Time Lock Review

Time Lock is a very retro thriller that has aged quite well. The main danger here is trying to save a kid before a certain amount of time has elapsed so it’s a concept that you could easily apply to a modern movie as well. There’s a lot of solid dialogue here and a quality cast of characters so the movie goes by rather quickly. It’s got a good amount of replay value as well so I could easily recommend it.

The movie starts with the bankers getting ready to close shop for the long weekend. It had been a busy week so they were all glad to have some time off. They get ready to close the vault but there’s a traffic incident outside so the two men take a break to look outside. In the meanwhile the banker’s kid sneaks into the vault. The bankers don’t notice this as they close the vault only to find out right afterwards that he snuck in. The issue is that the vault is sealed with a Time Lock which was created for the sole purpose of making sure that nobody can get into the vault once it is closed. They must now find a way to get the boy out before he runs out of Oxygen and call in everyone they can think of to help. Their best bet is the expert known as Mr. Dawson but he is already on vacation so they’ll need to track him down.

Dawson doesn’t appear until we’re deep into the film but his presence is felt almost immediately. Right from the start the characters acknowledge that he is their best bet and he is portrayed really well as an expert who knows his stuff. He takes charge and makes all of the right moves. Initially my reaction was that he could have started giving instructions before he got to the bank but as this was the 50s I assume that wasn’t really an option at the time. Dawson’s easily the best character in the film for sure.

Still, there aren’t really any bad characters here. Everyone does their best to help the kid out and it’s nice to see the community come together like this. For example, at one point the main characters are effectively out of options so a local reporter offers to help out by getting alerts out on all their channels and even flying in Dawson. Then you’ve got all of the townsfolk who are ready to help break through the vault however they can. Everyone here is doing their part. If anything the bank gives the reporter a tough time despite being so helpful towards the end but they weren’t trying to squeeze in a random antagonist. I suppose in this film you didn’t need one although it would have been pretty interesting to have some bank robbers run in to cause chaos.

The main emotional plot here is with the kid’s parents since they aren’t taking this quite so well. The Dad blames himself for not noticing that the kid went into the vault in time while the Mom is stressed out since the kid may not make it. The Secretary was also slow to alert them that the kid went into the vault since she saw him run in and should have yelled out immediately. Then you have the boss who didn’t do a second check after turning his back to the vault. In a situation like this there is naturally a lot of collective blame that can be had. At the end of the day the characters were just a bit careless because it’s a task they’ve done so many times and so they got a bit complacent this time around. Human error is something that can happen so it was just about time.

I’ll give the kid some credit for not panicking here though. He actually takes the whole situation pretty well in stride. He doesn’t start crying or yelling once he’s stuck there and just calmly tries to follow orders. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to unlock the vault or the whole film would have ended a lot sooner. It was a good idea on their part to use the megaphone though and it was an interesting dilemma since there was no way for the kid to signal if he heard or not. So they would have to talk not knowing if they were receiving a response or not. Definitely not an easy spot to be in.

As for the solution to breaking through the vault, it was pretty interesting. I feel like one of the side characters had actually suggested going in through the side and the others had said it was a waste. Ultimately the idea seemed good although of course here they were going for the switch as opposed to going all through the side. So there is a difference there but at least the Welder deserves some credit there before Dawson came in to save the day. Most of the characters in this film were professionals and it was nice to see them be able to use their expertise to help out in the situation.

Overall, Time Lock is a solid film. It really has no weaknesses and performs well as a low key thriller. The stakes may not be something like a city at stake but any life in the balance makes for a very personal film. You’ve got a solid cast, solid writing, and an interesting plot. It all boils down to a movie that’s just entertaining from start to finish. You’re bound to have a good time with this one. It also shows how well designed the bank vault is as not just anyone could have broken into it without those resources. I’m sure that the manufacturers would probably build some extra precautions into the next version so this probably wouldn’t even work next time around. That said, I doubt the kid will be going anywhere close to a vault after this.

Overall 7/10

Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale Review

A while back I would have said I hadn’t read a whole lot of slice of life adventures like this one where it’s about a girl and her companion but now I’d say I’ve got a decent amount of those at the ready. This one ended up finishing sooner than most though as it’s only 3 volumes. It’s a fun little story that even throws in some cooking. There’s a solid story to be had here with fun enough characters and so it works well as something to read on the side. The cast is quite small so it is easy to see how it could do everything it wanted within the 3 volumes although of course I’d have been game with the series going on for a while longer.

The story starts by introducing us to Nagi. She is on her own own in an apocalyptic future and often gets lonely at her cabin. One day she meets up with a giant spider monster. For a brief moment she is afraid but quickly realizes that it means no harm and invites the Spider over. She names the creature Asa and gives her some Hot Chocolate/Coffee to try out. Asa is a big fan of drinks like this and so the two of them quickly bond over food. Nagi now has someone to cook for and Asa has a safe home on the inside. Their lives would be fairly perfect here except the townsfolk aren’t thrilled about having a giant monster around. Can Nagi convince them that Asa is friendly or are they going to attack anyway?

Since Nagi lives alone in a wood cabin on the outskirts of town it’s not like the civilians play a part immediately. That said, she does need to go into town to get supplies from time to time and that’s when they start making a fuss. Asa does look pretty scary to be sure but they take things too far as you would expect. We do get to meet some supporting characters as a result though and Nagi even gets to make a few new friends.

The first main supporting character would be the Carpenter. I’m not sure if her name was ever confirmed but she owns a little cafe that’s in a boat in the wilderness. As a result nobody ever visits the shop which discourages her but she tells Nagi that she does not want to move no matter what. Even if the place completely bombs she refuses to leave. It’s certainly a determined stance to take but Nagi agrees to help her out. In a way this is perfect since Nagi gets to cook a little extra now and practice on her technique. The carpenter is also quick to accept Asa as well.

Then you’ve got Belle and her father. Initially her father is definitely very concerned about Nagi’s pet spider but he gradually gets with the program. From all of the adults here I’d say that he was the most reasonable about this. Belle was also a tough customer to get on board but not so much because of the spider but just because Belle has a hard time just acting nice to people. By the end of the series though she’s probably Nagi’s best friend outside of Asa. She’s definitely a good ally to have.
Then we’ve got Godot who’s the mayor of the town. After some convincing he is also on board with the heroes and someone that they can count on so that was fortunate. The only real obstacle in their way was a guy named Oleg who goes as far as to use Nagi as bait to lure out Asa and destroy him. It’s hard to ever like that guy even by the end because his steps were so drastic. if Asa was dangerous then he definitely put Nagi in harm’s way there. If Asa wasn’t dangerous then his whole plan was incredibly unnecessary as well. So no matter how you slice it, Oleg did not look very good here. Putting a kid in danger is just not the right play.

Meanwhile the cooking is always pretty fun. The manga really goes into detail on the meals that Nagi makes to the point where you could easily recreate these recipes on your own. A lot of them are classic meals you could make for lunch or dinner so you could even implement them right away. The author clearly likes Pumpkin a lot since most of the desserts use that in mind. I’m not a huge pumpkin fan but I would definitely give them a shot as well. The cooking angle is pretty fun and gives another layer to the general premise of the series.

While the term “Apocalyptic” is in the title the world doesn’t seem to be in very poor shape. We don’t see a whole lot of the world though since Nagi always stays at home or heads into town for supplies. The town looks good but it could also be that as soon as you leave the town then everything suddenly becomes bleak. The series isn’t really about this of course but it’s still a nice element to think of. After all, having your story take place during an apocalyptic time does at least subtly affect the context.

The art’s decent although I wouldn’t say it’s a standout or anything like that. It’s a little on the rough side but it’s going for a detailed look so all of the characters do look distinct. There’s a lot of effort put into the backgrounds and such. It may not make for the flashiest art to look at but you do get the gritty feel of the heroes trying to survive in a tough era. The foods also still look good. I could see the artist being really good at more of a horror title as well given that some of the visuals where Asa looks menacing tend to turn out really well. It’s also a nice way to show how scary Asa would look to an outsider.

You’ll definitely be blasting through this series pretty quick. Due to its nature of not having a big ongoing plot or many characters there isn’t a whole lot more to say about it. Asa’s design is pretty solid though. You can’t really go wrong with a giant spider like this. I definitely wouldn’t say there are even any negatives about it. The series serves its job well as a nice series in the day to day of Nagi’s life. It’s all about how a spider helped to turn things around and by the end of the series you know that she’s in good hands.

Overall, Giant Spider & Me is a fun little story. If you’re looking for a nice slice of life story to check out then this is a good one to read through. It’s a pleasant series about being able to make friends with a creature that most would find dangerous. The townsfolk are nice at the end and it’s good that Nagi has such supportive allies all around her. It reminds you that any animal can be an ally so long as you treat it right. Some pets definitely don’t seem as friendly as others of course but especially when they’re young any animal can be tamed. This doesn’t seem like the kind of story that would get a sequel but it would be fun if that ended up happening.

Overall 6/10

It Happened on 5th Avenue Review

You know the old saying about how more money just means more problems? Well, in this case the money does end up giving Mike a lot of problems only he doesn’t know it. He is so rich that people actually stay at his mansion when he isn’t around which is a pretty interesting premise. The film’s definitely fun and while Mike may end up putting up with way more than he should, there’s a good amount of humor here.

The movie starts out by introducing us to McKeever. He’s an older man who has given up on working and just ends up taking refuge in abandoned houses. He has a pretty tight system where he visits Mike’s mansion when the guy is away at his other base. See, Mike is the second richest person in the world at the moment so he has a lot of mansions to upkeep. McKeever has kept this system up for 3 years but a complication comes up when he encounters Jim, a veteran who is out of luck at the moment. He isn’t able to afford a place to stay because all of the houses have been bought up.

McKeever allows Jim to stay with him but then a girl named Trudy shows up. McKeever isn’t thrilled about expanding the ranks further but he allows her to stay. Little does he know that she is Mike’s daughter and Trudy doesn’t intend to tell them. Still, her silence will be put to the test as Mike shows up and slowly Jim invites other veteran families to stay with them. The house is getting busier and busier which is something to consider.

You know, there’s actually quite a lot of plot to think about here. In addition to all of that, Mike also goes into the house undercover. He works as a servant while he is trying to look after Trudy and find out more about Jim. Then you’ve also got his ex-wife Mary who joins in on the fray. Effectively everyone is undercover leading to a lot of mix-ups and comedic shenanigans. It’s a pretty fun dynamic on the whole and the characters are all pretty reasonable.

