Atlantis: The Lost Empire – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 film Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Story

A wonderful mix of steampunk, action adventure, and archaeology. It avoids a lot of racist tropes and narrowly avoids the white Saviour narrative. It’s fun and funny and quite deep for a kids movie.

There’s a plot point that really bothers me. The fact that they lost the ability to read. There are fan theories that the mother mindwiped the survivors or that the king banned reading.

At first I thought it might be a situation where only royalty could read, but if they had basic instructions on the flying fish then they were there for anyone who who owned a crystal.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I’m not a fan of the sexy native who wears less than everyone else for no reason trope. Kida is a fun character however and she manages to surpass the tropes.

Milo is a typical early 2000’s geek with no real life skills other than that one boiler trick. He makes me think of Flynn Carson in the early Librarian movies or Daniel Jackson from SG1.

The rest of the crew is interesting and well fleshed out for such a large cast in a short movie.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is utter genius and others are so bad. I loath the line where Milo asks Kida her name and she says, “Kidagakash” and the linguist who just deciphered a dead language which he managed to speak to natives so that they understood him looks flustered and asks her for a nickname. ARG! He should have been dissecting the meaning, not acting like an idiot.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The animation in this film hold up ridiculously well. The 3D is so well used that I barely noticed and the way they integrated the colours and lighting make it feel seamless. There’s a grandiose feel to the world.

The music is epic and fantastic.

Score: 1

Fun

Despite it’s flaws, it’s a lot of fun to watch. The kids loved it and there was a lot of gasping.

Score: 1

Overall

Fun action adventure with shades of Jules Verne, Indiana Jones, and Stargate. It’s fun, exciting, and has some interesting commentary on the morality of archaeology. It has a few annoying flaws, but it’s a joy to watch.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Girl Vs. Monster – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2012 film Girl Vs. Monster.

Story

This is a fairly simple story about facing your fears. It’s surprisingly well thought out with lots of fun throughout. It has aged much better than I expected.

Score: 1

Charaters

When I first watched it I really liked the assistant and the main character. Watching it now, the best friend is seriously the most awesome character. The parents are annoying but understandable and most of the characters are good but a little shallow. The movie could have done with less secondary charters.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is often a little bit too much on point and is interestingly already dated. It has some nice layers but its mostly just okay.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie uses its sets, cinematography, and special effects very well. The special effects are cheesy, but the sets are well done and I was impressed with the camera work.

The music was good. It was obvious that they had 2 songs and a small score, but it worked and helped move the plot forward instead of just taking time.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I liked this movie the first time I saw it and still liked it this time. I had both kids snuggling into me during the scary parts and both really liked it. They both got really excited at the big music scene. It also kept both of them interested the whole time without snacks. The day after, the 2 year old asked, “Watch Scary Movie?” which is super cute.

Score: 1

Overall

A good intro to horror adventure movies for kids, few scares but no trauma. With it’s strong message and wonderful soundtrack it’s a great cheesy Disney scary movie.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Jungle Cruise – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Jungle Cruise.

Story

The story is an interesting combination of jungle adventure and period piece. Overall, it was well done. I like that they’re looking for a plant and not an ancient artifact to plunder. It’s Indiana Jones with a twist and a little more modern (despite being set before).

Score: 1

Characters

It’s about time that Disney started adding more LGBTQ+ characters into its films. It was doubly nice that he wasn’t killed and that it was stated in the movie, not by the director or actor.

The two main cast members have almost no romantic chemistry, but make up for it in ridiculous amounts of charisma.

The supernatural villains are relatable but boring and tragic, while the German prince was funny but a little too moustache twirly for my taste.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I would have been saddened if they hadn’t included the ride’s puns. The puns, the jokes, the banter, and even the dramatic tension, were all fantastic and make me want to re-watch it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Overall the film was beautiful, but there are some parts of it that looked wrong or overly CGI. The jaguar and the flowers, along with some of the wildlife, felt like it was over-saturated and not properly lit. Made them, and even the villains, feel like they weren’t really part of the movie’s world.

The music was spectacular. I look forward to listening to it again.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I did a few summers in University as a tour guide / captain for the Ottawa Canal. I helped develop a much more pun intensive tour. That’s always made me have a soft spot for the Jungle Cruise ride and has certainly translated to the movie. It was a lot of pun and lots of laughs.

The entire family liked it. The two year old watched most of it and the four year old was enthralled.

Score: 1

Overall

For those who love the ride, the movie will be extra sweet, but it has a lot of goofy (pun induced) fun for those who haven’t been on the ride. It’s exciting, funny, and it’s weaknesses are minor compared to the charisma and banter of it’s three leads.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Lion King – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1994 film The Lion King.

