The Little Mermaid (2023)– JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film The Little Mermaid.

Story

Disney has been calling these “remakes” but they’re really just copies. That might sound disparaging, but I’ve watched and enjoyed more Cinderella, Musketeer, and Robin Hood movies than I can count.

The changes in this are understandable and it shows that the scriptwriters had a deep love for the animated version. I liked the slight change at the end.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Most of the cast made the roles their own. Ariel was amazing and thankfully less whiny. Triton felt more relatable and Eric was less bland.

The actress who played Vanessa was fantastic.

I’m not impressed with Ursula. I thought the actress might try something original, but instead she did a mediocre impersonation of Pat Carroll.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is very similar but just different enough to sound wrong. It’s not normally a problem but sometimes it was frustrating. The modern updates were good, and again it was nice to see Eric have some more screen time and lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were good but the underwater stuff was a little uncanny valley. It was beautiful but felt wrong.

The music was fantastic and Ioved the extra songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The beginning was a little slow but after that it went fast. The kids loved it and the rest of the family enjoyed it. It was fun overall.

Score: 1

Overall

A faithful adaptation to the original that hits all the right notes. It’s unfortunate that Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula was only a poor copy of the original’s soul.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Story

The story is equally as nonsensical as the rest of the series but feels even more disjointed. The set pieces are barely held together by plot. Reminds me of the James Bond series for more than just Sean Connery.

Score: 0

Characters

Whoever wrote this has no idea what a romance is or how to fake it. Indiana’s love life is all the more cringe with the Nazi triple agent. The villain doesn’t take his own advice which is really frustrating. I hate dumb villains.

All that being said, the character interactions between Ford and Connery are spectacular. The humour, heart, and familial frustration are the saving grace of this movie.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is all over the place. There are some great quotable lines and some self-referential humour that just doesn’t stick the landing.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The majority of the movie was beautiful but the reliance on blue screen was obvious in several locations.

The music was amazing as usual.

Score: 1

Fun

This is a nostalgic and fun movie. The father-son dynamic alone is worth a watch. Everyone liked it and even the 4yo was glued to the screen.

One accidental funny moment was when Indiana Jones tells the love interest, called Elsa, to “let it go”, a joke that wouldn’t be funny for 24 years after the film’s release.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun, if disjointed, action-packed movie that’s mostly saved by the charisma and chemistry between the two leads.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1980 film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Story

Deviating a little from the bare bones hero’s journey of the first film, this one introduces new villains and allies. It also becomes a lot more confident in its worldbuilding. It definitely leans further into the space opera in one story and the wizard fantasy in the other.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Luke starts to have a backbone and agency, which is shown as a bad thing. The romance between Leia and Han is pretty forced. Leia is portrayed less like a competent diplomat and more like an overworked leader with workaholic tendencies.

I’m also reminded that I like C3P0 significantly more when the humans ignore him.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is deliciously cheesy and I love so many of the lines. I get annoyed at the bargain-bin Orientalism of Yoda and the ridiculous absolutism of the Jedi in general.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Once again the model work is utterly fantastic and the practical effects are wonderful. The camera work is great and the set are spectacular.

The music is iconic and although there’s a lot of carry-over from the first movie, the new themes are wonderful.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie is a lot of fun but has less of the hope (pun intended) of the first film. The shift in tone comes from the defeat at the beginning and the way the Jedi act like all is lost when Luke, rightfully, chooses to save his friends.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie is epic and the visuals amazing but it suffers from being half of a story and from a drastic change in tone that would continue in the sequels/prequels.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

The Beekeeper – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2024 film The Beekeeper.

Story

This was a pretty standard action movie but it did have an fun twist. Following the FBI agents that are trying to catch him was an interesting study in morals, justice, and law. The main character is mostly treated like a force of nature, so much of the character growth is put on the two FBI agents.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The Beekeeper is a natural disaster and is established early as nearly unstoppable. He has no character development after the first twenty minutes.

The FBI agents have significantly more and they’re really the audience stand-ins.

The antagonists are pretty one dimensional but extremely hateable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Quippy action movie dialogue punctuated with so many F words that the script probably looked like a Jack Torrance manuscript.

The more moralistic dialogue is well done and certainly more than apt with today’s political atmosphere.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Jason Statham still has an impressive skill set and the choreography in this is amazing.

