Bratz – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 movie Bratz.

Story

Very basic, the plot doesn’t have much to it. The characters have little time to themselves and even less development. This is the kind of story that is written for middle grade girls by people who don’t understand how intelligent middle grade kids can be.

Score: 0

Characters

Little development, lots of tropes, and very generic but I do have to give it credit for being both inclusive and diverse in it’s cast. They have a deaf character who isn’t defined by his deafness and a bunch of different races.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is what an adult from 2007 thought teens talked like. It’s awkward and so dated. It has a few great insults however.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Visually and musically this movie tries very hard and almost succeeds. It not bad but blah.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It’s not cringy and has some yay moments.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Its not a bad movie. I’ll watch it if it’s on or if my kids insist. Not much to say since there’s not much here.

Final Score: 2 Stars

Meet the Robinsons – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 movie Meet the Robinsons.

Story

The story follows the usual time travel tropes. I like that the main character isn’t the main time traveller. The story is happy, uplifting, and something I’ve needed lately, hopeful. It’s a bubble filled retro-futuristic happy future.

This is an incredibly easy movie to watch and it’s one of my comfort films. It was one of the first movies I saw in theatres with my wife.

All that being said, there are parts that haven’t aged well. Mostly little humour things. They use a lot of ableist language when it comes to mental illness, the whole thing with the future wife saying “I’m always right, even when I’m wrong” is weird, and the puppet aunt who beats her husband is a sad reminder that even now male spousal abuse is played for laughs. There’s also a few fat jokes. All of these come off as dated rather than purposefully hateful, but it’s still cringy.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are lovable and relatable, mostly. I have a soft spot for Bowler Hat Guy, I too so love checklists. DOR-15 is one of the most terrifying villains in Disney. The interactions between Lewis and Wilbur are excellent.

I’m not a fan of some of the secondary characters. Both for what I said in the previous section and because they feel weird and cooky just to be weird and cooky. That’s not a good character motivation and makes them irrelevant to the plot. You can replace each of of them with any other similar family and you’d get little difference but the bit-gags.

I did enjoy that the lady taking care of the orphanage was a nice person who genuinely cared for her charges. It’s a nice break from the “Evil Orphanage” trope.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

From, “Keep Moving Forward!” to, “I can’t take you seriously in that hat” this movie has a lot of quotable dialogue that just hits the perfect tone between silly and insightful.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie was pretty. The animation was okay for the time but not great. We watched the blu-ray edition and it did some upgrades to the rendering that make it stand up pretty well. Overall it’s a pretty and colourful movie.

The music in this is fantastic. Danny Elfman did a great job with the music. It’s a blend of 50’s sci-fi and Disney that works. The soundtrack includes a great list of late 2000’s bands doing great songs.

Score: 1

Fun

This is an immensely fun movie. It’s never too cringy, and is funny. I can watch this one over and over without getting bored or annoyed.

Score: 1

Overall

This a movie I really enjoy. Even more so for the nostalgia of having seen it with my wife when we were first dating. It’s a time travel story plot with a great, hopeful message. Some aspects didn’t age well but they’re secondary to the main story and message.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Jack the Giant Slayer – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 movie Jack the Giant Slayer.

Story

The story for this movie is so generic that I and everyone who re-watched it together had forgotten it. Other than the anachronisms and the ridiculous physics, there was nothing that stood out in this movie to make you remember it.

It’s what you’d have expected from an adventure movie in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, including the sexism and useless damsel.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were so basic and under-developed as to be boring. If it wasn’t for the exceptional cast they would have been unlikable. Stanley Tucci could probably make any roll watchable and I love it when Ewan McGregor plays silly characters. The rest of the cast was good too, but the writing for these characters was just as generic as the story.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is quite possibly the best part of this movie. It’s quippy and funny. It’s also the only part of the movie that does anything for the story. “Weren’t you in an oven an hour ago?” cracked me up.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Even after only 7 years it’s already looking dated. The CGI is pretty bland and not impressive for a movie of its budget. The scenery is lovely, but not worth the movie. The action is fun and over the top, but overly rushed.

The music could have been sampled from other adventure and fantasy movies and I wouldn’t have noticed.

Score: 0

Fun

It’s an exciting and action packed movie with fantastic actors hamming it up. It’s hard not to get distracted by the inaccuracies in tech or history considering the ending. It’s also hard not to yell at boob armour and the utterly useless plot device that was the female character. Also, why were there no female giants?

Score: 0.5

Overall

This isn’t a good movie, or a very memorable one. That being said it’s watchable and not too offensive.

Final Score: 2 Stars

The Healer – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 movie The Healer.

Story

The story is a nice slow pace but shifts gears from small town mystic, to wise cancer kid, to love story. What could have been an interesting exploration of God and what it means to be good is bogged down by a man-baby main character, fake lesbian, and generic sassy cancer kid.

Score: 0

Characters

The movie is set in Nova Scotia and yet there’s barely any proper Canadian accents and only background Maritime accents. The main cast is two Ontarians, three Brits (two of which are supposed to be), and an American. The majority of extras are from Nova Scotia and seem much more interesting then the main characters.

The main character was unlikable and didn’t really do all that well at a redemption arc. The love interest is unlikeable and lies throughout. If it wasn’t for the quirky extras and small town feel I might have given up.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

A cross between mystical mumbo jumbo and pseudo religious exploration is the most interesting of the dialogue not given by the extras. They make awkward dialogue into something generally entertaining.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The film makers missed a huge opportunity to showcase the beauty of the town and the landscape. Instead, they used it sparingly and awkwardly.

The music alternated between awkward and inappropriate. Having a young actress be the focus of a montage to George Michael’s Faith… is creepy, to say the least.

Score: 0

Fun

The movie was watchable, if filled with uncomfortable moments and unlikable characters. I did finish it but I’d rather not watch it again.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie relies on tired tropes and unlikable characters when it should have leaned more into the small town supernatural quirk and beautiful scenery. A missed opportunity all around.

Final Score: 1.5 Stars

Stargirl – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Stargirl.

Story

I fell like a dictionary of bad tropes gained sentience and wrote this movie. It at times tries too hard to be deep, quirky, and G rated edgy.

This is the kind of story that suburban people think happens in a small town.

If I were in my early teens I might have enjoyed this more but only because I didn’t understand the overdone and trite themes and naratives.

Score: 0

Characters

There’s a lot of tropes not many characters. The boring white guy who’s scared of being different, the manic pixie dreamgirl, the wise black mentor, the too busy to pay attention single mom, the ethnic best friend, the caring yet aloof teacher, the friend who’s pudgy and eats a lot, and the dead father.

There are tiny moments where the characters are permitted to not just play a bad caricature but it’s fleeting.

The actors do what they can with what they have but there’s just not enough in the script. The main white dude is creepy, stalkerish, and just plain boring. The MPDG is literally turned into a magic legend that saves the town. I spent the first 40 minutes wondering if he was going to kill her or if she was going to kill them.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The MPDG wins a speech competition by taking off her shoes and giving an impassioned speech about how our society only reacts because it’s so fast. It’s the kind of thing an Anti-vaxxer would write on Facebook after reading too much Shelley, Byron, and Wordsworth; while missing their points completely.

The rest of the movie’s dialogue alternates between awkward, false sounding, teen speak, and pseudo-spiritual bullshit.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Because nothing happens in this town and it’s all super boring, the entire movie, except for scenes with Stargirl and the ending, are brown filtered. It makes it visuals boring. Combined with an attempt at edgy documentary-style handheld filming, it makes the audience want to look away.

The music was cute and almost made me want to care.

Score: 0.5

Fun

As someone who enjoys musicals, dance movies, teen drama, and pseudo-mystical stories… this was so watered down and stereotyped that I wonder if it was written by a bot that had watched a thousand hours of teen dramas.

Score: 0

Overall

This is the kind of story and movie that is lauded by critics for it’s non-conformity because it’s cute and non-threatening. In 2020, we should be beyond this disturbingly white, cis, male and passively racist, homophobic, and sexist narratives aimed at children.

Final Score: 0.5 Star

Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2 – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 and 2010 Movies Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam.

