A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 film A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish.

Story

I’ve reviewed more Cinderella movies than any other archetype. This one managed to make it modern and Christmassy without losing the heart of the story.

The major deviations in this were mostly losing the whole secret identity and shoe thing. I like when the prince meets Cinderella before the ball.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I have never had so much cringe or secondhand embarrassment from the step sisters. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing though.

The protagonists were loveable and cute. There was some good flirting and the best friend was amazing.

My credulity was strained when the “king” character was a super nice billionaire.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This had all the cheese needed and a lot of decent flirting. The wordplay was pretty good.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The choreography was fun and the camera work was clean. Everything screamed Christmas.

The music was nice. I was impressed by the catchyness of the songs.

Score: 1

Fun

This was fun. The family seems to have a fondness for Cinderellas. We all enjoyed it and other than the sisters, it wasn’t awkward or angsty.

Score: 1

Overall

If you enjoy modern takes on Cinderella and like Christmas romances, this is a cheesy no brainer. Lots of fun and good music.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

2022 JenEric Movie Reviews

Hello Movie Lovers,

This year I seem to have watched, and reviewed, 52 films. Not bad. Below is a list of them in descending star order. Within each catergory, they are in alphabetical order.

5 out of 5 Stars

4.5 out of 5 Stars

4 out of 5 Stars

3.5 out of 5 Stars

3 out of 5 Stars

2.5 out of 5 Stars

2 out of 5 Stars

1.5 out of 5 Stars

A Clüsterfünke Christmas – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film A Clüsterfünke Christmas.

Story

This tried really hard to be every Christmas movie in one but it sort of missed the point and the heart of the genre.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were hilarious. They were stereotypes of stereotypes. Unfortunately, that didn’t make them all that interesting beyond a few gags.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This was stilted even for a satire of a stitled genre. Other than the gags and wordplay, which sometimes came off as a CollegeHumour skit gone too long, the dialogue wasn’t great.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Over the top visuals with some surprisingly good sets and costume design.

The music was sufficiently cheesy and played well for gags.

Score: 0.5

Fun

When the wordplay or satire hit this was a lot of fun, but it really didn’t make me care about the characters or want to see how it ends.

My mother in-law was not impressed and the three year old was bored.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A valiant attempt at satirizing Christmas movies which doesn’t succeed at doing more then pointing out things about other movies. There were a few really good jokes, but it didn’t have heart or wonder.

Save yourself the trouble and watch A Christmas Movie Christmas instead.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

Falling for Christmas – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Falling for Christmas.

Story

The second Netflix Christmas movie with a sexy single dad and a cute kid. The story was cute, but very cookie cutter with almost nothing new or unique.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters should have been bland and extremely cliché, but the acting saved the roles. The two leads did a great job as selling their characters and bringing heart to them.

The rest of the cast did well too.

Score: 1

Dialogue

At times it felt forced and a little cheesy but overall it wasn’t bad.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I have to say I was impressed to see a movie take place in winter and be able to see their breath. This was obviously filmed in a cold location (Utah) and it gave it some authenticity that a lot of other movies miss. That being said the transition and establishing shots were overused.

The music was nice, but I was really disappointed to not see a proper duet between the two leads. They’re both accomplished singers afterall.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It was predicable, cheesy, and borderline satirical, but it had charm. The entire family watched and didn’t get bored. It’s a low angst lovely movie.

Bonus points for the positive portrayal of consent.

Score: 1

Overall

It might not be the most original or the biggest budget, but it’s charming and succeeds on the charisma of the leads. If you need a nice Christmas romance with low stakes, this is for you.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

2022 Resolution Review

Hello Readers,

Well, 2022 was quite the year… I’m going to leave it at that and avoid the profanity bubbling up.

My 2022 in Gif format. (Monty Python and the Holy Grail scene with the black knight kicking the protagonist and saying, “It’s just a flesh wound.” despite having both arms cut off.)

Writing

1. Write a monthly serial story (Success)

I’ve managed to finish this one and have plans for next year. It’s the only real witing I managed after my injury in June. Read from the beginning of the Aetherverse.

