ParaNorman – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2012 film ParaNorman.

Story

The story is a pretty standard middle-grade mixed with zombie elements. It has a strong message and a great twist. I’m not a fan of the fat jokes but other than a few of those it was a very positive film.

Score: 1

Characters

All the characters were horror stereotypes but done with lots of heart. It’s great characterization that I ended up liking the zombies better than the townspeople.

Norman and his family are extremely believable and I have a soft spot for Neil. I definitely relate to him.

Also big props for Gay representation in 2012. Onward was banned in multiple countries for the same type of thing 8 years later.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The movie is utterly hilarious, balancing horror, humour, and heart, but it’s dialogue is forgotten as soon as it’s said.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The level of visual detail in the movie is utterly stunning. It’s beautiful even when it’s gross and grimy. The work and effect they managed is just fantastic. The blocking and camera work is so much better then most movies.

The music is suitably epic and well used.

Score: 1

Fun

My daughter loved it even though it was, “Kinda Scary”. I found that they created a great rhythm between scares and gags that helped her go from terrified to giggling. I enjoyed the adult jokes, the references to other movies, and the message that was well delivered.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful homage to horror movies with lots of heart and a great message. All that with some of the most impressive animation. It’s a perfect movie for October.

Final Score: 4.5

Muppet Treasure Island – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1996 Muppet Treasure Island.

Story

The story is disturbingly faithful to the original; as with all Muppet movies they add mostly flavour and silliness to the mix.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Other than the Muppets, we have two main human characters. The innocent, daddy issue laden Jim; and the devilishly handsome Long John Silver. Both are portrayed with nuance and depth that is impressive. The Muppets themselves do a great job as well, but the nature of the story and the lack of time between gags means the characters feel less fleshed out than they should.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The Muppets almost never disappoint when it comes to quippy, quotable, and cute dialogue. This was no exception.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was a beautiful movie and the ship scenes set my childhood brain’s idea of pirate ships. The music was definitely an influence on future pirate movies. The songs however fell a little flat. Tim Curry is a fantastic singer and they definitely underused him and the actor who played Jim had a nasally falsetto that irked me. The rest of the songs were forgettable with the exception of Cabin Fever.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The majority of the time the Muppets deliver on fun. This is no exception. It had my daughter glued to the screen and me laughing most of the way.

Score: 1

Overall

This is one of my favourite Muppet movies and I enjoyed rewatching it. It’s nice watching a movie you loved as a kid and finding out it doesn’t suck.

If you want a fun watch with pirates and Muppets, this is your choice.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars

Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 and 2002 movies Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams.

Story

Spy Kids

I was expecting this to be silly and juvenile. It was, but it owned it to a degree that I never expected. The story is a near perfectly crafted spy adventure, with just the right amount of twists and surprises. What elevates the movie is the purposeful overdoing of literally everything. This is a lovingly crafted homage to spy movies that manages to amp up the silly.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The sequel suffers from the tightness of the firsts writing. Expanding to include more spies and more gadgets and more of everything. It did manage to capture the joy and charm of the first one but it took a while.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Spy Kids

Each character is built as a caricature of a standard spy trope and each one manages to overcome it through depth of character and some surprisingly good acting.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The main actors reprise their roles well if not as well as the first. The characters are a little less intricate to make room for the plot and special effects. The inclusion of Buscemi, Montalban, and Taylor to the cast adds skill and gravitas but doesn’t save from the rest of the poor characters and some truly terrible acting from the villians.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Spy Kids

Overall the dialogue is hammy and overblown. It’s fun but nothing extremely special.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 2

The dialogue in this movie is best described as a pale imitation of the first movie.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Spy Kids

This was a pretty solid movie for a low budget 2001 film it still looked good. The music was okay both are acceptable.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This did not age well. The special effects look terrible and the constant 3D gimmicks actually hurt the composition of most scenes.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Spy Kids

This movie was fun and consistently so throughout the movie. Wonderful commentary on kids entertainment, spy movies, and family.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This was uneven and there were several times I wished I wasn’t watching it. It really wasn’t terrible.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Spy Kids

Lovely little film that explorers what it is to be family with an impressive absurdity.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Spy Kids 2

It fails to capture the whimsical absurdity of the first and almost completely loses the heart. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not very good.

Final Score: 2 Stars

Zootopia – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 movie Zootopia.

*This was my favourite movie of 2016*

Story

Fast paced, coherent, with several great messages. It’s strange watching it in a post-Trump world and seeing messages that were clearly political. If by political you mean: don’t profile people, be kind, don’t give in to fear, and don’t give up.

The structure of procedural and buddy cop movie is done very well, with lots of allusions to other movies, while keeping the twist fresh. It’s also re-watchable even if you remember the twist.

Score: 1

Characters

To build relatable characters it’s important that they have flaws and strengths. To make great characters you need to have those strengths and flaws be intrinsically linked. Judy’s hopeless optimism and refusal to quit are strengths but they also blind her to the obvious dangers and villains.

Nick’s clever mind and overthinking are great for hustles but they make him doubt everything people do.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a lot said out loud and a lot said between the lines. This movie could have easily been bogged down with world building dialogue but is instead filled with wonderful lines. I love the evolution of Nick calling Judy “Carrots”.

