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

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

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

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.

The Rescuers – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1977 film The Rescuers.

Story

It followed the basic recipe of old noire detective stories even, ending on a boat. The story is well contained and cute, but not super original and wastes a lot of time on antics instead of story or characters.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I really like the interplay between the two mains, there was a nice romance arc to them. I also like the competent but humble male lead. It’s a nice switch.

The little girl was cute and the albatross hilarious, but the others were a little boring. The villain felt like a bad copy of Cruella.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was efficient and had some nice quippy lines. Again, most of the best dialogue was between the two main characters.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Watching it on Blu-ray meant being able to see the brush strokes on the stunning backgrounds. This movie was beautiful. I can see where this still influenced other film makers.

The music was good, especially the songs.

Score: 1

Fun

It’s a fun, easy to watch adventure movie with two likeable main characters. What’s not to like? The 6yo and the 4yo were glued to their seats (a refreshing change).

Score: 1

Overall

A classic adventure movie that is absolutely beautiful to watch and has two of the most likeable main characters in animated history.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Super Mario Bros. Movie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Story

The writing was concise and clean. The story was a thin scaffolding for large game set pieces and had little to no substance. I appreciated all the nods to the vast catalogue of Mario games.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Mario and Luigi were fairly bland. The addition of their family felt weird and the fake, and disappearing, accents were jarring. I had my reservations about Donkey Kong being played by Seth Rogen but his iconic laugh was perfect for Kong.

I already knew that Bowser would steal the show and he did. Jack Black did an excellent job. A great surprise was the nihilistic cheerful blue star Lumalee. Absolutely hilarious.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The video game references were great and everything Lumalee said were great. Bowser’s dialogue was good, but the rest was a little forced and juvenile.

This is not a movie that will be quoted outside of Bowser’s lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Visually stunning and impressively colourful. It was great to watch the background and see all the easter eggs.

The original song will be stuck in my head forever and the rest of the score was wonderfully referential.

Score: 1

Fun

This was an easy watch with lots of nostalgia. I’ve been playing mario games since the eighties and this was very faithful to the world.

That being said, I really did find Mario and Luigi to be the weakest part of the movie.

Score: 1

Overall

A fairly inoffensive nostalgia-driven ride that will have gamers pausing every five seconds for the easter eggs, others will enjoy the angst free fair, and kids will be singing “Peaches” for way too long.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Anna and the Apocalypse – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 film Anna and the Apocalypse.

Story

I have a massive soft spot for musicals and I’m not a huge fan of zombie movies, so this was interesting. The story itself is cookie cutter zombie genre with nothing new to add other than the music.

Score: 0

Characters

The final girl, the best friend, the overbearing dad, the bad boy, the lesbian, the smoochie couple, and the maniacal . It’s a buffet of zombie, YA, and horror tropes.

They might be tropes, but the actors and writers did a great job and managed to balance the psychological horror of zombie with the almost sillness of a musical.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Vacillating from corny to deep and touching, the dialogue does a great job in understanding the characters. There’s more than a few good quips too.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography in general was okay, the choreography was acceptable, and the gore was well done. My favourite scene happens when the main character doesn’t know there’s been a full apocalypse and is dancing and singing on her way to school with total carnage happening behind her.

The music is excellent and I’ll be humming, “Hollywood Ending” for a long time. Great harmonies, fun numbers, and they work both for a zombie movie or just a high school movie.

Score: 1

Fun

I loved the music, the characters were great, and I enjoyed the movie, but there’s a nihilism to zombie films that just isn’t fun. Nailing the ending to have a little hope but still be dour is hard. There was no hope left in this one.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A fun film with some excellent musical numbers and great acting, but in the end it’s just another zombie movie with nothing new to add.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Red, White & Royal Blue  – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Red, White & Royal Blue.

Story

I haven’t read the book that this is based off of, but unlike a lot of literary adaptations, I didn’t feel like I was missing too much. There were a few aspects that felt rushed, the trip to Texas and the initial series of incidents that transition from enemies to lovers.

That being said, the important parts, the romance, longing looks, and establishing camerawork were all done at a pace that made you feel for the characters.

Although I appreciated the low homophobia content, it was a little jarring with the level of angst from the characters.

