The Mitchells vs the Machines – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film The Mitchells vs the Machines.

Story

Most road trip movies rely on the ignorance or poor decision making of the characters. That lends to a sort of cringe comedy that I loved as a kid but can’t stand anymore. This movie turned that trope on its head. Instead the characters are lost in their own worldview and have trouble seeing each other.

The entire movie hinges on the family being a little strange, very lucky, and learning to work together. The plot is mildly predictable, surreal, and so much fun anyway.

Score: 1

Characters

For a movie that gives up grounded mid-way, its characters are infinitely relatable. I felt for each of the Mitchells.

The secondary characters are mild caricatures, but serve a good purpose.

I liked that they adopted the two robots into their family. It’s a nice message that genetics don’t make a family and found family is just as powerful.

The subtle inclusion of a gay main character was refreshing, as was the lack of forced romance.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has so many references to memes and internet culture that it’s impressive. I think that the references will age quickly and probably not well.

The humour is surprisingly clever and the dialogue sometimes much deeper than expected.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation was done in a style similar to Into the Spiderverse, but with more colourful “internet” things. There were a few times I wanted to pause and just look at all the details and backgrounds. It was stunningly beautiful.

The music was nice and the songs were perfectly chosen. I got a little frustrated with the electronic riff that felt plucked from the Stranger Things intro, but that’s minor.

Score: 1

Fun

The type of movie made it clear that the awkward family drama would have an awesome payoff and it did. This meant that I didn’t spend much time cringing and really enjoyed the ride. The kids were glued to the screen and we all laughed a lot. The giant Furby terrified my 22 month old.

Score: 1

Overall

A good old fashioned road trip and apocalypse movie that ditches the frustrating parts of both. The animation is spectacular and characters relatable. Proper Queer representation and a nod to found family add extra depth to an action-packed and laugh out loud film.

Final Score: 5* Stars out of 5


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

I like to play games

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I love games. I love board games, table top games, card games, and video games.

I had never bought myself a video game console. I have an amazing brother who’s bought me a PS3 and PS4 and a lifetime ago we got a free Nintendo Wii with a computer purchase. (Before that, I used my mom’s systems.)

Dragon on her giant Yoshi. (I’m mildly sad she’s stopped calling it sushi.)

Well, last week there was a sale we couldn’t resist and we bought a Nintendo Switch. I worry that it’s about to be replaced, but hopefully there’s a few more good years in them.

Of late, Pegasus has been obsessed with watching me play Mario Kart on my phone. (He’ll climb on my lap and say, “race” although it sounds like “wash”) Dragon has been doing well with Disney Infinity, but I feel she needs games that are a little simpler.

With that in mind, we got Mario Kart 8 deluxe, Switch Fit, Lego Avengers 2, and Just Dance. I’m planning on getting Yoshi’s Crafted World for the kids. I’d also love to get Link’s Awakening and maybe one of the Mario games.

For someone who’s really busy, having something that I don’t have to spend an hour re-learning the controls or several hours doing side quests will be a nice change (Looking at you, Spiderman). To be honest, I’ve missed Nintendo.

So any recommendations for games? Both for a 4 year old with little gaming experience and a 37 year old who loves games, but isn’t very good at them?

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Dear Pegasus – First Puke Night

Dear Pegasus,

Last night you woke up and puked large un-chewed chunks of zucchini and little tiny seafood. It wasn’t fun for anyone. (Dragon didn’t wake up, so not bad for her.)

Two baths, three sheets, four pyjamas, and lots of sad looks later, you fell asleep.

You were so afraid of lying down that you insisted on sitting up in my lap. Every time you nodded off, you had this look of worry on your face.

At one point, close to 3:20, you settled into my arm, looked up at me, sighed deeply, and said, “Papa.” It was so soft and sad. You settled into sleep not long after and you insisted on being held while you slept.

A hard night and lots of worry, but you’re fine now and it’s hopefully not going to be a new trend.

I hate not being able to do anything to make it better, but hopefully holding you helped make you feel more comfortable falling asleep. You seem okay now and are happily playing.

Not looking forward to tonight. Hopefully you won’t associate puking with sleep. I also hope this isn’t a new habit.

Love you!

Papa

Books, stories, edits, and Emus

Hello Readers,

I’m working on a lot of thinks right now.

  • Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers is being beta-read and sensitivity edited currently.
  • Stories between the ‘Verses is being edited by me and should be going to typesetting soon, to be published by Renaissance Press in the Fall.
  • I’m working on two different projects for clients. Both fantastic authors. I’ll share here when they’re available.
  • Stories! Unexpected Collection 1 (Working title) is shockingly at 15 stories and 3 novellas.
  • Mystery of the Dancing Lights (Elizabeth 4) is at just over 37000 and halfway through the story.
  • The Copper Tarnish (Formerly Paragenesis) has been edited and is at 32000 words which means that it’s 60% done.

I hope you’re having good productive weeks. I’m still not feeling great, but it’s getting better. I should probably get back to some of those now.

Two of my current projects involve sentient alien Emus so here’s a smiling Emu.

Photo From flicker showing an emu that seems to be smiling.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Stand aside Mos Eisley Spaceport, you’ve got some competition. Yes, I mean Facebook, although the internet at large is quite bad.

Please, no advice is required.

Over the past week I’ve been procrastinating taking breaks from editing by reading my news feed. Here’s a short list of things that I’ve read that have made me wonder if Ultron was being too generous:

  • Defending a celebrity who’s been accused of sexual assault with the incel call to arms, “Innocent until proven guilty.”
  • Same person and same post then doing self promotion for their product.
  • People telling disabled people to call ahead or just wait outside because it’s too expensive to make things accessible. (I personally think there should be a government subsidy to make these things accessible and not bankrupt businesses, but I’m a deluded socialist.)
  • That there’s some sort of shame in watching films with Closed Captioning. (I took media communications and I had 4 separate professors; film, music, feminism, and advertising encourage us to use CC as often as possible to catch all the details of what was happening and intended.)
  • Someone posting a poem on a writers group comparing men to vagabond ships and women to the anchors that keep them from straying. (This devolved into him saying I was too argumentative and was headed for divorce, followed by being called a fairy, and being told I was going to hell.)

And that’s not even mentioning all the Anti-vaxx pro-plague comments on every Covid-19 post.

So this week I’ve been called:

  • Anti-Business
  • Communist (Starting to think this isn’t an insult.)
  • Fairy (Definitely not an insult. Fear my sparkling wrath.)
  • Unable to love
  • Headed for divorce (my wife laughed at this. She practically guffawed. It was adorable.)
  • Going to hell
  • Child abuser (because I want my kids immunized)
  • Snowflake
  • Tru-anon cultist
  • MeToo Groupie
  • Anti-law
  • Pitchfork carrying mob
  • A Shill (BTW Big-Pharma, Liberal Party, NDP, Big-Agriculture, #MeToo, and disabled community, I’m still waiting on those e-transfers.)

I’m not saying I’m perfect and always right, but I try to follow simple rules. Listen to the victims, listen to those affected/minorities, listen to science, and listen credible sources.

I’ve been called on internalized toxic opinions and I’m trying to grow.

If your first reaction is to get defensive when someone asks for help, you should maybe check why and re-evaluate your opinion.

It might be time to lessen my social media scrolling for a while and find another way to procrastinate take breaks from editing.

Stay safe and stay kind,

Éric

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1999 film Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Story

At it’s core, this story is one that Disney and countless others have done a million times before and since, painted with a shiny sci-fi veneer.

It includes my most hated trope, parents who don’t believe their children.

Score: 0

Characters

The parents are frustrating and made me yell at the TV, but I enjoyed Zenon herself. She was confident, smart, amazingly lucky, and competent. Despite the overuse, I do like the competent child trope.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is both fascinating and cringe-worthy. The made up slang mixed with turn of the millenium slang just really interests me. I like that they made sure to have seperate styles of slang for earth vs the space station. A lot more thought went into this than I would have thought.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The special effects were okay for the time period despite some major misunderstandings of physics. The costuming was clever and the music was ok.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The parents and adults being about as smart as rocks took some of the fun out of it for me. I enjoyed the main character and the other kids.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie is a fascinating time capsule of retro sci-fi that has a wonderful main character. Unfortunately, the entire story is overly dependent on the aggressive stupidity of the adults and them not believing her.

Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

I should be editing

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ll be honest. I dislike editing. It’s an extremely emotional experience for me. I get angry, I get sad, I get frustrated, usually I contemplate just writing and not publishing at this point.

Of course, when you truly hate doing something, you should do a lot of it right? Sigh. So I’m editing Stories Between the ‘Verses, which I think will come out this year if I can whip myself into shape. And while that’s going on, we have beta-readers editing Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers.

The editors and beta-readers are excellent and I’m fantastically lucky to have them. I’m just a broody curmudgeon who alternates between hating and loving everything I write. Editing makes me simultaneously feel defensive of my perfect stories and disgusted at the tripe I write.

I think (hope) this emotional back and forth happens to most authors.

Look at all the stages I go through editing. It loops infinitely. All aimed at the book or myself btw.
Photo of the five emotions from Pixar’s Inside Out. Sadness, Joy, Fear, Disgust, and Anger.

Of course what I do to get myself in the mood is go read reviews of my books (even though I know this is a terrible idea.) It’s amazing how well I can focus on the negative.

Anyway, I’ll go torture myself for a while.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 4

“Brave coming back to your ship after so long.” The Specter’s monotone was either bored or appreciative.

“I can honestly say it wasn’t by choice. I was kidnapped by this crew and forced to work with them.” Sometimes telling the truth is a great way to throw people off. In this case I was stalling trying to get to the magnetic spanner, a fancy little wrench that was designed to return to the owner if it fell off into space.

“According to my psych profile for you, that’s not really surprising. I was never expecting to find you. You probably set up shop as a mechanic in a backwater world. Maybe even convinced yourself you liked it.”

I sighed loudly and dramatically. “You’ve got me. I actually enjoy not being yelled at by commanders and I especially enjoy not being ordered to kill civilians.”

“There is only the God and the Cause!” he replied.

I spit at his feet and replied, “No God of mine.” I found the spanner and tossed it at the Specter. As expected, he activated his phase and the wrench went right through him. With my hand hidden behind my back, I pulled it back just in time. The Phasing tech drained a lot of power; combined with the fact that he couldn’t hit me if it was on, he turned it off.

My timing had been perfect and I heard a small gurgle as his body tried to understand how a foot long piece of metal was inside it. He fell to the ground right after the spanner burst out of his chest like an alien in a bad movie. 

I cleaned the room and spaced the body, keeping the extra stun grenades. His sidearm was keyed to his genetics and would explode if I tried it.

The next thing I did was check on Onyx. The ship’s diagnostics were years ahead of anything else and it told me he had a major concussion. With a few flips of switches I was able to fix the damage. He’d have a hell of a headache, but no other side effects. I watched him sleep a little, the contours of his cheekbones and perfect skin. He was beautiful. Of course the moment I thought it, he released the most ridiculous snore, something between an old gas engine and a wild animal.

Placing Diamond and Sphene on the other bunks, I had time to move the Mountain, whose girth, if not his height, lived up to his name, and his crew back onto their ship before everyone woke up. The stun grenades have a massive range and if you don’t have shielding, you’re going to be knocked out. 

The old man, who I still didn’t know his name, came over the coms sounding groggy, “You all alive down there?”

“Hey, it’s Garnet. Onyx took a pretty hard blow to the head, but everyone else was just knocked out.”

“Well well, good job new guy.” The man sounded impressed but didn’t offer his name. “Is the ship working?”

“Yes. All good to go.”

“Great, then follow me and let the princesses dream.” He undocked and started out of the sector. I ran to the pilot’s chair and followed Diamond’s ship. From the outside, I could see it’s name on the hull, Revenge.

“Uh… Revenge. Where are we going?” We couldn’t just fly the Rainbow through any commercial gate and without a psychic, there was no way I could get her to jump safely. 

“Just follow me. Diamond’s got a trick up their sleeve.”

I watched as the Revenge piloted right into a large asteroid and disappeared. “A hollow emitter masking a gate? How much money does Diamond have?” I said to myself.

“Very little, but I do have a map to all the hidden gates in the system,” Diamond said from behind me.

“But… How?” I asked as we came out of the moon of Tryo. I activated the cloak on the ship and continued to follow the Revenge.

“Honestly, I don’t know. The gates are hundreds of years old. A secret lost to all but a few Diamonds.”

The ship shook and Diamond sat in the engineer chair. I checked the sensors as she worked the automatic repair drones. “Looks like the Specter had a partner. There’s a 2-12 Aurora following us.” I swore.

“What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” Diamond sounded worried.

“Spector attack ship. Three pilots almost as fast as a Rainbow and twice as well armed.” I checked that our cloak was on; it was and it did nothing as we got hit by a second barrage.

“Revenge, are we close?” Diamond asked.

“Two seconds.”

I mentally counted to two and spun the ship around. I watched as the dark blur that was the Aurora was attacked by four asteroid mounted guns.

Not wanting to take any chances, I joined in with the Rainbow’s weapons. The other ship exploded in a dramatic display.

“Hidden weapons? Are those ancient too?” I asked.

Laughing, Diamond replied, “No, I added those. You never know who’s going to follow.” She paused and asked, “Anything we can salvage from that, you think?”

“Not unless you want to blow up or wait around for more.” I fired at all the pieces bigger than my head. “When it comes to Black-Sun there’s no such thing as overkill.”

“You’d know as well as I could, Engineer First Class.” She winked at me and said, “You locked down the ship, but didn’t secure the database. Nothing there really but the crew manifest.”

“How long have you known?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I suspected when you first got on board, but wasn’t sure until I saw how comfortable you were in that chair.”

“What now?” I asked. The penalty for harbouring a Black-Sun deserter was death, of you, your family, and anyone dumb enough to call you friend.

“Us deserters need to stick together.” She smirked and added, “Now let’s get to the base and plan a Heist.”

Read Next Chapter (May 2020)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Charlie’s Angels (2019) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 film Charlie’s Angels.

*I reviewed the 2000 Charlie’s Angels here.*

Story

In a lot of ways it’s a by the numbers spy / action movie. The twists and turns are moderately predictable but that doesn’t affect the enjoyability. The story is pushed forward by the mystery / mcguffin, but is held up by the interactions of the characters.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The core three characters are well defined and have decent development, but it’s the growth of their friendship that makes the movie so much fun.

The villain and the rest of the cast are well chosen and happily alternate between cheesy and serious dialogue.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is very well done with the actors delivering lines that could have been terrible in a way that makes sense and is pretty endearing.

There’s a lot of very well thought out subtext in the movie and some very pointed social commentary.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography is designed to show you the discomfort of the characters and is extremely well thought out. Never does it cheat the action with shaky cam or too many quick cuts. The locations are gorgeous and the clothes are fantastic.

Very rarely do I see action characters pause to switch into sensible shoes and it added a level of realism that I enjoyed.

The score was perfectly set to the action and the songs were catchy but didn’t detract from what was happening.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie is action-packed with a great found family and lots of action. It was fun and exciting and definitely re-watchable.

Score: 1

Overall

An extremely entertaining spy movie with a hint of nostalgia. The action, dialogue, and character interactions make a movie that could have been cookie cutter into something with heart. Lots of fun and worth a watch.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Covid, Allergies, or Covid

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

I do not currently have Covid.

This post is for me to rant, I do not need advice or help.

I feel like crap. I’ve been off work for the past few days because I can barely handle day to day things.

I know what’s wrong… mostly. My allergies are going wild. The combination of inside dust (four people in a house cause a lot of dust) plus seasonal allergies are causing me issues. I need to see my allergist about getting back on the shots. But I’m not doing that until I have my vaccinations.

My allergies manifest as fatigue, weakness, itchy everything, brain fog, and a harder time breathing.

Visual representation of how hard it can be to breath sometimes.

I also know that there’s something else making things worse. I’m just not sure if it’s the results of a year’s worth of anxiety and stress, or if it’s Long Term Covid side-effects.

When we came back from Disney last year in early February, Pegasus and I had a flu-cold-thing that had a lot of the symptoms of Covid. Ottawa didn’t test for it at the time, so we can’t be sure. However, my lung capacity and energy never really fully recovered. Again, this could be a stress response too. My father in-law also caught the cold, and when he got his vaccine he had some serious flu like symptoms for over a day. I’ve heard that happens to people who’ve had Covid, so maybe we did have it.

Hopefully the vaccine will help with the worsening, but that’s a ways away.

So if you’re dealing with me, please be patient. I’m working at reduced spoons and reduced brain power.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric