A League of Their Own Review


It’s time to look at a sports film based on true events. It’s essentially a real event but replacing the characters with film versions so it’s fictionalized enough where I can write a review for it. It’s a pretty fun film even if one of the characters really is a little too exaggerated. It’s probably not the first sports flick I would recommend to someone, but it gets the job done and I can finally add another Baseball film to my collection.

The film starts off with Dottie as a senior citizen remembering the good ole days. The rest of the film is the flashback. World War II is at hand so everyone is being drafted into the army. Many jobs are now empty and so the women are picking up the slack. There are many documentaries about this period in time where the world saw for the first time that men weren’t the only ones capable of handling all these jobs. One such occupation was Baseball! The committee has decided that the game must go on so scouts are sent across the country looking for fine candidates. They come across the two main characters, Dottie and Kit. Dottie isn’t interested in joining, but Kit is desperate for a chance to show her mettle and the scout won’t take her without the lead. Dottie ends up going, but will her skills be enough to help her team win the World Series?

Dottie is definitely a pretty solid main character. She’s a natural leader and quickly takes command of the team when their coach isn’t quite up to task. She is also a very good baseball player and appears to be the best in the league. Catching the baseball during the initial tryouts was a good way to protect her friends from the bullies as well. Things nearly got dicey there so it was good that she could back up her tough talk. I do think Dottie starts to falter towards the second half of the film. She’s very quick to leave the team near the climax. There is never any indication that her husband would have been opposed to her playing the last games. It seemed like she was making an issue out of nothing.

The ending of the film is also pretty unsatisfying and ends up not working out very well for Dottie. The film leaves it up to your interpretation on if she held back or not. I like to think that she didn’t hold back because it would not have been the ending that either character in the situation would have wanted. Furthermore it feels like a betrayal to the rest of the team. Honestly if I were the rest of the team I’d be pretty upset by this point. Dottie wasn’t around fro the first 6 games so maybe she shouldn’t have even been put in for the final one. It just wasn’t the ending I was hoping for.

Meanwhile Kit is the other big character, but she can get a bit annoying. She has a bad habit of blaming Dottie for everything. Dottie is supportive throughout the film, but when things go badly for Kit she turns on the lead. Kit’s a pretty good pitcher and Dottie gave her the opportunity to play in the league. That being said, if she can’t hold on to enough stamina to finish the game then that’s on her. Dottie has nothing to do with that. Then that led to the trade disagreement which either way worked out pretty well for Kit. Ultimately, Kit just didn’t have much of a character arc and so I felt like she got a little too rewarded for not really doing much of anything. It’s not that Kit is a bad character, she would likely grow out of the blame game. The problem is that Dottie is the one who really deserved the win here. If not her, then certainly her teammates.

The supporting cast in the group isn’t bad. It’ll likely be very hard for you to memorize all of the names though as there are quite a few supporting characters. The former dancer had the most personality I’d say. She definitely didn’t want to go back to her old life and so she supported the baseball league as much as she could. She may have had the strongest drive of them all. While the girls started off as just fellow players on the same team by the end they’re all a close knit team. One of the players was even taught how to read by the others. That’s true camaraderie.

Then we have the coach. Jimmy does not want to be here. He used to be a big player in his own right before he injured his knee and was forced into early retirement. As a result he seems rather resentful for a large chunk of the movie. It takes a while for him to finally get invested. (Although in the scene where he tries to steal control of the team from Dottie the player did a poor job. She absolutely should have stuck by Dottie) Once he is with the team he’s a better character. It’s a character arc that you see a mile away, the problem is that the film overplayed its hand during the first half. Jimmy just doesn’t show any class. He spits on people, discourages everyone, and just seems kind of gross. The scenes with him and the caretaker of the team are really bad as well. It’s an example at the film’s attempt at comedy which ends up failing quite miserably. It’s also really hard for him to climb back from ripping one of the girl’s cards in half. That card was really important to her and it’s not like he ever apologized on screen either. I think he was too far gone by the end.

This movie excels when the baseball games are being played. However, the parts away from the game are a bit weaker. For example, the scene of the characters heading to a bar to mess around was pretty forced. I don’t think the scene was needed and it definitely dragged on. It was a bit cringy and while some of the romances there may have stuck around, it all could have occurred under better circumstances. The writing isn’t great, but it is good enough for the majority of the film. It was cool seeing the guy from Independence Day show up for a quick cameo near the end. That was neat even if the character himself seemed rather annoying.

While accurate, the film also makes the baseball committee look really bad. They only care about the money and are ready to ditch the whole league at a moments notice. They force the main characters to wear costumes that certainly aren’t very practical to try and appeal to the audience. The gimmicks they have to do to boost ratings is pretty sad. I think we could have done without all of that. As the audience you know that the crowd in the film is pretty depraved. We don’t need to acknowledge it any further than that.

Overall, A League of Their Own is a good film. The ending, that one bar scene, and Jimmy hold it back a little but at the end of the day I’ll give it a thumbs up. I think the film could have probably been further improved if the length was chopped down a bit, but it did avoid giving up the big play so to speak. It may have had some weak moments but it didn’t have any downright bad ones where I thought, “this film just fell under” If you enjoy Baseball films and want to see a nice version of how this team got going then this is a good one to check out. See what you think of the ending.

Overall 5/10

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A Wish For Christmas Review


The Hallmark Channel has returned for another adventure. By this point you’ll likely know whether you enjoy the films or not. Hallmark is very well known for its formula in these Christmas films and stays true to it through thick or thin. I guess you could say that the big change here is that for once there is no “other” guy. There’s only the heroine and the guy who will inevitably fall for her. By removing the rebound angle it makes the film a lot more heartfelt.

This film starts off by showing us how much Sara loves Christmas. It’s something she looks forward to every year and she makes sure to take the day off to be with family. However, she is unable to enjoy the office party because her boss steals the idea she came up with and gets the credit for it in front of everyone. Sara prepares to leave the party but then Santa shows up and grants her wish to be brave. However, his powers are waning in his old years so he can only give her this ability for 48 hours. After which she will become the meek pushover that she always was. Sara intends to make the most of it and exposes her boss. After he is fired, the true head of the company, Peter, decides to take her with him to close out a deal with his biggest customer of all time. The whole company is riding on this. Sara agrees to go, but on the condition that she makes it home in time for Christmas.

Adding that supernatural twist here helps give the film a fresh edge. It works a little like a truth serum as Sara is unable to stop herself from being very outgoing and direct. If she has a thought in her head then she has to say it and even if it could lead to bad situations. As a result it’s not a purely positive thing, but for the most part it always tends to work out. It is important to be able to stand up for yourself so the film’s got a good moral to it. The boss taking the credit for your idea is something that is to be expected to a certain extent, but it has to be within reason. When you’re supplying ideas to your boss to help the company naturally he will take the lion’s share of the credit, but you need to at least get a honorable mention. Since Sara got none of that it was good that she took the boss down a peg. I do think that changing the whole presentation without letting the boss know in the email was a little dicey if he needed it that day though.

Sara makes for a good protagonist. I do think she could have managed a better equilibrium between being nice and sincere. Bringing drinks for everyone at work every day is a nice gesture even if it is something that I would never do because of the cost and the lack of convenience. That being said, if you secretly resent doing so or are only doing it to curry favor with the higher ups then naturally that is not a good thing to do. Sara’s friend seemed really nice even if she could be a bit cheap art times. With Sara’s new position hopefully she doesn’t go on a power trip and remember who had her back all this time.

Then we have Peter who I can’t say is a particularly good character. He seems all well and good for most of the film but when Sara is unable to close the deal with the main antagonist of the film we see his true colors. The guy leaves Sara feeling awful and just lets her get on the plane herself while he hashes things out with his father. That’s a big part of the film and it makes sense that he would do that, but why make Sara worry so much? From how it seems at the end he would have let Sara just up and leave without getting the letter she gave him. The guy switches sides way too fast and didn’t seem genuine to me. He definitely gets a thumbs down from me.

The supporting cast was pretty solid though. As mentioned, Sara’s friend was pretty good. I also thought Peter’s family was pretty solid too. The Mom and Aunt baking cookies was definitely fun and their setup was good. Every topping was there including the fruit candies although I can’t imagine putting that on a chocolate chip cookie. The father naturally had a bit of a rocky start but things were awkward with him and Peter both not wanting to be the first to approach but thanks to Sara he is able to get over it.

As always the writing is pretty solid here, but the romance ends up being a bit on the weak side. Peter just doesn’t seem like a team player at all and as mentioned he was very quick to ditch Sara. When they come together it’s hard to buy into it and you can’t help but feel like Sara shouldn’t want to be with him either. The romance doesn’t play a huge role in the film at least. If anything it comes almost out of nowhere at the end.

Overall, A Wish For Christmas is another solid title. It’s a solid film in all areas. It goes by very quickly and is just a pleasant experience. I’m not sure about the Christmas remix song at the beginning of the film though. This rendition was a little too slow I think and lost the energy that the original had. The soundtrack is still pretty good overall though. A little Christmas music is always a good idea to liven things up a bit. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s also a good time to start thinking of what your Christmas wish/New Year’s resolution will be.

Overall 7/10

Tokyo Mew Mew Review


It’s time for an old school Shojo. This one is fairly similar to Sailor Moon in many respects. It’s a classic story of 5 magical girls who fight evil in the name of justice while also trying to get through their human drama. The art’s a big improvement over the former, but aside from that it actually ends up feeling a bit weaker overall. The manga has its share of issues. It’s a fun read, but it’s hard to call it a good one.

The story starts with a girl named Ichigo. She’s been leading a normal life up til now. Things are actually going fairly well for her as well, she is finally on the verge of being happy with Aoyama. Then she is transformed into a magical girl and the two responsible for this (Shirogane and Keiichiro) let her know what is going on. She is one of the chosen warriors who must defend the Earth from aliens. There are 4 other magical girls, Mint, Lettuce, Pudding, and Zacro. Ichigo must find them and enlighten them as to the responsibility they now have to protect the planet. They have to find the Mew Acquas and stop the demons from destroying the planet. Little does Ichigo know that this will be the easy part. Staying together with Aoyama while keeping all of these secrets will be much more complicated.

It’s definitely a very classic kind of story. There aren’t a lot of twists and turns that you haven’t seen before although I do applaud the series’ attempt to mislead you by throwing in red herrings. Trust me, there are a whole bunch of them in here involving who the Blue Knight is or who a mysterious cat appears to be. Your first instinct in both cases will likely be correct but if the series causes you to question yourself then I suppose you could count that as a win in its book.

Lets get right into why this series didn’t work so well. It’s unfortunately the romance and the fact that every character is in on it. Ichigo is one of those characters who is so charming that everyone wants her. Aoyama, Shirogane, Blue Knight, and Quiche all want to be with her. Keiichiro may also belong in that category. It’s definitely not the best way to get the romance going. Now, it could work if Ichigo just immediately denies all of them except for 1 and straightens things out. At the very least she could be like Kirito and pretend to be oblivious the whole time. Instead she always gets flustered around all of them which is a problem. She has to constantly talk to herself in order to strengthen the resolve needed on not cheating on Aoyama. Keep in mind that these two are together for most of the series so going with anyone else would definitely be cheating.

Quiche is a villain so his attempts to get Ichigo are naturally some of the trickiest. He pulls a Xellos with how quickly he’ll appear and steal a kiss. Ichigo is never able to bounce back from these moments and they seem to keep happening to her. When she is turned into a cat then another cat comes to try and steal her away several times. Ichigo just never shows any real strength or willpower to keep these characters at bay which can be pretty annoying. The scenes certainly do bring the series down without a doubt. So the romance was definitely one of the weakest ones I’ve seen in a while. It just couldn’t hold up.

At least the artwork is quite good though. It’s very clear and the characters don’t look too similar so you won’t have to worry about mixing them up. We even get some nicely drawn fight scenes as the Blue Knight took on Quiche. Most of the magical girl fights are less impressive since they tend to be one hit KO moves, but it just shows how strong their food powers are. As long as Ichigo is around you never feel as though the villains even have the slimmest of chances. They are simply outmatched and they know it.

Beyond the romance, I suppose Ichigo isn’t a bad character but even then I have to say that she is relatively weak next to most other Shojo leads. She simply doesn’t have enough confidence of charisma. Everyone walks all over her. Then when she turns into her super form she quickly turns a 180 and starts talking about peace and food. Sometimes the change is so abrupt that it’s almost alarming. I think the manga maybe dials up the cheerfulness of the characters a little too much in these moments. Especially given the circumstances at times.

As for Aoyama, he definitely wasn’t all that good either. My problem with him is that he always seems upset at Ichigo. You could say that this is because he has a hard time showing his emotions. After all in his side of the story towards the end we find out that he was never upset. Maybe it’s just how the author likes drawing him. Aoyama’s eyes appear to be glazed over and lifeless quite often. He wants to play along with Ichigo’s scheme, but just admitting that he knew would have saved a lot of grief. If he didn’t want to go that route, then just acting more cheerful would have helped. Instead he tends to be very quiet and sulky all the time. Ichigo does ditch him a lot, but if Aoyama has made peace with this then he should be fine.

The Blue Knight is definitely pretty cool though. He’s very powerful and determined to save the day. He always listens to Ichigo’s wishes even if they are quite dangerous at times like sparing one of the villains. It would have been nice to have seen more of him although I suppose his screen time was pretty reasonable. His name is also good since it’s hard to guess who is he in universe compared to Ichigo whose cat name is Mew Ichigo.

As for Shirogane, I have to give him a thumbs down as well. You can probably tell that I don’t consider the cast of characters to be a big strength for the series. He’s the classic mean guy who is constantly taunting Ichigo but it’s only because he cares. He teases her quite a bit and uses his car form to secretly still be her friend. It’s pretty deceptive and no matter how heroic they try to make him appear it is hard to sympathize with the guy. Then you have his partner Keiichiro who really doesn’t do much in the series. Honestly his role could have been erased entirely and I don’t think a whole lot would have changed. That’s how inconsequential he was in the series.

Next up is Mint who is probably the best of the cat members even if she basically stopped appearing by the end. It may be for the best since she started falling off pretty hard once Zacro showed up. Mint is also one of the slightly meaner characters as she has a rich upbringing and isn’t afraid to mention it a lot. It’s good to have a member on the team with a lot of spunk like this though and she was fun enough. At the very least she isn’t constantly distracted by romance like Ichigo is which is always good.

Then there is Lettuce who isn’t really my favorite member of the group. She’s very timid and always has a tough time doing anything without the others. In the grand scheme of things that is true for all 4 of them since they can’t seem to do anything without Ichigo. It just seems even more drastic for Lettuce. I’m thinking that having this member is another staple of the team so it was bound to happen sooner or later, but Lettuce never got much character besides that. I think the reason is that ultimately none of the members got a huge role after they joined since Ichigo began to steal all of the screen time. That’s why it is tough not being the main character.

Pudding is the worst member of the group. She can’t take anything seriously which is always a bad character trait. Comic relief characters can work, but surely you have to get serious when your life is threatened. Pudding takes this to the extreme as she could be held at knife point and talk about cake. She thanks the villains and acts super oblivious to everything. It just gets real annoying and the heroes should have kicked her off the squad for being too young anyway. Then we have Zacro who was pretty solid and if the series had went on much longer she would have probably passed Mint. She seems to be a lot more capable than the rest of the members aside from Ichigo. She already has experience using her abilities and is also a bit older than the other characters. This helps with her agility and physical skills. Zacro never really warms up to the others nearly as much as you’d expect and stays relatively mysterious even by the end.

Then we have the villains. There are a few of them, but lets just talk about the big 3. Deep Blue is the big mastermind and he’s certainly the best villain. He’s a very no nonsense kind of character and is efficient about achieving his goals. He’s crazy powerful and if not for some very specific circumstances I definitely think he would have easily won the fight here. It would have been nice if he could have appeared a little more though. Seeing him take names a few times each volume or so would have really ramped up the intensity. Then we have Quiche who is the villain with the most screen time. Unfortunately he is probably the worst villain. As I mentioned earlier he is always trying for Ichigo to no avail. It just doesn’t make for a particularly captivating motive. He’s also very skilled so if he had taken his task seriously then it would have been all over for the main characters. There just isn’t much that the heroes could really do against him and his speed.

Then we have Tart who is the counterpart to Pudding so you can probably imagine that he isn’t very good. He gets charmed way too easily so you have to wonder just how loyal to the cause he was in the first place. You can’t allow yourself to doubt your mission so easily. That’s just a big ticket to disaster 100% of the way and he knows it. A villain who was pretty solid is the stoic second in command, but his name escapes me at the moment. He’s always talking about percentages and how he’ll have to increase the dose if he wants to win. He never does and basically goes out without a fight but I still liked his personality.

Going back to the art, the fact that it is so good does help the series immensely. If its art was at the same level as Sailor Moon then the series would have likely dipped into the negative score range. As it stands, at least the manga volumes are real page turners. You’ll be blasting through the series at top speed once you start. Even if it’s a title that doesn’t ultimately hold up when you really think about it, at least it’s a fun ride in the meanwhile. I do think it’ll probably make for a fun 4Kids dubbed anime though. They can take the concept and really run with it.

