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'Spider-Man' Swings With Amazing Effects And Action

"With great power comes great responsibility" was the memorable quote from Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man in 2002, which helped propel a film franchise into the box-office stratosphere and launched a plethora of comic book blockbusters.

Arriving only five years after Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man doesn't feature a similar memorable quote, but it's probably safe to say this about Sony's reboot of the Marvel Comics' superhero: "With great special effects and action plus strong character development comes great response at the box office."

Independent filmmaker Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) takes over for Raimi and a Brit who's never been in an action movie before (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network) takes the reins from Tobey Maguire as the wisecracking, web-swinging teenager Peter Parker. Also, blond-haired Gwen Stacy (Garfield's real-life girlfriend, Emma Stone, The Help) is Spidey's love interest—not the fiery red-head Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).

Webb's film makes deliberate departures from Raimi's original, focusing heavily on the hero's high-school life as a skateboard-riding outsider and expanding on Peter's quest to understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His search puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner whose evil alter-ego, the Lizard, becomes Spider-Man's nemesis. read more

Seven Steps to 'Sex-cess'

Live in a sex-charged culture, without getting zapped!

Jim is in my office one Saturday morning crying over the lust, guilt and terrible sexual choices that are destroying his life. I don't know whether to empathize with his pain or kick his butt for going to sleep on his watch!

I remind him that the battle for sexual integrity demands constant vigilance. It's a wrestling match with Satan, and any time you let your guard down, you get body-slammed.

Our society so bombards us with sex. With our male fascination for visual stimulation and our often-adolescent mindsets, this is very disconcerting.

It is easy to empathize with the early church father, Origen, who made himself a eunuch in a desperate step to achieve greater purity. But, God has also given us a wonderful gift in being sexually alive with exciting potential for deep, passionate intimacy.

The following are practical skills, actually disciplines, men need to practice as they grow up into sexual maturity and intimacy. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7, NIV). read more

'Brave' Misses The Mark of Pixar's High Standards

by Eric Tiansay

Pixar's 13th film, Brave features the studio's first leading heroine—a Scottish princess named Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) who confronts tradition and challenges destiny to change her fate. Christian parents are also confronted with something they're not accustomed to with Pixar, but that's for later on in this review.

Merida is a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane).

Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources—including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers —to undo a beastly curse before it's too late, discovering the meaning of true bravery. read more

'The Avengers' is a Marvel to Behold

Arguably the most highly anticipated movie of the year with a reported staggering budget of $220 million, Marvel's The Avengers finally hits theaters with lots of hype and hoopla—after two Iron Man films, two Hulk flicks with two different Hulks, plus Thor and Captain America movies.

So what can we say now that all those characters are together in one place in The Avengers? Believe the hype and hoopla!

The action starts as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his colleagues at S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate) are protecting and collecting the energy of the Tesseract. A holdover from the Captain America movie, the Tesseract is a small, glowing blue cube with an unlimited source of energy and the gateway to different portals in space. read more

'John Carter'—Despite Mega-Budget And Mega-Flop—Offers Mega-Adventure


by Alan Mowbray

Based on Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic novel A Princess of Mars, which inspired generations of filmmakers and science fiction writers, including George Lucas, James Cameron, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, John Carter—with its sweeping scope and $250-million budget—

was one of the biggest flops in Disney history when it crashed in the box office this spring. Not surprisingly, it's already out on DVD and Blu-ray.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, best known for directing the acclaimed and popular Pixar films Finding Nemo and Wall-E, the film comes across as a cinematic epic, seeking to rival movies such as Star Wars and Avatar with its look, feel and storyline.

John Carter tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, Friday Night Lights), who is an honorable and courageous man. A veteran of the U.S. Civil War, he is broken—tired of fighting for the causes of others. His fighting spirit remains strong, but Carter has turned to self-interest, and he is done with war.

While searching for gold and subsequently getting arrested while trying to fight the 7th Cavalry, Carter is transported—in a twist of fate—to the planet of Barsoom (Mars), where he discovers that his strength and jumping ability is greatly amplified to a superhuman level. He must use these newfound powers to survive the centuries-old war between the native inhabitants, while trying to save the dying world. read more

'Man, Woman, Wild': Survival, Romance in Faraway Places

by Alan Mowbray

He's a tough and resourceful former Special Forces survival expert. She's a refined and articulate TV journalist. Together, they are husband and wife, teacher and student, warrior and fair maiden, hunters and (sometimes) hunted.

Mykel Hawke and his wife, Ruth England, take on some of the most forbidding and remote locations in the world in Man, Woman, Wild—a Discovery Channel reality show.

Dropped into each spot with only a knife and the clothes on their backs, Hawke and England attempt to survive as a team for four days and nights. As they test their will and marriage, the two find common ground standing up to nature as husband and wife in the wildest places on earth.

I'm naturally skeptical of reality shows. They seem so scripted. They're so cliche. They're so ... not reality. read more

'Journey 2' offers exhilarating thrill ride

by Alan Mowbray

The follow-up to the 2008 hit, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island copies the same "what if?" scenario of the original: Is it possible that Jules Verne's books weren't just concoctions of the author's imagination, but a chronicle of his scientific discoveries?

In the sequel, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) discovers a coded distress signal from his grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine), which only a true Vernean—people who believe that Jules Verne was writing nonfiction—could decipher.

The message leads Sean and his new stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson, taking over for Brendan Fraser, who played Sean's uncle in the original) to a mysterious island located where none should exist. With the help of rogue helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his mechanic daughter Khailani (Vanessa Hudgens), Sean and Hank set out to find the island and rescue Alexander before it's too late.

If you're looking for a movie that you and your kids can enjoy, Journey 2 fits the bill. It's full of the gags, jokes, oddities, visual twists and other ingredients that kids love. Although it has a bit of a predictable storyline, the CGI and associated imagination that went into its creation is enough to satisfy a grown-up as well. To put it another way, Journey 2 is a fun, enjoyable movie, but you won't be discussing its literary qualities when the credits are rolling.

The movie offers some teachable moments. Sean's father died when he was young, and his mother has remarried. Hank is the outsider here, and it's frustrating for him because Sean doesn't really want to do anything with him. Admirably, Hank has a long-term, nurturing father-style; he is just waiting for the right opportunity to connect with his "new" teen son. Hank's patience and understanding in love is evident. read more

Want to Be Sexually Successful?

I believe that God wants every Christian man to be sexually successful. He desires all of us to enter into the holy of holies where spirit, soul and body intimacy occurs with your wife on a regular basis. His desire is to equip each one of us with the skills to be spiritually and emotionally intimate outside of the bedroom so that we can be sexually successful inside of the bedroom.

Are you wondering what a sexually successful man is and how you can become one? Let me be perfectly clear. Sex is by far one of God's best ideas! Don't you agree? I imagine the Creator could have made procreation a behavior that brought little pleasure and only engaged our bodies, completely detached from the wealth of a soul and spirit experience. What a bummer sex would have been if that were the case.

Thankfully our Maker decided to be very creative con­cerning our sexuality. Not only does your body go through the greatest physiological changes, but when engaging successfully in sex you also experience the highest chemical reward possible for your body.

As a therapist, I have counseled with thousands of men regarding sexuality issues. During this time, I have learned that many men are not sexually successful. I have "clocked in" years of my life listening to men as they share varied stories of their lack of sexual success. These men and their wives want to be sexually successful, but even after several decades of marriage, they have not achieved sexual success. read more

'River Monsters' Hooks Viewers With Mysterious Creatures

by Alan Mowbray

There is just something so cool about a show that can combine danger, science/biology, fun and fishing—Animal Planet's River Monsters easily fits the bill.

Jeremy Wade is a one-man guide to the dangers that lurk below the surface of freshwater rivers and streams around the world, including Germany, Australia, India, Brazil, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Alaska, Florida and Texas.

In the same spirit as those crazy guys at Mythbusters, Wade—biologist and extreme angler— investigates what can seem to be outlandish fishing stories, mysteries and folklore of man-eating river predators to see if they're true or just legend.

Sometimes it's about finding just how vicious a certain species really is. Other episodes, Wade searches for a purported "man killer," which turns out to be a pussycat with gills—although it generally has a mouthful of ridiculously sharp teeth. But whatever the quarry, he almost always lands his catch, including piranha, goonch catfish, alligator gar, Wels catfish, bull shark and arapaima.

Since I dabble in fishing, I enjoy River Monsters because it offers a fun and informative behind-the-scenes look at finding, understanding and catching the "big one." Even for those who are not even remotely sport fishing inclined, Wade makes each episode a riveting mystery that must be solved. In minutes, you find yourself hooked by his story—pun intended and much more easily than the creature he's looking for. read more

‘Hugo’: Martin Scorsese’s Uplifting Masterpiece

by Alan Mowbray

Mention the name Martin Scorsese and the image of rough-and-tumble movies (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas) pops up.

So when my wife, 10-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter sat down to watch Hugo on DVD together, I was excited because this was the first family-friendly Scorsese flick ever! I was not disappointed. We were riveted. Even my youngest, who is normally squirmy, and up and down and up and down was glued to the couch.

Based on Brian Selznick's 2007 novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the story centers on 12-year-old Hugo (Asa Butterfield, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)—an an orphan living in the bowels of a busy 1930s Paris train station.

Hugo fixes things and keeps the train station clocks running for his uncle—skills he learned from his father (Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes), a clock maker and tinkerer. The only thing that Hugo has left that connects him to his now-dead father is an automaton (mechanical man) that doesn't work without a special key, which he doesn't have. Hugo needs to find that key to unlock the secret he believes it contains. read more

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