Hocus Pocus – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.

Story

It’s harder for me to judge this movie’s story than normal because I’ve watched it yearly for 25+ years. There are a lot of witch clichés thrown around in this movie but it also works as a satire of the concept.

I was impressed that there were no offensive moments and it was as much fun as it always was.

Score: 1 (Admittedly not objective)

Character

The witches were wonderfully evil, narcissistic, and funny.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Dani (one of my first crushes). Max is an idiot who doesn’t think before he speaks or acts but has lots of heart. The brother-sister relationship makes him likeable beyond the typical white boy with a crush. Allison is a little bland but could have been worse.

The movie is greatly lacking in any sort of representation.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I think I need a list of Bette Midler’s insults in this for my next internet argument. Maggoty Malfeasance and Thundering Oafs being some of my favourite. The dialogue is over the top and a little awkward but delivered perfectly. I’ve often danced around singing Amok! Amok! Amok!

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie more than anything defined what I thought of as what Halloween should look like. The beautiful leaves and lively decorations. Similar to home but we had more snow and less leaves by that point. I envied their lack of snowsuits.

The music is sometimes epic, sometimes silly, and always right on point.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie makes me nostalgic and makes me smile. Watching my daughter’s face as she whispered, “He’s going to light the candle.” and, “No don’t light the candle.” made my night. It was great to see how into it she was.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a classic and is both scary and funny. It’s not a perfect movie but it is a lot of fun. The sections with the kids would have made for a fun movie but the witches send it over the top in every way. I’ve watched this dozens of times and I’ll happily watch it every Halloween.

Final Score: 4.5

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.

Story

A by the numbers spy/secret society/urban fantasy first episode. This is an example of not just playing into the tropes but embracing them fully.

The story isn’t new, but it is well executed with extremely good set up. Predictable but fun.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main genre team tropes are all there: the science nerd, the tech nerd, the bad-ass with a tragic backstory, and of course the special kid who was destined to be the hero with a special power. (I like that the power is math.)

Overall, these characters should be flat and boring, copies of copies, but somehow through writing and acting the characters are likeable and unique.

Tom Felton chewed up the scenery, relishing the role, as a weird cross between Jude Law as Pitch in Rise of the Guardians and Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was standard YA and with the exception of Tom Felton and the kidnapped kid there wasn’t much good dialogue. Nothing cringe, just bland.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Surprisingly pretty and wonderfully shot. The movie uses every horror trick except the expanding corridor and uses them well. When the movie wasn’t in full horror mode it was bright colours and beautiful sets.

The music was subtle but effective. A lot of half used pop songs but they were effective and pushed the urban fantasy feel.

Score: 1

Fun

I think this was just the perfect scary level for my daughter but she’s a horror fan. It was a little scary for my Mother In-Law though. I found it a lot of fun but it did suffer from the need to set everything up for this movie and the next 2. (Assuming they’re doing all 3 books.)

It was definitely handled better than Society for Second born Royals but not as well as Enola Holmes. That being said, I look forward to re-watching this one.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun movie with a few flaws. Easily a new favourite Halloween movie and I’m excited for the next ones in the series. Not perfect, but a lot of fun.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Monsters vs. Aliens – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2009 film Monsters vs. Aliens.

Story

An interesting mash-up (monster mash-up?) of typical monster and alien invasion tropes from both the classic movies and the newer ones. Although they revel in the tropes of the genre, the movie isn’t an alien invasion or monster movie, it’s a superhero origin story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were funny but not particularly interesting. They balanced their roles well and were likeable but nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The movie was filled with quotes, references, and jokes about other monster or invasion movies and TV shows. I’m sure I missed a few but greatly enjoyed those that I caught.

As far as original dialogue, each character had a few great moments.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was colourful and the monsters were okay, but the humans and Susan were really off. The mouths and eyes were just off enough to make it disconcerting.

The music was a beautiful homage to classic monster and alien movies.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Lots of action, jokes, and fun moments. It was fun from start to finish. I’m sure the genre references and jokes help me a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a movie that squeezes monsters, aliens, and superhero tropes all together. It’s what happens when you make a loving parody. It was exciting for the kids and a had lots of little Easter eggs for the adults.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

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

Igor – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 film Igor.

Story

A remake of My Fair Lady but with a Frankenstein twist. This could have been a wonderful satire of sexism, fat-phobia, classism, and racism, but instead they decided to ignore the messages of both My Fair Lady and Frankenstein to create a poorly executed adventure romance.

Score: 0

Characters

The titular character is the stereotypical nerd with a heart of gold. He triumphs by sheer brain power and luck. He manages to change his world without changing anything.

The monster is the most civilized and definitely the one that makes the difference in the story.

The only characters that weren’t bland and honestly saved the movie from being boring were Scamper, the immortal rabbit, and Brain. The sidekicks made the best jokes and insights.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The wry humour of the sidekicks and the referential jokes save this movie. If it wasn’t for those, the movie would get lost in it’s own blandness.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is crude by the standards of it’s time and hasn’t aged well. The monochromatic world don’t help make it visually appealing.

The music is boring and the songs feel like they were chosen by someone who got a bad synopsis and didn’t understand the little amount of plot.

Score: 0

Fun

There were some fantastic jokes and some interesting moments and references to classic monster movies. That was fun but the fat-phobic jokes and constant tropes about beauty sapped the joy for me.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie could have used more Scamper and Brain, which are the only parts of the movie that are genuinely funny. Beyond that it’s mostly been done before and I wasn’t impressed.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

Enola Holmes – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Enola Holmes.

Story

There are two main types of mysteries, those that the audience can solve and those that the audience can’t. Holmes, Poirot, Castle, etc they all did both. In the second it’s usually a small detail that the detective sees but the writer omits.

This is more of a coming of age adventure with a bunch of mysteries mixed in, most of which are of the second category. It’s easy enough to guess but not all the pieces are there for us to be sure.

A lot of complaints about this movie are around the fact that it’s not a Holmesian-style mystery and that it includes too many feminist and egalitarian themes. It’s not supposed to be a Holmesian, it’s supposed to be inspired by not copying, as for the other complaints… it seems there’s a lot of sensitive people.

The major flaw in this movie is the amount of time it takes to set up places and events, some of which won’t be explored until the next movie. So much of it feels like a forced prologue instead of an origin story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Enola Holmes is wonderful character that has a lot of Sherlock’s flaws, like over confidence, and a few extras like being a fish out of water. Sherlock would argue that her empathy and emotions are another flaw. She’s also competent, clever, and funny.

Mycroft and Sherlock are both a little different than in other interpretations. The first being more of a dick and the second being more caring. Both can easily be explained by family dynamics and the fact that the story is told from Enola’s point of view.

She doesn’t see the brilliant politician and spy that is Mycroft because he acts like a petulant child who’s always been compared to his siblings and been found wanting.

She might not see the cold, calculating, and sometimes cruel Sherlock because with her he remembers caring and he feels guilty that she’s a lot like him. I have to say it was refreshing not to see another interpretation of Sherlock as a frantic, addled, mess.

The rest of the cast is interesting, but it’s the siblings that make the movie special.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are times that I feel the dialogue slipped out of its period authenticity but I really don’t care. Again this isn’t a historical drama, it’s an adventure story.

Enola narrates in an almost jarring 4th wall breaking style throughout the movie and at first I wasn’t a fan. As it went on, I realized this was like her diary, her narration would have had much less impact and humour had it been done traditionally. This added a little humour and made the audience feel like it was being included.

The word play and puns were delightful.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The setting is mostly historical London but there’s almost a Romantic era love for nature that’s included. The nature scenes are lovely and the overall filming was very well done. The fight scenes were nicely shot.

The music was cleverly Holmesian with a modern twist. Adventurous, mysterious, with a little cheekiness added in.

Score: 1

Fun

Ten minutes in as they were still world building and telling us what Enola was like, my daughter proclaimed that she didn’t like the movie. She sat through it anyway and by the end said it was her favourite movie ever. (Like Holmes, her favourite is the last one she experienced.)

I enjoyed the beginning although I feel it was a little long and could have been trimmed and enjoyed the rest. It was a fun adventure with lots of great nods to Holmes.

Score: 1

Overall

Suffering a little from over explaining and too much set up, the movie is still delightful all the way through. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and not precious on all the details you’ll enjoy this. If you’re not a fan of Holmes but love a good adventure and strong character this is also a good choice.

Final Score: 4.5 stars out of 5

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Secret Society of Second-Born Royals.

Story

An interesting mix of Kingsman and Sky High with very little original content. It’s fun but neither complex or original. I called the twists way before I should have and felt disappointed rather than proud that I did.

It also suffered from excess world building, making it feel like a pilot episode rather than a movie.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were pretty much a mixture of superhero and high school stereotypes but they were very well played. The actors made some awkward character arcs seem more believable than they should have.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Neither bad nor memorable, the dialogue was passable. There were a few standout moments between the kids and the narrator/teacher and a great scene between the main character and her future queen sister.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects were okay, but the scenery was great. The camera angles and cinematography were good but not great.

The music was mostly pretty bland until there was someone playing on screen, then it was great. A weird mixture of styles and feels like they’d originally made this a musical and then changed their minds but couldn’t let go of some of the music.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed myself and liked watching the characters develop, but it wasn’t gripping.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Bogged down by world building and a derivative script, the movie felt like its goal was to set up the characters and world for a TV show. Nothing about it was terrible, but it wasn’t very good. I’d watch it again for the rock music and impressive actors.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and the 2012 movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Story

Journey 1

The movie adheres really closely to the original novel. I’m impressed that they were able to create a world where the book exists and then manage to follow almost exactly the same plot.

I’m impressed at the funeral scene where they spent the time to let the two male characters grieve and cry on camera. It’s not often you see men show emotions.

I like that they made the guide a woman and made her hyper competent, but I could have done without the awkward love story.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The movie doesn’t follow the story line of the book but that’s probably a good thing. The code breaking at the beginning and the diverse cast is awesome. I found the movie lagged a little as they traipsed around the island from one set piece to another.

The emotion in this one felt a little stilted compared to the first. The “pecs” talk was awkward until the berry part.

It’s a very linear movie without much surprise.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Journey 1

There are three characters in the movie. The dorky scientist that morphs into an action hero, the scared kid who goes on an adventure, and the beautiful and competent mountain guide with daddy issues. The movie spends very little time on any development for the characters, even forgetting the scientists awkwardness mid-movie in order to have him punching things and ripping off his sleeves. They are static but not offensive or flat.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The sullen kid became a sullen teen. The rest of the cast is entertaining if borderline annoying. The Rock infuses his character with enough charisma to make him likeable as does Michael Caine.

Vanessa Hudgens is great but has no real reason to fall for the charmless main hero. Luis Guzmán’s character is absolutely fantastic, funny and relatable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Journey 1

The banter between the three characters ranges from dumb to entertaining. Thankfully there’s a lot more quips than awkward flirting.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The dialogue between the love interests is stilted and awkward, hopefully on purpose, same with the dialogue overall. Other than a few good lines it was pretty bad.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Journey 1

This movie was designed to be shown in 3D in the height of 3D stupidity. To the point where they added extra gags just for the effect. I hate that. The technology and special effects should always work for the story not the other way around. Despite that, the special effects were passable and the scenery was cool.

The music was utterly forgettable but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The special effects are enhanced and take much too much time from the meagre story. (I sound like a grumpy critic.) It’s pretty, but not great. Again, the 3D for 3D’s sake is tiresome.

The soundtrack is meh, nothing exciting. I enjoyed the songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Journey 1

I like the book, I liked the old movie from the 50’s, and I had fun with this one. There’s thrills and adventure throughout along with two very pretty leads. I also enjoyed how much my daughter got into the film and reacted to the young boy’s perils.