Story

The story is an extremely simple retelling of Hamlet with a little less brooding. It’s iconic and still believable. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are fun and have believable arcs. I find it extremely strange that Simba and Nala have separate voice and song actors. I have also always found Simba miscast at both ages.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is extremely clever and the one liners are part of any Disney fans vocabulary. There’s little dialogue in the movie that doesn’t have more than one meaning and that’s a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is beautiful and the animation, especially right at the beginning, is spectacular.

I’ve seen the shows at Disney and heard parts of the Broadway play. Both are a little richer and cleaner. However, the music in this is wonderful. The opening song is one of my favourite opening sequences.

Score: 1

Fun

Older Disney movies are hard for me to judge the fun factor because they are so enmeshed with nostalgia. However, my kids were glued to the screen and my four year old gasped in all the right places.

Score: 1

Overall

Other than a few awkward jokes (and some miscasting in my opinion) the movie has aged extremely well and is worth watching just for the opening sequence. This is a movie that all ages will and have loved.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Luca – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Luca

Story

An interesting mix of coming of age and fish out of water (pun intended) stories. It had me wondering how they were going to resolve the plot with a happy ending. They managed a satisfying ending and I’m impressed with how heart warming it is.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters acted and reacted like they were in a stereotypical kids story. The parents didn’t listen, the kids didn’t know what they were doing, the stakes felt high, but in a well obviously nothing’s going to happen, kinda way.

There wasn’t one character I didn’t get annoyed with at some point for doing the most dramatic thing possible.

Although I felt for the trio, I didn’t really like them or feel they were in any kind of trouble.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Although played out both in fiction and in reality, the boisterous exaggerator who is covering for trauma, is still relevant and we all knew a kid like that when we were young. It’s done in such a believable way with the dialogue that it shows the writers have dealt with kids.

The rest of the dialogue ranges from silly to hilarious and I was quite impressed.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie was typical Pixar beauty. The backgrounds, textures, and world were absolutely gorgeous.

The music was good accentuating and enhancing the story and made the kids want to dance.

I was also ridiculously impressed with the voices underwater being a little muffled. That was a nice touch.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie had some awkward angst that I found forced and made me lose interest, the relationship with the parents was uncomfortable to watch, and the entire thing with the uncle felt like a gross out joke gone to far.

That being said the kids were riveted, as were the other adults. It was exciting, cute, funny, and satisfying.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Pixar creates another wonderful story filled with beautiful animation. Despite a few forced moments and some awkward jokes it’s a fun movie with something for everyone. Warning, you might want a Vespa afterwards.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Wish Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Wish Dragon.

Story

An interesting re-imagining of the wishing trope. The main character is adorable and actually as innocent as he seems. The dragon is both funny and has an interesting backstory.

The movie does get bogged down by forced awkwardness and ridiculous drama. The story is at it’s best when it’s exploring family and community and at it’s worst when it veers to close to romance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is adorable and only does stupid stuff because he’s very trusting of the magical dragon.The dragon is over the top and completely out of his depth. The friend is the definition of dutiful and conflicted about it.

The goon villains are cute and scary while the main villain was a nice surpise.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Clever and funny, but not extremely memorable, the dialogue serves its purpose. There are a few good lines, especially the dialogue between the main characters.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie looks very similar to what other top studios are doing, character design looks pulled from Pearl Studios or Blue Sky Studios. There are moments of pure beauty, however.

The music is lovely and really accentuates the story.

Score: 1

Fun

Overall, the movie is a lot of fun. The kids loved it and other than that annoying middle part, it was a joy to watch. I was excited to have a movie all about friends and felt a little betrayed when they played with the possibility of the characters becoming love interests.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful addition to the animated “genie” genre. It is a lot of fun, but sacrifices some depth for awkward humour and a few too many chase scenes. In the end it’s pretty, has a great moral and is fun to watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Raya and the Last Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Raya and the Last Dragon.

Story

The story was a nice combination of fetch quest, found family, and post apocalypse. The message was nice and I like the way they ended it. I feel like there was something missing, but that could just be my love for the Moana twist and complexity of Frozen II.

Score: 1

Characters

Raya and Namaari had really nice character arcs, but the others felt like they were there for merch or to fill space. I know it’s only a single movie but I would have liked more development for the other characters. That said, what they did have was fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The movie was an epic fantasy with elements of westerns and post apocalypse. The dialogue was so modern as to be jarring to start with. I’m not sure why it hit me harder than Emperor’s New Groove, Aladdin or Frozen’s but it felt very new lingo filled (it could also be that I’m getting old). It just really felt out of place.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Wow. This movie is spectacularly beautiful, the animation is unparalleled. I wanted to rewind just to watch a character walk through a puddle.

The music was wonderfully evocative. It captured the setting and the cultures while still being Disney. I did miss the musical aspects of some of the previous movies, but it wouldn’t have fit.

Score: 1

Fun

The worldbuilding was beautiful and the strong but traumatized hero was a wonderful change. The whole family was riveted and it was absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed the whole thing and look forward to rewatching it.

