The Slime Diaries: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Review

Slime is one of those series I always mention as having improved greatly from the start to be one of the premiere light novel adaptions. Well this spinoff is more like a return to the old days. It’s more of a slice of life adventure about the cast hanging around the village and having fun which can absolutely be a fun angle to have on this. The only issue is that when the series isn’t focused on the action it always gets real tempted to just focus on fanservice instead and….well this one falls into that trap as well. The fanservice is pretty much a constant in every episode and so this one was a bit doomed from the start. It can still be a lot of fun but it’s certainly not a title you would recommend to someone to enhance their view on the main show.

As the title would suggest this series is about adventures that Rimuru has written down in his diary. During the rare times when the heroes aren’t defending themselves from another kingdom or fighting off demon lords they get to have a whole lot of parties. The village loves their parties and why not, they’re a great way to build up morale and get everyone excited. Quite a few of these episodes have some kind of a party to the point where it is almost a running gag. As someone who likes making a big deal out of just about any kind of event I can definitely get that.

So the show is completely revolving around how interesting the day to day life of the characters can be without the fights. Because there are no big fights here, this is all about just having fun around the village. Slime’s cast is pretty solid but I would say they got more of the good characters to the cast by season 2. This one doesn’t have Veldora as a main member yet or Diablo but Milim is here a lot and she’s always a real highlight in the show.

The show’s humor is typically fun too. You have Rimuru having to teach the monsters about Christmas and New Year’s which results in some fun scenes. The holidays probably do sound a bit odd to someone that’s never heard of them before but simplifying things to just say that it’s a big party works for the cast. Milim is also a lot of fun because she can end the whole kingdom with a punch and is thousands of years old but she still acts like a kid the whole time so Rimuru has to be careful how he talks to her about anything really. If she gets the wrong idea or gets upset then it can all be over for them.

Now as mentioned the fanservice is the main issue here. It feels like quite a few episodes through in the obligatory hot springs type moment. Shion’s outfit has never been the most practical one but this show certainly makes sure to jump in with the zoom ins from time to time. Every episode will have some iffy fanservice moments like that. I wouldn’t say the scenes are ever super egregious and the light hearted comedic nature of the show ensures that it never gets too serious or anything. It’s just the sheer frequency with which they happen that really bogs this one down. It’s always the low hanging fruit, the easy way to try and generate clicks but the show should have more confidence in its own humor and characters to not have to rely on this. Instead of being another advantage it just works against the show.

It’s also been a while, maybe ever since I saw a show that had both Christmas and New Year’s in a single season. So that was nice to see. As a slice of life I wouldn’t say that the show is able to keep up with the bigger titles like Kanon or Clannad though. Maybe in part it’s because the characters are more suited for action and aren’t built for comedy or maybe it’s just that the setting doesn’t work as much. I’ve thought about this and a lot of times the best slice of life casts and circumstances are in worlds that are more like real life. Of course you could make the case that it just makes sense statistically because a lot of them take place there. It’s hard to make such a sweeping generalization there either.

So at the end of the day it just comes down to writing and character dynamics. There are a lot of fun dynamics within the cast and Rimuru is a good main character so that makes for a lot of good humor. I do think the show would have absolutely have been able to hold its own well enough if it focused on the humor entirely. Probably not an award winning show or anything but it had enough pieces there.

The animation is decent. I wouldn’t say that it’s great or anything but it’s good enough and you can always tell what is going on. I wouldn’t say they’re trying to make this an S tier title with animation and you can certainly tell that but it’s still good. Part of the show is about seeing the seasons in the village and you can clearly see the differences the whole time so the animation succeeds there. The soundtrack is much more on the forgettable side though. There aren’t any big emotional or action tunes to really focus in on.

In a way there also isn’t a whole lot to talk about in this show compared to most since there isn’t as much of a plot here. So you can expect this show review to be shorter than the last few. As it is when a show is only around 12-13 episodes like this one then it’s always going to go fast. It works in this sense though because then the show doesn’t drag on. I also think they would have had a hard time thinking of more ideas after a bit because it’s not like there are any other holidays to grab. If the show went too much further in the timeline then you would be questioning how they are able to have this much time before the next attack.

I don’t think the show needs to worry about continuity and being in canon too much to be honest but it’s still something they were probably trying to keep in mind. I do think that a season 2 would benefit from taking place later in continuity because then you can have Veldora as a main character and he could have a lot of fun interactions with Milim. That would be a recipe for greatness right away. As it is Milim does a lot of the heavy lifting here already. Throw in the fun Veldora and then things will get even better. After all he’s one of the only characters who can hold his own against her in power so they’re able to have even conversations.

Plus he’s another immortal who acts rather young but I feel like he’d end up being a bit of a father figure to her. Shion and Milim have a bit of a rivalry going but it’s so one sided in terms of power level that it just doesn’t work nearly as well. It does help to show that Milim is still fairly nice on the inside. No matter how heated things get it’s not like she blows Shion up or anything which would be easy to do even accidentally with how powerful Milim is. It was nostalgic seeing the old Rimuru though. He gets teased for looking like a girl quite a bit here as a result though and his old design could seem like that at times so it’s not super surprising. I feel like this pretty much stopped once he got the cool black leather jacket so in a season 2 if it takes place late enough then Rimuru can probably look forward to the teasing ending.

Plus later on he ends up being strong enough where he is finally in Milim’s league so he doesn’t have to be quite as nervous either. I mean Rimuru is a bit nervous just due to his personality so he’ll still be panicking a whole lot but it’s a different kind of panic. The village idolizes him so much that you’d think it would have improved his confidence more though. I get that it can be a bit weird to have everyone making statues of you and everything but Rimuru needs to either embrace it or find a way to stop it. By meekly accepting it, that just means that nothing will be changing anytime soon.

