Venom – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film Venom.

Story

I was surprised at how predictable the movie was. It felt like an older 2000’s or even 1990’s superhero movie. Overall, it was less than I expected but I did appreciate the humour and transparent stand-in for a few real life billionaires.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The actors were significantly too good for these roles as written and it made them look bad. The script was ham and the actors played into it; some in a good way and others not so much.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The banter between Venom and Eddie is a lot of fun, but the majority of the plot dialogue is boring and trite. The love story was disinteresting and even the considerable skills of Michelle Williams didn’t save her from being a cliché.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were okay but not amazing. The fight scenes, especially the bike chase, were impressive.

The music was okay and did was it was supposed to do, but wasn’t memorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I watched this one on my own and I think that was for the best. The kids wouldn’t have liked it and my wife would have gotten annoyed.

It was entertaining, but not enough to make me not want to look at my phone.

Score: 0.5

Overall

It’s a semi-competent superhero origin story. It spent too much of its runtime on a derivative plot when it should have concentrated on the Odd-Couple style shenanigans of Venom and Eddie.

Final Score: 2.5 stars out of 5

Ron’s Gone Wrong – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Ron’s Gone Wrong.

Story

Ignoring the fact that technology just doesn’t work like the movie portrays, there’s a lot about the movie that really bothers me. The basic premise is cool, but the world building went from ridiculously accurate to completely unbelievable really quickly.

The idea of spontaneously developing artificial intelligence has been done before. The movie doesn’t even acknowledge that it happens, going for a weird commentary on social media instead.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The tech CEO and his partner felt underplayed while the family, kids, cops, were all overdone. The main character doesn’t learn to embrace and love his culture and family so much as tolerate and use them. The kids are all shown as having social media addictions and the cure wasn’t logical.

Old east-block grandma that is completely unhinged was a character type that was overplayed in the 80’s; now it just comes off as anti-immigrant.

Ron was funny but obviously dangerous, and that was never addressed.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue was clever and had a lot of references to older movies in the same genre. I liked the literalness of Ron and how they showed him grow in understanding language.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was a well animated movie with some great concepts. Bubble was well designed and unique and the colourfulness of the B-bots was awesome.

The score was so much more epic than expected and really helped punch up the emotion.

Score: 1

Fun

I just couldn’t help wondering where all the adult’s B-bots were. I don’t care if they were made for kids, we all know people would buy some for themselves. People who truly have trouble making friends are the 30+ crowd, not kids.

My daughter and son both got bored part way through.

Beyond that, the movie was entertaining, but left me uncomfortable at the lack of comeuppance for the tech company’s misdeeds, the release of a rogue AI, and the deflection of serious social media issues.

I don’t think this will be a rewatching kind of movie.

Score: 0

Overall

The movie tries really hard to go beyond slapstick comedy and doesn’t succeed. It’s a fun movie if you don’t think about it, but it misses the mark on serious issues and ethics. The conclusion felt trite and horrifying instead of heartwarming. However, there are quite a few good gags and jokes along the way.

Final Score: 2.5 stars out of 5

Black Widow – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Black Widow.

Story

I was hoping for a story about how amazing Natasha was; instead we got a story that felt like it really needed to knock her down a peg in every fight.

This wasn’t a story about Natasha as Black Widow, it was a convoluted mess of a set up for Yelena to become Black Widow.

Other than being a backstory for a character we don’t know, there are some odd choices. The movie doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be a spy thriller or a superhero movie.

Story: 0

Character

Natasha was not quite as badly written as she was in previous movies, but that isn’t a high bar. The rest of the cast was fantastic and a little cheesy. Yelena was a great character with a lot of fun moments.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I liked how the characters interacted and the little jabs at the ridiculous dialogue of past movies. The banter was realistic and funny.

This movie has a significant amount of good lines, shade, and throwbacks.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was well filmed, but had a lot of shaking and cutting for my taste. The franticness of the camera often tried to make up for the lack of urgency in the action scenes. Each action scene followed the same script and it got a little boring by the end.

The scenery was wonderful.

The music was okay, but the Black Widow theme was repetitive, loud, and annoying.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie felt like it wanted to be a six part series. There were a lot of decisions that I didn’t like and I felt that Black Widow was again treated like a set piece and punching bag.

