Spy Kids 3 and Spy Kids 4 – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2004 and 2011 movies Spy Kids 3: Game Over and Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World.

I reviewed Spy Kids 1 and 2 in a previous post

Story

Spy Kids 3

Villain captured in a cyber prison turns that prison into a game in order to enslave kids minds and …? Spy organization sends kid spy into game to find his sister and shut the game down.

It has serious potential but there was so little story and what there was, was confusing, ableist, or just boring. I spent most of the movie shaking my head or yelling at the main character. The first two were all about family but this one barely makes a cameo out of everything.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

It took seven years for people to forget about the last one. This one brings in new kids, new parents, and a very updated OSS. The time manipulation was utterly unbelievable and made my head hurt.

The story did go back to it’s roots and become all about family. The cameos by the original kids was great.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Spy Kids 3

They really tried to make Juni the sensitive outsider here and it failed completely. He’s basically a bumbling idiot. While in the others he and his sister bumble together and solve the problem, in this one the villain is helping him win and his sister is only in a tiny part of the movie.

Stalone is fantastic at chewing the scenery but his character is confused, confusing, and barely above useful. And don’t get me started on the one girl character.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

The characters in this were much better and less insulting stereotypes. I like that the boy being hearing impaired doesn’t make him weak, I like that the mom kicks ass while pregnant, I like that the kids are smart again. That being said, they were all a little bland as characters.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Spy Kids 3

There’s a scene near the beginning where the main character is talking about family and another character says, “Everyone is family Juni.”

His reply is, “That doesn’t any sense.”

That’s the best description of this movie. Nonsensical drivel followed by insipid dialogue.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

It wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. There are a few good puns and a lot of clock or time jokes. It’s ok.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Spy Kids 3

I thought 2 had a lot of 3D gimmicks and stupidity. This one practically based the entire movie on it. It’s cheesy pseudo computer game graphics for the entire movie. It looked bad sixteen years ago and looks worse now. The music was better.

Score: 0.5

Spy Kids 4

It took a few movies but they finally moved back to the hyper-saturated cartoon look of the first one. The action well done and the scenery is great. The music wasn’t fantastic but it was pretty good.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Spy Kids 3

The beginning and the end are a lot of fun and the middle parts are interesting if non-nonsensical and dumb.

Score: 0.5

Spy Kids 4

This was my daughters favourite of the four. She said it’s cause there was a dog and a baby. I liked it because it was a fun kids action movie. It doesn’t hold up to the original, but it was ok.

Score: 1

Overall

Spy Kids 3

Taking out the sibling dynamic from this series was a mistake. This movie doesn’t live up to the first and frankly is one of the worst movies I’ve seeen. It’s not offensive (Except the honeypot, nerd bashing, and ableism) just boring.

Final Score: 1 Star

Spy Kids 4

This movie tried to recreate the whimsy and awesomeness of the first but doesn’t quite get there. It’s bogged down by fart jokes and 3D gags along with a premise that makes my head hurt if I think about it too hard.

Final Score: 3 Stars

Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2 – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 and 2002 movies Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams.

Story

Spy Kids

I was expecting this to be silly and juvenile. It was, but it owned it to a degree that I never expected. The story is a near perfectly crafted spy adventure, with just the right amount of twists and surprises. What elevates the movie is the purposeful overdoing of literally everything. This is a lovingly crafted homage to spy movies that manages to amp up the silly.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The sequel suffers from the tightness of the firsts writing. Expanding to include more spies and more gadgets and more of everything. It did manage to capture the joy and charm of the first one but it took a while.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Spy Kids

Each character is built as a caricature of a standard spy trope and each one manages to overcome it through depth of character and some surprisingly good acting.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The main actors reprise their roles well if not as well as the first. The characters are a little less intricate to make room for the plot and special effects. The inclusion of Buscemi, Montalban, and Taylor to the cast adds skill and gravitas but doesn’t save from the rest of the poor characters and some truly terrible acting from the villians.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Spy Kids

Overall the dialogue is hammy and overblown. It’s fun but nothing extremely special.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 2

The dialogue in this movie is best described as a pale imitation of the first movie.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Spy Kids

This was a pretty solid movie for a low budget 2001 film it still looked good. The music was okay both are acceptable.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This did not age well. The special effects look terrible and the constant 3D gimmicks actually hurt the composition of most scenes.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Spy Kids

This movie was fun and consistently so throughout the movie. Wonderful commentary on kids entertainment, spy movies, and family.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This was uneven and there were several times I wished I wasn’t watching it. It really wasn’t terrible.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Spy Kids

Lovely little film that explorers what it is to be family with an impressive absurdity.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Spy Kids 2

It fails to capture the whimsical absurdity of the first and almost completely loses the heart. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not very good.

Final Score: 2 Stars

Travelling TARDIS Nominated for Aurora Award

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

So proud of my wonderful wife and the Travelling TARDIS Blog for their THIRD nomination!

Voter’s Package

The majority of nominated works are available in the voter’s package now. Simply make an account, pay $10, and you’ll have access to a wonderful library of Canadian Science fiction and fantasy.

The Travelling TARDIS isn’t part of the package because you can access it for free on this site.

The Travelling TARDIS

The Travelling TARDIS moves, with the power of timey-yarney crochet, through time and space visiting and taking pictures with cosplayers, landmarks, celebrities, and cute babies.

Voting

If you think The Travelling TARDIS is worthy of your vote, voting for the Auroras will be open on June 20th.


Thank you to everyone who nominated and especially to everyone who reads and enjoys our content.

Thank you!

Éric

Happy Death Day – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 movie Happy Death Day.

Story

I’m frankly shocked and surprised that it took this long for someone to combine the slasher and the Groundhog Day concepts. It’s a beautiful mashup that works because these two sub-genres and surprisingly compatible. They both traditionally have horrible stuff happen to the main characters, they both usually involve death, and they usual end happily for at least one character.

This story works, not because of the twist, but because of how heavily it leans into the tropes.

Now that being said the first two loops are set up really slowly, however anyone who’s seen the trailer knows by the second day that the tension isn’t from the slashing but the loop.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are mostly stereotypes with a few little tweaks. This is a weakness of both sub-genres. Because you live the same day over and over again, only one character develops, leaving the entire emotional outcome of the movie on the shoulders of the main character and their massive development.

Tree’s the heart of the film and without her and us feeling for her, this movie would fall flat. Thankfully it didn’t and she is awesome.

A lot of the characters are superfluous and feel like unused threads. The Vietnamese girl who sits outside the sorority house is a good example of an unused character.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was quick, quip-y, and felt right for the characters. It’s fun but not poetry or super memorable.

You’ll laugh, but you won’t be quoting this one in twenty years.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The music is very much from a slasher but it’s unobtrusive and works really well. Visually this movie doesn’t need to be anything beyond a B horror style but doesn’t rest on expectations. The compositions, cuts, and references to other movies is fantastic. The transition where Tree gets hit by a baseball bat and falls into the next day is beautiful on it’s own, but the fact that it’s directly referencing a similar transition in Groundhog Day makes it ever so much better.

Score: 1

Fun

I love slashers and I love Groundhog Day style stories. This movie delivers exactly what I wanted from all of it and has a nice little twist. I’m very glad they changed the ending to what we see in the theatrical version.

Once it got going I didn’t even consider looking at my phone. High praise, considering it was my second viewing.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a movie that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and it certainly isn’t high cinema but it is exciting, smart, fun, and funny. If you like slashers or Groundhog Day stories, you’ll love this movie.

Final Score: 3.5 out of 5


We reviewed the movie on Silver Stag Entertainment‘s Aurora Nominated show Nights at the Round Table.

Legally Blonde – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 movie Legally Blonde.

Story

This movie takes the usual narrative of the blonde rich girl being a bitch and turns it on its head. Elle is a genuinely sweet person. It has an interesting mix of awkward college movie and legal drama.

The story is great if a little simplistic. It gets its messages across and aged relatively well.

One of the main messages is that you need to love yourself and be with someone who loves the real you. But there’s one scene where Elle pretends to have had a one night stand to make her friend look like he’s good in bed and didn’t call her after. It makes the mean girl the guy was talking to give him a second chance, but feels contrary to everything else in the movie. If she wouldn’t date him and even went as far as insulting him in public, maybe she’s not worth it.

The legal plot was laughably simple with nice coincidences.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Elle, her sorority friends, and most of the characters are really sweet. The “mean” girl and professor guy are the only ones to do much evolution other than Elle.

The characters are mostly good people and that’s great. However that movie is overwhelmingly white and straight. The few LGBTQI+ or POC characters are dated and disturbingly tone death stereotypes, even for 2001.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is very exaggerated for each of the stereotypes and other than a few adorable valley-girl sayings from Elle, it’s all pretty meh. However the body language, especially the amused bemusement of Luke Wilson, is pure awesome.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I really liked the contrast between the gaudy LA style versus the stuffy Boston law school style. It really made the fish out of water story believable. I also love the evolution of Elle’s wardrobe and how it matches her own character development.

I honestly can’t remember the music at all. I know it was there but I can’t remember it. That means it did it’s job.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie rolls together mystery, college, romance, humour, and characters that want to genuinely do good in the world. It’s fun to watch.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is about empowerment and being yourself, even if it doesn’t fit into the stereotype everyone has for you. It’s about doing something you love for yourself.

It’s got a few cringy scenes (Bend and Snap?) but overall it’s a feel good movie that made me feel better about my current stresses and worries.

Final Score: 3 Stars

Zootopia – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 movie Zootopia.

*This was my favourite movie of 2016*

Story

Fast paced, coherent, with several great messages. It’s strange watching it in a post-Trump world and seeing messages that were clearly political. If by political you mean: don’t profile people, be kind, don’t give in to fear, and don’t give up.

The structure of procedural and buddy cop movie is done very well, with lots of allusions to other movies, while keeping the twist fresh. It’s also re-watchable even if you remember the twist.

Score: 1

Characters

To build relatable characters it’s important that they have flaws and strengths. To make great characters you need to have those strengths and flaws be intrinsically linked. Judy’s hopeless optimism and refusal to quit are strengths but they also blind her to the obvious dangers and villains.

Nick’s clever mind and overthinking are great for hustles but they make him doubt everything people do.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a lot said out loud and a lot said between the lines. This movie could have easily been bogged down with world building dialogue but is instead filled with wonderful lines. I love the evolution of Nick calling Judy “Carrots”.

I also love the Disney humour. Hearing Idris Alba say, “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” was just the kind of self-mocking humour I love.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is stunning and absolutely beautiful. Zootopia the city is as much a character as a setting and you quickly fall in love with it.

The music is perfect background and the Shakira song is catchy and inspirational.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than the press conference scene, I smile and laugh all the way through. It’s a movie that makes you think about the world you live in and the prejudices, while still making silly sloth jokes.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is wonderful and has everything I’m looking for. There are a few contrived moments and it’s not absolutely perfect but it makes up for it in humour, heart, and making you think.

If you haven’t seen it, now is the time.

Final Score: 5 Stars*


*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.

National Treasure – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2004 movie National Treasure.

Story

Take the feel of Indiana Jones, the brilliant yet socially awkward Sherlock, twist it with a dash of Ocean’s 11, and spray it down with American history. That’s what this movie tries to do.

The clues are interesting but impossible for the audience to guess in advance, the history is flimsy at best and the plot is only a reason to go from one set piece to another. They should have made the entire movie about the heist, that part was fun and interesting.

Score: 0

Characters

Nicolas Cage is doing a bad impression of a jerk intellectual. The girl occasionally remembers that she’s supposed to be intelligent even if she forgets to have any agency. Their romance is awkward and kinda uncomfortable to watch between the rudeness and the complete lack of consent.

The quippy sidekick is enjoyable and Sean Bean does a great job playing an intelligent villain.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is forgettable and heavy with history lessons that aren’t believable even if they are real. It doesn’t make me want to go find out more like the Doctor Who historical episodes always do.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

There are some beautiful scenes and the music is just memorable enough to remember. Both could have been much better but were acceptable. The framing was a little obvious and the music was a little too much on the nose for my taste.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I loved this movie when it came out. It has not aged well for me. It’s okay if you turn off your brain but there are some things in it that make my mystery/puzzle solving mind very angry. Masons specialized in stone… why did they build their treasure trove entrance in wood? Time of day for a shadow is meaningless without time of the year.

The heist was fun and there were a few moments I enjoyed but mostly I wished I was watching a better movie or one that didn’t take itself so seriously.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This movies isn’t terrible but it’s not good. I’m going to happily not watch it again unless I have to. If you want to watch something in the genre watch an Ocean’s movie, Indiana Jones, The Librarian, or maybe a Bond film.

Final Score: 1.5 Stars

Frozen II – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 movie Frozen II.

*This was my second favourite movie of 2019*

Story

This movie balances multiple story lines, deals with serious subjects, and manages to inject hope and humour.

The script is tight, there isn’t a lost word, scene, or moment. Everything is set up from the beginning without being so obvious as to ruin the reveals.

At it’s base it’s a standard hero’s journey with a JRPG style collecting element. That’s more of the structure, the actual story is about love, change, and how we handle difficult times.

There was just enough complexity to make it re-watchable and simple enough to keep all ages interested. Everything has multiple purposes in the story and it’s beautiful to see.

Score: 1

Characters

There are very few characters for such an epic story. Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and Kristoff/Sven each get a character arc that is both transformative and satisfying.

There’s a bit where Olaf recaps the first movie (As if we haven’t all seen it a million times) and it’s not about Olaf and the recap. It’s a shortcut to introduce us to the newest characters of Mattias and Yelena. It perfectly shows who they are and makes the audience love them, while breaking up the action, recaping, and making us laugh.

Elsa’s continued discovery of who she is flows well from the first movie and has great parallels for those of us who are different from the norm.

Anna’s struggle through trauma and depression not only make a great story they also give children a guide for how to deal with depression and horrible events.

Kristoff deals with his feelings of insecurity. Not about his love or himself, but about how she feels about him.

Olaf deals with growing up and the fear that not knowing brings.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The songs have some extremely powerful lines but the dialogue doesn’t slouch at being insightful and poignant. “I’m sorry Anna. You’re gonna have to do the next part on your own. Ok?” breaks me every time. Same with, “My love isn’t fragile.”

Of late I’ve seriously been feeling Olaf in this movie, especially the line, “We’re calling this ‘controlling what you can when things feel out of control'”.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The autumn aesthetic is stunning. The colours are vibrant and the animation is absolutely beautiful. I’m not an animation expert but the details in this were astounding.

Musically it was great. The songs are a staple of our house already. They are beautiful on their own but also move the narrative, foreshadow, and expand the story.

The score on it’s own is epic and is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings or the better superhero scores.

Score: 1

Fun

This was a beautiful movie both visually and as a story. It tries and succeeds to tackle serious subjects while breaking them down for younger audiences.

Most of all it’s hopeful, catchy, and fun.

Score: 1

Overall

If you’d asked me whether I thought a 2 hour movie could handle talking about growing up, depression, colonialism, and self-discovery, while having a positive message about love being a strong and stable element to life; I’d have said… Maybe but better to do it in a book. It’s staggering that they managed to do it in a movie and made it accessible to all ages.

With the use of short forms, animation, and musical elements they managed to do it all.

Final Score: 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.

Teen Beach 2 – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 Disney Channel movie Teen Beach 2

I reviewed the first one and gave it a 3.5

Story

While the first movie pretty much wrote the most basic story and used it as a love letter to musicals, this one decides to amp up the drama and show what happens after the endless summer.

This movie is the embarrassed child of the first one. It is ashamed of where it came from but can’t seem to forget it. The plot is basic teen angst until a third of the way in, then it shifts into fish out of water, then it sort of gets lost and forgets where it was going.

At the end, it really doesn’t matter, because through magic, the entire movie and it’s predecessor are wiped from existence.

It does however attempt to have a self-empowerment storyline and spends a lot of time talking about being yourself and accepting others even if they are different. It’s a positive message that I can get behind.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are different. They don’t act or feel all that much like they did in the first one. They almost feel like caricatures of the originals, which were caricatures to start with.

Nothing is explicitly cancelled out, but liberties were taken with personalities and actions.

Again, it really doesn’t matter because they aren’t the same people at the end of the movie.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue is updated for modern times and loses the cheese that made the first a lot of fun.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The movie was pretty, the people were pretty, the clothes were pretty. I found that the contrast between worlds was lost and I missed the glossy Gidget-style look.

The music was adorable and the dances were great. This movie is only redeemed in it’s music.

Score: 1

Fun

I’m really sour about the ending and it kind of ruined the rest of the movie for me. I hate it when time travel etc re-writes the characters that we spent 3 hours getting to know. I feel cheated.

Score: 0.5 (Only because I loved the songs)

Overall

This movie isn’t hateful, but it isn’t particularly good. I’ll watch the dances on youtube instead of rewatching the movie.

If you loved the first one, be prepared to be disappointed. However, it’s not something I have to worry about showing my kids.

Final Score: 2 Stars

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Story

This isn’t the story of Mister Rogers. It’s a story where he’s a force of nature and personality, making him feel surreal and almost prophet-like.

The actual story is a basic workaholic writer with daddy issues. It’s the kind of thing that makes English majors roll their eyes and critics salivate.

That being said, the parts with Mister Rogers were expertly done. He’s part guru, part prophet, and part therapist.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters aren’t boring, but they are overall cliché. The story was paced to keep me watching but I couldn’t care less about the characters.

However again Mister Rogers and his wife were fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This movie was way quippier than you’d expect or than it had any right to be. From jokes about the sister’s third wedding, to quotes from Mister Rogers, to dialogue between the characters.

While the characters were pretty boring, the dialogue was authentic and interesting.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were interesting. I liked that the cuts were versions of models like in the Mister Rogers show. I liked that they switched to full screen for the fake clips of the show. I even enjoyed the fever dreams of the main character. But at some point the movie crossed into the WTF just happened and then stopped doing anything. The last 15-20 minutes the cuts become real etc. It’s jarring and ignoring some trite, “it represented the character becoming more intune with his real life once he accepted his father and emotions”, it wasn’t well done.

The music was mostly forgetful or taken directly from the Mister Rogers show. There was a great piano duel between Mister and Mrs. Rogers.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I didn’t like it. But I did like parts of it. The surreal aspects and quippy dialogue. The saintly Mister Rogers reminded me of a great Doctor Who quote: “Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”

Score: 0.5

Overall

Tom Hanks is spectacular, the dialogue is great, and the nostalgia is fun but beyond that it’s a typical white male 30 something writer’s story.

If you replaced Mister Rogers with Jesus or some other saint like figure you’d get the same story but with less people caring.

Final Score: 3.0