It doesn’t go to his head though so at least I don’t really see the harm. It’s something for the village to unite around and it gives them hope. Rimuru directly saved most of their lives from futures that would have been way more dire after all so this is still an upgrade. The average townsfolk is living a near perfect life in the village protected by powerful fighters all around. Who wouldn’t want to live there? None of them take this for granted.

Overall, Slime Diaries is a reasonable show to pass the time by. The fanservice is what keeps me from giving this one a positive score and being able to recommend it though. It would be interesting to see this get a season 2 though and if they can build on the good aspects of the show to make it better. Imagine a jump in quality similar to the main Slime seasons 1 and 2? That would be great and also a fun coincidence. I also think there is an audience for this kind of a show as just a very calm slice of life title. You can watch it as something peaceful in the background or something to watch before bed. A show filled with good feels can be fun so I’ll be rooting for the series to surpass its limits.

Overall 5/10

Mrs. Santa Claus Review

Santa Claus gets a lot of films so it’s about time that Mrs. Santa Claus gets something too right? This makes for a fun film even if it is a bit uneventful. Santa doesn’t look great here and the kids are annoying but we do get a standout villain that’s actually rather impressive. When you have a villain that can take on the reindeer then you know things are going to get good. There are a few scenes in the film that make you think things are about to get epic but they tend to be false alarms.

The movie starts with Santa ignoring Mrs. Claus as she tries to help him out by making hot chocolate and creating a whole new path across the world. He just can’t be bothered so she figures she’ll travel the world to prove that it works. Unfortunately her reindeer crash and while they are being healed by a doctor she is trapped in New York. Well she figures that at least she can help out with the working conditions for the children and even meets up with a lady named Sadie who is protesting for women’s rights. There is only one man who can stand in Mrs. Claus’s way now and that’s Mr. Tavish. He is the owner of the largest toy company in New York and what he says goes. Can she defeat him?

So what makes Mr. Tavish special is that he can talk back to anyone. When Mrs. Claus tries to make a plan like having the children go on strike or not working hard then he immediately counters by punishing them with not being allowed to leave work early. He’s always one step ahead of her and that’s crazy because usually she is on top of things. There’s even a scene in the climax where he takes over the stables and basically prevented the reindeer from being used. Sure, Rudolph wasn’t around but he still basically stalemated all of them which is quite impressive. Ultimately the powers of friendship were what deterred him but physically nobody was about to stop this guy. That’s why I say that he was real impressive.

Meanwhile Sadie did a good job of petitioning and protesting all by herself for ages until Mrs. Claus showed up. Sadie was determined and wasn’t about to let anyone get in her way. That is absolutely the kind of dedication that you want to see from any character. It was really a credit to her character and she did a good job. It only makes the other characters look bad in how literally nobody was around to support her. You’d think that at least someone else would have taken a risk. Every great movement starts with one person though and Sadie can be proud to say that she was that person this time.

As for Mrs. Claus, I thought she was a solid character. She can be a bit naïve at times as New York takes her by surprise at first. I suppose everyone at the North Pole are rather nice and even tempered so she wasn’t ready for all the big antagonists here. That said, even if it takes her a while to get past this, ultimately she does well. She also gets points for bravery in going on the trip by herself when Santa was too busy with his work. She also couldn’t have predicted that some of the kids would be petty traitors who were too busy looking after themselves to help out with her plans. A lot of times these plans only work when everyone bands together and that was not the case here.

Santa looks bad here though. He seriously could have heard Mrs. Claus out about her plan instead of staying buried in the books. Then apparently he didn’t realize she was missing for several days? No that’s a really bad look for the guy and it was only when the hot chocolate tasted bad that he noticed. I liked when he started walking over to the elf as if to threaten him but sadly that scene wasn’t handled well as he came off as more confused and unsure of himself than threatening. That could have been a really hype scene otherwise but it just wasn’t to be.

This film is also part musical but none of the songs really land. They’re all old but also rather slow paced. A lot of times the songs in non-musical films tend to beat the musical ones and this continues along here as well. I wouldn’t say that any of them are bad or anything like that but they aren’t quite holding their own here. They don’t enhance the film and it has to succeed in spite of them rather than because of them which is a crucial difference. Also we missed an easy lay-up to see Mrs. Santa Claus learn about pizza. I get that she was in a poor area so that might have been tough and maybe pizza wasn’t even around yet in which case I would cut the film some slack but that would have been cool. It’s a staple of New York after all. You would almost forget that the film is in New York considering there aren’t any real landmarks after the Statue of Liberty. I guess that’s how old it is since usually I can recognize it right out of the jump.

Overall, Mrs. Santa Claus is a good movie. I would have liked it to have been a little more daring with lots of iconic moments all the way through though. Maybe have her defeat the villain at the end instead of talking to him or have Santa appear in a rage mode and take the guy down. I could have done without the songs too. It’s not a bad film to watch just since it’s rare to see Mrs. Santa Claus around and there’s nothing really negative to say about the film. It’s short too so it’s over quickly but I would just say that we haven’t yet seen the definitive Mrs. Santa Claus film yet. One day we will get one and we will know it when we see it.

Overall 6/10

An American Christmas Carol Review

It’s time for an American version of the classic Christmas Carol. My main issue with this one is that it doesn’t really change things up all that much from the classic story so it didn’t take advantage of the different setting. It’s not one of the stronger Christmas Carol adaptions either. It’s decent fun but you’re not going to walk away from this one a changed person. You’ll just want to go watch Scrooged again as the definitive version of the story.

It starts off with Slade having his assistant Thatcher help him with taking back all of the valuables he loaned out. Basically he planned it out just right so he would give things to everyone in town and when they couldn’t pay it back he would get everything back with interest. He basically owns the city now but everyone else is dying in the cold. That night he is visited by a ghost and this would be the beginning of 3 more visits that would haunt him in the nights to come. Are these ghosts real or is he dreaming?

You can guess the entire story from that because the Christmas Carol is a story as old as time. It is following the classic beats here. I suppose they changed up the names but that’s about it. Slade was close to getting engaged/married to one girl but he directly sent her father to the grave by convincing someone to lend money to him instead of her father. Slade also began using very dubious selling techniques to get more money and squeeze the value out of the end user. It was all rather rough but that’s just his style. Now he sees just how much he was hurting everyone and how he has to make things right.

It feels like the movie is pretty much on automatic. He does a 180 real fast by the end and agrees to help out. This Scrooge just didn’t go through as gradual a character arc. Having the actual Christmas Carol be a book within the universe was a questionable choice. It’s cliché but I would have liked him to have said Humbug at least once. It’s a staple at this point. I would also argue that this version of Scrooge as Slade was a lot meaner than the others which made it harder to redeem him.

Put it this way, the average Scrooge is someone who destroys Tiny Tim but does so unknowingly. He fires people for nothing and doesn’t donate to charity but otherwise that’s the extent of it. He’s rich and everyone can’t stand him because he’s a harsh boss and doesn’t help the community. At no point in those stories is he actively taking away people’s furniture and possessions. It is a completely different ballgame here with Slade doing all of that. Because now he is actively harming all of their lives as opposed to doing it passively.

We’re in the middle of a great depression during this film’s timetable with everyone dying out as it is and then he’s taking the piano, chairs, and everything else? They have nothing to sell or barter with now so of course everyone’s dying. This Slade already knew that so it’s less believable for him to have a change of heart when he sees the visions. At least usually the main character isn’t going that far so when he sees the end results of his actions then he is ready to change.

Additionally this Slade doesn’t seem very smart. When we get to the future ghost we see people partying because someone died and they’re all making fun of him. Slade has to ask who died several times even though it’s patently obvious from the start. He just can’t figure it out and it would almost be funny if it wasn’t just odd. Scrooge had to be a slick customer in order to get rich and mess everyone over. He should be able to very quickly deduce that the only person disliked enough for this to happen is himself. We don’t need him to be questioning this at any point.

The rest of the characters are about as you’d expect. This version of Tiny Tim is having a really tough time and is getting sicker and sicker. Thatcher tries to stay upbeat about this while his wife is furious at Slade and wants to take him down. Their daughter tends to panic about what’s going on which is rough since they were trying to play it cool. She was just a little too young to handle it. Then you have the ghosts who are here to take a lot of pot shots at Slade as they show him where he went wrong.

While it would have been a bold approach, I think maybe playing this off as a Scrooge origin story could have been good. In fact I’m surprised nobody’s done that yet. The flashback got me thinking about it because it was a little longer and more detailed than I’m used to. Seeing him rise up the ranks and always be ready to make a deal just got me interested. That would make for a very fun film and it would be completely unique. So that’s a win/win if you ask me. Now I want to see a film like that and you can even keep in the supernatural elements if you want but I don’t think you’d need them.

I’ve been comparing this one to other Christmas Carols a lot but I do want to still point out that this is a good film. True it doesn’t hold its own next to the others but if you look at the movie in isolation then it’s still a good story. It’s got a solid beginning, middle, and ending. The supernatural impact of the ghosts is solid and the writing is good. You should be engaged all the way through the movie and that’s the sign of a successful picture. You won’t get bored or anything like that during the movie.

Overall, An American Christmas Carol is an interesting idea in concept but it just didn’t work out compared to the others. The film to do this angle the best was Scrooged as it really took a deeper look into what a jaded CEO type could really be like. To convert him they really had to put him through the wringer and he was even in near death situations like being shot at. Throwing in some spice like that helps to make the story unique and would also have a more American flavor as opposed to just telling the same story again with brand new names.

Overall 6/10

Tenth Avenue Angel Review

Tenth Avenue Angel is a low key slice of life drama with characters having to make some hard decisions in the end. I did have some issues with the film but ultimately it is a fun film. It’s missing the extra step to go to the next level but it’s also so short that it’s over in the blink of an eye. If you’re looking for a fairly light hearted adventure then you should have a good time here but it’s also possible that you’ll find the main character to be a little too naïve which will end up hurting the whole experience for you.

The movie starts with Flavia excited because her uncle Steve is finally back from his long trip around the world. It turns out that he has actually been in prison all these years but her family convinced her that he was on a trip because they figured she couldn’t handle it. Steve wants them all to keep this deception up as well. It’s been tough getting back into the swing of things though and Steve figures that he should leave town to get a fresh start. He’ll then come back to marry Susan when he’s very successful but she says she might not be around when he’s back. Flavia wants Steve to stay but isn’t sure how to do it. Is there any way to stop this?

Right off the bat Steve comes across as an incredibly selfish character. Susan has been waiting for him all this time and he’s just going to run off? Just like that? It’s a really poor decision on his part and I can see why she said that she may not be around. There’s no guarantee that he would return and he might find someone else there. The fact that he refuses to bring her along because he says it would hurt his pride is an awful reason. He’s really not thinking about her at all so this romance is not going to work out at all.

The whole plot did irreparable damage to Steve’s character. Then additionally he gets tempted back into crime later which was really bad. He is not the kind of guy that is easy to root for and so automatically you can tell that I was not on board with the romance. Then with Susan there is another guy who likes her and she starts to agree to marry him. Basically she is ready to rebound immediately if Steve actually does leave which also isn’t a good sign. In this case she needs to make a decision and wait for Steve or pick someone else but she can’t have this whole set up of choosing based on if he stays or not. She does let the guy know that she doesn’t love him but he doesn’t care and says he will be fine with that. Great….

Then Flavia’s mother Helen is a little too quick to tell Flavia crazy lies to get her to calm down. I always thought it’s never a good idea to lie to kids even about simple things like Santa Claus. Why invent fake ideas for them instead of breaking the truth in a gentle way? It would have been so much better if they told Flavia that Steve was in jail because instead as the only person who doesn’t know the truth, that could potentially put Flavia in a really awkward position. They really didn’t think about that much but they should have. The lies catch up to them eventually and it’s not a good look for Helen.

Flavia’s father Joe is barely even in the movie so it’s hard to say much about the guy. Half the time you even forget he exists. Then there is Flavia herself who is way too gullible. She believes everything like about how mice turn to cash. That’s not something that she should fall for so easily and she apparently would believe everything all the time. It’s played off as tragic since she really trusted her mother so this was a big blow but she should have had a little more common sense. She’s young but she’s not That young to be getting fooled like this.

Flavia is old enough to know how to roller skate and even handle the newsstand for her friend Mac. She just shouldn’t be getting tricked all the time like this and it can be a bit annoying. At some points she wants everyone to treat her like a mature adult but then these things happen and you can really tell that she is not ready for it. Her friend Mac is good though. In fact I’d say that he is the only really good character here. He’s blind but he doesn’t let that stop him from doing a good job selling newspapers. It’s really quite admirable how hard Mac works at this.

He has been grinding out the tough hours and doing his best day in and day out. Rain or not, he’s out there selling the papers. He’s also quick on the uptake and is generally a good guy. He does his best and that’s really all there is to it. The other characters could learn a thing or two from this guy. He even bought Flavia her favorite pair of roller skates for her birthday. It was probably the funniest scene in the film as everyone got her the same thing but this time she was quite quick on the uptake and properly thanked everyone. A gift is a gift so I think you should always be gracious about it. Even if it’s not exactly what you wanted, someone worked hard to get it.

Overall, The writing is good and the film is fun but what holds it back are the characters. A good cast goes a long way and these characters were mainly just unreasonable. It means that there aren’t a lot of great dynamics here and the romance is sub par at best. Even by the end Flavia is just not smart enough and I’m not sure that the moral at the end was the best one since it’s sort of trying to give the stories a bit of credit so she’ll feel better. I would have preferred Flavia come to terms with the stories not being real but learning the reasons behind the stories and still being grateful to her mother. That would have been a whole lot more satisfying.

Overall 6/10

Noel Review

If we really have to count this as a Christmas film then Noel has got to be the worst one that I’ve seen. It starts out as a stinker right away and only gets worse. It reminds me a lot of the dialogue from The Room with how off beat everything is. The way the characters talk and act just seems off and the movie just feels really mean spirited by the end. It would help if I actually liked any of the characters but they’re all just really annoying.

In this movie we follow several different plotlines, some of which connect but for the most part they’re fairly separate so lets dive into them. First up is Rose and Charlie’s plot. Rose’s mother has advanced Alzeheimer’s and is barely hanging onto her life at this point. The pressure has really gotten to Rose and she decides to end it all but it prevented from doing so by a guy named Charlie who used to be a priest. He tries to convince her that she still has a lot to live for but she just isn’t sure. She’s tried to live again by crashing parties and going on dates but it all feels empty to her.

Rose has been using all of the most superficial ways to live again and they haven’t worked but when Charlie starts to talk in more supernatural avenues like talking to her mother somehow, Rose isn’t particularly thrilled. Then the doctor in charge of Rose’s mother also likes her so everything is happening really fast. I think Charlie could have handled the situation a whole lot better the whole time because the way he brought up talking to Rose’s mother as a spirit is not really a conversation starter. Things had been going well until then so if he used more tact than it would have worked. The doctor liking her at the end also felt super rushed the whole time.

Rose isn’t my kind of character either with how turning to romance was one of her default options. She also should have said no to the coworker coming to her place when she barely knows the guy. She really succumbed to peer pressure too quickly and deep down she knew this couldn’t work out. The age gap was too crazy so why even try to see how it’ll go? Of course it’s different for everyone but personally I think at max you can make a romance work if someone’s 10 years older than you and the odds will not be in your favor. Any more than that and you’re really going to be doomed if you ask me. But ideally you want within a few years for sure. This subplot was always really dull whenever it showed up.

Then we have Nina and Mike who are close to getting married but the main obstacle right now is Mike’s quick temper and excessive jealousy. He can’t stand to have anyone even look at Nina which makes it difficult for her to have normal friends even. He flies off at the handle all the time and even punches out one of her friends. Nina hopes that he will change but is starting to have doubts and is wondering if perhaps they should just not get together. She is about to have a kid though so the timing would not be great. Then Mike bumps into a crazy who believes that Mike is the reincarnation of his wife and is trying to stir up a lot of trouble.

In a way this plot is in two places so starting off with Nina, you can absolutely see why she has a lot of reservations. Mike is just too excessive and doesn’t show any sign of changing. If there was progress then that would be good but even when she sits him down to talk about this, all he can think about are the guys she mentions may look at her from time to time. He is completely zero’d in on this which is discouraging. Nina likes dressing up to look fancy, her job will require interacting with people and her co-workers. If Mike can’t handle this then this will always be a toxic relationship.