2. Write Guise and Dolls Faymous with Jen (Success)

This went famously (haha). I loved writing this story and I’m glad that it’s now vacated that part of my brain that it’s been occupying for the past decade. Unfortunately, a spin-off series has decided to move in.

3. Finish Copper Tarnish (Fail)

I unfortunately didn’t have the arm ability to finish this.

4. Write book 3 of The Gates of Westmeath with Jen (Fail)

We decided to put off this one until we could figure out what’s wrong with my arms.

5. Keep Working on FADDS (Success)

I created an entire ridiculously complex module for mixing components that was just way too much. So, I remade it in a simpler way and it seems to be working really well. I’m continuing to tweak and add more monsters as I go. Mostly, I’m just having fun with the system and my players.

I also created a new power for characters who use magic but don’t have access to a lot. It’s to mimic the idea of Adepts that I’ve been playing with in my books.

JenEric Designs and Coffee

6. Ensure 5+ days of updates (Success)

We managed to keep things updated, but the only reason I suceeded was because of Jen’s help and all the work she’s been doing for the blog.

7. Write a movie review each week (Success)

I created a copy-paste template and that’s helped a lot. I have had, so far, a movie review each week for the whole year.

8. Design and release a new flavour and redesign Green Apple (Fail)

I really wanted to release Pineapple this year, but I didn’t have the energy or time. Same with the redesign of Green Apple.

Personal

9. Read 5 Books (Success)

In July I discovered Audiobooks and that I could listen to them at physio. They’ve really helped keep me from returning early from mandatory health breaks at work.

So far I’ve read 15 and I should be finished another this week.

10. Be More Patient (Fail)

Honestly, I have no idea how I’m doing on this one. I do know that I’m a terrible injured/sick person. Feeling like I’m letting people down makes me grumpy. I’m trying and that’s the important thing, but it’s hard. I know I’ve taken it out on my wife and kids more than I should have and I’m trying to be better.

11. Don’t over-stress (Fail)

Ontario’s health care system seems to be imploding, so that’s not helping.

The endless bureaucracy that is WSIB has not helped. I’m still missing writing, video games, and ukulele.

I also had issues with CRA this year. It’s been a year… sigh.

12. Practice bass or ukulele 2-3 times a week (Fail)

This was going great, but now if I pick up the instrument I have maybe three strums and the pain becomes too much.


Well that’s 6 out of 12 successes. Considering my injury, I’m going to take 50% as a win.

I might be complaining a lot, but there were some great things that happened this year. Big things like Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers being released or two great conventions and small things like staying up too late chatting with my wife about books or snuggling with my kids in front of a good movie.

I hope you’ve had a good 2022. Either way, thank you for reading.

Éric

Christmas With You – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Christmas With You.

Story

This falls into the category of “Rich out of touch city person” is shown the joys of a modest Christmas category of movies. That being said, there’s a little more heart to it with the way the main character has missed out on a lot of Latinx traditions. So it feels less like she’s learning about the joys of being middle class and more like she’s re-learning her culture and how to have a family.

There’s also a wonderful level of respect and collaboration between the two leads. Made me think of writing with my wife.

Score: 1

Characters

The two mains were great. I loved the amount of emotion in their expressions. I liked the solid, priorities in the right place, dad. I also liked the vulnerable and genuinely nice pop star.

The main girl was great for the early hook, but sort of fell back after that.

The manager / best friend was amazing.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a lot of cheese in this movie, but most of it is the right kind. The Abuela’s thirsty comments are hilarious and the small snarky comments throughout are great.

My only gripe was the teens. What little dialogue they had felt forced, like the movie was written by someone who’s only seen teens in the movies.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were good. The cinematography was acceptable and the sets were awesomely Christmas.

The music was mostly great, but I didn’t really like the final song. It was nice, but missing something.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It could have been very awkward and angsty, but the movie is a lot of fun. Mostly everyone enjoyed it. The three year old was restless, though.

Score: 1

Overall

A sweet and adorable Christmas romance. The leads are solid, but what makes the movie is the warmth of a loving family Christmas.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 12 (Finale)


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 12: The End of the Beginning

I fully intended to stay in Fay. I knew my leaving would be bad for the realm. Especially if I left at the same time as Randi. After a few hundred years of blissfully ruling my small kingdom and making sure my children were well taken care of, I was visited by a human woman.

The crier introduced her as, “Iman, Guardian of Aether”. The woman who entered was old, fragile looking, but her eyes still glowed with power. 

“Iman!” I said and stood to meet her, “My old friend.”

“Old is right. How have you not aged? Bah.”

I bowed and said, “It’s been less time here than on Earth and I’m immortal, I think. At least, no one has told me different yet.”

“Well, I’m a hundred and twenty-three and I need your help.” She spat the words out as if they hurt her.

“For you, anything.”

She cocked her eyebrow and said, “Oh, you must feel like you owe me. Or I’ve lost my senses.”

Nodding, I said, “Yes, I owe you and the Aether for my violation. I should not have used it as a dumping ground.”

“Fine, fine. I want you to train my grand-daughter. I’m dying and I don’t want her dealing with the same uncertainty I did.”

“I will do my best—” I was cut off by a portal opening and five people walking through. It was the other Guardians. “What’s going on?” I asked, annoyance painting my voice.

“Forgive us, Lord Robin, but we need all seven Guardians. Our universe is under attack,” Merlin looked much too calm for the declaration.

“Mulciber?” I asked, knowing that the great steel serpent would break through eventually.

Merlin wasn’t the person to answer. Instead, it was a man who I didn’t recognize, “No. It’s something much older and much hungrier.” He paused and then added, “Sorry. I’m Clause Johnson, Guardian of Chaos.”

I looked over at Randi and she nodded.

When I followed them into the portal I expected to go to Everworld, the Aether, or someplace else, but we went to Earth. We were in a city and it took me a long time to recognize it. San Francisco had changed over the past hundred years.

“What’s the year?” I asked.

Morgana smirked, but something about her looked younger than before. “It’s 1906. Last time you were here, a few young women disappeared.”

“Fay brides are given a boon for their service and it’s always their choice.”

The ground shook and the world swam as a large tendril of purple energy escaped from the earth. The people screamed and ran, and the battle began.

I don’t remember much, but when it was over and we had won, the city was in ruins and Kishnar and Iman had died.

“She was brave,” said Morgana as I wept over the man I didn’t know and the woman I had briefly known. “They—” She collapsed on the ground. 

Merlin caught her and touched her neck, then her head, “Her pulse is faint. There’s something wrong with her mind. I can’t get in to help.” His words were sad, angry, and impotent. It was hard to see a great wizard looking so helpless. 

I leaned forward and touched her head. I felt resistance as I entered her mind, but pushed through it. Her mind was a glorious place with an overwhelming amount of information. She wasn’t just the Guardian of time, every moment of existence lived inside her mind. Every decision and what-if.

I focused on the smaller details and saw a small cloud of purple. Our enemy had hidden a part of itself inside her. I hunted it down and destroyed it.

As I pulled out of her mind, she grabbed my arms and I saw the futures, all of them. It was horrifying. 

“How can you function with all that in your head?”

She smiled, “How do you function with so little inside yours?” Her laughter was a little wild, but contagious. 

I returned home and my dreams were plagued by what I saw. I saw three great wars and what would happen if I were there.

The first was another Fay Civil War. It would reduce our population to nearly nothing if I were involved and last a century. If I were not, it would last a year with minimal casualties.

The second was the inevitable invasion by Mulciber. If I were there, we’d win with plenty of casualties including myself. If I wasn’t, Mulciber would claim our universe.

The third was a war on Earth fought between great wizards. If I were there, Merlin and Morgana would live. If I weren’t, they would die and all of existence would unravel.

I needed to survive the second war in order to be at the third.

I thought about this and stayed up late until I dreamed of the solution. I needed to increase Fay’s armies and people in order to ensure we had the troops to survive the second war. I needed a hero who could rival me to take my place. Or better yet, a family of them.

I made my plan and it was simple. My Fay brides’ boons would apply to their children, and I’d need to find the perfect bride to spawn the perfect champions. I needed someone kind, who was also clever. 

