Snow White and The Huntsman (2012) – 7/10 fantasy action adventure movie review

AmazonBuy Snow White and The Huntsman at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director: Rupert Sanders
Screen Story and Screenplay Writer: Evan Daugherty
Screenplay Writer: John Lee Hancock
Screenplay Writer: Hossein Amini
Producer: Joe Roth
Producer: Sam Mercer
Snow White: Kristen Stewart
Charlize Theron: Ravenna
Chris Hemsworth: The Huntsman
Sam Claflin: William
Ian McShane: Beith
Bob Hoskins: Muir
Ray Winstone: Gort
Nick Frost: Nion
Sam Spruell: Finn

Snow White and The Huntsman (2012)

A wicked Queen usurps a kingdom’s power and rules it with an iron unfeeling fist. Her only objective is to remain ‘the fairest of them all’ and considering this is Charlize Theron we’re talking about, she does; no-one gets close. The end.

7/10

This is an engrossing, enjoyable, great-looking adventure movie that is thrilling despite badly edited action sequences typical of contemporary Hollywood. You could easily argue about faults and some incoherence but, for me, the movie captured my attention and more than kept it. The technical achievements of the production are also eye-catching with the dwarves unbelievably convincing and impressively unnecessary (dwarves exist and they will appear in your movie for a fee). I suspect one of the most glaring problems is also the film’s best actor: Charlize Theron. She is in a different class of beauty and charisma than Kristen Stewart. Theron goes full hernia-inducing insane but at no point is she not "the fairest of them all" and by some distance, too. She is photographed magnificently throughout (it is a superb-looking film overall) and, well, if you had to be stabbed during sex with anyone, Charlize Theron in full charisma and hotness mode would be at the top of the list.

This movie contains strong violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: April 2015

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 is better than Xbox One Gaming Bolt favicon Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One Gaming Bolt favicon Mortal Kombat X

PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: March 2015

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 / Xbox One equalXbox One / PS4 equal Gaming Bolt favicon Battlefield: Hardline
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One Gaming Bolt favicon Borderlands: Handsome Collection
  • Xbox One better than PS4 Gaming Bolt favicon DmC: Devil May Cry
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One Transparent 16x16 Dragonball XenoVerse
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One Transparent 16x16Gaming Bolt favicon Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires
  • PS4 / Xbox One equalXbox One / PS4 equal Gaming Bolt favicon Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
  • PS4 / Xbox One equalXbox One / PS4 equal Transparent 16x16Gaming Bolt favicon Life Is Strange
  • Xbox One better than PS4 Transparent 16x16Gaming Bolt favicon Zombie Army Trilogy

Seventh Generation

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the publications icons for a very quick summary.

  • 360 better Assassin’s Creed: Rogue

PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: February 2015

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 is better than Xbox One Gaming Bolt favicon Dead or Alive 5: Last Round
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One Transparent 16x16 Dying Light
  • PS4 / Xbox One equalXbox One / PS4 equal Transparent 16x16 Evolve
  • Xbox One better than PS4 Gaming Bolt favicon Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Dark Souls II (2014) – 10/10 fantasy action RPG game review

AmazonBuy Dark Souls II at Amazon

Cast / crew

Dark Souls II (2014)

Drangleic is way past it’s glory days and, without it’s king, has transformed into a remarkably dangerous place. Bring the family; all falls included!

10/10

It took a surprising couple of hours before I died in Dark Souls II. This certainly doesn’t have the dank, morbid atmosphere of the endlessly and rightly lauded Dark Souls but it does have the wonderful unfurling exploration for which, remarkably, you don’t need a map; we learn the lay of the land just like we learn our own streets by travelling them every day. This is another way the Souls games are, possibly, unique among open-world games. While some of the boss battles feel like extra large normal dudes, there are some true highlights including Executioner’s Chariot and, in Royal Rat Authority, a boss that may require you to change game-long tactics (SPOILER disengage lock-on and get under his feet) and teaches you through emergent gameplay rather than a loading screen tip. As for the not dying… well, I sure made up for that later. Dark Souls II is a spectacular, immersive, ridiculously generous game but, aside from a much better user interface and vastly improved PC performance, it’s a hair less effective and atmospheric than Dark Souls. A hair, I say, and still a masterpiece in it’s own right. P.S. The DLC is all fully amazing.

This game contains violence

Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.
Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..

Links

Mirror Mirror (2012) – 7/10 fantasy action comedy movie review

AmazonBuy Mirror Mirror at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Screenplay Writer: Marc Klein
Screenplay Writer: Jason Keller
Screen Story Writer: Melisa Wallack
Producer: Bernie Goldmann
Producer: Ryan Kavanaugh
Producer: Brett Ratner
Julia Roberts: The Queen
Snow White: Lily Collins
Armie Hammer: Prince Alcott
Nathan Lane: Brighton
Mare Winningham: Baker Margaret
Michael Lerner: Baron
Sean Bean: King

Mirror Mirror (2012)

A wicked Queen has usurped the throne in the absence of the King and nothing stands in her way, except a lack of cash. However, when a handsome prince pays a visit to her kingdom, the Queen senses an opportunity but there’s just one slight problem: he’s fallen in love with her stepdaughter, the beautiful Snow White.

7/10

In the end, I really enjoyed this full throttle burst of inverted fairy tale but for a while it looked like it wasn’t, and perhaps doesn’t, fulfil the fun promise of some of the early moments. For me, it finally settled down and became consistently fun once Snow White and the seven dwarves teamed up (with a gleefully unexpected training montage). The dwarves are great; I might not remember their names (Wolf, Grimm, Half Pint?, er) but they were lively and charismatic and engaging in the movie. Lily Collins looks adorable, especially during the costume try-outs in the training montage, but doesn’t always nail her character’s growing confidence. Julia Roberts is okay as the wicked queen but the flash of her famous smile on her way to her wedding is a reminder of how legendary and irresistible she is as an on-screen good girl; therefore, I don’t think the casting worked out. The most unexpected moment is, unquestionably, the closing credits and I loved it. A perfect, energetic, light-hearted, fun climax for a really fun, light-hearted movie.

