front and center of what is ostensibly a sequel to her billion-dollar film.  If anyone seems to be taking the lead it is Monica Rambeau, which is fine with me.  

Very little is revealed except that somehow the three leads have their powers intertwined, causing some chaos.  I'm curious as to where the story is headed.

I'm not saying that this has me as excited as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but I am more interested in this movie now than I was before.


Sunday, April 9, 2023

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Easter 2023


"Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

I saw something recently that said that only 39% of Americans thought that religion was very important.  That is down by around 30 percent from years past.  Media, both mainstream and social, are pushing hard for the idea that Christianity is dying.  More and more people are embracing the belief that God is dead.

But, to quote the great GK Chesterton, "I have said that Asia and the ancient world had an air of being too old to die. Christendom has had the very opposite fate. Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a [G]od who knew the way out of the grave.  "

Today is a day that we remember that death is not the final defeat.  Even though the world may claim victory, that victory is always temporary.  Final victory is with those who stand with Christ.  He is our Final Victory.

It is true that more and more people are extinguishing the light of Christ inside of them.  And some never have that light kindled in the first place.  

I was at the Easter Vigil Mass last night.  It always strikes me how it opens:  the church in complete darkness, but then one candle enters to pierce the dark.  And that one candle of Christ lights all the other candles until the whole place is filled with light.  

In our world, darkness keeps trying to overwhelm us.  But we must remember "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:6)

In fact, it is when things get darker that our light matters most.  When the church lights are turned on, we extinguish our candles because they do not add much.  But when it is dark, our candles mean so much more.  It is the same with our light.  In times of great prosperity and faith, our small acts of faith may not seem all that important.  But as more and more of the world turns away from the Light of the World, our candles need to burn bright.

Today we stand with Christ.  Today we light the flame in our hearts to expel the darkness.

Today we remember that we have victory not because of ourselves, but because Jesus won it for us.

He is Risen.


Friday, April 7, 2023

Divine Mercy Novena - 2023


(most of the text below is a repost from 2022)

A reminder that the Divine Mercy Novena begins today (Good Friday) and continues through until Mercy Sunday.  You can find the novena here:

This has been a powerful and profound devotion in my life and many graces have come to me through a devotion to Jesus' Divine Mercy.  

Very recently, I experienced such an overwhelmingly powerful act of mercy.  I am acutely aware that under Divine Justice, there is much for which I have to answer.  Each day I seem to be racking up a debt of sin.  But even more concretely, the way I treat the people I claim to love is often selfish and shameful.  When confronted with this reality, I often shrink with shame.  I struggle with this.  I think that God loves me but because of my sins, He doesn't like me very much.  It is an image that is horribly unfair to Our Lord.

Sin is a real barrier between God and us, but God's love is greater than that.  Not too long ago, I had to admit my faults to someone, expecting them to return to me bitter (but just) judgment.  Instead, this person simply smiled at me and told me that all was well.  There was no trace of bitterness or judgment.  There was only pure kindness and love and a joy that I could unburden myself on them.  

This act of mercy lifted a great burden from my heart.  And it acted as a symbol for how God's mercy is similar.

It is a beautiful lay your faults bare to someone and have them look beyond them is a beautiful thing.  Too often I think we define ourselves by our sins.

Pope John Paul II once said that we are more than the sum total of our sins.

God sees us as we are, beyond our sins.  He wants us to come to Him and lay our sins on His mercy.  

I look forward to joining all of you in spiritual communion through this novena.

In these days with all of the worries and struggles that we have, we have a greater need to throw ourselves at the Mercy of God!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Film Flash: Tetris (Apple TV)

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon) 

 Surprisingly tense, fun,  and exciting film that highlights the evils of Communism too.

Monday, April 3, 2023

New Evangelizers Post: Humble Jesus on a Donkey



I have a new article up at  

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.

On this day, we commemorate when Jesus enters in triumph into Jerusalem. He is greeted with loud cries of “Hosanna!” as people proclaim Him the the promised Messiah. And yet this same crowd will be calling for His blood on Good Friday.

For today, I wanted to look at how Jesus entered.

When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her.* Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
“Say to daughter Zion,
‘Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” (Matthew 21:1-5)

It is important to understand what the people were expecting from their Messiah.

God made a covenant with David that his house and his kingdom would stand firm forever. This meant that the Davidic Kingdom would never have an end. However, in the year 586 BC, the Babylonians came and ended the Kingdom of Judah. The people were very confused because the Kingdom had fallen, but God promised that the Kingdom would not end.

Through the insight of the prophets, the people began to understand that one day a man who was of the line of David would restore the throne and we would have the return of the king. And this kingdom would have no end.

David was anointed as king, as were the other kings that followed. Therefore David was an “Anointed One,” which in Greek is “Christ,” and in Hebrew it is translated as “Messiah.”

The common belief of the people was that this Messiah would defeat their enemies and give them freedom. They were expecting another David. It is important to remember that David was a warrior. One of the most important jobs of the ancient kings was that they would fight for their people.

When you read the word “superhero,” it may immediately conjure up images of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, or a host of others. That word implies someone who tends to be powerful and will use that power to fight and defeat the villains.

In the same way, to the people of Jesus’ day the word “Messiah” would conjure up images of a mighty warrior on a chariot, riding down his enemies, running them through with his spear and cutting them down with the strength of his sword. The were looking for someone to lead an army to defeat their enemies: the Romans.

If Jesus had entered Jerusalem in that fashion, it is almost certain that an army would have formed up behind Him and conquest would be achieved.

But Jesus did not enter in this fashion.

Instead, He entered on a donkey.

I asked my students to imagine that a parade is being thrown in their honor. At the end of this parade I asked them to imagine that they will announce their candidacy for President. With this in mind, I ask them what kind of a vehicle would they like for the parade.

Some say they want a limousine for the luxury. Some say they would like to ride in a truck for the power. Others say that want to ride on a tank because it projects military strength.

I then ask, “Who would like to ride in on a tricycle?”

Most laugh at this prospect because the image is ridiculous. A grown person cannot look commanding, powerful and strong while riding on a tricycle. In fact, you look a bit silly.

If Jesus wanted to project military might, he would have entered on a chariot or a stallion. Maybe He would have been carried on portable throne to show His importance.

But to fulfill what the prophets said, Jesus rode in on a donkey.

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Film Flash: Dungeons and Dragons - Honor Among Thieves


A circle of seven people looking down

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Guardians of the Galaxy in Middle-Earth, surprisingly better than I thought. Fun fantasy adventure.

Star rating 4 of 5.png