Charlie’s Angels (2000) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2000 film Charlie’s Angels.

Story

The story relies on the speed of changing scenes and action to distract the viewer from the absurdity. I love silly movies and I remember loving this one and thinking it was super clever. It’s not. It’s obvious and derivative with no idea how technology, romance, or combat works.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters are sacrificed to the alter of plot convenience and need for action. The love stories are shallow and uncompleted. Then then there’s the rampant racism (seen through black/brown face, yellow face) transphobic dialogue, and for a movie that is supposed to be about female empowerment, it doesn’t hesitate to slutshame and use it’s main characters.

Score: 0

Dialogue

This movie revels in it’s own cheese and then doubles down. It also take it to a level that makes no sense. The dialogue is terrible and only the caliber of the actors manages to make it palatable.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The action is passable and the special effects are good if convoluted. The scenery is lovely and the women have lovely if completely impractical clothing.

The music is a lot of fun, if a little heavy on the angel references.

Score: 1

Fun

There are some really fun action scenes, but overall the movie made me very upset. Did they really not know how a server works? The music was good.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie aimed at men, with the man’s gaze, that pretends to be about “strong women”. It is awkwardly racist, transphobic, and sexist. The action and awesome actors doesn’t make up for the lack of depth or plot.

Final Score: 1.5 stars out of 5

Aurora Award Nominations

Hello,

Last week I posted about How I Taught My Dragon for your Aurora Nominations.

Here are all the other products that JenEric Designs has worked on that are eligible for Aurora nominations.

Thank you in advance and good nominating.


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 18th.

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.


Thank you!

Éric

A Week Away – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film A Week Away.

Story

I’m sure someone thought the name of the camp was a clever joke, but in 2021 we should be beyond to the inherent racism of mocking native languages.

This is a camp movie musical first and a christian movie second, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t all over the place. They at least have the grace to use it for some jokes.

The basic story is as cliched as possible and adds nothing new to the musical, romance, or teen genres. That being said, the movie is obviously paying respect to many of the previous movies that it takes inspiration.

The overall story is mildly pedantic, but overall heartwarming.

Score: 0

Characters

The movie has all the traditional characters from movies in the past; the awkward geek who’s in love, the Troy Bolton bad boy with a heart of gold, and the good Christian girl.

It would have been easy to make these characters bad copies, but instead, through the writing and acting, they made them likeable. The main girl is hyper competitive and still dealing with the death of her mom, the geek is funny and a good musician. The bad guy admits his faults and actually apologizes.

I greatly appreciate that the movie spent time building the brotherly relationship between the two main men.

The lack of Queer characters was glaring and awkward.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Clever quotes and quippy dialogue with lots of double meanings made me happy. There’s a few cringe dialogue moments, but most of it is well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were unique. They used a lot of surreal shots that are reminiscent of music videos. I liked it, but it felt jarring when it wasn’t at the beginning of a song.

The movie also used a lot of scenes from movies both in the genre and not (the Mr. and Mrs. Smith scene was a lot of fun.)

The music was okay, I liked it while it was on, but it didn’t make me dash out to buy the soundtrack. I’m particularly annoyed at the use of autotune for a campfire song. (Mostly, the music made me want to rewatch Julie and the Phantoms.)

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a fun movie, but as a queer man with lots of queer friends, I had trouble settling into the fun of it. The complete lack of any form of queer character made me uncomfortable.

It did remind me of some great memories from high school franco camps and I greatly appreciate the lack of massive angst.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie has great respect for other films and treats us to some great non-romance relationships as a bonus, but the casual racism towards native people and lack of queer characters make it hard to believe in 2021.

That being said, it’s a warm and fuzzy camp musical with a talented young cast.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Moxie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Moxie.

Story

The movie walks the line between heartwarming coming of age and showing the real horrors of sexism and racism. In the end it firmly settles on heartwarming coming of age.

It took me much too long to realize what the movie was going for and I kept waiting for the metaphorical axe to fall. I was expecting expulsion, but instead I got successful social action, and the drama came from the angry teen.

Beyond my expectations being skewed, the movie abandoned some threads and didn’t give enough room to some of the characters. Even after adjusting my expectations, it felt too clean and sanatized.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is a quiet girl whose whole goal in high school is to fly under the radar. When she gets exposed to some severe racism and sexism, she goes from shy wallflower to passionate SJW.

Everything in the movie is seen through her lens, which is a great way to introduce white people, especially young girls, to these issues. However, because of that, there are characters introduced that have no story or very little.

