Damsel – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2024 film Damsel.

Story

A touch of Epic Fantasy and a whole lot of survival horror. The movie tries too hard not to be confusing, and by doing that, it ruins any drama or empathy for the pseudo-twist. The entire first part of the movie, a prologue that over-explains, should have been cut. Everything after that would have flowed and had better emotional impact.

The story is bare-bones and could have pushed harder on the psychological horror. They also introduced the main character’s love of labyrinths which didn’t really lead anywhere.

Score:

Characters

The wet noodle prince, domineering queen, and weird cult like people were okay. Again, if you hadn’t been told what was coming, it could have been eerie.

The movie really survives on the charisma and acting ability of the lead, who is excellent. Special shout out to the step-mother who seriously rocks in her love for her step-daughters.

The dragon was brilliantly voiced.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This was mostly generic fantasy language.

It really shines when the damsel and the dragon are talking at the end, when the damsel is on her own, or whenever the dragon talks.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The dragon design was impressive, a few obvious CGI moments but overall well done. The camera angles, and frantic cuts worked well for the horror style.

The music was good.

Score: 1

Fun

The actress did a great job and despite being predictable, it was fun. I was annoyed by how much the story structure was designed for the reveal that had been blatantly stated at the beginning.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie mixes fantasy and horror but tries too hard not offend fans of either. Because of that, the horror is tame and doesn’t get the chance to really sink in, and the fantasy is pretty bland. If it wasn’t for the quality of the acting, the movie would be bad. As it is, it’s an okay romp with a cool dragon.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Raiders of the Lost Ark – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Story

It’s fascinating watching a story that is completely unaffected by the protagonist. Other than a lot of killing Nazis, he doesn’t do much to alter the end result.

It’s exciting and flows from one set piece to the next really well.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Indiana is tough, charismatic, wise cracking, and fluctuates between genius and fool. As an adventurer, he attracts disaster and does everything with wry wit. As an archeologist, he doesn’t do much but consult experts. I wonder what his specialty is?

Marion is the tough girl who can drink anyone under the table, shoot a gun, and runs her own bar in the tough part of Nepal. She’s also completely defenseless and screams more then my children watching this movie.

Salah is still one of my favourite characters.

The villains are evil Nazis and its nice to remember a time when we as a society were against Nazis.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue in this is iconic and quotable in a way only Harrison Ford and Spielberg can be.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals are good for the time but are showing their age. The cinematography does a great job in its use of shadows.

The music is excellent and definitely big and adventurous. Perfect for the movie.

Score: 1

Fun

There isn’t a lot of cringe (outside the weird classroom scene) and I really enjoy the nostalgia, but after so many other movies, like the Librarian or Stargate, having the protagonists be hyper-competent and smart, it makes Indiana Jones feel a little less special.

The kids liked it and were a little freaked out by the faces melting until we explained how the fx were done.

Score: 0.5

Overall

One of the first archeology adventures and still a fun ride. It’s aged fairly well but the character of Indiana is often more frustrating than not. That’s in part because he’s not too bright and the uncomfortable history of archeology.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Fantasia 2000 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2000 film Fantasia 2000.

Story

Like the first, this isn’t a regular movie and feels more like an anthology with various forms of storytelling. It’s creative and absolutely engrossing. Unlike the original, it’s extremely short; over an hour shorter then the first. The rhythm between the stories wasn’t as smooth.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Again, there aren’t many speaking roles in the stories themselves, but the characters were strong and interesting.

Score: 1

Dialogue

I liked that they re-used some of the original narration and added some celebrities. The part with Mickey looking for Donald was particularly funny. Most of the jokes hold up well for being almost 25.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is pretty but there are places they used 3D animation and it didn’t age well. The whales at times looked plastic and poorly rendered. When the shorts were traditionally animated they looked fabulous.

The music is great. I recognized all the pieces and loved how they were put together.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It had enough of the feel of the original to be nostalgic and it was a lot of fun.

The kids liked this one better because they say it has less scary parts.

Score: 1

Overall

An attempt to recreate a classic that almost gets there but like it’s runtime, falls short. On its own it’s still a lot of fun to watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Argylle – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2024 film Argylle.

Story

At first, the story feels insultingly simple and a little over-the-top. Once the twists start coming in, the inconsistencies not only make sense but are quite clever. There’s a lot of little details sprinkled throughout that telegraph the twists but doesn’t feel cheap.

Score: 1

Characters

The problem with Matthew Vaughn, the director, is that his characters are very over-the-top and it often feels forced. I did like that the worlds of fiction and reality merged. The downside to it is that some character stories are obvious early on.

That being said, this movie is filled with actors who ooze charisma and at no point is watching them boring.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Pure cheese that covers up a lot of world building and story. The dialogue sometimes feels like it’s there to be quippy, but it’s always doing three things at once and it’s frankly amazing.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This is a surreal action movie and no one does over-the-top action like Vaughn. It’s so pretty and ridiculous that you can only love or hate it.

The soundtrack is spectacular and the score does everything right.

Score: 1

Fun

Once I remembered what sort of movie I was watching, I greatly enjoyed it. Jen and my mother in-law loved it too. That ice skating scene was so much fun.

It’s fun and clever.

Score: 1

Overall

If you like your spy movies dark, gritty, and realistic, this isn’t for you. This is a big action homage to Romancing the Stone with all the twists, turns, and ridiculousness the director is known for.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Fantasia (1940) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1940 film Fantasia.

Story

This isn’t a regular movie and feels more like an anthology with various forms of storytelling. It’s creative and absolutely engrossing.

Score: 1

Characters

There are a lot of characters and none of them speak, but they are animated to the music spectacularly.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This one is not applicable for most of it but there is the narrator who introduces the parts. He has some cute dialogue.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is creative, innovative, and very pretty.

The music is iconic and sparked my love of classical music.

Score: 1

Fun

When I was young, my mom bought this on VHS and it had me mesmerized. It was my favourite movie for a long time. (Something my classmates did not understand.)

Other than the science in the dinosaur part, which was dated when I watched it, the movie holds up really well.

The kids say they didn’t like it but were glued to the screen the whole time and completely invested.

Score: 1

Overall

A classic that holds up well because of the timelessness of imagination and music. If you’ve ever loved it in the past you’ll still love it now, and if you didn’t like it before, it might surprise you.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5

Power Rangers (2017) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 film Power Rangers.

Story

This is a very derivative story. It’s a chosen-one, superhero, Breakfast Club with lots of old Power Ranger cheese. It’s exactly what I wanted from this movie even if it wasn’t original.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I liked the diversity. They each had their individual arcs, and despite the multiple set pieces eating the time, they all felt well set up and complete.

The acting was extremely well done considering the cheesiness of the script.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is terrible but delivered really well, almost making it seem natural.

The heart to heart moments between characters are pretty staged but again well-acted.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals used the style of the old comics with the unmistakable 2010’s main colour palette. At least they kept the rangers brightly coloured.

The music is epic and the score utterly fantastic.

Score: 1

Fun

I wanted something that had the essence of the Power Rangers I grew up with. I didn’t want the exact same story or the same characters (I don’t remember them that well, it’s been 30 years since I watched it). This delivered and was just plain fun. Lost of cheese, lots of great acting, and some awesome battles.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun take on the concept of Power Rangers that will enrage the diehard fans but on its own it’s a fun and exciting movie.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Christmas…Again?! – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Christmas…Again?!.

Story

It’s arguable that all time loop movies are remakes Groundhog Day, but in this case the similarities are too obvious to ignore. That being said, they did a great job adjusting it for the character, setting, and season.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character has the most believable learning arc that I’ve seen in recent memory. It never feels forced or too quick. The actress does a great job of showing the evolution.

I also have to point out the rare divorced family that gets along. The mom and future wife seem to actually be friends and support each other throughout the movie.

The rest of the characters managed to be nuanced and grow from the main characters meddling, all without being in the loop.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There were a few nice turns of phrase and I like how realistically the main character misinterprets the words of the adults in her life.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The cinematography wasn’t ground breaking, but it was clear and consistant, something that I find very important in time loop movies. Nothing breaks my immersion more than changes where there shouldn’t be.

The music was a good mix of Christmas and pop with a competent score.

Score: 1

Fun

I’m biased towards time loops. I love love them and every time I see one I go through the same annoyance and joy cycle.

My 7yo begged to watch it, as if she needed to, and loved every moment. The rest of the family seemed to enjoy it just as much.

Score: 1

Overall

An homage that borders on a remake of Groundhog Day, this movie manages to have heart, surprises, and lot of fun. If you love time loop movies as much as I do, you’ll love this one.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Black Friday (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Black Friday.

Story

A very standard zombie movie with a dash of alien invasion. The progression is so predictable I was almost bored. Thankfully there were a lot of shopping jokes.

Score: 0

Characters

The usual rag-tag group of misfits fighting zombies and barely (or not) surviving. Some of the actors were pretty good and some not great. There’s some impressive character moments where they rush through their trauma (from before the events) but it feels forced and is played for laughs.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The jokes about feral customers, retail hell, and consumerism sent me back to my days working in a convenience store. The writers had definitely experienced the existential horror of retail work.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were creepy and well done. Lots of flash and violence.

The music was better than the movie deserved. The original Christmas song was well done.

Score: 1

Fun

There were parts that bored me, but overall I had fun. It was exactly what it said it was and didn’t try to be anything more.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a horror movie that wouldn’t stand up without it’s gimmick, but the gimmick is so well done that you don’t care. It’s violent, gory, and will give you flashbacks to working retail.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Under Wraps 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Under Wraps 2.

Story

They frame the story with a wedding and that structures it slightly differently than the first one. Makes it fresh and keeps the story going. The plot is good and flows really well. The parallels between the mummies and the kids is a little overdone and the messaging a little juvenile, even for a kids movie.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Often times a sequel will manufacture drama by changing a character. They skirted the line with this one, but made it believable. More importantly they solved their issues with good communication.

The kids were fun and the mummies did a great job.

I loved the dads; they were sweethearts.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Lots of clever pieces of dialogue and some really fun moments.

Often felt younger then it should, considering the age of the characters.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Typical Disney TV low budget effects, but the film makers leaned into the classic monster movie practical effects and that made it feel more grounded than bad CGI would have. The camera work was excellent.

The music was okay, if forgettable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a fun movie with lots of exciting moments. Even though it felt a little young, everyone loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun movie and a great sequel. It combines everything that was great about the first one and improves on it.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

We’re Writing Again :-)

Hello Friends, Family, Fans, and Readers,

It’s happening again! AGAIN! Jen and I are writing another book.

This is the third Gates of Westmeath book and I’m absolutely loving writing and reading it.

I absolutely love writing with Jen. It’s like having a super-fan to pump you up for writing and like getting to read your favourite book as it’s being made!

This going to be book 3, and book 2 Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests will be coming out spring 2024. We’ll post pre-order links as soon as we get them, and stay tuned for the cover reveal and other sneak peeks!

I’m so excited to be writing this book and I can’t wait to see what happens.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric