Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom  – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Story

This felt like less of a story and more like a bunch of set pieces strung together. I’m sensing a theme that Indy has very little agency in his own movies. The hidden cultist plot crosses over into blatent racism.

Score: 0

Characters

This was Indiana Jones in his element. He spoke the language and knew the history. It was nice to see him seem intelligent. Short round was adorable and Willie was loud. I liked the relationship and emotion between Indy and Short Round.

The rest of the cast was a weird combination of Bond rejects and random cultural clichés thrown at the screen.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue runs from absolutely ridiculous to quippy and fun. Not much is actually deep or meaningful.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Other than a few abuses of blue screen, it really paid off for them to film on location. Absolutely gorgeous scenery. The action set peices are a little over the top, but that makes them fun.

A lot of the music from the first is reused but remixed wonderfully. The darker tones of the temple scenes are well done.

Score: 1

Fun

I enjoyed the movie for nostalgia and because it’s a fun romp. The cultural nonsense is weird and led an entire generation to think that Indian food included chilled monkey brains and live eels.

What the hell was up with the Voodoo doll? That’s not Indian but West African. I think they’d have been better off saying it was a British demon cult.

The kids liked it but said it was scary. (Probably didn’t appreciate the constant pausing for me to rant.)

Score: 0.5

Overall

With elements that made the first one a great movie, this one fails to do anything but string together some impressive action scenes and wildly insulting cultural fabrications.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Damsel – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2024 film Damsel.

Story

A touch of Epic Fantasy and a whole lot of survival horror. The movie tries too hard not to be confusing, and by doing that, it ruins any drama or empathy for the pseudo-twist. The entire first part of the movie, a prologue that over-explains, should have been cut. Everything after that would have flowed and had better emotional impact.

The story is bare-bones and could have pushed harder on the psychological horror. They also introduced the main character’s love of labyrinths which didn’t really lead anywhere.

Score:

Characters

The wet noodle prince, domineering queen, and weird cult like people were okay. Again, if you hadn’t been told what was coming, it could have been eerie.

The movie really survives on the charisma and acting ability of the lead, who is excellent. Special shout out to the step-mother who seriously rocks in her love for her step-daughters.

The dragon was brilliantly voiced.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This was mostly generic fantasy language.

It really shines when the damsel and the dragon are talking at the end, when the damsel is on her own, or whenever the dragon talks.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The dragon design was impressive, a few obvious CGI moments but overall well done. The camera angles, and frantic cuts worked well for the horror style.

The music was good.

Score: 1

Fun

The actress did a great job and despite being predictable, it was fun. I was annoyed by how much the story structure was designed for the reveal that had been blatantly stated at the beginning.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie mixes fantasy and horror but tries too hard not offend fans of either. Because of that, the horror is tame and doesn’t get the chance to really sink in, and the fantasy is pretty bland. If it wasn’t for the quality of the acting, the movie would be bad. As it is, it’s an okay romp with a cool dragon.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

The Faculty – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film The Faculty.

Story

The story of a bunch of outcasts and how they save their school, and the world. It’s not original, not even for its time. The characters make leaps that don’t make sense, there’s a lot of silly science mistakes (No one felt it worth correcting “diuretic” for “desiccant”? Not to mention that the whole “Kill the queen” thing is weird and doesn’t work that way with most insects.

Score: 0

Characters

I liked the range of characters and I’m impressed with the depth of them considering the short amount of screentime they each get.

The movie is a parade of actors that would hit it big or who would go on to do a whole lot of other shows. It’s interesting to see them all together.

Robert Patrick was so good.

Score: 1

Dialogue

All the science was bunk and a lot of it contradictory. The dialogue was hokey most of the time but every once in a while it was really good. The speeches about belonging almost made the bad guys seem reasonable.

I am annoyed at the “sci-fi nerd” getting the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers wrong. If they were going to use the ending from one of the movies, they shouldn’t have had her talking about the book.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The cinematography was good, a few odd choices and hints at the start of shaky cam but overall okay. The rest of the film is very much recognizable as the late 90’s.

The music was awesome. The score was okay but the songs were great.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie had a certain nostalgia, but the piss poor story and the inconsistent science was more frustrating than fun.

I did love seeing all the actors and there were some moments of real quality.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie that puts all its quality in its actors and characters. The plot is flimsy and mediocre, and the science/resolution is just bad. That being said, the characters, music, and acting are far better than the script deserved. Worth it for the nostalgia but nothing special.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Accidental Family – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Accidental Family.

Story

A twist on While You Were Sleeping without the creepy coma stuff. The movie does a great job at setting everything up, but tries too hard to include conventions from comedy, drama, and romance movies.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is the standard nerdy/quirky, supposedly shy, leading lady. She’s sympathetic but a little generic. She is shown to be good at her job which is something I feel is often forgotten in rom-coms.

