Onward – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Onward.

Story

I had heard reviews about this movie that said it was the herald that Pixar had lost it’s magic and just become another copy of Disney. (Which I think is unfair since modern Disney owes a lot to Pixar.) This movie didn’t disappoint me. Like the vast majority, it left me crying.

I think the story itself is fairly simple but the world and buildup are fantastic. There’s very little in the movie that isn’t used or exploited again.

That all being said… It was a little predictable. The structure of a Quest or road trip movie, dictates that no matter what they choose, it’ll be wrong but end up pushing the character development. I guessed every twist in advance, which is uncommon for a Pixar.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The story is the characters. That’s really what Pixar is best at, engaging, flawed, lovable, characters that grow because of the story.

From the awkward Mom’s boyfriend to the retired adventurer, they all have depths. I mean, they somehow managed to make a character who was just a bottom half, have a loving and endearing personality.

Score: 1

Dialogue

“You’ll never be ready. Now Merge!” is probably one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard. As someone without his license, it’s also terrifying.

The dialogue is true and it’s certainly authentic; but it’s not extremely memorable after a first watch.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s description call it a Suburban Fantasy and the visuals never let you forget it. Anytime you see a lush, beautiful, fantasy moment, the visuals will throw in a plane or road sign or manhole cover.

It’s a great balancing act that makes the entire movie visually coherent. I love the look and feel of this world. It’s beautiful and ugly in all the right ways.

The music is mostly variations on fantasy themes with a bunch of classic rock inspired music thrown in. The combination gives a quirky feel but is definitely authentic its Dungeons & Dragons influence.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie had everything I wanted and didn’t try to jam in an awkward romance.

It was exciting, pretty, and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie feels like it was made to entertain me and pull at my heartstrings. It won’t hit everyone the same way but it is an extremely fun road trip movie set in a suburban fantasy. Plus there’s a gelatinous cube.

Score: 4 stars

Aurora Awards Nominations 2019

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last year The Travelling TARDIS was nominated for an Aurora and so was A Sign of Faust. The Travelling TARDIS is eligible again, as are a few other of our products. So go make yourself an account here and nominate your favourite works!

What do we have that’s eligible

Aurora Awards

aurora

The Aurora Awards are awards, “for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy works and activities.” They are administered by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.

It’s a fan voted award in the vein of the Hugo’s, but with way more awesome people.

You’ll have to join the CSFFA for a pittance of $10 before you can nominate anyone. Once you’ve paid, you can nominate 5 works in each category. You can nominate works from now until May 26th.

The extra bonus of joining the CSFFA is you’ll get a voters package that includes most of the works that make the ballot. That’s 8-10 novels plus a bunch of other awesome stuff.


Good Nominating and thank you in advance!

Éric

Disney Vacation Posts

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

For the next few weeks I’ll be writing articles on Disney Vacations. I’ve read horror stories and seen terrible things.

I’ll offer tips and tricks, tell you how I felt, and all kinds of other ridiculous stuff.

And don’t worry I’ll have cute pictures of the kids too.

Later Days,

Éric

Teen Beach Movie – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 Disney Channel movie Teen Beach Movie.

There are a few movies about people getting sucked into their favourite movie, book, or game. I’m not sure what this niche genre is called but I obviously love it since I wrote a book in the same genre. Go check out Everdome.

Story

The movie’s plot is simple and too the point. It’s almost completely unimportant and used as a vehicle for the music, whimsy, and references.

Score: 0

Characters

The main characters in this movie are basically Disney Channel cutouts that develop as time goes by.

Oddly enough the “real” world characters have less depths then the stereotypes in the movie world.

They are however very sweet and extremely fun to watch.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This movie is pure and utter cheese and ham. The movie revels in some of the best cheese lines.

The dialogue is delightful.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is surprisingly pretty. They really worked towards making it over saturated and beach movie like.

The music is a love letter to teen love stories and classic movie musicals.

Score: 1

Fun

Fun music, cool concept, and extremely entertaining dialogue. This movie has a very low cringe factor and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

If you’re a fan of musicals and classic beach movies you’ll love this one. I’ve seen it twice and it’s the kind of movie I’d watch without being annoyed. I will also absolutely sing along.

Final Score: 3.5

Elizabeth Investigates – A Case of Synchronicity

Hello Imaginary Friends,

My next book, the third in the Baker City Mysteries, will be available May 15th!

The book is available as a paperback and ebook at: Renaissance Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. It’ll also be available as just an ebook from Kobo and Apple Books.

Elizabeth Coderre loves mysteries. She’s faced down deranged Hags, killer kittens, wiley Artificers, and evil Genies, all with the help of her two best friends. Now she’s stuck in summer 1985, Jackie is in a coma, and Angela is quarantined. Can Elizabeth cope with her inner demons, the 80’s, and a new voice in her head? Can Angela save Jackie and the entire Bytown Memorial Hospital? This is going to be the least relaxing March break, but can they solve the mystery… in time?

Here’s the book trailer:

I’m ridiculously proud of this one. I love time travel and I love classic horror stories and this combines the two, I hope, in a fun and exciting way. Plus there’s poutine in it. (The story; the physical book does not contain any poutine or other food substances.)

I’ll let you know when the Ottawa book launch is scheduled.

Thank you for reading.

Éric

Point Zero – Chapter 2


Prologue | 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 2: Recovery and Things get Animated.

The cabin was dusty but in better condition and better stocked than most houses. “It’s the only place I could think of,” Jane said apologetically as we all writhed on the ground in pain. She’d managed to teleport us all from wherever we had been to her Aunt’s cottage in a remote southern Quebec community.

Being teleported is one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt, worse than breaking a bone, being electrocuted, and being shot all combined.

When the pain started to recede, I panicked, “Where’s Frank? You left Frank behind. We have to go back.” Jane had the good taste to look abashed or ashamed, it was hard to tell. Everything was so bright with the lights on.

It was Mel that put her hand on my shoulder and said, “He was dead. He was cold and dead. Jane barely got us in time. It’s not fair to ask her to bring a corpse.” 

I knew Mel was right but between the residual pain in my body and the migrain I was getting from the lights, I didn’t want to hear it. “We left him. What kind of friends are we that we just left him?”

James started shaking and gasping for air. “I need water.” We all forgot what was happening and scrambled. Mel grabbed a glass of water for him, Jane went to the bathroom to fill the tub, and I grabbed a towel and wet it. 

We sat around the tub eating a couple of frozen pizzas that Jane had found in the freezer. They were probably the best thing I’d ever tasted. 

It was the tub that helped. It was less of a bathtub and more of a jet tub pretending to be a pool. Both James and Mel fit in the tub. Mel was just over six feet tall and she could have her legs and boobs in it at the same time.

“I’m semi-aquatic…” James said and rolled his eyes as Mel called him her platypus. “Sam here is some sort of lightning person, Jane can teleport, but what about you, Mel?”

“I have the power of puns! Bow before my linguistic lashing.” Mel said dramatically. “I don’t feel any different… Maybe I didn’t get anything. What you guys need are superhero names.” We all groaned and she continued, “James, you’re Platy-Power.”

“I have gills and webs… no duck bill or tail.”

“It’ll be part of your costume. Sam you’re the Electric Knight. ‘Cause of the shield. Jane you’re the Tele-Porter.”

Our groans turned into yawns and I fell asleep to Jane saying, “No, absolutely not.”

As I slept, I dreamt of green, emerald green, the colour was tinged in fear. I woke up thinking I heard something. I looked around, James was still in the tub, Jane was curled up on a sleeping bag next to it. There was a sleeping bag at my feet. I unrolled it and lay back down.

The cottage had four rooms, but we’d all decided to sleep in the same room for comfort.

I heard noises again. Where was Mel? I wondered. So despite being tired and in pain, I got up and walked toward the living room. Mel was sitting at the dining room table with a pencil and a pad of paper, drawing something. 

