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

Vivo – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Vivo.

Story

The beginning was a little predictable in its “Pixar” style twist. The rest was a usual road trip buddy story. It was a fun story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

We don’t see a lot of Cuban or Cuban-American culture in animation. It was nice to see the art, music, and accents take centre stage. The characters were all motivated by relatable emotions.

The character of Vivo is sassy, funny, and filled with heart.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The running commentary by Vivo is both adorable and refreshingly funny. I appreciated the music, situational, word, and absurd humour.

I liked that they treated parts of the dialogue like motifs in music. They repeated or altered certain phrases to create more of an emotional impact and to pull the various parts of the movie together.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was absolutely beautiful. It might not have been up to Pixar or Disney quality but they captured the Cuban art and colour style fantastically. There are a few times that the face and perspective in that art style didn’t translate well to a 3D animation, but over all, it was great.

The music was Broadway with the Lin-Manuel Miranda twist and a large dollop of Cuban influence. It’s a little reminiscent of his other work, but that doesn’t detract from how good it was.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was colourful, never wallowed too much, and had multiple levels of humour. It was poignant and had a pretty good message, plus both kids loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

It takes a lot of elements that we’re familiar with in animated and musical movies and mixes them together with a Cuban-American influence making it feel fresh and vibrant. The visuals, music, comedy, and heart warming story make for a wonderful film.

Final Score: 4.5 stars out of 5

The House with a Clock in Its Walls – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

Story

I was very impressed. The movie had the right level of intrigue and excitement and the pace was a great balance between Gothic horror and kids horror. The plot was relatively simple and gave space for the characters’ backstories and the world building.

Score: 1

Characters

A lot of times, stories like this will neglect character development for the adults or the kids, but this one did a great job balancing it. The villain was surprisingly sympathetic for a corpse.

Cate Blanchett was amazing in her role and really made me feel for the character.

Jack Black managed to do what he does best and make a loud, arrogant, character who is both sympathetic and likeable.

Owen Vaccaro was wonderful as the quirky kid. I am a little sad they cut the fat-phobia story, but it’s probably for the best.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Quirky, weird, and definitely memorable. The skills of the writer (who wrote for the first five seasons of Supernatural) were definitely well used.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were beautiful and creepy. I wasn’t a fan of the abundant poop jokes however.

The music was atmospheric and fun.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I watched this with my 2 year old and he loved it. Kept saying “scary… fun!” In the actually scary parts he hugged me. I think my 4 year old would have yelled at the screen when the cabinet was opened and flailed like an angry octopus.

Its exactly the kind of kid’s horror that I grew up with and it felt like something I would have watched in the 90’s, but better in almost every way.

Score: 1

Overall

Fun, exciting, and scary with more heart and better acting then expected. This is a movie made by horror fans for future fans. It’s a great introduction for those kids that can handle and enjoy the scary moments. It’s also a great nostalgic feel for those of us that grew up with this style of storytelling.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Monsters University – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 film Monsters University.

Story

The story is a great subversion of the traditional college movie. I like how much it plays with our expectations from knowing the first movie. The messages of “it’s okay to change your dream” and “there are many paths” are more poignant to me now than they were when the movie came out, making me enjoy it a lot more.

Score: 1

Characters

As much as I like the story and the movie itself is very consistent with it’s characters, I find Sulley feels off. His greatest character trait from the first movie was how much he cared for people and monsters. His empathy and genuine niceness was impressive and played at odds with his scaring. Making him an entitled rich kid works for this movie, but we don’t see any hint of it in the original and his turn around feels a little unmotivated.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The writing is extremely well done and the dialogue really reflects the lived experience of a lot of animators and writers. Especially the parts where someone says, “You just don’t have it.”

The humour is clever and delivered perfectly.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The original was spectacular for it’s time and is starting to look a little dated. After almost a decade, this movie still looks better than a lot of other animations that came out this year. It’s spectacular and beautiful in all its detail.

The music takes a shift away from jazzy to more orchestral which works extremely well both for the plot and the location.

Score: 1

Fun

Once I let go of my precious nostalgia, this movie was fantastic. I laughed and cheered throughout. My kids both loved it with the two year old laughing at everything Mike did.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a prequel and as such suffers a little at having to fit in the world and story of the first movie. It is, however, a fantastic watch and worth every moment. It’s a beautiful and poignant movie with lots of laughs.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Captain America: The First Avenger – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Story

The story is extremely simple and a perfect transition from the simpler superhero movies of the 2000’s to the more complex ones after.

