Strange World – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Strange World.

Story

The story mirrors the old pulp comics and stories, but with a modern twist. This felt like it would fit well with Treasure Planet and Atlantis.

The story definitely follows Disney’s new story structure of not having a villain and dealing with family/generational trauma.

I find that a lot of the screen time is wasted on the AMAZING visuals and not enough on the characters themselves.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I liked the characters, but the focus moved around a lot and the emotions were rushed for the actions. Splat was a perfect Disney sidekick, the mom was amazing, and Alan Tudyk should not be playing pilots any more.

The three male leads were stubborn and their changes of heart were nice but not heart-wrenching.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The banter and fights between the characters was great and the parent’s interactions were great.

Loved the pulpy intro narration.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was an absolute joy to watch visually. The world was both amazing and fascinating. The camera angles and style were just perfect.

The music was very well done with a wonderful heroic score.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was exciting, thought provoking, and lots of fun. The whole family loved it. My wife, who has a background in biology, noticed a few really cool visuals early on and we then spent a lot of the movie pointing out inspiration for the world.

I look forward to seeing this one again.

Score: 1

Overall

A family drama with a spectacular world pulled straight from older pulp science fiction. This movie is stunning, clever, and a lot of fun.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Christmas With You – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Christmas With You.

Story

This falls into the category of “Rich out of touch city person” is shown the joys of a modest Christmas category of movies. That being said, there’s a little more heart to it with the way the main character has missed out on a lot of Latinx traditions. So it feels less like she’s learning about the joys of being middle class and more like she’s re-learning her culture and how to have a family.

There’s also a wonderful level of respect and collaboration between the two leads. Made me think of writing with my wife.

Score: 1

Characters

The two mains were great. I loved the amount of emotion in their expressions. I liked the solid, priorities in the right place, dad. I also liked the vulnerable and genuinely nice pop star.

The main girl was great for the early hook, but sort of fell back after that.

The manager / best friend was amazing.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a lot of cheese in this movie, but most of it is the right kind. The Abuela’s thirsty comments are hilarious and the small snarky comments throughout are great.

My only gripe was the teens. What little dialogue they had felt forced, like the movie was written by someone who’s only seen teens in the movies.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were good. The cinematography was acceptable and the sets were awesomely Christmas.

The music was mostly great, but I didn’t really like the final song. It was nice, but missing something.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It could have been very awkward and angsty, but the movie is a lot of fun. Mostly everyone enjoyed it. The three year old was restless, though.

Score: 1

Overall

A sweet and adorable Christmas romance. The leads are solid, but what makes the movie is the warmth of a loving family Christmas.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Scrooge: A Christmas Carol – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Scrooge: A Christmas Carol.

Story

It’s A Christmas Carol… mostly. If you’re a stickler for the original, it’ll annoy you at times. There’s some anachronisms and a few extra touches to soften Scrooge and make him more likeable. I don’t think they were necessary, but they did give more emotion to the songs, so I’m okay with it.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters are pretty much the same. I like that they kept Cratchet’s wife being angry with Scrooge. I liked the emotion and way they handled the love interest.

I like that they include the sister. In so many movie adaptations they forget about her or only make a passing reference. I approve of switching her from older to younger and making her frail.

The ghosts, which are often the best parts, are fun.

Score: 1

Dialogue

I’m a big fan of Dickens’ choices and language. The dialogue is quick and witty in the story. Unfortunately I find this movie’s updates to the dialogue to be pretty bland. A watered down version of the original where any older language just seems out of place.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The animation was pretty and captivating. I think they overdid the special effects and jarring camera work.

The music… Holy Marley’s Ghost it was good. They didn’t need to go that hard with the music. Any and all beauty lost in the modern language is more than made up for in the music.

Score: 1

Fun

Once I got over the anachronisms and the language, I greatly enjoyed this one. The 6 year old was captivated and the 3 year old was only a little bored during the last ghost.

The adults all kept being amazed by the music.