Then Mike probably has the worst plot of all here. So you figure if there is a crazy guy like this you just avoid him and make sure not to humor the guy. Mike is a cop as well so he can arrest the guy if he gets to be too much. Instead he actually invites the guy to his house and is basically attacked before the guy has a heart attack. I get that Mike wants to be a good guy but he just goes way too far like following him to the hospital and trying to give him closure by pretending to be the wife for a quick speech.

It wasn’t a satisfying resolution. I’m not saying Mike needs to be mean about it but you don’t invite someone like that to your apartment and you absolutely don’t need to go to the hospital and humor him. This plot drags on forever and Mike’s actions just don’t feel realistic at all. I felt bad for his partner who was bewildered by this the whole time too. The partner gets a ton of credit for having Mike’s back the whole time though and always keeping his guard up. He knew that something wasn’t right and didn’t abandon his partner.

Then there is Jules who had a great time celebrating Christmas as a teenager while in the hospital and his life has been hard since then so he is determined to have one more party. To get into the hospital he hires someone to break his hand but unfortunately there is no big party this time. The hospital is way too busy with everyone running around and he basically realizes that he’ll never have a happy Christmas again. It makes sense that the hospital would be way too busy with how many patients are running around. It’s the kind of thing you figure may have happened back in the day or in a more quiet area but not here. This plot felt the most random and doesn’t get much closure as he just realizes this was all for naught.

Noel has a very gritty vibe from the start and you can tell that it’s an indie type title. Not only does everything look dirty and shady the whole time but none of the characters are all that great. Most of them don’t even seem like good people that you would get along with if you ever met them. So without great characters to root for that just puts you in an even tougher spot right from the jump. Forget a lot of happy Christmas songs and fun scenes. The movie is always very serious and depressing all the way through.

The film even throws in a bunch of fanservice scenes during Nina and Mike’s plot and everyone seems to be having an affair and making love from time to time. Every character feels so desperate and the film doesn’t have enough of a main plot to actually hold its own so it has to resort to all of this. If the characters could have at least been really good then that would have helped things but that wasn’t the case here. I also mentioned how everyone just acts oddly and that’s embodied the most in Mike’s plot. I still can’t see that story playing out this way at all. Mike honestly looks very dumb with all the risks he was taking. If the guy had a knife or a gun then it would have all been game over.

Overall, At its core the film’s problem is that there are no good scenes. There’s never a moment in the film that will make you smile or think that the movie did something cool. It’s all dreary and depressing the whole time. You might come close to laughing sometimes at just how absurd the whole thing is but that’s not good enough to actually help the film out. It’s all so slow paced and everything drags on forever. This could have been a 40 minute film considering what was actually covered and at least then it would end quickly. Instead it just keeps on going and going. Jules is probably more sympathetic than most of the main characters and even then he should have just gone to just about any party in the city since there are hundreds going on. No reason to injure himself like that. It just showed that he was also a bit crazy to go this far with that. You have to be truly desperate to have someone break your hands to try and enjoy Christmas. Definitely skip this one and stay far away!

Overall 0/10

Maggie’s Christmas Miracle Review

It’s time for another classic Hallmark movie and this one deals with a lot of tragedy and heartbreak throughout. We’ve got a good reason as to why the main heroine isn’t very into Christmas here and it works out as a fun adventure. The kid is a bit annoying and he doesn’t help the dynamic but at the end of the day you’ve got all the usual Hallmark fun you could ask for.

The movie starts off with Megan’s father running off right at Christmas which really wrecked her image of the holiday. Then fast forward to the future where her husband ran off and now she’s alone with her son Jordan. She’s determined to keep this from happening again and so she runs a bit of a strict home but tries to make sure Jordan is having fun. Unfortunately the broken home has started to affect his grades and so the school recommends a tutor named Casey. Megan has her doubts but calls him in. It’s not a great first impression for her as he’s busy taking care of a shop and has to call her back. Then on his first day looking after Jordan, the kid injures his hand while trying to lift up a tree. Perhaps this won’t work out but what are Megan’s other options?

Megan’s main character flaw here is definitely that she can be a bit overly dramatic. When Jordan injures his hand she really makes a big scene about the whole thing even when everyone including Jordan was saying that it wasn’t so bad. I do think it’s fair to criticize Casey a bit for letting Jordan help unload the truck. Probably not the safest thing for a kid to do but at the same time it’s a fairly busy area so there was never a chance that things would get too crazy. Jordan also messed up on the catch big time and fell over because he lets all the weight fall on him. Not the way you want to handle a situation like that at all.

Jordan badly wants a full family but it’s to the point where he is willing to wreck Christmas for this. He makes a big deal about Casey not being there when he wants to open the presents and while it’s great that he likes Casey, it’s not his place to try and spin a romance out of this. Worst case if Megan gets together with Casey just to keep Jordan happy, none of them would be happy in the long term. It’s why having kids meddle in the romance is always annoying because they are only thinking of themselves and that’s no good.

As for Casey, well he’s not a bad character I suppose. He rushes into the romance way quicker than most of the guys in these films. I’ll give him credit for not hesitating and realizing that he liked Megan right away but what about his professionalism as a teacher? He invites her for dinner almost immediately and you just know he can’t focus on being a normal teacher after all of this. You probably want to keep romance separate when you’re a teacher because it can make things awkward down the road. The romance is definitely a bit rushed as you’d expect.

We do get all of the classic Christmas backdrops though and a fun song here and there. It felt maybe a bit emptier than some of the others though. We don’t get a whole lot of baking scenes here and it felt like Megan didn’t have as many issues to deal with as you’d expect. This was more of a low key adventure all the way through. There wasn’t a whole lot of adversity in the present and the stakes were a lot lower than usual.