I also love the Disney humour. Hearing Idris Alba say, “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” was just the kind of self-mocking humour I love.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is stunning and absolutely beautiful. Zootopia the city is as much a character as a setting and you quickly fall in love with it.

The music is perfect background and the Shakira song is catchy and inspirational.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than the press conference scene, I smile and laugh all the way through. It’s a movie that makes you think about the world you live in and the prejudices, while still making silly sloth jokes.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is wonderful and has everything I’m looking for. There are a few contrived moments and it’s not absolutely perfect but it makes up for it in humour, heart, and making you think.

If you haven’t seen it, now is the time.

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.

Sleeping Beauty – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty.

Story

This is a classic. It’s now 61 years old and the 16th animated feature by Disney.

The story is pretty standard fairy tale with a little less death, rape, and horror in it than Grimm liked. A lot of the hour and seventeen minutes is spent of the set up to the big song number in the woods.

Other than some cringe-inducing grabbyness on Phillip’s side and some alcohol jokes that haven’t aged well, it held up pretty well.

The major difference with it and the more modern films is how simple the story is. Something that can be said about a lot of 1950 movies, not just the animated ones.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Poor Aurora had little to no choices in the movie. She was literally tossed around by the forces of fate and faerie.

Phillip was a nice strong hero but also felt young and less 1400 more 1950’s, which I suppose was the point.

The fathers, as is usual, were useless; and Aurora’s mother had almost no part.

Maleficent was a lonely, angry witch who could have used more motivation.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

On average, the dialogue was simple, easy to understand and very forgettable. Maleficent didn’t need to call herself the Mistress of Evil for us to know she was the baddie, but she did.

The narration at the beginning felt over exposition-y and could have been done in dialogue or visually instead.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

This was an absolutely gorgeous movie. Colourful, clean lines, no choppiness in animation. There are plenty of movies that don’t look half as good that came out in the past 10 years. The change in colour with the change in light source was beautiful, if a little over done.

The music was fantastic and catchy. If you don’t get Once Upon a Dream stuck in your head I’ll be surprised… and a little jealous.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie didn’t drag and if I found myself annoyed at the characters, there was always something visually stunning to look at. I had fun the entire time and wasn’t even tempted to look at my phone.

Score: 1

Conclusion

Overall, the movie was fun and beautiful. Some of the jokes fall flat after 60+ years but I didn’t need to pause and talk to my kids about what terrible thing was going on.

Final Score: 3 Stars

2018 Movie Rankings

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This was a great year for movies. There were more than I got the chance to see. There are quite a few monster or Dwayne Johnson movies I missed.

This is the first time that Disney or Pixar didn’t take my first spot and the fourth year since starting this list that an animated movie has gotten top.

This is the ranking of movies I saw in theatres (or rented) that were released in 2018. This doesn’t include Netflix originals, made for TV Movies, or straight to DVD releases.

These are ranked by how much I enjoyed them and not their quality as “Films”.

Absolutely Loved

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Absolutely fantastic)
  2. Black Panther
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  5. Incredibles 2
  6. Aquaman
  7. Crazy Rich Asians

It was good

  1. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
  2. Ocean’s 8
  3. Deadpool 2
  4. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  5. Avengers: Infinity War
  6. The Spy Who Dumped Me
  7. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  8. Christopher Robin
  9. Tomb Raider

Meh

  1. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  2. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Yuck

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody

On first viewing I loved it but there were so many parts that were bi-phobic, gay-bashing, or just uncomfortable to think about. It also painted the rest of the band as perfectly angelic while Freddie was some sort of crazed drug fuelled horn dog.


2019 is shaping up to be the year of superheroes and animated movie sequels so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

What was your favourite movie from 2018?

Later Days,
Éric

Favourites!!

I (Jen) wasn’t at Geek Market on the Saturday because of exams and pregnancy, so many of these pictures are a complete surprise to me. This is one of them – I actually squeaked with excitement when I opened it to edit it today. Honey Lemon and Baymax!! So perfect!

Galadriel

Galadriel is arguably one of the most powerful beings in Middle-Earth, and hands-down the best dressed. Who wouldn’t love to wear one of her dresses? This cosplayer did an excellent job!

SONY DSC

I am helping to organize a new craft fair that is happening March 21, 2015. It is called CON Creative Ottawa Nerds. You can say that you’re going to the event here, and you can like our Facebook page here. Éric wrote about it here.

Happy 94th Birthday, Grandma!!

Things you should check out

Hello,

I’m home sick today so I’ll make this quick.

Serenity Screening

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This Sunday is the annual Serenity charity screening at the Mayfair cinema. It’s a great event for a great cause. Learn more here!

I’ve attended three or four of these and they’re always a blast. The Ottawa Browncoats are great people.

Brother’s Movie

Back in August, while Jen was at FanExpo, I helped my brother with his entry into the Ottawa Sparta film making challenge.

I mostly held the boom mic and made jokes but it was a great deal of fun. I was in one scene that had to be cut due to pacing. Maybe in the extended edition.

*Warning contains scenes of sexuality and violence.*

Well I’m off to try and get better,
Eric