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

The Bourne Legacy (2012) – 6/10 action thriller movie review

AmazonBuy The Bourne Legacy at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director and Writer: Tony Gilroy
Screenplay Writer: Dan Gilroy
Producer: Frank Marshall
Producer: Patrick Crowley
Producer: Jeffrey M. Weiner
Producer: Ben Smith
Creator The Bourne Series: Robert Ludlum
Jeremy Renner: Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz: Dr. Marta Shearing
Edward Norton: Col. Eric Byer, USAF, Ret.
Stacy Keach: Adm. Mark Turos, USN, Ret.
Dennis Boutsikaris: Terrence Ward
Oscar Isaac: Outcome #3
Joan Allen: Pamela Landy
Albert Finney: Dr. Albert Hirsch
David Strathairn: Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn: Ezra Kramer

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

The ramifications of Jason Bourne’s action are rippling through sister super-soldier programs, the most closely linked of which are being shut down so as to avoid exposure. Shut down meaning killing everyone involved in a way that involves all the police, all the fire service, all the ambulances and all the media in all of the USA. Super-soldier Aaron Cross survives but has run out of his medication and sets about using his skills to procure some more.

6/10

Competent thriller that keeps your attention and provides reasonable, if mechanical, excitement but suffers from Jeremy Renner lacking charisma. He is perfunctory, convincing even, and performs fine but you’re just not invested in his story. Not even when he hilariously appears in a kitchen cupboard (which he must have been hiding in for ages and are apparently man-sized in America). While Rachel Weisz does have charisma, she isn’t the focus of the film and doesn’t have a character or story; she could just as easily be a key. Or a flower; she’s so lovely.

This movie contains graphic violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) – 7/10 Ray Harryhausen fantasy adventure movie review

AmazonBuy The 7th Voyage of Sinbad at Amazon

Cast / crew
Sinbad: Kerwin Mathews
Kathryn Grant: Princess Parisa
Richard Eyer: The Genie
Torin Thatcher: Sokurah the Magician
Writer: Kenneth Kolb
Special Visual Effects Creator: Ray Harryhausen
Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Nathan Juran

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

A sorcerer hatches a cunning plan to get Sinbad and an armed crew to go back to an island inhabited by cyclops, dragons and two-headed vultures to get his hands on a magic lamp with incredible powers.

7/10

The creatures are great, Kathryn Grant is sweet,  Torin Thatcher is treacherous but everything else is average; which makes this jolly adventure one of best films to feature Harryhausen’s incredible effects work. 7th Voyage fills the bits inbetween Ray Harryhausen’s distinctive and rather splendid FX work with humour and treachery instead of dull wooden acting. It makes a nice change to see Harryhausen’s work in an entertaining film. His special effects, while looking rather dated in the late 1990’s, are still special and are a wonderful testament to a master of the art. Too often, though, his work is the only good thing about otherwise dreadful movies. This movie is a nice exception, the bits inbetween the special effects are still reasonably entertaining and involving.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes

Columbo s03e04 Double Exposure (1973) – 7/10 crime detective murder mystery TV review

AmazonBuy Double Exposure at Amazon

Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Robert Culp: Dr. Bart Kepple
Robert Middleton:
Chuck McCann:
Louise Latham: Mrs. Norris
Director: Richard Quine
Writer: Stephen J. Cannell
Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s03e04 Double Exposure (1973)

When Dr. Bart Kepple, an expert on human psychology, murders Vic Norris, a man who is about to expose the doctor and his blackmailing ways, using every psychological trick in the book – Columbo – as much an expert but wearing his cunning disguise of a shambling idiot – has to use techniques he never even knew existed.

7/10

"Alright Lieutenant. I’ll play."- Dr. Bart Kepple underestimating, of course, Lieutenant Columbo

Good Columbo with several terrific scenes where Columbo attempts to out-psychologise (if that’s a word!) Robert Culp’s psychological expert. Culp trying to ignore the be-macced maestro cresting a hill in a golf cart is the opener to a fantastically clever scene where Columbo, using only a long-distance phone call, proves Culp knows a certain woman; Columbo deliberately not giving Culp the directions to a murder location is also an absolute joy. The use of sublimal image theory is a little suspect but not any less fun and it’s nice to see slack-jawed admiration for Columbo from the murderer when he is finally caught.

This Columbo episode contains violence, adult dialogue

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Travelers: Dimension Police | Toraberâzu: Jigen keisatsu (2012) – 6/10 science fiction action movie review

AmazonBuy Travelers: Dimension Police | Toraberâzu: Jigen keisatsu at Amazon

Cast / crew
Nao Nagasawa: Ai Osaka
Ayumi Kinoshita: Yui Momose
Yuko Takayama: Haruka Saegusa
Director: Koichi Sakamoto

Travelers: Dimension Police | Toraberâzu: Jigen keisatsu (2012)

Dimension Police officer Ai Osaka is sent to Retro World to catch a serial killer who preys on young girls but runs into former partner Yui Momose who now works for the criminal organisation Doubt.

6/10

With special effects that are a lot worse than expected and action scenes that, for quite a while, are rather better than expected, this energetic movie proves quite entertaining, especially if you are a boy. The mildly provocatively dressed Nao Nagasawa looks fantastic, does fine in the martial arts action scenes and engages the audience in between. She is the reason I watched this and I wasn’t disappointed. Ayumi Kinoshita looks like she’s had a stroke or something and the cute Yuko Takayama wears a maid outfit for no discernible reason. Given the low budget, this is probably as good as this movie could have turned out. Critically, I liked this movie and, once more, I particularly liked Nao Nagasawa.

This movie contains mild sensuality, extreme and gory violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Le Havre (2011) – 7/10 refreshingly pleasant movie review

AmazonBuy Le Havre at Amazon

Cast / crew
André Wilms: Marcel Marx
Kati Outinen: Arletty
Jean-Pierre Darroussin: Monet
Blondin Miguel: Idrissa
Elina Salo: Claire
Evelyne Didi: Yvette
Quoc-Dung Nquyen: Chang
Laika:
Director, Producer and Writer: Aki Kaurismäki

Le Havre (2011)

Marcel Marx has a happy existence as a shoe shiner thanks to good relationships with his neighbours, pub mates and beloved wife, Arletty. One day, a young African refugee, Idrissa, comes into his life and Marcel responds with kindness and generosity despite his meagre means.

