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

Soul – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Soul.

Story

What does it mean to be human? Do we have a fated purpose? What is life? Do cats have souls? This movie answers and philosophizes left, right, and centre. All while pulling us along a body swap adventure. It’s funny, fun, and has lots to think about.

Despite the trailers making it look it it would, I’m glad the movie didn’t fall into the “Transformed POC” trope.

Story: 1

Characters

The main character is written in such a way that we sympathize with him immediately. There’s no doubting his dream. Then as we see his life through the eyes of another character we start to see his obsession with making it has hurt his ability to live in the moment. It’s a subtle transition that was so well done.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was mostly okay but in some parts was amazing. The conversation with his mom, the barber, and the double meanings of so many bits of dialogue between him and 22 are extremely well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie wasn’t about grand vistas and fantasy landscapes like Onward but instead was a lot more about details and abstract concepts. This movie was beautiful. The wood grain on the mother’s tailor shop to the minimalist interpretation of the great beyond’s light. This was breath taking.

The music was fantastic. I love how the pieces he plays are representative of his character growth. I look forward to buying this album.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was beautiful and fun. My mind still races at the world building. My daughter (4yo) loved it but my 18 month old didn’t sit through it. I’m not sure why. Either way, it’s not a knock on the film but it certainly isn’t the best for small kids.

Score: 1

Overall

The writing and music alone had me enthralled with their complexity and subtly. This movie is smart, funny, beautiful and certainly full of Soul.

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.

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 Christmas House – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas House.

Story

I’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies and they’re all a little shallow, but this one felt very surface level. There are 3 major storylines and none of them get the time or treatment they need. The mother’s depression, the older brother’s love story, and the younger brother’s adoption issues are all glossed over with Holiday Magic. However, I do have to give them credit for bringing up emotions and issues that are relatable.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a nice mix of characters with a gay couple and a hispanic love interest. It could have used some more realistic diversity, but it certainly tried. I like that the gay couple weren’t portrayed as perfect or as stereotypes, but as any busy young couple. They were set as the stable couple. Unfortunately, their storyline was short and they were the most interesting characters.

The mom’s depression after retirement was understandable and a little too easily overcome. The main love story was sappy and cute. I don’t feel like any of the characters got enough screen time to talk through their issues, making the whole thing feel like Christmas magic fixed it. I don’t like that.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The main character being a TV lawyer led to a lot of really funny lines. There were some great magic puns and the younger brother was nice and wise. The quips between siblings was well done and believable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’ll cut them some slack since Hallmark movies are filmed at breakneck speeds, but there were a lot of editing hiccups and some weird camera angles. The house was gaudy, but not all that fantastic. The actors were pretty though.

The music did what it needed and rarely got noticed.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed watching some of my favourite sci-fi tv actors in a holiday movie. Beyond that, it was a lovely, sappy movie that had a smile on my face the entire time.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, for queer representation. That being said, the movie was a sappy holiday movie with surface level storylines that could have been better served with more talking. It is, however, a joyful stress and angst-lite movie.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

Story

It was a cute Christmas story but was derivative and predictable. Each beat (no pun intended) was expected and the middle bits dragged a little.

The emphasis on the necklace felt like an unused thread, and the “magic” inventor granddaughter proved she was smart and then the plot didn’t let her fix or make anything. It also contained one of my most hated tropes, where the adults don’t listen to the kids.

I’m trying really hard to ignore the moral, ethical, and humane questions of creating sentient toys and being able to mass produce a slave toy race that you can “reprogram” when they don’t behave.

Score: 0

Characters

The acting in the movie is superb. The characters are mostly pretty awesome. I didn’t really like the mail woman / love interest. Her constant mis-naming rubbed me the wrong way. Overall she came off as a male Christmas love interest, which I’m not a fan of.

The Jeronicus and his apprentice storyline is sad but extremely well acted. Journey was a joy and should have had a larger part in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was appropriately steampunk meets modern day in a way that only a holiday fable could do. Some overly sappy and some kinda deep.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The sets, clothing, lighting, character design, and worldbuilding are fantastic. The cinematography was amazing and background information on posters, etc is meticulously done.