Overall, Tokyo Mew Mew is a fun story with good ideas, but the romance really does bog it down here. It would have helped the series so much if Ichigo was just more independent and able to defend herself from her many suitors. As it stands, she always has to be rescued or simply succumbs to their whims until they end up running off. Playing the series straight as an action comedy would have easily made the series a lot more engaging. The drama is fine and all, but going the other route would have won the day. If you like an old school romance type manga like this one then by all means I recommend checking it out. Otherwise, I think you’ll have a better time checking out a different manga like Angelic Layer or something. That title has a bunch of action without worrying about romance.

Overall 5/10

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

Matchmaker Santa Review


It’s time to look at the first Christmas film of the season. It’s time to enter the world of the Hallmark films. They’ve typically got a good rep for being fun films with nice plots that get you ready for Christmas to arrive and I can confirm that this was a pretty good film. It can be a little cheesy and stuff but at the end of the day the film doesn’t really have any faults and succeeds at being entertaining.

The film starts with a flashback where Melanie wishes for Christmas that she will meet a Prince Charming. Santa decides to fulfill her wish, but as she is a kid he puts this under the long-term plans section. Around 20 years later he has returned to grant her wish. The problem is that she is currently with a CEO named Justin who doesn’t seem like a great guy so Santa decides to play matchmaker by setting the lead up with Dean. He’ll have to do some property damage and illegal summoning in order to make it work, but Santa will do anything to make his plans a success.

Now I know what you might be thinking. Santa is trying to get the lead to go for the rebound and ditch her current partner right? Well…you’d be right. We’re on morally shaky territory here right from the get go. Naturally the film wants you to pull for the rebound guy since the starter pick is pretty quick to change who he wants to be with and such but you still have to question the rebound guy’s decision to get with Melanie. He should see her as off limits either way and just run off. Whether the rebound person wants to be with you or not doesn’t matter at that point. It’s over before it has even begun.

So, naturally I am against the romance. I also have to admit that the romance in this film isn’t all that good. It’s surprisingly better than some other romances I’ve seen in recent films, but you still can’t get behind the rebound situation. You know from the start how the film is going to end so you’re already looking at Melanie and the others pretty suspiciously. I’ll give Dean credit for most of the film as he tries his best not to get himself into tricky situations. Still, by the end of the film he falls into line as expected. The world was against him and ultimately they broke the guy.

Melanie seemed like a reasonable heroine. She’s a bit of a downer during the start of the film, but fortunately she had a pretty nice co-worker who was ready to mind the store while she was away. Considering that this employee was managing the store during Christmas I hope Melanie payed her time and a half for those hours. As with Dean, Melanie is a good character aside from the whole romance angle. She does her best to help the needy and came through when it counted. She took a little while to realize that Justin wasn’t placing her as a priority, but some small things like hanging up on him early made her a pretty good heroine.

Then we’ve got Justin who is naturally not a good character. Case in point, his friend Dean helped him with just about everything for at least a year. They’ve apparently been pretty good friends throughout and yet when Dean wants to go home for Christmas Justin immediately threatens him with being fired. I don’t know how they stayed friends after this and honestly I think Dean was too much of a pushover. He was nice otherwise but this was the moment where he went a bit overboard. Then Justin fell for his ex during the days leading up to Christmas and overall showed that he could not resist the rebound. If your partner can be swayed away from you in the course of a few days then the person was never really serious. Honestly, there shouldn’t even be a time frame. If you can be swayed at any point you were never that serious about the relationship.

Then we’ve got Santa who is certainly very focused on helping out Melanie. It goes to the point where he is willing to total cars, summon bears, cause an avalanche, gave someone poison ivy, and more. Santa certainly wasn’t messing around in this version and it’s really something seeing him cause all this chaos. He may seem like a harmless old man, but the guy’s definitely got a lot of fire and ambition. I can appreciate the fact that he wants to help Melanie’s wish come true even if he’s sacrificing everyone else in the process. I do think his gimmick of constantly letting slip the fact that he is Santa can get old very quickly though. Cmon, the guy’s a hundred years old. You’d think that he could keep a secret better than that right?

Overall, Matchmaker Santa is a pretty fun film. It’s a romance comedy so of course there is going to be a lot of romance here, but it’s not as cringy as other titles I’ve seen. the romance isn’t even bad if not for the fact that it’s built around rebounds. I do like that the film went all in with Justin though as he is completely unapologetic about dumping Melanie without even letting her know first. Granted, she was about to do the same thing although in her case it would be a lot more justified. The film certainly has a neat and tidy ending. The writing is on point the film is definitely one of those feel good titles where you’ll have fun watching it. There’s a good amount of humor here without it feeling forced. Again, there are really no negatives with the film here. Even the rebounding, while regrettable, doesn’t actually end up hurting anyone here as they were all satisfied with their back up picks. In Justin’s case you could argue that Melanie was the rebound and he went back to the starter. If you want to see a fun Christmas film I’d recommend checking this one out. It furthers my theory that Rom-Coms are the best ways to handle a romance film as they will make the romance a lot more tolerable. This movie even avoided the second half slump that most of these had as it kept up the humor all the way to the end. My only regret is that we never got to see the actual board meeting though. That would have been fun.

Overall 7/10

Leave No Trace Review


It’s time to look at a survival film which mainly takes place in a large forest. It definitely goes to show why it’s such a tough task to take care of these places since people are always trying to go in there and try to live on the land. The authorities in this film are actually super lenient all things considered as I could easily see the main characters getting jail time for what they try to do. At the very least, that’s what I would picture Will’s fate would be. It’s an interesting film that’s pretty low key and is more of a down to Earth story than many other movies. It can be a bit on the tragic side as well though.

The movie starts with Will and his daughter Tom living in the forest. At first you wonder why they are there. Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Vampires running loose? No. It turns out that Will doesn’t like humanity so he has decided that the only way to enjoy life is to live outside without any other souls around. Even if the characters are alone they can’t live in a house unless it is one that Will found first and no humans have lent him. This is a rough lifestyle for Tom, but she does her best to get by. The cops eventually catch the two and Tom gets a glimpse of what life would be like with a warm bed and food. Still, Will isn’t satisfied so he tells her that they have to evade the cops and head back to the forest. Tom is reluctant to do this. Can they really survive under such a lifestyle? Well, she’s about to find out!

While you might not mind Will for a few minutes, you’ll probably know almost right away that something is off about this scenario. Why are the main characters living in the woods? Before the film reveals that Will is basically crazy you assume that maybe the zombie apocalypse came early or something like that. No, Will just doesn’t like to live like the average person and that’s when the sympathy for his character ends. You’re just waiting for Tom to try and escape him the whole time. It still makes for a pretty mysterious beginning though. I’ve never been a fan of camping so living outside for any prolonged period of time would definitely be pretty rough. It also doesn’t make for the most engaging of films typically but fortunately this movie doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the details. We don’t see them eating insects or anything like that. That’s when the film would have crossed the line.

While I can’t say that I liked Will, Tom’s a good character. She is trying her best to adapt to the situations she is put in and does so without a fuss. She is young enough where it is believable that she is following Will’s bad advice as well. You can’t really fault her for not trying harder to distance herself since that’s not really an option. By the end of the film she also makes the right call. Without Tom doing her best to help Will get used to the new lifestyle the whole thing probably would have been even tougher on the main characters.

It’s also a pretty interesting look at how the rangers prevent people like this from living in the forest. It’s certainly not a job I would envy as it seems extremely difficult so I hope they are compensated well. The forests are huge so you can imagine how tough it is to constantly be surveying it. The guard dog certainly did good as well. I’m not sure if this is how it works in real life with how the organization tries to re-locate these people, but if so then it is a much more generous process then I would have ever imagined. Rather then go to jail they give Will and Tom a fairly nice house and a whole lot of freedom. They have so much freedom in fact that I’m not sure if this is even a good idea. Of course the characters aren’t bad people in this case, but I do think this could have gotten very wrong. Of course it still isn’t enough to make Will happy, but it was a nice attempt by the agency. Even the tests they gave the main characters weren’t invasive in the slightest while still being a little effective. I’m not really sure I buy into how they really think you can understand someone through vague questions, but I know there is some science to it.

The film is certainly a slow burner though so you’ll need to appreciate the landscapes and atmosphere here. A good chunk of the story is the characters walking through the forest and doing their best to come to terms with the elements. The landscapes look pretty nice though and it’s definitely a forest that I would be up for visiting. I’m still more of a “lounge by the hotel” kind of guy, but it’s a good change of pace. Basically all of the human characters who show up are nice which is fortunate for the main characters since the situation could have gone sideways pretty quick. Characters like the truck driver were pretty reasonable and all of the dogs in the film were a blast. Again, pretty much every character aside from Will is solid so that’s definitely a good thing.

Overall, Leave No Trace is a pretty decent film. It can definitely be a little tragic at times as you feel bad for the rescue workers who are just doing their best. Naturally it can also be pretty tough for Tom the whole time. Fortunately the film always stays pretty tame and doesn’t let the situation get too absurdly bad for the main characters. It’s never a film that’s hard to watch. At most you’ll probably just get frustrated with Will the whole time which is intentional on the film’s part. Beyond that, it’s a pretty unique film and one that is probably informative as I imagine it is likely pretty realistic. These kind of films usually have a good basis in fact with the writer doing some research before the film comes out. If you want to see a film about how you could possibly survive in the forest (As long as you have a ton of money. Will is conveniently loaded so he can constantly buy whatever they need) and why it is not as good as just living in a house then this is the one for you.

Overall 6/10

I Can Only Imagine


It’s time to look at a recent movie about the iconic song “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s definitely a pretty good song so I was up for having a film about how it was created. As you might expect it is also a bit of a tragic tale with a happy ending since it’s based on true events. It’s a good movie with quite a few songs which is good although I would have liked to have seen a few more tunes thrown in.

The movie follows Bart as he grows up in a rough household. He manages to get by, but the situation forces him to try and grow into the image his father wants him to be. He joins the Football team and it goes well for a while until he injures his leg and is forced to retire. I guess extra curricular activities are a necessity in this school so he is transferred to the music class where the teacher forces him to become a singer. Bart enjoys singing but the problem is that he knows Arthur (his father) won’t approve. His suspicions are correct and things boil over until Bart decides to run away from home and join a traveling band. In the process he breaks up with Shannon and prepares for his new life.

This life is tougher than Bart thought it would be though and he starts to have doubts. He tries to run back to Shannon, but that isn’t happening and his vocal skills are being doubted by the professionals. When all hope is lost he finally heads back to his home to confront Arthur who has seemingly been redeemed after becoming a Christian. Bart has to confront this fact by wondering if this is true and also if he will forgive Arthur regardless.

It’s a pretty emotional movie for sure. I think you’ll end up being a lot more invested in the musical scenes then the plot though. Partially this is because Bart just isn’t a very likable main character for the most part. It’s hard to blame him for all of the family stuff since that was pretty traumatic for him, but I’m talking about everything aside from that. First off is his relationship with Shannon. He had absolutely no reason to break up with her in that scene. It just didn’t really make any sense and I feel like it just happened to increase the dramatic tension. Of course it’s hard to say if that’s how it played out in real life as well. Then his attempt at getting back together with her was painful. He went to her house at midnight while pretending to be the police? That’s a prank that went way too far and she shouldn’t have even gone to the front door if you ask me. It’s no surprise that she didn’t go with him.