My daughter found it a little too violent and scary; my son got bored.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This movie should have been better, putting Black Widow into her spy element, but instead it forgot she was a spy and tried to turn her into an action star without any real triumph. In the end it’s an interesting introduction to the future Black Widow, but not a proper send off for the MCU’s worst treated and written character.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 film Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.

Story

Interesting, if overdone, idea of using time travel and magic to alter what originally happened in the first movie. It’s endearing for nostalgia and because the prince, still unnamed, is the nicest person alive.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters are all played by different actors than the original and they do a wonderful job. The king gets a little more character development, as do the stepsisters.

The prince again is absolutely the nicest person and really rolls with the ridiculousness of the plot.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is quite clever and some was intentionally funny. Overall, it wasn’t great.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The art was pretty, especially when it borrowed from the original, but not the best quality for Disney. They definitely took some shortcuts and it shows that this was straight to video release.

The music is pretty good and really takes inspiration from the original.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The first time I saw the movie I liked it, the second it was okay. It doesn’t have the narrative or humour levels that many Disney movies have that make it re-watchable. It’s better than the second one, but no where near the original.

All that said, it is watchable.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a cute straight to video Disney sequel that is fun to watch but utterly forgettable.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Jungle Beat: The Movie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Jungle Beat: The Movie.

Story

The humour was uneven and the story really predictable, but the subtext of anti-colonialism was entertaining. They had a few moments of great consent and then had to go and ruin it. The entire ending being built on forced hugs, “because they really want it,” is super creepy.

Score: 0

Characters

The animals are sweet and extremely supportive. Great examples for kids. The alien is cute and wants to do the right thing. Overall a very positive group of characters.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is all over the place, from deep to dumb, from funny to ridiculous. It has some seriously awesome lines and some really tedious sections.

Score: 0.5

Music and Visuals

Both the visuals and the music are uneven. Some is great, some not so much.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The adults laughed, the four year old was distracted and the two year old was bored. I’m not sure how that works, but apparently preschoolers aren’t big fans. (Not sure you should judge by my kids since they’ll sit still for Top Chef Canada and Leverage.)

My biggest issue was the consent thing. An entire planet cannot be made to feel love by forced hugs. That’s just wrong and gives kids a really bad message.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A funny and interesting kids movie that manages to both have a very pro-friendship message and undercut it by disregarding consent. It’s cute, has a lot of good jokes, and some of the most supportive characters I’ve ever seen, but be prepared to have a talk about forced hugs with the kids.

Final Score: 2.5

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

Secret Magic Control Agency – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Secret Magic Control Agency.

Story

Plenty of action and plenty of intrigue, but very little plot. The story is mostly just a vehicle for the next location and mini-story.

There are a few tiny twists, but overall it’s overly simple.

Score: 0

Character

The two main characters had a little depth but the rest of them were pretty cookie cutter (pun intended.)

I liked the brother-sister relationship, but the interactions felt shoehorned and not given enough time to truly develop.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There were a few clever bits and the banter was acceptable but there wasn’t anything particularly interesting or exciting.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were all over the place. You’d have sworn that some of it was from a different movie. The locations were gorgeous but the characters bland and derivative.

The music was acceptable but not particularly interesting.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed the nods to the fairy tales and to other movies in the same genre, it was pretty, and there was some fun action. The kids loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

Despite being derivative and predictable, the movie was beautiful and a lot of fun. Not great, but inoffensive with a few laughs along the way.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

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

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

We Can Be Heroes – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film We Can Be Heroes.

Story

This is a weird combination of superhero origin, kids saving parents, and invasion movie. It doesn’t quite work and is really slow in some parts. The first twist was well set up and had a great reveal, the second twist felt too easy and much too contrived.

Score: 0

Character

This is where the movie shines. The characters are extremely likeable and for such a huge cast and regular length movie they are well developed.

My favourite was the little girl water bender.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is the best and worst you get from a superhero movie combined with the weirdness that is this director’s style. It doesn’t land very well most of the time.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie was the next step after Spy Kids in style and borderline archaic special effects. The aesthetic was there and it was kinda pretty, but still not great.

The music was good but unremarkable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed the movie. I like when the powerless kid doesn’t get super powered at the end. And overall it was a lot of fun. A little slow and that ending just doesn’t sit right with me. It felt too easy and invalidated the kids’ work.

Score: 0.5

Overall

An okay movie with great characters and an unfulfilling ending.

Final Score: 2.5 stars out of 5