Score: 1

Overall

A spectacular fantasy movie that deviates enough from Disney that hardcore Princess fans will be upset while not deviating enough to make disney critics like it. Taken on it’s own without it’s studio’s baggage, it is absolutely stunning and a wonderful watch.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Upside-Down Magic – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Upside-Down Magic.

Story

It’s probably not fair of me, but after Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, I wasn’t too hopeful for this one.

Boy was I surprised. It has the feel and tone of good YA, while also poking subtle fun at the genre’s recent prevalent tropes. The story doesn’t get bogged down by any of the usual annoyances, and despite a pretty predictable plot, it’s a lot of fun with some decent worldbuilding.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There are many tropes and archetypes in YA. This movie takes the most prevalent ones of the insecure super-powerful main character and the quirky super-positive sidekick and switches them places, leaving us with an extremely interesting main character that doesn’t mope. It’s nice.

The rest of the cast are a little underdeveloped, but diverse and entertaining.

I also have to talk about the grumpy teacher turns out to be a softy trope. It’s really one of my favourites and works extremely well here.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is young, but not condescending. It has some pretty smart moments and great banter. There are also more than a few lines that are so generic that they could be part of a YA magic school generator.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals are really well done. The special effects budget was obviously not big, but they used it efficiently. I enjoyed the use of camera angles and colours to guide the viewer.

The music did what it needed and, other than the little singing in the movie, was not extremely noticeable.

Score: 1

Fun

For my four year old this was amazing, for the toddler he was glued to the screen. For me it had enough fresh material and awesome characters. It never really dragged and had a nice little twist. The movie made me want more and add the books to my TBR pile.

Score: 1

Overall

A thoroughly charming, self aware, and fun young adult magic school adventure. The characters, world, and magic are great. Refreshing not have a forced love story and reinforcing the strength of friendship. I look forward to reading the books.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Monster Trucks – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 film Monster Trucks.

Story

This felt like a trippy 80’s plotline, however it was much more coherent and actually had some good messages. It’s scientifically ridiculous, but a great parable. I appreciate that they didn’t go into wish fulfilment with the father storyline. I also liked the emotional twist with the stepdad.

Score: 0.5

Character

The main female lead is smart and capable, the male lead isn’t an idiot, the majority of the other characters feel pretty well fleshed out. They’re all a little cartoony, but acted in a believable way.

There’s a huge lack of diversity and I’m not very comfortable with the “Wise Mentor” trope being a black disabled person.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The movie is worth it just for the dialogue and the way the actors deliver it. Jane Levy and Lucas Till are brilliant as are the rest of the cast.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

To balance off the heavy use of special effects, the film makers gave us beautiful nature shots and vistas. Every shot is thought out in advance and works really well.

The music is used perfectly, as a movie where the monster isn’t supposed to be scary, the use of music makes all the difference in the early scenes. Had they used more dramatic music it would have been terrifying, had they used lighter it would have been ridiculous.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was designed to be fun and slip in some environmental and emotional messages. It succeeds and has more than one awesome moment. Both kids were glued to the screen and my wife and I laughed a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is much better than it has any right to be considering the premise. It’s an exciting and wholesome movie with great comedic moments and awesome action sequences. The moral and environmental questions are subtle, but present and the movie values intelligent characters. Plus the monsters are really cute.

Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Ever After – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film Ever After.

Story

An interesting twist on the Cinderella story that concentrates more on the meeting and courting before the ball of the lovers. It makes the love story feel slightly more real.

One of the few “realistic” takes on a classic fairy-tale that manages to work.

Score: 1

Characters

The evil stepmother was evil, the prince was handsome, and the Cinderella was spunky and kicked ass. I like that one of the stepsisters was nice.

I’m not super comfortable with the portrayal of the Romani in the movie. Showing them as brigands and thieves with a sense of honour and humour is very cliché and borders on racist.

I adore Da Vinci as an artist, inventor, and plot device but it made me sad that they had to remove a positive female role from the story to have him in there. Couldn’t they have made Gustave’s patron a famous female artist?

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This is a movie with a lot of dialogue and a lot of subtext. It might be a Cinderella story but it takes a lot from modern romantic comedy banter and Much Ado About Nothing.

I’m not sure how quotable it is, but listening to the banter and dialogue is like listening to a good musical piece.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie includes some beautiful locations and clothing. It was beautifully shot but everything was marred by a weird blue-green filter. It darkened the movie and made everything look wrong rather than stylish.

The music was lovely and unobtrusive but nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Watching a movie this long with a three year old and a fourteen month old isn’t very conducive to fun. The three year old liked the colours and movement but lost interest in the long conversations that were the heart of the movie.

Despite that, I enjoyed myself and look forward to watching it with them when they’re older.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie manages to strike the perfect balance between love story, fairy tale, and alternate history. It’s romantic and lovely without much to cringe at.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5