In order to make the movie end on a happy note, the “villains” had to be comical and a mixture of inept and lazy.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is designed to make everyone understand the main topics and hint at some of the others. The dialogue is very cleverly written, being both authentic and educational.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Just like the dialogue, the cinematography is very cleverly done to both illustrate and emphasize the different issues.

The music is well picked and does a great job to enhance the story.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie stressed me out; I kept expecting something predictable and horrible to happen. It didn’t happen, but it did affect my enjoyment. I think a second viewing would be easier.

That being said the romance was cute and the high points were satisfying.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A great introduction to social issues that a lot of privileged people don’t know or want to think about. The issues are wrapped in a predictable coming of age story and shown through the lens of a partially oblivious white girl.

It’s a fun high school romp with a great set of messages, but it’s an overly optimistic and shallow introduction to social issues.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Finding ‘Ohana

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 Finding ‘Ohana.

Story

This is the way to pay homage and still make something original at the same time. Obviously influenced and lovingly made in the style of 80’s summer adventures.

I loved the respect they had for culture and family.

Score: 1

Characters

The brother sister relationship was both annoying and heartwarming (just like real family), the romance was a little over the top but cute, the mother-grandfather relationship was amazing. Basically, this movie is all about family and family relationships and it’s done wonderfully.

Score: 1

Dialogue

A great combination between campy, 80’s, and heartwarming. The dialogue was fun funny, and had enough references to old movies to make me smile.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The locations were utterly gorgeous, but that’s to be expected of Hawaii in movies. The caves, shot in Thailand, were well staged and fun.

The music wasn’t particularly great, but it did what it needed to do.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was filled with heart and adventure. The whole family loved it. Even the slower scenes had everyone glued to the screen.

Overall

A fun 80’s style adventure with lots of heart. It’s exciting and fun with lots of respect for culture. A near perfect family movie.

Score: 5 Stars out of 5

Raya and the Last Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Raya and the Last Dragon.

Story

The story was a nice combination of fetch quest, found family, and post apocalypse. The message was nice and I like the way they ended it. I feel like there was something missing, but that could just be my love for the Moana twist and complexity of Frozen II.

Score: 1

Characters

Raya and Namaari had really nice character arcs, but the others felt like they were there for merch or to fill space. I know it’s only a single movie but I would have liked more development for the other characters. That said, what they did have was fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The movie was an epic fantasy with elements of westerns and post apocalypse. The dialogue was so modern as to be jarring to start with. I’m not sure why it hit me harder than Emperor’s New Groove, Aladdin or Frozen’s but it felt very new lingo filled (it could also be that I’m getting old). It just really felt out of place.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Wow. This movie is spectacularly beautiful, the animation is unparalleled. I wanted to rewind just to watch a character walk through a puddle.

The music was wonderfully evocative. It captured the setting and the cultures while still being Disney. I did miss the musical aspects of some of the previous movies, but it wouldn’t have fit.

Score: 1

Fun

The worldbuilding was beautiful and the strong but traumatized hero was a wonderful change. The whole family was riveted and it was absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed the whole thing and look forward to rewatching it.

Score: 1

Overall

A spectacular fantasy movie that deviates enough from Disney that hardcore Princess fans will be upset while not deviating enough to make disney critics like it. Taken on it’s own without it’s studio’s baggage, it is absolutely stunning and a wonderful watch.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Upside-Down Magic – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Upside-Down Magic.

Story

It’s probably not fair of me, but after Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, I wasn’t too hopeful for this one.

Boy was I surprised. It has the feel and tone of good YA, while also poking subtle fun at the genre’s recent prevalent tropes. The story doesn’t get bogged down by any of the usual annoyances, and despite a pretty predictable plot, it’s a lot of fun with some decent worldbuilding.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There are many tropes and archetypes in YA. This movie takes the most prevalent ones of the insecure super-powerful main character and the quirky super-positive sidekick and switches them places, leaving us with an extremely interesting main character that doesn’t mope. It’s nice.

The rest of the cast are a little underdeveloped, but diverse and entertaining.

I also have to talk about the grumpy teacher turns out to be a softy trope. It’s really one of my favourites and works extremely well here.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is young, but not condescending. It has some pretty smart moments and great banter. There are also more than a few lines that are so generic that they could be part of a YA magic school generator.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals are really well done. The special effects budget was obviously not big, but they used it efficiently. I enjoyed the use of camera angles and colours to guide the viewer.

The music did what it needed and, other than the little singing in the movie, was not extremely noticeable.

Score: 1

Fun

For my four year old this was amazing, for the toddler he was glued to the screen. For me it had enough fresh material and awesome characters. It never really dragged and had a nice little twist. The movie made me want more and add the books to my TBR pile.

