Tokyo Mew Mew Review

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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.
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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

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Pride And Prejudice And Mistletoe Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

A Christmas Melody Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

A Royal Christmas Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

The Sweetest Christmas Review

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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

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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

The Princess Bride Review

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The Princess Bride is definitely a classic film that I’m sure you have probably bumped into at least once or twice in the past. Still, I had never actually seen it until now so better late than never right? It’s definitely an interesting fantasy adventure even if the whole thing is just a story so it’s all fake from the get go. I’m cool with that kind of premise except for the fact that the kid can be annoying, but more on that later.

The film starts off with a grumpy kid getting sick again. He’s upset because his Grandpa is coming over to check on him and this kid is as ungrateful as they get. Well, the Grandpa decides to tell him a little story and the kid slowly finds himself getting sucked into the hype of this adventure. Never in his wildest dreams could he imagine that such a story would be so gripping. It’s about a girl whose fiancee was captured by pirates and murdered so now she’s going to marry a random prince because she has given up on life. Well, her fiancee has returned and they decide to escape from the Prince. They’ll have to get through a dangerous forest and 3 powerful fighters, but nothing can shatter their bond! Can they get a happily ever after?

This is definitely a very classic kind of adventure as the heroes talk like in the olden days. It may have one of the earlier instances of the villain string where you have to fight one opponent, then you go to the next room and fight villain #2, etc. Westley has to defeat each of them at their particular strengths so he has to be very quick, strong, and smart. As this was basically Westley’s introduction in the film I have to say that it was quite impressive. He really showed himself to be a very capable main character. I was not expecting him to be quite so tough. It’s almost sad when he takes off his mask as he loses most of his mystique and hype. He ends up just becoming another one of the guys, but after such a strong start he was already guaranteed to be the best character in the film.

I also think Westley had a point in regard to how easily Buttercup moved on from him. Sure, she didn’t like the Prince but she didn’t care enough to refuse him either since she had given up on life by then. She should have stayed strong and waited for Westley no matter how long it took. Of course he was presumed dead, but then you don’t go for a rebound and just stay alone. As it stands Buttercup just didn’t look all that great throughout this and was even kidnapped. It definitely wasn’t her day.

At first you think that the Prince may actually be heroic as he puts up a good front. If you were not aware of story telling 101 he could even potentially fool you. Still, he was ultimately destined to be evil and is essentially the main antagonist here. He’s certainly not my kind of villain as those with romantic motives never tend to rank. Still, I suppose he’s reasonable. I do think the Prince gets off way too easy by the end though. I mean, depending on how you look at it there are absolutely 0 repercussions for him as the film closes.

Now lets look at the trio of danger. Fezzik is the strong but not very smart member of the group. He’s one of those villains who doesn’t think much so it’s easy for him to join the heroes or villains depending on who his boss is. He’s definitely the least likable of the 3 though. He’s not bad, but just not very interesting. Meanwhile Montoya was a lot of fun. He’s a very quick fighter whose goal is to avenge his father someday. He’s trained all his life to accomplish this goal so it’s almost tragic that Westley is still a better fighter than he is. What makes Montoya a good villain is the fact that he has an honor code and actually seems like a reasonable guy. His motives are also quite sound.

Finally we have the leader, Vizzini. Now this guy is definitely really sharp. The scene where he insults a bunch of philosophers and explains why he is smarter than them is quite good. It’s at that exact moment where you realize that this guy is the real deal. He’s not going to back down to any fighter and has the wits to stay on top no matter what the situation is. His mind battle with Westley is exceptional and I wouldn’t have minded having him appear more. His brief role made the moment all the more powerful though.

Speaking of great scenes, I also greatly enjoyed the fight with Montoya and Westley. There was a lot of back and forth in that fight with both fighters being able to use their full skills. Each one starting with their weaker hand also worked as good twists to keep the fight going. It’s a lot better than I would have expected from such an old adventure film. It holds up extremely well and moments like these are what helps the film be so solid. It really is a very solid adventure film.

Really, the only downside to the film is the annoying kid in the present. He’s constantly interrupting and just being a terrible character all around. His character hasn’t aged well and if I was the Grandpa I would have left by the second interruption. The kid was constantly bashing the book and only got back on board once the romance played more of a focus. He kept pulling the whole “It’s not like I like the romance or anything” bit but certainly wasn’t believable about it. Of course having the film be in story mode is part of the point, but cutting that bit out would have worked well.

Of course, it works as the film’s automatic censor to the more violent moments though. I was not expecting the prince to get tortured the way that he was. That was surprisingly dark and some blood is spilled during Montoya’s final confrontation. Still, the story stays within all family friendly territory I’d say. It never feels particularly excessive and will only scare kids like the one in this film.

Overall, The Princess Bride is a pretty fun film. I do think that the first half ultimately ends up being a little more interesting and fast paced than the climax though. Perhaps that’s because the second half is a little more generic while the first half does a lot of fun stuff like giving us back to back battles and keeping the lead mysterious. The second half is still quite solid but naturally as a result it’s just slightly less impressive than the film’s quick start. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d definitely recommend checking it out. The writing is on point and the film’s pacing is solid.

Overall 7/10

The Apartment Review

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The Apartment is one of those films where it’s hard to guess the plot from the title. It could really go in just about any direction. Well, this one plays out as a retro comedy with the main character getting pushed around by everyone. It reminds you why apartments are so handy and why they can ultimately backfire at times as well. It’s a film that has aged pretty well even if the main characters probably will get on your nerves the more the film goes on.

The film starts off with Bud going another light with low sleep. At first you may sympathize with him but then you realize that the lead has a side gig of questionable ethics going. He loans his apartment out to his co-workers so they can use it for parties. Not particularly smart of him and the characters quickly take advantage of his offer. They stay later then they are supposed to and put him in a bad spot. Still, Bud does get the promotion so it’s all good. The problem now is the fact that he likes the employee who is already with his boss. How can he get her to change her mind?

This is one of those romance films where the characters are going to flip flop quite a lot. Let’s take Fran who is the main heroine here. She is with Sheldrake initially but then she leaves him since the guy is already married and seems to be using her. That’s fine, but then she entertains his offer of returning to being together again even though he’s still married. Bud also asks her out and she accepts but that already means that he is simply the rebound guy. She plays the field for a while and along the way attempts to destroy herself while still not falling away from Sheldrake. When the expected ending finally arrives it doesn’t feel very sincere.

I have to say that the romance in general gets a thumbs down. It’s just not all that engaging and holds the rest of the film back a bit. I also can’t say that I was a big fan of Fran. She was reasonable for a while with her reputation of being a solo act, but then the twists start coming and her character is ruined. It’s fine that she found someone, but choosing someone who is married does not help her case. Even if he was sincere she is getting him to cheat on his wife. It’s a lose-lose situation all around.

Of course you can’t really like Sheldrake as the guy is pretty manipulative. He’s a fun villain for sure as he pushes Bud around, but he’s not a particularly nice guy. He’s one of those “allies” who has your back while it’s convenient for him and then he’ll ditch you at the next corner. All 4 of the bosses were like that once Bud stopped giving them extra favors. Bud certainly should have known what would happen though as they were only his friends because of the apartment.

As for Bud himself, he’s entertaining like the rest of the cast. That doesn’t make him particularly likable though. He shouldn’t let the group push him around the whole time. Starting the apartment deal was fine and all but without proper time boundaries it will just cave in on itself. Sure enough, he just kept on digging himself in deeper and deeper holes. Bud could be slow on the uptake as well. He’s a nice guy through it all of course, but he needs to be a little more prepared than how he was in this film.

This also sums up the movie pretty well. While I can’t say that I really liked any of the characters, the film was still a lot of fun. It’s the kind of movie where the characters don’t have to be that good. Comedies can still be enjoyable because the jokes aren’t necessarily ties to the character’s status. A bad character can still have good comedic traits. I’d say that the writers did a very good job with this movie. Nobody feels exaggerated or super unrealistic. To an extent what happens in this film could easily happen in real life. Just take out a few of the dramatic elements and you’re all set.

The cast is pretty small, but we have a few supporting characters like the doctor next door who really came in handy during the climax. Without him it’s safe to say that the heroes wouldn’t have done very well. The slapping could definitely seem pretty crazy but it’s in a lot of these old films so I guess people used to think that it really worked. Pain is certainly a strong stimulus to I suppose to prevent someone from fainting it seems to make sense…even if it was a little excessive.

One trend that I’ve noticed with romance films as well as comedy ones is that they tend to have a better first half than the rest of the film. It’s because for the climax the film inevitably has to get a little serious. The degree to which this is notable will vary of course and some films like Airplane manage to almost completely sidestep this. This film is no exception as it starts to become a little more serious by the end. Not a bad thing per say, but with unlikable characters and no humor then you don’t have the best combo. Bud didn’t seem to handle most of the situations in the climax well as all and I’d say the same for Fran. These characters don’t think their options through enough so by the end both characters are basically settling for each other. Bud was totally ready to get together with someone else before Fran showed up in the second half. I think that says all that you need to know about how serious they were.

Overall, The Apartment is a lot of fun. Prepare yourself for a comedy-romance film where the only way for Bud to rise up the ranks is to give out favors to his superiors. The realism of this will really hit you hard and the film’s humorous ways of showing this are solid. While the romance may not have been very inspired it’s not as if it would make this a bad movie. It’s a good movie that falters a bit during the second half but ends up being one that I would recommend regardless. Especially if you consider this to be a romance film it is one of the few titles that I would recommend presently.

Overall 6/10

The Girl He Left Behind Review

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It’s time to look at an old school war film about a guy who tries to sabotage the army from the inside. Andy is a pretty spoiled main character and while the film tries to give him a character arc, it just doesn’t work. Still, the film is pretty good despite that. You just aren’t rooting for the main character for once.

The film starts off with the lead kicking the game winning field goal. Unfortunately he is broke so his Mom has to give him spending money for when he hangs out with the heroine. It’s a nice gesture and this isn’t a bad thing per say. What makes this a bad set up is that Andy takes advantage of her generosity by being reckless. He breaks the heroine’s car so he has to spend a lot of money to fix it. Everyone has had enough so he is sent off to the army. That’s when the lead decides that he will do everything he can to leave the army by sabotaging his platoon at every corner. Can the army make a man out of this kid or is it too late?

It goes without saying that Andy makes things miserable for everyone. The platoon is naturally expected to keep their barracks clean or their squad leader will get chewed out. Well, the lead decides to leave the guns unlocked and the coats unpressed. This effects the whole squad and the lead just tells everyone to deal with it since he won’t be stopping. He’ll even go and fight with anyone who tries to stop him. Unfortunately he is a pretty good fighter so it’s tough for the average joes to stop him. The lead also goes and steals their money for his own amusement.

Interestingly enough, the film doesn’t really try to make you empathize with the character until the final minutes of the film. He shows no real remorse and doesn’t do anything to make it right to the platoon. So then there is no reason to like the main character at all. Giving this guy a general position? Now that’s just crazy and I feel bad for his underlings. The army just promoted the wrong guy over someone who was likely a lot more qualified.

That’s why the fight scene near the end of the film was probably the best moment in the movie. We finally got to see the main character put in his place. I’m definitely glad about that since an army officer who trains diligently every day the way the commander does should definitely be more than a match for a random cadet. You can’t skip training and still hope to be the best.

Meanwhile you’ll feel bad for the heroine who has to put up with this. She just wants to study hard and retire early. Unfortunately that isn’t really an option with this lead. While she made the right move in breaking up with him early on, she made a mistake in getting back together each time. She should have just left well enough alone and I’m sure she would have been happier.

The rest of the characters are definitely on point. The commander of the main character’s platoon is definitely a lot of fun. You certainly can’t say that he doesn’t have personality. His lawnmower examples were always solid. Then you have the other army commanders who gradually realize that the lead is a real problem. There is a nice sense of unity among these guys.