7/10

Uncommonly warm-hearted drama that sees the usual backbone of the genre, conflict, replaced entirely with generosity. This positivity is something that I’ve only really experienced from master animator Hayao Miyazaki and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie. Now, Le Havre is quite captivating and paced nicely but despite the ending, there’s no magic; the movie never becomes special and it never touched me. Miyazaki and Amelie consistently engender joy, wonder and delight at their best while Le Havre just happens. That said, it is absolutely worth watching and a refreshingly pleasant experience.

This movie contains bad language

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – 8/10 science fiction time-travel action war movie

AmazonBuy Edge of Tomorrow at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director: Doug Liman
Tom Cruise: Cage
Emily Blunt: Rita

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Tom Cruise is being all ace as an army media advisor but his world is turned upside-down when he is informed that these services aren’t needed any more and he’s going to the front line of the war. Oh yes, there’s a war on. With aliens.

8/10

This is a terrific science fiction action movie, a lot of fun, with decent brain-tickling action and, surprisingly, some gleefully funny scenes. Tom Cruise nails it throughout (though he always brings his A-game, that’s what makes his movies always worth watching) with his Tom Cruise-ness being spectacularly punctured by a having-none-of-it Brendan Gleeson leaving him to progress from confused terror to confident combatant. The ending: SPOILER I think he inherited the Omega’s time-reset ability and can now redo anything he wants. Therefore he survives the interview with the General in London and convinces him to bomb the pants out of the Louvre and then heads over to the base to strike up a romantic relationship with Emily Blunt. Likely to end up being the best summer blockbuster of the year.

This movie contains gruesome and unpleasant scenes, war violence, bad language and a fat man’s butt

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

The Eagle (2011) – 6/10 Roman period action adventure movie review

AmazonBuy The Eagle at Amazon

Cast / crew
Producer: Duncan Kenworthy
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Screenplay Writer: Jeremy Brock
Novel Writer: Rosemary Sutcliff
Channing Tatum: Marcus
Jamie Bell: Esca
Donald Sutherland: Uncle Aquila
Mark Strong: Guern
Tahar Rahim: Seal Prince
Denis O’Hare: Lutorius
Dakin Matthews: Claudius
Douglas Henshall: Cradoc

The Eagle (2011)

Years after his father – Centurion of the Ninth Legion of the Roman Army – all 5,000 men and the company standard, an eagle, go missing in Northern Britain, Marcus Aquila is rising above the shame of his family name. When he is injured and honourably discharged, he resolves to spend his newfound free time crossing Hadrian’s Wall to retrieve the lost standard and restore his family’s honor.

6/10

This is a shallow movie that starts well but gets weaker as it goes on. The biggest problems are the poor action sequences which are blighted by the typical contemporary inability to photograph and edit them with shape, character, and story. So there’s deliberately bad camera work, incoherent editing, a complete absence of tactics and, in the final fight, I’m sure the number of Roman protagonists suddenly doubled just so the sequence could have a bit of length. Kevin MacDonald directs the remainder competently but there’s not the sense of adventure, peril or camararderie this story needed. Nice to see the sound designer get a principle credit; I have no idea why they normally don’t.

This movie contains graphic violence, adult dialogue

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Thor: The Dark World (2013) – 5/10 Marvel superhero action movie review

AmazonBuy Thor: The Dark World at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director: Alan Taylor
Screenplay Writer: Christopher L. Yost
Screenplay Writer: Christopher Markus
Screenplay Writer: Stephen McFeely
Story Writer: Don Payne
Story Writer: Robert Rodat
Producer: Kevin Feige
Comic Book Writer, Executive Producer, and Himself: Stan Lee
Thor: Chris Hemsworth
Natalie Portman: Jane Foster
Loki: Tom Hiddleston
Stellan Skarsgård: Eric Selvig
Heimdall: Idris Elba
Christopher Eccleston: Malekith
Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje: Algrim/Kurse
Kat Dennings: Darcy Lewis
Ray Stevenson: Volstagg
Zachary Levi: Fandral
Tadanobu Asano: Hogun
Sif: Jaimie Alexander
Rene Russo:
Odin: Anthony Hopkins
In Memory of: Don Payne
Writer (Original Comic Book): Larry Lieber
Writer (Original Comic Book): Jack Kirby
Character Creator Malekith: Walt Simonson

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor’s been busy restoring peace throughout the universe but his heart still belongs to Dr. Jane Foster. She is currently applying her massive intellect to touching clearly alien artefacts that are clearly really, well, toxic at best. So, of course, she gets possessed by the Aether, this nasty black smoke that will be used by Malekith, a dark elf, to end the universe. Which makes no sense.

5/10

Adequate superhero sequel which is at it’s best when it’s trying to be fun (best moment of the film is SPOILER Thor hanging his hammer on a coat hook) and somewhat ineffective when it’s trying to be romantic, awesome or important. Or tell a coherent story with well-defined characters. Therefore, big sacrifices mean nothing, you’re not invested in shaky alliances and the baddie exists just to get super-punched for the last ten minutes so that the film can be over. There’s no peril, no build-up, no shape to the movie or any individual sequence. However, Chris Hemsworth remains charismatic and awesome as Thor and Tom Hiddleston is terrific.

This movie contains extreme fantasy violence, bad language, sensuality, nudity

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Links

Mars Needs Moms (2011) – 5/10 unsettlingly animated science-fiction action adventure movie review

AmazonBuy Mars Needs Moms at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director and Screenplay Writer: Simon Wells
Screenplay Writer: Wendy Wells
Writer (Original Book): Berkeley Breathed
Producer: Robert Zemeckis
Producer: Jack Rapke
Producer: Steve Starkey
Producer: Steven Boyd
Seth Green: Milo
Dan Fogler: Gribble
Elisabeth Harnois: Ki
Mindy Sterling: Supervisor
Kevin Cahoon: Wingnut
Joan Cusack: Mom
Seth Dusky: Milo’s Voice

Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Milo’s Mom is kidnapped by Martians. Fortunately, he wound on board their spaceship but when he gets to Mars, help comes from an unexpected source.