Score: 1

Overall

A thoroughly charming, self aware, and fun young adult magic school adventure. The characters, world, and magic are great. Refreshing not have a forced love story and reinforcing the strength of friendship. I look forward to reading the books.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Monster Trucks – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 film Monster Trucks.

Story

This felt like a trippy 80’s plotline, however it was much more coherent and actually had some good messages. It’s scientifically ridiculous, but a great parable. I appreciate that they didn’t go into wish fulfilment with the father storyline. I also liked the emotional twist with the stepdad.

Score: 0.5

Character

The main female lead is smart and capable, the male lead isn’t an idiot, the majority of the other characters feel pretty well fleshed out. They’re all a little cartoony, but acted in a believable way.

There’s a huge lack of diversity and I’m not very comfortable with the “Wise Mentor” trope being a black disabled person.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The movie is worth it just for the dialogue and the way the actors deliver it. Jane Levy and Lucas Till are brilliant as are the rest of the cast.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

To balance off the heavy use of special effects, the film makers gave us beautiful nature shots and vistas. Every shot is thought out in advance and works really well.

The music is used perfectly, as a movie where the monster isn’t supposed to be scary, the use of music makes all the difference in the early scenes. Had they used more dramatic music it would have been terrifying, had they used lighter it would have been ridiculous.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was designed to be fun and slip in some environmental and emotional messages. It succeeds and has more than one awesome moment. Both kids were glued to the screen and my wife and I laughed a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is much better than it has any right to be considering the premise. It’s an exciting and wholesome movie with great comedic moments and awesome action sequences. The moral and environmental questions are subtle, but present and the movie values intelligent characters. Plus the monsters are really cute.

Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Gnome-Mobile – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1967 movie The Gnome-Mobile.

Story

I was completely invested until about twenty minutes in when it changed from a gnome-mobile road trip movie to a horror of mental institutes. The idea that a lone psychiatrist, in a for-profit institute, interviewing someone who thinks they’re talking to a private eye, without legal counsel or family involved, can strip someone of all their rights… it’s creepy and terrifying.

Then the movie turned into some sort of little people orgy fantasy that was heavy on the misogyny.

Score: 0

Character

Not much character development or character in general. The actors however acted the heck out of very poorly defined characters. Each role was done extremely well, even though the characters were pretty bland.

The problem with having two kids in a movie is that you risk them becoming one character. That’s what happened here. Had there been only one kid, we’d have almost the exact same story.

Don’t get me started on the misogyny of the gnome-maiden that was the most desireable was the demure and shy one while the strong, competitive ones were painted as mean.

Score: 0

Dialogue

There were a lot of words and yelling, but overall it was the little jokes and quips that made it worth watching. Between long, boring yelling sections, you got parts with genuine humour.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is extremely impressive for it’s time. The special effects used and the camera work was excellent. Add to that the car chase and it’s really impressive.

Something else that has to be added is the backgrounds. To fill in the backgrounds to make it look like they were actually in a forest and not the backlot, they had elaborate paintings. These were not noticable if you weren’t looking, but they were absolutely gorgeous.

The music was catchy and cute.

Score: 1

Fun

I have to admit it was fun. Both kids and the rest of the family enjoyed it. I had issues with the predictability and mental health aspects and the rampant misogyny which took away the fun for me.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie where the special effects, dialogue, and acting are far better than the story deserves. It’s awkward, creepy, and frustrating.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

The Sleepover – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Sleepover.

Story

The main plot seemed to be that the kids needed to save their parents… except they didn’t need to nor did they save them.

Someone took a bad “I’m a secret spy” movie and mushed it with a decent Adventures in Babysitting ripoff.

There’s nothing I dislike more than having competent kids end up being useless.

Chekhov would be very disappointed in the laser pen and alarm underwear.

Score: 0

Characters

There were two characters out of 7 that actually got a story arc and growth. The rest were just there to prop up the plot and make jokes. Mim started out as an amazing and fun character but had to be toned down to make the main girl look more awesome. The dad was goofy and fun and then he became a complete idiot.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue wasn’t bad. A lot of over acting, but that was a bonus in this genre. It wasn’t particularly great but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie was stylish and had some impressive action scenes. It also had a significant amount of vomit which loses it points in my book.

The music was good and had a small moment of great, but overall was derivative.

Score: 0.5

Fun

There were times I enjoyed the movie, but the complete lack of agency in the kids at the end and the vomit scene really took my enjoyment away.

Score: 0

Overall

This movie wanted real hard to be a spy movie and then forgot to do anything like a spy movie. The excellent actors were underused, characters were changed for plot, and the awkward bodily humour wasn’t much fun.

Final Score: 1 star out of 5