Archive | Movie Reviews

Film Review: Fight Church

fight-church-3A new documentary about Christianity and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighting premieres tonight at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. The film is called: Fight Church and was directed by Academy Award Winner Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel. These two men were also behind the interesting film called Holy Rollers, the story about Christian pastors who were also professional poker players.

Fight Church explores the niche world where MMA fighting and Christianity combine. The film proclaims an estimated 700 churches in America have MMA ministries.

The film is excellent in three areas. First, the production quality is superb. Junge, Storkel and the Producers know what they are doing and are skilled in their craft. Second, the film is excellent for presenting the world of Fight Church in a balanced way. They allow those in favor of MMA Christians and those opposed to each be seen in a legitimate light. Third, the film is simply enjoyable. As I struggled wondering if I am for or against these people I found myself cringing, laughing, disagreeing and pulling for these people throughout the film.

One of the seminal quotes in the film was from a man who was considering leaving the MMA world due to a belief that it may not honor God. He said, “Can you love your neighbor as yourself, and then at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?

Some of the biblical exegesis by one of the pastors left a bit to be desired. Watching a 12-year old kid say he was going to, “Rip this kid’s head off” was unsettling. A pastor encouraging a woman with blood covering her face that she didn’t tap out with the statement, “Jesus didn’t tap out either” was very strange. Watching a pastor pull out a pistol after his sermon to show a church member was bizarre. There are many bizarre moments in this film.

This film is certainly a case where truth is stranger than fiction. People would only believe some of the details of this film as a documentary. It would be too outlandish to be a fictional movie.

I do recommend you watch this film. Try to be neutral and enter into the Fight Church world. Is it really that different from someone in the NFL? Are they faithful to the Bible? Are they rediscovering manliness in the Christian church? The film may ask more questions than it answers but I think you’ll enjoy the journey. If you can handle a little blood of course. If not then watch Frozen again with your kids for the 1,000th time.

Here’s the Fight Church trailer:

A Guide to Christians to Entertainment


I love movies. Probably too much. Definitely too much. I always think about whether something is beneficial or not. I am continually asking if such and such movie is promoting good or evil in myself. I often don’t know. However, I have come up with three rules of thumb that I use in evaluation. This is especially helpful when it comes to what I will let my kids watch. With the movie season on the horizon, I pray that this will guide your discernment, producing grace and truth, freedom and a protection.

CAN. Forgive my acronym, but it fits: CAN. You know…as in “Can I watch this daddy?”

Before I list them, understand that these three are in relation to sinful behavior in entertainment. The question is not simply does the movie contain sinful behavior (which is often where we stop), but does it have sinful behavior in relation to these three.



Is the sinful behavior celebrated? In other words, does the movie glorify the bad behavior.


Is the sinful behavior accessible? This speaks to the practical nature of the behavior. Is it something that we can expect people to actually do?


Is the sinful behavior normalized? This speaks to the cultural acceptance of the behavior. Is it something that says “Everyone is doing it, you should not be afraid to do the same?” Continue Reading →

Superman: Man of Steel Review (Spoiler Free)


As most of you know, it is hard for me to write an unbiased review about any superhero movie. Either I go in with too many expectations, get my hopes dashed, and kick dirt all the way home while calling for the coming of Christ…or I see the movie seventeen more times before I even considering sharing my thoughts with others. You must understand, there were only three career possibilities for me since the night I was conceived: pastor, country music singer, or superhero. In the interest of full disclosure, I almost chose the last.

Though my license tag says BATMAN3, Superman is my first love (he just does not have a cool car that I could be expected to name mine after, like Batman). Ever since I was six years old, when the first Superman came out, my imagination has been consumed with Kal-El’s greatness in a world that did not deserve such grace. After all, who can really do what Superman can? No one in the entire comic world, DC or Marvel, can compare. The legend of Superman has, at times, had to blush at his seeming perfection; through time, his creators have had to insert ways for this immortal to (possibly) fall. After all, when you have a guy who can displace entire planets, who is really going to serve as a legitimate foil for his powers? But the big screen has never seen a Superman who lets loose. The closest yet has come in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, where Superman finally breaks free from his cardboard box and punches Dark Side through an entire city. But even then, they held back the Man of Steel’s power to make it interesting.

Let me start with this: This is not your mom’s and dad’s Superman.

This is Superman in the raw. Now, don’t get bent out of shape, apart from a few incidentals here and there (and these will probably be spoiled by people in the comments who blast me for calling these “incidentals,” so don’t read them if you don’t want to know), the boy scout we all know and love is still there. But it is darker. It is not that Superman himself is darker, but this movie re-imagines Superman and reads between lines that often get left unexplored (except for those of us who watched Smallville). You enter into the struggle of Superman’s two sides at a deeper level than any previous movie. You may find yourself saying a silent prayer for Clark as he attempts to overcome the reality of his power and let bullies skate without witnessing his wrath.  Continue Reading →

From the Dust: Conversations on Creation – a Review

Last night Kay and I attended the world premiere of a new film. I could wax eloquent and say this was the first time I’ve ever attended a movie premiere, and it was, but when we use that language it conjures up the idea of limousines, red carpets, stars in formal attire, paparazzi and other media hype. This world premiere was in a small old theater just off University Avenue in Palo Alto. The film, From the Dust: conversations in creation, is a documentary looking at the state of the conversation concerning science and evolution in the fundamentalist and evangelical communities.

The film asks questions such as, “Does the Bible provide a narrative of mankind’s material origins?” “What is the real source of the controversy surrounding evolution vs. creation?” And how do we reconcile scientific discovery with a loving, universal, creator-God?”

The importance of opening a true discussion as opposed to and name-calling those who do not agree with us cannot be overstated. The construction of the film allows representatives of the two sides of the discussion, i.e. those evangelicals and fundamentalists who insist on a recent six-day creation and those evangelicals who see the physical evidence in the world as pointing to the reality of evolution, to present their positions in their own words. This format is effective in avoiding such caricaturization.

The list of those appearing in the film is impressive. Among those interviewed are: Dr. Alister McGrath (Ph.D. in molecular biophysics & D.D. both from Oxford University), Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne (mathematician, theoretical physics,  Anglican priest); Dr. John Walton (Old Testament scholar, Wheaton University, author of The Lost World of Genesis One), Bishop Dr. N.T. Wright (New Testament Scholar, Anglican Bishop of Durham); Dr. Peter Enns (Old Testament scholar and author of The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins), Dr. Richard Colling (Olivet Nazarene University, author Random Designer), Dr. April Masckiewicz (Assoc. Professor of Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University).  Dr. Clay Brinson (D.V.M. University Georgia, Canopy Ministries) Dr. James Denton (M.D.  University of Virginia), Dr. Daryl Falk (Ph.D., President of Biologos Foundation and Professor of Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University), Dr. Jason Lisle (Ph.D.  Astrophysicist), Dr. Jeff Schloss (Ph.D. Professor of Biology, Westmont College) to name just some of the interviewees. Continue Reading →

Movie Review: Green Lantern

Those of you who know me know what a superhero fanatic I am. In fact, before I went into ministry, I was on the fast track to having “superhero” as my profession of choice. Superheroes often bring out the best in all of us. They are, to me, one of the most evident ways in which we can see our culture aspire to be something better. They are the residue, if you will, of the imago dei. Green Lantern is no different.

I normally don’t write movie reviews, but I felt compelled to write this one since Green Lantern was released today and got a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For those of you who don’t know, that is not too good. In fact, the rating is “rotten” rather than “fresh.” In comparison, X-Men: First Class got 87% and Thor recieved 77%. Having just left the movie, all I could think was, “What did they see? It certainly wasn’t what I just saw.” As well, I am saddened because the low ratings will mean low ticket sales. Low ticket sales will make a sequel less likely. Sigh… Well, here is my attempt to throw my hat of influence in the ring and say as loudly as I can: Don’t listen to the critics!! Green Lantern ranks among the best superhero movies ever made. Here is how I would list my top five:

1. Superman the Movie (1978)

2. Batman: Dark Knight

3. Iron Man/Green Lantern

4. Spiderman

5. X-Men

What made this movie great?

Let me be blunt here. Ryan Reynolds did a fine job, but this will not be his breakout movie. In fact, his performance will probably be one of the least memorable parts of the movie. But Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern/Ryan Reynolds) is no Tony Stark. In other words, Ryan Reynolds is not supposed to be a bigger-than-life character. His story, while great, is not the compelling feature of the Green Lantern comic. Sure, he is the greatest Green Lantern to ever wear the ring (although John Stewart is close), but what makes Green Lantern epic is not any one member of the Lantern Corps, it is the Lantern Corps itself. And this movie downplays Jordan just enough for us to get what it is all about.

The Green Lantern Corps, to make it simple, is a force of intergalactic police. Only the greatest men/creatures are chosen to be a part of this Corps. They fight for goodness everywhere. Each wears a ring that is powered by “green.” Well, not really green, but what green represents: the will. The power of the will brings each member of the Corps almost unlimited power to fight against evil. Here is their motto:

In brightest day
In blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power
Green Lantern’s might

I just got chills writing that! Continue Reading →