Story

Camp Rock 1

The story in this couldn’t be more cliché if they tried. I’ve been over the “lying to be popular” since I did it in first grade. It always blows up and it rarely ends as happily as it does in this movie.

Score: 0

Camp Rock 2

Just as cliché a the first but much less angst.

Score: 0

Characters

Camp Rock 1

The characters are so cookie cutter as to be boring. However the young actors manage to bring something watchable to their characters.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

The characters have changed, if not evolved, to suit the story. Once again the actors are much too good for the script.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Camp Rock 1

The majority of the movie made me cringe, however the Mom and the two romantic leads manage to make the dialogue acceptable.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

I can’t tell if the dialogue got better because of the writing or because the actors grew. It wasn’t enough to make this movie memorable though.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Camp Rock 1

There’s a camp and it’s filmed in standard Disney Channel style for the late 2000’s. It’s not as colourful as it could be and most of the shots are either frantic or boring.

The music is barely okay. It’s not bad but it shows that other then the main cast, these are not singers.

Score: 0

Camp Rock 2

This is where the sequel starts to get better. It’s better shot and has more coherent musical numbers, actually using the dancers in the cast.

The music for the main cast is catchy and likeable while the rest is still hum-drum.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Camp Rock 1

I spent the majority of the movie groaning or sighing. It’s not much fun.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

The story was predictable but in a fun way and despite a few lulls, I enjoyed this one.

Score: 1

Overall

Camp Rock 1

This movie is angsty and cliché. I really hope my daughter doesn’t want to watch it too often. The only thing that makes it anything beyond truly boring are the main actors.

Final Score: 1.5 Stars

Camp Rock 2

It’s not great but it’s fun and if I want a camp movie that has music I might consider it.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

It Came from Outer Space – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1953 movie It Came from Outer Space.

Story

The story was interesting and delivered in a pretty good combination of dialogue and action. It was ridiculously dated, but I liked that it basically came down to the aliens crash landing in a bad neighbourhood and trying to GTFO as soon as possible.

I like the underlying narrative that we as a species are not ready to accept what we can’t understand and that what looks strange isn’t always evil.

Score: 1

Characters

Angry sheriff, writer with an open mind, scream queen, and various others. This was a standard cast for a sci-fi story from the 1940’s and 50’s.

Score: 0

Dialogue

This felt written by two people. The dialogue between the sheriff and the writer was pure Universal horror movie. The dialogue between the writer and the girl was pure Bradbury.

Half of it felt philosophical and high minded and the other half standard horror movie.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This was a very well shot film. Other than a few odd angles it really did a great job building atmosphere and being pretty.

The music was pretty much a re-hash of other Universal monster movies at the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if everything was from something else.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a cerebral science fiction concept that the filmmakers desperately wanted to turn into a creature feature. That being said, I really enjoyed it.

Score: 1

Overall

At 70 years old, it’s a quaint film from a simpler time exploring ideas of what the cosmos might have in store. I love the narration at the beginning.

If this were made today it would either be an indie film or some weird action horror and frankly neither would do it justice.

Final Score: 3 Stars

George of the Jungle – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1997 movie George of the Jungle.

Story

The story is riddled with puns, fart jokes, 4th wall breaking, and silly slapstick. Some of that is good, some of that is bad. It’s a story that doesn’t take itself seriously but has some interesting things to say as subtext. Great moments where the script flips the tropes on their heads, especially those of toxic masculinity and ignorance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

George is a lovable idiot with a better understanding of how to respect others then the rest of the characters.

Ursula was the stand in for the every man-character and bland because of it. The rest were a mixture of tropes and silliness.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue in this, specifically the narrator, makes me laugh every time. Despite the silliness, the movie does a great job at not overdoing the dialogue. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly quotable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were okay. Scenery was pretty and the special effects held up well.

The music was so 1990’s it hurt. Even the theme song was a punk rock late 1990’s cover.

There was nothing special here but nothing terrible.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I have fond memories of this movie as a kid. Brendan Fraser is charming (as always) and the movie still has some of my favourite gags, but also has a lot more crotch punch and fart jokes then I remembered.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a fun movie, not great, not terrible but definitely fun. It has less awkward sexism or racism than a lot of movies from it’s time, and even has some good feminist messages.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

The Spy Next Door – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2010 movie The Spy Next Door.

Story

The story is cute. Sort of a Uncle Buck meets Jackie Chan. It was just as formulaic as you can expect from a “fighting guy takes care of kids” type of movie.

You don’t watch this for the story.

Score: 0

Characters

Nerdy boy, angsty teen, and cute little kid. They all did well and their was some surprising depth in the characters. Although I did get annoyed at how young the 4 year old acted and was frustrated by the old trope of the Hispanic character being the mole.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Overall it was stilted and awkward. Some of it made me cringe.

However Jackie Chan was both adorable and hilarious.

Score: 0.5

Visual and Music

The fighting was top notch, the rest was okay.

The music wasn’t great and sometimes jarring.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie had Jackie Chan signing a lullaby and using stunts to get kids ready for school. It had him beating up a future MacGyver. It had heart, humour, and great action.

Fun for everyone.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie isn’t great cinema but it is a lot of fun and if you’re looking for a cute action movie, or if your child is currently in a spy obsession, this a great choice.

Overall Score: 2.5 Stars

Spy Kids 3 and Spy Kids 4 – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2004 and 2011 movies Spy Kids 3: Game Over and Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World.

I reviewed Spy Kids 1 and 2 in a previous post

Story

Spy Kids 3

Villain captured in a cyber prison turns that prison into a game in order to enslave kids minds and …? Spy organization sends kid spy into game to find his sister and shut the game down.

It has serious potential but there was so little story and what there was, was confusing, ableist, or just boring. I spent most of the movie shaking my head or yelling at the main character. The first two were all about family but this one barely makes a cameo out of everything.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

It took seven years for people to forget about the last one. This one brings in new kids, new parents, and a very updated OSS. The time manipulation was utterly unbelievable and made my head hurt.

The story did go back to it’s roots and become all about family. The cameos by the original kids was great.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Spy Kids 3

They really tried to make Juni the sensitive outsider here and it failed completely. He’s basically a bumbling idiot. While in the others he and his sister bumble together and solve the problem, in this one the villain is helping him win and his sister is only in a tiny part of the movie.

Stalone is fantastic at chewing the scenery but his character is confused, confusing, and barely above useful. And don’t get me started on the one girl character.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

The characters in this were much better and less insulting stereotypes. I like that the boy being hearing impaired doesn’t make him weak, I like that the mom kicks ass while pregnant, I like that the kids are smart again. That being said, they were all a little bland as characters.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Spy Kids 3

There’s a scene near the beginning where the main character is talking about family and another character says, “Everyone is family Juni.”

His reply is, “That doesn’t any sense.”

That’s the best description of this movie. Nonsensical drivel followed by insipid dialogue.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

It wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. There are a few good puns and a lot of clock or time jokes. It’s ok.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Spy Kids 3

I thought 2 had a lot of 3D gimmicks and stupidity. This one practically based the entire movie on it. It’s cheesy pseudo computer game graphics for the entire movie. It looked bad sixteen years ago and looks worse now. The music was better.

Score: 0.5

Spy Kids 4

It took a few movies but they finally moved back to the hyper-saturated cartoon look of the first one. The action well done and the scenery is great. The music wasn’t fantastic but it was pretty good.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Spy Kids 3

The beginning and the end are a lot of fun and the middle parts are interesting if non-nonsensical and dumb.

Score: 0.5

Spy Kids 4

This was my daughters favourite of the four. She said it’s cause there was a dog and a baby. I liked it because it was a fun kids action movie. It doesn’t hold up to the original, but it was ok.

Score: 1

Overall

Spy Kids 3

Taking out the sibling dynamic from this series was a mistake. This movie doesn’t live up to the first and frankly is one of the worst movies I’ve seeen. It’s not offensive (Except the honeypot, nerd bashing, and ableism) just boring.

Final Score: 1 Star

Spy Kids 4

This movie tried to recreate the whimsy and awesomeness of the first but doesn’t quite get there. It’s bogged down by fart jokes and 3D gags along with a premise that makes my head hurt if I think about it too hard.

Final Score: 3 Stars