Treasure Planet – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2002 film Treasure Planet.

Story

On the surface, this seems like a straight adaptation of the book, but there are a lot of small subtle changes to adapt it to a 2002 audience. Mostly we see it in the way that the main character views the world. Instead of the naive, wide-eyed boy of the book, we get a sullen bad boy wannabe. Both are rutted in a childhood ignorance that mirrors when they were written.

The rest of the changes are just as clever and make the whole movie work in a way that seems improbable, but is quite lovely.

I find it interesting that in the book, we discover that the dad was killed to hide the treasure and that Silver knew him, but that story line is completely dropped in this version. Again, probably a sign of the times, in that an audience for the book would be shocked at a dad who just left instead of dying at sea, while more modern audiences wouldn’t blink an eye.

Score: 1

Characters

The protagonist is just the right level of innocent, sullen, and clever to make him likeable. The rest of the characters range from cartoony to downright terrifying. It’s impressive that the movie can have such a range without it feeling jarring.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The blend of pirate/sea talk, modern dialogue, and science fiction speak is fantastic. It’s at the perfect level to be understandable to anyone yet still have little nods to the original and science fiction movies.

Score: 1

Visuals and music

The blending of animation techniques works so well that despite the early 3D animation this is still absolutely stunning. From the textures to the starscapes, everything looks amazing. The 3D is used extremely well for shots that just would be impossible in traditional animation.

The music is a nice mix of early 2000’s, epic science fiction, and pirate movie.

Score: 1

Fun

I enjoyed the movie and always love the nuances of the characters. My 2 year repeated the title and ‘cook’ for the first half. Not sure why, but he still watched. My four year old loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie has all the buckle and swash you’d want with just a nice pinch of science fiction cleverness. Definitely one of the most underrated Disney movies.

If you enjoy pirates in space, this is the movie for you.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Monsters, Inc. – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 Monsters, Inc.

Story

Behind a cutesy story there’s a lot of great messages and social commentary. I’m a huge fan of the moment Sully realizes that what he’s always been told was the right thing to do actually hurt people. That moment was extremely relatable. The subtext of child labour, exploitation of others, and being a good person doesn’t mean you always do good things, are still very powerful.

Score: 1

Characters

A little bit of an odd couple, but with a great friendship, Sully and Mike are the heart of the movie. They are genuinely nice people who’ve been socialized to do bad things. It’s a wonderful dichotomy. The rest of the cast are a little less nuanced, but show different aspects of how this society molds people.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Every time I watch this movie I’m shocked by the amount of things in it that I’ve integrated into my everyday. From “Put that thing back where you found it or so help me” to “Follow the sultry sounds of my voice.”

The wonderful thing about the dialogue is that most of it does double or triple duty; humour, character development, and world building.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

At now 20 years old, the 3D rendering does look dated. Especially compared to newer Disney or Pixar. That being said, the hair particles and snow are stunning. The character design is well balanced between creepy and funny. Even dated, it looks great and the attention to detail is amazing.

Score: 1

Fun

This is the hardest category to judge. I watched this one in theatres and it’s a staple in our house. My daughter was glued to the screen when she was younger and she was still glued this time. My son sat and watched the entire time, although he was pretty freaked out at the beginning. He loved Boo and kept asking for her when she wasn’t on screen.

Score: 1

Overall

A classic film with all the heart and levels that Pixar is so great at. Its warmth and humour make it a joy to watch. Even twenty years after, the hair and snow animations are amazing. I’ll be honest, I’m not objective since this is one of my top ten movies of all time.

Final Score: 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

The Mitchells vs the Machines – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film The Mitchells vs the Machines.

Story

Most road trip movies rely on the ignorance or poor decision making of the characters. That lends to a sort of cringe comedy that I loved as a kid but can’t stand anymore. This movie turned that trope on its head. Instead the characters are lost in their own worldview and have trouble seeing each other.

The entire movie hinges on the family being a little strange, very lucky, and learning to work together. The plot is mildly predictable, surreal, and so much fun anyway.

Score: 1

Characters

For a movie that gives up grounded mid-way, its characters are infinitely relatable. I felt for each of the Mitchells.

The secondary characters are mild caricatures, but serve a good purpose.

I liked that they adopted the two robots into their family. It’s a nice message that genetics don’t make a family and found family is just as powerful.

The subtle inclusion of a gay main character was refreshing, as was the lack of forced romance.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has so many references to memes and internet culture that it’s impressive. I think that the references will age quickly and probably not well.

The humour is surprisingly clever and the dialogue sometimes much deeper than expected.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation was done in a style similar to Into the Spiderverse, but with more colourful “internet” things. There were a few times I wanted to pause and just look at all the details and backgrounds. It was stunningly beautiful.

The music was nice and the songs were perfectly chosen. I got a little frustrated with the electronic riff that felt plucked from the Stranger Things intro, but that’s minor.

Score: 1

Fun

The type of movie made it clear that the awkward family drama would have an awesome payoff and it did. This meant that I didn’t spend much time cringing and really enjoyed the ride. The kids were glued to the screen and we all laughed a lot. The giant Furby terrified my 22 month old.

Score: 1

Overall

A good old fashioned road trip and apocalypse movie that ditches the frustrating parts of both. The animation is spectacular and characters relatable. Proper Queer representation and a nod to found family add extra depth to an action-packed and laugh out loud film.

Final Score: 5* Stars out of 5


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Finding ‘Ohana

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 Finding ‘Ohana.

Story

This is the way to pay homage and still make something original at the same time. Obviously influenced and lovingly made in the style of 80’s summer adventures.

I loved the respect they had for culture and family.

Score: 1

Characters

The brother sister relationship was both annoying and heartwarming (just like real family), the romance was a little over the top but cute, the mother-grandfather relationship was amazing. Basically, this movie is all about family and family relationships and it’s done wonderfully.

Score: 1

Dialogue

A great combination between campy, 80’s, and heartwarming. The dialogue was fun funny, and had enough references to old movies to make me smile.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The locations were utterly gorgeous, but that’s to be expected of Hawaii in movies. The caves, shot in Thailand, were well staged and fun.

The music wasn’t particularly great, but it did what it needed to do.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was filled with heart and adventure. The whole family loved it. Even the slower scenes had everyone glued to the screen.

Overall

A fun 80’s style adventure with lots of heart. It’s exciting and fun with lots of respect for culture. A near perfect family movie.

Score: 5 Stars out of 5

Soul – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Soul.

Story

What does it mean to be human? Do we have a fated purpose? What is life? Do cats have souls? This movie answers and philosophizes left, right, and centre. All while pulling us along a body swap adventure. It’s funny, fun, and has lots to think about.

Despite the trailers making it look it it would, I’m glad the movie didn’t fall into the “Transformed POC” trope.

Story: 1

Characters

The main character is written in such a way that we sympathize with him immediately. There’s no doubting his dream. Then as we see his life through the eyes of another character we start to see his obsession with making it has hurt his ability to live in the moment. It’s a subtle transition that was so well done.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was mostly okay but in some parts was amazing. The conversation with his mom, the barber, and the double meanings of so many bits of dialogue between him and 22 are extremely well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie wasn’t about grand vistas and fantasy landscapes like Onward but instead was a lot more about details and abstract concepts. This movie was beautiful. The wood grain on the mother’s tailor shop to the minimalist interpretation of the great beyond’s light. This was breath taking.

The music was fantastic. I love how the pieces he plays are representative of his character growth. I look forward to buying this album.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was beautiful and fun. My mind still races at the world building. My daughter (4yo) loved it but my 18 month old didn’t sit through it. I’m not sure why. Either way, it’s not a knock on the film but it certainly isn’t the best for small kids.

Score: 1

Overall

The writing and music alone had me enthralled with their complexity and subtly. This movie is smart, funny, beautiful and certainly full of Soul.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Abominable – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 movie Abominable.

*This was my favourite movie of 2019*

Story

This feels like a modern fairy tale. A YA adventure story set in modern day. The story is cleverly simple and avoids so many of the traditional pitfalls. No forced love story, no double crossing from one of the kids, no parents that disbelieve. It’s about helping preserve magic and finding yourself along the way.

There are a few political issues but nothing truly problematic as far as I can tell.

Score: 1

Characters

Each of the characters, except the goons and the snakes, have a journey and growth. It’s sort of a mini found family that only exists in adventures (mundane ones like trips etc or magical one).

I like the twist with the bad guys and goon Dave is the best.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The movie has plenty of funny lines but the ones that are most memorable are the ones tied to emotions. The little conversations and moments that show both character and move the story forward.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

From the little details like the various wood grains to the big nature shots, this movie is truly stunning. Absolutely beautiful. The animation quality isn’t quite up to Disney/Pixar levels but they created some fantastic visuals.

The music is utterly fantastic. The humming and violin are suitably epic and magical.

The scene at the Leshan Giant Buddha is so beautiful and reflects Yi’s emotional journey perfectly.

Score: 1

Fun

The action always has a reason and everything is strung together in a surprising and coherent way. The movie made me smile and almost cry multiple times.

Score: 1

Overall

This is an adventure story with likeable characters that are trying to help a magical creature. It’s exactly my style of story. The few calmer moments weren’t lulls but one on one conversations that moved the emotional plot forward.

Final Score: 5 Stars*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Lilo and Stitch – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2002 film Lilo and Stitch.

Story

I’ve seen this movie a lot. It’s one of my feel good movies. It’s easy to dismiss this movie because it’s such a happy, and a little silly, story. It has a surprising amount to say about racism and colonialism. The aliens don’t even consider humans intelligent, Stitch is treated as a monster simply for existing, and you have to wonder if a white girl trying to take care of her sister would have as much trouble and scrutiny as Nani does.

It does a great job of showing off the problems in the child protective services system and the mindset that people are what they were born.

There’s also a lot in this about found family, sibling love, deciding who you are, and loving people for who they are.

Score: 1

Characters

Lilo never mocks anyone (except Nani). She genuinely seems to love those around her, even those that treat her terribly. She is a believable kid in pain. There’s a lot of talk that she is coded as autistic but I can’t speak to that.

Nani makes me think of my older brother and I can’t imagine the stress and pain she’s going through.

Stitch is sassy, adorable, and more relatable then you’d expect. He’s also cute and fluffy.

The rest of the characters are both surprising and fascinating in their own way.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie is quoted a lot in our family. It’s heartfelt and funny.

If I ever get a fish, I’m calling it Pudge.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is a stunning example of 2D animation. The rich landscapes of Hawaii along with the colourful aliens works so well. The plane chase sequence at the end is fantastic considering they had to remake it due to 9/11.

The music is fabulous and the use of Elvis is both jarring and perfect at the same time.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie doesn’t let you get bored. The placement of scenes is such that you get enough time to feel the emotion, but not enough to get bored. It’s a great use of emotion in scenes.

The overall feel of the movie is hopeful and happy.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a classic movie that is just overall a lot of fun. If I could only take 10 movies with me to re-watch forever this would absolutely make the list.

Overall Score: 5* Stars


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Zootopia – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 movie Zootopia.

*This was my favourite movie of 2016*

Story

Fast paced, coherent, with several great messages. It’s strange watching it in a post-Trump world and seeing messages that were clearly political. If by political you mean: don’t profile people, be kind, don’t give in to fear, and don’t give up.

The structure of procedural and buddy cop movie is done very well, with lots of allusions to other movies, while keeping the twist fresh. It’s also re-watchable even if you remember the twist.

Score: 1

Characters

To build relatable characters it’s important that they have flaws and strengths. To make great characters you need to have those strengths and flaws be intrinsically linked. Judy’s hopeless optimism and refusal to quit are strengths but they also blind her to the obvious dangers and villains.

Nick’s clever mind and overthinking are great for hustles but they make him doubt everything people do.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a lot said out loud and a lot said between the lines. This movie could have easily been bogged down with world building dialogue but is instead filled with wonderful lines. I love the evolution of Nick calling Judy “Carrots”.

I also love the Disney humour. Hearing Idris Alba say, “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” was just the kind of self-mocking humour I love.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is stunning and absolutely beautiful. Zootopia the city is as much a character as a setting and you quickly fall in love with it.

The music is perfect background and the Shakira song is catchy and inspirational.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than the press conference scene, I smile and laugh all the way through. It’s a movie that makes you think about the world you live in and the prejudices, while still making silly sloth jokes.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is wonderful and has everything I’m looking for. There are a few contrived moments and it’s not absolutely perfect but it makes up for it in humour, heart, and making you think.

If you haven’t seen it, now is the time.

Final Score: 5 Stars*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Frozen II – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 movie Frozen II.

*This was my second favourite movie of 2019*

Story

This movie balances multiple story lines, deals with serious subjects, and manages to inject hope and humour.

The script is tight, there isn’t a lost word, scene, or moment. Everything is set up from the beginning without being so obvious as to ruin the reveals.

At it’s base it’s a standard hero’s journey with a JRPG style collecting element. That’s more of the structure, the actual story is about love, change, and how we handle difficult times.

There was just enough complexity to make it re-watchable and simple enough to keep all ages interested. Everything has multiple purposes in the story and it’s beautiful to see.

Score: 1

Characters

There are very few characters for such an epic story. Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and Kristoff/Sven each get a character arc that is both transformative and satisfying.

There’s a bit where Olaf recaps the first movie (As if we haven’t all seen it a million times) and it’s not about Olaf and the recap. It’s a shortcut to introduce us to the newest characters of Mattias and Yelena. It perfectly shows who they are and makes the audience love them, while breaking up the action, recaping, and making us laugh.

Elsa’s continued discovery of who she is flows well from the first movie and has great parallels for those of us who are different from the norm.

Anna’s struggle through trauma and depression not only make a great story they also give children a guide for how to deal with depression and horrible events.

Kristoff deals with his feelings of insecurity. Not about his love or himself, but about how she feels about him.

Olaf deals with growing up and the fear that not knowing brings.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The songs have some extremely powerful lines but the dialogue doesn’t slouch at being insightful and poignant. “I’m sorry Anna. You’re gonna have to do the next part on your own. Ok?” breaks me every time. Same with, “My love isn’t fragile.”

Of late I’ve seriously been feeling Olaf in this movie, especially the line, “We’re calling this ‘controlling what you can when things feel out of control'”.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The autumn aesthetic is stunning. The colours are vibrant and the animation is absolutely beautiful. I’m not an animation expert but the details in this were astounding.

Musically it was great. The songs are a staple of our house already. They are beautiful on their own but also move the narrative, foreshadow, and expand the story.

The score on it’s own is epic and is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings or the better superhero scores.

Score: 1

Fun

This was a beautiful movie both visually and as a story. It tries and succeeds to tackle serious subjects while breaking them down for younger audiences.

Most of all it’s hopeful, catchy, and fun.

Score: 1

Overall

If you’d asked me whether I thought a 2 hour movie could handle talking about growing up, depression, colonialism, and self-discovery, while having a positive message about love being a strong and stable element to life; I’d have said… Maybe but better to do it in a book. It’s staggering that they managed to do it in a movie and made it accessible to all ages.

With the use of short forms, animation, and musical elements they managed to do it all.

Final Score: 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

2019 Book Rankings

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This year I read 21 books, one of which was mine.

If you like Fantasy and Adventure, try Everdome By Éric Desmarais

5 Stars

  1. That Ain’t Witchcraft (InCryptid, #8) By McGuire, Seanan
  2. Star-Crossed By Dee, Barbara
  3. Skylark By Carrière, S.M.
  4. The Measure of a Monster By McGuire, Seanan
  5. Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #1) By Bellet, Annie
  6. My Teacher Glows in the Dark (My Teacher Is an Alien, #3) By Coville, Bruce
  7. My Teacher Fried My Brains (My Teacher Is an Alien, #2) By Coville, Bruce

4 Stars

  1. The Unkindest Tide (October Daye, #13) By McGuire, Seanan
  2. The Red Trailer Mystery (Trixie Belden, #2) By Campbell, Julie
  3. The Secret of the Mansion By Campbell, Julie
  4. Midnight at Madame Leota’s (Tales from the Haunted Mansion #2) By Arcane, Amicus
  5. Voltron: Legendary Defender #3 (of 5) By Hedrick, Tim
  6. Hope is Swift By McGuire, Seanan
  7. An Adventurer’s Guide to Eberron By Bonner, Logan
  8. The Gatehouse Mystery (Trixie Belden #3) By Campbell, Julie
  9. Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider, Vol. 1: Spider-Geddon By McGuire, Seanan

3 Stars

  1. Pack of Lies (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #3) By Bellet, Annie
  2. Murder of Crows (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #2) By Bellet, Annie

2 Stars

  1. Disney After Dark By Pearson, Ridley
  2. Strawberry Cream Cupcake & Murder (Dana Sweet #1) By Marie, Ann S.

What was your favourite book?

Éric