Score: 1

Journey 2

I’m not as big a fan of the books this was based on. I liked Treasure Island, hated Gulliver’s Travels, and was indifferent towards Mysterious Island. There were a lot of exciting moments but the fun was in the, rarer, character interactions.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Journey 1

This is a fun, easy, and exciting movie. Not the greatest and maybe a little forgettable but fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Journey 2

There was too much time spent of visual gags and action set pieces when this sort of story is supposed to showcase the characters in between. The action often replaces character development instead of accelerating it.

Overall it was fun, but lacked substance.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5


S.M. Carrière and I discussed and reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth from 1958 on the Night at the Round Table. Have a look here:

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

Bill & Ted Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1989 movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the 1991 movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and the 2020 movie Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Story

Excellent Adventure

This story is dated in so many ways but still manages to be fantastic at the end. I’m torn between the poor pacing, homophobia, and sexism; and the fantastic message of love and peace.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

The same message resounds through the second movie as in the first, but again there’s more sexism, homophobia, and transphobia to make things awkward. Again the ending is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The same message of unity and love are sown throughout this movie like the others but with a little more maturity. The twist is predictable but getting there wasn’t. There was none of the previous movies’ sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, but there was a little bit of an awkward fat joke. (nothing compared to Avengers Endgame)

Score: 0.5

Characters

Excellent Adventure

Bill and Ted are well meaning, mostly kind, but so foolish. They have fantastic vocabularies but they really don’t seem to follow everything going on. They are the personification of the slacker. There was an extremely homophobic joke that was out of character and pretty jarring.

The rest of the characters are a wonderful mix of what-if historical characters showed up in 1988.

Unfortunately the women are all pretty useless.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Once again we get Bill and Ted as sweet, mostly, caring, and pretty fools. They graduated high school and got jobs at the mall.

The evil people are all very much evil and totalitarian. It’s an interesting switch to see the rebels be the ones who want to be controlled.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

This is the saddest and the most relatable version of Bill and Ted. They are broken by the weight of their own destiny but still trying anyway.

The introduction of the daughters was great. They are the generation that grew up with music-obsessed slackers. They were both believable and perfect. Both actors managed to mimic the original Bill and Ted’s movements and mannerisms better than the original actors did.

I’m happy they gave the princesses both more story and more screen time.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Excellent Adventure

The dialogue is actually impressively clever. They bypass time travel confusion really well and do really well with making their characters sound unique. It’s endlessly quotable in the way only 80’s movies can be.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Station! The dialogue doesn’t seem quite as special the second time, but there are some fantastic lines. The time travel battle at the end and speech is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

It’s hard to judge the dialogue of this one compared to the others. It’s a lot of self-referential jokes and quips but there’s some interesting bit in there too. I like the consistency in speech patterns and then impressive impersonations of famous musicians.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Excellent Adventure

The production value on this was fantastic, making each time period look authentic (in an 80’s high school curriculum sort of way).

The music was perfect for the movie and really enjoyable.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

The nature of them going to hell and heaven make so that everything in this movie is more stylized and a little darker.

The music was okay but not excellent.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The special effects were updated and beautiful, the makeup work was fantastic, and everything worked towards the story. The locations were authentic and the shots were well thought out.

The nature of the final twist means that the music is less important than the message, but despite that there’s some fantastic pieces. Especially between the historical figures.

Score: 1

Fun

Excellent Adventure

Despite a little cringe and a few really awkward moments the movie is pure fun.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

There’s some cringe and a few parts that I think drag but overall the movie is a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Face the Music

For both nostalgic reasons and because it was well written with little to no cringe, this was a lot of fun. It kept the entire family entertained and watching.

Score: 1

Overall

Excellent Adventure

The movie is dated but still really heartwarming. They really want to push the love and peace message and like Bill and Ted themselves they stumble a few times along the way.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Bogus Journey

Like the first movie, it is dated but overall positive. It manages to capture the optimism of the first despite the darker tone.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Face the Music

The movie manages to pay homage to the first two while surpassing them in fun and quality. Definitely my favourite of the series.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5