Score: 1

Overall

An interesting take on A Christmas Carol. Not for the purists or those who hate historical inaccuracies, but the animation was fun and the music was outstanding.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Zombies 3 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Zombies 3.

Story

Although following the same themes as the first two, it deviates more in story. The overall plot is utterly ridiculous, but in the best way possible. There are a few inconsistencies with the first one (specifically the ages of the characters) but it’s still a fun story. I particularly like how they used the three groups’ tech together.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I like the third movie in these sorts of series. The characters are developed and sure of themselves. Zed is a proud Zombie trailblazer and even without knowing her origins, Addison is a leader and welcomes everyone. The rest of the cast fit really well together.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are a lot of nice nods to classic sci-fi and monster movies. The dialogue leans into the cheesy and series nostalgia, which somehow works really well.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

By far the best filmed of the series, but the special effects aren’t as great as they could be. I liked how much they managed in the first two with little to no budget, but with a massive budget it was a little disapointing.

The music was great, but still not extremely distinctive. I doubt I’ll hear the soundtrack and know right away what it’s from.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This is a an angst-free and fun movie. It has all the elements that made the first two fun and everyone in the family enjoyed it.

Score: 1

Overall

My favourite of the three, but mostly for the return to an awesome world. It was fun and had some great songs.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Parent Trap (1961) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1961 film The Parent Trap.

Story

The transitions between parts of the movie were a little choppy and uneven, but the story was solid. It had the right amount of twists and turns. I’m not sure if some of it is cliché or if it’s just had a huge influence on YA films afterwards. It’s definitely a product of it’s time with some casual racism and sexism.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I really enjoyed the side characters, the grandfather was awesome and so was the cook. I thought the mother and father were a little annoying, but hilarious. I was impressed with how Hayley Mills had different body language, mannerisms, and movements for each of her characters. It was always obvious which was which.

Score: 1

Dialogue

A lot of the slang in this is antiquated to the point that it took me some time to understand what it meant. It’s not unintelligible, but it was an adjustment.

The movie is quite witty and has a lot of fun lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s green screen is uncomfortable, but other than that, the movie is extremely well done. The split screen and body double work is impressive.

The music is good, especially the opening theme.

Score: 1

Fun

The 5yo didn’t want to watch it at first, but loved it pretty quickly. I had never seen it and it was a fun movie that made me smile. For my wife and mother-in-law it was a nostalgic return. We all had fun.

Score: 1

Overall

Mildly dated with some pacing issues, but overall a very fun and funny movie. The acting from Mills is excellent and the attention to detail is great. Definitely earns its place as a Disney classic.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Tomb Raider (2018) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film Tomb Raider.

Story

I haven’t played the games, but I assume there are some common elements from the stills and trailers I’ve seen. The story isn’t what I expected; I expected a puzzle archaeology movie and got an action movie.

All that being said, the story was pretty good. I wish they’d spent less time with the island action scenes and more with the tomb or puzzles.

My major issues is that it started action / intrigue and the tone switched to horror action once it reached the island. That would work for a book or TV show, but for a movie it felt disjointed.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I have to give credit to the actress because we learn almost nothing about Lara the entire movie other than she’s smart, gets back up, and is very curious. Any urge by the audience to care about the character is due to the charisma the actress brings to it.

The bad guy was perfectly cartoonish and the dad was okay. I liked the captain.

The CEO of of Croft Corp reminded me of Nina Sharp in Fringe played by Blair Brown.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Not super quippy, but very well paced. There’s a lot of mythology and they space it out really well. I also liked that the few puzzles that Lara solves are thought out in dialogue.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Everything in this movie was stunning. Filming was amazing, lighting spectacular, and action just wonderful.

The music was intense and well composed. There were a few times that it was a little early for the scene, which didn’t work for me.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I loved every moment of it, but I regret watching it with the kids. It was a little scarier and more violent than they should be watching. However, that’s on me.

My wife liked it, but found it a little exhausting.

Score: 1

Overall

A roller coaster from start to finish. The tone goes from action to horror, but the cinematography is spectacular. A fun action movie with lots of thrills.

Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers  – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers.

Story

The concept is Roger Rabbit, but the story is a traditional buddy cop reunion. It has a good amount of humour and lots of interesting moments.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Despite being the actors behind the characters, they’re still fairly similar, which is great. The writers even comment on it in one of the last scenes. I appreciated that they didn’t try and give them a dark backstory, but overall they were okay.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was clever and aimed at kids, regular people, and animation nerds. There was a great balance of quips and references along with exposition.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

I am extremely impressed that they managed to make so many animation styles work together without it being jarring. Very well done. Combined with the camera and composition, this movie was pretty impressive.

The music was good and did its job.

Score: 1

Fun

The whole family loved it. I found it dragged a little in the middle, but overall it was a lot of fun with lots of laughs.

Score: 1

Overall

What the movie lacks in story, it more than makes up in visuals and jokes. This is an homage to the best buddy cop comedies and it does a great job.

Final Score: 4 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

Better Nate Than Ever – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Better Nate Than Ever.

Story

This is a combination of musical, kid running away, and trying to reach your dream. It’s fairly predictable but lots of fun. I liked the friendship and I really liked the casualness of his sexuality.

I do feel there should have at least been a little bit of dialogue about him running away between him and his parents. They should have at least admitted that they pushed him to run away with their disregard for his dreams.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I didn’t like the parents. I found they were, as usual for an American movie, too focused on the sports star and too dismissive of the younger son. I also found the line where the dad is justifying Nate sleeping over at a girls house a little ridiculous. He says that’s it okay because, “Nate is different.” That works if they’ve had a talk about his sexuality, but if the dad is just guessing, that’s a dangerous line of thought. We bisexuals exist and there are a lot of boys who look or sound gay and are somewhere else in the spectrum.

The dynamics between the best friend and Nate are great and I love the aunt. The brother’s growth is well done.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was pure Broadway fan with a few explanations for those who didn’t know. It was clever, witty, and quick while still being hopeful and naive. I loved it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was excellently framed and shot, making perfect use of the camera without being too static. The sets and locations were a great mix.

The music was perfectly picked and the musical numbers were a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Fun

This is a feelgood movie with lots of hope and talent. My 2yo was glued to the screen and my 5yo was writhing on the floor in second-hand embarrassment (she really doesn’t like movies where kids lie to their parents.)

The rest of us had big grins on our faces most of the time.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun, exciting, and musically filled film with lots of heart. I hope that the matter-of-fact treatment of sexuality is something we’ll see more of in the future.

This movie will make you smile and want to get up and dance. It almost made me want to audition for something.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 film The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice.

Story

The story has nice pacing and makes sure to use everything that it mentions, even if it’s really quickly said. The double twist is perfectly set up and will surprise at least a few people. Mildly predictable at times and I do wish they’d had more time for the history that Flynn spouts.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The love interest in this one is the most interesting of the three and Stana Katic plays the role exceptionally well.

The two villains are okay, but the henchmen are funny and quite impressive. I loved the taxi driver who was “cousins” with everyone.

The only character who annoys me is Flynn. He’s whinny and the whole schtick of being afraid of the the love interest was completely ridiculous. We see here the tendencies that start to get on my nerves in the TV show. He’s selfish and doesn’t seem to really care about people.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The quick babble of the Librarian is wonderful, the infodump in the barbershop was very well done.

The jokes and quips were fantastic.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals are significantly better used in this one. The locations are beautiful, but with the subject matter, there’s less massive sfx needed and what they did was prettier and more subtle. New Orleans really adds to the quality and atmosphere of the film.

The music got a little more layered and rich without losing the adventure theme.

Score: 1

Fun

The love story was more believable, the action better paced, the character interactions more fun, and the history and adventure were fascinating. Both kids were glued to the screen and so was I. It’s definitely my favourite of the Librarian movies.

Score: 1

Overall

The strongest of the Librarian movies with plenty of great lines and wonderful sets. New Orleans is beautiful and Stana Katic does an amazing job. A great way to end the trilogy.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5