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

The Faculty – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film The Faculty.

Story

The story of a bunch of outcasts and how they save their school, and the world. It’s not original, not even for its time. The characters make leaps that don’t make sense, there’s a lot of silly science mistakes (No one felt it worth correcting “diuretic” for “desiccant”? Not to mention that the whole “Kill the queen” thing is weird and doesn’t work that way with most insects.

Score: 0

Characters

I liked the range of characters and I’m impressed with the depth of them considering the short amount of screentime they each get.

The movie is a parade of actors that would hit it big or who would go on to do a whole lot of other shows. It’s interesting to see them all together.

Robert Patrick was so good.

Score: 1

Dialogue

All the science was bunk and a lot of it contradictory. The dialogue was hokey most of the time but every once in a while it was really good. The speeches about belonging almost made the bad guys seem reasonable.

I am annoyed at the “sci-fi nerd” getting the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers wrong. If they were going to use the ending from one of the movies, they shouldn’t have had her talking about the book.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The cinematography was good, a few odd choices and hints at the start of shaky cam but overall okay. The rest of the film is very much recognizable as the late 90’s.

The music was awesome. The score was okay but the songs were great.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie had a certain nostalgia, but the piss poor story and the inconsistent science was more frustrating than fun.

I did love seeing all the actors and there were some moments of real quality.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie that puts all its quality in its actors and characters. The plot is flimsy and mediocre, and the science/resolution is just bad. That being said, the characters, music, and acting are far better than the script deserved. Worth it for the nostalgia but nothing special.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

A Haunting in Venice – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film A Haunting in Venice.

Story

I haven’t read Hallowe’en Party and can’t speak to how faithful this is to the original plot.

That being said, this is the most fast paced of the three Branagh Poirot movies and definitely the darkest. The story is a fascinating mystery with a lot of ghostly dressing. The pace is slowed and story hurt by the humdrum attempts at integrating horror clichés into it.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There is a massive disparity in quality in acting. Branagh and Yeoh are absolutely fabulous and the kid is amazing. The rest of the cast is passable.

The characters are believable and act accordingly.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There’s a near poetry to the banter and dialogue of the characters. Yeoh’s confrontation with Branagh is spectacular.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was filmed on location and it adds a level of authenticity. The sets are great. Despite the jump scares and a few odd angles, the cinematography is a wonderful mix of the mystery and horror styles.

Score: 1

Fun

I’m both proud and a little disappointed that I guessed the killer, method, and blackmailer way before I should have. It was, however, a fun movie to experience.

It being on the scarier side means I watched it on my own.

Score: 1

Overall

An excellent movie with a fun Halloween twist. The acting is a little uneven and the mystery watered down, but a worthy successor to the other two films and a fun watch. Branagh and Yeoh are fabulous as usual.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Holiday Sitter – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film The Holiday Sitter.

Story

This is the Hallmark Christmas formula at it’s best. I appreciate that they took a little time to show how hard it can be for gay men to date and the trauma involved.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I was worried at the beginning because the main character was a complete ass, but once he calmed down and started to open up about his feelings, he became a lot better. He was actually quite charming and funny when he wasn’t trying too hard to be a jerk.

The handyman next door who just wanted a family was charming and adorable and the two of them had pretty good chemistry.

The kids were cute if forgettable and the rest of the cast was good.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue was terrible and the only thing that kept them from making the movie unwatchable was the earnestness and quality of the actors.

There are also a few cute quips and lots of family adorableness.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was well filmed and showed that each shot was well thought out from a framing point of view. It bugs me in these movies when people leave on vacation and they still have food out. In this one his popcorn machine was still filled with popcorn.

Early in the movie the little girl wins a massive quantity of stuffed reindeer toys; from that point forward there are stuffed reindeer in almost every scene and it was a lot of fun looking for them.

The music was standard and did it’s job.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This is a Hallmark Christmas movie. You should know in advance if you’re into that sort of thing. I thought the romance was fun and the movie was easy to watch with little to no forced drama.

Score: 1

Overall

A nice gay twist on the Hallmark Holiday movie formula with two actors that had great chemistry. It’s cute, fluffy, and warm; everything a holiday romance should be.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

See How They Run 2022 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film See How They Run.

Story

The story tries really hard to be clever and referential while still respecting the genre. It’s not a spoof or an homage, but some sort of clever combination. The great thing is that it works on all levels. Everything is laid out in the intro narration and I was still pleasantly surprised.

Score: 1

Characters

The main detective characters are clichés brought to life. They’d be almost boring if it wasn’t for the quality and charm of the actors. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to the whole cast, which is populated by a checklist of quirky film noir characters.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is a combination of period and modern and was a little jarring at times. It was however very clever and well thought out.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The director and cinematographer must have been big fans of Hitchcock and Anderson. It mostly worked as a mashup, but lacked originality and felt a little forced.

The music was strong but unmemorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie was a mystery lover’s good time. All the adults loved it, but the kids found it slow and talky. I will re-watch this one.

Score: 1

Overall

An excellent homage/comedy to the mystery genre, Christie in particular, and a fun movie. Its odd directorial choices are held together by the impressive acting from the leads.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Monster High 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Monster High 2.

Story

The tone of this one is much younger then the first. The story is simplistic; the twist is so obvious that I couldn’t believe it was the actual twist.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were fairly consistent from the first one, but the movie didn’t give their cast much time to develop. The characters were there, but mostly ignored to make more time for forced drama.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is delightfully silly. Filled with puns and fun tidbits of monster lore. I wish there were more deep character moments, but overall the dialogue is okay.

There’s a lot of forced borderline toddler-level talk about friendship that got tedious quick.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuel style is extra poignant with the contrast to the human world. They did a great job building a colourful, dynamic, and interesting world. Unfortunately a good half of the movie is set in our world and is the weaker for it.

The music is catchy but very similar to the first and again feels better than the plot of the movie.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I’ll be honest, I was bored by the halfway mark. It’s colourful with good music, but not particularly fun to watch. The kids loved it and it wasn’t bad, just meh.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A lackluster sequel which forgets what made the first entertaining and spends way too much time in the human world. The characters and music are great, but don’t make up for the pre-school dialogue and storyline.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

Haunted Mansion (2023) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Haunted Mansion.

Story

The story leans heavily into the feel of the ride and it’s expansive lore, but grounds it in a powerful story about grief and loss. It’s well constructed and everything is wrapped up nicely. There are no unwanted surprises, but lots of good ones.

Score: 1

Characters

It’s hard to give a large cast proper character development, but the movie makes sure to give each of them those little moments of depth. The cast is superb and has amazing comedic timing that balances the scary bits really well.

I really like the parallels between the characters growth and how it revolves around grief. It’s easy to forget what makes the idea of real ghosts sad and scary is dealing with our own loss.

Score: 1

Dialogue

They only used the word “Quantum” once in the movie and I’m glad for that.

Beyond that, the dialogue is a wonderful mix of silly, weird, and deeply moving. Each of the characters have their own style and tone, so much so that they could be from different times or movies, but somehow it works.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is completely saturated with references to the ride and expanded lore. It’s both glorious and at times makes you spend more effort looking at the backgrounds in fear of missing something. Which might not be an issue for casual viewers. That being said, it’s a beautifully shot movie with great visuals.

The music is a great mixture of New Orleans jazz, creepy music, remixes from the ride, and originals that fall into all three.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie is fun, but we’re all big Haunted Mansion fans in our house. Everyone loved it, despite a few screams. I’m going to want this movie and its soundtrack.

Score: 1

Overall

A must watch for anyone who loves the Haunted Mansion ride or creepy family friendly scares. The movie has heart and depth that is surprising and touching.

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.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Story

Rebellious teens ignore all the rules and get everything they want. Splinter is worried about their safety (rightly so, have you met humanity?) but eventually realizes that he’s being overbearing.

There’s a giant whale mutant chimera in there too.