5/10

Image Mover Digital’s performance capture technology is again wasted (by themselves) under ugly and unnerving design choices, a cripplingly unconvincing story with the promise of interspecies sex aka bestiality, – what is this, a DreamWorks animation? – an unearned emotional climax, problems solved by violent revolution, an ‘I didn’t learn anything’ sting, and spectacular racism (the idiot men Martians look like every cliché of South American, Native American and African and everyone who doesn’t speak English is a bad guy or treated like an idiot). While there are a number of poor design decisions, the most glaring was making Milo, a child, look and move like Seth Green, an adult. It’s wrong on a subconscious level that coupled with the ugly and off-putting almost but not-at-all photo-realistic human character design puts you right off proceedings from the start. Fortunately, it looks like this movie signaled the death of ImageMovers’ unsettling creative disasters.

This movie contains freaky adult face on a child, violence, distressing scene

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Tomb Raider (2013, PS3, PC, Steam) – 9/10 brutally violent action adventure game review

AmazonBuy Tomb Raider at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director: Noah Hughes
Director: Daniel Chayer
Director: Daniel Neuburger
Producer: Kyle Peschel
Producer: Alexander W. Offermann
Programmer: Scott Krotz
Artist: Brian Horton
Writer: Rhianna Pratchett
Writer: Susan O’Connor
Lara Croft: Camilla Luddington

Tomb Raider (2013)

Lara Croft is the archaeological brains on a TV documentary but their expedition aboard the Endeavour goes horribly wrong when the ship happens upon a violent storm and is broken onto an island. Everyone seems to survive the shipwreck but then an island inhabitant knocks Lara out and she regains consciousness hanging upside in a room of unimaginable gruesomeness.

9/10

This is a really, really good game which does suffer a bit from having to get a good amount of gameplay into it. This translates to, essentially, obliterating an entire nation of bad guys too many and moving the franchise from teen-rated platforming to one of the most violent third-person shooters ever released. It’s an exceedingly good third-person shooter, though, and you just want to play the whole thing through in one sitting. In an important way, it is also extremely ambitious in character. It fails, almost completely, but what it is trying to do is place you in the shoes of Lara Croft and get you to go on her journey from boffin babe to Rambo. It never accomplishes this because the player is in Rambo mode from the start and so it is absolutely no problem for them to start decking dudes left, right and center and you’re never given the choice to do what you would actually do in the circumstance, i.e., dribble some wee down your leg and evade them. I mean, I don’t know how to strangle someone with a bow. Lara did.

This game contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, sexuality, extremely gory and extremely unpleasant scenes, extreme, graphic and gory violence

Classified 18+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for adults who have reached the age of 18 or over..

Links

PS4 vs Xbox One and 360 vs PS3 Head-to-Head Face off: Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4 and Grand Theft Auto V

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • Xbox One better than PS4  Assassin’s Creed: Unity
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Far Cry 4
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Grand Theft Auto V

Seventh Generation

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the publications icons for a very quick summary.

  • PS3 better  Dragon Age: Inquisition

PS4 vs Xbox One and 360 vs PS3 Head-to-Head Face Off: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Seventh Generation

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the publications icons for a very quick summary.

  • 360 better  Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

de Blob 2 (2011, PS3) – 8/10 action platform painting game review

AmazonBuy de Blob 2 at Amazon src=

Cast / crew
Dedicated To and Environment Artist: Russell Hughes
Game Director: Nick Hagger
Art Director: Terry Lane
Lead Artist: Lewis Mitchell
Lead Animator: Shannon Caldwell
Lead Audio: John Guscott
Lead Designer: Mark Morrison
Lead Designer: Christian Canton
Lead Level Designer: Andrew Trevillian
Level Designer 2D: Bryan Duffy
Lead Programmer: Dan Khoan Chau
Audio Programmer: Lindsay Loughlin
Graphics Programmer: Jarrod Smith
Graphics Programmer: Florian Strauss
Technical Director: Graeme Webb
Project Manager: Chris Slater
Music Composer and Producer: John Guscott
Voice Casting and Direction: Douglas Carrigan
Dee Bradley Baker: Blob, Prof, Bif, Inky Scientist, Shepherds, Raydians
Candi Milo: Pinky, Spiky, Graydians

de Blob 2 (2011)

Unsurprisingly, Prisma City’s general election is going very well for Papa Blanc, as he has rigged the voting booths with mechanical arms that always vote for him. Once he has swept to power, he is revealed to be Comrade Black who proceeds to drain the city of colour once more. Only Blob and the Colour Underground can restore things but are they playing into Black’s hands?

8/10

Gentle, tinkly gameplay, beautiful visuals (the reds, greens and blues are particularly gorgeous and there is some excellent non-player animation) and high quality sound make de Blob 2 a good all-ages platformer well worth playing, but awkward jumping from uneven terrain, unintelligent targeting and some infuriating checkpointing mean it is oddly wearisome. John Guscott and Lindsay Loughlin’s dynamic music is wonderful and the large levels feel full of life and happiness when you’ve restored colour to them and how lovely is that?

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

Links

PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: Shadow Warrior and Lords of the Fallen

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Lords of the Fallen
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Shadow Warrior

Driveclub™ (2014, PS4 exclusive) – 8/10 racing game review

Driveclub™ (2014, PS4 exclusive) – 8/10 racing game review

AmazonBuy Driveclub™ at Amazon

Cast / crew
Game Director: Paul Rustchynsky

Driveclub™ (2014)

8/10

Serious launch errors and delayed features (replays, photo-mode and weather) have undermined Driveclub and shapeless mobile game presentation will continue to undermine it but the thrilling experience of driving on spectacular, fun, original tracks make this a racing game to relish. A racing game isn’t likely to differentiate itself through a real world car list (GT6‘s Vision Gran Turismo and Red Bull X programme excepted) but through the track list. Driveclub‘s beautiful tracks are expertly designed so that they can be bounced around but accuracy will always give you lap time and sweet satisfaction. Driving them in a different class of car is like driving a new track; you discover new yumps and curves just because you’re travelling in a much faster car. It is entirely wonderful and helped by a choice of superb exterior and interior driving views. Even without the Challenge system and consistently working leaderboards (most of my times do not upload even though I’m connected to Driveclub‘s servers and earning Club points), Driveclub‘s outstanding racing and driving experience is enough to recommend it.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.