It took a few years, but I found the perfect woman. Denise Lance was a woman with a strong sense of right, a clever mind, and plenty of imagination. When she asked for Luck, I knew my champions would be perfect. I just hoped they’d be enough. As a bonus, I found Kathryn Lami who asked for Power, and Margery Door who asked for Cleverness. The three of them would give me heroes who would be better than I could be.

When they left, the Civil War started, and I knew what I had to do. I had to escape in order to let my people live. I took a hundred thousand of my descendants and hid them in stasis within the heart of Fay.

Then Randi and I entered the Deep Realms and I prepared a test that only a worthy mind and heart could pass. When that happened, I’d be released, just in time for the third war.

Merlin and Morgana are pillars that keep our reality from collapsing and I am going to make sure I save them.

Robin will return in Elizabeth Investigates 4: The Mystery of the Dancing Lights (Fall 2023)


While you wait for the next story, check out the previous serial stories:

Scrooge: A Christmas Carol – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Scrooge: A Christmas Carol.

Story

It’s A Christmas Carol… mostly. If you’re a stickler for the original, it’ll annoy you at times. There’s some anachronisms and a few extra touches to soften Scrooge and make him more likeable. I don’t think they were necessary, but they did give more emotion to the songs, so I’m okay with it.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters are pretty much the same. I like that they kept Cratchet’s wife being angry with Scrooge. I liked the emotion and way they handled the love interest.

I like that they include the sister. In so many movie adaptations they forget about her or only make a passing reference. I approve of switching her from older to younger and making her frail.

The ghosts, which are often the best parts, are fun.

Score: 1

Dialogue

I’m a big fan of Dickens’ choices and language. The dialogue is quick and witty in the story. Unfortunately I find this movie’s updates to the dialogue to be pretty bland. A watered down version of the original where any older language just seems out of place.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The animation was pretty and captivating. I think they overdid the special effects and jarring camera work.

The music… Holy Marley’s Ghost it was good. They didn’t need to go that hard with the music. Any and all beauty lost in the modern language is more than made up for in the music.

Score: 1

Fun

Once I got over the anachronisms and the language, I greatly enjoyed this one. The 6 year old was captivated and the 3 year old was only a little bored during the last ghost.

The adults all kept being amazed by the music.

Score: 1

Overall

An interesting take on A Christmas Carol. Not for the purists or those who hate historical inaccuracies, but the animation was fun and the music was outstanding.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Why I don’t like sex in YA media

Hello Readers,

I like a steamy scene as much as the next person. One of my favourites is in Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. However, I shy away from them in young adult or new adult fiction.

*WARNING* I will be talking about underage sex, consent, violence, and rape.

There is a overarching moralistic trend in North American media to equate sex with violence. Look at the words we use to talk about sex. Body Count, Conquests, etc.

What this means for YA media is a massive quantity of negative portrayals of sex. The first book I remember reading that had sex in it was a french novel about a girl who runs away from home and gets raped and pregnant. It was pretty traumatic. One of the first movies I watched that I remember there being sex in it was Revenge of the Nerds and that’s rape where you’re supposed to cheer for the rapist. Those are just a few examples, but there are many more.

Now I try to remember books that I read that had a positive sexual experience and I can only think of one. (In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce)

The idea that sex is bad is really ingrained in us as a society. Some people who are very open and non-judgmental in other areas have trouble divorcing the learned negativity of sex.

You’ll hear things like “Can’t they stay kids?” and “Why are they rushing to grow up?” as if sex were a loss of innocence. It doesn’t have to be. Sex isn’t inherently traumatic.

Unfortunately, sex is often equated with violence because it can be used for violence. Sex can be used as a form of control over someone else and therefore can be a loss of control.

So when sex is explored in YA stories, I know we’re in for one of the big three; Rape, Pregnancy, or Infection.

What we need is more realistic but positive examples of joyful, consensual, and loving sex. It’s important for readers of all ages to see healthy concepts of sex and not just the traumatic.

Sex doesn’t have to be only about trauma, we need the cautionary tales, but we also need to safe and healthy role-models.

I don’t write sex in my YA for the simple reason that I have trouble writing the emotional truth of it. But I do encourage authors who can do it to please remember the power of having a good example. Sex positive is just as important as the morality tales and warnings.

I get that this is a loaded subject. Please be civil in the comments.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric