Muppets Haunted Mansion – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 special Muppets Haunted Mansion.

Story

This was a love story to the beloved ride. The story is a bare bones outline of the ride with some touching moments in between.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main characters are Gonzo and Pepe. I find Pepe extremely annoying, I’ve never been a fan of the womanizing characters. I understand why they used him for this story, though.

Gonzo goes through a good story arc and speaks to older fans and younger ones as well.

The rest of the muppets have nice cameos.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

It was everything a good muppets movie should be. It had music, puns, and lots of jokes. I especially liked the shameless use of quotes from the ride.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It was a very well shot and designed film. The background details are designed for that cross-section of Haunted Mansion fans and Muppet fans. Down to muppet-a-fying the wallpaper.

The music is a lot of fun and I wish there had been more. I liked the spooky muppet show opening song version at the end.

Score: 1

Fun

Be warned that although this isn’t scary, it does have a lot of jump scares. The kids liked it, although the five year old found it too scary due to the jump scares.

It was nice and nostalgic for those of us that grew up with the muppets show and movies.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a wonderful mix of classic Muppet humour and nostalgia for the Haunted Mansion ride. The littles might dislike the jump scares, but overall it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5.

Free Guy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Free Guy.

Story

The story was deceptively simple but had lots of layers. It had a surprisingly upbeat message considering how the majority of humans are truly awful in the movie. I like the melding of a classic hero’s narrative with shades of fairy tales, otherworld stories, and a shade of 80’s techno thriller.

Score: 1

Characters

It would have been much too simple to make the characters stereotypes. The movie avoids that with everyone except the main villain who is geniusly played.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is witty and wonderfully steeped in video game and online culture without being so dense as to be unintelligible to people who don’t play.

It has some ridiculously silly lines that wouldn’t work without the expert delivery of the actors.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie has so much going on in the background that it is impossible to catch everything in one viewing. I was impressed how this never distracted from the plot or the character development. It was also stunningly done with a beautiful mix of traditional and modern special effects. Special shoutout to them filming the real world and the game world with different camera lenses. Combined with the extra saturation in the game, it added a nice touch of separation.

If you’re a music nerd and a Disney fan, you’ll maybe have noticed that Guy’s theme is the same as the protagonist’s from the short film Paperman. The short’s music was written by the same composer and the short premiered before Wreck-It Ralph, another videogame movie.

Score: 1

Fun

My two year old sat through most of it, but got bored near the end. He spent the next day saying, “Free Guy Awesome.” My five year old spent the entire movie glued to the screen. My father-in-law was a little confused by some things since he’s never been into video games.

I had a lot of fun with this and found myself completely engrossed. It’s a rare movie that has me so sucked in that I feel disoriented when I get out of it.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is exciting, heartwarming, and lots of fun. The blending of meta narrative with action adventure, Truman Show, and a little Sleeping Beauty makes for a fascinating story. All of which would be terrible without the amazing performances of the actors.

I highly recommend this one.

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.

Barbie: Spy Squad – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 film Barbie: Spy Squad.

Story

Definitely geared towards younger audiences, it’s a solid intro into the secret agent / spy genre. The twist was predictable for me, but I’ve seen a lot of these.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main three characters are the usual super awesome Barbie and friends. They fit into the basic spy stereotypes very well. The techie computer guy felt really relatable and the over-the-top spy aunt was pretty funny.

The villain felt a little meh and the heel-face turn was abrupt and could have used more set up.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue oscillates between cutesy and inane. There are a few funny jokes and the overall message is good.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals are standard Barbie movie with lots of cute spy and action bonuses. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible.

The music is catchy… too catchy. They have 1 song and they use it A LOT!

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed this the first time I watched it. It has constantly been on of my daughters favourite movies since she could ask for it. She used to say she was going on missions with her spy girls and then do a bunch of flips.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the best Barbie movies available with a strong message and catchy music. It’s a great intro into spy and action movies without the gratuitous violence. It’s fun and one of my daughter’s favourite movies.

Score: 3 stars out of 5

Atlantis: The Lost Empire – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 film Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Story

A wonderful mix of steampunk, action adventure, and archaeology. It avoids a lot of racist tropes and narrowly avoids the white Saviour narrative. It’s fun and funny and quite deep for a kids movie.

There’s a plot point that really bothers me. The fact that they lost the ability to read. There are fan theories that the mother mindwiped the survivors or that the king banned reading.

At first I thought it might be a situation where only royalty could read, but if they had basic instructions on the flying fish then they were there for anyone who who owned a crystal.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I’m not a fan of the sexy native who wears less than everyone else for no reason trope. Kida is a fun character however and she manages to surpass the tropes.

Milo is a typical early 2000’s geek with no real life skills other than that one boiler trick. He makes me think of Flynn Carson in the early Librarian movies or Daniel Jackson from SG1.

The rest of the crew is interesting and well fleshed out for such a large cast in a short movie.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is utter genius and others are so bad. I loath the line where Milo asks Kida her name and she says, “Kidagakash” and the linguist who just deciphered a dead language which he managed to speak to natives so that they understood him looks flustered and asks her for a nickname. ARG! He should have been dissecting the meaning, not acting like an idiot.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The animation in this film hold up ridiculously well. The 3D is so well used that I barely noticed and the way they integrated the colours and lighting make it feel seamless. There’s a grandiose feel to the world.

The music is epic and fantastic.

Score: 1

Fun

Despite it’s flaws, it’s a lot of fun to watch. The kids loved it and there was a lot of gasping.

Score: 1

Overall

Fun action adventure with shades of Jules Verne, Indiana Jones, and Stargate. It’s fun, exciting, and has some interesting commentary on the morality of archaeology. It has a few annoying flaws, but it’s a joy to watch.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Cinderella (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Cinderella.

Story

The story is pretty standard. I liked the additional backstory on the evil step-mother and the addition of a dream for Ella.

That being said, it was very surface level and didn’t add much to the original.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were fun, but not deep. It was a playful movie with witty banter. I liked that they joked about Pierce Brosnan’s singing.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The best way to describe the dialogue is mildly witty. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. There’s no double meanings or witty back and forths.

Score: 0.5

Music and Visuals

Nearly everything in the movie was anachronistic and it works to bring a sense of whimsy to the film. From the Baritone Sax to the impressive range of styles. It’s all in fun.

I truly appreciated the use of colour after so many colourless period films of late.

The music wasn’t Moulin Rouge level, but was a lot of fun. The duet dance to Ed Sheeran’s Perfect lived up to its name.

Score: 1

Fun

It had a good beat in both the music and the pacing. Little to no awkward moments and the actors could sing. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We had the main song stuck in our heads for the rest of the night.

Score: 1

Overall

Cinderella is a story that’s been told so often that it’s no longer a story as much as an archetype. This movie doesn’t add anything original to the story, but instead re-mixes it with fun music. It’s fun and will have you tapping your foot.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

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

Chicken Little – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2005 film Chicken Little.

Story

This is three shorts in one poorly transitioned and linked by nothing but characters. Instead of transition scenes to bring us between family drama, baseball, and aliens; we get fat, fart, ugly, and useless jokes.

Score: 0

Characters

Someone threw darts at a board filled with clichés then picked the ones with the best mock-able attributes. I have never seen so many jokes at the expense of the main characters in any Disney movie before.

The parent who doesn’t believe their child trope needs to go away forever.

Score: 0

Dialogue

There was a lot of clever meta-jokes about the genre. From jokes about the movie Aliens, to Indiana Jones, some were clever, others not so much.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’m not sure what style Disney was going for, but the visuals are average to mediocre for the time and abysmal for now. The character design was poorly thought out and the scaling was odd.

The music was a lovely nostalgic hit of the mid-aughts.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The urge to scream at the screen was hard to push down. So much about this annoyed me. The kids liked it enough, although the two year old wasn’t all that interested after an hour.

Score: 0

Overall

This is one of the movies people forget is Disney. I think we should just forget it completely. Abysmal jokes with no connections between the sections. Its writing is more concerned with insults both to its characters and its audience’s intelligence.

Final Score: 1 Star out of 5

Treasure Planet – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2002 film Treasure Planet.

Story

On the surface, this seems like a straight adaptation of the book, but there are a lot of small subtle changes to adapt it to a 2002 audience. Mostly we see it in the way that the main character views the world. Instead of the naive, wide-eyed boy of the book, we get a sullen bad boy wannabe. Both are rutted in a childhood ignorance that mirrors when they were written.

The rest of the changes are just as clever and make the whole movie work in a way that seems improbable, but is quite lovely.

I find it interesting that in the book, we discover that the dad was killed to hide the treasure and that Silver knew him, but that story line is completely dropped in this version. Again, probably a sign of the times, in that an audience for the book would be shocked at a dad who just left instead of dying at sea, while more modern audiences wouldn’t blink an eye.

Score: 1

Characters

The protagonist is just the right level of innocent, sullen, and clever to make him likeable. The rest of the characters range from cartoony to downright terrifying. It’s impressive that the movie can have such a range without it feeling jarring.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The blend of pirate/sea talk, modern dialogue, and science fiction speak is fantastic. It’s at the perfect level to be understandable to anyone yet still have little nods to the original and science fiction movies.

Score: 1

Visuals and music

The blending of animation techniques works so well that despite the early 3D animation this is still absolutely stunning. From the textures to the starscapes, everything looks amazing. The 3D is used extremely well for shots that just would be impossible in traditional animation.

The music is a nice mix of early 2000’s, epic science fiction, and pirate movie.

Score: 1

Fun

I enjoyed the movie and always love the nuances of the characters. My 2 year repeated the title and ‘cook’ for the first half. Not sure why, but he still watched. My four year old loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie has all the buckle and swash you’d want with just a nice pinch of science fiction cleverness. Definitely one of the most underrated Disney movies.

If you enjoy pirates in space, this is the movie for you.

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.

Jungle Cruise – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Jungle Cruise.

Story

The story is an interesting combination of jungle adventure and period piece. Overall, it was well done. I like that they’re looking for a plant and not an ancient artifact to plunder. It’s Indiana Jones with a twist and a little more modern (despite being set before).

Score: 1

Characters

It’s about time that Disney started adding more LGBTQ+ characters into its films. It was doubly nice that he wasn’t killed and that it was stated in the movie, not by the director or actor.

The two main cast members have almost no romantic chemistry, but make up for it in ridiculous amounts of charisma.

The supernatural villains are relatable but boring and tragic, while the German prince was funny but a little too moustache twirly for my taste.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I would have been saddened if they hadn’t included the ride’s puns. The puns, the jokes, the banter, and even the dramatic tension, were all fantastic and make me want to re-watch it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Overall the film was beautiful, but there are some parts of it that looked wrong or overly CGI. The jaguar and the flowers, along with some of the wildlife, felt like it was over-saturated and not properly lit. Made them, and even the villains, feel like they weren’t really part of the movie’s world.

The music was spectacular. I look forward to listening to it again.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I did a few summers in University as a tour guide / captain for the Ottawa Canal. I helped develop a much more pun intensive tour. That’s always made me have a soft spot for the Jungle Cruise ride and has certainly translated to the movie. It was a lot of pun and lots of laughs.

The entire family liked it. The two year old watched most of it and the four year old was enthralled.

Score: 1

Overall

For those who love the ride, the movie will be extra sweet, but it has a lot of goofy (pun induced) fun for those who haven’t been on the ride. It’s exciting, funny, and it’s weaknesses are minor compared to the charisma and banter of it’s three leads.

Final Score: 4 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