Links

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – 5/10 superhero action fantasy movie review

AmazonBuy Guardians of the Galaxy at Amazon

Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Writer Maskless Sakaaran: James Gunn
Peter Quill / Starlord: Chris Pratt
Gamora: Zoë Saldana
Drax The Destroyer: Dave Bautista
Groot: Vin Diesel
Rocket Raccoon: Bradley Cooper
Ronan The Accuser: Lee Pace
Michael Rooker: Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan: Nebula
Djimon Hounsou: Korath
John C. Reilly: Corpsman Dey
Glenn Close: Nova Prime
The Collector: Benicio Del Toro
Producer: Kevin Feige
Writer: Nicole Perlman
Comic Book Writer: Dan Abnett
Comic Book Writer: Andy Lanning
Character Creator Rocket Raccoon: Bill Mantlo
Character Creator Rocket Raccoon: Keith Giffen
Character Creator Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Thanos: Jim Starlin
Character Creator Star-Lord: Steve Englehart
Character Creator Star-Lord: Steve Gan

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Peter Quill, better known to himself as Starlord, has stolen an ancient orb but it quickly transpires that he isn’t the only one after it. Anyway, long story short, he ends up in prison but as he warily teams up Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket to escape, each discover that this orb has greater universal importance that they thought and that their begrudging friendship may be the only thing more powerful.

5/10

Guardians of the Galaxy enthusiastic contemporary reception is notably inflated. Thanks to poor action editing and ostentatiously dull villains (Ronan’s a Snoozer), the movie is largely forgettable. The extreme violence should also dampen how much fun you find things; one scene played for a mechanical laugh has the explicit sound effects of several enemies having all their bones broken repeatedly. That said, it is fun at times and there are chuckles to be had. The real surprise is the attempt at character development: each of the Guardians behaves differently at the end than they do at the beginning. For some, the change occurs because they were hiding their true nature at the start; for others, the enforced or enticed team-up leads to camaraderie. It’s sketchy and shallow but it’s unmissably there and highly welcome. I also like the colour, interior and design of Starlord’s spaceship, Chris Pratt is good and Zoe Saldana is clearly working her way up to being allowed to play a white person.

This movie contains bad language, adult dialogue, extended extreme violence, extreme fantasy violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Aces Go Places II (1983) – 7/10 action comedy movie review

AmazonBuy Aces Go Places II aka Mad Mission Part 2 aka Zuijia paidang daxian shentong at Amazon

Cast / crew
Actor and Director Fattie: Eric Tsang
Screenplay Writer: Bak-Ming Wong
Sam Hui: King Kong
Karl Maka: Albert Au
Sylvia Chang: Supt. Nancy Ho
Tsui Hark: FBI

Aces Go Places II aka Mad Mission Part 2 aka Zuijia paidang daxian shentong (1983)

When King Kong gets framed for a bank robbery, the real robbers insist that he go and buy a diamond with counterfeit money from the mafia who have sent Black Glove, an American assassin and brother of White Glove (killed in the first movie), to make sure that the deal goes down and King Kong and Baldy are despatched.

7/10

A gloriously insane mess of action scenes and funny comedy hurled at the screen and quickly wiped off so that more can be thrown. Some of the action is terrific, some of it is just infectiously insane. The comedy works most of the time and some of it is hilarious thanks to largely relying on slapstick. One instance that saw Baldy literally fly across the room during the fun Valentine’s Day rumble would have caused a genuine spit-take if I’d been drinking at the time. The inclusion of Clint Eastwood lookalike (Filthy Harry) is charmingly bizarre. Look out for famed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark as FBI and it was interesting to see the half-a-car chase done here two years before everyone saw it in the Bond movie A View to a Kill. This is a fun, snappy, entertaining movie from start to finish.

This movie contains violence, bad language

Links

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982) – 6/10 comedy action movie review

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982) – 6/10 comedy action movie review

AmazonBuy Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director: Eric Tsang
Writer: Bak-Ming Wong
Sam Hui: King Kong
Karl Maka: Albert Au
Sylvia Chang: Supt. Nancy Ho

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982)

Expert jewel thief King Kong is forced to join forces with an American detective Albert "Baldy" Au to thwart a diamond heist being orchestrated by White Glove.

6/10

Lively action comedy with lots to like including an athletic lead (reminiscent of Jackie Chan thanks to the haircut and tone of the film), some good action moments and an infectious sense of fun. While Chinese comedy frequently doesn’t travel, Aces Go Places is successful more often than not with most jokes not stretched past breaking point. Special mention for a mighty elevator gag: "Doesn’t this lift seem a bit small?" (the three walls of the elevator are three guys holding massive mirrors; brilliantly unexpected).

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

PS3 vs PS4 vs Xbox 360 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: Alien: Isolation and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 logo 75x16  Alien: Isolation
  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

Seventh Generation

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the publications icons for a very quick summary.

  • 360 better Alien: Isolation

Bible Principles—Can They Help Us To Cope With Today’s Problems?

Why Use Bible Principles?

Our theme is “Bible Principles – Can They Help Us To Cope With Today’s Problems?” But that can’t be right, surely?

You ever had one of those managers: young, wears loud braces, university graduate, knows all the management lingo but seemingly knows nothing about your job or the real world. You go in to him, tug of the forelock: “Excuse me, sir. I’m having a problem with this project.”

What does he say? “Don’t come to me with problems; come to me with solutions.”

So, why isn’t this talk called “Bible Principles – The Solution to Today’s Problems?”

Well, Jehovah has provided the solution to today’s problems: through his Kingdom under the rulership of Jesus Christ, he will restore mankind to perfection and the earth to a paradise. It will be so complete a solution that it is called a “new earth.” After that, Jehovah will be restored as sole ruler of mankind. But that’s a little way off. However, because he loves us he doesn’t say, ‘Well, I’m setting up this kingdom for you. That should be enough. See you there.’ No, He also helps us to cope with problems that arise in the meantime.

To do this, he gives us principles. Why just principles? This way, He treats us with respect and autonomy. Rather than him miraculously whooshing our problems away one at a time or endlessly nit-picking every element of life into a law, he gives us principles that we can apply ourselves. And He says that regardless of the problem, the ability to cope is within each one of us; He guarantees it (1 Cor 10:13).

He doesn’t butt in to our conflicts, he doesn’t force white toothy smiles onto our faces, he doesn’t magic us up money and he doesn’t remove situations that cause anxiety. We’re not babies needing him to do everything for us nor does he treat us like such. He tells us what is good and helps us cope with the not-so-good. By giving us principles he maintains our dignity and true independence and freedom.

Today, there is a superabundance of advice on virtually every imaginable subject. So why are Bible principles better?

Have you ever watched the weather forecast on BBC and thought, ‘I don’t much like that; I’ll see what the weather is on ITV.’ Human advice is plentiful and frequently contradictory; sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong. Sometimes it’s harmless, sometimes it’s harmful. The motivation of the adviser is usually unknown or is for financial gain or self-publicity; rarely is it to benefit the hearer.

But Bible principles? They’re based on God’s wisdom, they’re available for free, they haven’t needing changing in thousands of years and Isaiah 48:17,18 reveals His motives for sharing them:

“I, Jehovah, am your God, The One teaching you to benefit yourself, The One guiding you in the way you should walk. 18 If only you would pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

Yes, Jehovah wants us to experience peace and benefit from his timeless wisdom. Clearly Bible principles are better than human advice. Eventually, though, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, let us consider how Bible principles can help us cope with four common problems: resolving conflicts, finding happiness, dealing with economic problems and allaying anxiety.

How To Resolve Conflicts

First problem: resolving conflicts.

Many today suffer at the hands of thoughtless and self-centred people. Even when not dealing directly with a personal conflict, because of people like this, we still find ourselves in fear of getting into conflict. We may hesitate to speak up or act in the way we would like because we are in fear of antagonising people like this.

And, amazingly, the world’s favourite system of government, democracy, is built upon a constant, never-ending political conflict and getting the populace to choose sides. This world is built on conflict and suffers from the never-ending threat of it.

So what principle can resolve this?

Five hundred years before Christ, Chinese philosopher Confucius described the virtue Ren or humaneness with a phrase along the lines of “What you do not want done to you, do not do to others.” While this is certainly great advice, Jesus Christ would reveal another dimension. For what surprisingly appears to be the first time in recorded history, he stood the Confucian statement on its head and provided his followers with the principle recorded at Matthew 7:12.

All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.

Jesus so redefined the Confucian principle that the prior way came to be called the Silver Rule, while the Bible principle revealed by Jesus came to be called the Golden Rule.

Applying this principle means treating others respectfully, fairly, and honestly, showing genuine concern for their welfare. That is a great way of avoiding conflict in the first place. So why do we still have conflicts? Why isn’t this the solution to conflicts?

Let’s consider the example of Jesus and his apostles at Matthew 26. Please open your Bibles there and we’ll scan through a few verses starting at verse 47.

We’re in the Garden of Gethsemane on the last night of Jesus human life. Obviously, Jesus could perfectly apply his own principle and must have done so toward Judas. Yet what do we see in verse 47?

While he was still speaking, look! Judas, one of the Twelve, came and with him a large crowd with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Jesus came into conflict with Judas, the religious leaders and a bunch of armed soldiers.

You see, in order for this Bible principle to be a perfect solution, everybody needs to apply it and we cannot control what other people do.

Jesus remaining faithful apostles knew the Golden Rule but look a few verses down to verse 51.

But look! one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, taking off his ear.  This is the Apostle Peter escalating the conflict, not resolving it.

In order for the Bible principle to be a perfect solution, we have to apply it perfectly. And, even though we try, even though we may apply it 99% of the time brilliantly, we simply have to realise that we will sometimes make a right pudding of it. And somebody may lose their ear.

It’s interesting to note Jesus response to Peter’s escalation of the conflict. He states in verse 52:

“Return your sword to its place, for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword.”

This is the Silver Rule principle. ‘Now, Peter. Would you like your ear sliced off? No? I didn’t think so. So don’t go around slicing other people’s ears off.’

But what does Jesus himself do? Luke tells us (in Luke 22:51) “he touched the ear and healed him.” Jesus perfectly applied the Golden Rule principle. He did good to others, first. He still got arrested and executed, though, didn’t he?

So, if we do find ourselves in conflict, does the Golden Rule become irrelevant? Should we, perhaps, run away from conflict so that we don’t make things worse? No. In fact, the Bible tells us the reverse: if we have a problem with someone, we go and see them – but always with the principle of the Golden Rule in mind.

See what the purpose of Jesus’ advice at Matthew 5:23-25 is.

“If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away. First make your peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift. 25 “Be quick to settle matters with your legal opponent, while you are with him on the way there, so that somehow the opponent may not turn you over to the judge, and the judge to the court attendant, and you get thrown into prison.

The purpose of his advice is to pursue peace; to settle matters before they get out of hand; to do good to the one we are in conflict with because, of course, we would like him to do good to us.

Now, even though they won’t always resolve things, how do these Bible principles help us cope with conflict?

If we strive to apply the Bible principle of the Golden Rule, we will be actively pursuing peace and that gives us inner calm and helps us to enjoy happy relationships. Consider what Philippians 4:9 has to say about those who pursue peace by applying Bible principles.

The things that you learned as well as accepted and heard and saw in connection with me, practice these, and the God of peace will be with you. If we pursue peace by applying Bible principles, the God of peace will be with us. And what does that mean? Verse 7 the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.

Bible principles help us to cope with today’s problem of conflict because we will receive peace from God that surpasses our understanding. The conflict may or may not get resolved, but Jehovah promises us that, even if we can’t see how, we can cope with it.

In God’s coming new world, our imperfect tendency towards conflict will belong to the past. But in the meantime, we can use the Bible principle of the Golden Rule to help us avoid, resolve and cope with conflicts.

How To Find Happiness

Our next problem is how to find happiness.

Now this is one of those subjects where it is easy to agree with the scripture at Luke 12:15. In theory.