Then we have the scenes where the critics come to hear his band play. Their agent tells Bart that he’ll handle this and for the crew to wait in the back. They all listen except for Bart who runs to the stage and makes a mess out of everything. The film goes a little too far in making him super head strong and naive as far as the critics process goes. Surely he knows how these things go and that you can’t just yell at the critics to make them change their minds right? He just makes so many mistakes and then just saying that he’ll quit wasn’t very responsible either. Things could have really gone badly for his band mates at that point. Of course that’s when he chooses to take a long leave of absence from the band…great.

Still, if that’s exactly how it played out in real life then it’s good that the film played it straight there. Meanwhile Arthur is one of those characters who is so bad that it’s hard to buy into the redemption arc which is why you can understand Bart’s skepticism even if he doesn’t handle the situation well at all. (Why even show up at the house if you’re just going to guilt trip Arthur the whole time?) It’s definitely good that Arthur saw the light and ultimately found Christ. At the end of the day even if nobody believes that you have been truly redeemed it doesn’t matter. You know if you’ve become a Christian and that’s what counts.

Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a good film. While it can’t really be called a fun film for the most part as it can be pretty dark and dramatic, the songs are fun. It’s a quality movie and one that you’ll definitely want to see if you’re curious about the song’s origins. It’s not quite on the same level as God is Not Dead which is still quite excellent, but this movie doesn’t really make any big mistakes. It does manage to be a pretty realistic film without over embellishing the events.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Review


Let me preface this review by putting on the record that I’ve always been a fan of having characters turn humanoid. It makes for a great super form since humanoid creatures are better able to fight on a high level because of how maneuverable they are. So, when the Pony franchise decided to have the main characters become humans I was excited. Finally, the Mane 6 could fight even more powerful threats. Unfortunately, I have to say that ultimately that hasn’t seemed to be the case as of yet so I’m thinking that their pony forms are the definitive versions. Still, this was a pretty fun film and definitely one that I could recommend.

The film starts with Twilight Sparkle trying to confront her insecurities about being the new princess of Equestria. She hasn’t been having an easy time of it lately because there is just too much pressure for her. This doesn’t get any easier when Celestia’s original pupil Sunset Shimmer shows up and one shots Twilight. She steals the crown and escapes into the human world. Dazed and confused, Twilight heads into the portal, but she still isn’t ready for a confrontation. Turning into a human seems to have regressed her confidence even further so now she panics and yells constantly while needing more support from her friends. Fortunately the rest of the Mane 6 have alternate versions in this world so she has to find them all and then unite to stop the powerful Sunset Shimmer. Can they really defeat this demonic pony who is bent on destroying all of reality?

It’s a pretty epic plot. Still, I do feel compelled to let you know that this film isn’t all about the action scenes. The final fight is over in around a minute if not sooner and we don’t get to see the pony versions fight either. Honestly, the TV show probably has more fights on average. So, the film took the opposite approach from what you would have expected and used the human world as a way to nerf the ponies and to treat them more like humans. We do get teased with what the fight scenes could be like though as they all get transformation scenes and prepare to fight Sunset. Perhaps in a future film we will get to see them have a real fight if they are able to access their abilities at will.

The bulk of the film is Twilight trying to get the Mane 6 to get along. See, Sunset knew that the ponies could be a threat (Even if Rainbow Dash is the only one who can realistically fight her) so she tricked them all into not being friends anymore. It was quite easy to be honest as she just spun a few lies and convinced them all not to try and talk to each other. Well, Twilight won’t let this stand. She would have solved this puzzle even sooner if not for getting dragged into a romance plot. This is the weakest part of the film. So, Twilight meets some random guy and suddenly she is acting like a random live action heroine. Twilight Sparkle doesn’t do romance. The TV show is all about how Friendship is Magic and that’s all you need. Romance is relegated to the side characters like Big Mac who don’t really have an on screen presence in the first place. The romance naturally doesn’t go anywhere so it really wasn’t needed. It also results in the guy saving Twilight 1-2 times when she should have saved herself.

The animation looks pretty good. It’s basically the TV show, but using human designs for everyone which is fun. As a big supporter of franchises getting as many spinoffs as possible I’m all for it. The Equestria Girl spinoff series has also lasted quite a while which is definitely cool. We also get a lot of songs which is nice since the show hasn’t featured too many of those lately. The songs are pretty emotional and have a lot of heart backing them up. There aren’t enough to be called a musical, but there are certainly enough for them to be noticed.

Now lets talk about the new character Sunset Shimmer. She makes for a pretty good villain and that’s something that the series has needed. A bully type character who can fight back. The character type of an original student turning evil and escaping is a classic one that works really well. Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho was excellent since he was a look at what Yusuke could have been if he had gone down a darker path. Sunset is essentially a dark Twilight who may be even stronger than the princess. Unfortunately we don’t get to see her in action much, but she’s definitely a fun character. That’s why it’s a shame how her character arc ended here. I think keeping her around as a long running villain would have been nice. I’m sure she’ll be a good hero as well of course, but she won’t get to show off her tougher side quite as much. I’ll be interested to see if she punches someone out in the sequel though, that’d be cool.