The music wasn’t bad but wasn’t particularly memorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a lot of fun. It’s cathartic to watch bad people get what they deserve. I watched this on my own, thankfully, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

There’s a wonderful feeling of joy in watching Jason Statham beat the crap out of fraudsters. The movie is pure action with lots of swearing and a tiny bit of philosophy.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Story

Rebellious teens ignore all the rules and get everything they want. Splinter is worried about their safety (rightly so, have you met humanity?) but eventually realizes that he’s being overbearing.

There’s a giant whale mutant chimera in there too.

It very much feels like an 80’s plot with 2020’s slang.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The turtles are extremely authentically teenage boys. My sister-in-law, a teacher, looked a little shell-shocked (pun intended). The antics, limited forward thinking and overthinking had me getting flashbacks to being a teen.

April was great, despite the lazy puke jokes, and I really liked having her be the same age as the turtles.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This dialogue will feel dated by the end of the year. There’s more slang than you can shake a ninja star at.

The penchant for the turtles to all talk at the same time is both relatable and well done, although exhausting to follow. The teasing and quipping felt natural and hilarious. The villain was over-the-top but it worked.

April’s smarts and snark were awesome.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The style of animation felt very dark. The backgrounds were gorgeous and the characters great, but it was a lot of dark on dark on dark.

The music was good and did it’s job, but was nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was interesting and fun, but went from pure pessimism to ridiculous optimism way too quick near the end. It felt like the writers wrote themselves into a corner and decided to just do a big battle.

The 4yo loved it and the 7yo liked it but not a lot.

The rest of the family enjoyed it, but we were all tired by the end.

Score: 0.5

Overall

An excellent TMNT movie with lots of action and for the first time the turtles felt like actual teens. April was a standout character and making her a teen was a brilliant idea. That said, the last act of the movie felt forced and the colour palate was a little too dark.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Anna and the Apocalypse – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 film Anna and the Apocalypse.

Story

I have a massive soft spot for musicals and I’m not a huge fan of zombie movies, so this was interesting. The story itself is cookie cutter zombie genre with nothing new to add other than the music.

Score: 0

Characters

The final girl, the best friend, the overbearing dad, the bad boy, the lesbian, the smoochie couple, and the maniacal . It’s a buffet of zombie, YA, and horror tropes.

They might be tropes, but the actors and writers did a great job and managed to balance the psychological horror of zombie with the almost sillness of a musical.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Vacillating from corny to deep and touching, the dialogue does a great job in understanding the characters. There’s more than a few good quips too.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography in general was okay, the choreography was acceptable, and the gore was well done. My favourite scene happens when the main character doesn’t know there’s been a full apocalypse and is dancing and singing on her way to school with total carnage happening behind her.

The music is excellent and I’ll be humming, “Hollywood Ending” for a long time. Great harmonies, fun numbers, and they work both for a zombie movie or just a high school movie.

Score: 1

Fun

I loved the music, the characters were great, and I enjoyed the movie, but there’s a nihilism to zombie films that just isn’t fun. Nailing the ending to have a little hope but still be dour is hard. There was no hope left in this one.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A fun film with some excellent musical numbers and great acting, but in the end it’s just another zombie movie with nothing new to add.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie.

Note: I watched the English dub and have been a long time fan of the TV show.

Story

This was a simplified version of the show’s story with minor changes to make it fit in a movie format. Best to think of it as a alternate reality from the show if you’re a fan.

The descriptions and explanations seem fairly straightforward for those who don’t know the show.

The story, however, was very reductive and about the same as any other teen superhero story.

It did flow well and end well so I’ll give it credit for that.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were fun but unfortunately fairly shallow. Marinette was well developed and definitely the star, but Adrien was underdeveloped and bland.

The secondary characters felt underused and I’m not sure a casual audience would care about them.

The changes to Marinette and Gabriel were effective in making the story more believable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was quippy and funny, showing that despite the changes, the writers and actors were comfortable with the characters.

There are a few deep lines and what dialogue there is it’s well used.

I feel like the movie could have used more dialogue and less singing.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was colourful, well animated, and pretty. The action was engaging and often well balanced with humour.

The music was lovely, although the transition from voice actor to singing voice was a little jarring with Marinette and Adrien.

Music, like action scenes, should be developing character and plot in a way that can’t be done otherwise. The songs need to be catchy and do all that. The song were catchy, but only did minor developments. The time could have been better used to develop the characters with dialogue.

Score: 0.5

Fun

We’ve now watched all four seasons available in Canada and we warned the kids in advance that this was a different story. They’ve seen enough Cinderella versions to get that idea. There were a few moments where they would ask why the characters weren’t doing what they would do in the show, but overall they seemed to love it. Lots of giggles in the opening scene with the gargoyle.