“Then he said to them: “Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of greed, because even when a person has an abundance, his life does not result from the things he possesses.” ”

Many people would agree you can’t buy happiness. But then they continue to look for it through money, possessions, prominence, power, pleasure or other selfish means. So how does the Bible principle at Acts 20:35 help us to cope when we can’t find happiness through these things?

“I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way, you must assist those who are weak and must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said: ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’” “

Jesus taught his followers that true happiness comes from being generous. It’s not what we have that brings happiness; it’s what we do with it. This principle helps us cope because it puts things such as money, prominence and power in their proper place. Having them is fine. The Bible features the super-rich such as Solomon, the extremely prominent such as Abraham, the extraordinarily powerful such as Jesus Christ.

Yet they are all notable for giving of themselves and their things. Solomon gave himself and his wealth to the building of the temple; Abraham all but gave the life of his son; Jesus gave his power to heal the sick and, ultimately, gave his life.

Now, what if we’re not a multi-billionaire or a father of nations or capable of raising people from the dead? How do we apply this principle?

Looking back at Acts 20:35, what action did Paul couple with the principle “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving”? It was ‘assisting those who are weak’. Now that’s more wide-ranging than simply giving to the poor, isn’t it? It means that we can give of whatever we have; it could be money or material things but it could also be time, care and energy.

Giving generously builds strong marriages and happy families because we think of their well-being first and put our material and career pursuits in their proper place. Giving of ourselves can bring comfort to the bereaved, the sick, the elderly, and the depressed because they need our time, care and energy to help them cope.

And how does giving bring us happiness?

Often we can directly see the positive results from the giving of our things, time, and energy and this brings us happiness. Our giving is usually much appreciated and gratefully received and this gratitude brings us happiness.

Hebrews 13:16 highlights another way that giving brings us happiness.

“Moreover, do not forget to do good and to share what you have with others, for God is well-pleased with such sacrifices.” Yes, on top of the immediate benefits of giving, our actions can please God. Jehovah is not just pleased, mind you, he is “well-pleased.” And that brings us happiness. It also means that when we give and don’t see a positive result or a grateful response, we can still be happy because we know that God sees our actions and that he is well-pleased with them.

In God’s coming new world, our imperfect tendency towards selfishness will belong to the past. But in the meantime, we can use the Bible principle of there being ‘more happiness in giving than in receiving’ to cope when we don’t find happiness in material pursuits.

How To Deal With Economic Problems

Our third problem is economic. In today’s world, not only do many people struggle with making ends meet, entire countries do.

Now, where do you keep your cash? A wallet? Yeah, you’re doing it wrong. Once, when Jesus needed to pay his tax he said “Of course; get me a fish. Yes, from the sea.” Then he magicked some money out of it and paid his tax with that. Oh, and he paid the Apostle Peter’s tax while he was at it. (Mt 17:24-27) Unfortunately, Jesus isn’t producing infinite money from unsuspecting wildlife today.

So, the bible principle we are going to look at doesn’t directly concern money. The principle is in 1 Timothy 6 and keep your bibles open, please. Look at verse 8 with me and note that money is not mentioned. Can you see why?

“So, having food and clothing, we will be content with these things.”

The Apostle Paul is telling us to be content with the necessities. Why? He continues in verse 9 and 10:

“But those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge men into destruction and ruin. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”

While success in this world is often measured in terms of material possessions, it’s the determination to get them that can be ruinous. It’s all too easy to lose perspective on the important things in our life such as our worship and time with our families. So the principle in verse 8 reminds us to be content with the necessities. Does this mean that once we have the necessities we should give the rest away or stop working or something? Does this mean that we are not allowed to be rich? That we’re not allowed to have nice stuff? Look to verses 17-19:

“Instruct those who are rich in the present system of things not to be arrogant, and to place their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who richly provides us with all the things we enjoy. 18 Tell them to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be generous, ready to share, 19 safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, so that they may get a firm hold on the real life.”

Paul was addressing Christians who were rich and reminding them, not to give everything away and live on the breadline, but to be careful and remember where their trust needs to lie.

So if we don’t need to teeter on the precipice of poverty to apply this principle, just what does being “content with these things” mean?

Contentment involves living within our means. Contentment involves not being distracted by the quest for more or better material possessions. Contentment involves not being resentful or disappointed by our current standard of living.

And how does being content help us to cope with economic problems?

Being content will help us readjust to new financial circumstances as quickly as possible.

Being content will help us focus on the more important things such as cultivating a good relationship with God and enjoying a happy and secure family life.

Being content will help us avoid being enticed by get-rich-quick schemes and risky financial investments which cause distracting anxiety.

Consider this indisputable statement from Proverbs 22:7

“The rich one rules the poor, And the borrower is a slave to the lender.”

Being content will help us to minimize the times we become slave to a lender because we will try not to incur unnecessary heavy debt which causes anxiety and pressure, distracting us from the more important things.

In God’s coming new world, economic problems will belong to the past. But in the meantime, we can use the Bible principle of being content to live within our means to help us avoid and cope with economic problems.

How To Allay Anxiety

Our fourth topic is how to allay anxiety. There are plenty of things to be anxious about these days; it seems almost everyone has something weighing down on them. So what Bible principle might we apply to help us cope with anxiety?

Philippians 4:6, 7 opens with a dogmatic and startling phrase:

“Do not be anxious over anything”

Easy for him to say. How is that possible?

“but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”

Prayer brings us “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding”. Now perhaps we can’t see how prayer can bring us peace from anxiety. We can’t imagine how it works. Indeed, it “surpasses all understanding.” But history and personal experience will tell us that it does work and we will receive the peace of God. Does that mean that prayer is a magic cure-all? No, because it’s not the solution; it’s there to help us cope until the solution is complete.

Now, what if you pray and it doesn’t work and you’re still anxious and you don’t feel like you’re coping at all? Does that mean you’ve done it wrong or that the principle has failed or God’s just had enough of you and your whining?

Consider, please, the example of Jesus recorded at Luke 22 and we’ll look at a few verses here.

Luke 22:41-43 He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw away, and he bent his knees and began to pray, 42 saying: “Father, if you want to, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.