I’ve already spoken a bit about how Twilight Sparkle is out of character here so I won’t go into too much further detail. I will say that she was just lacking in confidence too much here. This isn’t season 1 Twilight, she’s come a long way since then. Between that and the romance she just wasn’t the main character that I’ve come to root for. I want to see more of her rage mode like against Tirek. From the other members of the Mane 6 they are played pretty straight from the show. The only ones with a big role though are Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. Fluttershy is still getting picked on and letting everyone walk all over her so she doesn’t look very good, but Rainbow Dash steals the show as always. Pretty much all of her lines are talking about how awesome she is which is excellent. I get the feeling that Sunset never tries to bully her since that wouldn’t end well. Honestly, in the end it seems like she only rules the school because the tough characters just don’t care and the rest get bullied into submission. Rainbow Dash probably would have lost in a fight since she had no powers at the time, but it would have been neat to see. The school administration is blind to the truth so the students are on their own.

I don’t think Spike needed to be brought along with Twilight and honestly she would have looked better without him since he’s just around to make her look bad. He does work well as a hostage in the climax though. Again, the climax was pretty exciting even if it did end up being rather anticlimactic at the end. I still appreciate the film giving its all in trying to get the atmosphere down just right. Now, this review may have seemed a little on the negative side as I read through it, but this was a pretty solid film. At the end of the day movies really need to fill two questions with the right answers in order to win the day.

First, “Was the film enjoyable?” This film was definitely fun. The pacing was pretty solid and you’ll be left feeling pretty good about the experience by the time it’s all over. It’s not as if this is an end of the world event. Treat the movie as a slice of life adventure with a little drama and you’re all set. Second, “Did the film make any costly mistakes?” I’m not talking about minor stuff like the Twilight romance. This is more for big things like: Did Twilight get nerfed into the ground? Was their animal violence? Bad script? Stuff like that. Equestria Girls was safe from the start for most meaningful negatives due to its rating so it was almost always guaranteed to be fairly decent. The more realistic negatives it would have to watch out for would be things like crude humor and generally bad characters. The series has always had good writing though so I had a feeling that it wouldn’t go that route. It’s a classy franchise. So, the film may have had some areas where it could have improved, but on the whole it did a good job of being quite solid.

Overall, I’m ready to see what the next film has got up its sleeve. The film did a good job of expanding on the main characters in their new world. Now that Twilight is gone we’ll see how her other self handles all of this. Will she get the memories of this latest adventure or will everyone have to clue her in? Time travel and dimension hopping are always tricky, but I’m sure that the writers have a good idea of where to go from here. I’m still waiting for a big budget crossover movie between the ponies and the humans, but we’ll see if that ever happens. It may not be necessary, but I’d like to see the two teams duke it out before eventually teaming up to take on an iconic villain from the past. We also need to see Sunset and Starlight fight since the two are both prodigies who are likely each stronger than Twilight Sparkle by a wide margin. There are a lot of good potential MLP fights come to think of it. Ah well, they’ll come in time.

Overall 7/10

Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession Review


It’s time to look at the third film in the Tri series. We have no reached the halfway point folks. This one focuses more on TK as he tries to find a way to make sure Patamon is okay without the rest of the Digidestined getting in his way. It’ll be tough but he’s been through worse. Meanwhile the rest of the team needs to figure out what to do about Meiko and the trouble that the Digital World is facing.

This one picks off where the second ended and everyone is panicking. The infection is spreading rapidly and even the chosen Digimon may not be immune. The heroes may have to pull the plug on the Digital World as a whole to save it, but is it worth saving the planet if everyone has to be wiped away? The Digimon are all data at the end of the day, but they have been shown to be able to generate souls within them so isn’t resetting their data just like destroying them? Hard questions will be asked here.

While the last film focused on Joe and Mimi this one has Izzy and TK be the focus so I’ll concentrate on those two. First is TK and his controversial choice is to keep the fact that Patamon is infected from the other Digidestined since they may try to run experiments on Patamon or even delete him. The “heroes” have discussed this in the past so it’s not too far fetched. TK also does make sure to take Patamon away from the others so he is being careful not to spread the infection. Naturally the characters aren’t thrilled about this, but TK absolutely made the right choice here. I wouldn’t trust the other Digidestined as far as I can throw them. Patamon is TK’s best friend as well so that bond’s more important than letting the others down. Especially since TK and Kairi have crests that work like friendship he should be able to overcome the dark impulses that are plaguing Patamon. So, I’m on TK’s side 100%.

As for Izzy, I’m basically in the opposite boat here. He’s always the character who ends up panicking and cracking under pressure. It’s a trait that is usually associated with the smart member of the group and unfortunately he was no exception. The computer simulations start to get to him so he pushes everyone away and snaps at them. It just doesn’t do his character any favors, especially since he never sincerely apologizes about the whole thing. His mindset is the opposite of TK’s as he would likely not mind sacrificing the one to save the rest while TK sides with his partner. Different methods for trying to do the right thing, but I certainly have my preference.

This film definitely has one of the better fight scenes. I’m not sure that I would put it ahead of the epic Alphamon entrance just yet but it was great to finally see all of the Digidestined team up. It’s the first time since the show at this point and it’s definitely nostalgic. A shame they were all so outgunned though, but it’s really the heroes’ fault for not going into their ultimate forms though. They just refuse to do so and I know that they like a good fight, but the fate of the planet is at stake so they gotta take this just a little more seriously. I definitely enjoyed seeing Meicoomon in action. He is definitely a solid fighter and the design for the Digimon is definitely on point.

The animation continues to look fairly solid. The film got to show off its effects a little more here with the climax and all. The colors in the Digital World are always nice and it’s fun to finally be away from Earth. Naturally the stinger is certainly not quite as epic as the last film’s, but it’s a pretty good reveal for the villain. It’ll be interesting to see what the whole master plan is. Right now we don’t know a whole lot so the motives could be just about anything honestly. World domination, conquest, or just a desire to see everything get wiped out and reset. That seems to be a common cyber goal so I wouldn’t put it past this guy. The soundtrack is essentially the same as the last 2 films so it’s still pretty solid. As always the danger theme in the climax is the best one, but the insert song is also catchy

The writing is solid as you would expect. The mystery continues and all of the characters continue to stress each other out. I feel like Tai is definitely getting closer to regaining his fighting spirit. I think one more good talking to will likely convert him. That’s definitely a good thing because we really need the old Tai back if we want to win. Matt mentions how having the other Mega level Digimon being awakened will help since they may not need Alphamon, but at the end of the day he is still their best weapon. Normal Mega level Digimon aren’t even close to as strong as Alphamon. Also, the heroes never even use their Mega except for at the very end so I doubt we will be seeing them all that much. This film was longer than the first 2 which is good since it was able to fit so much in that way. The pacing is solid all the way through so don’t worry about it dragging on or anything like that.