The rest of the cast is okay with some cringe scenes that could have been better acted.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I found a lot of the dialogue heavy handed. Hearing the girlfriend admit over the phone that she’s just using him for his house was a convenient way to make us dislike her but it wasn’t needed.

The romantic banter is cute and only a little weird because they think they’re 3rd cousins.

The heartfelt moments were well done.

I loved the narrator/angel.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The camera work is good and the locations are well picked. I really appreciated the props for the chests.

The music did it’s job but was not memorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was a calm-ish rom-com. I wasn’t expecting the death and it wasn’t a fun surprise. The rest was cute and enjoyable. The family enjoyed it.

I really hate puking scenes, especially played for laughs. I’m even less of a fan since my 4yo has been going around pretending to puke on people since we watched it.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A mostly inoffensive and mildly enjoyable romantic comedy that takes a dip too far into drama for my liking. Worth a watch if you like rom-coms or dramady films.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Black Friday (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Black Friday.

Story

A very standard zombie movie with a dash of alien invasion. The progression is so predictable I was almost bored. Thankfully there were a lot of shopping jokes.

Score: 0

Characters

The usual rag-tag group of misfits fighting zombies and barely (or not) surviving. Some of the actors were pretty good and some not great. There’s some impressive character moments where they rush through their trauma (from before the events) but it feels forced and is played for laughs.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The jokes about feral customers, retail hell, and consumerism sent me back to my days working in a convenience store. The writers had definitely experienced the existential horror of retail work.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were creepy and well done. Lots of flash and violence.

The music was better than the movie deserved. The original Christmas song was well done.

Score: 1

Fun

There were parts that bored me, but overall I had fun. It was exactly what it said it was and didn’t try to be anything more.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a horror movie that wouldn’t stand up without it’s gimmick, but the gimmick is so well done that you don’t care. It’s violent, gory, and will give you flashbacks to working retail.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Story

I love series. Most of the books I write are series. This didn’t have any resolution for Miles and that made it feel like half a story and not a full movie on its own. Honestly, for a movie called Spider-man he’s the character who get the 4th amount of story after the Spider-verse, Gwen, and Spot. I loved Gwen’s story, but it felt half-baked.

The movie was hurt by having way too much exposition.

The concept of the Spider-Verse and “cannon events” took so much time to get to a point that all the other stories felt rushed.

Score: 0

Characters

The arc for Miles was interesting. I like that he’s more confident and just because the others arrive in his life again, he doesn’t revert to a useless child. He’s confident in his abilities, his morals, and manages to outwit the villains. His personal story of trying to tell his parents and coming to terms with being the only spider-man in his world is barely explored. Hopefully in the next movie.

There was a nice heartfelt moment for Gwen and I really felt for her and loved the parallels between hers and Miles’s story. While his feels lost in the movie, hers feels rushed.

Vampire-angst Spidey is either the dumbest anti-hero or a terrifying villain. We’ll see.

Spider-punk deserves his own series and feels like one of the only reasons the plot moves past all the exposition in the 2/3rds mark.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue, outside the exposition, is quippy and fun. Lots of great lines and the characters really play off each other well. Watching Gwen and Miles talk while web swinging was wonderful. Unfortunately, they didn’t use that style with the bigger bits of exposition.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’m going to be nit-picky here and say that the animation isn’t as good as the first one. The first had clear crisp animation with amazing visuals. This one tried to cut corners by forcing our eyes with blurry backgrounds. It’s still absolutely gorgeous but instead of enhancing the scenes it often distracted from them. The pastel world of Gwen had both kids asking why her hair kept changing colours.

The music was excellent and made a great bridge between the first and second.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The action was great and both kids enjoyed it. The rest of the family found it fun. I’m familiar with the multi-verse concept (BECAUSE I WATCHED THE FIRST MOVIE) so I found the excessive explanations… well, excessive.

Score: 0.5

Overall

It’s great to catch up with old friends. The characters are there, but their story is rushed for extra explanations and world building. The movie is beautiful and fun but isn’t done, and suffers from not giving the audience any resolution.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Ice Princess – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2005 film Ice Princess.

Story

There’s literally nothing original in this script. This is the teen sports/theatre/music storyline that you can see in every other teen drama. Down to the line, “It’s not my dream, [parent], It’s yours.”

Score: 0

Characters

The main character is adorably nerdy and most of the rest of the cast fit perfectly into their roles. The cast take a pedestrian script and do a great job of elevating it with excellent acting. Kudos to Michelle Trachtenberg for learning to skate that well in 10 months.

The mother’s character made me really ANGRY, Joan Cusack does a fantastic job, but the character makes no sense. She’s supposed to be a feminist, granola, pro-education type of mom. However, her comments about the outfits setting women back fifty years are ridiculous and no feminist literature professor would say that. (This comment made me pause and rant about the purpose of the miniskirt from a feminist historical point of view. Sorry family.)

