Gremlins Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old film which has become really well known. You’ll likely have heard of the Gremlins even if you haven’t seen the film before. Going into it you may think that this is going to be a pretty intense horror film, but it actually blends together some comedic aspects along with being part parody. It manages the blend fairly well which automatically makes it better than most horror films. It’s so convincing at being a horror movie that it’ll probably take you a while to really establish any kind of opinion on it, but by the end you’ll have to give it some thought. I doubt we’ll see another film blend two genres like this so smoothly again in the near future.

The film starts off with the best character, Randall trying to sell his crazy inventions to more people. The main problem he is having is that aside from none of his inventions working, the buyers just don’t seem interested. That’s when he finds a rare animal that is being kept in a shady shop in China Town. He buys it and brings the creature home. There are only 3 rules that must be kept with the creature. He must not make contact with water, he must not be fed after midnight, and he must not be exposed to bright lights or the sun as that can cause the monster to die. He gives Billy this bundle of responsibility, but can the kid handle it?

As I mentioned, Randall steals the show. He’s a perfect example of a comic relief character who is actually handled well. His humor scenes work quite well and he’s just a nice guy. Randall means well even if his actions don’t always lead to the positive outcomes that he was hoping for. Stuff happens right? He’s part of why the film was able to establish such a good balance. He keeps it from getting too dark or serious. The only downside is that in comparison the main characters just aren’t very good. Before that, we have the other parent who also looks great. Lynn ends up having to defend her house from multiple gremlins and she does a good job of it. She blends one, smashes another, and is basically taking names the whole time. This is where the parody elements really help the film. Typically you’d expect her to just be screaming and running away rather than fighting back. Here, Lynn isn’t playing around. She’s defending her house and doing a great job of it. She’s another scene stealer.

Then we have the actual lead, Billy. Billy can barely hold his own against one Gremlin so right away you know that he is pretty much doomed. He doesn’t do a good job of looking after Gizmo either. He constantly lets things happen to him. How can you mess up not letting Gizmo getting wet or keeping him near bright lights? Billy makes every mistake possible. Part of it can be blamed on his friend Pete who is super annoying the whole time, but you gotta be more responsible when you own mythical creatures like this.

Meanwhile you have Gizmo who is the most heroic of the gremlins, but naturally he is the weakest as well. It’s always an unfortunate trope as you’d like the heroic one to be able to defend himself right? Well, that just wasn’t the case this time. He’s not a bad character but I do admit that he would have been better if he had gotten to fight a little more. Mostly all he does he sit around and watch everyone else. Then we have the heroine, Kate who may not be quite as skilled as Lynn or Randall, but she does all right for herself. Choosing to serve the gremlins was definitely a smart move to extend her life. I didn’t get her whole blowing up at Christmas scene. I’m assuming it has to do with some kind of sob story so I’m glad the film didn’t really elaborate on it.

On that note, the romance with her and Billy was very weak. It doesn’t really have anything to do with anything and just felt rather tacked on. I think the film didn’t need it. What also hurts the film a bit is how the Gremlins go after the dog and Billy doesn’t do anything about it. It’s obvious who the culprit is as the film goes on but he doesn’t put the pieces together. I mean, the old lady is a slight suspect, but how could she pull this off without making a sound? Honestly, it should have been impossible for the Gremlins as well. It’s a pretty bad scene all in all, but at least the dog lived and made it through this film which helps a lot. That saved the film from getting a horrible score.

While the writing is fairly reasonable for the most part, I do think the film dropped the ball with the conspiracy guy. These kind of films love to have one guy who believes in aliens or monsters and is constantly acting crazy. You’d expect him to be prepared when the enemies finally show up since he called it from the start right? Instead he ends up panicking and dies in one of the worst ways possible. It’s a “funny” scene that ends up falling flat. They didn’t need to do him like that. The character could have contributed a lot. The soundtrack is definitely really good though. We get a lot of classic Christmas songs which is always what you want to listen to here. The classics have aged well and giving this film a Christmas backdrop is nice. It helps to make the film more memorable and gives it a nice backdrop.

Overall, Gremlins is an interesting film. It’s certainly not the kind of film you might expect going in. It’s just a very unique blend of horror and comedy. It works reasonably well but there are still enough weak points to probably keep you from coming back to this one. If you really want to see what this blend is like then it’s not a bad film to check out. Otherwise I’d suggest you watch something with a bit more flair and hype like RWBY. That one can pull off any genre and perfect it.

Overall 5/10

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Pokemon Let’s Go! Pikachu & Let’s Go! Eevee: Adventure Start Comic Review


It’s time to look at another quick Pokemon manga. This one is about the Let’s Go game and decides to frame the one shot as being about the kids playing it as opposed to taking place in the game. It’s a tactic that Nintendo used earlier with another Pokemon manga so I guess they thought it went well. I do like this approach. I probably wouldn’t want it to happen too often but it’s a good change of pace once in a while to keep us guessing. This is a nice one shot to quickly check out before you play the game.

It starts with two brothers getting their copies of Pokemon Let’s Go. The main character is a longtime Pokemon fan so he’s been waiting for this one while the other admits that he has never played the Pokemon games before. Naturally the lead decides that this won’t do and so he lets the brother play first. As he is playing, the main character shows his bro the ropes. How to land a good catch and stuff like that. As this game takes mechanics from Pokemon Go it is a very different experience compared to most of the classic Pokemon games. A tutorial like this makes sense for newcomers although Nintendo’s always done a great job of making their games pretty self explanatory so I don’t think it would confuse you for long. As they play the two main characters quickly realize that this may be the best Pokemon game yet.

At the end of the day this is basically a glorified advertisement for the Pokemon Let’s Go game. I think it’s a pretty effective one though. The artwork looks nice and it is a very realistic showing of what the game looks like. The screens on the TV in the manga look accurate and all of the advice is quite sound. I never ended up getting the game myself so I had to forego my chance at getting all of those crispy Meltan gifts, but it’s definitely a title I could see myself getting one day once it has been long forgotten by the masses.

Overall, This is another good one shot. It helps that I am just a Pokemon fan in general. I don’t expect you will learn anything new here unless you somehow missed the Pokemon Go boom. Still, it’s a nice enough story to remind you that for some people, Pokemon Let’s Go will be their first big Poke experience. It’s definitely something to keep in mind when playing. It may not be the best installment yet, but if you hadn’t played the others then I think it would rank even higher. I’ll definitely be ready for when the next big Pokemon game comes out.

Overall 7/10

Family For Christmas Review


It’s time for another Hallmark film! This one misses the mark a little more than previous films and I would say that it’s the weakest entry. Mainly this is because I disagreed with the film’s moral and Santa ends up looking like a bad guy here. It definitely gets a little dicey at times, but at the end of the day the film still handles itself pretty well otherwise.

Picture this, you are Hannah a world famous reporter. You’re making a 6 digit salary and have just aced another story. You are so impressive that the higher ups have decided to give you a promotion along with a new job in New York. Everything is going perfectly, but then you get a Facebook invite from an old flame. Your boss wisely tells you to ignore this request. Block the guy before he tries to steal your money. You heed the advice to the extent that you don’t approve the message and run to your office. Unfortunately Santa breaks in and throws you into an alternate reality. In this reality you married the guy from your past named Ben and have 2 kids. You don’t have a job anymore and are just barely scraping by on paycheck to paycheck. Santa also refuses to let you go home until you’ve learned to enjoy this new life so it could be a while.

You just can’t help but feel bad for Hannah the whole time. She’s clearly worked hard to make it where she is right now so for Santa to just take it all away is pretty extreme. Especially since he’s claiming that it’s her fault that this happened when he very clearly changed things up himself. She should certainly be upset and with good reason. The problem is that the film plays it out that this alternate reality is the better one. The film basically says that she should have turned down the career opportunity at the beginning so she could let Ben support her instead and become a stay at home Mom. It’s a very dicey alternate reality. If you ask just about anyone I’m sure they would agree that Hannah made the right choice. Now, why didn’t Ben go with her? If he was serious then he should have gone, but we learn in the alternate reality that he really loves his old home so he wouldn’t want to move. In that case they both made their respective choices and Hannah simply won out in the end.

The alternate reality is also pretty annoying as we find out that Hannah didn’t even stay true to herself. We have a small scene where some Moms are complaining about the soccer coach having the players try out and it’s implied that the Hannah of this world would have agreed with them. While she is still a real go getter here, she has lost any kind of competitive edge and is content to just stay at home and wait for Ben. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but to say that it is better than being the rich CEO with connections that Hannah was is a big stretch to say the least. What makes it worse is that Hannah was perfectly happy in her position. It’s not as if she was depressed or something like that, Hannah was absolutely balling.

So, Hannah is a pretty good lead. You just have to ignore the ending to an extent as it gets pretty cheesy since Hannah is bullied into making the wrong calls. Unfortunately, Ben is not a particularly likable character. I think we can blame a good chunk of this on the fact that the film makes it impossible to like him. He is at least indirectly responsible for what has happened to Hanna and since he isn’t understanding of her plight at all then it’s hard to sympathize with him. The guy’s just not very reasonable.

The best character in the film is actually Hannah’s boss. The guy’s very pragmatic and keeps things real. Unlike 99% of main guys who would have panicked when Hannah announced that she was leaving, he didn’t care. He wished her well and stayed professional throughout the ceremony. Now that’s a true boss/friend. Sure, he may have given up on the romance real quick as well, but if it meant staying professional then he would do it. The guy’s a quick talker and always has an angle. You can see why he rose to the top so quickly. The guy was born to be the big boss.

So, the whole premise/plot is a bit out of whack which is unfortunate. Still, the writing is good beyond that I suppose. The basic concept of trying to live out someone else’s life is always interesting. It’s the basic principle of why Your Name did so well in theaters. It’s a nice concept even if it’s one that has been done many times before. I don’t think this film did it as well as others, but at least it’s interesting. I do think Hannah could have been quicker on the uptake though. She slips up so many times that it starts to stretch your disbelief a bit. The worst part of this would be having to live out the romance which is why I guess it’s lucky for Hannah that she used to like the guy. Still makes for a terrible romance though so I have to give the film a thumbs down there. Body switching romance type plots just don’t work. You’re effectively making the guy cheat on his version of the character even if they are the same individual.

Overall, Family for Christmas is the first Hallmark title where I can’t give it the full 7. I have to at least dock one point for this plot just not being particularly good. Wrecking Hannah’s perfect life and forcing her to live this one for a few days is just way too brutal. The film would have been way better if we had stayed in the real world. Also, this Santa should have faced some kind of repercussions for what he did. Furthermore, the 2 kids in that version also weren’t particularly likable. They lost their patience with Hannah real quick and weren’t very supportive. I think Hannah should have just came out and told them that she wasn’t their real mother but in a less misleading way. Since they’re kids maybe they would buy into the Santa miracle. If not? Well, no harm done with trying. Hannah should have also doubled down with Ben a little more. Regardless, it is what it is. If you can get around the premise then this is still a good Christmas film to check out, but otherwise all of the others are certainly superior.

Overall 6/10

Aquaman Review


It’s time to look at DC’s latest superhero movie in their cinematic universe. The universe got off to a rough start with its first few titles not quite hitting it out of the park like you would expect. Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Justice League were all superb films. It wasn’t the quality that was lacking, but for some reason people just weren’t giving it great reviews. They simply weren’t ready for it. Whether this is due to smear campaigning by Marvel and its fans, fans just preferring more of a comedy/action blend for their CBMs, or something else, it is what it is. DC was forced to undergo a change so for Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad they went with Marvel’s approach and made the films more of a action/comedy hybrid. Gone were the darker, more thought provoking CBMs and we were more in line with the norm. In Wonder Woman’s case it succeeded and based on the films coming up it seems like DC will be sticking with this approach. Well, there’s nothing wrong with it. If it works for Marvel it can work for DC. Still, I think I will miss those original 3 films. (With Justice League’s original cut never quite being seen but what we got still had fair amount of its original identity I suppose) Aquaman is a solid film and if the rest are as good then DC will be in good hands.

The film starts off with a nice action scene as Aquaman’s mother Atlanna fights off a bunch of guards. I always think that a good way to spice up the origin story is by having the parents actually be secretly good fighters. In this case Atlanna is the one who does the fighting and she is quite good at it. It’s a nice way to start the movie and then she leaves to go back to Atlantis to die for her crimes of having a kid with a mere surface dweller. We then cut to the present where Aquaman has embraced his gifts as a defender of Earth. He grabs some drinks and saves people who are nearby. You could say that he is a local hero. That all changes when Mera shows up. She is the princess of Atlantis and explains to a reluctant Aquaman that the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Atlantis is on the brink of war with Earth and if that happens then there will be big consequences. Most likely Earth would win since Superman could vaporize everyone, but that would be a last resort like the Snap and so by then everyone would have died. Aquaman must claim his birthright as King to put a stop to this. Can Aquaman really do this? He’ll have to put the bottle down and become something he’s always feared becoming. Something even greater than a king…a Super Hero!

It is said that films rise and fall on their supporting casts. It can be relatively easy to make a good main character (Not to trivialize this. Good writing is key to any character) but creating good supporting characters is a lot tougher. Particularly in a one shot film or the first in a series since they won’t get as much screen time as the lead and must be developed so that they are not simply walking tropes of characters with little personality. Fortunately, Aquaman does well in this area, especially as I am still not sold on Aquaman himself.

I will acknowledge that Aquaman is far improved from his portrayal in Justice League. There he was just very annoying and you almost wished that he wasn’t in it. Here we at least see why he became such a loud persona…even if that doesn’t make him much more tolerable. Here’s the problem with Aquaman, and he points this out himself. He’s good at beating people up and heading home. When that doesn’t work he is out of options and as he learns in this film, it usually isn’t enough. He loses in almost every fight that he gets into in Aquaman as the moral of the film is to fight creatively and to use his other gifts. It’s not Aquaman’s fault that he’s losing, but he takes the “not very smart” character a little far. He doesn’t seem as earnest or interesting as other leads. I won’t go as far as to call him a bad lead, but there’s nothing that makes him stand out. In a world of dynamic characters like Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, Steve Rogers, and Clark Kent, there really isn’t any way for Aquaman to stand out. This is actually one of the few problems Justice League 2 may face. The trinity are rock solid, but the other members have a long way to go before they are all that good.

Backing up into the supporting lineup is where the true fighters are. Mere’s water manipulation abilities have always been very potent and the film illustrates why that is. She can shoot water with enough concussive blast to knock out an Atlantean. She can conjure up water from just about anywhere. If she is fighting someone underwater then there is no way she can lose. Mera could have easily beaten all of the enemies in the film, but the only reason she did not is because of the tribal traditions of the clan it wouldn’t have defused the war. As a result she needed Aquaman to help out. Still, Mera’s skills are never in doubt and she has to save him quite a few times. I’m already hoping that she will show up in Justice League 2 as she could hold her own against some of the villains.

Yes, this does force me to quickly sidetrack into one of the film’s weaknesses..the romance. The romance with Aquaman and Mera really feels undeserved and just falls flat. It all happens fairly quick with no real reason for them to pair up. It’s just there to check the box but cut the romance out and I don’t think anything would actually change. There just isn’t much to it. It could have been a lot worse so I’ll give the film credit for showing some restraint. Still, it should not have even been a factor.

Back to supporting characters. Vulko made for a pretty good mentor. While he isn’t the strongest fighter out there, he’s a good tactician and manages to keep the peace for as long as possible. He’s fortunate that Orm isn’t completely evil like other villains or he could have really been doomed. Meanwhile, Orm makes for a good villain. Villains don’t always need to have some tragic backstory or extra development to be good. Sometimes, they can simply be total villains with no reason for it and that works out well. Finally, you have the villains who believe they are fighting for a noble cause or that the ends justify the means. In Orm’s case, he makes a compelling argument for why war is needed. The humans have been polluting the oceans for a long time and show no signs of slowing down. If they don’t do anything then the war will be lost before it ever begins.

Of course, the Atlanteans could have at least tried to negotiate first. After all, as they point out several times the humans don’t even know they exist. Alerting them to this presence would at least open up a channel of dialogue. Then if the humans attack (and they will) the Atlanteans can counter and they will be within their rights. Still, as a backup option at least Orm is right that attacking now and sending a message will protect them from destruction. It’s not a heroic goal and Orm knows it, but protecting his people is his top concern. The film never shows him to be crazy, deluded, or ineffective. He’s on the wrong side, but otherwise he is a capable leader and that’s a good thing.

Then we have Nereus who is quick to join Orm’s cabal. It turns out that he is also looking for war and that’s reasonable. I do think he is quick to falter towards the end, but I suppose traditions are important. He’s not as cool as the other two big villains in the film, but he’s not bad. Then we have Black Manta who is the best of the villains. I’m all for a good villain revenge story. Most of the time it isn’t justified and can be a bit of a stretch in logic on the villain’s part, but regardless it makes for good motivation. Especially if the villain plays the long game and takes a long time to train and get stronger before seeking revenge. At that point, nothing will stop him/her from succeeding.

Sasuke Uchiha, Neo (RWBY), Broly, and many more. Villains whose whole ambitions have been turned to revenge over things done to them or their loved ones make for superb villains. It’s not a “Every villain who falls into this category is awesome) kind of thing, but if written well it’s hard to stop. A good way to sabotage this motive is to have the villain take it out on a target who isn’t a part of their revenge. If it’s someone getting in their way then that’s one thing. However, trying to attack the hero’s friends to get a reaction out of them is murky as it can make the villain a little hypocritical and can destroy whatever message they were trying to send. If they’ve got a problem with someone then that’s where it should stay. Manta blames Aquaman for murdering his father and is certainly right that it was murder. (He never goes after anyone else during this revenge tour which is important) Letting someone die when you can save them is only different from actively murdering the person in terms of scope. The latter is certainly putting you in as a bad guy while the former could be explained by a moment of cowardice or aggression. Naturally, those aren’t excusable, but I will concede that the latter is still worse just as a full lie is worse than a white lie. It’s all semantics though and at the end of the day I can see why Manta would want Aquaman dead. He does a good job gearing up for the second round and whenever he is on screen it’s a blast to watch. I look forward to seeing him in the sequel.

Atlanna is also a scene stealer whenever she shows up. Her role was handled extremely well and she gets the credit she deserves. While she may technically be lacking in raw power compared to Mera or Aquaman, she certainly makes up for this in talent and experience. You don’t get the idea that mother time has caught up to her. She’s older now, but still a fighter. Then we’ve also got the giant monster near the end who is quite solid. Honestly if the monster had died at the end I would have been pretty upset. Aquaman basically has him take a lot of extra hits which seemed to be causing a bit of effect towards the end. This monster seems pretty OP so it’ll be interesting to see how he is handled in future appearances.

I think that’s pretty much all of the big characters. It’s a nice roster as I mentioned earlier. As for the soundtrack, it’s less memorable than some of the other DC films but it wasn’t bad. I just seriously cannot think of any themes off the top of my head. As long as they weren’t bad then that’s the important thing I suppose. As for the writing, it’s decent to good. The characters are written well of course while the romance is lacking a bit. I do think that most of the jokes didn’t land though. At times the film tries a little hard to be funny, but doesn’t yet have the rapid fire dialogue that adds to the humor in some of the Marvel titles. It is naturally a tricky balance with the humor of course since there are no many different kinds. Unless it’s a dirty joke I wouldn’t dock the film any points for it. So, while the humor wasn’t the most effective, it doesn’t hurt my enjoyment of the film one way or the other here.

Naturally there is an after credits scene here. It’s very low key but not a bad scene. I think the problem is that with how great some of the previous after credits scenes have been over the years it’s hard to go back to simpler days. Still, this will always beat the alternative of not having such a scene and I do think the sequel should be pretty fun. Aquaman is also the kind of character who is pretty tough, but could certainly be beaten is taken by surprised or overwhelmed before getting to the water so this villain could be a legitimate threat. I was hoping for a Justice League stinger, but I think DC isn’t totally sure what to do with those characters as of yet so I don’t expect we will see Superman or Batman for a while. I’m hoping that at least Wonder Woman can still pop up from time to time to keep the group united and ready to fight though.

Overall, Aquaman is a solid film. It’s got a good amount of action and works out well as an origin film. Since Aquaman already showed up in Justice League at least the origin was relatively quick. The scenes that we did get weren’t too long which is always good. The pacing is on point and the supporting cast is solid. I won’t say that the film is amazing, but it’s a fun watch and has a good amount of replay value so you could certainly see it again. I think that is almost as important as being a good movie since a true “good” movie should be one that you can see more than once. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then I would recommend changing that.

Overall 7/10

Pride And Prejudice And Mistletoe Review


Hallmark returns once more and this film is actually super new. I can’t say that you really notice the difference from the time since these films aren’t exactly heavy in special effects, but the backgrounds and such look good. After all, they are filmed on location I’m thinking so real life’s graphics are as good as ever. This is a pretty solid film. We do go back to the more retro trope of the first guy losing out to the old friend, but I guess if it isn’t broke don’t fix it right?

Darcy has had a lot of success at her company. It is now a big corporation and she is one of the highest ranking members on the board. Unfortunately, her views have stayed close to the ground while her partners want to sell out and keep on charging high premiums. They are now ramping up the pressure to kick her out. The problem is that she already went back home to Ohio to help out her Mom with a big fundraising event. She can go back to her job to secure her clients or she can stay with her family. If she leaves them at this stage then the event will be a disaster. What can she do?

It’s definitely a bit of a tougher problem than what we had in the last few films. Of course helping the family is the right option, but it’s also hard to not go back to work when you’re about to be kicked out. The film also makes you think who is making the right call here. Darcy wanted to switch the entire company’s policy towards letting in people with no bottom line. There’s a reason why most companies have a bottom line so taking it away would naturally be controversial. Of course, the antagonists are also trying to get her out of the company without a word so it’s not as if they’re in the right either. If I was Darcy I probably would have waited to bring this up until after she had returned from her vacation though. Her secretary was definitely very helpful though. Without her Darcy would have been doomed.

This film goes back to having a pretty strong supporting cast. I thought Darcy’s Dad was pretty solid here. He kept his end of the bargain as to not asking Darcy to come and work for him even though he knew that she was making a mistake in declining. He still raised up a pretty good empire in the meantime and was always around for Darcy to talk to him. I also think the backup guy here wasn’t all that bad. He was certainly hoping Darcy would go with him, but once he was rejected he accepted the answer and left. It wasn’t the answer that he was hoping to hear, but he didn’t get sour or try to get even.