The music is fantastic, although I would have liked one last big number at the end.

I found the choreography a little repetitive, but not enough to dampen my awe at the music and visuals.

Score: 1

Fun

I was awed by the first few frames and hooked by the first song. It wasn’t until the midway point that I fell a little out of love but it passed fast enough. My family and children were riveted. The 17 month old would stop and watch, or dance, at every song and cooed at the adorable robot.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen with some amazing songs and more than a little magic. It falls flat if you think about it too long, and all the beauty and wonderful acting doesn’t cover up the lack of original story.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Ocean’s Eleven – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 film Ocean’s Eleven.

Story

This movie was fascinating. The heist was extremely well done (cinematographically) and the characters, although a lot of them, felt very distinct. The love story felt trite and forced and there were a few borderline racist casting choices.

The heist is great if you don’t think about the details and how much could have gone wrong. And should have gone wrong.

Score: 0.5

Characters

When I watch a reality show it takes me more than half it’s run before I start telling the people apart. That didn’t happen here and I’m going to credit that each character is distinct and could in theory lead their own movie.

That being said, the movie was ridiculously male heavy, where the only women were strippers or love interests needing to be saved from themselves.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The banter and friendship of the main two characters is fantastic. The overall back and forth between characters and even with the “villain” is pretty good too. The nature of the movie means that you never get too long dialogue pieces which works for this movie, but makes it feel like we’re constantly missing something.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie was washed out, with a weird reddish-orange filter. It’s shot well to keep the plot’s secrets and surprises, but it’s not a pretty movie.

The music is okay but there are some weird choices and I’m sad they didn’t use the a modern version of the original’s theme in the credits.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I had a lot of fun laughing at how old the tech looks in this movie. It’s clearly trying really hard to look like all the security is cutting edge tech. It’s certainly dated now.

It’s still a lot of fun to watch the whole thing unfold and see all the moving pieces in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Overall

There’s something particularly satisfying about watching a heist go off so well. I also appreciate that they didn’t use the original’s depressing ending. But for me, there’s too many characters, the love story is terrible, and I have trouble not nit-picking the details of the plan.

This is a good movie but not my favourite.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

Mr. Peabody & Sherman – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2014 film Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Story

Less of a consistent story and more of a series of vignettes, usually ending in a pun with more than a few fart/poop jokes.

The way it was tied in at the end was clever and overall it was inoffensive, if juvenile.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main three characters had growth and a little depth despite themselves. I’m personally sick of the bully actually secretly likes the victim trope; it feels like setting up kids for abusive relationships.

The rest of the characters didn’t even try to be historically accurate and once you get over that, it’s cute.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I like puns and wordplay so the quips at the end, and sometimes middle, of the sketches were enjoyable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was colourful and quite well animated. Beautiful landscapes and clever use of framing.

The music was epic enough to tie the sketches together into some sort of coherent whole.

Score: 1

Fun

I felt the movie dragged a little at the beginning and the sketches were a little too silly even for me. Once the plot started to kick in midway I started having more fun.

Score: 0.5

Overall

It felt like there was more thought given to the wordplay than the characters or plot. Unfortunately characters and plot will stick with me.

It was a cute and fun movie, but didn’t have much substance.

Final Score: 3 stars

Romancing the Stone – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1984 movie Romancing the Stone.

Story

This is pretty standard 80’s adventure movie stuff but has a few stand out moments. The story never takes itself seriously and does a great job at giving the female lead the agency in the story. There are a few seriously dated tropes, meek girl becomes fierce, no makeup until romance, etc.

There’s a moment that’s so dated my wife and I burst into laughter. After the main female lead sees a dead body she screams, drops the machete, and the male lead pulls her into a hug to comfort her. Anyone I know in the same frightened or surprised situation wouldn’t have taken being pulled into a hug that well. But it’s an old Hollywood tradition.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters all start out really stereotypical but find nice nuances along the way. It’s hard to tell if the character journeys are predictable because they’re cliché, satire, or because it influenced a lot of adventure romance movies over the past thirty some years.

They are however unique and interesting in their motives and personalities. I really enjoyed the drug runner who was a fan of her books.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue in this movie spanned the entire gamut from pure cheese to deep character development. I wouldn’t say it was ground breaking but it was entertaining.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was obviously shot on locations, although not Colombia. It’s beautiful and pretty well shot. There are some camera angles that must have been a pain to film at the time.

The music was epic enough but very 80’s synth.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie was fun. It’s nice to see movies with writers where they aren’t tortured artists, bastards, or lusting after teenagers.

The adventure part of the story was grand and small and had everything I love. Including a sexy/fun dance scene. We need to bring those back for adventure movies.

Score: 1

Overall

This was a funny, interesting, and overall fun movie. It explored some interesting themes of feminism and romance. It had a “bad guy” that didn’t want to be and a lot of good twists. If you enjoy slightly more adult adventure movies and can handle the 80’s, this is a fun movie.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars

Over the Moon – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Over the Moon.

Story

This has all the elements of a wonderful Doorway-style story. (Doorways stories are about youths that find a method of travelling to a fantastic world. Think Alice or Dorothy.) The near-Pixar style sadness at the beginning and the Olaf clone are well done and don’t feel trope-y.

Unfortunately the concept is prettier than the story, and once they reach the moon, the story is disjointed and thin, giving too much room to world building and action.

The ending and the moral are heavy handed and uninspired.

Score: 0

Characters

The kids were interesting and realistic for an animation. It’s great to show a character that is into myth and STEM equally, something that isn’t explored enough. I didn’t really like the whole, “I have a super power” story line, since it was done for cheap laughs and a non-funny gag.

The animal sidekicks are plenty and cute, never detracting from the story or getting too annoying.

The woman on the moon was supposed to feel mythological, like dealing with a god or magic power. She came off more as whiny, entitled, and not too bright. Less like a force of nature and more like a toddler.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was okay. It served its purpose but compared to the complexity of other animated movies I felt like it was a little simplistic. The word humour was well done and the sassyness of the kids was a mirror of reality.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Pearl has now, after two movies, established itself as a studio that can do quality animation. This movie is stunningly beautiful. The detail, lighting, and cinematography are all beyond anything anyone else is doing outside of top tier Disney and Pixar.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think making this a musical was the wrong choice. I think it detracted from the emotion and story. The music was however very good, catchy, and insightful.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was a lot of fun to watch. My kids were enthralled, my wife and I cried, and I still have some of the songs stuck in my head.

Score: 1

Overall

Stunningly beautiful with a mediocre story. The movie could have been so much better, but is still a lot of fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Abominable – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 movie Abominable.

*This was my favourite movie of 2019*

Story

This feels like a modern fairy tale. A YA adventure story set in modern day. The story is cleverly simple and avoids so many of the traditional pitfalls. No forced love story, no double crossing from one of the kids, no parents that disbelieve. It’s about helping preserve magic and finding yourself along the way.

There are a few political issues but nothing truly problematic as far as I can tell.

Score: 1

Characters

Each of the characters, except the goons and the snakes, have a journey and growth. It’s sort of a mini found family that only exists in adventures (mundane ones like trips etc or magical one).

I like the twist with the bad guys and goon Dave is the best.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The movie has plenty of funny lines but the ones that are most memorable are the ones tied to emotions. The little conversations and moments that show both character and move the story forward.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

From the little details like the various wood grains to the big nature shots, this movie is truly stunning. Absolutely beautiful. The animation quality isn’t quite up to Disney/Pixar levels but they created some fantastic visuals.

The music is utterly fantastic. The humming and violin are suitably epic and magical.

The scene at the Leshan Giant Buddha is so beautiful and reflects Yi’s emotional journey perfectly.

Score: 1

Fun

The action always has a reason and everything is strung together in a surprising and coherent way. The movie made me smile and almost cry multiple times.

Score: 1

Overall

This is an adventure story with likeable characters that are trying to help a magical creature. It’s exactly my style of story. The few calmer moments weren’t lulls but one on one conversations that moved the emotional plot forward.

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.