The adults enjoyed it as well. This was fun and low angst.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun movie which suffers from watering down the world for a new audience and trying to force the story into a standard superhero format. Despite being an easy watch, its secondary characters are as forgettable as the songs.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Story

A very simple twist on “fake dating”, the story isn’t all that exciting or interesting on it’s own and follows the usual YA romance beats.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters and actors in this are extremely compelling. Especially the secondary characters and family. Interesting and make you want more of their story.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue vacillates between the usual precociousness of YA characters and some outright hilarious lines. The heart to heart moments are by far the strongest and hold the movie together with a lot of emotion.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals are the usual Netflix stylised shots. Nothing special.

The music is unmemorable but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Fun

There’s a lot of cringe but love wins out once the characters communicate and there’s some fun scenes in between. It’s not great but it’s not bad.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A perfectly average YA romance with the always fun “fake dating” trope. The humdrum story, visuals, and music are elevated by the sheer charisma of the characters and some excellent dialogue.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Story

There were elements that worked and it was interesting to see Ant-Man as a lead in something epic, but it wasn’t the right story for him.

That being said, it felt like the main story was ripped straight from early science fiction and specifically from the old Flash Gordon serials.

Score: 0

Characters

There were two sets of characters and it felt like they were in very different movies. Janet and Hope were in an epic fantasy, while the rest were in a YA portal fantasy comedy. The character development was all over the place and felt disjointed.

I did like the story arc with Darren/M.O.D.O.K., and the secondary characters were fascinating.

Points for avoiding useless romantic drama, but they lose points for having no idea what to do with Hope, again.

Bill Murray’s character was an unsympathetic clone of Lando.

Kang was BORING. The infodumping speeches and mediocre threats were the worst part of the movie.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Like the rest of the movie, it felt disconnected. The epic fantasy prose of Janet, Kang, and most of the rest of the cast were uncomfortable juxtaposed with Scott, Cassie, Darren, and Hank’s quippy superhero dialogue.

There are times it worked, like with the goo man who wanted holes, but overall it wasn’t great.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s visuals were absolutely engrossing. I loved all the details, races, and weird shit everywhere. It was a wonder to watch and so much fun.

The music was well done and didn’t take itself too seriously, but fell into the same problem of feeling like Ant-Man music in an Epic Fantasy movie.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was surprisingly chill for all its over the top drama. It was a lot of fun to watch and I can see myself rewatching just for the visuals. The kids were glued to their seats and most of the adults liked it.

Score: 1

Overall

The weakest of the three Ant-Man movies, mostly because it wasn’t an Ant-Man movie but a vapid copy of Flash Gordon with Ant-Man and company. The story is messy and disjointed with elements that shouldn’t go together being forced to interact. The villain is one of the blandest most boring villains in MCU history.

The visuals however, were ABSOLUTELY fabulous and Paul Rudd is hilarious, both of those make the movie way better than it has any right to be.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Zoom: Academy for Superheroes – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 film Zoom: Academy for Superheroes.

Story

The story works. It’s a nice mix between superhero and underdog sports movies. It has a lot of awkward moments and more than a few scenes that could have been cut or replaced.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Yikes is Jack an asshole. Seriously, he comes shy of insulting everyone but racial minorities (and that’s probably because there are none in the movie). His turnaround from asshole burnout to father figure is not believable and neither is the love story.

Thankfully, the kids are fantastic and bring the emotional heart to the film. The secondary characters felt a little out of place and there just for gags.

The little girl acted a lot younger than my 6yo does.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Lots of ableism, racism, sexism, and just meanness. There are a few good jokes, but the movie doesn’t balance it’s slapstick, seriousness, and heart very well.

The little girl had some of the best lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects look cheesy but still hold out pretty well. Lots of nice practical effects and I liked the comic book style of filming.

The music was so mid 00’s that it was nostalgic. I kinda want the soundtrack. It’s dated but not in a bad way.

Score: 1

Fun

It’s hard to like a movie when the main character is so unlikeable. The 6yo and 3yo loved it and ran around the house pretending to be Zoom or Princess.

I did enjoy the obvious twist with the scientist girl.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Despite Tim Allen’s thoroughly unlikeable character, the movie is fun and exciting with a few surprises along the way. Great movie for kids and for those who have fond memories of Smash Mouth.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5