As mentioned, I do think that Mike puts up with a lot more than he needed to though. McKeever drives him really hard next to the other characters perhaps in part because he wasn’t totally on board with Mike joining the house as well. Then having to see this guy wear all of his clothes and smoke his cigars is pretty tough. I suppose McKeever has enough restraint where he doesn’t use too many since nobody’s ever noticed before but that’s a lot to have to just endure. The broken bed is really just being extra. It’s all done in fun of course but after a point you feel like Mike was well within his rights to break up the whole thing. Technically he wouldn’t have been in the wrong to do it from the start since they were using his house without permission.

Mike’s a tough guy but I do think he was a good man even from the beginning. He drives a hard business and buys up as much as he can but we never are given any indication that he is doing anything illegal or unethical. One of the main dilemmas of the film is how it is tougher for people to live anywhere since the houses are going up in price though. I suppose you could make the case that Mike is directly responsible for this but I would argue that as CEO of the company he wouldn’t be as knowledgeable on the day to day stuff. He knows that he is buying everything up but I doubt he intends to put everyone on the street either. Regardless, Mike definitely has a lot of character development through the film and worked really well as the lead.

His ex-wife Mary also gets a sizable role once we’re around halfway through the movie and she joins in on the fun. She definitely helps Mike get through a whole lot of this. The film doesn’t dwell too much on why they divorced in the first place but there’s enough material for you to draw your own conclusions. This is one case where again I’m probably on Mike’s side since it seems like the idea was that he was too involved with his work. Sometimes that can be too extreme but at the same time he is a super rich CEO with a lot of responsibilities so I would have to see more to really determine if it was unreasonable.

Then we have Trudy who is the real main character here. She’s a solid character and definitely has fun trolling Jim and McKeever. I thought it was pretty entertaining how easily she messed with them. She definitely became good friends with Jim right away although I would understand why the other characters may be a bit skeptical since they didn’t know each other for very long before getting serious. Mike even issues a challenge, one that I would say Jim failed in the end. He ultimately put money first and while the decision isn’t as black and white as all that, I don’t think it was the correct decision. Effectively he would have left Trudy there and I don’t see how you can reconcile that.

I ended up liking Trudy a lot more than Jim for that reason as she stayed strong throughout all of this. Additionally she was just a fun character with a lot of good dialogue. Jim did handle himself well for most of the movie aside from the challenge though. He was always willing to help the others out and his business idea wasn’t bad. It’s a pretty decent plan so maybe he will find some success with it in the future. Just knowing that you have someone you can count on is always pretty big.

Finally you have McKeever. He’s definitely the most experienced member of the group and offers up a lot of good advice. The whole bidding above your paygrade bit is probably the only bit that doesn’t really fly but otherwise he’s a charismatic character. He may not be heroic as he does illegal things like living in other people’s houses all the time but he tries not to do any harm as he mentioned. His dog is also a lot of fun so it’s always cool to see him around.

At the end of the day I’d say that what really makes this film is the strong writing. At its core the film is really thriving on its solid humor and good character interactions. The cast are all pretty likable and the idea of someone being undercover is always pretty fun. It’s a nice way to really put yourself in someone else’s shoes and all told, Mike did pretty well. Considering how rich he is I doubt he would have had a chance to do many of the activities he had to complete before now.

Overall, It Happened On 5th Avenue is a film I would definitely recommend checking out. The pacing is nice and tight and the most important factor here is that there isn’t anything bad to say about the film. It’s just a very pleasant ride from start to finish. Whether you’re here for the comedy or the drama you’ll be satisfied. Mike certainly gave up a whole lot in order to help the characters by the end so you certainly hope it works out for them. Of course, he’s so rich that he’ll be fine even if this operation were to go belly up.

Overall 7/10

Christmas Waltz Review

Time for the last of the big Hallmark Christmas titles. The Christmas Waltz is a fun title although I would say that it has more weaknesses than some of the others. In particular both the main heroine and the main guy aren’t great. They allow themselves to be manipulated really easily and buy into rumors too fast. If they don’t trust each other much that doesn’t bode well. Still, it’s got the usual positive themes going which is always good and it’s a wholesome film to check out.

The movie starts with Avery getting ready for her upcoming wedding. She has been engaged to David for a long time and knows that he’s about to pop the question. Unfortunately he does not and instead says that he has accepted a job abroad. The exact thing he had agreed not to do earlier even after they had discussed it. Well, Avery breaks up with him and decides to pursue her old hobby of dancing. Unfortunately she falls for her instructor Roman pretty quickly and is on the rebound course. Complicating things is the fact that David is back and wants Avery to come back to him.

So the romance angle is unsurprisingly the weakest angle here. It just really stands out this time because of how indecisive Avery is the whole time. So, she breaks up with David at the beginning which is the right move because the guy wasn’t being serious at all. The issue is that after that when he arrives again she actually thinks about giving him another chance. If he hadn’t mentioned that he went over to threaten Roman then she may have actually gone with him. Even if she had said no later on, the fact that she entertained the idea after starting an affair with Roman is pretty bad. You definitely can’t have this kind of thing both ways.

Meanwhile Roman is just as bad here. He is very quick to believe David when the guy shows up saying that he and Avery are back together. Why would you believe what the Ex has to say so easily? At the very least he should have quickly asked Avery about it directly when they met up again instead of giving her the cold shoulder and ignoring her altogether. You can’t just go from 0-100 instantly like that. It shows that Roman is incredibly gullible. even in real life you see people accepting one side of the story very quickly without getting all of the facts and it always ends up being a bad idea. So right away both characters looked pretty bad here.

