Under Wraps (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Under Wraps.

Story

This is a cute Halloween story. There are a lot of errors in Egyptian history and I’m not sure what the point of the 3-day pass for the movie was. It seemed odd and without any reason. That being said, I liked the jab at grave robbing.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Although the characters were awesome and I really appreciated the diversity, I found there was a lack of depth. They just felt very YA written by someone who’s only seen kids in movies.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There were a lot of great wisecracks and gags. I really liked the play on words with the word Mummy.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Excellent makeup and good acting combined with some genre savvy camera angles make this a fun movie to watch. It uses the practical effects well and limits the cheesy digital effects.

The music was okay, but I would have liked to hear more of Thriii’s “Calling all Monsters”.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a nice throwback to the kids monster movies of my youth. I liked the nod to Zombies (the Disney channel movie series) with the costumes in the background, and the awesome dancing. The whole family liked it and now the kids are pretending to be mummies and zombies, so yay?

If I have one gripe… Honey doesn’t work that way. Also it felt a little disjointed at times and I had a hard time not checking my phone,, which isn’t a good thing.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A fun if shallow Halloween movie. It has some great scenes and fun moments.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Story

A very clever mix of the Ghostbusters formula and the rural “kids on bikes” genre. The story is extremely predictable, but that’s part of its fun.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters on paper are kinda boring and overdone. Weird kid who’s probably autistic, ghost nut, slacker teacher, horny teens, sad single mother. However, the actors make them lovable, quirky, and just fun to watch.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The strength of the first three movies was their dialogue and this doesn’t disappoint. Self referential and nostalgic enough for old fans, but funny and quippy enough for newer fans.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The special effects are great and I loved the location. If felt grand and rural all at the same time. The kind of place locals don’t see the beauty in.

The music was solid. Did what it needed and used themes from the older films.

Score: 1

Fun

I fully expected to not like this one. There were a lot of issues with the originals and I wasn’t in the mood to revisit the same story and cast again. I was pleasantly surprised by the story and cast. Even more by how nostalgic I felt about the whole thing.

The kids loved it to the point where the two year old keeps talking about it.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun nostalgic ride with a talented, entertaining, and fresh cast. It’s shiny and new and will tug on all your heartstrings. If you liked the previous three (does anyone really like the second one?) you’ll love this.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Spin – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Spin.

Story

This is a pretty standard Disney formula teen music/sports movie. What’s different here is the lack of the usual tropes associated with this genre. There’s no mean girl, not much friends angst, no racism, and no parents yelling about what is appropriate.

The girl also doesn’t change herself for the boy, which is great.

There is a little bit more parental angst than I’d like and it was handled awkwardly in the story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The friends and classmates were fantastic. It’s great to see that dynamic. The grandmother was amazing, she stole the show. The brother felt a little superfluous.

The love interest was perfectly annoying, as he should be.

The only character that bothered me was the dad. He had reasons for what he did but they were terribly shown and you really had to read between the lines. It made him seem like he went from supportive to ass without provocation.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was quipy and felt appropriate, if a little extra clean, for the age and characters. I liked the nerdy talk and the pun on tikka masala tacos (tik-taco)

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The scenery and camera work are really well done and perfectly colourful. Perfect for the style of the story.

The music is excellent and had the whole family wanting to dance.

Score: 1

Fun

The entire family was bopping to the music and loving the story. It was really nice to see some of the most frustrating tropes in kids movies were turned upside down or discarded.

Score: 1

Overall

This is the teen movie I wish I’d had as a kid. The supportive friends, family, and teacher are awesome, the music fun, and the grandmother is amazing. If you enjoyed the music based movies from Disney in the early two thousands you’ll love everything about this.

I can’t wait to see it again.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Eternals – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Eternals.

Story

The epic scale and complexity of characters wasn’t well served in the format of a movie. I think it would have worked better as a miniseries. I think some of the characters didn’t get enough screen time to show their motivations and evolution. That being said, I really enjoyed the non-linear aspects combined with the fascinating weaving into history.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There wasn’t enough time for all the characters and because of that, they seemed underdeveloped. They were very well acted and directed.

I think you were supposed to sympathise with all of them, but there were three that I didn’t like even before the twist. Maybe that’s a sign of a complex character.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The humour was extremely well-placed to balance the epic drama that was unfolding and even the info-dumps were very well placed.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Even with our state of the art 4K television, there were a lot of very dark scenes. It ruined the beautiful scenery and shots by forcing us to squint for no reason.

Beyond that, the cinematography was absolutely amazing and the amount of background detail is completely worth a rewatch.

The music was suitably epic and felt coherent with the MCU.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I’m surprised that the kids sat through the entire movie. It was fascinating, but not always action packed or accessible for kids.