The main love story is done well, but nothing in it is particularly original.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There is so much charisma in this movie that it practically floods out of the screen. The mains are not only attractive, but clever and have an endearing charm. Most of the secondary characters are equally as charming and those that aren’t, are still interesting.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The line, “He grabbed my hair in a way that made me understand the difference between rugby and football,” will live rent free in my head for a long time. It’s the perfect summation of the style of dialogue which favours heart and quip above sap or forced misunderstandings. Something a lot of romantic comedies could learn from.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography and camera work was artistically above almost every movie I’ve seen in recent memory. The visuals managed to convey location, emotion, and movement all while painting the main characters as likable.

The music was good and did its job setting the mood and the feel of each location.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was extremely enjoyable. I watched it with my wife, after the kids were in bed. That was a good plan since there’s way too much swearing, smoking, and alcohol for my liking. It’s the only thing that dampened my enjoyment of the film.

We both had a lot of fun and she spent a good amount of time afterward looking at gif sets on tumblr.

Score: 0.5

Overall

One of the most beautiful and stylistic movies I’ve seen, and one of the most entertaining romantic comedies in a long time. This will make you smile and make you happy. It is not for kids however, due to the large quantity of alcohol consumption, smoking, and swearing.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie.

Note: I watched the English dub and have been a long time fan of the TV show.

Story

This was a simplified version of the show’s story with minor changes to make it fit in a movie format. Best to think of it as a alternate reality from the show if you’re a fan.

The descriptions and explanations seem fairly straightforward for those who don’t know the show.

The story, however, was very reductive and about the same as any other teen superhero story.

It did flow well and end well so I’ll give it credit for that.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were fun but unfortunately fairly shallow. Marinette was well developed and definitely the star, but Adrien was underdeveloped and bland.

The secondary characters felt underused and I’m not sure a casual audience would care about them.

The changes to Marinette and Gabriel were effective in making the story more believable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was quippy and funny, showing that despite the changes, the writers and actors were comfortable with the characters.

There are a few deep lines and what dialogue there is it’s well used.

I feel like the movie could have used more dialogue and less singing.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was colourful, well animated, and pretty. The action was engaging and often well balanced with humour.

The music was lovely, although the transition from voice actor to singing voice was a little jarring with Marinette and Adrien.

Music, like action scenes, should be developing character and plot in a way that can’t be done otherwise. The songs need to be catchy and do all that. The song were catchy, but only did minor developments. The time could have been better used to develop the characters with dialogue.

Score: 0.5

Fun

We’ve now watched all four seasons available in Canada and we warned the kids in advance that this was a different story. They’ve seen enough Cinderella versions to get that idea. There were a few moments where they would ask why the characters weren’t doing what they would do in the show, but overall they seemed to love it. Lots of giggles in the opening scene with the gargoyle.

The adults enjoyed it as well. This was fun and low angst.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun movie which suffers from watering down the world for a new audience and trying to force the story into a standard superhero format. Despite being an easy watch, its secondary characters are as forgettable as the songs.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Bullet Train – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Bullet Train

Story

A fun mix of mystery, action, and absurd comedy; this movie is extremely well plotted. Nothing is wasted even the throwaway gags.

I normally find excessive flashbacks tedious, but it was done perfectly here and even manages to mock itself.

Score: 1

Characters

The absolute strength of the movie is in the characters. They are almost all killers and all of them likable, even those you’re not supposed to like.

The relationship arc between ladybug and his handler is excellent and the emotional journey he goes on is extremely relatable.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This is a very verbose movie and I’m totally here for it. I look forward to re-watching it and paying closer attention to the details.

Lots of excellent quips, monologues, and pseudo-psychology; all very entertaining.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visual style is colourful, exciting, and vibrant. The action quick and punchy. The camerawork is excellent, considering it is all supposed to be on a train.

The Japanese versions of American pop songs, along with the score, set a perfect tone for the movie.

Score: 1

Fun

This is a rated R movie and I watched it on my own when the kids went to sleep. It was exactly what I needed to relax. It’s violent, funny, and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

A fantastic, violent, and funny movie with all the mystery of an Agatha Christie and all the irreverent humour of Deadpool. The actors pull out all the stops and despite the over the top action, the film never feels inauthentic. Seriously, go watch this.

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.