The cast is fairly self contained. Avery and Roman both have a best friend who gives them advice during the movie and the advice is pretty sound. At least those two were pretty reasonable which is good because if they were as impulsive then that would not have been a good dynamic for sure. The writing as a whole is still solid though. The script is good and if you take away the romance drama the movie’s pretty upbeat as expected. Hallmark has always done a good job with that so you can expect some Christmas songs, dances, and even slight cooking although not the usual desserts but Avery does make a burnt breakfast.

Whether this one can keep up with the other Hallmark titles for you will perhaps depend on how much you enjoy dancing. Dancing is the primary focus here as that’s how the two of them meet and begin their friendship. A subplot here is that Avery is a super busy executive who rarely has time for herself but she has decided to take up dancing. Her parents are a little skeptical at first but ultimately take it well. I’m glad they weren’t exaggerated or something like that. Being a little surprised is understandable since she hadn’t shown any interest in 20+ years.

One thing you can blame Avery on though is not having effective time management. She actually ends up forgetting about a task project that was due. Fortunately she did manage to submit it in the end but that definitely wasn’t fair to the job. She really left them in the lurch there so that does reinforce that the main characters here weren’t the best. It’s definitely a chance of pace though since you’re used to the main characters here being fairly exceptional at everything they do.

Overall, Christmas Waltz is a solid film. While it doesn’t quite match the average Hallmark film that I am used to watching, I would still give it passing marks here. It’s got a good story and at the end of the day the characters are nice even if they are a little gullible. The writing is solid and while dancing may not quite be my thing, I’m sure the choreography was good. Now if they can incorporate some dance dance revolution in one of these films that would definitely be pretty neat. Now that’s competitive dancing that I can get into. It could be a while before my next Hallmark experience so we’ll see how those stack up. It’s always a pleasure watching Hallmark movies so I’m sure they will bring their A game.

Overall 6/10

The Grinch Review

The Grinch is a pretty classic story although it’s been a pretty long while since I’ve seen any version of it. It’s a story that holds up though and I would have to say that this is the best adaption of it that I’ve seen. The characters are really solid, the animation is on point, and the story is good. When you mix that all together then you’ve got yourself a really solid combo and the movie just flies by.

The movie starts by introducing us to the Grinch. He lives in a pretty fancy cave with his dog Max. They have a pretty nice set up with everything running automatically and Max oversees the whole thing. In general it’s just hard not to like these guys at least with this first impression. Unfortunately for the Grinch he did not have enough food to survive Christmas without going into town. He heads out and decides to make life miserable for everyone else as well. When the Grinch learns that Christmas is going to be even bigger this year he decides that it’s time to shut it down. If he steals everyone’s presents then that should end things right?

Meanwhile Cindy is the main human here. She’s a little girl who is always spreading cheer around and having a pretty good time. Her Mom has to work really hard in order to support her though. Her only Christmas wish is for Santa to help the Mom out but it’s been tough to get in touch with him. She decides that she will have to lay a trap for Santa so that she can explain the wish. She gets some help from the rest of the kids in her neighborhood but will she really be able to take Santa down for the count? Only time will tell.

One thing that stands out about the film right away is the bright and colorful environment. The whole film just looks amazing. It’s some of the best animation I’ve seen in one of these films in a while. Maybe it comes down to the city’s design and the Christmas decorations but either way it really stood out. The characters are all really solid as well. Let’s start with Bricklebaum since he’s more of a side character.

He’s a nice neighbor who always ignores the Grinch’s slights and keeps minding his business. I can definitely respect this guy and his dedication to his craft. That’s the kind of drive that you really want to see from him. He’s also just fundamentally a good person. Naturally to the Grinch he is seen as quite extreme and over the top but it’s all very genuine. So he just really clicked as a supporting character. Then you’ve got Cindy’s Mom who is also solid and does a good job of managing everything at home. Even the other kids at least help Cindy even if they’re all ingrates for having to be guilt tripped into doing it. You know that Cindy would have helped them out with no questions asked.

Cindy is a pretty reasonable character. I’ll give her credit for being such a pro-active character. She was always right there in the thick of things. Her route from home to the cave or town was also a lot of fun. She’s got serious sledding skills that’s for sure. Then we get to the main two. Max is a really solid dog. He’s smart and very loyal. I was glad that the Grinch and Max had a really good dynamic here. They get along and make each other even better. They do have a disagreement in the film but it’s a pretty small one and they get on the same page again.

As for the Grinch, he is an antagonist at first of course. He’s mean to people for no reason like pushing the food that they want away or popping balloons. Whatever inconvenience the Grinch can cause you, he will do it. It makes him a pretty fun villain though. It’s not like he does anything too crazy either. Most of what he does is pretty mean spirited but amounts to just inconveniences here and there. Fortunately the townsfolk are so nice that they don’t pay him a whole lot of attention. It does mean that his character arc can feel a bit cheesy towards the end though. Anyone who knows about the Grinch story knows exactly how this is going to go of course. I thought the execution was pretty good though.

There are other side characters of course like the lone reindeer who hangs out with Grinch. The Grinch wasn’t thrilled about having him at first but ultimately relented which was the first indicator that maybe he had a heart after all. It’s just a nice story with some good emotional beats and quick pacing. The film never drags on or anything like that and the writing is good. At the end of the day those are the key ingredients to having a good movie. The ending is satisfying so then you’ve got a full product.