I enjoyed it, but it was long. Oddly enough, I do think it would hold up better as 6 episodes. I was never bored though.

Score: 1

Overall

An extremely strong attempt at bringing the epicness of Lord of the Rings to the Marvel Universe. Too many characters and too little time for them to shine hurts the movie, but a brilliant script and excellent acting make it more than worth watching.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

2021 JenEric Movie Reviews

Hello Movie Lovers,

This year I seem to have watched, and reviewed, 53 films. Not bad. Below is a list of them in decending star order. Within each catergory they are in alphabetical order.

5 Stars out of 5

4.5 Stars out of 5

4 Stars out of 5

3.5 Stars out of 5

3 Stars out of 5

2.5 Stars out of 5

2 Stars out of 5

1.5 Stars out of 5

1 Star out of 5

Ron’s Gone Wrong – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Ron’s Gone Wrong.

Story

Ignoring the fact that technology just doesn’t work like the movie portrays, there’s a lot about the movie that really bothers me. The basic premise is cool, but the world building went from ridiculously accurate to completely unbelievable really quickly.

The idea of spontaneously developing artificial intelligence has been done before. The movie doesn’t even acknowledge that it happens, going for a weird commentary on social media instead.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The tech CEO and his partner felt underplayed while the family, kids, cops, were all overdone. The main character doesn’t learn to embrace and love his culture and family so much as tolerate and use them. The kids are all shown as having social media addictions and the cure wasn’t logical.

Old east-block grandma that is completely unhinged was a character type that was overplayed in the 80’s; now it just comes off as anti-immigrant.

Ron was funny but obviously dangerous, and that was never addressed.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue was clever and had a lot of references to older movies in the same genre. I liked the literalness of Ron and how they showed him grow in understanding language.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was a well animated movie with some great concepts. Bubble was well designed and unique and the colourfulness of the B-bots was awesome.

The score was so much more epic than expected and really helped punch up the emotion.

Score: 1

Fun

I just couldn’t help wondering where all the adult’s B-bots were. I don’t care if they were made for kids, we all know people would buy some for themselves. People who truly have trouble making friends are the 30+ crowd, not kids.

My daughter and son both got bored part way through.

Beyond that, the movie was entertaining, but left me uncomfortable at the lack of comeuppance for the tech company’s misdeeds, the release of a rogue AI, and the deflection of serious social media issues.

I don’t think this will be a rewatching kind of movie.

Score: 0

Overall

The movie tries really hard to go beyond slapstick comedy and doesn’t succeed. It’s a fun movie if you don’t think about it, but it misses the mark on serious issues and ethics. The conclusion felt trite and horrifying instead of heartwarming. However, there are quite a few good gags and jokes along the way.

Final Score: 2.5 stars out of 5

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – 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

I was taken as a child from my parents, raised by a military cult, trained to be one of the galaxy’s greatest killers. The greatest fear any Black-Sun soldier has is of the Sun Speakers and their terrifying powers.

Because of all that, there was a large part of me that was convinced we would fail. That the physical and magical might of Black-Sun would come and stop us like a parent with an unruly toddler. 

We arrived at home base and I felt them before the sensors started beeping. “We have company,” I said and jumped on the sensors in the ship. Diamond and Flint had run off to the satellite arrays to upload the information on the matter replicator, the anti-Sun Speaker device, and Black-Sun stealing babies.

“Ah and I haven’t dusted the living room yet,” quipped Onyx.

Trying not to get distracted by the mental image of him dusting in very little clothing, I concentrated on the terminal in front of me. The sensors were telling me that there were two Black-Sun destroyers in orbit. 

Heading to the pilot’s chair, Sphene said, “Only two. I guess we’re not that important. If we launch now, we can maybe lead them away from home base.”

I was going to agree when a wave of nausea made me regret being born. “Wait!” I managed to say without gagging.

Putting the sensor view onto the ship’s main screen showed something weird. A small black mass coalesced into a ship. The Mountain’s voice came over the coms, “You’re having a party and didn’t invite us? That’s just rude.”

The Black-Sun should have fired on him the moment he arrived, but they hesitated, looking at the patchwork and frankly ugly ship. That gave the Mountain and his crew enough time to fire two bombs at the destroyers. 

The bombs hit the Black-Sun ships and instead of exploding they stuck to the hull for a moment before imploding. “Where did you get Plasma-Gravity Bombs?” I asked in disbelief as the mass of the ships was crushed into a dense ball of metal.