It’s not like these films usually have high stakes or anything but usually there’s at least a corporate group that needs to be impressed or an end of the year competition/show that has to be put on. So the whole time there’s the danger of not finishing in time but this didn’t really have any of that. Even if she didn’t get together with Ryan there wasn’t much of a penalty. I guess her son may have flunked the class but that’s about it so the whole film is revolving around the romance a bit more than usual. The movie keeps that small town vibe that always helps with the atmosphere though.

The fact that Casey has to operate a bakery while being a teacher shows how the income is really limited here. A small town atmosphere is almost like a circle where you figure you should be good if nobody moves out but even a small shift can change a lot. I think I’d enjoy being in a small town as part of a vacation to buy things and have a good time but it’s why I wouldn’t want to live there. It just feels like you’d always be watching your back because you don’t have secure prospects in the future. If someone moves out then the whole local economy would be shaken up. The snacks always look really good though.

Overall, Maggie’s Christmas Miracle is a good film. I’d probably be jaded on Christmas too if everything bad always happened on that date. It would just feel like a very bad coincidence that would suck the fun out of it. Even if it wasn’t the day’s fault per say, it would just be rough. So that helps the film as you understand her issues with Christmas more than some of the other heroines. Things all work out though and if you’re already missing Christmas right now then this is a good film to check out to regain that energy. It’s going to be a long while until we’re back in Christmas season after all.

Overall 7/10

A Magical Christmas Village Review

Hallmark Christmas movies are some of the biggest staples of quality and consistency in the industry. You can always count on them to be really solid but this has to be one of the weakest Hallmark films that I’ve seen. It’s still a good film so not taking that away from it but it just could and should have been a lot better. The magical angle here just doesn’t work and Vivian is one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in this.

So the movie starts off with Summer’s mother Vivian going through hard times after selling off her house almost for free so Summer says Vivian can stay with her. The two don’t usually get along super well but this time she will make it work. Summer is a very methodical person who likes to plan everything out while Vivian is more about living in the moment. Things get more tense when Vivian helps Summer’s daughter Chloe set up a Christmas village that takes up a lot of space in the living room. All the while with tensions rising, a guy named Ryan shows up and Summer may have fallen for him. But she has no time for romance or Christmas….is this really happening to her?

So lets get the elephant out of the way here which is the magical village. “Do you believe in Destiny?” I’ve actually got an editorial about that coming up sometime by 2024 but this film takes the Yes approach to that in how the village is the controller of destiny. See, whatever happens in the village will happen in real life so Chloe uses this village to set up Summer and Ryan. Yes, she doesn’t realize that she is doing this but everything she does there happens in real life so you start doubting the romance big time. If Summer and Ryan are being manipulated then is this really valid?

You can make a case that the village doesn’t manipulate you emotionally and only does so physically but it still gets them into dicey situations the whole time. I think the village could have been a fun thing if it was limited to being used to help Vivian find a new house and things like that but when it started also being used for the romance then that was a touch too far. It just wasn’t charming and became more on the annoying side. Chloe’s okay since she isn’t trying to use this but I wouldn’t say she is the most interesting character. She can be a little too much with how she goads Summer into romance and tries to act like she’s wiser than she is.

Vivian is the annoying one here. So in the film you’re supposed to recognize that both she and Summer had good points and they needed to meet in the middle but this time I was on Team Summer the whole time. Vivian basically sold her house which was worth a fortune for peanuts because she felt bad for the new owners. It’s great that you want to help out but there’s a saying that you should always help within your means. For example if you buy your friend a house but now you’re homeless, you weren’t as altruistic as you think you were because now you have to freeload at a friend’s or with your family.

I wouldn’t have had a problem with Vivian doing this if she could have survived on her own but now her finances are awful and she has to stay with Summer the whole time. It’s a bad look for her and then Summer does her best to help out. She tries to balance Vivian’s finances, look for a new house, etc. Vivian responds by ghosting her and missing out on multiple meetings. Vivian is not helpful in the slightest nor does she have any intention of being useful. It’s almost like she’s rebelling the whole time but the film never paints her as the antagonist. So that part was always a bit frustrating. I didn’t even think Summer mishandled the situation.

Later on Summer vents about always having to help Vivian and well..she’s not wrong. Vivian doesn’t seem very responsible and just ends up causing more and more problems all the time. That’s not the kind of thing you want to see from someone who is supposed to be in your corner. Ryan at least tries his best to help her out and give good speeches but usually she responds with bad advice the whole time. The one positive quality for Vivian is that she is a very healthy eater. She’s big on smoothies and always buying the right things to live a long and healthy life.

This is Summer’s only flaw as I do think it was a bit uncalled for to throw away Vivian’s smoothies the way that she did. If she didn’t want to drink them or wanted to help Chloe do that then you should really do this in a direct way. Wasting food is wasting food no matter how you slice it. It’s also a bit disrespectful and she’s a grown up. Cmon now. Summer’s character arc is more straight forward about learning to love Christmas and getting together with Ryan. It’s a classic one and while you may not buy into the romance angle, she’s a fun enough heroine. She has a good reason for not being very into Christmas since she effectively lost her childhood by having to look after Vivian all the time.

Finally for Ryan, there’s not a whole lot to his character. He doesn’t see himself as ever being in a family so he has fun with his TV dinners and likes taking jobs that have him travelling all over the place. This way he’s never tied down and has no time to regret anything. Of course you know this won’t last but it’s honestly not a bad idea. You can have a blast when you’re single and just go around seeing the sights and having a ton of great frozen dinners. His lifestyle seemed rather reasonable and he was never whiny about that so I appreciated this. As always I found the romance to be rather rushed but otherwise he seemed like a good character with a clear head on his shoulders.