The script is top notch here, but you would expect nothing less. The characters dish out a lot of witty one liners. The voice acting for the characters is pretty solid as they all tend to sound sarcastic at different points. While Andy is definitely a bad character, his confidence does lead to a lot of nice comebacks. He definitely isn’t afraid of throwing a little sarcasm at everyone around him. I suppose if you are going to play the role of the villain it is almost a necessity. I do hope he was forced to give the money back to his teammates at some point down the line though. You just can’t have someone like that as a commander otherwise. The ending is definitely the weakest part of the film. There’s just no way Andy should have been allowed to stick around the way that he did.

Overall, While the main character definitely goes a little too far with how immature he is, it doesn’t take away from the film’s solid writing and pacing. It’s a fun enough story and it definitely does show the army as being a lot nicer than you would see in other films. The lead wouldn’t have gotten away with nearly as much in a different movie. If you haven’t seen any of these classic army comedies before then I would definitely recommend checking it out. It’s a nice all around film. Some parts haven’t aged as well as others, but that’ll make it a very authentic retro film.

Overall 7/10

Lisa Review

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It’s time to watch one of the gutter films. These are unique in the sense that it takes effort to churn out a film this terrible. Of course, you can probably guess how bad it will be as soon as you read the plot synopsis so at least the film wasn’t being deceptive about its story. With nothing going for it, Lisa was in a tough situation from the start.

The film starts off with some of the most stretched out credits I’ve seen in a long time. Usually if the credits go on this long it means that the film is stalling for time and trying to get out of playing the actual feature. It’s like a bunch of warning bells since most quality films skim through the credits or at least give you some fun backgrounds and music to distract from how monotonous it is. We also get our first look at the villain murdering someone.

Then we cut to the main character. Lisa is tired of being a kid and wants to get into some real trouble for a change. She has decided to be a stalker who collects as many names and addresses as possible. Unfortunately she isn’t a very smart stalker and doesn’t see how this could possibly backfire. It definitely paints her in a really bad light. Especially since she lives in a bit of a seedy area and should at least be aware of the news. She ends up stalking the main villain which ideally leads to them matching wits as he tries to figure out who she is from the prank calls while she keeps phoning without any real goals.

I say ideally because nothing of the sort happens. The villain isn’t smart enough to figure it out and Lisa isn’t smart enough to keep her identity to herself. She tells him her name and where to find her. Of course she uses her mother as the scape goat instead of herself. That leads to the climax where they have to fight off this guy and the whole time you’re just hoping that Lisa gets grounded for this.

The film does its best to make Lisa unlikable from the start. She comes off as an ingrate and is always trying to wreck everyone’s day. Her friend’s family was trying to have a nice vacation until she had to come and ruin it. Then she keeps trying to remind the mother of her past and uses it as ammo against her. Definitely a very petty person and without any common sense to guide her Lisa basically plays the role of antagonist as well. I can’t stress enough how bad it makes her look to try and set her mother up with some random guy. If this were a rom-com it would turn out all right as the guy would turn out to be perfect, but life certainly isn’t quite that clean and tidy.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this film since the cast is super small and the plot is so basic. There are no likable characters here so you can’t root for anyone. The Mother is the only reasonable character here and even then she isn’t given a lot to do since Lisa drags her down the whole time. She at least tries to fight at the end while Lisa mainly panics. If the film could have less crying and more planning in the climax that could have at least helped the film end on more of a high note. As it stands, this film just ticks all the boxes of a usual thriller without trying to do something about it. It’s dark and realistic but with no heart or any reason to watch. If you want a similar story you can simply turn on the news which is usually what you would try to avoid.

Overall, Lisa is just another installment in a long line of terrible films that try to sully the cinematic experience. I’d recommend staying far away from this film and watching something with more quality like Jingle All The Way. You’ll immediately notice the big jump in quality when it comes to the writing and really every other section as well. There’s just nothing that Lisa does right.

Overall 0/10