Movement and moaning caught my attention from the open-concept living room. I felt the electricity build up inside me, it felt like stretching before a sport. I raised my hand thinking to shoot a bolt of lightning but then remembered Mel’s superhero name for me. Instead I concentrated on forming a sword out of the electricity in my left hand and a shield in my right.

I moved towards Mel to get me between her and whatever was making the noise. Mel looked up at me confused. “What are you doing?”

I gestured towards the living room and her eyes went wide. She must have been so much into what she was drawing that she hadn’t heard. I glanced quickly at her drawing. It was the two main characters from the TV show Good Omens in a very sexy embrace.

I walked towards the sounds, they were behind a big sectional. At first I had thought zombies, then wild animals, I hadn’t expected two men going at it. It was a perfect copy, but in motion, of Mel’s drawing. 

“Mel, I think you did this.”

Mel gasped, “Sexy.”

“Mel.”

“Sorry. I wonder if I can touch them?” She leaned forward and poked a butt cheek. The man didn’t react. “Feels so real.”

“Mel!”

“I’ve never really been into self inserts, but…”

“Mel, can you dismiss them?”

Looking like she was imitating a toddler who was told to concentrate, she squished up her face and one of the men turned to us and said in a perfect Scottish accent, “Would you like to join?”

I blushed and elbowed Mel, who also blushed and did a whipping motion with her hand, like she was washing something away. The two men disappeared. 

“I think we found your power.”

“I hope I can control what I animate… Oh that’s good; I’m The Animator!”

I remembered I was standing there with a sword and shield built of electricity and willed them away. Looking at Mel with as much fatigue as I could, I said, “Mel, go to bed.”

It had been a long day for us, but for the rest of the world it had been a long week.

Read Chapter 3


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


Enchanted – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 movie Enchanted.

Story

This is a tongue-in-cheek love story to Disney princess movies made in a time where there hadn’t been a princess movie in nearly a decade (Mulan came out in 1998). This was before Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen; and way before Sophia. The love of princess movies was considered childish unless you liked them ironically (That’s 2000’s for making fun of something you like so that you come off cool and aloof.)

All that being said, this movie revels in fairy tales and magic. It swims and dances in all things genuinely innocent and magical.

Underneath all that, it is an expertly pulled off Rom-Com.

Score: 1

Characters

Intentionally grating in their saccharin sweetness or in their jaded bitterness (dude, it’s the late 2000’s, enjoy having survived the 90’s and prepare for the ridiculous and horrifying 2010’s.)

There are three characters that grow, Giselle and Robert do the old innocent and grump move towards each other and fall in love, dance. And Nathaniel realizes he’s just a minion and learns to love himself.

Giselle could easily have fallen into the manic-pixie-dream-girl category but over the movie she adjusts to the world and gains agency. She goes from needing to be caught to catching. It’s lovely development but without insulting what she started as.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Like the rest of this movie, the dialogue is peppered with in-jokes and allusions to Disney. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s fun to pick out. Beyond that, the dialogue relies heavily on double meanings and misunderstandings. I really enjoy the way the characters talk with each other when the misunderstandings happen.

Although well done, the dialogue sometimes got self-indulgent in the, “I’m from a fairy tale” sense.

I also rolled my eyes hard at, “I have a gift / A book I know.” I realize they were trying to make him seem down on fairy tales and wanting her to find real life role models, but it just came off as hating on books. I wish they’d had a scene with the little girl and Giselle geeking out over the book.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie is colourful and beautiful. The music is great.

However, the Central Park song (How do you know) is one of the greatest musical moments I’ve ever seen. Both in it’s contrast with Robert’s disbelief and eventual acceptance and with the pure joy that everyone throws into it.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie is a joy to watch from beginning to end. James Marsden hams it up with a delightfully nice prince. (Look at his face with Giselle and Robert kiss.) There’s action, romance, and lots of Easter-Eggs.

Score: 1

Conclusion

If you like Rom-Coms, princess movies, musicals, or fish out of water stories, this one is worth a watch. The world of 2007 was a different place and time, but you have to love it’s innocence.

It’s also a movie filled with strong, capable, and lovely women with urgency and character development. Something that is sometimes lacking in Rom-Coms.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5

ONLINE Spring Catalog pre-launch and cover reveal!

Hello Imaginary Friends,

Did you want to see the trailer and cover for my next Elizabeth Investigates, A Case of Synchronicity?

Join me, 3 fantastic authors, and our publisher in unveiling our book trailers and covers.

Join the online event on Facebook and we’ll see you Tuesday February 25th at 6pm

Renaissance is having a party to launch FOUR BRAND NEW BOOKS by authors Eric Desmarais, John Haas, Madona Skaff-Koren, and Sue Taylor-Davidson.

Join us from the comfort of your home for a chance to win fabulous prizes, a live Q&A with our authors, and the exclusive reveal of both the video trailers AND the covers for these four books!

Happening RIGHT HERE on Facebook (we will also take questions via Twitter!)

18:00-18:30 Cover and trailer reveal for Eric Desmarais

18:30-19:00 Cover and trailer reveal for John Haas

19:00-19:30 Cover and trailer reveal for Madona Skaff-Koren

19:30-20:00 Cover and trailer reveal for Sue Taylor-Davidson

Hope to see you there.

Éric

Dear Dragon – Story Time

Dear Dragon,

You are a clever and adorable child. In your current bedtime routine, I tell you a story while Mum feeds Pegasus. I give you three options and make something up. Sometimes you insist on telling me a story. Last night you did something new.

Dragon wearing a beautiful Beauty and the Beast themed pocket scarf.

Dragon: I want to tell you a story.

Papa: Okay, go ahead.

D: *Looks sternly at me* I have to tell you the options first.

So you gave me options and I settled on a “Sheep that wants to eat blueberries”.

D: I don’t know how it starts *Gives puppy dog eyes*

P: Well, there was once a sheep who wanted to eat blueberries.

D: Okay

P: So what happens next?

D: I don’t know.

P: *Happy to talk about story structures* What’s stopping the sheep from eating the blueberries?

D: I don’t know. *Smiles and settles in to listen*

P: *Oblivious and still thinking I’m helping* Well, maybe there’s a rabbit protecting the only blueberry bush. How does the sheep try to get by the rabbit?

D: *Grinning widely and looking innocent* I don’t know… How?

P: Maybe the sheep tries to… *finally catching on* Hey, wait a second. Are you trying to get me to tell you a second story?

D: Cackles madly. (Seriously you could give a Bond villain pointers.)

You spent the next five minutes laughing and asking for the rest of the story. I’ll tell it to you tonight. I have to say I’m impressed with your ability to guide me toward what you wanted.

You’re going to be great at getting people to open up and talk about things.

I love you, my clever little Dragon,

Papa

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

This is supposed to be a sequel to the 2016 Suicide Squad. I reviewed that at the time and was extremely generous in my rating.

Story

The story was overly simple which was a good thing but also telegraphed what was going to happen. This wasn’t a movie that left me guessing, it told you early on what was going to happen and then those things happened.

As with any anti-hero story, there were a few morally awkward moments and a lot of humour.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie truly shines through its characters, all written and acted superbly. It was nice that they remembered that Harley is smart. I hate smart characters doing dumb things, but Harley did dumb things because she was hurt, broken, sad, and disturbed.

All that other characters were fantastic and left you feeling like they were well rounded (Although definitely in need of a hug and a paid vacation).

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue was brilliant, the narration was awesome, but not everything was great. All the actors had moments were their natural accents slipped, some of the turns of phrase felt like they were meant for someone else to say, and when Harley wasn’t there or narrating, the movie took a dive towards bad cop drama.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The action pieces, aesthetic, and music were fantabulous. The simplicity of the story led to those big action set pieces. I don’t think I’ve seen better action than that scene in the evidence locker. I also desperately want this soundtrack.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than a few moments were it started dragging (usually non-narrated story parts for the BOP) this was a thoroughly fun movie. Action, humour, drama, and great music.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This movie was fantastic and if you can handle brutal action, I highly recommend it. I definitely look forward to re-watching it.

Much better than Suicide Squad, which I’ll have to re-watch and re-review.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 stars