Sheepishly, the Mountain said, “I’m a scavenger. Blackbird and his crew are dead; they didn’t need all their stuff in that secret base.” He paused before adding, “I brought a whole bunch of stuff for Ronnie. Just ’cause her old man was a dick doesn’t mean she should suffer.” I doubted that Ronnie was suffering, from what Diamond said they were both extremely happy together.

“Thank you,” I said earnestly.

“It’s only a matter of time before more Black-Sun show up.” He stopped for a second and I saw that Diamond had managed to send the message out. The Mountain started to swear.

The message went out and wherever it went, it was spread as far as possible. Soon the entire system had the tools to fend for themselves and defend themselves against Black-Sun.

We all braced for a fight, but they’d relied on the Sun Speakers and their psychic powers for so long they didn’t know how to fight regular people. When the military turned against them, they retreated to the edges of the system where they had their bases. 

The acolytes of the sun were dealt with in bloody and terrifying ways. Regular doctors started taking care of childbirth and infant mortality dropped to nearly nothing. That meant a lot more mouths to feed, but the matter replicators made sure that wasn’t a problem.

We stayed with Diamond, whose real name was Ruby, for the first month. She came to see me while I was doing upgrades on the Revenge. 

“Everything okay, Dia—Ruby?” I asked.

She put the Diamond Stars holo-emitter next to me and said, “I’d be honoured if you would take on the mantle of Diamond.”

Every night since we’d sent out the broadcast, I’d had nightmares. I tried to convince myself they were just dreams, but I knew they were psychic visions.

“I can’t,” I said.

“Bullshit. I see in your face that there’s something you need to do and no matter what it is, you can do it as Diamond.”

“I think I’m meant to leave the system,” I said.

That took her a few seconds to process. “Well, this system has had Diamond Stars for several centuries. Time we shared with the universe.”

I put my hand on the device and thought of all the people who’d used it and the hope they’d brought to the system. “Thank you.” I turned and hugged her. “Thank you for everything.”

“This ship is called Revenge because the first Diamond wanted revenge on Black-Sun for everything they’d done. The name is a promise and it’s your turn to fulfill it.” With that, she walked off the ship.

I didn’t know why a Sun from so far away had chosen me to be its speaker, or why I’d gotten so lucky as to be kidnapped by this crew, but I was thankful.

It took me a few more months to upgrade the ship to both survive deep space and defend itself. When I was done, I dressed the part of Diamond Stars and went to say goodbye to Ruby.

“Diamond,” she greeted me. “It’s been an honour getting to know you. Are you going to tell the doctor?”

I shook my head and said, “He deserves a better, and longer, life than I can offer.”

“Good luck,” she said and I left.

On the bridge, I closed the hatches and ran through the preflight checks. I felt a pang of guilt and loneliness as I took off. They’d be better off without me and my crusade.

With stealth activated, I took the closest jump gate to the system’s edge. It would take a little time for me to reach the Black-Sun fleet that was massing. My plan was to follow them, piggybacking on their wormhole, and help whoever they were attacking.

I was half way when I started smelling something delicious. I walked towards the kitchen and said, “Whoever you are, you’re obviously not Galactic Police or Army. They don’t use that much garlic in their tomato sauce.”

Onyx turned to me as I walked into the kitchen, “Oh shut up. You love my spaghetti sauce.”

“I do,” I said before adding softly, “You shouldn’t be here.”

Sphene looked up from her datapad and said, “You’re an idiot, Diamond.”

“What my little sister means is that you’re not getting rid of us that easily.” Onyx walked over to me and gently smacked my shoulder. “Stop being all dramatic and come sit down for dinner. We’re family now.” He bent over and kissed my cheek. “Please don’t try to leave me again. I don’t think my heart could take it.”

I took his beautiful face in my hands and pulled him into a deep, passionate kiss. “I love you, too.” Somewhere between the smell and the kiss, I’d started crying. 

We were going to help fight the most powerful people I knew of, but we would do it together and together there was hope.

I am Diamond Stars, I’m a Sun Speaker of Sol, and I’m going to make sure Black-Sun knows the name of my ship.


While you wait for 2022’s serial story, check out the previous ones:


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 11


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 11

“Where did they go?” yelled a voice. It was the Black-Sun encrypted frequency and either this was the greatest actor in the galaxy or our trick had worked.

“If we move, they’ll shoot us down,” said Diamond, looking perplexed.

I shrugged and said, “We’d better hope they give up or search somewhere else for us because this emitter can’t handle our disguise for more than another ten minutes.”

Sphene made a little squeaking sound and said, “I get that this was the plan and we didn’t expect it to work.” Her brother gave her a surprised look and she continued, “Oh, come on, Diamond had her ‘we’re going to die’ face on. And there was the whole proposal from Garnet.” She turned back to me and Diamond and finished, “We need a next part of the plan.”

Diamond shook her head and said, “Youth today. Always in a hurry. I’ll be glad to retire. Anyway. The moon behind us is hiding a jump gate. We just have to figure out how to use it without alerting the giant, super advanced fleet of psychics.”

“Sounds easy to me,” Flint hooted from the front.

Diamond nodded and asked me, “Can we switch from our disguise to the cloak without them noticing?”

“If anyone is looking at us or any scans pass by us, they’ll notice. You wouldn’t have another distraction up your sleeve?” It was a long shot, but I had to ask. She shook her head and we all paused for a second. 

I’ll never forget that second. It’s when my whole life changed. One moment, I was a deserter turned mechanic, turned thief; the next, I was flooded with images, sounds, smells, thoughts, and emotions. It was all extremely overwhelming and I needed to sit down.

“What just happened?” Onyx asked. He must have asked a few times because he looked worried.

I wasn’t sure how to answer him so I just said, “I feel like I just watched a hundred movies at once.”

Flint turned around and looked at me wide eyed. “Did you see anything about what’s going on right now?”

An image of us going through the gate and the moon exploding popped into my memory and I explained it to the group. When I was done I added, “I think there’s a self destruct in the gates. If we send an altered code just as we go through, it’ll blow up behind us.”

“What are we talking about here?” Diamond asked and then added, “Are we destroying the whole fleet?”

I shrugged. “It wasn’t that specific.”

“Well, dang. Little grease monkey here’s a baby Sun Speaker,” Flint sounded both reverent and highly amused.

We moved slowly towards the moon like a toddler trying to be sneaky, switched from disguise to cloak, and went through the gate at a speed that was completely reckless. I punched in the code myself and we watched as the entire fleet shot at us.

Once on the other side of the gate, it exploded moments before some of the missiles would have come through. We all whooped with joy and hugged. When I got to Onyx, I took his beautiful face into my hands and leaned forward to kiss him. He smelled of cooking, disinfectant, and sweat. I hesitated and he said, “Yes, please.” 

Our kiss started off soft and gentle and progressed to hungry. I lost all thought of the horrors of Black-Sun or the worries of being a Sun Speaker.

Diamond’s gleeful laughter pulled us out of the kiss and when we gave her a confused look, she said, “I bet Flint you’d kiss before we made it to home base.” Flint pulled out some credit chips and passed them over. We all laughed a little and Diamond asked, “If I get you to Viol, would you have the parts to build a ship-sized version of the anti-Sun Speaker tech?”

“Wait a second,” Sphene said. “If you had that thing on, how did he get that vision?”

“Each Sun has a separate frequency,” started Flint. “Ours is blocked by the tech and whatever Sun is talking to Garnet is not. You must be in contact with some sort of Rebel Sun.”

“Right. Why else would it want us to send this information out?” I added. Another image from the flash jumped to mind and I added, “There are other Suns and most of them are not on our side.” I then remembered Diamond’s question and replied, “Yes I can, but we’ll have to hurry. They might not be able to track us, but they certainly can figure out where you’ve been from flight and docking records.”

We hurried to Viol, where I had thought I’d spend the rest of my life, and everything felt smaller. Like when I’d visited the training academy after my first tour. 

I built the device and installed it on the ship. I also upgraded the holo-emitter and brought my favourite tools on board.

“So, you’ve decided to join us full time?” asked Onyx, obviously trying to look casual and failing.

“Yes. This may have started as a kidnapping, but you make really good spaghetti.” 

 “Even though I add too much garlic?”

“I never said that, I just said it was more than the military or galactic police put in theirs.”

We smiled at each other and he took my hand as I brought my stuff on board. We might be getting ready to destabilize the system by exposing the horrors of Black-Sun and we were about to become the number one most wanted by an army of psychics, but I was happy. That might sound selfish, but love is a wonderful motivator for hope.

“Alright. Let’s get to home base and finish this,” Diamond said. “Who’s ready to pick a fight with the biggest, baddest jerks in the galaxy?”

Read Chapter 12


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


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Special Edition of How I Taught my Dragon: Stop-Motion Movie 2021

We offered to let our Dragon (now 5 years old, in Sr Kindergarten) have a day off from virtual school this week if she wanted to create a stop-motion movie.

She, of course, jumped at the chance. I think it was her favourite activity from last year.

So we did the entire project on Monday (October 25, 2021), from writing the script, storyboarding, making the props, recording the dialogue, sound effects, and soundtrack, taking the pictures, and stitching everything together to make a complete stop-motion movie. (Thank you to Éric for all the technical help!)

I’m so very proud of her. She worked very hard.