If there’s any part of the film that wasn’t needed then I would say that I could have done without the narrator. I know that rhymes are a staple of the Dr Seuss adventures so that’s probably why he is here but you don’t really need him. In my mind the film would have been just as complete without him and you can understand what is going on well enough without the play by play. I wouldn’t call it a negative though. It’s just one thing that I would tweak but it’s not something that holds the film back either.

Overall, The Grinch is a pretty good film. It’s always nice to see a quality Christmas film at the ready. This is definitely the definitive Grinch movie in my mind so if you haven’t seen any version yet then I would recommend starting with this one. It really embraces how Whoville is a lot different from a usual town. They go all in on Christmas and with the solid animation they’re able to show how much fun people have when travelling around town.

Overall 7/10

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Review

It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything relating to the Nutcracker. It’s definitely a pretty classic story though so it’s nice to see it being brought out again. This story does a fun job with it. You get a little action, a little adventure, and a lot of emotion. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly noteworthy like I won’t be remembering it in the future much but I like to think each movie leaves you something to remember. In this case that would be the living rat monster which was pretty intense. Definitely not someone you’d want to have to bump into in a life or death situation.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Clara who has been dealing with a lot now that her mother has passed. Her father has tried to recreate Christmas the way it would usually be but this has not worked. In part this is because it comes off as him trying to get everyone to get on with their lives which is all happening too fast. At the very least Clara does not want to be at a party and doesn’t feel like dancing. She manages to escape into the land of the 4 realms when a rat escapes with her key. She needs this key in order to unlock the last memento from her mother. It turns out that the key has another purpose as well. It’s the only way to unlock the machine needed to bring the toy soldier army back up and operational. The kingdom needs this army to stop Mother Ginger from wiping them out.

Extra pressure is here because Clara’s mother used to help the Kingdom as its queen and has quite a lot of experience here. Clara feels like she can’t live up to such a legendary example. Still, Clara does step up when needed. The beginning of the film also introduced her as a very intelligent character who really knows how physics works. This comes into play later on in the film so it was nice foreshadowing. It’s also hard to blame Clara in the opening scenes because the party didn’t feel appropriate. She was fairly respectful in trying to deny the event so all in all I give Clara a thumbs up as the lead.

The other major character in the film is the Nutcracker Phillip. Phillip has always performed his job really well. He stays at his post and only moves when ordered. He is a very faithful fighter at Clara’s disposal and does pretty well when having to go up against an army. He offers his own advice as well and helps keep Clara on the right path. He ends up having a nice bond with one of the Mice and they even get a good team up. The idea of a Rat monster made from tons of little rats is definitely pretty fun. Certainly a disturbing monster to have to go up against though. You really wouldn’t want to have to square off against such an opponent.

As for Mother Ginger, she’s a pretty interesting character. She can definitely fight really well with her whip as well which definitely comes in handy. She was able to take on several fighters on her own which is really good. I was glad to see action scenes of any kind here since that’s definitely not going to be the main priority here. The film had a good balance of action and adventure though. The heroes may not fight all that much but the climax has several action scenes at the ready. The giant mecha Ginger had was also pretty neat even if sheer numbers were definitely enough to overwhelm it in the end though. That’s the thing about having a giant robot, it’s pretty susceptible against many opponents.

In general the movie goes down a rather predictable path but I always say that’s not a bad thing as long as the execution is good and I’d say it was. The writing is good and the pacing is solid. The visuals throughout the film are also nice. While the soundtrack is rather forgettable I wouldn’t say there were any bad tunes here either. That definitely ends up being an experience I can be satisfied with. It’s certainly more interesting than something like the Lord of the Rings. That’s why it’s good that we mostly stuck in the world of the Realms because the real world definitely wasn’t quite as interesting. Whenever a fantasy world is an option that’s absolutely where you want to spend your time.

There isn’t much more to talk about with spoilers. I will say that the villain’s motivations while not justifiable are pretty understandable. Sometimes offense is the best defense. If you think about it, defense just isn’t good enough if you are always being attacked. If someone attacks you every month, it doesn’t matter that you are able to repel the attacks if you take a lot of hits in the meantime. The best way to get out of the situation is to take the opposing side down and that way you will have the peace needed to get victory right? Of course it’s not so simple but at least the base reasoning makes sense. There are a lot of deceptions involved so you shouldn’t take anything at face value though. I just like when a villain at least has some rationale so I appreciated that.

Overall, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a pretty solid adaption of the classic story. It brings in all of the classic elements you would want to see and we get a nice cast of characters. I’d definitely be game for a sequel someday. There are definitely ways you could go about it. Clara also should come back to visit the kingdom at some point. I don’t see any reason why she would have to stick to the human world, especially since time seems to stop while she’s gone. That’s really the perfect excuse to go back in since there is no risk thanks to that. That’s just how I see it at least.

Overall 7/10

The Thomas Crown Affair Review

Whenever you get romantically involved with the person you’re supposed to bust on a case then you know that you’ve done your job wrong. This film involves a few heists and as soon as the investigator meets up with the crook you know that things are not going to go well. If anything you’ll just feel bad for the cops here. On one hand they wouldn’t have even been close to cracking the case without the heroine, on the other hand maybe it’s better not to crack the case then to have someone weaken you from the inside.

The movie starts off by showing us the first bank heist. It’s a pretty impressive piece of work as a bunch of strangers are brought together to do the gig. Each one has a different job and only needs to know his part. As a result they don’t actually meet up and this ends up being a pretty big event. Nobody is able to stop Thomas so he escapes to the money and goes back to his wealthy life. The cops are unable to handle this so much to detective Eddie’s horror they call in a specialist. Her name is Vicki and she is not opposed to using less than legal methods to ensure Thomas’ capture. She quickly tightens the net around him but ends up liking him as well. Will she be able to pull the trigger or will she end up defecting to his side?

Now with any heist film you will probably have to suspend a little disbelief at some scenes. The more they show you the more you will have some questions. For example, I feel like the whole thing went way too smoothly at the end. None of the cops get off a single shot as the villains flee and the car is able to easily drive across the many streets with nobody catching up. Too bad none of the cops are good drivers in this film eh? Would have made a pretty big difference if you ask me. The second time around is arguably even worse since the villains use the same plan and it works once again. This time there is more of a shootout though so at least the heroes put up more of a fight.

When you have this as your context it’s also incredibly hard to buy into Vicki falling for Thomas. How could she possibly do this when he was willingly getting involved in such crimes. It’s not like the film ever even tries to paint him as a sympathetic character either. He’s just doing this for the thrills which makes him as villainous as possible. The whole affair with him is just pretty terrible the whole time. There’s one chess game in particular which the film manages to mess up because of this.

Usually in a heist or a mystery film like this you get a good chess game between the hero and villain where they explain their plans and how they one upped the other character. You get a lot of solid moves back and forth which mirror the actual moments. In this case we get none of that. If anything they’re playing in rather sloppy fashion since Thomas gets really distracted during the match. It’s a big shame since Chess is usually pretty hype. It almost goes without saying that the romance is just really bad from start to finish.

The movie also uses an editing style that’s not very good. Basically everything shrinks into tiny boxes along the screen that start to show the same image half the time. So instead of watching a scene normally you’re seeing over 10 versions of it. This might be a decent novelty the first few times but that quickly wears thin before you know it. In the end you’ll just be shaking your head. The writing’s not great either. I would say it’s okay at best but without likable characters there just isn’t a whole lot that you can do. There are no memorable lines here or even fun comedic moments. The film is serious but in a rather dull way where nothing seems to happen for large periods of time.

Thomas is just a petty villain with no master goals. There’s really no depth to him and no reason to like him. It’s also worth noting that Vicki figured him out almost immediately. Then you have Vicki herself and I can’t give her a thumbs up either. She let her personal feelings cloud her judgment. The fact that she even asked the cops if they could have a truce with Thomas was terrible. You can’t negotiate with someone that just robbed a bank and put tons of people in harm’s way. Then you have Detective Eddie who’s okay but never seems to make any headway in the case. He was more reasonable than the other characters at least but I wouldn’t say that it made him a good character either. It was just an added bonus. In the end he was so ineffective you might feel bad for him rather than actively rooting for him. Technically I was hoping he would be the one to crack the case though even if you never thought there was a true chance of that.

Overall, This isn’t a film that would have much replay value at all. It gets worse the more you think about it. The romance is no good and since the heist is only a very small portion of the film, it means that there’s not a lot here to keep your interest. In theory the best part about a film like this should be the back and forth banter between Vicki and Thomas but we don’t get a whole lot of that here because they are interested in each other almost from the start. There’s no true cat and mouse game here because they aren’t 100% serious about getting away from the other. It’s a game, but one with low stakes. It’s like making a Tom and Jerry film where they’re actually friends. It wouldn’t have the same impact unless they’re teaming up against a common enemy but that’s a completely different ball game. If you want a good heist film, watch Ocean’s 11 instead for a vastly superior product.

Overall 3/10

Christmas Town Review

It’s time for the Hallmark marathon to conclude for now. It’s definitely been a pretty good run I would say. When you see a title like Christmas Town you know things are about to get hype. It’s one of those small towns where everyone is pretty friendly and you could see yourself having a pretty good time there. How can it go wrong right? There’s a lot of cookies shown in this film as well so you may get hungry while watching.

Lauren has not been having a good time with her boyfriend who has prioritized work over her. He doesn’t even write or call anymore. So she decides to take up a teaching job in another city. Unfortunately her train is forced to make a detour due to the weather. This causes her to hitch a ride with Travis after mistaking the guy for one of the employees. He helps her find a place to stay in the meantime and she quickly grows close to the owner of the bakery (Betty) and Travis’ foster kid Dylan. Now she is unsure if she even really wants to leave this town and decides to help them with a fundraising drive first.

Lauren’s a pretty reasonable character right from the jump. She gave Eric a pretty fair chance but the guy blew it each time. If anything I don’t think she needed to give him quite so much time at the end. The instant that the letter didn’t come I would have said that was game over. You have to be able to deliver on something like that, especially when it was promised and agreed to. There’s no backing out of the deal just like that. His reasoning of not being a very good writer definitely didn’t work either. I do appreciate Eric not being portrayed as totally crazy of being a huge jerk. He’s just absent minded and clearly didn’t have her as a priority so this wasn’t going to work. They could possibly be good friends but that’s about it.

Meanwhile Lauren’s just a perfect fit for the town because she is always willing to lend a hand in just about any area. She is quick to support the bakery and then to get the fundraising at the ready. She’s definitely a quality character. I also liked Betty and Gloria a lot. Betty just seems like a great owner who really cares about her customers. Her cooking is also apparently quite good and based on how those cookies were looking I definitely believe it. Meanwhile Gloria’s role isn’t quite as large but she does enter the fray later on with some really critical scenes. She’s certainly got an incredible amount of influence over the school and makes the transition a lot easier on Lauren.

Then we’ve got Dylan. I’m still never a big fan of seeing kids get a big role in films. They tend to be pretty cheesy and Dylan’s no different. He also guilt trips Lauren quite a bit into not leaving although I expect she was going to stick around anyway. He certainly gets a lot of screen time. I’ll give him credit for being a nice kid in the end though. He does donate his coats to help others and is a very generous guy. As for Travis, he’s a pretty solid character even if he doubted Lauren quite a bit. I can’t really blame him there because he does have a point that she has only known Dylan for a week or 2 and is moving awfully fast. If you replace the scenario with someone other than the main character then you can definitely see why he was concerned. Still, he’s definitely someone that you can count on.

The writing and pacing as on point as expected of course and the scenery is definitely really good. There’s a lot of snow of course and the town is quite charming. It’s also a pretty generous town as everyone was able to chip in a lot of money to help the group who lost everything in a fire. Ultimately this town’s definitely built up a lot of goodwill and with a whole new generation here as well you expect that it will stay like that.

There’s also a subplot the film slowly builds up involving a statue of an Angel. Lauren got it from her father back when she was a kid but then it broke with the wing falling off. Her father sent it to be fixed but ended up forgetting to include the wing so Lauren kept it. Since he died shortly afterwards nobody was ever able to pick it up. Fortunately this was the town where it got sent to. So throughout the film you see the statute changing hands until it finally makes its way back at the end. It’s a nice plot to have around for sure. Her father definitely seemed to be quite wise based on the letters he sent.

Overall, Christmas Town was definitely a really fun movie. We also got some good depth with Lauren’s backstory as she read through letters her father gave her. The movie definitely has a lot of emotional scenes going for it to contrast all the happy moments eating cookies. It’s just a very wholesome film that makes for a satisfying watch. You really can’t go wrong here and by the end of the film you will be ready for your own Christmas adventures coming up. I would definitely recommend watching this film so you can add it to your collection. It’s quite solid without a doubt.

Overall 7/10

A Shoe Addict’s Christmas Review

Time for another Hallmark adventure for the ages. The whole shoe theme here was definitely pretty unique. I don’t believe it’s been done before. I know some people are really into shoes while others collect sneakers but I can’t say I’ve ever been into that. Just get me a pair of sneakers and I’ll wear them for the next 5-10 years no problem. Of course in this film it’s fortunate that Noelle enjoys her shoes since they are quite central to the story. Without them she definitely could have been in trouble.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Noelle. She’s pretty content as she has a nice job, good coworkers, and just loves Christmas. It’s a pretty fun time of the year for her. She is even put in charge of helping direct the annual charity party that co-operates with the Firefighters. Their liason here is a guy named Jake. They don’t initially get off on the right foot as Jake tries to make a good impression with some jokes while Noelle is fairly serious. Still, they’ll have to put aside their differences if this is going to be a big success.

There is something supernatural afoot here as well. A lady named Charlie appears and claims that she is Noelle’s guardian angel. Whenever Noelle puts on a pair of shoes from her past she is transported to that point in time to relive the memories and see what she could have done differently. Charlie is trying to make the point that Noelle has pushed her friends and family away while also turning down opportunities that could have helped her in the present. Noelle tries to point out that living in the past is dangerous but Charlie insists that she take a look at some of these alternate routes. Should Noelle listen to Charlie and try to hang out with people more or is she okay as is?

As always Hallmark’s got a pretty solid film here. There’s also just a whole lot of story developments and plot to sift through here so it’s a little busier than the average title. You’ve got time travel, angels, the firefighter plot, and even some family drama with Noelle and her father. The writing is on point as always and the film really flies by. The scenery is also good. There are no real weaknesses to speak of. At most maybe the boss gets a very rushed character arc at the end but it does help to wrap things up nicely for a quality ending. From all of the plots I feel like the Gala itself got the shaft for the most part since there just wasn’t enough time to grab everything. It’s why things had to move quickly at the end.

If anything I just didn’t agree with Charlie that Noelle made all of the wrong moves. For starters, she was perfectly content at her new job even if everyone was trying to guilt trip her into leaving. Put it this way, she makes a solid salary here and has quickly moved up the chains. Everyone seems to like her at this job so she seems to have a positive future. The pay is good as well while working for herself is a lot riskier even if it may end up paying well. Then Charlie says she wasn’t all that close to her father but they did seem pretty good to me from the opening scene. They had some banter and were even joking around with each other.

So I felt like Charlie was making this sound a lot more serious than it really was. It’s not like Noelle’s current life was really that bad at all. Still, Charlie herself was pretty nice even if she didn’t have a lot of experience in the gig yet. Noelle’s best friend Lorna was also really good here. She was always encouraging Noelle and had the heroine’s back from day 1. No matter what timeline Noelle went to, she certainly owes Lorna a lot for always being there. It’s been a little while since the main character had a solid friend like this so that was nice to see.

As for the main guy Jake, he’s pretty solid. He wants to move up the ranks even if it means no longer being a firefighter. He’s a bit worried since this means leaving his late father’s shadow but he does feel like it’s the right move. He does his best to make the firefighter gala a success. The ending is pretty tough on him since he effectively wasted a lot of time but ultimately at least Noelle helped him out a bit. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t have been a happy camper at that point. The romance is pretty rushed with him and Noelle though. I feel like they could have gone with the just friends angle and that would have worked out quite nicely.

Finally with Noelle, she’s a solid main character. It’s nice to have a character who’s super into Christmas for a change instead of coming around later. By all accounts she’s always been a nice person and has made a lot of good moves. She probably could have handled the situation of not telling Jake about the changes a little better but all in all I definitely can say that she was a fun lead. The cast is fairly small so each character really counts here.

Early on in the film Noelle gets stuck at work when due to everyone forgetting she was there and locking up for the night. She handled it pretty well as she really made herself at home and began eating the snacks. That would definitely be a nice perk of being stuck in a store like that. I always thought it could be pretty fun depending on the store. Spending a night trapped in there would almost be like a vacation of sorts with unlimited food. It’s fun to think about of course but so I’m glad she wasn’t panicking or anything. Taking it in stride is definitely how you should handle it.

Overall, Hallmark never ceases to churn out solid Christmas films and this one was no different. It’s been a little while since I saw one where they had a big supernatural angle from the start so that was a lot of fun. The Guardian Angel made for a fun character even if she wasn’t always helpful with how she likes to keep secrets and answer cryptically instead of just saying what she’s thinking. If you’re looking for a fun film to check out with quality characters then I would definitely say to watch this one. There’s really nothing bad to say about it and it consistently delivers with solid moments.

Overall 7/10

Let It Snow Review

It’s time to look at a Hallmark film from a while back. They’ve always been very consistent about churning out great products. They have a lot of Christmas movies and I have yet to see a bad one. They always tend to have a solid plot and good characters arcs for the cast. In this case we don’t even have the usual rebound plot so that was an extra bonus. I’d definitely say there are no real complaints here. Naturally some of the story elements may seem very familiar and I’m sure you can guess what will happen before it does, but it doesn’t take away from the solid execution here.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Stephenie. She is a top executive at her father’s company and he has a new task for her. Stephenie has to head to a Christmas cabin that their company has just purchased to see how they handle Christmas. Her job is to take away the glitz and glamor and figure out how to make this a successful enterprise. Right now mostly families rent out rooms here but the firm needs this to be a place for single people with lots of cash to burn. Stephenie is ready for this since she’s not a big fan of Christmas and doesn’t even like the cold. She’ll enjoy taking everything apart. Things all begin to change though when she meets up with Brady, the son of the current owner. Is it possible that she will regain her Christmas spirit?

I think we all know the answer to that question. The scenery is really nice as always. We get to see some gingerbread cookies being baked and there are a lot of solid decorations all around the cabin. It’s clear that the family puts a great deal of effort into the project. You may wonder why they are selling the place. Is it because they got a great deal and can just take it easy now? Well, I’m sure that didn’t hurt but it’s really because nobody is prepared to take the business over. Brady wanted tom, but he also wanted to enact a lot of changes to the place which his father did not approve of. As a result they hit a stalemate. Stephenie is quickly brought into this drama as well and wants to help but the business deal is done. It’s not like she can really do a whole lot about the deal at this point. Still, she gives it her best shot.

Stephanie’s a pretty decent lead. She definitely starts out as one of the meaner ones though. She is absolutely not on board with having a good time at all. She definitely overreacts to just about everything and really gives Brady a hard time. Still, she ultimately gets past this. Then you have Brady who doesn’t get along with her at first but it looks like he is usually a pretty nice guy. Everyone at the camp likes him as he is typically seen as a very reliable figure who is always around to help out when the kids need a hand or something seems too difficult. He’s a man of many talents.

Then for the supporting characters you’ve got a good cast. Stephenie had a friend in the first scene but she ends up vanishing completely after the opening so we won’t count her. Stephenie’s father is definitely a fun character to have around although he seems a lot less reasonable after the opening scene. At first he definitely is shown to not like Christmas or anything like that but he isn’t shown to be quite as antagonistic towards it as later on. That’s where he really begins trying to crush all the ideas Stephenie has without really listening to the pitch. I like the idea that he sat there listening to her for over an hour only to completely disregard everything at that point and go on to the pre prepared topics he already had ready. The guy certainly wasn’t budging.

Then you have Brady’s parents who are pretty nice. The Mom does her best to get Stephenie settled in even if she is met with a ton of resistance. The lead not trying her home baked cookies was definitely an emotional moment. Brady’s Dad also does a good job as it must take a lot of effort to keep on getting the cabin set and participating in all of the events at his age. He did well in keeping the place going as long as he could. He and Brady have a lot of disagreements on how to make the place better but as we only see the aftermath of their arguments it’s hard to say who takes more blame in their disagreements there.

The movie really flies by. Let It Snow has solid writing and pacing as you’d expect from a Hallmark title so that won’t come as any surprise. You can definitely imagine visiting a place like this to have a good day. I can’t imagine actually spending a Christmas out there over the comforts of home but I’m sure you would still have a good time. I’d be going all in on the cookies and the rest of the desserts displayed in the film. Then the fact that there is also a pretty nice breakfast spread is also very enticing.

Overall, Let It Snow is definitely a very good movie and one that I would recommend checking out for Christmas. You’ve got a solid story and a good cast of characters which always serve as strong fundamentals for a movie. The romance is a bit cliché and could have been written out of the movie for sure, but otherwise the rest of the story beats end up working out quite well. It’s not the most ambitious film out there but it’s a pleasant one. As they say, it’s the journey that counts and even if you know how the movie is going to end, the execution is on point the whole time so you don’t feel bored or anything like that.

Overall 7/10