It’s amazing that they managed to have a movie set in WWII that had only 3 Nazis.

The villain is scary smart if over-the-top and the story is wonderfully soothing.

As much as I love the romance between Cap and Carter, the convoluted obstacles are tiresome and unnecessary.

I would also would have liked more nuances on the concept of patriotism, but that would come with the future movies.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This movie was extremely well cast and all the actors play their roles wonderfully. Again I think Red Skull was a little much, but all the others are fantastic.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie, more than Iron-Man or Avengers, sets the bar for Marvel dialogue. It’s clever, quotable, and has fantastic depth.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie’s special effects still look amazing a decade later and visually this movie is a treat.

The music is fantastic and works perfectly for the movie.

Score: 1

Fun

Our Blu-ray has a bug where the dynamic range (loudest vs softest sounds) is huge, making me spend most of the movie changing the volume or not being able to understand the words. This is actually pretty common for Marvel movies and really pisses me off.

That being said, the movie kept the attention of the entire family and made me want to re-watch all the Marvel movies.

Score: 1

Overall

The unambiguity of the movie is its strength, bolstered by its fantastic dialogue and acting. It was the last before Avengers changed the landscape and set the bar for storytelling. It is by far the best Marvel Phase 1 film (Arguably Phase 2 also).

Final Score: 4.5

Charlie’s Angels (2019) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 film Charlie’s Angels.

*I reviewed the 2000 Charlie’s Angels here.*

Story

In a lot of ways it’s a by the numbers spy / action movie. The twists and turns are moderately predictable but that doesn’t affect the enjoyability. The story is pushed forward by the mystery / mcguffin, but is held up by the interactions of the characters.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The core three characters are well defined and have decent development, but it’s the growth of their friendship that makes the movie so much fun.

The villain and the rest of the cast are well chosen and happily alternate between cheesy and serious dialogue.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is very well done with the actors delivering lines that could have been terrible in a way that makes sense and is pretty endearing.

There’s a lot of very well thought out subtext in the movie and some very pointed social commentary.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography is designed to show you the discomfort of the characters and is extremely well thought out. Never does it cheat the action with shaky cam or too many quick cuts. The locations are gorgeous and the clothes are fantastic.

Very rarely do I see action characters pause to switch into sensible shoes and it added a level of realism that I enjoyed.

The score was perfectly set to the action and the songs were catchy but didn’t detract from what was happening.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie is action-packed with a great found family and lots of action. It was fun and exciting and definitely re-watchable.

Score: 1

Overall

An extremely entertaining spy movie with a hint of nostalgia. The action, dialogue, and character interactions make a movie that could have been cookie cutter into something with heart. Lots of fun and worth a watch.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001-2003 films Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy.


*Disclaimer* I have watched these films as a marathon every year since 2007. They’re basically part of my holiday ritual and I’m completely not objective.


Story

The story is an interpretation of one of the greatest influences on modern Western fantasy. It’s hard to judge the story critically when it is so foundational.

That being said, I think there’s some seriously problematic connotations about people of colour and women.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movies are filled with fantastic characters. As much as I hate Frodo and the archetypal everyman character, the movies made each character unique and memorable.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Infinitely quotable to the nerds among us. The movie doesn’t deviate too much from the wonderful dialogue of the books and when it does, improves it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

For a nearly 20 year old movie the visuals hold up spectacularly (we watched the 4K version and it was worth it.) New Zealand is gorgeous, the practical effects hold up better than some more recent movies, and the CGI looks pretty good. There are some lighting issues and world interaction issues with the CGI.

The music… holy shit the music. The layering and themes… gah, it’s so beautiful.

Score: 1

Fun

The 12 hours were a little hard on the kids, but the adults were as enthralled as ever. I’m constantly amazed at how the movie keeps people’s attention and sparks conversation.

Score: 1

Overall

These movies are a staple of our holiday season; I’ve probably seen them two dozen times since they released and I still find new things every year. Upgrading to the 4K was more than worth it for the colour and sound correction that was done.

They are some of my favourite movies and I admit that I am nowhere near objective.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

The Three Musketeers – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1993 film The Three Musketeers.