As for the main guy, Luke’s pretty fun even if the “tough guy” approach doesn’t work as well with him since you know that he’ll be paired up with Darcy anyway. I think a film about him and Darcy being on the debate team would probably be fun. He does seem like the kind of guy who would probably enjoy taking the conflicting opinion just to spark a debate. He has a lot of good ideas and he’s certainly filled with confidence. Aside from quickly buying into an unlikely scenario at the end he doesn’t seem nearly as timid as a lot of the other guys. It’s good to see someone talking tough for the whole film this time.

That being said, I still wouldn’t say that the romance is particularly good here. It’s all pretty generic stuff and Darcy takes too long in shutting down the backup guy. He has to ask her first because she took forever to say anything. Granted, they were basically apart by this point but she was doing the whole “We’re not actually together” when talking about Luke only to go to him 2-3 minutes later to make it official. She had made up her mind by that point even if she couldn’t admit it. I think without the romance angle we could have gotten more of a focus on the party and the rivalry between her and Luke. Imagine a good rivalry like that which doesn’t lead to romance in the end. I think it could have worked out quite well.

As always I’d say that the writing is pretty good here. Darcy is also a good lead taking away the romance angle. While it is played out to be a bad thing, I do like how independent she is. Asking for help is a last resort for Darcy and she’ll typically try to do things on her own. If she makes a promise she’ll do everything she can to fulfill it. If it’s too much for her then she’ll ask for help, but she never does things halfway. That’s exactly the kind of person that you want on your team. The deal she made with her father also works out pretty well. She’ll be able to realize her dream while also keeping his company up. I would have liked to have seen a final scene with the hot dog guy though to show that he got to open the account. I was expecting it the whole time and was a little disappointed when it didn’t happen.

While the moral is that Darcy needs to trust in others more I feel like the movie almost completely backfires in trying to show this. Every company that the Mom called in to help ended up canceling at the last second. At the end of the day they weren’t able to trust anyone and the party was nearly ended several times. I mean, that’s not the point of the film of course, but Darcy’s loner approach was really working quite well. Trusting others within reason is always good of course, but maybe the film could have showed some more examples of trust actually working rather than the opposite.

Overall, This is another good Hallmark film. It definitely earns its Hallmark seal of approval and keeps the streak alive for these titles. There are no negatives to speak of here and it’s just a really fun film to watch. I think it’s one of the stronger titles I’ve seen from this series. Maybe I’ll make a ranking of them at some point or something since I’ve seen so many of them. If you haven’t seen this film yet and want to watch a fun little Christmas story then I recommend checking this one out. It’s just good all around and has no real weaknesses.

Overall 7/10

A Christmas Melody Review


Hallmark strikes once again as we get another Christmas film from them. By now you’ll likely be well aware of the series’ usual tropes and plots, but as long as they are executed well it isn’t really a problem. In fact, it makes the film have to work extra hard to stay exciting so when it succeeds that just makes the movie all the more impressive right? This is another solid adventure and even has a musical twist even if that is the weaker part of the movie.

Kristin has been forced to give up her dreams and move back to Ohio. Her startup business just wasn’t ready for the big time at the moment, but she knows that one day she will be able to make a comeback. She feels worse for Emily (her daughter) who will now have to start school again and try to make new friends. Fortunately there is a talent show coming up. The teacher is a guy who knew Kristin from back in school so he allows Emily to bypass the deadline and get into the show. Melissa, the PTA commander isn’t happy about that and decides to do her best to mess things up for Kristin. Will the lead be able to fight back or will this sabotage Emily’s one chance at happiness?

The main worry you may have here is that Emily isn’t quite ready hold her own film as a supporting character. Kids rarely can after all. I’m afraid you would be right as Emily is certainly not the most interesting character in the film. I could have done without her plot but as its the main focus of the film that probably wouldn’t even make sense. She could have been worse I suppose. At first she was acting a little mopey and everything but once Santa gave her a talking to she was able to see the light. Santa’s just really helpful like that. He’s always in your corner and ready to help. He surprisingly doesn’t get a big role here besides that though.

As for Kristin, she is a considerably better lead than the last few. She doesn’t let the bully Melissa push her around. If anything she gets combative from the start when it would have been easy to play into Melissa’s ego and get Emily an easy ride at the school. Kristin talks to Danny (the teacher) directly to get Emily in though so I like the fact that she was quickly able to adapt. This also feels less like a rebound compared to other films as I don’t even think she dumped anyone at the beginning here. It’s possible that I’m mis-remembering but either way this is a good lead.

Then we always need to have the bully/ex role in these films and Melissa works well. She’s grown so powerful with her influence over the school that even the principal defers to her. I thought this was a bit much to be honest, but I suppose she is just that skilled. She was a fun character and without her the school probably wouldn’t have had nearly as much personality. Then you have Danny who is the main guy of the film. Naturally this means that he is here for the romance section. He’s a nice guy who is always trying to help everyone out so that’s a good thing. He’s the kind of guy that you want in your corner. That being said, it didn’t save the romance.

Both Kristin and Danny are good characters individually but the romance comes off as rather rushed. They certainly didn’t know each other for very long here before realizing their feelings. It’s also so expected that you feel even less convinced since you can’t believe the characters when they act like it’s a tough decision. I get that the romance is a staple of this franchise, but I still think that it tends to not work very well in any of the installments. Just skipping the romance entirely would probably be a pretty good idea.

As always the writing and pacing are pretty solid. The film never drags on and there is always something happening on screen. There are less crazy miscommunications here compared some of the other films which is always good. As I mentioned, Emily’s scenes are a bit weaker than the others though. The scenes of her just hanging around or singing just don’t work as well as they would have with one of the main characters. The final song also really doesn’t sound like she’s singing it. I’m thinking the special effects crew maybe went a little too overboard at that point. In universe though, I’m pretty sure it was intentional.

Overall, A Christmas Melody is a fun film. As with the rest of them it plays out a bit like a wish fulfillment title as everything goes perfectly for Kristin and you imagine this as the ideal Christmas story. It does so without being too overly dramatic and avoids any real negatives. That’s really the secret to success in these films. Still, I do think it was just a little bit weaker than the rest of the Hallmark films I’ve seen so far. It was see-sawing between a 6 and a 7 even as I was writing the review. It’s a tricky case but while I’m not a big Emily fan I don’t think she takes the film down a full star either so I stayed with the latter score. I don’t think this would be my first Hallmark recommendation but if you’ve already seen the others then surely you should check this one out as well. It’s just a quality Christmas story.

Overall 7/10

The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas Review


Time for another Christmas special but this one is by a different crew so we’re back to traditional animation. It definitely looks pretty good and right away it’s an improvement for me at least. As for the actual story, that part is a little less engaging but I blame the main character on that one. So prepare yourself as we enter the world of the Bears!

The special starts by showing us how the Bears all work at this large honey factory. They work for most of the year and then take a break to hibernate. It’s a system that has been in place for generations and the Bears have learned to love it. After all, who wouldn’t want to sleep for a few months? That’s what they all thought until Ted showed up. He wants to stay awake for Christmas and has tried to do so for years. The problem is that every time he ends up falling asleep which certainly doesn’t play into his plans. This year he is determined to stay up and even ends up travelling to the Human World to do so. (Well, it’s the same world but they may as well be separate)

I don’t think that Ted’s plan is bad or even that selfish. If he wants to stay up then that’s fine. It won’t hurt anybody and at most he’ll just be really tired once the hibernation is over since he’ll have had less sleep. The problem is that he does end up hurting others which is certainly no good. First he forgets to turn the honey off which is pretty bad since they waste a few gallons and that ends up hurting the company’s bottom line very quick. Fortunately for Ted his boss was very understanding and told him that he could overlook this but not to let it happen again. Then Ted runs outside and does an interview where he tells the world his plans. This isn’t a good look and it reflects poorly on the job. When you’re an employee like Ted you can’t just give interviews without going through HR first.

I’m probably being a bit hard on Ted, but it’s for his own good. If he was a little more careful I think he could have been a very good main character. Most of the special is about Ted finally making it to the human world/Christmas. Once he does make it we realize that this was all part of Santa’s plan from the start. It’s all rather genius from that holiday icon’s perspective. Everyone is just another piece on the chessboard for him. The whole situation can be a little odd if you really think about it as Ted got to the human world pretty easily all things considered but when you throw magic into the equation then things start to make sense. It’s also possible that without Santa Ted would have been doomed from the start.

Overall, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas is a pretty good special. Ted could be annoying at times but at least he had a goal and saw it through. His determination is admirable for sure and he succeeded in his goal. The ending is pretty nice and a best case scenario for all parties involved. I’m sure even his boss is happy about the whole thing since now his operation can be back on target just as he likes it. I recommend checking this special out. It’ll help remind you to look forward to Christmas since it’s always a blast and a half. You just can’t go wrong on this day.

Overall 7/10

A Royal Christmas Review


Hallmark has returned for another Christmas title. This one brings a royal air to the mix and we get a lot of new scenery compared to the first two films which is nice. I still say that the first Hallmark film I saw was the best one and this one also loses to the second, but don’t think that the series is already starting to decline. The first two films just set a rather high bar and this one is still roughly at that same level. The main character can just be a bit annoying again.

The film starts off with Emily having a good time. She is going to be spending her first Christmas with Leopold so naturally she is looking forward to it. Unfortunately, he chooses this time to drop a landmine on her. He is actually a prince and must get ready to inherit the throne. Emily is really upset at this since it’s a rather big secret to have been kept for so long but he assures her that he is the same person. To test that out, he wants her to come with him to the kingdom. Emily does so but quickly learns that Leopold’s mother Isadora is very against their relationship and will do whatever she can to destroy it. Can Emily stay strong or will she be humbled?

Most of the positives in this film mirror the last two. The writing is pretty solid and the film’s pacing is on point. You won’t be bored during the adventure and the film makes sure to steer clear out of any serious negatives. The scenery looks really nice and it’s just a pleasant film to watch. There’s no reason to cringe or turn away except for some decisions at times. This film does have less positives in general though which is what hurts it a bit. For starters, the supporting cast isn’t nearly as impressive here. Emily’s Dad can be a bit over the top and comes off as more annoying than supportive like when he forgot that his camera was off during the final scene and basically spoiled the moment.

Emily’s friend isn’t quite as helpful as the sister was in the last film and doesn’t really get to do much in general. Then you have the maids who turn on Emily a little too easily. They get along at first, but then Isadora decides to sack them to get at Emily and they quickly go into the guilt tripping tactic. Considering that they knew the rules and that Emily certainly couldn’t have been aware I don’t see how they can blame her. They come around by the end since the head butler re-enlists them but it’s hard to really like these guys. Of course getting fired is emotional and it was in the heat of the moment, but the point still stands.

As for Emily, she is a little too sensitive. She falls for every trick in the book and gets very easily offended. Just having the Leopold’s ex explain how close they are is enough to put her on edge. At times she tries to put on a brave face but it cracks with ease. In this situation everyone made it abundantly clear from the start that there would be several people trying to break her and Leopold up so Emily doesn’t have the excuse that she was unprepared. She knew exactly what she was getting into. Emily also decides to cut ties with Leopold so as not to be a bother but instead that just comes off as her giving up way too easily. If she is really serious about this relationship then she simply needs to keep on holding tight.

Meanwhile Leopold could certainly have done better as well. He basically lets Isadora walk all over him and to a large extent it’s fine. She is still his mother and he has to keep up the family legacy. That being said, there are some things he could have done better like not agreeing to go on a horse walk in the morning when Emily can’t ride. Alternately he could have rode with her since two people can ride a horse. I can’t really take too many points away from him though since Leopold does a much better job of actually going after Emily repeatedly rather than giving up.

Meanwhile Isadora is the main antagonist of the movie and does a good job in the role. She puts a lot of thought into her plans of getting Emily away. She always has the edge in this battle of wills. Naturally you can probably see where her character arc will go from the start, but she was still convincing up until that point. She also took her share of risks like approaching Emily while she was holding a sword. Some things may be a bit much like when she puts Emily on the spot both at a party and in the middle of many prestigious individuals. Wouldn’t it reflect poorly on the family if the Prince’s girlfriend is low class? Isadora should try to get rid of her privately, not publicly.

There is also the ex, but she gets less of a role than you might expect. Not only does she not have a chance from the start, but she doesn’t even feel as mean spirited as some of the others. She doesn’t actually do anything to Emily which is nice since sometimes bullies should be a little more subtle. Also, it’s not as if she is typically a bad person, she is basically acting under orders. That’s no excuse, but she was certainly not as bad as she could have been. With Emily giving up so easily that also doesn’t help the main heroine’s case.

Overall, The Royal Wedding is a fun film. I don’t think it is quite as strong as the last few films but it’s still a good watch. The Butler can be fun as he constantly talks back to Isadora. At first you’ll wonder why he hasn’t been fired yet, but there is a big plot twist that certainly explains this rather satisfactory. It could have been better, but I still recommend this film nonetheless. As long as you are looking forward to a fun Christmas (Well, it barely feels like one at times) comedy and you can get past the romance then this is a good film to check out. You’ll likely roll your eyes when Leopold first lets Emily know that he is a prince since the odds of that are so slim, but that’s a natural response and you’ll be able to get back into the movie after that scene.

Overall 7/10

Bumblebee Review


It’s time to look at the new Transformers prequel/reboot that came out. I’ve never been a big fan of the live action Transformer films. The franchise is still awesome and the G1 animated film was excellent, but for some reason it just couldn’t make the jump to live action. A large part of this could likely be blamed on Michael Bay and the Transformers not getting enough the respect a franchise of its caliber should have. A good adaption should be amazing. This one isn’t quite there yet, but Bumblebee is certainly an improvement and is actually a good film overall.

The film starts with a really nice action scene on Cybertron as we see Optimus Prime and a lot of the classic Autobots dealing with a Decepticon invasion. They are being pushed back though and Prime decides that they have to fall back. He sends Bumblebee to Earth to protect it and ultimately they will all converge on the planet to set up a counter strike. Bumblebee manages to make it to Earth, but a Decepticon follows and breaks his voice box. He has also lost most of his memories. We then cut to the main heroine of the film, Charlie. Charlie’s going through a pretty tough time as her father died and was quickly replaced with a new one. She has yet to warm up to him and has started distancing herself from her family. Her life begins to change when she finds Bumblebee and he becomes her first friend. Can she help him protect Earth from incoming Decepticons or is this all too big for one person?

I can’t stress enough how awesome the first scene is. I would certainly watch a movie all about the Cybertron fights and I think it would very quickly go down as the best Transformers title. It would basically be a CGI film at that point but the human characters really aren’t necessary so that’s not a bad thing. There’s no reason why Transformers has to be live action, especially if it’s a prequel. It’s almost a bit of a tease since you know the bulk of this film will be on Earth, but a strong opener is always a good thing to have for any film so I think this was the right move.

Also, the action does stay at a high level even on Earth. The previous films didn’t really have any choreography. The characters would typically just slam each other with normal hits but there wasn’t much to the fight scenes beyond that. In this film you actually see a lot of good hand to hand combat. Bumblebee is a really small Autobot compared to most of the others so as you would expect he needs to fight with a lot of throws and judo combos. The film shows that to great effect and the fights here have so much more energy than previous films.

The special effects are also much better. The characters actually look like Autobots and Decepticons here as opposed to being generic robots in the last few films. The designs are very faithful to the source material. Cybertron itself looks amazing and all of the visuals are just top notch. The soundtrack is also quite good. A lot of big 80s songs pop up here. Sometimes back to back in the same scene. It’s always nostalgic to hear these tunes. I can’t say that I knew too many of them, but the style itself just feels very nostalgic right from the start. It helps make the human scenes more fun.

Jack steals the show here as far as the human characters are concerned. From the start he suspects that the Decepticons are up to no good and is pretty reasonable about it. As he explains….their name is the Deceptiocns! That should be the end of the story. Unfortunately he is outvoted by the top brass so he is forced to work with the Decepticons, but I like that he voices his displeasure over this constantly. He doesn’t even pretend to play ball with them which is good. If you’re that confident that they’re up to no good you can’t shake on it. I hope he will return for a sequel.

Charlie is the actual main character here and she’s pretty reasonable. Naturally she is going through a tough time so she isn’t in the best of moods, but she isn’t nearly as sour as other main characters who were in a similar predicament. She does a good job of doing what she needs to and even her inevitable blowup moment isn’t nearly as dramatic as you might expect. She also ends up helping during the climax. The only moment where Charlie doesn’t look particularly good involves a diving situation. Granted, she never agreed to anything but the way she handled the situation wasn’t amazing. Also, I probably would have kept the window closed in the next scene. Memo is the next door neighbor who shows up and acts as the comic relief here. He’s not nearly as bad as he could have been, but I can’t say that I was a big fan. He seemed a little too desperate to hang out with Charlie the whole time and I don’t think it was just so they could be friends considering how quickly he was going.

So the film had a lot of positives, but it certainly wasn’t perfect. I do think that some of the humor scenes could drag on a little too long. Bumblebee stumbling through the house and breaking everything is definitely an overdone trope. After breaking a bunch of stuff you’d think that he would learn and adapt quick enough to stop making things worse. That doesn’t happen and he almost completely totals the place. I also think Bumblebee being so scared during his first appearance was a little odd. That subplot seemed to stick around as he didn’t even put up a fight towards the climax. I suppose the damage from the opening scene may have also prevented him from fighting, but I was still a little puzzled the whole time. Other humor scenes worked fairly well though like the Ricky Roll theme getting a quick cameo.

Charlie’s family also wasn’t too bad. I can see why she wouldn’t get along with them, but I thought the parents did a reasonable job of being annoying while still feeling genuine about looking after her. They weren’t trying to be annoying and at the end of the day they were a little helpful. The new dad more than the Mom, she could be a bit much at times since she was more reluctant to help. The bullies were certainly dramatized, but I did like the fact that they didn’t recognize Charlie outside of her job. In movies a lot of time they seem to have perfect memory but realistically I doubt they would remember everyone they make fun of. The revenge against the bully was a bit drastic though and I think that scene could have been cut. I didn’t find it particularly funny.

Overall, Bumblebee was pretty good. It was certainly a lot better than I had expected it to be which helps its case quite a lot. I think it will hold up to repeat viewings as well even though I certainly don’t plan on re-watching it anytime soon. The pacing is on point with an action scene always being around the corner. The film can try a bit hard with the humor at times, but at least it never devolves into dirty jokes like the old film. Whether you find them funny or not, I wouldn’t say that any of them are terrible. If you are avoiding the film because you have had poor experiences with the previous installments don’t let that stop you from watching this one. Bumblebee really feels like a brand new start for the series and if the quality stays at this level then I can finally start looking forward to these Transformer films again.

Overall 7/10

The Sweetest Christmas Review


It’s time to look at the next Hallmark film. This one is another Christmas rebound adventure but with a food themed plot to spice things up. When competitions are on the line even Christmas can get a little hectic. Still, the main characters are ready for anything and this is another solid film to check out.

This film starts out with Kylie lamenting her loss for the Gingerbread contest. She sent in a submission weeks ago but never received a response. At least things are going well at work and she thinks that Alex may be ready to take the next step as he invites her to a fancy restaurant. Her hopes are dashed when he says that he just brought her over so ask if she would like a promotion so they can be a team at work. Honestly it wasn’t a bad idea but Kylie already had her heart set on something else so she ends their “partnership” as he would put it. She then meets rebound guy #1…her ex Nick. Nick is living the tough life of being a single Dad at the moment since she formerly dumped him as well but now they can get back to the past. Also, Kylie ended up doing well on her submission, the letter was just loss behind the fridge. She is now determined to win the contest and prove that her cooking skills are the real deal!

This is a pretty fun film like the other Hallmark title. While I don’t think it is quite as impressive it still has all of the fundamentals down. First off, it’s an enjoyable movie with no real negative scenes to drag it down. I wouldn’t say that any of the characters are downright terrible and the pacing is on point as well. The cooking scenes are always nice and the supporting characters had nice contributions and managed not to feel tacked on. The writing is pretty good and I continue to be impressed with Hallmark in general.

On the other side of the spectrum, once again the whole film’s plot revolves around a rebound and the film pretty much justifies it here like in the last movie. I certainly find it hard to root for Kylie myself especially since Alex doesn’t even seem like a bad guy. Oblivious to be sure, but at least he’s not cheating on her or anything like that. I think the main character is where the last film really takes the edge. That’s a good segway into talking about our heroine. So, Kylie is an aspiring chef who has had a hard time breaking into the industry but is looking to do so now. This is her golden opportunity but you wouldn’t know it since she is so quick to throw in the towel all the time. As soon as she hears that a professional is joining the contest she is ready to throw in the towel and must be told repeatedly not to do so. Why does she have to be convinced to enter the contest she’s been waiting for her whole life? She throws the pity party way too quickly.

Then we find out the reason why she broke up with Nick and it’s a bad one. Basically his Dad died and Kylie didn’t want Nick to have to be busy driving to her place all the time since it was so far…so she broke up with him. She acts like she was doing him a favor but I think it’s pretty obvious why this would be one of the worst times to break up with him. With his life basically being turned upside down all she is doing is amplifying that even more. Things could have ended up pretty badly for him. Now when Nick is just getting over him she is ready to reconnect.

Meanwhile, Nick is fairly reasonable as he does his best to turn her away and also doesn’t make any kind of move until he is sure that she is no longer together with Alex. For him this is also a rebound since his wife died and the time frame can’t have been too long based on the timeline of when this all went down. Naturally the romance in this film is more of a weakness than anything. The movie is at its best when it’s focusing on the comedy and just having a good time. The film never gets too serious though and even the negatives in the romance are typically glossed over. I don’t think you’ll notice it much unless you are paying a lot of attention to it.

Ralphie is Nick’s best friend and he does a good job of looking out for him. The guy’s a lot of fun and certainly is supportive. Without him Nick and Kylie would have definitely been doomed. Likewise Kylie had a sister who was also with her throughout all of this and always had a good attitude about her. Again, the supporting cast was just quite good. I didn’t care much for Nick’s kid, but they can’t all be good. Alex was still fairly decent. He does his best to try to make things right with Kylie. He seems to have a hard time really expressing himself but you never get the feeling that he doesn’t care for Kylie. He’s just grown up in a business environment and doesn’t really know how to differentiate the two. He probably gets the saddest ending from all of the characters. His plan for the contest was certainly convoluted and didn’t work too well but again it was all for Kylie. If anything I found him to be a lot more impressive than Nick and he was certainly a more likable character. He’s the kind of guy where you knew he was doomed from the start though. He never stood a chance.

Overall, This was a fun Christmas film. There’s a lot of baking and solid characters to root for here. Even though this is primarily a romance/comedy film it only succeeds in half of its genre. That’s enough though especially since there are no true negatives here. There was no scene where I thought to myself “I’m gonna drop a star for that.” That’s definitely important and a big reason as to why I can safely recommend this title to anyone. It’s a nice feel good film to end the year with.

Overall 7/10