Overall, This is still a fun film that I would recommend. As always with Hallmark the pacing is quick and the tone is solid. You’ll get a lot of fun Christmas visuals and solid writing throughout. It’s only bogged down a bit by the cast not being very likable relative to the other Hallmark films and the magic angle just doesn’t work. Whenever someone is being controlled like this it just introduces a whole lot of other things to think about like the concept of free will here and the film has no time to really delve into this. So as a result it weakens the movie instead of helps it. It’s a fairly small part of the movie but it’s part of what keeps it from matching up with the others. That and Vivian of course. I feel like Vivian didn’t really learn her lesson the way most of the other characters learned a moral by the end.

Overall 6/10

2022 Christmas Haul

With Christmas over I have compiled all the games I got. It was a pretty good haul of 20 games this year with a lot of high powered titles here. I’ve attached an image below as well as a written list of all the games. It’ll definitely be a little while until I have completed all of these of course so this should last a while. It’s a good variety of games among different consoles.

As a console milestone, the 3DS caught up to the Switch as I now have the same amount of games for each console. Pretty impressive I must say but ultimately I see the Switch winning this one as they just have a lot of games that we haven’t gotten yet. No other console took a lead yet but PS4 got the most new games here with 8 so that console continues to rise quickly.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening
Mario Party Star Rush
Detective Pikachu
Legend of Zelda Link Between Worlds
Final Fantasy III
Children of Mana
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
He Man and the Masters of the Universe
Madden 23
My Little Pony Maritime Adventure
Doug Flutie Maximum Football
Astria Ascending
Spongebob Squarepants Battle for Bikini Bottom Remastered
Nexomon Extinction
Trial of Mana
Need for Speed Payback
Star Ocean The Last Hope International
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge
Rengoku The Stairway to Heaven

The Christmas Contest Review

It’s time for the next Hallmark Christmas movie! This time we get a contest between exes who did not split up on the best of terms. As a result there is a whole lot of bitterness in the air and you can tell that things are going to get a little tricky for these two. I like the premise since a contest is always fun and it’s a cool change of pace. Some parts of the film definitely don’t work as well as they could have but at the end of the day it’s still a wholesome movie with a lot of fun parts.

Lara is a girl who is too busy for Christmas nowadays. She’s a super successful business person now and has even become the COO and she just doesn’t look back at the past. Unfortunately she will need to confront it now as her mother asks her to enter a Christmas contest. So she reluctantly enters and of course her ex Ben is there as well. Now she really needs to win this contest to make sure that he doesn’t get the last laugh but it won’t be easy. This guy is also really good at Christmas trivia. Still, if she doesn’t defeat him then she will never know peace from her past.

The contest has different phases. The first round was a quiz show, then you have the baking competition, a singing competition, and the final one is to decorate a Christmas tree. I actually thought it made for a fun contest even if some parts of the contest weren’t too well thought out. For example, last place gets the same prize as third place which is $1000. Why would that possibly be the case? What’s the incentive to coming close to first? That was a bit of a mistake if you ask me because there is just no way that this should be right.

Then towards the end the film starts to get a little cheesy as the characters feel that competing at Christmas against each other isn’t something that they want to do and it really feels like they are throwing the contest under the bus. These guys worked hard to set up this Christmas contest and did their best to make it a lot of fun. You’re going to throw it all out just like that? That’s just bad sportsmanship and the company shouldn’t have let them get away with this. Sure, it’s likely that the contest was rigged by the time the finals were around since the check was already printed with both of their names but it just doesn’t feel deserved.

If I was the guy in charge of the contest, I’d have handed them an empty check. If they don’t want to properly complete the contest that they signed up for then they don’t get to have any real money. It’s as simple as that and it would have been 100% justified. That’s the crazy part here. It’s still meant to be a feel good moment of course but I was a little salty on behalf of the competitors who tried their best but lost out. They didn’t lose just to see this happen.

It goes without saying that the romance is on the weaker side here. Lara and Ben were already together and it didn’t work out. Sure they’re both feeling festive for the holidays but that’s even more reason to think that this won’t last and this is just them being very emotional. It’s a super risky move to restart the romance again and I actually think it would have worked a lot better if they had just stayed as friends. Trust me on this, the whole movie would have really been executed to perfection if that was the case. Just make it a fun competition and they see that they get along really great as friends. It was never going to happen but I can dream right?

After all the best part of the movie is when they are having a lot of banter at each other. The two characters can’t help but constantly take shots at each other whenever they’re on screen. The shots never go too far though and it’s just enough to keep them on their toes. Lara may have been reluctant to enter but ultimately she does a good job and makes for a solid heroine. She really wants to win and ultimately stays classy about it like not badmouthing Ben in front of his mother when her cake gets sabotaged.

Then we have Ben who is a little more openly manipulative like with getting kids on his team to win brownie points from the audience. That’s why it took me a little longer to realize that he would be the main love interest and not the mean ex who gets defeated by a childhood friend. Gradually Ben starts to be a little nicer and I guess we can just interpret it to his being desperate to win. It still makes for an odd subplot though because it’s hard to root for Ben since he doesn’t seem to care about the kids nearly as much as he should. Not exactly the role model of the year right? Well he knows his Christmas knowledge at least.

One of this film’s strengths though is that it takes up a decent amount of time to give the side characters some development as well. I could have done without the subplot for one of the kids who was worried that he would mess up and cause trouble for everyone. The plot barely went anywhere. Then we had Ben’s mother who was always very set in her ways and didn’t want to make friends. This was a good story arc as Ben shows her that you’re never too old to shake up the routine and have a good time. I’m not sure I picture myself making any new friends when I’m older but you shouldn’t be cut off to the possibility.

Then we have Lara’s mother who was always very business focused and tried to get the heroine on that path. I thought she was solid and at one point Lara is too dramatic with how she tells her off. This is a trend I’ve seen in more than one Hallmark film where the leads blows up on the parent(s) for being too controlling but the problem is that the movie never showed them being anything other than super nice so the moment kind of falls flat a bit. It doesn’t feel as earned as it could have been.

As always the film is fairly short and with so much going on the pacing is on point too. While I had some issues with the film, you could say it’s also because I was really invested in this one. I always love contests and the writing was really good here. You still get your usual Christmas backdrops and baking but with the addition of some fun banter. I’d say there was a lot more of it than usual due to the story and that was a big plus.

Overall, The Christmas Contest is a pretty good film. Hallmark delivers as always and even if you know how the film will play out, you will enjoy the journey there. At the end of the day that is always the most important part for any movie since you need to be able to enjoy it. I’d definitely change the ending but would still recommend it to anyone looking for a fun Christmas movie. You may even learn some Christmas trivia. I assume the trivia here was legit but you’d probably want to look it up just in case the movie is messing with you.

Overall 7/10

Klaus Review

It’s time for a Santa Claus origin story. You’ve probably seen some of these around and Santa always makes for a fun character to watch. Well, this one takes a bit of a different look at the classic tale and switches some things up. It’s a fun way to readapt the legend and you should have a good time with this movie. It’s a classic feel good film.

The movie starts with Jesper failing at being a mail man. He just can’t seem to do anything right but his father is wise to this and realizes that Jesper is failing on purpose so he can go back home to slack off. His family is rich after all so being at home just sounds more fun. Well now his father has sent him off to the coldest, smallest village out in the middle of nowhere. Jesper needs to have sent out 6000 letters if he ever wants to leave and that will be difficult. For starts the village is in the middle of a civil war and a lot of the kids don’t know how to write a letter anyway. It may take some Christmas magic to get this mission completed.

Jesper goes through a fairly classic character arc here where at first he’s spoiled and mean but gradually learns how to be a better person. He stays in the mean phase for quite a long time though so if anything holds you back from liking him it would be that you may feel the arc took him a little too long. Even by the end he is being mean to one girl because she doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t want to take the time to understand her. For a while he is only focused on the letters so since she wasn’t going to help him get closer to his goal, he had no time for her. It was rather a cruel moment on his part.

He also makes some big mistakes near the end. Inevitably you know there will be a moment where he has to decide to stay in the village or leave with his father and it plays out pretty much the same way in every film but for once you’d like him to just say straight up that he’s not leaving. There are a whole lot of ways that he could have gotten himself out of the sticky situation but he didn’t go with them.

So he definitely has his share of issues. That said, Jesper does give us a lot of the fun comedic moments in the film so you wouldn’t want to miss out on that. He may not be my favorite character but the character arc is still a big staple of the film. The village absolutely needed someone to help out and even if his motives weren’t the best, he did get the job done. It’s like when you see someone doing a good deed online for clout. Yeah they may not have the best reason for helping out but if they actually are helping someone then I can overlook the motive.

Alva is one character who ended up being helped out a lot thanks to Jesper’s selfish actions. She had grown quite disillusioned with the world but when the kids started being eager to learn then she was finally able to find her purpose. Likewise Klaus wasn’t in a great spot in his life and this whole adventure helped to snap him out of it. Jesper definitely did help a lot of people even without meaning too. There was a really solid scene in the movie where we see exactly how much the village has changed. It was worlds different from back when they were always fighting.

The village really couldn’t get much worse from how it was when Jesper first got there. It’s hard to imagine just how sad the place would have been to live in for all of those years but at least now there is no need to worry about any of that. The film has a lot of good musical themes to help back the scenes up as well. Some fun modern titles and then more classic Christmas songs. It all helps to keep a lot of energy within the film and the fast pacing is one of its strengths.

The humor style here is usually about quick wit. Characters talk really quickly as they get the jokes in and usually they’ll already be telling another one while the first is ending. That’s the kind of humor style I like because nothing is dragged out. You either get the joke or you don’t. There are also a good amount of visual gags as well. The animation style here is fairly unique. The characters are all off model but in a stylistic way which is usually used to amp up the humor as the designs are actually referenced once or twice like when Jesper meets Klaus. It may not be a style that you would want to overuse but it’s always tough to look unique in this day and age so props for pulling that off.

I dare say the film almost didn’t need any antagonists. We do have two villain groups here (The ones always fighting) and they continue to get involved all the way to the end but I don’t think they added much. Yes they create a little drama at the end but it’s fairly brief. You could cut that part out and get the same effect by having Klaus or the main heroine walk into his officer and see his notes about getting the letters and leaving. It would have the same effect and I dare say that it would work a bit smoother. The villains were okay but just a bit forced.

Klaus has a good ending so things really work out quite nicely. The ending is important for all movies of course but it’s massively important for a feel good film like this one. You need to feel good or it’s just not going to go over well and would spoil the whole thing. So the ending here is very satisfying and caps off a very nice experience. This is a high quality film that is a lot of fun. I don’t expect you would have any significant issues with the film. It’s got a nice amount of polish and it’s the perfect time to watch this one.

Overall, Klaus is a fresh take on a classic tale. It’s a good amount of fun from start to finish with good character arcs and a fun cast. Jesper may take a little long to get with the program but the important thing is that he does by the end. The movie has a lot of humor throughout and it’s all executed really well. Seeing how the film incorporates each bit of the Santa mythos by the end is always fun. It tackles the Reindeers, the cookies, the naughty list, etc. It was really quite clever at smoothly incorporating them in. You would understand the references each time but it never felt forced.

Overall 7/10