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was cute and the nerd flirting was painfully accurate.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was very well shot. It’s 2005 so they used hand held cameras more than they should, I never got the appeal, it doesn’t enhance the drama.

The music was unmemorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Both kids didn’t want to watch it and by ten minutes in were glued to the screen. It’s a feel good movie. Despite the mother, I did enjoy it and despite my lectures, so did the rest of the family.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a comfort movie. It’s the kind of movie you turn on and you know how it’ll end, and probably everything that leads to it. The acting is wonderful, the nerdiness is great, the skating cameos are fun, and despite some poor character choices, it’s enjoyable.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Love, Simon– JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film Love, Simon.

Story

A modern take on a letter writing romance with some very heavy themes. I get how important and intense coming out can be, but this movie seemed to have trouble deciding if it was a tragic coming out movie, teen angst movie, or romance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Pretentious wealthy teen suburban hipsters. The characters are mostly likeable but extremely judgemental. Lots of emphasis on how people look and equating that to their moral characters. Not a fan of the nerd bashing or fatphobia.

That being said; the parents were great, the vice principal super cringe, and the friendships touching.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

When emotions are high and characters actually talk to each other, the dialogue is spot on. The coming out to his parents is heart wrenching to watch as a parent. I also loved the speech Simon gives to his blackmailer.

The rest of the time, the dialogue feels like all other YA intellectually pretentious films. (Someone should take dialogue from this, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and anything John Green; and make an internet quiz to guess who said it.)

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The cinematography is dated and looks like bad knock off of John Hughes. The use of text and email is clunky and awkward. The camera work is simultaneously too slow and too jerky.

The music is not good enough for a film with a main character who’s a music snob, but isn’t bad.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The amount of angst in this movie was palpable and the amount of cringe was painful. The letters were fun and I liked the pacing of the movie. Coming out isn’t easy and I feel like this film puts all the blame for that on the main character and not enough on society.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A coming of age pseudo-romance populated by pretentious teens making bad choices. The movie does a great job of showing the emotional difficulties of coming out, but makes it feel like it’s mostly the gay man’s fault for complicating it.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Matilda the Musical – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Matilda the Musical.

Story

The story is very similar to the older movie, but with some interesting changes. I’ll admit I don’t know the book. It’s heartbreaking and tries really hard to lessen the pain with exaggerated characters. The story elements don’t always land well, parts were slow and others overdone.

I do like the message that no matter how small you are, you can still write your own story… although it is undercut by her needing superpowers.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I’m pretty done with the ugly and/or fat character is the villain, while the petite pretty person is the good guy. I know it’s the book, but it’s an overdone and lazy stereotype.

Matilda herself is fantastic. She has a strong sense of right and wrong along with enough strength of character to push back.

The librarian was amazing and the kids were okay.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Lots of repeated phrases and messages. It had some excellent dialogue from Matilda, especially when she told her stories. Beyond that, it oscillated between saccharin and melodrama.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The camera work and framing were great. The costumes and sets were perfect. The dancing was excellent.

The music and score were fun, but heavily repetitive. This isn’t a soundtrack that I’d want to own.

My biggest problem was that the musical aspects were underused and, other than a few songs, underwhelming.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I wouldn’t call this a feel good movie. It had all the “Hell Yeah!” it needed, but the path there was really sad and painful.

The 6 year old loved it, the 3 year old was entranced but nonplussed. The adults were split between not liking it and finding it pretty good.

I found myself looking forward to the music and disappointed at the same time.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A musical version of Matilda with all the baggage of the original story with a few fun songs. Although I love the message that you can write your own story, the movie doesn’t really back it up very well.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Monster Hunter – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Monster Hunter.

Story

This is based off a game that I have not played, but from the writer/director’s past history, it’s probably not all that faithful. That being said, it was fairly simple and had some interesting world building.

After the first exciting bit, it was a little slow however.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There were a lot of characters that didn’t get much screentime and they were pretty cool. Hard to go wrong with Ron Pearlman.

The two main characters are interesting, but I’m not sure they were interesting enough to hold up the movie.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This was a very typical white story, the non-english speaker learned bits of English and the English speaker learned the names of the monsters.

Most of the dialogue is pretty boring but there were a few good action lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were spectacular when it came to the monsters and the fight scenes. The fight choreography was really cool. I love seeing monsters versus modern war machines.

The music was okay but at times distracted from the story and action instead of enhancing it.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I went into this expecting a silly monster movie with lots of action and that’s what I got. It was fun and exciting. It wasn’t as well paced as others by Anderson.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie is silly fun but doesn’t really shine the way it should have. It’s mostly just meh with a few moments of awesome.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5