The Holiday – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 film The Holiday.

Story

The movie is easy to brush off as another rom-com holiday movie, but it has some surprising depth to it’s story and insights on love. The parallel structure both between the stories and between each pair of lovers is amazing.

Score: 1

Characters

Despite some exaggerated characteristics, the characters are well grounded and relatable. Each actor is at their best and it shows that the characters and roles were written for these specific actors. I still think it would be nice to see Jack Black in more romance roles.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a wonderful balance between mid-aughts slang, romance tropes, and dialogue inspired by classic films. It gives the film a historic and timeless feel.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Between this viewing and the last we upgraded from a DVD to a Blu-ray and upgraded our TV to 4K. The jump in colour and depth was amazing. This movie looked foggy and grey before and now looks vibrant and sharp.

With the upgraded tech, I can see the impressive camera work and hear the music better. The music goes the extra mile to give each character a theme and even make it so that they are played at a different tempo and key depending on the situation. Example, when they’re having a hard time, things go minor. Another cool trick is the melding of the romantic lead’s themes when they’re being romantic.

Score: 1

Fun

I always expect to find this movie long or get annoyed with the plot, but I don’t. It’s a story that makes me sad and happy and leaves me feeling satisfied. It’s just enjoyable.

The kids, however, got bored. It’s a little more talky and emotional than they fully grasp right now.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie plays on the actors’ strengths and develops believable and lovable characters. It’s got just enough of a classic movie feel combined with a good romance to make it unique and fun to watch.

Definitely a feel-good movie with lots of depth.

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.

Red Notice – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Red Notice.

Story

Action packed from start to finish with lots of twists and turns. The story itself is pretty straight forward action/heist. Some of the writing was silly and a lot of the plot points that are supposed to make us think the characters are smart, are ludicrous. It had me saying, “That’s not how that works,” more times than it should have.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters aren’t deep; they’re basically thin backstories for the three main actors to play into their strengths. It works mostly, but there is more chemistry between the Rock and Reynolds than the Rock and Godot.

The secondary characters are cardboard cutouts with the exception of Chris Diamantopoulos as Sotto Voce who hams it up beautifully.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There are a few self aware and hilarious lines. Nothing super exciting, but the dialogue is fun.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals are competent and I’m glad they didn’t add a colour filter on the whole thing, but there was a lack of cohesion in the different settings on a colour level. The actors were pretty though.

The music was completely forgettable, but that just means it did it’s job.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Every action movie needs the rest points where we start to care about the characters. This didn’t have any because we were expected to care about the actors. Unfortunately, those scenes are also about letting the audience rest and relate.

Both my the two and five year old got a little bored and the rest of us, although enjoying it, spent a lot more time picking it apart than normal.

Score: 1

Overall

What you see is exactly what you get with this movie. It’s action packed with lots of personality and more than its fair share of quips. The actors play exactly what you expect. This is a fun movie, but it’s not deep.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5

Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.

Story

The story felt very familiar yet different. It was a wonderful melding of hero’s quest, Chinese action movie, and Marvel origin story. They took a story that could have been grim and turned it into something hopeful and I appreciate that.

Score: 1

Characters

The main character was a little brooding and very quip-y, which I like. I enjoyed the friend who tags along getting their own story arc. The villain was nuanced and interesting.

I think overall the entire cast was fantastic and I wish we could have had more time with them.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Two very well placed, “Oh Shit” moments and lots of excellent banter. The narration and storytelling leaned into the epic LOTR / Crouching Tiger style while the in world dialogue was pure Marvel sass.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The fight scenes were beautifully done, filmed in a more traditional style with pans and freezes that I personally prefer over the jump cuts and shaky cam.

The special effects were perfect and the amount of personality in the dragon, Cthulhu stand-in, and temple guardians was absolutely spectacular.

The music was a little muddled at times, having trouble choosing between brassy Marvel, and strings with Asian influences. I appreciate the more modern music as a counterpoint though.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Exciting and interesting throughout. It hits all my favourite beats for epic fantasy and superhero movies. My 5 year old was riveted the whole way and my 2 year old loved the fights, but got bored at the story parts.

I look forward to re-watching.

Score: 1

Overall

This is the Marvel formula done properly with a hint of classic kung-fu movies. The cast and storytelling is amazing. It has some of the most spectacular creatures and fight scenes in Marvel and I can’t wait to see more of this cast.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Halloweentown – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film Halloweentown.

Story

This is a timeless Halloween fable about a kid who loves spooky things and turns out it was because they were spooky too. Every kid who loves Halloween and all the stuff around it wishes they were Marnie.

The villain reveal surprised me the first time I saw it as an innocent twenty something and overall the movie flows really well. There is a little awkwardness in the love interest, but overall it’s a solid offering.

Score: 1

Characters

I love all the kids. They each work so well in their roles as underappreciated kid, sceptic, and spooky girl.

The grandmother is fantastic and pulls the film together extremely well.

The villain is hammy and over the top in the best way.

The mother, however, is quite possibly the most frustrating character possible. I can’t stand her.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

“Someone’s coming.” is up there with “They’re here.” for creepy lines and I love it. Overall, the dialogue is solid, if a little young. Not quite as memorable as other Disney TV movies.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects are cheap but endearing; the camera work is excellent though.

The music is okay, but could be better.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie is a family favourite. My son and daughter love it.

I didn’t see it until almost a decade after it came out and I’m sad I didn’t have the chance to experience it as a young teen. It’s an easy movie to watch and inspires wonder.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a fabulous movie for all those spooky kids that wish they were magical. The acting is solid and the story surprising. Definitely worthy of it’s place as a yearly family tradition. Kids will love it and parents will too, if they have any love of magic.

Final Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Young Frankenstein – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1974 film Young Frankenstein.

Story

Shockingly close to the actual novel, possibly with more quotes from it than most movie adaptations. The story was pretty much a remake of the novel with a lot of Mel Brooks spin. It toes the line from serious to absurd and I personally wish it went further into the absurd.

Story: 0.5

Characters

Then entire cast was having a lot of fun and you can tell. They often over do it in the most delightful way, but at times the jokes fall flatter than I’d like.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Oscillating between dick jokes and monologues about beauty that could be pulled from the novel, the dialogue was all over the place and I mean that in the best way. The contrast is what adds an extra level to the humour.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The filming style is a perfect match for the old monster movies, which was a little discordant when I saw the background actors with seventies hair styles.

The music was like the dialogue, all over the place. Not sure it worked as well though.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I have a feeling that I could watch this movie yearly and enjoy it on my own. However, it is a very slow-paced and very talky movie sometimes to a self-indulgent level. The kids were bored, but I expected that.

Score: 0.5

Overall

There are glimmers of genius in the comedy of the movie, but it tries too hard to be too many things. Personally, I prefer Brooks when his movies are more absurd and frantic.

Final Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1948 film Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Story

The story was definitely driven by the scenes they wanted to include in the movie. It was well set up and simple. Some of the build-up was slow and there were some awkward jokes, but overall pretty solid.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I’m not a big fan of Abbott, I find him bland, rude, and insulting. I know he’s the straight man, but I always end up feeling bad for Costello.

Costello’s physical comedy is spectacular.

The monster actors were fantastic and Glenn Strange is a great Frankenstein’s Monster. Although, I would have liked to see Karloff. Awesome mini cameo from Vincent Price at the end.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The wordplay is fantastic and the sound mixing is impressive.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The filming techniques were solid and I liked the cartoon transformation for Dracula.

The music was okay; a strange mixture of comedy and horror that could have been more exaggerated.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie is a classic for a reason, it’s funny and it’s a lot of fun. It is, however, much slower paced than I would have liked, and a few of the jokes seemed overdone.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Fun and exciting, a real treat for those that love older horror movies, but it does drag at times and isn’t one of my favourites. It’s worth a watch just for the fantastic faces that Costello makes.

My two year old’s review is, “Scary” followed by a shrug.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Muppets Haunted Mansion – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 special Muppets Haunted Mansion.

Story

This was a love story to the beloved ride. The story is a bare bones outline of the ride with some touching moments in between.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main characters are Gonzo and Pepe. I find Pepe extremely annoying, I’ve never been a fan of the womanizing characters. I understand why they used him for this story, though.

Gonzo goes through a good story arc and speaks to older fans and younger ones as well.

The rest of the muppets have nice cameos.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

It was everything a good muppets movie should be. It had music, puns, and lots of jokes. I especially liked the shameless use of quotes from the ride.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It was a very well shot and designed film. The background details are designed for that cross-section of Haunted Mansion fans and Muppet fans. Down to muppet-a-fying the wallpaper.

The music is a lot of fun and I wish there had been more. I liked the spooky muppet show opening song version at the end.

Score: 1

Fun

Be warned that although this isn’t scary, it does have a lot of jump scares. The kids liked it, although the five year old found it too scary due to the jump scares.

It was nice and nostalgic for those of us that grew up with the muppets show and movies.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a wonderful mix of classic Muppet humour and nostalgia for the Haunted Mansion ride. The littles might dislike the jump scares, but overall it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5.

