Captain America: The First Avenger – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Story

The story is extremely simple and a perfect transition from the simpler superhero movies of the 2000’s to the more complex ones after.

It’s amazing that they managed to have a movie set in WWII that had only 3 Nazis.

The villain is scary smart if over-the-top and the story is wonderfully soothing.

As much as I love the romance between Cap and Carter, the convoluted obstacles are tiresome and unnecessary.

I would also would have liked more nuances on the concept of patriotism, but that would come with the future movies.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This movie was extremely well cast and all the actors play their roles wonderfully. Again I think Red Skull was a little much, but all the others are fantastic.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie, more than Iron-Man or Avengers, sets the bar for Marvel dialogue. It’s clever, quotable, and has fantastic depth.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie’s special effects still look amazing a decade later and visually this movie is a treat.

The music is fantastic and works perfectly for the movie.

Score: 1

Fun

Our Blu-ray has a bug where the dynamic range (loudest vs softest sounds) is huge, making me spend most of the movie changing the volume or not being able to understand the words. This is actually pretty common for Marvel movies and really pisses me off.

That being said, the movie kept the attention of the entire family and made me want to re-watch all the Marvel movies.

Score: 1

Overall

The unambiguity of the movie is its strength, bolstered by its fantastic dialogue and acting. It was the last before Avengers changed the landscape and set the bar for storytelling. It is by far the best Marvel Phase 1 film (Arguably Phase 2 also).

Final Score: 4.5

Charlie’s Angels (2019) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 film Charlie’s Angels.

*I reviewed the 2000 Charlie’s Angels here.*

Story

In a lot of ways it’s a by the numbers spy / action movie. The twists and turns are moderately predictable but that doesn’t affect the enjoyability. The story is pushed forward by the mystery / mcguffin, but is held up by the interactions of the characters.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The core three characters are well defined and have decent development, but it’s the growth of their friendship that makes the movie so much fun.

The villain and the rest of the cast are well chosen and happily alternate between cheesy and serious dialogue.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is very well done with the actors delivering lines that could have been terrible in a way that makes sense and is pretty endearing.

There’s a lot of very well thought out subtext in the movie and some very pointed social commentary.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography is designed to show you the discomfort of the characters and is extremely well thought out. Never does it cheat the action with shaky cam or too many quick cuts. The locations are gorgeous and the clothes are fantastic.

Very rarely do I see action characters pause to switch into sensible shoes and it added a level of realism that I enjoyed.

The score was perfectly set to the action and the songs were catchy but didn’t detract from what was happening.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie is action-packed with a great found family and lots of action. It was fun and exciting and definitely re-watchable.

Score: 1

Overall

An extremely entertaining spy movie with a hint of nostalgia. The action, dialogue, and character interactions make a movie that could have been cookie cutter into something with heart. Lots of fun and worth a watch.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001-2003 films Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy.


*Disclaimer* I have watched these films as a marathon every year since 2007. They’re basically part of my holiday ritual and I’m completely not objective.


Story

The story is an interpretation of one of the greatest influences on modern Western fantasy. It’s hard to judge the story critically when it is so foundational.

That being said, I think there’s some seriously problematic connotations about people of colour and women.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movies are filled with fantastic characters. As much as I hate Frodo and the archetypal everyman character, the movies made each character unique and memorable.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Infinitely quotable to the nerds among us. The movie doesn’t deviate too much from the wonderful dialogue of the books and when it does, improves it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

For a nearly 20 year old movie the visuals hold up spectacularly (we watched the 4K version and it was worth it.) New Zealand is gorgeous, the practical effects hold up better than some more recent movies, and the CGI looks pretty good. There are some lighting issues and world interaction issues with the CGI.

The music… holy shit the music. The layering and themes… gah, it’s so beautiful.

Score: 1

Fun

The 12 hours were a little hard on the kids, but the adults were as enthralled as ever. I’m constantly amazed at how the movie keeps people’s attention and sparks conversation.

Score: 1

Overall

These movies are a staple of our holiday season; I’ve probably seen them two dozen times since they released and I still find new things every year. Upgrading to the 4K was more than worth it for the colour and sound correction that was done.

They are some of my favourite movies and I admit that I am nowhere near objective.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

The Three Musketeers – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1993 film The Three Musketeers.

Story

I’ll be honest I only vaguely remembered this and expected it to be a hammy comedy. I was pleasantly surprised. The story was the traditional Musketeers with lines very similar to the book. The beginning was a little slow but overall it was great.

The book is a classic and most movies and shows don’t do it justice.

It was very white, which is both historically inaccurate and frustrating for a work by a black man.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters are great and hold their own versus other versions. The actors are fantastic at what each needs to do. Tim Curry chews the scenery in a way that’s both hilarious and terrifying.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are lines in it that are brilliant and picked from the books. (With a flick of my wrist I can change your religion.) and then there’s nearly everything Porthos says that is pure gold.

The dialogue manages to oscillate between drama, comedy, and gravitas in a way that is rarer than I like.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

I’ve watched this movie on VHS, DVD, and now Disney+. The scenery, sets, costumes, and shooting are fantastic. However, when this movie goes dark, it’s so dark that I can’t see it (I’m talking contrast not content. Also I hadn’t watched this in over 20 years and the frustration with the dark scenes was the only thing I remembered clearly). I missed 90% of what happened in the tunnels and darker scenes. It’s extremely annoying.

The music absolutely splendid. The ballad at the end is so completely 1990s.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I really like the balance of funny action adventure, with serious drama. It kept everyone in the family interested (except the toddler who only sat still for a few sword fights).

Score: 1

Overall

This is quite possibly my favourite adaptation of the story and I have nothing but nice things to say. I think it’s pretty good at adapting the material.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars

The Princess Bride – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1987 film Princess Bride.

Story

There are two stories going on in the movie. The boy and his grand father and then the main story. Both are extremely simple. Simplicity in this movie isn’t a bad thing; it’s used to shift the focus away from the plot and towards the characters and dialogue.

The movie has aged well in almost every way except the complete lack of diversity and failing the Bechdel test on all counts.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie has some of the most iconic characters and the movie is really about them and their journey. Other than Buttercup and Humperdinck, the major characters see growth and resolution.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is quite possibly the most iconic in American cinema. It’s definitely one of the most quoted movies and in my D&D group it competes with Monty Python for quote time.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The scenery is gorgeous as are the costumes. The sets are purposefully simple but still beautiful. The movie has a look that is just borderline cheesy while still being ageless. The sword fighting is exceptional.

The music is lovely, simple but definitely fantasy inspired. It’s very well used in the fight scenes and “Kissing” moments. I was glad it didn’t follow the synth trend of the 80’s.

Score: 1

Fun

I saw this movie for the first time in my twenties and have watched it a handful of times since. It’s extremely fun to watch and easy to enjoy. It really has a little bit of everything.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie isn’t perfect but it’s pretty and a lot of fun. The dialogue is iconic and if you don’t find yourself quoting something from it, I’d be surprised.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars

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

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

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

Enchanted – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 movie Enchanted.

Story

This is a tongue-in-cheek love story to Disney princess movies made in a time where there hadn’t been a princess movie in nearly a decade (Mulan came out in 1998). This was before Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen; and way before Sophia. The love of princess movies was considered childish unless you liked them ironically (That’s 2000’s for making fun of something you like so that you come off cool and aloof.)

All that being said, this movie revels in fairy tales and magic. It swims and dances in all things genuinely innocent and magical.

Underneath all that, it is an expertly pulled off Rom-Com.

Score: 1

Characters

Intentionally grating in their saccharin sweetness or in their jaded bitterness (dude, it’s the late 2000’s, enjoy having survived the 90’s and prepare for the ridiculous and horrifying 2010’s.)

There are three characters that grow, Giselle and Robert do the old innocent and grump move towards each other and fall in love, dance. And Nathaniel realizes he’s just a minion and learns to love himself.

Giselle could easily have fallen into the manic-pixie-dream-girl category but over the movie she adjusts to the world and gains agency. She goes from needing to be caught to catching. It’s lovely development but without insulting what she started as.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Like the rest of this movie, the dialogue is peppered with in-jokes and allusions to Disney. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s fun to pick out. Beyond that, the dialogue relies heavily on double meanings and misunderstandings. I really enjoy the way the characters talk with each other when the misunderstandings happen.

Although well done, the dialogue sometimes got self-indulgent in the, “I’m from a fairy tale” sense.

I also rolled my eyes hard at, “I have a gift / A book I know.” I realize they were trying to make him seem down on fairy tales and wanting her to find real life role models, but it just came off as hating on books. I wish they’d had a scene with the little girl and Giselle geeking out over the book.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie is colourful and beautiful. The music is great.

However, the Central Park song (How do you know) is one of the greatest musical moments I’ve ever seen. Both in it’s contrast with Robert’s disbelief and eventual acceptance and with the pure joy that everyone throws into it.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie is a joy to watch from beginning to end. James Marsden hams it up with a delightfully nice prince. (Look at his face with Giselle and Robert kiss.) There’s action, romance, and lots of Easter-Eggs.

Score: 1

Conclusion

If you like Rom-Coms, princess movies, musicals, or fish out of water stories, this one is worth a watch. The world of 2007 was a different place and time, but you have to love it’s innocence.

It’s also a movie filled with strong, capable, and lovely women with urgency and character development. Something that is sometimes lacking in Rom-Coms.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5