It very much feels like an 80’s plot with 2020’s slang.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The turtles are extremely authentically teenage boys. My sister-in-law, a teacher, looked a little shell-shocked (pun intended). The antics, limited forward thinking and overthinking had me getting flashbacks to being a teen.

April was great, despite the lazy puke jokes, and I really liked having her be the same age as the turtles.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This dialogue will feel dated by the end of the year. There’s more slang than you can shake a ninja star at.

The penchant for the turtles to all talk at the same time is both relatable and well done, although exhausting to follow. The teasing and quipping felt natural and hilarious. The villain was over-the-top but it worked.

April’s smarts and snark were awesome.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The style of animation felt very dark. The backgrounds were gorgeous and the characters great, but it was a lot of dark on dark on dark.

The music was good and did it’s job, but was nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was interesting and fun, but went from pure pessimism to ridiculous optimism way too quick near the end. It felt like the writers wrote themselves into a corner and decided to just do a big battle.

The 4yo loved it and the 7yo liked it but not a lot.

The rest of the family enjoyed it, but we were all tired by the end.

Score: 0.5

Overall

An excellent TMNT movie with lots of action and for the first time the turtles felt like actual teens. April was a standout character and making her a teen was a brilliant idea. That said, the last act of the movie felt forced and the colour palate was a little too dark.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Ice Princess – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2005 film Ice Princess.

Story

There’s literally nothing original in this script. This is the teen sports/theatre/music storyline that you can see in every other teen drama. Down to the line, “It’s not my dream, [parent], It’s yours.”

Score: 0

Characters

The main character is adorably nerdy and most of the rest of the cast fit perfectly into their roles. The cast take a pedestrian script and do a great job of elevating it with excellent acting. Kudos to Michelle Trachtenberg for learning to skate that well in 10 months.

The mother’s character made me really ANGRY, Joan Cusack does a fantastic job, but the character makes no sense. She’s supposed to be a feminist, granola, pro-education type of mom. However, her comments about the outfits setting women back fifty years are ridiculous and no feminist literature professor would say that. (This comment made me pause and rant about the purpose of the miniskirt from a feminist historical point of view. Sorry family.)

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was cute and the nerd flirting was painfully accurate.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was very well shot. It’s 2005 so they used hand held cameras more than they should, I never got the appeal, it doesn’t enhance the drama.

The music was unmemorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Both kids didn’t want to watch it and by ten minutes in were glued to the screen. It’s a feel good movie. Despite the mother, I did enjoy it and despite my lectures, so did the rest of the family.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a comfort movie. It’s the kind of movie you turn on and you know how it’ll end, and probably everything that leads to it. The acting is wonderful, the nerdiness is great, the skating cameos are fun, and despite some poor character choices, it’s enjoyable.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Zoom: Academy for Superheroes – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 film Zoom: Academy for Superheroes.

Story

The story works. It’s a nice mix between superhero and underdog sports movies. It has a lot of awkward moments and more than a few scenes that could have been cut or replaced.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Yikes is Jack an asshole. Seriously, he comes shy of insulting everyone but racial minorities (and that’s probably because there are none in the movie). His turnaround from asshole burnout to father figure is not believable and neither is the love story.

Thankfully, the kids are fantastic and bring the emotional heart to the film. The secondary characters felt a little out of place and there just for gags.

The little girl acted a lot younger than my 6yo does.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Lots of ableism, racism, sexism, and just meanness. There are a few good jokes, but the movie doesn’t balance it’s slapstick, seriousness, and heart very well.

The little girl had some of the best lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects look cheesy but still hold out pretty well. Lots of nice practical effects and I liked the comic book style of filming.

The music was so mid 00’s that it was nostalgic. I kinda want the soundtrack. It’s dated but not in a bad way.

Score: 1

Fun

It’s hard to like a movie when the main character is so unlikeable. The 6yo and 3yo loved it and ran around the house pretending to be Zoom or Princess.

I did enjoy the obvious twist with the scientist girl.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Despite Tim Allen’s thoroughly unlikeable character, the movie is fun and exciting with a few surprises along the way. Great movie for kids and for those who have fond memories of Smash Mouth.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5