Free Guy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Free Guy.

Story

The story was deceptively simple but had lots of layers. It had a surprisingly upbeat message considering how the majority of humans are truly awful in the movie. I like the melding of a classic hero’s narrative with shades of fairy tales, otherworld stories, and a shade of 80’s techno thriller.

Score: 1

Characters

It would have been much too simple to make the characters stereotypes. The movie avoids that with everyone except the main villain who is geniusly played.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is witty and wonderfully steeped in video game and online culture without being so dense as to be unintelligible to people who don’t play.

It has some ridiculously silly lines that wouldn’t work without the expert delivery of the actors.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie has so much going on in the background that it is impossible to catch everything in one viewing. I was impressed how this never distracted from the plot or the character development. It was also stunningly done with a beautiful mix of traditional and modern special effects. Special shoutout to them filming the real world and the game world with different camera lenses. Combined with the extra saturation in the game, it added a nice touch of separation.

If you’re a music nerd and a Disney fan, you’ll maybe have noticed that Guy’s theme is the same as the protagonist’s from the short film Paperman. The short’s music was written by the same composer and the short premiered before Wreck-It Ralph, another videogame movie.

Score: 1

Fun

My two year old sat through most of it, but got bored near the end. He spent the next day saying, “Free Guy Awesome.” My five year old spent the entire movie glued to the screen. My father-in-law was a little confused by some things since he’s never been into video games.

I had a lot of fun with this and found myself completely engrossed. It’s a rare movie that has me so sucked in that I feel disoriented when I get out of it.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is exciting, heartwarming, and lots of fun. The blending of meta narrative with action adventure, Truman Show, and a little Sleeping Beauty makes for a fascinating story. All of which would be terrible without the amazing performances of the actors.

I highly recommend this one.

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.

Barbie: Spy Squad – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 film Barbie: Spy Squad.

Story

Definitely geared towards younger audiences, it’s a solid intro into the secret agent / spy genre. The twist was predictable for me, but I’ve seen a lot of these.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main three characters are the usual super awesome Barbie and friends. They fit into the basic spy stereotypes very well. The techie computer guy felt really relatable and the over-the-top spy aunt was pretty funny.

The villain felt a little meh and the heel-face turn was abrupt and could have used more set up.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue oscillates between cutesy and inane. There are a few funny jokes and the overall message is good.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals are standard Barbie movie with lots of cute spy and action bonuses. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible.

The music is catchy… too catchy. They have 1 song and they use it A LOT!

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed this the first time I watched it. It has constantly been on of my daughters favourite movies since she could ask for it. She used to say she was going on missions with her spy girls and then do a bunch of flips.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the best Barbie movies available with a strong message and catchy music. It’s a great intro into spy and action movies without the gratuitous violence. It’s fun and one of my daughter’s favourite movies.

Score: 3 stars out of 5

Atlantis: The Lost Empire – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 film Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Story

A wonderful mix of steampunk, action adventure, and archaeology. It avoids a lot of racist tropes and narrowly avoids the white Saviour narrative. It’s fun and funny and quite deep for a kids movie.

There’s a plot point that really bothers me. The fact that they lost the ability to read. There are fan theories that the mother mindwiped the survivors or that the king banned reading.

At first I thought it might be a situation where only royalty could read, but if they had basic instructions on the flying fish then they were there for anyone who who owned a crystal.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I’m not a fan of the sexy native who wears less than everyone else for no reason trope. Kida is a fun character however and she manages to surpass the tropes.

Milo is a typical early 2000’s geek with no real life skills other than that one boiler trick. He makes me think of Flynn Carson in the early Librarian movies or Daniel Jackson from SG1.

The rest of the crew is interesting and well fleshed out for such a large cast in a short movie.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is utter genius and others are so bad. I loath the line where Milo asks Kida her name and she says, “Kidagakash” and the linguist who just deciphered a dead language which he managed to speak to natives so that they understood him looks flustered and asks her for a nickname. ARG! He should have been dissecting the meaning, not acting like an idiot.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The animation in this film hold up ridiculously well. The 3D is so well used that I barely noticed and the way they integrated the colours and lighting make it feel seamless. There’s a grandiose feel to the world.

The music is epic and fantastic.

Score: 1

Fun

Despite it’s flaws, it’s a lot of fun to watch. The kids loved it and there was a lot of gasping.

Score: 1

Overall

Fun action adventure with shades of Jules Verne, Indiana Jones, and Stargate. It’s fun, exciting, and has some interesting commentary on the morality of archaeology. It has a few annoying flaws, but it’s a joy to watch.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5