Story

I’ll be honest I only vaguely remembered this and expected it to be a hammy comedy. I was pleasantly surprised. The story was the traditional Musketeers with lines very similar to the book. The beginning was a little slow but overall it was great.

The book is a classic and most movies and shows don’t do it justice.

It was very white, which is both historically inaccurate and frustrating for a work by a black man.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters are great and hold their own versus other versions. The actors are fantastic at what each needs to do. Tim Curry chews the scenery in a way that’s both hilarious and terrifying.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are lines in it that are brilliant and picked from the books. (With a flick of my wrist I can change your religion.) and then there’s nearly everything Porthos says that is pure gold.

The dialogue manages to oscillate between drama, comedy, and gravitas in a way that is rarer than I like.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

I’ve watched this movie on VHS, DVD, and now Disney+. The scenery, sets, costumes, and shooting are fantastic. However, when this movie goes dark, it’s so dark that I can’t see it (I’m talking contrast not content. Also I hadn’t watched this in over 20 years and the frustration with the dark scenes was the only thing I remembered clearly). I missed 90% of what happened in the tunnels and darker scenes. It’s extremely annoying.

The music absolutely splendid. The ballad at the end is so completely 1990s.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I really like the balance of funny action adventure, with serious drama. It kept everyone in the family interested (except the toddler who only sat still for a few sword fights).

Score: 1

Overall

This is quite possibly my favourite adaptation of the story and I have nothing but nice things to say. I think it’s pretty good at adapting the material.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars

The Princess Bride – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1987 film Princess Bride.

Story

There are two stories going on in the movie. The boy and his grand father and then the main story. Both are extremely simple. Simplicity in this movie isn’t a bad thing; it’s used to shift the focus away from the plot and towards the characters and dialogue.

The movie has aged well in almost every way except the complete lack of diversity and failing the Bechdel test on all counts.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie has some of the most iconic characters and the movie is really about them and their journey. Other than Buttercup and Humperdinck, the major characters see growth and resolution.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is quite possibly the most iconic in American cinema. It’s definitely one of the most quoted movies and in my D&D group it competes with Monty Python for quote time.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The scenery is gorgeous as are the costumes. The sets are purposefully simple but still beautiful. The movie has a look that is just borderline cheesy while still being ageless. The sword fighting is exceptional.

The music is lovely, simple but definitely fantasy inspired. It’s very well used in the fight scenes and “Kissing” moments. I was glad it didn’t follow the synth trend of the 80’s.

Score: 1

Fun

I saw this movie for the first time in my twenties and have watched it a handful of times since. It’s extremely fun to watch and easy to enjoy. It really has a little bit of everything.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie isn’t perfect but it’s pretty and a lot of fun. The dialogue is iconic and if you don’t find yourself quoting something from it, I’d be surprised.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars

Hocus Pocus – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.

Story

It’s harder for me to judge this movie’s story than normal because I’ve watched it yearly for 25+ years. There are a lot of witch clichés thrown around in this movie but it also works as a satire of the concept.

I was impressed that there were no offensive moments and it was as much fun as it always was.

Score: 1 (Admittedly not objective)

Character

The witches were wonderfully evil, narcissistic, and funny.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Dani (one of my first crushes). Max is an idiot who doesn’t think before he speaks or acts but has lots of heart. The brother-sister relationship makes him likeable beyond the typical white boy with a crush. Allison is a little bland but could have been worse.

The movie is greatly lacking in any sort of representation.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I think I need a list of Bette Midler’s insults in this for my next internet argument. Maggoty Malfeasance and Thundering Oafs being some of my favourite. The dialogue is over the top and a little awkward but delivered perfectly. I’ve often danced around singing Amok! Amok! Amok!

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie more than anything defined what I thought of as what Halloween should look like. The beautiful leaves and lively decorations. Similar to home but we had more snow and less leaves by that point. I envied their lack of snowsuits.

The music is sometimes epic, sometimes silly, and always right on point.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie makes me nostalgic and makes me smile. Watching my daughter’s face as she whispered, “He’s going to light the candle.” and, “No don’t light the candle.” made my night. It was great to see how into it she was.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a classic and is both scary and funny. It’s not a perfect movie but it is a lot of fun. The sections with the kids would have made for a fun movie but the witches send it over the top in every way. I’ve watched this dozens of times and I’ll happily watch it every Halloween.

Final Score: 4.5