Did Jesus have reason to be anxious? Yes, this was the night he was to allow himself and his Father to be humiliated and his life to be sacrificed. He was clearly worried about it, there was tremendous pressure on him and he was feeling it. He prayed and got a wonderful direct answer: an angel came and strengthened him.

However, look at verse 44.

But he was in such agony that he kept praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.

Yeah, the first prayer didn’t do it. Not only that, after his first prayer he became more stressed; so much so that it describes his sweat becoming like blood. Have you ever been so anxious or stressed over something that it affects you physically? Some of you have, I’m sure. And it happened to Jesus after he prayed about his anxiety.

Did that mean that Jesus would abandon the idea of prayer or presume God was ignoring him? Of course it didn’t. Just a short while later when he returned to his disciples in verse 46, he extols the value of prayer – “keep praying, so that you do not enter into temptation” – and, even though his anxiety nor the circumstance causing it were miraculously wiped away, he was able to cope and continue with the task at hand.

He clearly wasn’t embarrassed to pray repeatedly, even immediately, was he? With Jesus’ experience in mind, let’s consider a couple of points from James 1:5

“So if any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”

You see, Jehovah doesn’t mind us praying again and again, in fact, he urges us to do so: “keep asking”. I like James’ use of the phrase “without reproaching”. God will not think less of us because we ask repeatedly for his help. ‘I can’t believe you need my help again so soon already.’ No, there is no reproaching or criticism or smug sarcastic comments from God just because you need to pray to him over and over. Jesus had to pray immediately after he had been strengthened. Jehovah wants us to feel comfortable enough with him to do the same.

Now, prayer by itself will help but we need to work along with it. Philippians talked about guarding hearts and mental powers, James talked about praying for wisdom. Sometimes we can avoid, guard against or cope with situations that cause anxiety by following wisdom gleaned from God’s Word. Prayer… can give us enough peace so that we can find that wisdom.

In God’s coming new world, all problems that cause anxiety will belong to the past. But in the meantime, we can use the Bible principle of persistently praying for peace and wisdom to help us cope with and allay anxiety.

What is the Key to Coping with Today’s Problems Successfully?

Chatting about these principles is all well and good and easy now. But how do we make sure we still refer to them when we need to? You see, everything’s working against us. When things are going well, we tend to consider it our own achievement and so our opinions take on an exaggerated importance. When things become difficult, we tend to become more susceptible to unrealistic solutions and find it harder to make discerning decisions.

See what Hebrews 5:14 tells us will help us train our powers of discernment.

“Solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.”

‘Discernment trained through use.’ That means we need to consider and apply Bible principles constantly; not just when we have problems. We have to continually prove to ourselves that God’s wisdom is better than our own. That only happens through personal study and meditation. By doing that, we will be training our conscience to default to God’s wisdom and that will help us make sure we still refer to Bible principles when problems arise.

So, Bible principles – can they help us cope with today’s problems? Well, as we’ve seen, they can help us to avoid some of today’s problems in the first place. But when enduring problems, Bible principles can help us to cope, often by keeping things in proper perspective and by reminding us to keep asking for the “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

Eventually, thanks to God’s coming Kingdom, today’s problems will belong to the past. But in the meantime, thanks to God’s love, Bible principles can help us to cope so that we can march gratefully into that eagerly awaited new world.

Does the Bible Teach That Sexual Relations Are Sinful?

The traditional parent-child discussion on sex is often referred to as the birds and the bees. I had a think about this and have no idea what the birds and the bees have to do with human sexuality; if anything, they make the discussion much more complicated. But one thing that did strike me while pondering this most worthwhile conundrum was that an animal’s sexual activities are never sinful. For example, if you’ve got a cat and it comes home pregnant, you don’t condemn it for doing something sinful.

But humans? For humans it’s different. We can sin – that is, we can fall short of God’s standards – and one way we can do this is through improper sexual relations.

So what does the Bible teach about this? Let’s consider three verses that cover this subject: two that show how sexual relations are to be used acceptably and one sinfully.

First let’s consider God’s blessing at Genesis 1:28

“Further, God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it,”

Fulfilling this divine command would require that Adam and Eve have sexual relations, wouldn’t it? Doing so would not be sinful but would be in harmony with God’s purpose for the populating of the earth. Jehovah reiterated this when Noah survived the flood and, once more, it’s nice to see that He referred to populating the earth as a blessing.

So procreation for a husband and his wife is not sinful. What about recreational sex?

1 Corinthians 7:2-5 “because of the prevalence of sexual immorality,* let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband give to his wife her due, and let the wife also do likewise to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does; likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent for an appointed time, so that you may devote time to prayer and may come together again, in order that Satan may not keep tempting you for your lack of self-control.”

Sexual relations between a husband and wife are completely appropriate and an important part of the relationship. There is no mention of baby-making here, just the generous sharing of one’s body with the other.

What sex is sinful, then? Well, the scripture in Corinthians contrasted proper sexual relations between a husband and his wife with sexual immorality, that is, intercourse involving parties who are not scripturally married to each other. But is sexual immorality really sinful? Or is it just an acceptable alternative? Aren’t our bodies ours to use as we see fit?

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 For this is the will of God, that you should be holy and abstain from sexual immorality. 4 Each one of you should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not with greedy, uncontrolled sexual passion like the nations have that do not know God. 6 No one should go beyond proper limits and take advantage of his brother in this matter, because Jehovah exacts punishment for all these things, just as we told you previously and also strongly warned you. 7 For God has called us, not for uncleanness, but for holiness. 8 So, then, the man who disregards this is disregarding, not man, but God, who gives you his holy spirit.

While we can do what we want with our bodies, sexual immorality has consequences; it affects our standing with God. Jehovah says that sex involving parties who are not scripturally married to each other does not meet his approval; in other words, sexual immorality is sinful.

So, does the Bible teach that sexual relations are sinful? As we often find, the Bible’s view is clear, candid and refreshingly balanced and straight-forward. God’s arrangement is that a man and a woman married to each other can have sex to produce children and just for fun. Unlike the birds and the bees, though, the Bible teaches that any other sexual relationship is sinful.

rs p. 367 ¶1–p. 368 ¶2