Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1980 film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Story

Deviating a little from the bare bones hero’s journey of the first film, this one introduces new villains and allies. It also becomes a lot more confident in its worldbuilding. It definitely leans further into the space opera in one story and the wizard fantasy in the other.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Luke starts to have a backbone and agency, which is shown as a bad thing. The romance between Leia and Han is pretty forced. Leia is portrayed less like a competent diplomat and more like an overworked leader with workaholic tendencies.

I’m also reminded that I like C3P0 significantly more when the humans ignore him.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is deliciously cheesy and I love so many of the lines. I get annoyed at the bargain-bin Orientalism of Yoda and the ridiculous absolutism of the Jedi in general.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Once again the model work is utterly fantastic and the practical effects are wonderful. The camera work is great and the set are spectacular.

The music is iconic and although there’s a lot of carry-over from the first movie, the new themes are wonderful.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie is a lot of fun but has less of the hope (pun intended) of the first film. The shift in tone comes from the defeat at the beginning and the way the Jedi act like all is lost when Luke, rightfully, chooses to save his friends.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie is epic and the visuals amazing but it suffers from being half of a story and from a drastic change in tone that would continue in the sequels/prequels.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

The Secret World of Arrietty – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2010 film The Secret World of Arrietty.

Story

I found it very soothing and calm but I can see where it could be considered stressful. I remembered just enough from the books and reviews to know nothing bad happened.

The overall story is similar to the book but fairly different at the same time.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are extremely well animated and voiced. They grab attention, even in the slower talky moments.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is cute and I love the term Bean for humans. There’s some interesting thoughts on what it means to be alive and trust.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is breathtaking and absolutely spectacular. I could re-watch it in slow motion and still not catch all the details.

The music was lovely.

Score: 1

Fun

I grew up reading the Littles and the Borrowers, and although I barely remember them, I still love the aesthetic.

The kids absolutely adored it and the rest of the family loved it too.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a wonderful melding of cultures, with a sweet and fun story. If you liked the books you’ll love the movie. Highly recommended.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom  – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Story

This felt like less of a story and more like a bunch of set pieces strung together. I’m sensing a theme that Indy has very little agency in his own movies. The hidden cultist plot crosses over into blatent racism.

Score: 0

Characters

This was Indiana Jones in his element. He spoke the language and knew the history. It was nice to see him seem intelligent. Short round was adorable and Willie was loud. I liked the relationship and emotion between Indy and Short Round.

The rest of the cast was a weird combination of Bond rejects and random cultural clichés thrown at the screen.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue runs from absolutely ridiculous to quippy and fun. Not much is actually deep or meaningful.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Other than a few abuses of blue screen, it really paid off for them to film on location. Absolutely gorgeous scenery. The action set peices are a little over the top, but that makes them fun.

A lot of the music from the first is reused but remixed wonderfully. The darker tones of the temple scenes are well done.

Score: 1

Fun

I enjoyed the movie for nostalgia and because it’s a fun romp. The cultural nonsense is weird and led an entire generation to think that Indian food included chilled monkey brains and live eels.

What the hell was up with the Voodoo doll? That’s not Indian but West African. I think they’d have been better off saying it was a British demon cult.

The kids liked it but said it was scary. (Probably didn’t appreciate the constant pausing for me to rant.)

Score: 0.5

Overall

With elements that made the first one a great movie, this one fails to do anything but string together some impressive action scenes and wildly insulting cultural fabrications.

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

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

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

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

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

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