I would like to see the DigiDestined take a more active role against the government though. So far they just accept everything they are told and aren’t actively trying to fight off the infection. (Aside from Izzy who is trying to find a cure) The heroes should be shaking people down and finding out answers. Starting with the people monitoring them makes sense since the government is currently keeping a whole lot of information from them. I suppose this won’t be an issue going forward since the heroes are finally back in the Digital World. They should have a lot of experience here so I’m looking forward to seeing them really make a dent in the villain’s plans and also figuring out the answers to all of their questions. Also, Tai seriously can’t complain about city destruction now that he’s off Earth right?

Overall, Confession does a good job of continuing the adventure. It makes a good case for possibly topping the first film. Those two are pretty neck and neck at the moment. The first film has an edge in having the single best sequence out of all the films when Alphamon arrives, but the third film got to jump into the plot a lot faster without needing to take time for introductions. It’s a tough call of course and I look forward to the next 3 films making that decision even tougher by keeping up the quality. It’s definitely been nice to have the Adventure cast back for so long with these 6 films and they aren’t going anywhere for a while.

Overall 8/10

Phone Call from a Stranger Review


It’s time to look at an old film that you may or may not be familiar with. It’s a story with the highest of stakes and the most personal of characters. A fun movie all around even if the mistakes that some of the characters make are too big to be easily overlooked. It’s got a good message at the end though and you’ve always got to hope for the best.

The film starts off with the main character running away from home because his wife cheated on him. She says that it was just a moment of weakness but Trask can’t live with that and takes a train far away. As he heads to the plane he runs into a few other characters dealing with their own hardships. They may be a bit loud or overzealous at times but they make the trip go smoother. That’s when the plane crash occurs and now it’s up to David to finalize everyone’s situations so they can move on. However, will the families want to hear anything that a stranger has to say?

The film is pretty long which is what helps it put in the first half purely so we can learn about the other characters. They’ve all got their own journeys and such going on which the main character learns gradually. You may not even suspect the second half’s plot if you didn’t know it beforehand. It’s a rather drastic change in the direction of the film but the fact that it happens so quickly is what helps it succeed. It’s a little tough to have things occur unexpectedly nowadays but this film pulled it off.

The writing is pretty solid as you would expect. The characters all sound reasonable and that’s part of how the film was able to be as engaging as it was. The pacing is also good so the film doesn’t drag on. The long length was definitely a good thing in this case since it allowed the movie to give us a few scenes with each of the characters before the second act. Had the film been shorter like most old movies, then they would have had to axe most of the first half.

For the characters, it’ll really depend on which ones you sympathize with. I certainly couldn’t root for the doctor as drunk or not, he went way too far off the deep end. Especially if it was a recurring issue with him then he should have not even let himself near a drink. His issue also affected a lot of other people besides himself so even after he apologized it was a little iffy. Better late than never though and at least he did regret it. His son definitely didn’t take any of it well though and was the biggest ingrate in the film.

Then we have the aspiring actress who was good at reading people. Her story was probably the most entertaining despite being tragic as her husband’s mother kept trying to sabotage her at every corner. We even get a flashback from the mother’s point of view where we see a twisted version of the past. I did like the heroic outfit she had on and the over the top theatrics of the scene are part of why it was so fun. If you’re going to show us a make believe story you may as well make it completely crazy to ensure that it’s super amusing. In this case, the husband has to be blamed for most of it since he comes across as incredibly gullible. He just looks so bad here and in the end the mother basically won. She may have been the antagonist with malicious intent, but the husband is still the worse character.

In the final plot we had the flirt who was always laughing. Some of those laughs felt so sudden that you could swear that the channel added them but I don’t suspect that TCM would do such a thing. They’re usually on the up and up to be honest. This guy always jokes around but apparently he is a devoted husband otherwise. Definitely not the best of tropes and I can’t say that I ever liked him. Then we have the wife who was cheating on him until the rebound guy ran away. It’s hard to sympathize with anyone here so it makes sense that their plot was left for last and seemed to be the shortest. If the guy hadn’t ducked out on her then the wife wouldn’t have even gone back to the guy. The guy still flirts behind her back as well so it just seems pretty bad for both parties involved.

As the film ends you’ll keep on waiting for a twist involving the 2 survivors, but it never comes up. I suppose in a way that in itself is a twist. After all, what are the odds that the other two survivors would be anyone important? Technically it makes sense that they would have nothing to do with the movie. I suppose it would have been nice to have seen them, but it certainly wasn’t of any real consequence. It’s not something that will likely hurt your enjoyment of the film at any rate. Only the flip side can possibly do that as some of the characters who die could have been more likable than the ones who lived in which case you, the viewer may not take it as well.

Overall, This was definitely an interesting movie. It had a lot of twists and turns within it. I definitely don’t think I’d be thrilled to have a random stranger show up to give some last words but it’s still a thoughtful gesture regardless. I’d recommend checking this film out. As long as you enjoy a good story I think you’ll like this movie. There aren’t any big explosions or danger in general, but it does a good job of being a drama film without having to rely on anything extra. It’s all about the dialogue and the film does a good job of selling itself.

Overall 7/10